Shore Land Zoning Has The Power To Move Buildings 12/6/17
A garage which was built too close to a lake front needs to be moved or cut off.
According to Taylor County Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan a garage was built with an overhang which is 8 feet too close to Long Lake in northern Taylor County. According to Mr. Noonan the eave overhang of one corner of the 28 by 30 foot structure is 68 feet from the ordinary high water mark of the lake. The required distance for accessory structures is 75 feet. The building owner Rhonda Emmerich applied for a variance to the codes which would allow her to keep the building in its location.
A public hearing to grant the variance was held before the Board of Adjustment on December 6th. The board consists of Stanley Schmidt, Arlen Albrecht and Dave Krug. Kyle Noonan indicated that when a permit was applied for on April 28th there was a concern of the location of the town of Rib Lake road right of way. Rhonda Emmerich said that 3 town officials met at the site and agreed to the location of the building 33 feet from the center of the road. On the other end of the building, a stake was placed at 75 feet from the lake for one corner of the building with the lake meandering to a distance which is less than 75 feet on the other corner. The owners commented they didn’t realize the entire building had to be 75 feet from the lake.
It was noted that 3 neighbors’ cabins or homes were at 57, 48 and 35 feet from the lake. Administrator Noonan pointed out that principle structures such as homes or cabins may be closer than 75 feet to the water depending on several factors, but new accessory structures such as a garage must be 75 feet from the water.
Stanley Schmidt said that Long Lake Road legally ends about half way in front of the Emmerich lot and is legally only .93 mile long although it goes past their lot to several other homes. He said legally the town doesn’t own much of that road in front of you and the building could have been closer to the road.
Arlen Albrecht expressed his concern for aquatic life with structures encroaching on waterways. It was noted that Long Lake is actually a private land locked lake with no public access.
Dave Krug said that he took a ride to see the structure. He felt it was a very nice looking building and didn’t see what harm a few feet would do. He said we need to talk about hardship.
Stan Schmidt said it is after the fact resulting in self-inflicted hardship. He said there were no unique restrictions on the property which would have prevented moving the building’s location. He said “Rules are rules and we’re not empowered to change the rules.”
A Town of Rib Lake official commented that in cases such as this, using a ruler may not be reliable. He felt that a certified survey to show the distance from the water to the building would have been a good decision.
Dave Krug said that this was a tough issue due to the fact that the building is up. He questioned whether the property owners knew that the building was too close to the water.
Arlen Albrecht replied that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Krug reminded the board that they made exceptions for the height of Taylor Electric’s tower and the Stetsonville Water Tower in regard to the airport zoning regulations. Albrecht replied that was a different issue dealing with public safety. Schmidt expressed his concern of setting a precedent. Krug said it will be a major undertaking to move or tear down the building. Albrecht said its’ location is against state and county rules and ordinances.
Dave Krug made a motion to grant the variance but the motion failed due to the lack of a second. Stanley Schmidt said he sympathized with the building owners but he made a motion to deny the variance “based on the rules before us”. Albrecht seconded the motion and the motion to deny the variance passed on a 2 to 1 vote with Dave Krug voting no. Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan told the board that he would give the building owners until July 1st to have the building in compliance with the 75 foot setback rule.
The Pine Line Rail Trail is the former railroad bed which has become a popular destination for walkers, joggers, bike and snowmobile riders. In some cases the property lines along the trail have become tough to determine for adjoining landowners. A couple from Chelsea is finding out the hard way where their land ends and where the county’s land begins.
According to information brought out at Zoning and Forestry meetings at the Taylor County Courthouse a new garage being built in Chelsea is partially on county land. When county officials measured from the center of the rail trail to the new garage the distance was 35 feet. The county owns 50 feet from the trail center which means 15 feet of the new garage is on county land. A cease and desist order was attached to the new structure. According to forester Jake Walcisak now the landowner must have a survey taken to confirm property lines and any portion of the garage which is on county land must be removed within 30 days. The property was purchased in July and an outlot on the property included language on the original deed which indicated that no buildings could be constructed on it. Members of the committee wondered if title insurance would pay for removal of the structure.
