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Village president vows to see long-standing drainage problem resolved
in Gays Mills
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Gays Mills resident Jay Haggerty appeared before the village board Monday night to discuss a non-working drain that was installed by the village and is resulting in the flooding of his yard for many months during the year.

Haggerty began by thanking Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz for his effort in trying to open the drain in the yard and determine the problems with why it’s not working. He credited Heisz with “putting on his boots, rolling up his sleeves and pulling out leaves” from the drain in an attempt to find the problem.

If Haggerty was appreciative of the village president’s efforts, he was distinctly unappreciative of Gays Mills Village Public Works Director Jim Chellevold, who was responsible for installing the drain. The Orin Street resident claimed the drain has not functioned correctly since it was put in place three years ago.

Haggerty said he was prepared to say the same things to Chellevold that he was saying at the meeting. The director of public works was not in attendance at the Monday night board meeting.

Chellevold told former village president Pat Brockway that the drain was working, when it was not, according to Haggerty. The local resident went so far as to say the drain had never worked since its installation.

In Haggerty’s opinion, the flexible pipe used under the drain was crushed by dirt that was placed on top of it.

Last summer during a dry time of year, Haggerty told the board that he had run a water hose into the drain for an hour and no water had come out the other end of the tube.

Haggerty said the last good report he heard from the village was from former village board member Kevin Murray, who said, “as long as we put the drain in, we might as well fix it.”

Haggerty explained that the village created the flooding problem at his property when it allowed fill from the 2006 sewer project to be placed on the two adjoining vacant lots making his the lowest lot. He rejected suggestions to fill in his lot because of the amount of fill that would be needed and because it would only lead to flooding of those adjoining lots if he were to fill to a higher level.

“When the houses were built 100 years ago there was storm drain in the street that emptied in the river,” Haggerty pointed out. Now, that drain and others are gone.

Haggerty reported there are times when water has stood at a depth of two-feet in his yard for as long as two months. He noted the problem has been going on for eight years and the drain installed three years ago has not addressed the problem.

The frustrated resident said he is ready to talk with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the public health department or others about this situation to make the drain work.

Heisz told Haggerty that he believed filling the lot with some dirt would help to solve the problem.

Village trustee John Johnson said that by running a cable down the tube, a clog could be found and the pipe could be dug up at that point and fixed.

Heisz vowed on working to solve the problem with the drain that isn’t working.

“It’s time we put this one to bed, huh?” village trustee Geraldine Smith said at the conclusion of the discussion.

The board began the meeting by approving new room rental rates for the community room, kitchen and boardroom in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. The new rates are based on four categories of renters. They are A. Local renters and non-profits; B. Not-as-local non-profits and residents; C. Fundraisers and Weddings and D. Professional Groups. As an example of rates, the use of just the Community Room for all day would be $50 for A renters, $75 for B renters, $100 for C renters, and $250 for D renters.

Brad Niemcek, the Director of the Kickapoo Culinary Center, designed the rental rate structure to make a clear easily understood model for village clerk Dawn McCann and her staff to use in renting the facilities.

In addition, to establishing rental rates for the community room, the board room and the kitchen for each of the rental classes, the rental rate structure also established different levels of deposits for the rooms and the class of renter.

After a brief discussion clarifying some points about the room rentals, the board passed the rate structure as proposed.

Niemcek began his report by describing the interest of three potential processors to use the kitchen facilities. Those interested in using the shared-use kitchen included a fish processor, a baker and a hazelnut producer.

The Kickapoo Culinary Center Director ended his report by discussing some needed improvements in the large community room. One needed improvement, according to Niemcek, would be the installation of a curtain or shade or some sort of window treatment to stop the afternoon sun from flooding the room with too much light. Another proposed upgrade was improved the amplified sound system in the room by utilizing the speaker system in the ceiling by setting a system of cordless microphones.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• agreed to set up a meeting with village officials, DNR staff and others about the placement of waterway markers above the Kickapoo River dam warning canoeists and other watercraft users of the dangers ahead

• heard an update on the proposed trail from the downtown heading north to the slough from trustee Ed Block on possibilities suggested by Wisconsin Corps

• approved Robin Babb as a new member of the plan commission

• agreed to schedule a public hearing next month on a proposed zoning change for areas of the village currently zoned conservancy to agricultural to better serve the needs of the village and property owners in those areas

• approved increasing camping fees to $25 for campers and $15 for tents in the village-owned campsites in Robb Park and also stipulated fees would be doubled for anyone who has not paid them within an hour of setting up

• rejected a plan to close North Railroad Street between Main Street and the alley during Apple Festival

• heard road repairs and seal coating are about to start when permits are obtained

• ordered estimates to bring water and sewer to a property on Somerville Drive be obtained so the residents can decide on an annexation proposal

• decided to take steps to amend the village ordinances to ban the riding of skateboards on the village roadways as rollerblades are currently banned for this purpose

• tabled filling a village trustee position for which there were five applicants

 • heard an update on the Gays Mills Community Building on Main Street that indicated a recent community-backed fundraiser had netted nearly $3,000 to cover expenses of operating the building

 • discussed plans to improve the view from the upper wayside on Highway 171 on the orchard hill if it is possible

• agreed to restructure the Gays Mills Village Board Personnel Committee by placing all of the trustees on the committee

• approved Class B Liquor License Applications for the Gays Mills Lions Club and Gays Mills Sportsmen Club for the Apple Festival weekend