Press Times Weekly Meeting Recap
Howard Village Board
No Mow May
The Village Board approved a resolution to allow its residents to participate in a No Mow May initiative this year.
Village Administrator Paul Evert said the item found its way to the agenda after staff received requests from residents each of the last two years wanting to participate in No Mow May.
“In future years obviously, we will bring this to the board a lot sooner, but since people’s interest increased as they heard more and more communities start announcing it, we started getting asked about it,” Evert said.
Evert said the program was first established in Appleton in 2020 and has grown to now include the cities of Green Bay, De Pere, Appleton, Oshkosh, Wausau, Wisconsin Rapids, La Crosse, Fort Atkinson, Stevens Point and others.
Trustee Chris Nielsen said he supported the initiative, but is a little apprehensive about the cost the village might incur on signage in the future part of that.
“So, I just want to be a little cautious,” he said. “I don’t want to buy a bunch of signs and then we have 27 people who have signs out, and it costs like $1,000 to put signs out. I think we should be promoting it, and it does help like even raking leaves right now, even though they are being picked up. I mean, there’s bees that are still hydrating and some of that stuff like right now. But I do support the idea of it. I just don’t want a whole lot of cost on the village side.”
Evert said the village can implement the initiative this year with a registration process; however, it’s too late to provide yard signs.
He said if the program would continue into the future, staff could spend more time developing and expanding the program.
No Mow May was unanimously approved.
Pickle factory demolition change order
The board approved change order No. 1 to Earth Construction, LLC for the demolition of the old pickle factory building, located at 2014 Glendale Ave., involving a $5,827.50 increase.
Director of Public Works Geoff Farr said the original awarded contract totaled $91,999.90, and with approval of construction change order No. 1, the new contract total would be $97,827.40.
He said the change order is covered by the originally-approved project budget, which totals $186,849.90, and even with this change order, as well as other costs/savings, the current total project cost is less than the approved budget.
“It should be done very soon, and we’ll have a gravel top and the parking lot,” Farr said.
Period-ending financial report
Director of Administrative Services Chris Haltom presented the board with the financial report for the period ended March 31, 2022 for the general fund, Howard Commons apartments and the three utilities.
Haltom said the general fund looks to be in good shape for the first quarter of 2022.
He said none of the village’s revenues or expenditures appear to be out of step from where he would expect we would be at the end of March.
“The general fund is looking very good, similar to the last few years,” Haltom said. “So don’t expect any big changes in that as the year goes on.”
He said Howard Commons has good results for the first five months, with net income of $387,442 that would equate to an annualized net income of $1.5 million.
“We refinanced the debt, some of it a little over a year ago, some of it last year, and we did get lower interest rates,” Haltom said. “We also paid off some of the principal, which makes the interest come down. And then when we refinanced the debt this year, we had a bond premium that we were amortizing over the life of the bond, but we call the bonds early, so there’s a big revenue item called amortization and bonds, which is unusual and doesn’t happen that often like… So it’s looking pretty good so far.”
He said the three utilities, however, are reporting mixed results.
Haltom said water’s net loss is at $8,224, sewer’s net loss is at $333,449 and stormwater is reporting a net income of $81,447.
He said the sewer utility is having an issue with NEW Water’s invoices being much larger than previous years and results seem to indicate issues with the sampler at Sanimax.
“We’re having some serious issues,” Haltom said. “We do have to figure out how much we can bill that big customer. And I think it’s going to be difficult to figure that out. And I’m sure they’re not going to want to pay the amount, whatever it is, like $333,000, that we’re in the hole right now. So that could be interesting. I don’t know where that’s gonna lead us.”
Howard-Suamico School Board
New board members sworn in
Two newly-elected board members (Allen McGuire and Amy Rubright) and one reelected member (Scott Jandrin) were officially sworn in at the Monday, April 25 meeting.
The board elected school board officers – with Gary Sievert being reelected as board president, Greg Klimek selected as vice president, Christina Amtmann as clerk and Jandrin as treasurer and deputy clerk.
First grade teacher Jessica Westenberger and a student named Norah gave the board a first-hand demonstration of how the district has implemented student-led conferences into the classroom curriculum.