Committee member Mike Bub stressed the need for consistency when requiring buildings to not be located on Pine Line county land. Pine Line chairman Marv Kuenne said that brings a new twist. On Whittlesey’s north side the Whittlesey Whizzers snowmobile club’s groomer shed is 40 feet from the trail center which means 10 feet of the snowmobile club’s building is on county land.
Currently there are 170 property owners adjacent to the Pine Line Trail. The committee agreed that the 3 townships along the trail should be made aware of the trail boundaries and complications of infringing on county land. Enforcement of the issue will be with the county Land Use, Zoning and Pine Line Commission.
Failure To Pump Septic System Could Get Expensive 11/16/17
Rural landowners are faced with new state regulations regarding maintenance of their septic systems. Every 3 years septic owners need to provide a pumping certificate to the county zoning office to show that their septic was pumped by a certified hauler. At a meeting of the Taylor County Zoning Committee Kyle Noonan told the committee that this summer a total of 629 septic notices were mailed to rural landowners requesting the pumping certificate receipt. Nearly 90% complied with 65 of the 629 landowners failing to respond to a second notice.
Next those 65 landowners will be receiving a zoning citation in the mail. When court costs are tacked on to the fine, the total citation cost for failure to provide a septic pumping receipt will be $389.50. In addition to paying the fine, the individual will still need to have a certified hauler pump their septic. The citations for failure to comply will be sent out the beginning of December.
The roads in Taylor County’s forests will be getting more attention for the next 10 years. At a meeting of the county’s Forestry Committee forester Jake Walcisak indicated that in recent years they have been budgeting $10,000 annually for maintenance of the roadways in the county forests. That dollar amount equates to the ability to do maintenance on portions of the roadway every 25 years. Jake requested to increase the annual expenditures from $10,000 to $25,000 which would cut the maintenance cycle from once every 25 years to a 10 year cycle. He indicated that the initial 10 year cycle would include improvements and maintenance. After the initial cycle the focus would be strictly maintenance. Funds for the effort would come from the forestry overrun account which now amounts to about $600,000. The committee agreed to increasing the county forest road maintenance annual budget from $10,000 to $25,000 annually with yearly review.
The committee was informed that the Chelsea Lake dam project is progressing. The easement for dam access over Meyer property has been registered. The request for transfer of ownership of the dam from the Chelsea Conservation Club to Taylor County has been sent to the state for approval. Once the state approves the transfer of ownership, the state required engineering process may begin.
MAFD Lifesaving Effort Pays Off At Apartment Fire 11/15/17
The Medford Area Fire Department is credited with rescuing a woman from the second story of a burning apartment building Tuesday night in Medford. A 911 call was received by the Sheriff’s Department at 5:20 PM indicating that a residential dwelling was on fire just west of the courthouse at 127 East Division Street, at the intersection of Division and Second Street. When fire fighters arrived smoke was pouring from the building. At the time of the fire there were three tenants inside the building. Law enforcement and fire personnel assisted in the evacuation of the building. One of the tenants was a woman who was trapped in a north side second story bedroom. The first arriving firemen put a ladder up to the second story window and were able to rescue the woman. After bringing the resident safely to the ground firefighters entered the main floor doorway and put out the flames which were believed to have originated on the first floor of the 4 unit apartment. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
According to Medford Police the three tenants and one Medford Police Department Officer were treated at Medford Aspirus Hospital for smoke related injuries.
The building sustained considerable smoke and fire damage. The structure which had been converted to a 4 unit apartment is a Medford landmark which previously housed the Ruesch Funeral Home.
According to Police Chief Brian Carey, the Medford Police Department would like to thank the Medford Fire Department, Taylor County Sheriff’s Department and the Taylor County Ambulance Service for their assistance.
