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Gays Mills board looks at changing meeting structure
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It could’ve been one of the last mass committee meetings of the Gays Mills Village Board that will be held for a while, based on some statements made during the annual board reorganization.

Newly elected Gays Mills Village President Pat Brockway began the meeting by making a statement about the process of holding all standing committee meetings together on a Monday night, one week before the regular board meeting. Brockway opposed the standing committee meeting process now employed by the board.

“Most of the serious stuff the board had to deal with is beyond us at this point,” Brockway said in reference to the multiple agenda items generated by a variety of flood relocation projects. The new board president favored eliminating the meeting for all committees on the Monday a week before the regular board meeting.

Brockway proposed replacing the regularly scheduled monthly committee meetings with committee meetings scheduled as the need arises. He also favored calling special board meetings if necessary to deal with pressing business.

Brockway then asked that each village trustee express their opinions on whether they favored the regular monthly committee meetings as scheduled.

The first to speak, village trustee Albert Zegiel, favored the regularly scheduled committee meetings held together on a Monday one week before the regular board meeting.

“I like the present system,” Zegiel said. “This way people can come and hear about something and then have another week to think about it. Sometimes, I’ve been able to change my opinion on something instead of having a one-day-a-month meeting and just rubber-stamping the opinion (of the committee). I’m totally in favor of maintaining the present structure.”

Village trustee Geraldine Smith also favored maintaining the present system.

“I agree with Al,” Smith said. “We were here until midnight before we started having the committee meetings.”

Village trustee Harry Heisz agreed with Brockway.

“I’m in favor of having one meeting a month,” Heisz said. “Then, if we need to have a special meeting, do it. We’re at the point, where there will be less stuff in front of us, not like it was three or four months ago.”

Heisz favored going to one board meeting per month and scheduling special meetings as needed.

Earl Winsor agreed with Heisz and Brockway and favored just one regularly scheduled board meeting per month.

Brockway added that he had observed that the current week-before committee meetings meant the board meeting was not as open to citizens as it had been in the past.

Smith took issue with Heisz’s assessment of the board’s workload lessening in the near future. She noted the village was losing its development person in Julia Henley and the situation would require more work form the board.

Brockway said he had spoken with Aaron Fortney about the situation and would talk to Barb Sand about it soon.

Fortney has suggested in the past that he does not favor the lengthy regularly scheduled committee meetings in the week prior to the board meeting. He frequently has not attended the committee meetings. Sand’s opinion on the matter is not known.

No action on the matter was taken and no recommendation on board action was made.

The six standing committees of the board then met as stated on the posted agenda.

During the public property committee segment of the meeting, bids were opened for the demolition or salvage of three properties (211 Orin Street, 210 Park Street and 102 School Street). All three bids were awarded to Showen Excavating of Gays Mills.

All three properties were bid on by Showen and Robinson Brothers from Waunakee. On two properties (211 Orin Street and 210 Park Street), Showen’s bid for demolition or salvage was the lower. On the third property (102 School Street) Robinson Brothers bid of $7,000 was lower than Showen’s of $7,067, but the board decided to award the bid to Showen based on points he got for being a local bidder.

In another matter to come before the public property committee, owners of three residences appeared to request purchases of adjacent lots that were scheduled to be salvaged or demolished. Maura Otis and Barry Jensen indicated their interest in 211 Orin Street; Greg Vereschagin expressed interest in 210 Park Street and Risha Murray indicated an interest in 102 School Street.

In a discussion of the situation, trustee Harry Heisz noted that what could be done with properties going forward was unclear. He explained that Stan Kaitfors was the Wisconsin Department of Administration official tasked with administering the Community Development Block Grants funding used to buy out and remove the three residences. In a letter to the village, Kaitfors seemed to say that the lots should be left green space and be undeveloped, while also saying the future use of the lots would be dictated by village’s floodplain ordinance. Under the village’s ordinance the properties would not have to remain green space because they could be filled to height above the floodplain and then be built upon.

Both the local residents, seeking to buy the properties from the village and the member of the village board said the matter must be clarified by Kaitfors before anything could be done. Otis indicated she would e-mail Kaifors for an answer to the question.

The committee tabled action on recommending the requests until more information was available.

Meanwhile, Risha Murray’s request to lease 102 School Street for use as a garden space was considered and the committee recommended it be approved by the board following the removal of the residence.

In other business, the Gays Mills Public Property and Cemetery Committee:

• discussed future management of the Gays Mills Mercantile Center after the departure of recovery coordinator Julia Henley

• recommended the board sign a grant agreement with Wisconsin Emergency Management to not allow most development on the more than two dozen properties bought out with FEMA and DNR funds

• tabled a request from three residents that the village provide water for trees being planted at the rear of their properties as a privacy screen between their residences and the new Vosseteig Funeral Home and the development beyond it

• discussed a proposal to allow green burials in a portion of the Gays Mills Cemetery, but tabled it for further study

And, the Gays Mills Finance Committee:

• heard the volunteer fire department was preparing to purchase a poly replacement tank at a cost of $42,000 for  leaking steel tank currently mounted on the tanker truck using budgeted funds and a loan of up to $15,000

• recommended the board approve and sign an Ocooch Mountain Rescue service agreement including a budgeted $3,500 contribution

And, the Gays Mills Utilities Committee:

• approved recommending the low bid for cleaning the water tower tank

• recommended the board sign an easement document with RGTC (the phone co-op) for placing lines on village property in the area of Lions Park and across the river

And, the Gays Mills Personnel Committee:

• agreed to recommend the swimming pool hiring proposal of pool manager Jen Klekamp

And, the Gays Mills Public Works Committee:

 • recommended the board sign an updated Crawford County Land Conservation Department Shared Resource and Information Agreement designed to provide the  village with assistance in licensing and regulating non-metallic mining (like frac sand mining)

• reviewed and discussed the village’s kennel licensing ordinance and decided to recommend  to the board increased enforcement to the existing ordinance with no changes to it