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Citizens provide input on snow removal in village
Gays Mills
gays mills village board

GAYS MILLS - After the meeting was called to order, the roll call read and posting of the agenda verified, the Gays Mills Village Board Meeting was opened to comment from citizens and delegations.

Sometimes no one speaks during this public input opportunity, but Monday night Gays Mills resident Paul Kinserdahl made a prepared statement about what he thought was an inadequate response to a recent snowstorm by the village public works department.

While he resides in Gays Mills, Kinserdahl works for the Soldiers Grove Public Works Department. During his brief presentation, Kinserdahl contrasted the response of the two villages to the recent snowstorm.

“Most recently, I have been asked how we handle snow removal and plow breakdowns,” Kinserdahl said. “I like the other people who have approached me, am very concerned. I understand things break; however we do live in Wisconsin and we all know how hard the winters are on equipment that is left outside.

“In Grove, we have a plan A, B, C and even D to make sure the job gets done so our community members are safe and do not suffer. We have the equipment parked inside our building, loaded with sand, chains on and ready to roll when we arrive. We also adjust our start time, according to the snowfall.

“It seems in Gays Mills, these are not the standards to be met, however they should be.

“The other standards that our community members in Gays Mills are requesting is as follows:

1. Bus routes should be plowed well before our kids walk out to meet the bus.

2. All roads should be sanded well! I have seen many older community members walking on ice-covered roads due to no sidewalks in certain subdivisions.

3. The older subdivisions should be taken care of as well as the new subdivision is.

4. Plow the whole road, not just the middle. People shouldn’t have to remove snow left in corners of the road and we shouldn’t have two feet on each side left. This causes a one-way street.

“How can you as representatives of our community sit there and not uphold the standards this community expects out of the large budget the public works department receives.”

Kinserdahl also pointed out that Gays Mills Public Works Department budget of $159,400 is $23,105 more than the Soldiers Grove Public Works Department budget of $136,295.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz responded to Kinserdahl’s comments. He began by telling the village resident that the board could not act on the matter because it was not put on the agenda. However, Heisz said he was willing to discuss the situation Kinserdahl had brought up.

The village president said it was hard to make a budget comparison without knowing more about what was being done by the public works departments in both villages.

Was each responsible for the same amount of mowing? Was comparison of the villages apples to apples? Heisz wondered.

However, the village president was quick to admit the village did not have a backup plan in place to deal with two snowplow trucks breaking down at the same time.

“We weren’t ready for it,” Heisz stated bluntly.

“The scary part is that it was only this much snow” Kinserdahl said gesturing toward the floor. ‘What if it was this much snow,” he said raising his had to show a greater depth of snow.

Kinserdahl also noted that Soldiers Grove had trucks full of sand, ready to roll, but no one from Gays Mills reached out to them for assistance.

It was noted that Soldiers Grove has three guys with CDLs and Gays Mills has just one person with a CDL.

“What is the backup plan now?” village trustee Eitsert asked.

Heisz said the village has learned that the county has some spare trucks that could be used in an emergency. Help could also be requested from Soldiers Grove, as noted earlier and there are multiple people in the village who own plow trucks that could hired.

There was a bit more discussion on communicating with the public in these situations to let village residents know about the evolving situation.

Josh Kasinskas said the he thought the way the matter was brought up by Kinserdahl was well done. Village trustee Kevin Murray agreed that there were lots of good points brought up in the Kinserdahl presentations.

In answer to a  question, village trusteess confirmed the big orange public works truck was from the late 70s or early 80s and the pickup truck used to plow snow was a 2009-2011 vintage. It is three-quarter ton pickup.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• agreed the Westby Co-op Credit Union Mobile Branch should be moved to the upper parking lot above the Gays Mills Mercantile Center and the plaza

• approved a $100 annual fee for some of the non-profit users of the Community Commerce Center and other village buildings

• raised some rental rates at the Gays Mills Community Center for weddings, parties, and other events

• discussed how the village could spend more than $50,000 in federally provided coronavirus local fiscal recovery funds within the restrictions placed on their use

• distributed $3,000 from the savings on the health insurance policy to current village employees–giving $500 to full-time employees and $250 to part-time employees

• received written statements from two village residents, Emily Swiggum and Andrew Leirmo, commenting on the snow removal work of the village .