K99's Brad Dahlvig w/Medford Fire Chief Mike Filas
The future of Lake Esadore and adjacent lakes is financially in the hands of the new Town of Hammel Lake District number 1. Property owners within the proposed district were presented with a petition to sign for approval of the district. A total of 122 of the 161 owners, or 76% of those property owners signed their approval. The district property owners will now be taxed based on their percentage of frontage for future enhancements to the lake dam. The formation of the district virtually guarantees the future of the dam and lake with governing decisions made by a board of commissioners, consisting mainly of district landowners. The Taylor County Board received background on formation of the lake district from supervisor Dave Krug who indicated that the initial slate of commissioners will include: Dave Lemke, Steve Deml, Deb Berry, Terry Phillips, Dan Olson and alternate Brent Halgren. Three County Board members will be named as commissioners. The county board voted unanimously to approve formation of the Town of Hammel Lake District number 1.
Eleven Additional Issues For County Board 10/26/17
The Taylor County Board approved a number of resolutions and ordinances on Wednesday, October 25th. The county library tax exemptions were approved. In highway business, the 2017 bridge aid expenses, 2018 highway department equipment purchase schedule, and re-election of commissioner Jess Sackmann were approved.
The county legal services with Schmiege & Graff was approved.
The employees of Taylor County who are not affiliated with a union will see a 1% pay increase in compensation for 2018.
The per diem pay for county board members will increase. Supervisor Mike Bub felt the pay could stay at the current rate. Dave Krug objected to getting paid for 3 meetings in one day indicating although it’s a rare occurance the third meeting is typically short. His proposal to cap pay at $130 per day failed. The original proposal to pay $65 for committee meetings, and $130 for full day meetings or conference passed with supervisors Bub and Krug voting no.
The boundaries in districts 2, 7, 4 and 5 changed due to recent annexations into the city of Medford.
The board approved adopting the provisions of state statute 75.521 for foreclosure of tax liens. Tax deed land with dam structures may have the dam removed or retained depending on whether the Land Information Committee deems it financially in the best interest of Taylor County.
Slight language changes to the county nonconforming uses and structures shoreland zoning was approved.
The comprehensive community services coordination committee will include 3 members of the Taylor County Board.
Supervisor Ray Soper gave details of proposed legislation aimed at relaxing protections formerly imposed in regard to sulfide mining in Wisconsin. Mr. Soper indicated that current regulations are designed to protect the environment. The proposed regulations may put adjacent resources such as water in jeopardy. The board went on record as opposing the relaxing proposals.
One of the more contentious issues amongst Taylor County Board members is where to spend the money which is in the powerline impact fee account. Two requests for funding were brought before the county board on Wednesday. Supervisor Rollie Thums expressed his support of allocating $10,000 from the fund to help pay for a new American Legion Post building in Rib Lake. Supervisor Mildbrand supported it because the building would be available for community use. Supervisor Bub asked for clarification of what the money in the fund should be approved for. It was explained that the fund is now earmarked for “The Public Good”. Mr. Bub chuckled saying, "oh so that’s up to us to determine". Supervisors Zenner and Krug expressed their opposition to funding the project for fear of setting a precedence of funding such facilities. The vote to allocate $10,000 to the Rib Lake American Legion building received 7 no votes and failed by 1 vote as 2/3 of the majority needed to vote affirmative.
The next request for powerline impact funding caused quite a stir. The southern third of the Pineline Trail is being resurfaced. The request was for $15,000. Supervisor Bub indicated there was a lot of local support with individuals and organizations pledging over $11,000. Supervisor Breneman asked why the funds weren’t coming out of the forestry account. Forester Jake Walcisak indicated that the Pineline is a county park which comes under the buildings and grounds budget. Supervisor Thums said that every cent in the Forestry department is public money and should be used to fund this project. Clerk Bruce Strama said the reason the trail was designated as a park was so they could apply for grants. Supervisor Soper proposed to substitute powerline funds with forestry funds but that measure failed. Supervisor Bub offered a compromise with each fund paying half, $7500 from Forestry and $7500 from the powerline fund and the compromise vote was unanimously approved. The total estimated cost of the Phase 1 portion of resurfacing 6.4 miles of the trail from Allman Street to Alfalfa Avenue is $125,840. A grant from the DNR is paying for 80% of the expense.
