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"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Meandering meeting in Milltown
By Lynda Berg Olds
Monday night's meeting of the Milltown Village Board didn't cover a tremendous amount of business - it was a relaxed and rambling kind of meeting. By far the biggest news was announced by Milltown Public Library Director Bea Volgren who reported they received the entire maximum Community Development Block Grant allowed – a whopping $500,000.
Volgren also reported some great numbers, such as 87 in-house participants in the Summer Reading Program.
“For a town our size, that's really a lot,” she beamed. Volgren was also happy to report that her year-to-date program attendance topped out over 1,000 – at 1,099.
Milltown Chief of Police Shaun Thayer has found his footing in the community and reported he needs to purchase a new, more visible light bar. Village Clerk/Treasurer Amy Albrecht gave him kudos for his success in soliciting donations for Kids Night Out, which is next Tuesday, Aug. 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Milltown Community Center.
This year's extravaganza promises to be more exciting than ever, with the LifeLink helicopter landing in the softball field, along with other emergency services personnel with their fire truck, ambulance and squad car.
The Village of Milltown once again donated $500 to this big event, which features all kinds of games and prizes for the kiddos, along with a free picnic dinner.
Public Works Director Mike Nutter was a bit stressed with his leaking roof issue. He said the shop roof leaks in heavy rain and the contractor who installed wanted $13,000 to fix it.
“Otherwise he was willing to try and find the [bad] spots for $7,000,” Nutter said. The roof job had a 10-year warranty and was completed in 2013, but the contractor claims it isn't his fault. The roof is a flat one and evidently some pieces flew off of it during high winds in the past year or so.
Village President LuAnn White wondered if insurance would cover it and that was deemed worth a try.
“We have to do something because boards are falling off inside,” stated Nutter.
Trustee Glenn Owen commented that photos should be taken for documentation purposes.
White said she would think the roof would be covered if it was damaged by the wind.
On another note, Nutter played “show and tell,” with the trustees, demonstrating how slip lining works, more or less, which was frankly fascinating, how the polymer hardens and makes pipes like new.
Finally, Nutter said he wanted to get some sidewalks revamped yet this year, but Masonry Master Randy Giller is booked solid. Other options were bandied about, but nothing firm was set up. Nutter asked Albrecht if the money in his budget could be carried over to next year and she said no, it doesn't work that way. It would have the net affect of raising the budget, which in turn would raise the tax levy.
August 16, 2018
Smooth sailing sought a-round the course
By Lynda Berg Olds
Play is up at the Village of Luck Municipal Golf Course - by 12 percent over last year and four percent over the year before. These were among the many positive statistics revealed at Monday night's regular meeting of the Luck Golf Commission.
It was also noted that 58 percent of the rounds thus far this year are by 'anniversary' members and there were a whopping 4,592 rounds played just in the month of July. This equates to 150 rounds per day, making the course crazy busy, a new record.
It was noted at the meeting that slow play is no fun for anyone and the Golf Commission members are working to remedy congestion on the course and brainstorming about things to do better next year.
Course Operations Superintendent Kevin Clunis stated, “Traffic management needs to be improved around the Clubhouse.”
That said, so does slow play on the course, which has room for improvement, especially during peak hours. (And there are some etiquette issues as well.) One of the ways play can be managed is obviously by adjusting the tee time settings. Tee times are generally set at eight minutes.
Commission member Bruce Anderson said most people don't manage to hit the green on the first hole, a long par three, and therefore things get backed up, bottle-necking on the very first hole.
Clunis concurred, saying only about five or 10 percent of golfers hit the first green, which is a bit deceptive, uphill – and plays longer than it looks. At any rate tee times will likely be adjusted to at least every 10 minutes – particularly during peak times (especially Saturdays).
The new rock monuments were talked about and at least eight of them of them have already been spoken for by hole sponsors.
The Big Cup tournament will go on indefinitely, but apparently will no longer be the Ravenholt Big Cup. Rather, for this year, it will bear the late Tommy Goalen's name – and going forward will be determined – and perhaps changed annually, “in honor of...” The Big Cup has traditionally been the last hurrah of the summer.
Nepotism was the final item on the Golf Commission's agenda and the subject was broached by Clunis.
“Here's the issue and it's copied right out of our employee manual, Gwen and I cannot hire our spouses, kids, cousins or any relatives at all. I am not sure why nepotism is an issue in the Village of Luck. Our issue is we are trying to find some help. Gwen has a daughter that can come in on short notice and help out here. I have a daughter and a wife who could run the beverage cart on short notice. Things like that.”
