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Campsites get firepit updates in Gays Mills
gays mills village board

GAYS MILLS - A local donor has approached the Village of Gays Mills with an offer to purchase and install firepits with grills at the village campsites near the dam, as well as near the shelters in the parks.

In all, the installation would include 13 smaller firepit units for the campsites and three larger units for the parks, according to village president Harry Heisz who informed the village board about the project at their meeting on Monday, March 2.

The project includes Installation of cement bases and steel fire rings and grates. All costs will be covered by the donor.

The village board also learned that contractors have been located to work on the geothermal  heating and cooling system at the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. The first thing the village will undertake is a flushing of the system and inspection. 

The flushing should remove any blockage inhibiting the flow in the system, Gays Mills Public Works Director Jim Chellevold explained to the board. 

When the system is flushed and repaired, it will be filled with solution that includes food-grade glycol. This will inhibit the formation of rust, which is probably responsible for the blockages occurring in parts of the system now. 

During a report on the sewer system, Chellevold told the board that the village’s individual phosphorous variance from the DNR had not yet been approved as of the meeting. The five-year variance would allow the village to not meet the stricter phosphorous discharge rule for five years. 

A USDA Rural Development Grant Loan Application was put on hold as the village reassesses its options in light of the proposed joint sewer plant proposal being  looked at by Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills.

The board appointed trustees Kevin Murray, Lee Ruegg and village president Harry Heisz to serve on the joint sewer plant committee with representatives from the Soldiers Grove Village Board.

However, Harry Heisz made it clear that all board members were welcome at any time to attend the joint sewer committee meetings.

“We can’t make decisions if we can’t understand the options,” Heisz said of the committee’s work.

Gays Mills Swimming Pool Director Kayla Fortney proposed hiring more lifeguards and not hiring bathhouse attendants in the coming season.

 Fortney told the board that the guards are more useful because in addition to serving as guards they can staff the bathhouse and give swimming lessons beyond what the bathhouse attendants are qualified to do.

Heisz asked Fortney if she could run the pool with 10 lifeguards. The pool director said she could.

However, Fortney asked the board if she could hire two additional lifeguards this year bringing the total to 12. 

Heisz said he thought that was a good idea, but reminded Fortney that avoiding overtime would be crucial in keeping the operation within the budget.

Village trustee Kevin Murray asked if Fortney could operate within the same budget for this year and she said it would be within the budget. The budget last year for the pool personnel was $18,000 including both lifeguards and bathhouse attendants.

After some discussion, the board decided to raise the wage by 50 cents per hour–as the wages had not been increased in sometime.

Fortney said she saw no problem filling the 12 guard positions. She said she had half now and would probably be fully staffed by the end of the month.

Of the returning lifeguards, three will need to be recertified and four or five of the new lifeguards will need to be certified.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved creating a checking account for the tree board to handle money in the revolving loan fund for trees, which finances planting of trees in terraces along the sidewalks in the village

• learned that mosquito abatement plans were in the works

• learned the public works School Street cleanup had been completed

• discussed some obstacles to snow removal near Highway 131 and School Street being complicated by snow removal efforts of contractors on adjacent private property

• learned the Grove Street private property cleanup had made progress

• approved submitting an application for a Municipal Flood Control Grant

• decided against paying an additional $4,000 on a Davy Engineering billing for work that was bid at $20,000 for which the village had already paid $34,000

• approved taking bids for interior painting on some rooms in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center

• discussed the need for repairs on the Old Mill Museum roof and decided to price both a flat rubberized roof and a pitched tin roof

• approved a Class B temporary license for the Gays Mills Sportsmen’s Club at the Community Commerce Center on May 2,  2020