The Taylor County Board has decided to keep the administration of the county’s housing authority in the county. With the pending retirement of coordinator Denise Johnson, Northwest Regional Planning of Spooner made a pitch to the board to take over the county’s housing authority administration. Sheldon Johnson of Northwest Regional told the board that currently 5 of the 10 counties in their service territory rely on their housing authority services. To pay for their services they would retain 15% of all activities which they administer.
Supervisor Knoll asked Johnson what the response time would be for someone who’s furnace stopped working. Johnson replied that they should be able to complete the paperwork in a few days if the person was already on fuel assistance. Anyone who is on energy assistance is eligible for weatherization programs and furnace replacement reimbursement he said.
It’s estimated that the housing office at the court house which is now open 20 hours per week has about 10 inquiries per week. Supervisor Zenner expressed his support for keeping the services in house indicating he didn’t want to see anyone fall through the cracks. The current budget allows $38,000 annually for administrative expenses.
Following the presentation by Northwest’s Sheldon Johnson the board began their budget hearing.
Line item amendments included decreasing county board per diem by $7,000, an increase of bridge aids of $6,516, a decrease of the College Street special assessments by $27,000 due to overassessments by the city, and increasing the housing authority budget by $20,000 to allow for local staffing. Supervisor Makovsky expressed his support of the local housing office to assist the people who he termed as “downtrodden” by saying “either we’re human or we’re not”. The vote to add the $20,000 for housing authority administration passed with supervisors Thums, Lewis, Brooks, Hanson, Bub and Mildebrand voting no.
For 2018 the Taylor County Housing Authority will continue to have office hours in the Taylor County courthouse.
The Taylor County Board approved the 2018 budget on Wednesday, October 25th. The tax rate for Taylor County property tax will increase from $8.19 per $1,000 of equalized value to $8.31 which equates to an increase of $12.00 on a $100,000 equalized value property.
Nearly 15 county residents attended the meeting to show their support for the U.W. Extension Family Living agent position. Marie Frey expressed her support for the Strong Bones program and the need to maintain its availability for 2 days per week. What caused concern was the fact that the committee cut the family living position to a .2 position while increasing the ag agent position from .5 to .8.
Art Lurch the U.W. area director said that with the reduction in the extension budget of $15,000, it would be difficult to maintain the current strong bones programs with just a .2 position coordinator.
Supervisor Breneman asked whether the strong bones program could be facilitated by the county health department. Lurch said he had been asking that question of the extension department and he hasn’t received any answers. Breneman told the group that it was never the committee’s intention to eliminate the strong bones program and that they could be assured that the program would continue.
County residents who spoke in favor of the Strong Bones program along with Marie Frey were Doreen Eldered, Mary Ann Kropp, Kris Werner, Fern Brown, Edith Heier, and Phillip Marthaler.
Supervisor Breneman expressed her support of the vital programs which the county offers. She said it was a challenge when differentiating between what we would like to do and what we need to do.
Supervisor Lewis told the group that Taylor County is one of the highest taxed counties in the state comparing our tax rate of $8.31 to Chippewa County which is near $3. The board voted to accept the amended budget including the changes at the extension department. Supervisor Thums cast the lone no vote.
Taylor County Trails “Too Far From Population For Funding”
At a recent meeting of the Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee, a new member of the Forestry Department was introduced. Jake Walcisak introduced Jordan Lutz. Jordan is originally from the Amherst area, a graduate of UWSP with previous work as a forester in the Ironwood area.
Logging in the county forests is continuing to meet their goals with 5 projects being established ranging in size from 41 to 91 acres. For the year the goal is to involve 510 acres of timber sales from Taylor County owned forests.
