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Problems persist in rental elevations
In Gays Mills
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Uncompleted and improperly done yard work on the rental property elevations in Gays Mills continues to be a concern of the village board.

Scheduled as an item on the board meeting agenda Monday night, the entry indicated CouleeCap’s Kahya Fox would be present to discuss the situation, but she was not. CouleeCap, under the direction of Fox, was responsible for administering a Community Development Block Grant to fund the elevation of five rental properties in the floodplain. The stated goal of the elevations was to preserve housing opportunities for low-income renters.

“Where is Kahya Fox?” asked a frustrated village trustee Geraldine Smith.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz introduced the topic by affirming the yards on the rental elevations looked “horrible.”

The contracts financed by the grant administered by CouleeCap clearly indicated the yards were to be filled with topsoil and lawns were to be re-established.

Derek McCormick, whose Main Street rental property has had a variety of other problems as the result of the elevation work, reported he is also suffering from the poor yard treatment. McCormick told the board that the yard was in such bad shape at this point that he would not even take a lawn mower on it.

As for CouleeCap’s Fox, the last known contact the village had with her was in early May. Other attempts to reach her in late May and last month have gone unanswered.

Village trustee Barbara Sand told McCormick that she and village trustee John Johnson went through the Main Street property after last month’s meeting to check out claims of damage and poor workmanship. Sand’s tone of voice indicated her less-than-pleased attitude toward the situation. She refused to say anything more, but stated she planned to discuss it more during the closed session at the end of the meeting.

The closed session was called to discuss pending litigation with legal counsel. The apparent topic was McCormick’s situation with the elevation. Prior to moving into the closed session, a trustee asked the village’s attorney Eileen Brownlee if Derek McCormick should be included in the closed session discussion. Brownlee stated that she would prefer to speak with just the board.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved an American Legion Post 308 request to use the Gays Mills Community Building at 212 Main Street for air rifle competition for youth, aged 8 to 18, one to four times per month at a cost of $20 per session

• tabled further action on an annexation request designed to get a property connected to the village sewer and water until the proper notification can be made to the Town of Clayton.

• approved the running of a 5 K walk-run in the village as part of the Crawford County Fair Activities in August

• heard a progress report on community cleanup activities from village trustee Ed Block

• heard trustee John Johnson had drafted a letter requesting speed limits be lowered on Highway 171 on the west end of the village and on Highway 131 in the northern part of the village in the area of the new development

• received an update on the Kickapoo Culinary Kitchen and the Community Room in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center from Brad Niemcek, indicating the shared-use kitchen was operating near break even in the last quarter and had a balance in the bank account

• heard an update on the preliminary DNR dredging application for the slough, located behind the Community Commerce Center

• heard from Heisz that the Gays Mills Mercantile Center sign was in the process of being completed and should be installed in the coming weeks

• informally thanked Wisconsin Corps for the work the conservation corps workers were doing in the village weeding and painting

• heard the frustration of Johnson and other trustees with village work on water leaks and the  inaccessibility of the village’s director of public works, Jim Chellevold, to some trustees

• approved making Craig Anderson an additional chief inspector for elections

• heard a presentation from North Crawford Schools Pep Grant Director Tarasa Lown and others on the school’s proposal to build a fitness-wellness center to be used by students, staff and the larger community and the referendum to fund its construction scheduled for the August 12 election.