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Gays Mills board hears report on old community building
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It was the April Fool’s Day edition of the Gays Mills Village Board meeting on Monday night, according to village president Craig Anderson, who made the observation as he called the meeting to order.

Actually, it was one of the lighter moments in another long village board meeting that lasted over two-and-a-half hours.

During the public input portion of the meeting, Pat Brockway, a candidate for Gays Mills Village President opposing Anderson for the position in the Tuesday election, rose to report on a meeting held among local residents concerned with the future of the old Gays Mills Community Building, located at 212 Main Street.

Following Brockway’s brief remarks on the situation, Anderson noted that the matter would be discussed further under the public property committee’s agenda items of the meeting. When the item came up for discussion, village trustee Albert Zegiel, the public property committee chairman, told the board that the meeting about the future of the old community building was very well attended.

Zegiel said those in attendance participated in “a really nice discussion and quite a few good ideas were brought up.” The trustee said most of those at the meeting seemed united in the idea that the building should be maintained as a community-owned building.

Village trustee Harry Heisz, another member of thepublic property committee, also attended the special meeting to discuss the future of the old community building. Heisz also acknowledged that those present strongly voiced their feelings that the building should be kept in village hands.

Both trustees outlined work those at the special committee meeting were interested in pursuing to  keep the building a functioning part of the community.

Anderson tried to summarize the public property committee report by saying the committee was leaning toward the village maintaining ownership, but did not have a specific proposal at this time. Neither Zegiel nor Heisz objected to the president’s take on their report.

In a related matter, Todd Osman, a member of the E3 Coalition, made an energy-saving proposal concerning the old community building to the village board. Osman, a local energy consultant, explained a plan to use Focus on Energy grant to make the lighting in the building more efficient. He told the board the grant would pay $2,400 toward replacing the old inefficient fluorescent bulbs and fixtures with new lighting that would save about 35 percent in energy costs. However the grant would call on other sources to pay $1,049 for the rest of the project’s cost.

Osman said he understood the uncertain future of the building and village ownership. He also explained that he realized that the board might be reluctant to spend the money at this time on the building. However, he showed the board how they could save $330 in a tax credit they could transfer to the E3 Coalition and another $330 they could save by reducing the number of bulbs in each fixture from four to just three.

In the end the $3,500 project would cost the village just $389, according to Osman. That’s a little more than 10 percent of its real cost. The cost savings, even with reduced use, could be expected to pay off the village’s cost in a couple of years.

“I don’t think we can afford to not do it,” village trustee Earl Winsor said in making the motion to go ahead with the E3 Coalition proposal.

Although Vierbicher’s Kurt Muchow was late arriving for the meeting, when the planner in charge of the relocation projects began his presentation there was plenty to discuss.

Muchow started by telling the board that he believed contractors had fixed a leak in the roof of the Gays Mills Mercantile Center.

“The roof leak is fixed as best we can tell,” Muchow said of the situation at the Mercantile Center. “The contractor isolated the leak and fixed it as best we can tell. We’re monitoring it and if something else happens we’ll have them back again to fix it.”

Muchow also described an ongoing problem with “balancing” the HVAC system on the Mercantile Center. The problem lies with the fact that the specifications of equipment installed in the building do not show it has the capability to serve as a balanced system. However, a firm hired by the general contractor to determine if the system is balanced is using instruments, test and measurements to say the system is balanced. Nevertheless, the mechanical engineer on the project refuses to approve the HVAC system as it is currently installed because it is not balanced.

Muchow also described how the remaining $9,277 in EDA (Economic Development Administration) funds could be used. The relocation project manager said a change order with Weiser Brothers, the contractor for the Gays Mills Mercantile Center, could be used to address three projects? building an enclosure around the building's chiller system to protect it (Weiser Brothers’ bid $8,800); installing 70 feet of railing on retaining wall on the north end of the building (Weiser Brothers’ bid $6,300); and finally installing a 30-foot flag pole in front of the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center (Weiser Brothers’ bid $4,300).

Muchow said obtaining the EDA money when it was again made available would require a contribution from the village of $6,170, which would probably have to be borrowed. This would create a total sum of $15,447, that amount could fund the enclosure around the chiller and the railing at the Mercantile Center. After some discussion with the board, it was decided Muchow would try to find a cheaper option on the enclosure and come back to the board with a new proposal from Weiser Brothers’ on the three items.

In other business, the board:

• agreed to hire Vierbicher at an estimated $9,325 to do the village’s engineering work on a Wisconsin Department of Transportation project that calls for relocating a highway 131 bridge over DeLaMater Creek

• approved two old community building requests from Teens for Truth for April 27 and May 18

• approved the Gays Mills Folk Festival request for the use of the old community building on May 10 and 11

• approved conditionally the use of the old community building for a family reunion event on August 3

• approved hiring Jen Klekamp as the Gays Mills Pool Manager for another season

• authorized taking out a loan for  $34,000 at one percent interest from the Royal Bank to initially finance tourism advertising costs that will later be reimbursed by the state JEM II Grant

• agreed to allow Richland-Grant Telephone Co-operative an easement through village-owned land through Lions Park across the river  and up Highway 171 to a place where the phone co-ops easement could join a utility co-op easement

• passed a resolution vacating and discontinuing an abandoned ally behind Highway 171 near the intersection with Highway 131

• took steps to make a garage available to neighbor Joe Klekamp that is on the former Eby property across the street from the Royal Bank in the same area as the  alley abandonment

• adopted silica (frac) sand mine licensing requirement

• passed a measure confirming the Crawford County Land Conservation Department Shared Resource and Information Agreement designed to assist the village in administering the frac sand mine licensing

• upheld a zoning board recommendation to deny a variance for 218 Park Street that would have allowed  for fill at a neighbor’s property line that would have been detrimental to drainage on the neighboring property

• approved a fireworks permit for Don Peterson

• heard two preliminary offers to purchase property owned by the village through floodplain buyouts by the properties’ neighbors

• approved a Class B Picnic License for the Sportsmen’s Club on May 4 at the Community Commerce Center