Jake Walcisak told the committee that a new concern regarding forest health has emerged. A contract involving the harvest of pine poles has tested positive for a root rot fungus. In an attempt to contain the spread of the fungus the logging contract will now include the harvest of all conifers in an area 80 to 100 feet surrounding the perimeter of the target area. Walcisak indicated that the fungus is an airborne fungus which affects most species of conifers. It was believed to have originated in Europe or Asia. The fungus spread progress may be slowed by spraying recently cut stumps. It was noted that the same fungus was detected in a pine plantation located northwest of Medford on private land nearly 10 years ago with minimal effect.
In other outdoor issues, the Chelsea Lake dam repair project took another step forward. A revised easement document will allow Taylor County representatives to access the dam to perform required maintenance. The document was revised by county representatives and members of the Meyer Family which is allowing access across their land. The committee approved the revised easements and the final step in the agreement process will be county board approval.
The rural location of Taylor County resulted in cuts in federal grant programs which will have an adverse effect on the county ski and horse trails. The federal grants for maintenance of the Rib Lake Ski Club trails have been reduced. Meanwhile, the grants to help fund the Perkinstown ski trail and the county horse trail maintenance funds have both been cut to nothing. One of the determining criteria in eliminating the federal funding was the fact that the trails are not located within 25 miles of a population center of 50,000 or more people. The committee was hopeful that the grant funding would be restored.
In a positive note: with the combination of grants, local funding from the Taylor County Sportsmen’s Club, and local volunteers, nearly $75,000 in upgrades have improved the Pirus Shooting Range into a top notch shooting range. The improvements offer sportsmen a safe environment to test and improve their target skills.
Those were several of the topics which were discussed at a recent meeting of the Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee.
The Pine Line Trail is getting a facelift. A logging project along the trail is nearing completion. The county is cutting select timber adjacent to the Pine Line Trail. Portions of the logging project were delayed so as not to put turtles in harm’s way. According to Chuck Zenner private donations amounting to $11,250 were received to help cover the cost of resurfacing the southernmost 1/3 of the trail which covers 6.1 miles. It is anticipated that upon receipt of grant funds the northern 12 mile stretch of trail will be completed in 2 phases over the next 2 years. A blue rock granite from the Athens area will be spread on the southern 1/3 of the trail. Taylor County will ask the full county board for an additional $15,000 to help defray the costs of the new trail surface. Just south of Westboro the former railroad bed has a series of 4 bridges within a span of about 1 mile. The county’s forestry department is seeking cost sharing for a study to determine the load ratings for the bridges to determine whether they are suitable to handle heavy equipment during the resurfacing project. The projected cost of the load rating study is $7,900.
The Chelsea Lake Dam is one step closer to receiving the maintenance needed to assure that the lake remains as a vital destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The DNR has mandated that tests and maintenance must be done on the dam. When talks of forming a lake association failed, some county board members suggested eliminating the Chelsea Lake dam. After much discussion, the Taylor County board of supervisors voted to take ownership of the dam from the Chelsea Conservation Club.
The dam at Chelsea Lake which is titled to the conservation club is land locked. Adjacent land owners Randy and Steve Meyer have worked with officials to develop an easement which would provide access to the dam by driving across their land. The easement was reviewed by the committee paragraph by paragraph.
The Meyer brothers agreed that they would invest just under $9,000 to build an 1100 foot roadway through the center of their farm field to a point near the dam where the county would pay just over $2,000 to complete a connecting road approximately 275 feet to the dam. The committee voted to proceed with finalizing the easement with Mayer Farms. Committee member Mike Bub commended everyone involved in the negotiations to save the lake and dam and called the easements a “Great Solution”.
Al Christianson is the City Administrator of the City of Ladysmith, home of the Flambeau Mine He notes that Wisconsin has some of the strongest environmental regulations in the world. Legislation is being introduced to lift Wisconsin's long-standing moratorium on metallic mineral mining. People in northern Wisconsin can potentially share in the economic gains that our neighbors in northern Minnesota and Michigan are looking forward to with current mining projects under development. Recently, Al Christianson spoke with K99's Russ Gowey on mining in Northern Wisconsin.......
