VILLAGE OF LA FARGE
Regular Board Meeting Monday, August 8, 2022
1). Village President Cheryl Purvis called the regular meeting of the La Farge Village Board to order at 6:30 p.m. at the Emergency Services building.
Roll Call - Present at the meeting: All Board Members: Karen Leis, Aaron Appleman, Terry Jensen, Frank Quinn, Barbara Melvin, Aaron Nemec, and Cheryl Purvis.
Also present: News reporters Lonnie Muller and Bonnie Sherman, Public Works Manager Wayne Haugrud, Utility Clerk Greg Lawton, Al Buss, Samantha Laskowski, Peggy and David Woods, and Clerk Kimberly Walker.
2). Verification was given of meeting publishing in the La Farge Episcope, and of posting at the Bank, Post Office, and Village Office on August 4, 2022.
3). Melvin moved, Quinn seconded to approve the previous meetings minutes: (7-11-22/Regular Village board meeting and 7-26-22/Regular Library board meeting. (Carried).
4). Correspondence: Dairyland Power is holding a Municipal Appreciation Day on September 14th. Board members and their spouse/guest are invited.
5). Public Comment: None.
6). Utility business: Last month Wayne talked about getting set up with water quality trading and still applying for a multi-discharge variance. Looking for action to proceed with Delta 3. Jensen moved, Quinn seconded to approve a contract with Delta 3 on this. (Carried).
**The PSC sent a letter saying the utilities revenues were lacking in their ability to cover the expenses. There’s been no inflationary increases in quite a while, so they said we must go for a rate case within the next 2 years. This is quite intensive, so our audit firm, Johnson & Block will help us out. And because of the substation relocation project coming up and the funding we are to receive, JBC was able to get a one-year extension for us from the PSC, so we can get this up and running. But we need to get started now, as it’s a 6–9-month review. JBC has an engagement letter for us, with a cost between $9,000-$12,000. Quinn moved, Jensen seconded to approve the engagement letter with Johnson Block & Company for an electric rate case application. (Carried).
**Discussed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Village and the Vernon County Energy District regarding pursing a community solar project. Wayne reached out to UMMEG, and they didn’t see any issues with entering into this agreement, and neither did our Attorney. There is a termination clause (for both parties) in case it’s not working down the road. In 2015, a solar study had been done with UMMEG, and they suggested going back to this for a starting point. That ended up not going thru due to it being not cost effective then. Al Buss said their primary reason for asking for the MOU is they are committing to a lot of work, trying to figure out what’s best for the people in the village. Quinn moved, Nemec seconded to approve the MOU between the Village and VCED. (Carried).
**Wayne gave an update on the outage last month on Highway 82, between Randy Vesbach’s and James Looker. We received the right-a-away permit from the DOT needed to do the work. All the poles and electric lines are up and energized. Just need to remove the old lines and poles that went up over the hill.
On July 23rd, had a storm come thru, and we had 2 separate outages that took down electrical lines. And again on August 1st, a storm took out 2 lines and a transformer. Still working on cleaning up trees.
**On the electric relocation, Wayne reached out to Forster, but is still waiting to hear back. On July 15th, neighbors around the relocation area received letters from the PSC, for “A Notice of Investigation”. We’re just waiting to see the plans and to go out for bids.
7). Old business: Received 3 quotes for a new zero turn diesel lawnmower. Portland Implement quoted $16,308, with a trade in of our 2018 JD of $7,000, for a total of $9,308. Nelson Agri-Center had a Ferris for $14,100, but it wasn’t a diesel, and they don’t do trade-ins. And Hillsboro Equipment’s quote was $22,349, with $6,924 for a trade-in, for a total of $15,425. We’re working on this now for next year, as Ferris and JD
won’t guarantee this until next Spring. Portland doesn’t have any either but will check with other dealers to see if they may have one in stock. Otherwise next Spring, too. Jensen moved, Appleman seconded to approve the purchase from Portland Implement. (Carried).
8). Peggy Woods was present in regard to a refuse collection complaint. She said they moved here 2 ½ years ago, and their biggest concern since moving has been with the neighbor’s trash. They started filing complaints on this then and are still dealing with it. It became more serious when the Woods’ trimmed back their trees because of the worry of the neighbors’ items starting on fire, which could take out their fence and house. Now they can see all the junk. She called the fire inspector to have him come look. The only thing stopping him from acting was the fact there was not a gas can in the yard showing imminent danger. He suggested she call the health department. She did and she hasn’t heard back from him on what he decided.
*The neighbor has open trash bags and trash piled in front of the garage. Someone’s living in the front yard and getting dressed outside and Peggy has grandchildren outside that can see this. She’s also seen druggies stop in, and law enforcement has been there. Peggy even put up a camera, doing everything possible to help. She says the village has to act. According to the village ordinance of public nuisance, it does not require law enforcement to do something, just a designated inspector. Cheryl said she understands her frustration. There are several properties in the village that need cleaned up.
*Cheryl said our former Police chief did an excellent job of writing the tickets and issuing citations, but the problem is the village doesn’t have the power to enforce them. Peggy kept saying “read the ordinance”. Peggy said she talked with Phil Stittleburg, and he told her the village does have the authority by the ordinance to act. But Cheryl said we don’t have the power to enforce it. We have talked with our Village Attorney to advise us on what we can and can’t do, and our former Chief was in on those discussions. Cheryl said we do have some things in motion, but unfortunately, the village Attorney is not available for the next couple of weeks. This property owner also has several citations not paid. The previous municipal court did not act on collection of those tickets and citations. With our new Judge and Court Clerk, there’s a plan in place to collect these. Cheryl said she appreciated Peggy reading those ordinances and will get back to our Attorney to tell him what Mr. Stittleburg said. If the village has power to do these things, great. But again, we were advised by our current Attorney we can’t do that.
*Peggy commented to Frank, “don’t look at me like that”, which Frank said, “the way you’re acting, I will”. You don’t think we care about that”? To which Peggy replied, “I know you don’t”. She got upset and as she got up to leave, told the board that we’ll be talking to a lawyer and will sue the village for not doing their job according to state statutes. Peggy and David left. Again, Cheryl said we can only go by what our Attorney has told us. And we’ve had many discussions and emails for proof this is what we’ve been told. But we’ve been told the board can’t enforce unless we go for abatement. It will be up to our new Police chief to continue forward with what we’ve been advised to do. Then since Peggy referenced talking to Mr. Stittleburg, will also touch base with him to see if he has a different interpretation.
9). Committee Reports:
**Police: Frank commented the committee will get together soon to review applications.
**Library: Barb mentioned the library is looking at a new program for ancestry on the computer.
**With the CDBG-DR grant we received for CDA to help them build an apartment house, they were to start building this Spring, and finish this Fall. But they ran into issues with costs and the investor. There’s been correspondence between CDA, the State, and Village. CDA has asked for an extension. The State is concerned with the grant funds sitting there and not being used by the time the grant runs out. They suggested we think about going back out for bids. CDA is welcome to submit again. Having a special board meeting soon, so will have this on the agenda, on how to procced.
10). Melvin moved, Quinn seconded to approve payment of the bills. (Carried).
11). Jensen moved, Appleman seconded to adjourn. (Carried). Adjourned at 7:08 p.m.
Kimberly Walker, Village Clerk/Treasurer