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Village board votes to develop water utility shutoff ordinance
Soldiers Grove
Soldiers Grove

SOLDIERS GROVE - The Soldiers Grove Village Board voted unanimously to ask their attorney to draft an addition to their ordinances, enabling the village to shut the water off at residences that are behind in their water payments. The process will be to send a warning after two months of non-payment, and to shut the utility off if the amount due is not paid by the third month.

“Since January 2022, there is $39,490 in past due water utility bills in the village,” Soldiers Grove Village Clerk Kaitlynn Ott told the board. “What this means is that 20 percent of water utility accounts are past due on their payments.”

In addition, the board voted unanimously to spend $66,040 to purchase new residential water meters that will allow the usage to be read remotely, and a computer needed to administer the system. Currently, many of the residential water meters are located inside the residence, requiring entry to conduct the reading. Soldiers Grove Director of Public Works Brian Copus told the board that reading the meters is typically a very time consuming process.

Funding to purchase the new water meters will come from a combination of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and water utility funds. ARPA funding will provide $56,625 of the total amount.

Disc golf course

Justice Benson addressed the board to ask for their support to use land owned by the village along Baker Creek to build a nine-hole disc golf course. Benson will be assisted in the project by the Kickapoo Disc Golf Club from Viroqua.

Benson said that members of the club had come down to look at the space, and determined that there was more than enough room for a nine-hole course, and that there could be room for an 18-hole course.

“The Kickapoo Disc Golf Club raised $4,500 to be able to replace the nets on their course behind the VFW in Viroqua, and is willing to donate their old nets to Soldiers Grove,” Benson told the board. “I also have a lead on used nets for $100.”

Benson said that volunteers would go out and clear the land where the poles, nets and pads would be placed, and a path between the ‘holes.’ He said that if additional funding was made available, they could expand the course to 18 holes. The funding needed would be $900 for nets, poles, and $1,500 to construct the pads.

“The sport is popular, and is a big draw, which I think will be good for the village,” Benson said. “I think that the village should help to fund the expanded course.”

Soldiers Grove Village President Paul Nicholson asked Benson who would be responsible for maintaining the course. Benson replied that his group could perform the maintenance, which would mainly involve using a push mower to keep the paths mowed.

The board voted unanimously to allow Benson’s group to clean up and burn the area, and to install the nine-hole course.

Myrtle Lake

Benson also reported that the Swamp People Project would hold their third annual musical fundraiser event in the park in Soldiers Grove on October 1. He verified that the group would have the entire park reserved for that event.

“Since we began fundraising, our group has raised $15,500 to help fund our work to clean up Myrtle Lake and restore it as a nice resource for the community,” Benson reported. “One of the things we plan to spend some of the money raised on is a rake that can help us clear vegetation from the lake – we are committed to making 2022 the Year of Results.”

Benson said that the group continues to work with Wisconsin DNR and Crawford Stewardship Project on water quality testing in the lake. He said numerous members of the group had received training on how to take water samples from WDNR, and that WDNR is pleased with the groups activities around cleaning the lake up.

“We are uploading our sampling data, and this had allowed our data to be correlated with satellite water clarity readings,” Benson said. “What we have found  is very high levels of phosphorous, and high e-coli levels after a rainfall.” 

Benson said that the next step in water quality sampling will be to begin testing the water at the spring. He said the group is also looking at trying to stimulate more current and water exchange in the lake by working to improve flow from the spring, and also possibly through use of a pump to help move water into the northern part of the lake which becomes clogged with weeds.

Benson also asked the village to take a serious approach to moving the village burn pile, which he says is contributing phosphorous to the lake. He said his group had identified two possible locations for relocating the burn pile. Those are behind Homer Arndt’s barn, or further out beyond the location of the current burn pile on village property. The board agreed to investigate both of those options before the next meeting.

In other business

In other business, the board:

• swore in new members of the board, elected in the April 5 election, and heard what their committee assignments would be

• approved an $84,807 payment to JI Construction  for work completed on the sanitary sewer upgrade, and a change order extending the contract for the remaining landscaping and paving work to June 3

• approved creation of the ‘Soldiers Grove Grant Account’ to receive funds from the WDNR Clean Water Grant, and approved Paul Nicholson and Kaitlynn Ott as signers for the account

• agreed to spend $267 from CDC funds to replace the light pole banners in the courtyard, and to use designs created by North Crawford art students

• voted unanimously by roll call vote to spend $30,412.70 to replace the village’s digital sign

• heard that the fire department had gained two new, fully trained members

• heard that the fire department will hold a cookout fundraiser on May 7, and will offer burgers, brats, hot dogs, potato salad and beans for $8

• agreed to let bids to replace the wall in the fire department building, where the old solar panels are deteriorating

• voted to increase camping fees for campsites with electricity, and to open the campground on April 19

• approved rental of the park on July 1 for Crawford Stewardship Project’s ‘Love the Land’ fundraiser

• agreed to secure a bid from Stussy Tree Service for tree removal in the cemetery.