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Village board discusses “is it time to adopt a hydrant?”
Gays Mills
gays mills village board

GAYS MILLS - If you live or work in the Village of Gays Mills this may be your moment to adopt a fire hydrant. That’s right, the village is looking for people to adopt one of the 69 fire hydrants in the village to keep it free from snow and ice.

Many hydrants are shoveled out by landowners, when they are removing snow from their sidewalks. However, too many hydrants are not being cleared.

The matter came up at a board meeting last spring and village resident Tara Heisz suggested the ‘Adopt a Hydrant’ idea.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the hydrants should contact Gays Mills Village Clerk Dawn McCann. The hydrants are numbered so call in your adoptee to Dawn and give her the number from the hydrant or the location of it.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz said that even if just 10 of the hydrants are adopted it would help the village.

Early in the meeting, the board had a lengthy and informative report on the state of the trees in the village from its volunteer forester, Cindy Kohles.

The forester told the village board that the tree board and a group of volunteers working on the trees were facing challenges on several fronts. Some of those challenges include bringing the trees through a late frost, enduring the ensuing drought and battling damage from beavers and rodents.

Kohles also pointed out that improper cutting and disposal of conifers was opening a pathway to disease. She noted the DNR had provided the village with a fungicide based on borax. The fungicide is free and Kohles is intending to direct its use.

In addition to the aforementioned problems, the village trees are facing devastating damage from the village maintenance employees use of mowers and weed eaters around the trees. The machines scar the tree’s bark and will eventually girdle the tree causing its death.

Kohles said someone needed to hold the village employees accountable for the damage being done to the trees.

The forester told the board that if there continues to be damage to the trees by the employees, the village would lose volunteers and that could include her.

Kohles said anyone cutting down a conifer needed to sprinkle the fungicide known as Sporax on the stump immediately to avoid an infection of HRD, which she called the most significant tree disease in America.

Despite her concerns for cut conifers in the village, she noted that so far there is little evidence of bark infection or pine bark beetles.

Kohles said the tree board did not favor applying for DNR grant in 2022 to plant more trees-especially without a better water source.

However, Kohles favored applying for the grant and using any funds received to hire an arborist to prune the Autumn  Blaze Maple trees on Royal Avenue in the Applewood Business Park.

It was previously recommended that structural pruning be done to these trees three times at two-year intervals and next year would be a good time to do it, according to Kohles. 

The forester also discussed mulching trees in the new subdivision, where they are growing in sand.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz said that there was not much point in mulching trees in the downtown because it was washed away by flooding.

Similarly, it was noted that protective metal around the trees was also not working in the severely flooded area.

It was agreed that a crew should assemble to spread mulch chips on Saturday morning. Anybody that wants to help is encouraged to meet at the tennis courts in Gays Mills on Saturday, ,July 17 at 8 a.m. and bring shovels-if possible.

Village trustee Seamus Murray asked how often the trees were be watering–once or twice a week.

Kohles said the last recommendation on watering newly planted trees is every day for two weeks and then three times per week for 12 weeks.

The Jensens, who volunteer to water the trees in the village, said that last year they were watering 80-plus trees and it was taking about eight hours. This year it is taking about two-and-a-half hours to water the trees.

Village trustee Aaron Fortney moved to apply for the DNR tree grant in 2022. Lee Ruegg seconded the motion and it was passed by the board.

The tree board report was followed by a swimming pool report from Kayla Fortney, the Gays Mills Swimming Pool Manager.

Fortney noted that swimming pool lessons had started last week and that in Session 1 there were 24 children in the Level 1 lessons. 

Fortney acknowledged that was a lot of kids, but praised the pool staff for handling it well in her opinion.

There have been a couple of cleaning complaints at the pool, Fortney acknowledged. She dealt with employees emphasizing the need to make sure they’re checking the bathrooms for toilet paper and soap and keeping them clean.

“Unfortunately, we’re getting more complaints with me not working at Showen's,” Fortney said. When she worked for Showen’s and their Stump Dodger Campground, she cleaned at the pool mornings and nights. Now, that’s not being done.

The Stump Dodger campers use the pool bathrooms and showers, when the pool is closed.

Fortney said there were some July Fourth issues, but the pool staff got there and dealt with it.

She noted the Stump Dodger Campground has doubled the number of seasonal campers.

The dumpster at the pool is always full and this is frustrating the staff.

Fortney said she has told the staff to stop the campers from dumping trash into the pool’s dumpster. However, she acknowledged it is difficult for the young kids to tell the adults not to do something. The result is the pool has nowhere to put their garbage.

Trustee Aaron Fortney noted that looking at the garbage in the dumpster, it is obvious that it is not pool garbage.

Pool manager Kayla Fortney was quick to add that the non-pool garbage was not just from the campground. She said other park users put their garbage into the dumpster as well.

The manager said because  things were slow in the evening, the pool was closing at 7 p.m. electing not to stay open until 8:30 p.m. with hardly anyone using it. The pool closes at 8 p.m. on weekends.

Kayla said Wauzeka-Steuben will begin lessons  next week and they have 53 kids signed up for the first session and 43 kids in the second session

Village trustee Josh Kasinkas suggested that cleaning assignments be signed off on a clipboard, when they are completed. He said Showen's cleaners need to clean the pool bathrooms in the morning before the pool opens and sign the sheet that it had been done.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

 • learned weeds had been cut on a local property, but one patch remained and the owner would be asked to finish the job by cutting them down

• was informed the roof repair at 212 Main Street (the old Community Building) was on hold as details were being worked out

• heard that number of junk and unlicensed vehicles in the village had decreased, as owners responded to warning letters from the village about the vehicles– more attention is being paid to the problem

• approved getting a quote from Alliant Energy on the TID 3-Phase electric installation-Alliant had estimated the cost around $33,000

• agreed to give the Crawford County Clean Sweep a donation of $100

• sought to have the speed reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph on Highway 131 going north from Main Street to the Marketplace so the street could be added the ATV-UTV trail system-this  would allow riders to legally get to the Marketplace store

• approved a request from a volleyball league to use the sand volleyball court located at Railroad and Main Street

• added Aaron Fortney and Lee Ruegg to the pool committee, where Josh Kasinskas will remain as chairperson

•  approved a donation of $250 to the ‘Joint Effort Marketing Campaign’