Commission member Bruce Anderson said, “Al Tomlinson's wife worked here. I don't see a problem...”
Clunis repeated that they are just trying to find good help. There was a discussion about the work ethic of this particular generation, and it was not complimentary. The course is losing five employees who are college-bound – and there is still some season left.
Golf isn't over quite yet...
August 23, 2018
“The Nest” has fledglings – and other happy news
By Lynda Berg Olds
Luck School Superintendent Cory Hinkel made a point of articulating the District Goals at the onset of the Board of Education meeting, which took place during the stormy evening in Luck on Monday. They include:
“Continuing to work towards fulfilling the mission of the school and the goals of the five-year strategic plan;
“Continuing to implement, develop and dedicate professional development to district-wide RTI, Discipline and Technology plans that fit the needs of the students and staff within the district; and
“Continuing to improve the facilities of the district to enhance the educational environment to increase student learning.”
Hinkel went on to inform the board that the district made $900 on the recent garage sale, getting rid of quite a bit of stuff.
“We had a lot of big stuff,” he said, “such as storage cabinets and the like.”
Hinkel then was pleased to announce that The Nest opened Monday, with eight children in attendance.
“There are 22 signed up for the child care and then eight before and after school students so far. I'm assuming once school starts with the Open House tomorrow, there will be even more children for before and after school.”
Staffing for The Nest was readily approved by the board with Hinkel noting, “Gretchen (Frendt) has been busy getting her team together and they're a very good staff, very dedicated – and local.” (Four of the six hired so far are, in fact, Luck graduates.)
The next item Hinkel discussed was Round 2 of the School Safety Grant. He said Luck is getting $24,679.
“This is pretty much guaranteed money if you fill out the paperwork correctly...and it is non-competitive.”
He noted one mandatory piece of the grant parameters is 10 percent of full time school staff must be trained in mental health.
“There is a 12-hour adolescent training so part of the grant will go for that. We will send seven or eight staff members, three more of the administrative team- plus five teaching staff will go to that.”
Hinkel noted the training will only cost $2,000 of the grant and the remaining funds will go toward updating the electronic key readers and adding some new doors – focusing mainly on the locker rooms.
“This will make things safer and more convenient...and is a good use of the money. It is a lot of money - $3,000 per door for the electronic key readers.”
The final item of Hinkel's District Administrator report had to do with goose hunting.
“We've allowed goose hunting in the past and Monty (Chief of Police Tretsven) contacted me with those requests again. I'm assuming we want to keep it the same as before with just bows. We haven't allowed any firearms. Is that the consensus of the board? They've asked again to use firearms...”
School Board member Rick Palmer observed, “I don't think you harvest many geese with a bow.”
School Board President Jacob Jensen said, “I think you open yourselves up to other possibilities I guess. I think it is probably a worthwhile effort but I don't know what other precedents we set with that.”
Jensen indicated that maybe if some legwork was done ahead of time they might allow gun hunting in some 'non-student' areas of school property behind the ballfields and stuff like that where nobody ever is.
Hinkel said that is what Tretsven et al was looking at, but Jensen stated unequivocally that he did not want to start that discussion right then on the spot.
Hinkel said he would let Monty know that the school is still okay with archery as a means to harvest geese on school property.
There was a bit of discussion about Tuesday's Open House (and feeding the community). School Board member Todd Route said he would be happy to “bat clean up” after Palmer and School Board member Kurt Stonesifer. Route joked about working at last year's Open House, where he “sold out.” (It turned out there were only three hot dogs left and he ate two of them. Everybody had a good laugh.)
August 30, 2018
Librarian “shining a great light” on Milltown
By Lynda Berg Olds
Milltown Police Chief Shaun Thayer reported to trustees of the Milltown Village Board on Monday night that his department has saturated the problem areas of East Main and Second, resulting in 23 traffic stops during the month of August. He said calls for service were up during August and noted there were nine citations issued.
“We've had a lot of issues with the crosswalks – with nobody stopping for pedestrians on the highway,” Thayer said, noting this has been a concern for some time.
Trustee Erling Voss interjected that the only ones who stop for pedestrians are the semis.
Thayer said he will be talking to a representative of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to try to figure out what they can do in terms of signage, flashing lights, or whatever.
“She will let us know what we can and what we cannot do.”
Village President LuAnn White wondered if they could make the crosswalk in question wider – and Thayer said he would be looking into it as it has “gotten bad.” He said he does not think people are aware that the crosswalks are there the way they should be.
