Following a public hearing on six village residences that were identified to be in need of kennel licenses, the Gays Mills Village Board approved granting all of the licenses during their regular meeting.
Revisiting the village ordinance is part of the plan of village trustee Harry Heisz and other trustees to review and possibly modify the ordinances. After reviewing the kennel ordinance, both the public safety committee and later the board agreed the ordinance should stand as written and be enforced.
The six owners of more than three dogs were notified that they would need kennel licenses and the matter would be discussed at a public hearing. Three of those owners were in attendance Monday night. David George was the first to address the board. He stated that his family owned several Teacup Chihuahuas and that they were kept in the house or taken into the yard in the presence of the owners.
George asked if the $35 kennel license would mean he would not have to pay the village for individual licenses for the dogs.
Gays Mills Village Clerk Dawn McCann assured George that would be the case. She also stated the kennel licenses would need to be purchased in December for the upcoming year.
George was satisfied with the arrangement, but had some other concerns. He asked the board if they were aware of the many cats loose in the village and some of the damage they were doing. He also questioned whether anything was being done.
Board members acknowledged that the ordinance requiring licensing for dogs also addressed cats.
Finally, George noted that dogs with their owners being walked on the street were urinating on his property and asked if that was appropriate. He noted the owners were removing dog litter from the yard, but did nothing to stop the dogs from urinating there.
Village trustee Geraldine Smith said that some municipalities had ordinances requiring owners to curb their dogs, which means they need to have them at the curb in the street when they urinated. However, she noted this was not the law in Gays Mills.
Village residents Tim and Amanda Copus were also present for the hearing and seemed to acknowledge they would need to purchase the kennel license.
Unrelated to the kennel license, Gays Mills Village President Pat Brockway reminded the Copuses that they had been warned and agreed to remove a pit bull from the village limits. Brockway reminded them that a village ordinance specifically banned pit bulls or mixed breed pit bulls from the village.
Tim Copus explained the dog, a pit bull-American boxer mix had been removed to a rural property, but was not compatible with a horse living on the property. Both Tim and Amanda emphasized the dog was not aggressive, but agreed they would try to get it out of the village again.
Heisz recalled a pit bull known to his family that attacked his four-year-old daughter causing her to go through 11 surgeries.
The third dog owner present for the hearing was village trustee Albert Zegiel, who made no statement about his need for the kennel license. However, in response to another trustee’s question said that his family kept 10 miniature pinschers in the house.
Brockway said the meeting was called so neighbors with complaints about residents with multiple dogs could appear to discuss those complaints. However, no neighbors appeared with complaints about any of the five residents, who would need the kennel licenses.
Later during the regular meeting, the board approved issuing all six licenses. Those receiving them included: Lee Ruegg, Gay Street; Tim and Amanda Copus, Sunset Ridge Avenue; Albert Zegiel, Main Street; Gary Holtz, River Road; Tim and Phyllis Leith, Orin Street; and Robin and Mary Babb, Highway 131.
The Babbs had sent a letter outlining their kennel operation and reminding the board that their property, although in the village, was zoned agricultural.
Aside from the dog kennel issue, the Gays Mills Village Board spent much of the meeting dealing with issues related to flood recovery efforts, spurred on by the fact that the Community Development Block Grant’s flood recovery funding was set to expire at the end of the year and more than $600,000 left was not directly committed to projects yet.
A report on a rental elevation program prepared by Couleecap’s Kahya Fox was referenced during the meeting, although Fox was unable to attend. The Couleecap official stated in the report that bids for elevating the rental properties had come in high at $592,000. That was well above the $440,000 already committed for the project.
Fox had indicated she would talk with the low-bidding contractor and hoped to reduce the cost. However, Community Development Alternative’s Lori Bekkum explained that some of the unspent money that was to be used for business redevelopment might be switched to this project to see the rental elevations took place.
CDA, a consulting firm based in Prairie du Chien, was retained recently by the village to oversee the final phases of the grants and the flood recovery projects. Bekkum said the village should consider preparing a letter to Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Stan Kaitfors asking to approve switching the necessary funding to be used for completion of the rental elevations.
However during her presentation, Central Business District Manager Julia Henley outlined a variety of projects that she thought the remaining funding should be used to accomplish. Those projects included moving Greg Vereschagin’s woodworking workshop from the floodplain location behind his house on Park Street to a site near the EMS Building in Site C. The project was estimated cost between $40,000 to $140,000 depending on whether the building could be moved or the process would require constructing a new building.
