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Ordinance prohibits snowmobiles on sidewalks
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Snow removal from sidewalks and streets was again a topic for the Soldiers Grove Village Board at their regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening, Jan. 3.

Discussion about plowing focused on two private streets and alleys.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation provides Highway Aid, but only for streets that the village maintains and owns. Alleys and private roads are excluded.

The village has been clearing Baker Creek Drive and Our Saviors Drive, both of which are private drives.

There is also the potential for reimbursement issues with other streets due to their narrow width, according to Soldiers Grove Village President Laurel Hestetune.

“There’s no grandfathering these streets in (with the state),” Hesteune said, referencing older village streets that failed to meet the 19’ width requirement by the State of Wisconsin for aid qualification. The village had previously failed to receive a Local Roads Improvement Program to repave Cemetery Road because of its narrow width.

The board chose to continue with plowing of the two private roads and several alleys, though in the future the owners will bear responsibility for maintenance and repair on Our Savior’s and Baker Creek drives.

The new ordinance for snow removal was passed unanimously. It gives residents 24 hours after the cessation of snowfall to clear their sidewalks or they would be cleared by the village and the property owner billed. The ‘special charge’ would be inserted in the tax list with charges as follows, per winter:

• $50 for the first time;

• $75 for second time;

• $100 for each subsequent shoveling.

Snowmobiles driven in town continue to raise issues over sidewalks and use of private land.

“I had a snowmobiler call and tell me it was the village’s responsibility to provide a trail through town,” Hestetune said. “I’ve been in contact with the DNR, and we’re not obligated to do anything, that’s the snowmobiler’s responsibility to contact landowners before they cross their property.”

Existing village ordinance from 1974 already prohibits snowmobilers from trespassing, driving on sidewalks and park properties, and operating between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. except for through traffic on designated trails.

“Someone almost got hit on the sidewalk,” Hestetune said.

The board approved sending a letter reiterating the ordinance to known snowmobilers in the village, in the hopes they will share the information with others.

A unanimous vote was made to sign the contracts so work can begin on the library expansion project, including an upgrade to the electrical system for the village office and community room. The village will cover $1,400 of the $2,300 upgrade, which the library will reimburse should they succeed in additional fundraising in excess of that needed to upgrade the building’s passive solar system.

The library continues to seek funding for aspects of the project that were cut after bids came in approximately 150-percent above the estimated cost supplied by the architects. One of those projects is central air conditioning for the entire community building. The village office and library are currently cooled window units; the community room, bathrooms and hallway are uncooled.

The board heard a report for police officer Peggy McCormick-Godfrey, after Sheriff Dale McCullick was unable to attend.

McCormick-Godfrey, a recent graduate of the Criminal Justice program at Southwest Tech in Fennimore, works part-time with the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department. She is currently working primarily on weekend nights. In response to requests from the board, she will watch for snowmobilers on sidewalks and will note her activities on her time sheet.

Jason Berkum, present as a member of the public, requested the officer attempt to patrol Tavern Road at least some mornings when children were present. Berkum expressed concern that speeding traffic on the street is creating a safety hazard for children heading to the schoolbus stop. McCormick-Godfrey agreed to do so.

In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:

• approved the discontinuation of fluoridating the village water supply

• tabled the new truck purchase to seek more bids

• approved the appointment of Mike Dishnow to the Soldiers Grove Library Board

• approved the Lions’ request to place a tent on the parking lot for Dairy Days with a request that they consider placement of permanent staking holes after the damage done last year

• drew names for candidate placement on the spring ballot – #1 Paul Nicholson, #2 Bob Froiseth, #3 Vicki Campbell, and #4 Jerry Moran