A request for additional help at the Taylor County Commission on Aging met some resistance at a meeting of the Taylor County Personnel Committee on Thursday. Dave Krug, who serves on the commission on aging committee told the personnel committee that some tasks which need to be done are not being done in a timely and thorough fashion due to a short staff. A request was made to change the COA programs specialist position to a regular full time position and to add a regular 30 hour per week receptionist position in the commission on aging office. It was noted that employees are easier to retain if they are in a full time position with benefits. The current receptionist is a green thumb worker and the ADRC pays for half of the 20 hour per week wage. The committee voted to change the COA Programs specialist position to a regular full time position, but to table the issue of a 30 hour per week receptionist.
At a time when department budgets are being finalized for 2018, Taylor County’s personnel committee received some welcome news. Marie Koerner told the committee that the county employee’s health insurance rates will not increase in 2018. The zero percent increase in health insurance was in line with the county’s attempts to keep spending increases to a minimum.
The county board budget was presented to the personnel committee on Thursday. Due to a per diem increase which was recently approved by the county board, the pay for attending meetings will increase from $50 to $75 per meeting for committee and county board members. Overall that will result in an estimated $24,000 annual increase to the county board budget. That equates to a 39% increase for the county board budget. Scott Mildbrand questioned whether the increase in pay could be reconsidered. Lester Lewis indicated that he supports the increase to $75 per meeting but he felt that pay for second or third meetings on the same day could be a lesser amount. The committee approved the 2018 county board budget as presented.
The county’s fleet of vans is aging. Marie Koerner told the committee that of the county’s 6 vans, 3 or 4 of them have mileage in excess of 130,000 miles.
In other business the personnel committee approved the contract for legal services from Courtney Graff. It was noted that the 2017 contract provided for no pay increase, and the 2018 contract will provide a 2% increase in pay.
The committee approved a resolution to reelect Jess Sackmann as Taylor County Highway commissioner.
The treatment court coordinator position which is a limited time 20 hour per week position was approved by the committee. The position is paid for by grant money.
A garage fire that occurred on Thursday, July 27, 2017 and the subsequent search for the resident of that property, 42 year old Shane D. Ziegel, who was missing continues to be investigated.
The fire had been reported to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office on July 27, 2017 at 10:15 p.m. The garage was fully engulfed in flames upon arrival of emergency responders and ultimately was totally destroyed.
Upon arrival Taylor County Deputies noticed blood leading from the garage into the house. Once deputies made entry into the house they again observed blood in varies rooms. No one was found in the house but Ziegel’s car keys were gone along with his vehicle from the driveway.
Ziegel was last seen by a friend at about 6:30 p.m. that evening and was thought to be on his way home. An attempt to locate was sent out to surrounding law enforcement agencies for Ziegel.
On Friday, July 28, at 8:31 a.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office that they had located Ziegel’s vehicle on 13 Lane Road near County Highway F, in the town of Halsey, Marathon County. The vehicle was unoccupied and a search of the area by the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office yielded no results.
Ziegel was later found on Friday, July 28 when he walked out of the woods not far from where his vehicle had been found. His injuries were minor.
According to Ziegel he woke up in the woods with no memory of how he got there. The last memory he has is of two men stopping by his house asking about a vehicle he had parked there, he talked to the men about the vehicle. Ziegel describes the males as white about 25 to 30 years of age and both were bald. They were driving a dark blue or black Dodge Dakota pickup truck. It is unknown if these two men had any involvement in the fire or Ziegel’s minor injuries.
If you feel you have any information that would be helpful in this investigation please contact the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office at 715-748-2200
Should the Taylor County Highway Shop stay at the intersection of Highway 13 and 64 in Medford, or should they move to a new location? That question was posed at a joint meeting of the Taylor County highway, finance, law enforcement and buildings and grounds committees on Tuesday.
Two representatives of Bariientos Design and Consulting, of Milwaukee addressed the meeting. The firm offers design, repair and construction services for public works buildings. The highway shop in Medford was built in 1939. A renovation project to upgrade the handicap accessibility, and improve tuck pointing, windows and the roof of the Highway Shop at a cost of $400,000 to $450,000 was done 19 years ago.