“It's surprising that we have not had an incident. Mike (Nutter) and I are working with the DOT to try and figure out our options. This could be a process that takes us through winter and come spring we would be set up.”
“There's so much more traffic this summer,” observed White.
Thayer hopes to secure signage coming into Milltown from both the south and the north, with flashing lights that note 'pedestrian crosswalk.' He said this would also make it easier to enforce. He also commented that there has been a lot more foot traffic this summer and trustees concurred, noting some of that is due to daycare business(es). He finished his report promising, “We will get it figured out.”
Otherwise, he said, “It has been pretty mellow.”
In Public Works' Mike Nutter's absence, Boyd Heilig gave the report. He said the sliplining project is going really well. We got the main line done and we're starting to do the laterals today. It is going really smooth.
“It is quite interesting,” Heilig stated. “If you get a chance go drive by when they are doing those laterals. They have equipment and machines everywhere...they are getting done way faster than they thought.”
Milltown Library Director Bea Volgren was next up to bat and she had all kinds of good news. For instance there were nearly 2400 public WiFi uses just in the month of August. And August was a big month all the way around with a lot of vacationers coming through the doors. She could hardly believe that 48 people showed up to the (William) Kent Kruger author visit, which took place on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. And she was over the moon about the 142 kids and parents who came for the “Touch-A Truck” event.
Volgren also discussed the upcoming Unity Homecoming Parade, which is hosted by Milltown this year on Sept. 21. She and some kiddos will be decorating the library windows to welcome the students and faculty - and she will again have a table for the community picnic with some prizes.
Finally, Volgren modestly announced that she was voted “Wisconsin's Small Librarian of the Month” for August.” She said, “I would like to publicly thank my staff, the Village of Milltown and our patrons for making me a better librarian. This acknowledgment is an honor and shines a great light on Milltown!”
In addition, Volgren said she will be attending the Wisconsin Library Association conference in LaCrosse – and she was voted “First Year Director” for WISL for the next year and will be participating in various workshops as well as hosting some fun evening events for WISL (Wisconsin Library Association - Small Libraries).
Trustees expressed their approval of Volgren's achievements by way of a nice round of applause.
September 13, 2018
Community meetings, school walk-throughs set up
By Lynda Berg Olds
All who live within the School District of Luck should have recently received a schedule of Community Meetings and a Referendum Newsletter. This comprehensive mailing is in an effort to provide taxpayers with sufficient information to make an informed decision about an upcoming referendum vote come spring. Citizens are urged to attend one of the Referendum Community Input Meetings and Facility Walk-throughs to be held in the commons area near the main entrance of the school at the following times: Sept. 24 at 4 p.m; Oct. 8 at 9 a.m; Oct. 9 at 1 p.m; 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Luck School District Administrator Cory Hinkel says feedback from these sessions will help drive the spring 2019 referendum question.
In Hinkel's message to the Luck Community, he began, “The School District of Luck is very fortunate to have residents that support the educational process and have a vested interest in the future of the children of the area.”
This, Hinkel said, was evident as the community supported the $300,000 per year operational referendum that was passed in April of 2014. Without these additional funds, $300,000 would need to be cut from the budget, most likely in the areas of school supplies, technology, staff, and extracurricular activities.
“The current operational referendum is expiring after the 2018-19 school year, and the District will again be asking taxpayers to vote on continuing this operational referendum for another five years at the same $300,000 per year rate in April 2019.”
Since the District is asking for the same rate as in previous years, Hinkel noted the effect on taxes will be minimal.
“The District prides itself on offering a well-rounded education and experience for its students,” Hinkel continued. “Ongoing funds from an operational referendum can aid in this endeavor. In addition to the operational referendum, the District is considering a referendum to cover the cost of much-needed capital improvements. In recent years, the District has focused its efforts on energy efficiency and safety and security improvements. However, a recent facility evaluation identified problem areas in our aging facility. This included everything from updating our classroom cabinetry and sinks to bringing a majority of our bathrooms to ADA compliance.”
In addition to what basically amounts to maintenance and some updates, the District was also presented with options to renovate the current elementary gym into a shared auditorium space and construct a new School/Community Wellness Center.
“As a District, we strive to provide an educational landscape focused on respect, integrity, and excellence,” stated Hinkel. “Your input will help us do that! This newsletter contains more information about each proposed option. The District will also be holding scheduled referendum community meetings to gather community feedback. Your participation in this process will be a valuable resource as the District continues to plan for future opportunities for our students and the community.”
