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Block Grant to create Schreiber Foods jobs
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A public hearing was held at the September meeting of the Richland County Board of Supervisors in order that the supervisors and the public could learn about a Community Development Block Grant for Economic Development (CDBG-ED) that will enable Schreiber Foods to expand its facility and purchase new equipment.

The forgivable loan of up to $500,000 is expected to result in the creation of approximately 150 new full-time positions with an average wage of $19 per hour in Richland Center by Dec. 31, 2013, and thereafter maintain each of the new positions until Dec. 31, 2015.

Present to announce the CDBG-ED was Ed White, Economic Development Program Manager for the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. Documentation of the CDBG-ED provided to the Observer by White includes the following data.

“The Borrower (Schreiber Foods) will be required to ensure that at least 51 per cent of all new full-time positions are made available to persons with low to moderate income…(This means) that the Borrower will be required to post position openings with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the local Job Service Office and the local Private Industry Council to ensure that qualified persons with low to moderate income receive consideration for the vacant positions.

“For each existing full-time position not maintained, the Borrower would be required to pay a penalty of $500 per full-time position. For each existing full-time position not maintained by persons with low to moderate income, the Borrower would be required to pay a penalty of $1,000 per job.”

The provided documentation outlines conditions of the loan, as follows.

“The capital financing loan would be subject to the following:

1) The approval of a completed application by Commerce (Wisconsin Department of Commerce).

2) The execution and delivery of all standard documents, including a fully executed contract for both the tax credits and the loan, as required by Commerce.

3) The demonstration by Schreiber Foods, Inc. that all necessary financing for the project is available.

4) Schreiber Foods, Inc. (agrees that) the project will not be relocated outside of Wisconsin for a minimum of five years from the date of the award.

5) The award is contingent upon there being no material change in the project prior to the execution of a contract between Commerce and the recipient.”

White stated that the loan would be provided through a grant to Richland County, which, in turn, would loan the funds to the borrower. Richland County would receive $6,000 to administer the loan. Additionally, White stated, if Schreiber Foods does not live up to the agreement, the funds go back to the county for further relending and Schreiber Foods would be subject to amortization of two per cent interest over a seven year term. White also stated that the $500,000 loan would augment $20 million being invested by Schreiber Foods to acquire assets of Dean Foods and to purchase new equipment.

Richland County Board Chair Ann Greenheck said the project provides “great security for the plant to stay here.”

The Supervisors passed a resolution thanking the family of the late Jessica Dull for building a structure in the infield of the racetrack at the county fairgrounds. The resolution states, “The County Board wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Bradley Dull Sr. and his family for this contribution of construction of this building and also to all other persons who contributed materials or labor to build this building, which is a significant benefit to the county fairgrounds.”

Another resolution pertaining to the Richland County Fair was passed. The supervisors approved an amendment to a previous resolution with regards to a temporary, casual, seasonal clerical position for the county fair, which allows not more than 300 hours per year, to be eliminated as of Dec. 31, 2011. Supervisor Lawrence Sowle proposed an amendment to the new resolution to extend the position for another year, ending Dec. 31, 2012.

Supervisor Virginia Wiedenfeld stated, “It worked very well having the extra person. (More time) was requested to complete state reports that are very time consuming.”

Buford Marshall stated that he was in favor of the extension. He said, “We’re going to have a new coordinator next year. Plus, next year is the 150th anniversary of the fair and there will be extra work.”

Discussion centered on the fact that, due to the fair coordinator’s absence, more effort was required on the part of the seasonal employee.

Greenheck said, “The letdown started last year.”

Supervisor Tom Crofton said he was against extending the position. “This was a stop-gap measure.”

Supervisor Jeanetta Kirkpatrick said, “I have a problem with this amendment. We need to take a hard look at this.”

Supervisor Larry Wyman said, “We need to take the bull by the horns and get someone out there to run the county fair.”

After much discussion on both sides of the issue, the new amendment was defeated with 13 votes against and 8 votes for. The 13 nays were from Greenheck, Crofton, Kirkpatrick, Wyman, Bob Holets, Paul Kinney, Betty Havlik, Carol Clausius, Bob Bellman, Fred Clary, Gaylord Deets, Lew Van Vliet, and Walter Gust. Those voting in favor of the extension were Wiedenfeld, Buford Marshall, Bette Cook, Richard Rasmussen, Marilyn Marshall, Bill Seep, Lawrence Sowle, and James Lewis.

The resolution, without the new amendment, was passed.

Much discussion was also held on an amendment to a resolution for the Sheriff’s Department to purchase a new prisoner transport van. The supervisors had no objection to replacing the current van, a Chevrolet with 222,000 miles. The debate was over an amendment requesting that the old Chevrolet be gifted to the Tri-County Airport for use as a courtesy vehicle by visitors arriving at the airport. Supervisor Fred Clary said, “I don’t feel a gift is appropriate. Taxpayers need compensation.”

However, Supervisor Wyman stated that one of the other counties has made substantial contributions to the improvement of the Tri-County Airport, including a huge drainage project made necessary as a result of flooding a few years ago. “The other counties have donated a lot more than the value of the van,” Wyman said.

Sheriff Berglin, who said he thought the van might be worth as much as $1,800, said he supported Wyman’s request to gift the van to the Tri-County Airport.

Ultimately, the resolution passed with the amendment to gift the van.

In other action, the supervisors approved a resolution to increase the fee for a cremation permit from the Coroner’s Office from $50 to $75. Supervisor Clary said he believes the increase is justified, due to extra work by the Coroner.

The Supervisors will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Oct. 18.