Recently Chippewa County paid to have a status study completed by Barriento’s. The study indicated that their current highway department buildings were valued at just over $7 million. It was estimated that $3.2 million in maintenance and repairs would be needed over the next 10 years. In spite of the fact that this amounted to about 45% of the buildings value, the Chippewa County board voted to not spend additional money for a new highway shop.
Barriento proposed a study which consisted of a Condition Assessment and cost estimate for the current highway building. A second phase would consist of a space needs assessment. To include the status of the Western Taylor County and Rib Lake highway shops brought the cost of the study to about $20,000.
The committees agreed that the debt for the new jail should be paid off first which is forecast for the year 2022.
Dave Krug told the group that they need a plan, with the debt being paid off in 5 years. He said, “The current building was built in 1939 which is the year I was born, it ain’t that old” which brought a chuckle from the group.
Accountant Larry Brandl advised the group to be proactive in maintenance issues and find out what the costs are going to be.
Sheriff Bruce Daniels indicated that improvements could be made to the impound lot which is adjacent to the highway shop.
The committee approved allocating up to $21,000 for Bariientos Design and Consulting to provide a condition assessment and space needs assessment for Taylor County’s 3 Highway Shop locations. The study is expected to be completed in 6 weeks.
The future of the Chelsea Lake Dam now is the responsibility of Taylor County. After countless hours at various meeting of haggling to determine who actually owns the dam and who should pay for required studies, the county board voted to establish ownership of the dam. The meeting started with County Forester Jake Walcisak handing out maps which showed who the adjoining landowners to the dam were. He indicated that in his opinion there was a serious breech on the Tlusty property and no legal access to it. DNR representative Mark Stevens told the board he noted that water was spilling over 2 or 3 areas of the berm with some erosion occurring. To minimize erosion he recommended removing boards from the dam so the water level is lowered to allow 2 or 3 feet of free board on the dam. Today’s level was estimated at 1 foot of free board on the dam.
With several other county board members proposing removal of the dam, Supervisor Gene Knoll asked how the removal of the dam would impact the lake. It was noted that if the berm washed out the lake level would drop about 2 feet, but if the dam was removed the lake level could drop 4 to 5 feet. To illustrate the impact, the current surface water is 120 acres, but without the dam it would drop to about half, or 57 acres.
As if to say we should drain the swamp, Supervisor Chuck Zenner drew moans from the crowd of about 20 people who support the future of the lake when he said that he felt that the lake is on a big wetland and that it would actually be a “prettier area without the dam”.
It was noted that if the county owns the dam they qualify for a 50% cost sharing grant while the Chelsea Conservation Club wouldn’t qualify for a grant.
After much discussion, Supervisor Mildbrand told the group that those who opposed the dam had been afforded about 30 minutes and he wished for 3 minutes to say why he was in favor of county ownership. Mildbrand indicated that due to a clerical error over 30 years ago the transfer of the title to the land from the conservation club to the county was never completed. He said that it was his firm conviction that the county fully intended to take ownership of the dam. Due to the clerical error, the title to the dam is in the Chelsea Conservation Club’s name.
Property owner John Tlusty addressed the board and expressed his surprise and disappointment that county officials had been on his land to assess the status of the berm. He said he would have appreciated a phone call prior to them inspecting or trespassing on his land.
Tlusty said that powerline impact money had been used to improve the court house grounds and could be used for Chelsea Lake.
Land owner Steve Mayer suggested that the berms on the north end of the lake act as auxiliary spillways. He expressed his frustration with someone who inserted a 4 by 8 timber instead of a 4 by 4 on the dam.
Lester Lewis quoted a county code which would require an environmental assessment before the transfer could take place. Attorney Ken Schmiege objected indicating that the transaction involved a transfer of title and not a purchase. Supervisor Dave Krug indicated that Taylor County has several beautiful lakes and that Chelsea Lake is one of those gems.
