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Lacking quorum, meeting used for discussion
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Although the Gays Mills Village Board lacked a four-member quorum at their special board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 8, the meeting took place anyway.

With four of the seven members absent for a variety of health and family reasons, as well as prior commitments, Gays Mills Village President Pat Brockway called the meeting to order for the purposes of discussion only, since lacking a quorum the board could not take any official action.

The meeting began with only two members present; Brockway and village trustee Geraldine Smith. Later, they were joined by village trustee Earl Winsor. Aaron Fortney, Albert Zegiel, Harry Heisz and Barbara Sand were unable to attend the meeting.

One of the first things on the agenda was to consider the bids received by Couleecap for the rental elevation program.  Couleecap’s Kahya Fox told the board that the bids for elevating the five properties was now at a total of $485,658 and with a project delivery fee of 10 percent  for the agency it would be near $530,000 or almost $150,000 more than was initially allocated from grants for the project. She asked about the possibility of redirecting some of the unspent Community Development Block Grant toward the cost overruns on the elevation. The CDBG funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2013 or returned to the state.

Village president Pat Brockway informed Fox that he knew several trustees on the board would not be happy with the higher costs for the project.

Quality Energy Experts from Tomah was the low bidder on four of the five rental elevation projects. The general contractor’s bids for the work were $93,896 for 506 Main Street, $95,579 for 102 Main Street, $104,537 for 319 Grove Street and $112,126 for 121 North Gay Street.

Showen Excavating had the low bid of $79,520 for 218 Park Street, while Quality Energy Experts had bid $89,652 on the same job.

At one point in the discussion, Fox allowed that Couleecap could forgo adding more money to the delivery costs for the project since the increased bid costs did not actually reflect any increased work for the agency. Since the delivery costs are rated at 10 percent of the total costs this represented about $15,000 more because the project was now almost $150,000 over the original budget.

Community Development Alternatives, a Prairie du Chien-based municipal consultant helping the village with the final aspects of the flood redevelopment grants informed the village through employee Lori Bekkum that two remaining acquisitions of residences in the floodplain were estimated to cost the village $188,000. Bekkum also told the board an appraiser was ready to do appraisals on the two residences as soon as there was approval to proceed.

Julia Henley, the village’s flood recovery coordinator and central business district manager, told the board that signage in the downtown area and at the Gays Mills Mercantile Center was estimated to cost about $6,900.

Henley also informed the board that the Vereschagins would not pursue plans to relocate Greg Vereschagin’s woodworking workshop to a lot near the Ocooch Mountain Rescue EMS Building in relocation Site C. Vereschagin’s shop is currently located in the floodplain.

Henley said that if a letter being sent to Stan Kaitfors, from the Wisconsin Department of Administration, asked for more latitude to pursue flood proofing of existing buildings perhaps Song’s Mushroom Farm located in the former high school on School Street could receive some of the funding.

In previous meetings, Henley had requested the board approve spending more than $178,000 on new shelving for the mushroom farm. However, the board rejected the idea when it was determined replacing the shelving in the floodplain business with no plans of relocating out of the floodplain was not compatible with the stated goals of the grant funding which was relocation. Brockway told Henley that he believed Song’s flooding problems were actually backflow from sewers similar to the problems experienced by nearby churches during the flooding. He said installing proper backflow devices should prevent the problem in the future.

Brockway also noted that the mushroom farm’s floor drains flowed directly into the Kickapoo River with permits from the DNR to do so.

In addition to flood proofing measures at Song’s Mushroom Farm, there was some discussion over providing flood proofing help to the Last Call Bar on Main Street, which continues to have problems with basement and minor first floor flooding during flood incidents. Brockway said filling in the basement and some other mitigation measures  could probably solve the problem.

The three village board members present did adjourn into a closed session for a discussion of how to proceed with making an offer to Maxine Brooks for her proposed Bistro in the Mercantile Center. Of course, no action would be possible on the matter since the meeting lacked a quorum.