Additionally, Henley wanted $6,900 allocated for signage at the Gays Mercantile Center and $40,000 to be set aside for flood proofing business assistance.
Bekkum also described two acquisitions of deserted properties that should be removed. In a conversation, she noted they could be taken by the county who would then allow the village to buy them back for removal. However, board members were reluctant to expend village money on the projects perhaps preferring to see the county dispose of the property.
After both Bekkum and Henley had addressed the board, Heisz outlined the problem that had been created in attempting to identify the projects and explain them to Kaitfors. The letter may ask the stated purpose of the grant be adjusted to accommodate the needs of the projects.
“Still, the key numbers are not here,” Heisz said following the presentations. “We have two different groups with two different things they’re proposing.”
When it got down to what should be included in the letter to Kaitfors there was no agreement.
Henley said the letter could seek to just extend the time for using the grants or could ask the grant be allowed to reallocate funds from one sector to another. She noted because business assistance for flood proofing was not a purpose of the grant as written, the project to replace Song’s Mushroom Farm shelving in the old high school building could not be done.
Henley indicated that if flood proofing for businesses were approved maybe some business assistance could be directed toward the Last Call Bar, which experienced problems with water in the basement and on the floor during the last flood incident in June.
Village trustee Earl Winsor thought it was a good idea to include any of the possibilities the village was considering in the letter.
Village trustee Aaron Fortney seemed to agree when he commented that “nothing was carved in stone.”
Bekkum reminded the board the deadline for using the funds was December 31. She asked the board what would happen if the state refused to extend the deadline.
Henley said the “number one thing was seeking a time extension.”
Bekkum said Kaitfors and the state would probably be more inclined to grant an extension for a project that was in progress, but not yet finished rather than a project that wasn’t started by December 31.
“How many more days will it take to get the numbers,” Heisz asked.
“On my side, three days,” Henley replied.
Bekum indicated that a residential acquisition and relocation included in her proposal was based on costs of past acquisitions because an appraisal of this property had not been done yet.
However, with that exception noted, Bekkum told the board that “these are my numbers.”
The board and the consultants agreed to meet today, Thursday, Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. to gather the final information on the proposals and cost and then write and send a letter to the DOA’s Kaitfors on Friday with the information on the village’s plans for use of the remaining grant funds.
During a report on the the old Community Building located at 212 Main Street, the situation seemed to get tense at one point when trustee Geraldine Smith told Kay Smiley she was unhappy with how plantings had been handled by the Village Stewards in a vacant lot along Railroad Street that is adjacent to a building owned by Craig Anderson.
Smith told Smiley that the flowers that were planted should have allowed for a 15-foot space along the street to be used by local vendors during Apple Fest. Smith said the plan approved by the apple festival committee to allow planting in the area had not been followed.
Smiley said a mistake had been made.
When Smith pressed the matter, several other board members spoke up on behalf of Smiley and the Village Stewards.
“Something happened completely by accident,” Winsor said of the situation. “You’re not going to find someone any more reliable (than Kay Smiley).”
“We need to work together,” Brockway added. “That’s all we can do.”
In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:
• agreed to begin a process with the auditor and Wisconsin Public Service Commission to look into a full-scale water rate increase of 10 to 15 percent because the utility was not breaking even at the current charges and the village would ultimately be ordered to undertake a full-scale rate increase
• heard a swimming pool report from Jen Klekamp noting attendance was down recently because of cooler weather and a sand filter had broken in the pool and had to be replaced at a cost of $1,700
• heard a report for Kickapoo Culinary Center’s Brad Niemcek that the shared-use kitchen and adjoining community room were holding their own and paying their share of the building’s bills
• approved borrowing $100,000 for sewer and water mains along Highway 131 necessitated by a proposed state reconstruction of the Del La Mater Bridge even though the project may be done for half the amount of authorized borrowing
• approved borrowing $20,000 for work installing a railing and fence at the Gays Mills Mercantile Center with 60 percent of the cost to be reimbursed by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration
• donated $500 previously budgeted for the North Crawford Summer Rec Program
• agreed to waive fees for the use of the Community Commerce Room by InHealth Community Wellness Clinic for a fundraiser
• approved a draft letter for the sale of village lots
• approved a procedure for sales of village lots with a preference to adjoining neighbors (defined as grass-to-grass)
• heard a request from Kay Smiley to look into renting the upstairs office in the old Community Building at 212 Main Street for prayer meetings