“This year, for the second conference, I wanted to do something a little bit different and I wanted the kids to have their work really be what was driving our conference,” Westenberger said.
As part of the presentation, she asked Norah a series of questions about what they do in their classroom, and how certain assignments are carried out in order to ensure that the students played a role in initiating their own learning experience.
Norah also explained the role students play in navigating their own tasks.
Green Bay School Board
Election of school district officers
The Green Bay School Board has a new president – electing Laura McCoy to the role during a special meeting Monday, April 25.
McCoy was the only member nominated for the position and received unanimous approval.
Two trustees were nominated for school board vice president – Dawn Smith and Andrew Becker.
“I am nominating Dawn Smith for the vice presidency of the Green Bay Public School Board,” Trustee Nancy Welch said. “Over the past year, I’ve been on the operations committee where Dawn was the chair, and I have seen an open-minded leader with the ability to lead meetings and a great communicator who keeps our students and staff at the center of her decision-making. I believe she would do an excellent job as vice president of the board.”
Board newcomer Brian Milz said he nominated Becker for the role of vice president because his experience in this board is “well-known and well-documented.”
“I think having different opinions and different perspectives is valuable,” he said. “So I would like to nominate Andrew for vice president.”
In a 5-2 vote, Smith was selected as the board’s vice president for the next year (with board members Welch, Smith, McCoy, Laura Laitinen-Warren and James Lyerly voting in favor of Smith).
Trustee Nancy Welch was selected as treasurer, and Andrew Becker was elected as board clerk.
The board also unanimously appointed Beth Jones as secretary to the board of education.
Lyerly was selected as the board’s liaison, while Brian Milz was appointed the CESA #7 liaison and annual convention representative.
The board’s next regular board meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 9.
In addition, the board decided to modify its meeting schedule beginning in May, and return to holding a work session on the second Monday of the month, with the regular board meeting taking place on the fourth Monday of the month.
Both meetings will be live streamed and will continue to be archived on the district website.
Seymour City Council
Rezoning request approved for parcel off Mainline
Five acres on the corner of Mainline Drive and Northwood Drive will be rezoned from Commercial/Industrial to a mixed-compatible planned unit development.
Several city residents who live in close proximity to the site expressed concerns during the public comment portion of the Monday, April 25 meeting about the effects a possible apartment complex, consisting of 60 units in three buildings, might have on property values of the single-family homes to the east and southeast.
Mayor Ryan Kraft said the switch will allow for transitional zoning from industrial areas to the northwest of the location as the current designation of Commercial/Industrial could theoretically result in a company purchasing the land and manufacturing steel trusses day and night, all in close proximity to residential development.
“The planning commission felt that this is the best use of this property given the proximity of the residential development to everything else in this area, which is zoned industrial/commercial,” Kraft said. “So, what we’re trying to do, is make changes to how this is zoned to support development and that also provides a layer of buffering from heavy-industrial activity.”
The motion to rezone passed 5-0.
Ashwaubenon Village Board
Aquatics personnel to get pay raise
The Village Board took steps at its Tuesday, April 26 meeting to ensure Ashwaubenon summer employees working at Ashwaubomay Lake and other Ashwaubenon swim sites are earning competitive wages.
Aquatic coordinator Melody Escoto said the raise in pay was necessary in order to keep lifeguard positions at local swim spots staffed, as Ashwaubenon is currently at the bottom of local municipalities as far as lifeguard pay goes.
“As many of you have probably heard, we are experiencing a lifeguard shortage in our area and to combat that, municipalities are increasing their wages,” Escoto said. “That, in turn, has put the village at the bottom of the pay scale for lifeguard wages. Our staff enjoy working for Ashwaubenon and at the lake, they don’t want to leave. But they’re driving down the street and they see $15 at Panda Express, those things do weigh on that age group.”
The board unanimously approved a $3 per-hour increase for head lifeguard and supervisor positions, while all other lifeguards hired will be taking home an extra $2.50 an hour.
The tentative opening date for the 2022 season is Friday, June 10.
Seymour School Board
New School Board leadership selected
With School Board President Greg Leisgang and Vice President Kurt Peterson not running for reelection, the school board has new leadership, which was voted on when it met Tuesday, April 26.
