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Soldiers Grove joining strong network for mutual aid
Soldiers Grove

SOLDIERS GROVE - It was an action-packed agenda at the Thursday, Feb. 7 regularly scheduled meeting of the Soldiers Grove Village Board. Reports from the Fire Department, Department of Public Works and trash collection in the village ensured there was never a dull moment for meeting participants.

MABAS network

Soldiers Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ben Clason introduced a resolution approving the Village of Soldiers Grove joining the Crawford County MABAS network as part of his fire department report.

“The Fire Officer Association voted that all municipalities and townships in the county would be part of the MABAS network,” Clason reported. “It’s essentially mutual aid on steroids, and the only cost to the village will be to purchase the tags that we need.”

Clason explained that Vernon and Grant County are already members.

MABAS Senate Bill SB 642 was approved by the Wisconsin State Legislature and signed by Governor Jim Doyle in April of 2006. MABAS is a mutual aid measure that may be used for deploying fire, rescue and emergency medical services personnel in a multi-jurisdictional and/or multi-agency response.

“Discussion of this actually started in the county before I took over as emergency management director three years ago,” explained James Hackett, Crawford County Emergency Management Director. “The Fire Association decide to hold a vote about whether to participate – they agreed that either all would participate, or none would. They voted for all to participate.”

MABAS is a mutual aid organization that has been in existence since the late 1960s. MABAS first came to Wisconsin in 1987 with the joining of the Village of Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County. MABAS divisions geographically span the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, and the other states.

As a MABAS agency, you agree to: standards of operation, incident command, and a minimum level of equipment staffing, safety, and on-scene terminology. MABAS agencies, regardless of their geopolitical origin, are able to work together seamlessly on any emergency scene.

All MABAS agencies operate on a common radio frequency, Interagency Fire Emergency Radio Network (IFERN) and are activated for response through pre-designed run cards each participating agency designs and tailors to meet their local risk need.

MABAS also provides mutual aid station coverage to a stricken community when their fire/ EMS resources are committed to an incident for an extended period.

Hackett pointed to the tornado that occurred in the Platteville area last year as a great example of the benefits that MABAS offers participating communities. Members of the Platteville Fire Department were awake and on-the-job for 24 hours straight, and they had already exhausted mutual aid from the surrounding departments.

“Because of their MABAS agreement, they were able to quickly and seamlessly call in mutual aid from departments further away,” Hackett explained. “It didn’t cost the department anything, and it allowed the Platteville Fire Department members to get some rest, while knowing that their fire department duties were being covered.”

Hackett detailed that there are a lot of benefits through MABAS membership such as having access to specialized services like Grant County’s Swiftwater Rescue Team free of charge.

“There is a state insurance program that covers departments when a MABAS mutual aid situation is happening,” Hackett said. “That means if a department member is injured while on a MABAS call, the state insurance covers it.”

Hackett said that getting the county enrolled in MABAS has taken about a year now. The goal is for all municipalities and townships in the county to have passed resolutions by this coming April.

New plow truck

The village will purchase a lightly used plow truck from the Town of Kickapoo to replace the current aging unit in the village’s fleet. By unanimous, roll-call vote, the board agreed to make the purchase and take out a loan for $20,000.

The truck is a 2001 model with 5,500 miles (4,400 hours) on it, as compared to the village’s current plow truck, which is a 1993 model with 50,000 miles on it. Kickapoo Township was asking $17,500 for the truck, but agreed to accept $14,000. The truck will need new tires, modification of the cab, and painting, which Soldiers Grove Director of Public Works Brian Copus estimates can be done for a rough estimate of $6,000.

“Shayne, Steve, Roger, Roy and I all went up and looked at it,” Copus said. “It’s really clean underneath and hasn’t even been used as a plow truck for the last year.”

“Our current truck is aging, and is in the shop for repairs quite a bit,” said Soldiers Grove Village President Steve George. “Buying this truck will help to reduce those costs.”

“Putting this unit into our fleet will give the village a real advantage,” said village trustee Shayne Chapman. “This will mean we have a reliable plow truck for the next 10 years and save us a lot of money – it’s a real deal. The other advantage is that we’re getting it from close by and we know all the people that have operated it and worked on it.”

The plan is for the village to install the plow and sander from the current unit onto the new unit, and switch out the all-stainless box. The village will then put the current truck up for sale, hoping to get $6,000-7,000 for it.

“We’ll take out the loan to cover the full $20,000 cost and make payments, versus trying to find the money from our current budget right now,” said village trustee Vicki Campbell. “Then, when we sell the current unit, we will just pay off the outstanding amount of the loan.”

One-pass collection

Doug Enke from Town & Country Sanitation attended the meeting to discuss proposed implementation of a ‘one-pass’ system for garbage and recycling collection in the village.

“One-pass collection is an automated system that means there is only one employee in the cab of the truck, and a robotic arm picks up the toters and dumps them,” Enke explained. “That means there won’t be a second employee riding on the back of the truck.”

Enke told the Board that they have moved in this direction because it has gotten harder to find employees with CDLs, and because insurance companies don’t want to insure the “old-school” collection methods anymore. Enke noted that they have used this system in Prairie du Chien for 15 years now.

Enke said that if the village agrees to move to this system, then Town & Country will renew their contract for seven years with no price changes for three, and a guaranteed cap on price increases after that of no more than four percent.

Town & Country will manage communication of the change with village residents, and deliver the new garbage and recycling toters free of charge to all village residents.

“We’ll have to switch the pick-up day from Monday to Tuesday because we’re going to put Soldiers Grove on the same route as Readstown,” Enke said. “We’ll pick up garbage every week, and recycling every other week. We just ask that for toters that are delivered to renters, we need the landlord to make sure that the renters don’t take them with them when they move. We’ll still pick up commercial dumpsters and do the spring cleanup like always.”

The goal is for the new pick-up process to go into effect by April 1, Enke said.

The garbage toter and the recycling toter will have different colored lids on them, so residents will know which is which. In order to work with the automated dumping, the toters will need to be placed side-by-side on the curb at least two feet apart.

The board voted unanimously to accept Enke’s proposal.

Motor for lift station

Soldiers Grove Public Works Director Brian Copus reported that in January, when it was so cold, the motors for the sewer lift station had gotten water in them.

“I had to replace one,” and the other one isn’t sounding very good,” Copus said. “The problem is that the way the alarm system on the sump pump is set up, the float isn’t getting up high enough to set off the alarm.”

“I already replaced the first one at a cost of $1,800 installed,” Copus told the board.

The director of public works reported that the cost of the motor itself is $1,125 before wiring, and the village can save money by installing it themselves. Then, they can have McCormick wire it and also fix the alarm-system so that it functions properly.

The board agreed to proceed as recommended with the repairs.

In other business

In other business, the board learned that:

·           the new brush truck is in Viroqua, with the new tires and new winch mounted. The skid will be ready to be installed by February 15, and the vehicle should be in the fleet and operational by early March;

·           the new automated external defibrillator (AED) is installed in the Village Hall building. 

·           regular payments are being made on both of the loans made by the CDC, and Driftless Brewing is now paying both principal and interest on their loan;

the March meeting date will be changed to Thursday, March 15 to accommodate an employee vacation.