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Hobart expanding to two polling locations in 2022

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOBART – When Hobart village residents go to vote next year, there will be two polling locations.

The Hobart village board approved a resolution June 15 to designate the D2 Sports Pub, 530 Larson Orchard Pkwy., as the polling place for voters in the Pulaski school district, while West De Pere school district residents will continue to vote at St. Joseph’s Church, 145 St. Joseph Dr.

Village Clerk-Treasurer Erica Berger said the village’s 2020 population estimate indicates Hobart has slightly more than 7,000 residents eligible to vote.

“Putting all those residents through one polling location has become difficult, as we noticed in the 2018 governor’s election,” she said. “Now, last year was the first year that we’ve had a November election since, and it was kind of an outlier due to the pandemic. It was all (because of a large number of) absentee (ballots). I don’t anticipate that many absentees continuing in the future and that a lot of our residents will return to in-person voting.”

Berger said it would be in the best interest of the village to have two polling locations, so there won’t be issues with parking and lines of voters waiting to cast ballots.

“We upgraded software and hardware to help with the line issue, but again, parking is forever going to be a problem, if we stick with one polling location,” she said.

Berger said D2 Sports Pub owners Mike Lenarduzzi and Howie Johnston agreed to allow the village to use the banquet hall as a second polling location.

“The banquet hall’s separate from the bar area,” she said. “Only the banquet hall (would be used) for the voting.”

Berger said the agreement with the D2 Sports Pub is the same as with St. Joseph’s Church with the village paying $300 per election to use each location as a polling place.

Given the number of people previously interested in being poll workers, she said she doesn’t expect there will be an issue with being able to staff both polling locations next year.

To be able to equip two polling locations in 2022, Berger said the village will have to upgrade one of its Badger Books used as electronic poll books to a server, purchase another Badger Book and purchase two routers.

“I would also move the central count location to the village hall so that I will be here will all the absentee ballots, and then I will have my poll workers working at each location,” she said.

Berger said polling locations must comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which the D2 Sports Pub does.

“The state at any time, for any polling location, can audit your polling location to make sure that it’s compliant,” she said.

Berger said candidates would not be allowed to have an Election Day party at D2 Sports Pub until after the polls close because electioneering is not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place.

Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said Pulaski school district residents will not be allowed to vote next year at St. Joseph’s Church, while West De Pere district residents also couldn’t choose to vote at the D2 Sports Pub.

Besides the school districts being identified on a map posted on the village’s website, Kramer said one easy way for voters to know which polling location to go to next year is by looking at which school district is listed on their property tax bills.

Village hall hours

The board also approved changing the village hall’s office hours, effective Aug. 1, to 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

With the current office hours being 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Berger said village employees often have to rush out the door or leave early and use personal time to get to children’s sporting events, after-school events, concerts, etc.

She said she looked into what the office hours are for other nearby municipalities and spoke with other staff members about whether to change the hours.

Berger said the staff agreed to reduce lunch breaks from an hour to 30 minutes, along with opening a half-hour earlier to accommodate closing an hour earlier.

To determine whether staffing was needed from 4-5 p.m., she said staff participated in a study of the number of phone calls and walk-ins the village received during that time.

“You can see it was minimal to none over the two-and-half-week period that we conducted the study,” she said.

Berger said the pandemic resulted in an increase in residents paying bills online or with the dropbox, which decreased foot traffic in the building.

“One of the projects that I’m planning on getting done, hopefully, this year, will be changing all of our forms online to form-fillable and submittable online,” she said.

Berger said the new office hours will not affect the public works department and only apply to village hall.

Southwind Estates

Board members approved a $190,000 change order to the Southwind Estates road construction project.

Jared Schmidt, an engineering manager for Robert E. Lee & Associates, Inc., said the plans changed the cul-de-sac configuration to one with a small cul-de-sac for Gulfstream Court, which would allow Copilot Way to continue as a through street offsite and possibly extend to Scheuring Road.

“There was more dialogue – not only amongst the developer but also amongst the village – saying, ‘We should preserve the opportunity to extend a roadway network through the development and not stop it and terminate it in a cul-de-sac,’” he said. “As we all know, Autumn Joy (Drive), a right-of-way, exists to the west of Copilot (Way), but it does not yet exist as a roadway. This was an opportunity to give us a second – an additional alternative route for traffic.”

Schmidt said the change resulted in additional sewer and roadway infrastructure, as well as more developable lots, but also more fill is needed.

When factoring in material costs, such as the cost of PVC piping increasing around 30-50% since the original bid was secured, along with roughly a 15% increase in the roadway length, he said the net increase of the project is $190,000, bringing the total to $1.458 million.

Kramer said the village won’t have to find additional money for the change, because it borrowed more than it needed with the bids coming in lower than expected to use an unspent portion of the bonding.

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