With some minor language changes, the resolution which was drafted by Scott Mildbrand to establish Taylor County ownership of the Chelsea Lake Dam passed by a 14 to 3 vote with supervisors Zenner, Lewis and Brooks voting no. Following the positive vote, Greg Krug told the county board that the Mayer family had offered to donate an additional 40 feet of land near the dam while a second family was interested in donating land near a boat landing.
The county ownership of the dam is contingent upon the Chelsea Conservation Club providing $12,000 to be applied toward complying with DNR directives. Additional funds could be requested from the powerline funds or the county’s forestry account.
In addition to authorizing ownership of the Chelsea Lake Dam, the county board passed a resolution expressing their appreciation to Russ Aszmann for his service as county forester.
With one day remaining in the month of June, the board approved designating June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. They adopted the revised Taylor County Comprehensive Plan. And approved a change in compensation for board members who attend out of town meetings which will compensate the board members the same as county employees.
The Taylor County Forestry Department has a new administrator. Following the resignation of Russ Aszman, the previous assistant administrator Jake Walcisak was appointed as the new administrator at Friday’s, June 2nd Forestry and Recreation Committee meeting.
Jake told the committee that he is hoping to have 350 acres of logging available for 7 timber sales in autumn. Two loggers bid on the Pine Line Trail project, Jason Malchow bid $3.75 per ton and Randy Blomberg bid $4.08 per ton and was awarded the contract. Three other timber projects were awarded to the high bids with one contract going to Czarneski Forest Products, a second project bid to Brad Gumz Logging, and the highest value logging contract was awarded to McFarland Cascade.
Jake Walcisak told the forestry committee that McFarland Cascade is headquartered in Northwest U.S. but recently opened an office in Cameron, WI. The firm specializes in utility pole production and this particular logging project will involve thinning Red Pine which is large enough to be suitable for power poles. 3 new bidders were among the 6 logging companies which bid. McFarland will now subcontract the project with a logger from the area. Their top bid was for $73,975 for select cutting of prime Norway Pine in the Taylor County Forest.
Taylor County’s forest administrator Russ Aszmann announced his resignation on Friday, May 5th. Aszmann told the forestry and recreation committee that he wished to thank everyone who has supported him during his tenure. He indicated that he had no regrets in regard to his administration and management of the Taylor County Forests. The final day of employment for Russ Aszmann will be May 23rd. To assume the duties, the committee voted to appoint Jake Walcisak as the interim forest administrator beginning on May 24th.
The improvements to the Pirus shooting range are on hold. Federal grant funds were being utilized to make improvements, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service has put a freeze on all grants and cost- sharings over $100,000. Chuck Zenner told the forestry and recreation committee that’s why you shouldn’t start projects until we have the money in hand. The grant is derived from the Pittman Roberts Fund which is a federal gun tax fund. The federal agency is reviewing all grant funds. The Taylor County Sportsmens Club was instrumental in obtaining the grant. Club members also have volunteered numerous hours of labor to improve the safe environment which the shooting range provides. While the committee is hopeful that the funds will be awarded following the lifting of the freeze and review, until such time that the “money is in hand” the major improvements at the Pirus Shooting Range are on hold.
According to some members of the Pine Line Trail Commission their bylaws are out of date. To update the bylaws the commission approached Taylor County for permission to utilize the services of the county’s corporate counsel. Forestry and Recreation Committee member expressed his support by asking how do you think the Rail Trail Commission feels when you tell them to take care of the trail but you don’t give them any money. Technically the rail trail is a county park. No action was taken.
On behalf of the Taylor County ATV/UTV club Don Liske recently approached the forestry department to ask that all entry roads to the county forests be signed to indicate that the county forest roads are open to ATV/UTV usage. The county forest’s 15 year action plan indicates that the county forest roads would be open for ATV/UTV usage from May 1st to November 30th. Regulations indicate that once roadways are opened, the trail signs need to be placed beside the roads. The Taylor County Forest and Recreation Committee voted to fund the placement of ATV/UTV signs at about a half dozen entry points to the County Forest. Labor will be provided by the forestry department.