For more information (in addition to the tremendous amount of data shared in the newsletter, detailing each of three options) on the 2019 spring referendum, visit lucksd.k12.wi.us/referendum.
What most folks want to know is how much it is going to cost them in terms of property tax. The three options are for $4 million, $8.5 million and $11.5 million. The cost associated with the options equate to “a free stick of gum, the cost of a bottle of soda – or the cost of one Starbucks coffee per day.
September 20, 2018
Community members urged to tour school
By Lynda Berg Olds
“We had our first walk-through here,” stated Luck Superintendent Cory Hinkel at Monday night's regular meeting of the school board, “and it was not as well attended as we would have liked – so Luke and I are going to look at different ways to promote it better.”
Hinkel said they were going to reach out to the Lions Club, the Community Club, Skyward, etc.
“I appreciate the papers for getting that information out there. They've done a nice job with that. We have all the information on the website, which is basically the information that we have on the flier that was sent out. We need to just keep getting the information out there to get community involvement.”
This is all about the referendum questions that will come to a vote in the spring. There are three options, which have been discussed at length.
“People need to realize that we want their input in this process,” stressed Hinkel. “Things have not been set already – this is part of gathering that input and think that is some of the misconceptions that come up – like, 'well, you already decided what you are going to do for the referendum,' but we have not.”
Hinkel noted the fliers went out two Fridays ago and there are extras if anybody wants to drop them here or there.
“It might be worth noting that some people haven't got them,” stated School Board member Todd Route. “So if they want them can they get them from the school?”
That was an affirmative. There are copies in the school office. Hinkel said two people not receiving the flier were “two too many.” He said they were sent to everybody with a zip code of 54853. School Board President Jacob Jensen said to be sure and send the flier to all of the parents and he asked about the distribution of the community ed newsletter. Hinkel said that publication is sent even beyond the district – to Frederic and Unity Districts as well. Hinkel said the referendum/facility study data will also be out there on social media soon and some ads will be taken out as well.
“In order to make an informed decision, you really need to do a walk-through,” Hinkel said. He really expected more than two people to show up for the walk through on Sept. 24. He is trying to reach the maximum audience. Some posters will be printed and displayed in as many places as possible and school board members have been asked to “drop them everywhere.” To that end Educator Dean Roush suggested talking to people and having tours during the Pancake Supper, which takes place in November. All kinds of ideas were bandied in the hopes of best saturating the school district “market.”
The next walk-throughs are scheduled for Oct. 8 and 9. They will coincide with parent/teacher conferences and be held at multiple times – at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Wage increases based on performance, longevity
By Lynda Berg Olds
Monday night's meeting of the Centuria Village Board was very brief. During Department Reports, Trustee Stanley Swiontek asked Police Chief Eric Jorgenson if he was getting letters out to the public with regards to Fall Clean-up and Jorgenson replied that indeed he is. Beyond his written report, Chief Jorgenson didn't have much to add.
Village President Rod Peterson observed that Jorgenson had not spent much time in court in the month of September, to which he responded, “Write a good report, you don't have to go to court.”
Peterson said, “I'm happy with it (the police report) as long as the rest of you guys are...”
The trustees indicated they were well satisfied with Jorgenson's performance and President Peterson said to him, “Keep up the good work.”
Peterson asked if there were any other reports and Village Clerk/Treasurer Karen Edgell said that she had the library's budget in hand – with some big changes. She passed out copies to the trustees and urged them to look over the numbers and contact Library Director Leslie Peterson or Tanna Worrell with any questions prior to the budget meeting this Wednesday.
Trustee Gordon Moore then noted that the Finance Committee met with Midwestone Bank, and said, “I wasn't very impressed.”
Other trustees chimed in saying they had nothing against the financial institution, there just wasn't enough of a reason to go through the hassle of changing all the accounts. All the trustees agreed the village should just stick with RCU for now.
“They were very nice guys and I have nothing against them,” Moore concluded.
The Personnel Committee also met with Department heads and decided rather than go with a straight percentage wage increase across the board, they elected to base the percentage on longevity of the employees, as well as performance.
“Some got more than others, but everybody was happy, us and the department heads,” stated Trustee Swiontek.
“Are we comparable with other towns?” queried Peterson.
“Yes,” said Swiontek. “We looked at all that too. We are about average with a little higher and a little lower.”
The recommendation from Personnel was in the form of a motion, so all that was needed was a second, which came from Trustee Katie Hamm.
All were in favor and the wages and benefits for 2019 was approved.
October 11, 2018