Paula Rohm was selected as president, Beth Schmalz as vice president, Mike Cottrell as clerk and Jill Kaweick as treasurer.
Everyone was voted unanimously into their new positions.
The board took a moment to recognize former board member Tom Heins, who was not reelected, in a presentation of appreciation for his four years of service on the board.
Heins’ wife, Melissa Heins, had served on the board until she passed away five years ago, leaving behind a vacant seat, which Tom stepped up to fill.
“Tom probably learned the most out of everybody that I’ve had a chance to work with as superintendent,” Superintendent Laurie Asher said. “He took the job very seriously, was at so many of the events even after his children left and really cares about the children of our district and made the best decisions for them. So, we really want to thank you for taking that position and all that you did for the district and our students.”
Asher presented the board with an update on the district’s positive COVID-19 cases.
Asher said there were no positive tests reported among students or staff during the month of March, and have only seen four positive student cases and one positive staff case so far for the month of April.
She said the increase in positive cases from March to April is comparable to what has been recorded in other parts of the county.
3% staff compensation increase, stipend approved
The board unamiously approved (with board member Jill Kaweick abstaining due to a conflict of interest) a staff compensation increase and a prorated stipend for all staff.
All employees will also receive a prorated stipend – full-time employees will receive the full $1,000, amounts are proportional for part-time employees (for example, an employee working 75% of the time would receive $750).
“The 3% is teacher salary amounts from this current year with 3% added on,” Business Manager Pete Kempen said. “Teachers that have completed the requirements of professional development earn their step increase on the salary schedule, and that amount is removed from the total. The remainder is then spread across the salary schedule to determine individual cell increases. In effect, teachers that earn more receive less of a percentage than those teachers who are just starting their careers percentage-wise.”
Board members said these measures would allow them to remain competitive with surrounding districts and retain current employees while still practicing fiscal responsibility.
“We wanted to make sure that we had incentives in place, because we want to honor our staff,” Rohm said. “We have wonderfully talented people that deserve the world.”
De Pere Board of Park Commissioners
Self-serve kayak rental project moves forward
Definitely De Pere is proposing the Bomier boat launch site become a self-serve kayak rental next year.
Phase I involves one kayak rack at Bomier with six rentable kayaks, accessible through an app, to open in 2023.
One kayak rack and six kayaks are estimated to cost $12,600.
“The kayak rental project will bring more people to downtown, and increase vibrancy and vitality,” the organization said in its proposal letter to the De Pere Board of Park Commissioners, asking the city to partner with it and Kayak Wisconsin for the project.
“There’s been a really strong desire that has been communicated to us by the community to better activate our river, specifically, with kayaks,” Tina Quigley, executive director of Definitely De Pere, said.
Phase II could start the following year with two more kayak racks and 12 kayaks at Voyageur Park.
Definitely De Pere and Kayak Wisconsin would raise those funds, while the city would be asked to prepare the launch site, including an 8’ x 15’ gravel or concrete base for the rack system.
Quigley said her group is so sure of the project’s success that if the city is hesitant to spring for the installment, they’d raise the $2,000 or $3,000 for it.
She said with the opening in 2023 of the Mulva Cultural Center, up to 150,000 people per year are expected to visit downtown De Pere and they will be on the lookout for other activities to do.
Not everyone’s completely sold on the location, though.
“Why wouldn’t Voyageur Park be the first place to do this?” Commissioner Jim Kneiszl asked.
One reason, Quigley said, is Bomier already has a boat launch, so all it would need is the rack base.
Another – visibility.
“For people who are traveling across the bridge, or who are at the Mulva Center, they will see, physically see, those kayaks and see the launch at Bomier,” Quigley said.
She said the clock is ticking to get started on Phase I.
“The Bomier location provides the ability to launch the project in 2023 without waiting another year,” Quigley said. “I think that’s important seeing that the communities south of us are already ahead of the game.”
The park board unanimously gave Definitely De Pere the go-ahead to start fundraising for Phase I when it met April 21.
Next the proposal will head to the Common Council to hammer out the project’s final details.