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Gays Mills Board approves building Highway 131 trail
GM Village Hall

GAYS MILLS - It looks like the trail linking the Applewood Business Park to the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center is about to become a reality following action by the village board at their meeting Monday.

With instructions from Vierbicher and Associates’ Kurt Muchow, the board approved the low bid of A-1 Excavating to build the eight-foot wide trail at a cost of $322,152. Muchow told the board that A-1 was a quality contractor that typically does municipal and highway work.

The project will be paid for from surplus revenue accrued over the years by Tax Incremental District #1, located at the Applewood Business Park and including BAPI, the HVAC sensor manufacturer. TID #1 funding will also pay for a sidewalk from the trail up to the Marketplace store.

Muchow told the board that a recent assessment of the new BAPI expansion was less than anticipated and because of this less tax revenue would be generated. In response, the board followed Muchow’s recommendation and removed a trail extension from Highway 131 to Royal Avenue at the back of the Applewood Business Park.

Other previously approved TID #1-funded projects include $13,000 to be paid to the village’s general fund for interest expenses covered by the village in TID #1. An expenditure of $30,000 to bring three-phase power to all lots in the business park and finally another set-aside of $35,000 for future administrative expenses was approved.

The meeting began with an open question-and-answer session about the status of the village going forward with a flood recovery effort.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz sought to assure local residents that the village was doing what it could to keep the recovery effort on track.

“We’ve done everything we can at this point,” Heisz said. “Until someone declares it, we’re not going to get anymore help. It’s been approved for the state; we’re waiting for the national approval. Just like you, we’re waiting to hear.”

Heisz made an unofficial thank you to the hundreds of people involved with helping the village and affected residents recover from the record flood. The village president noted that on one day more than 180 volunteers had signed in and there were more working that had not signed in.

Heisz also noted the importance of the Kickapoo Culinary Center, the shared-use commercial kitchen located in the Community Commerce Center. Heisz explained the kitchen not only fed volunteers and beleaguered residents; it had also prepared and delivered meals to Viola, Baraboo, Steuben and Soldiers Grove.

Heisz emphasized the response of people to calls for assistance.

“We’d put something on Facebook and 12 hours later there it would be,” Heisz said.

Gays Mills village resident Mary Green, whose house on Highway 131 was severely impacted by floodwater, got choked up as she tried to express her thanks to the many people who had helped her.

“I have been a recipient of a lot of that volunteer work,” Green said. “It’s just overwhelming to see how selfless everyone has been and the help is much appreciated.”

Heisz said when things calmed a bit, the village would plan a community meal to be made with the food left over from the kitchen’s efforts.

Local property owner Glenn Sitts asked if the village could get into houses, “where people had just walked out.”

Heisz said the village couldn’t do much without the permission of the owner to enter the building.

In answer to anther question, Heisz said about 50 houses had felt the impact of flooding and about 30 of those remain unoccupied at this point.

Village resident Maura Otis asked when the building inspector was projected to complete his work.

Gays Mills Village Clerk Dawn McCann told Otis the inspector had completed most of the work, but was still following up with residences he had not been able to get into yet.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved a request to clean chairs used in the Community Center at the cost of $6.50 per chair for a total of $416

• heard a report on the uncertain impact of some of the trees in the village from being underwater for an extended period

• heard a request to waive some sewer fees for residents who suffered from the flood and tabled the matter until next month

• got an update from the president of the Kickapoo Exchange Food Co-op on their plans to recover from the flooding that affected the store and approved changing the address on the store’s liquor license to their current location in the Mercantile Center

• accepted the resignation of village trustee Erin Martin who has left the community following the flood

• approved a flood donation committee of Dawn McCann, Lori Bekkum, Larry McCarn and Harry Heisz to try to get money into the hands of those in extreme need quickly