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Radios stolen from fire department
in Soldiers Grove
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What began as a discussion about the Soldiers Grove Fire Department’s brush truck morphed into a non-agenda item conversation about radios at Thursday, July 11 meeting of the Soldiers Grove Village Board.

Seven radios were stolen from the Soldiers Grove Fire Department Building sometime during the last nine months and the theft is under active investigation with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.

“We’re getting a lot of interest charges showing up on the bill,” said Ben Clason of the replacement radios. Though the bill is not yet due, it showed around $4,000 in interest penalties, if not paid on time.

The replacement purchases were made by the fire department without board approval, noted Soldiers Grove Village President Laurel Hestetune.

“They are far more than what’s needed,” said trustee Jerry Moran, who said the fire department did not need radios with over 200 channels. “We need to hear our local calls.”

Hestetune queried how the department could go so long without noticing the radios were missing.

The radio count did not always involve the radio being physically present, Clason explained.

“We would check, people sometimes left them at home, so they were accounted for but not present,” Clason said. “We are looking at how to change our inventory in the future.”

“Well, what we are going to do about the bill is real simple,” said trustee Jim Helgerson. “The bill will not be paid until the investigation is done, period.”

The brush truck took an equal amount of discussion, though did result in action. The board opted to have the transmission replaced rather than purchase a new truck, which could cost upwards of $130,000. The board plans to then begin looking for a used vehicle with which to replace it.

The Fire Department currently has $21,103 that could be applied toward the purchase of a newer vehicle.

The board discussed use of the squad car for the police officer, Peggy McCormick-Godfrey.

“We’ve had problems with our last three cops, but we are not getting the coverage with the county that we would have if we had our own cop,” Hestetune said, “If we had her use our car, it might cost less.”

“I would be for hiring her more hours if we could use our own car,” said Moran.

McCormick-Godfrey noted that in order to use the village’s squad car rather than the counties, the computer would need to be upgraded and possibly the radio to ensure they worked with the county’s system for ticketing.

Hestetune asked the board member to be thinking about ways to use the squad car or the option of selling it, while he did research into the cost of upgrading the computer and radio.

McCormick-Godfrey reported that June Dairy Days produced only one medical call and went well.

The board informed her of some vandalism occurring at the park.

Pete Knapik sent the board a letter of resignation from the Soldiers Grove Community Development Corporation Board, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family and that the work with the CDC had become stressful due to the negativity of some committee members.

Knapik is the village representative with the Crawford County Economic Development Corporation, serving as a member of the board. Hestetune moved that Knapik be asked to continue serving in that capacity and the board approved the motion.

Knapik also wrote another letter detailing a list of options for dealing with the weeds growing under the village’s electric sign. Prices varied between $3,000 and $9,000.

“We’re laying people off in the winter,” Helgerson said. “Spending this kind of money doesn’t make sense.”

The board chose having village workers use a weed spray for now.

Hestetune reported that he had been working to get the Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock to the village to view storm damage, but had not been able to due to other issues in the county. Damage at Dull Road and Clayton Road were of primary concern.

Soldiers Grove Village Clerk Tammy Kepler and Director of Public Works Brian Copus have been documenting damage with written reports and photographs.

Most of the storm damage had been fixed except for some small slides and Baker Creek, Copus noted.

In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:

• approved the library purchase listing of furniture for the Rural Development Grant

• delayed action on the lighting for the courtyard pending review of the design

• heard that disconnection noticed for non-payment of water and sewer bills would be sent out

• approved the picnic license application for the Legion ball tournament

• approved the operator license applications for Nicole Fortney and Rachel Way