GAYS MILLS - Removal of the former Gays Mills High School building with grant funding moved a step further toward happening with the approval of a demolition contractor at the village board meeting Monday night.
After some discussion about the bid and the schedule, the board approved the low bid of Guy Nelson from Soldiers Grove.
The bid by Nelson sought to delay the end date to May and the board wanted the work to be completed by December 31. Nelson, who appeared in person at the meeting, explained why he had sought to have the date changed to May of 2021 in his bid.
The local contractor noted the bid was let late in the year by the village to reach the December deadline. Village president Harry Heisz confirmed the village had wanted the bid to go out earlier, like June, but details held up the release.
Nelson also indicated his effort would take a little more time because of recycling efforts, which he thought the village and board had favored.
Nelson outlined some of what would be involved to take the building down. He noted multiple air conditioning units would have to be drained of refrigerant before they could be removed. He also explained a concerted effort to, safely and separately, remove asbestos would have to be made on the roof and elsewhere in the building before demolition could proceed.
Nelson also noted that work at bringing in black dirt and replanting the area to grass would be best done in the spring, not in the winter.
Village trustee Kevin Murray, who lives just down the block from the school on School Street, asked if Nelson could get the structure razed and the concrete slab removed by December 31 and Nelson indicated that could be possible. However, the contractor pointed out that progress on the demolition would also be dependent on the weather.
Members of the board including village president Harry Heisz questioned if going to the next lowest bidder would allow the work to be completed sooner.
Nelson explained the next lowest bidder was $60,000 more and the amount exceeded the amount of grant funds available. So, getting more money would necessitate getting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to approve the higher amount. The contractor noted the delay involved in getting approval might well push the schedule of demolition back.
With an agreement to the extent that it is possible to remove the structure in the near-term and finish the groundwork in the spring, the board approved the low bid of Guy Nelson for the demolition and removal of the old school building.
The meeting began with a request from Independent-Scout editor Charley Preusser that all present at the meeting wear masks to try to stop the spread of the COVID pandemic. Village trustees Seamus Murray and Kevin Murray were the only people present at the meeting not wearing masks. Both trustees said that while they had no trouble with the editor or others at the meeting wearing masks, they would not wear them and thought masks were not helpful.
Kevin Murray cited the non-enforceability of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ mask mandate, which he called illegal.
The editor’s appeal to the village president on ordering wearing masks at the meetings was not successful. Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz, while wearing a mask himself like everyone at the meeting except the Murrays, said that the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department had indicated they would not enforce the order.
In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:
• received a preliminary budget for 2021, which they will review and discuss in November with approval of a final budget expected in December-that balanced budget proposes revenue and expenses of $746,824 for the general fund; $115,950 for the water utility; and $165,000 for the sewer utility.
• learned from Gays Mills Public Works Director Jim Chellevold that a hearing on the village’s phosphorous variance request went well and it seems the DNR will grant such a variance
• learned that the Village of Soldiers Grove will not pursue working on a joint sewer plant project with Gays Mills and instead will try to fix their current sewer plant
• learned the village will spend the next year creating a new plan to replace the aging sewer plant with the help of engineering firm yet to be determined
• received an update on the Kickapoo Culinary Center, the village’s shared-use kitchen, that indicated three new clients had expressed interest in renting space
• learned the public works crew was unable to commit to doing specific work on trees in the village, as requested by the village forester and tree board because of other commitments
• the board affirmed that donations and money from some logging sales could be segregated for use on tree removal and planting using a specific line item in the village accounting system to keep track of the funds
• approved renting the old village office space on the second floor of the community building at 212 Main Street to a couple interested in using it as musical studio for $225 per month with a reevaluation of the rent price based on the amount of the monthly electric heating bills
• decided to offer for bid the removal of the old roof and construction of a new roof on the dam building used most recently as a seasonal museum
• agreed to have a meeting of the Architectural Review Committee to review and possibly change restrictions and covenants for North Mills and First Addition to North Mills
• approved renewing the village employees’ Quartz Health Insurance coverage and pay the $375 per month increase for the policy
• passed a resolution formalizing the refinance of the village’s sewer loan that will save the village substantial money in interest payments in the future
• approved operators applications for John LaLande, Lyrica Marks and Michelle Forde
After meeting in closed session, the board reconvened in open session and approved paying bonuses to the lifeguards, bath house attendants and the pool director based on hours worked last season.The board also agreed to give no wage increases to village employees in the coming budget, but rather to evaluate bonuses for those employees at the end of the year.