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Edgar to seek bids for utility upgrades

By Kevin O’Brien

Village of Edgar officials have tentatively decided to move ahead with an estimated $1 million project later this year that will replace water and sewer mains on Wisconsin Avenue and George Wagner Drive.

At their monthly meeting on Monday, trustees voted to seek bids for the proposed project, which will also involve repaving and installing new curb and gutter along with the utility replacements. The board did so with the understanding that the village may reject any and all bids if the prices are too high.

Village engineer Gareth Shambeau told trustees that the project has qualified for low-interest loans through the Wisconsin DNR’s Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) and the Clean Water Fund (CWF), but it did not score high enough for grant dollars. He said the DNR funding programs come with requirements to buy American materials and pay federal wage rates, which will increase the cost, but that will be more than made up by the savings in interest.

Shambeau, who works for Ayres Associates, said the project plans are 90 percent complete and the DNR permits should be good for three or four years, so trustees could always delay the work. The village has paid Ayres $60,400 to engineer the project.

Village administrator Jennifer Lopez went over the village’s financial obligations for other street and utility projects, including a Marathon County project on CTH

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H (ThirdAvenue) slated for construction in 2025. With the Wisconsin and Wagner project, she said a majority of the 20-year DNR loan would be paid back by water and sewer rate revenues.

The village’s water utility currently has zero debt, she said, but that could change if new wells need to be drilled in the future. On the sewer side, she said the village is looking at raising its rates one more time in a year from now, by 12 to 15 percent, to pay back a USDA loan for upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant, Lopez said.

Trustee Jon Streit said his only concern regarding the project is making sure water and sewer connections are provided for a potential residential subdivision off of Wisconsin Avenue.

“I’m not going to put new blacktop down and tear it up in four years to put the right sanitary in,” he said.

Lopez noted that water main breaks have been frequent on George Wagner Drive, and the pipes are buried deeply.

“They’re not easy to fix,” she said. “They’re costly.”

The plan is to have the board review bids and possibly award a contract in April.

In other project news, Lopez said the village needs to hire a state-certified firm to negotiate temporary land easements along CTH H so that curb ramps can be installed in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Lopez said she requested proposals from nine companies in the area, but only one came back with an “extremely high” bid.

If the easements are not completed by October, Lopez said the CTH H project will be pushed back to 2027.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to get this thing done by October,” she said

Other business

n Following a public hearing by the planning commission, the board voted to rezone four parcels on West Redwood Road owned by River Country Co-op. The change from B-3 Extensive Commercial to B-1 Central Commercial will allow the parcels to be subdivided into smaller lots and sold for commercial purposes.

n Officer-in-charge Ramsay Plautz told the board the police department has posted a job opening for another part-time officer, with a Feb. 5 application deadline. He said his plan is to interview applicants next month with hopes of swearing in a new officer byApril 1.

n The board renewed the village’s insurance policies for 2024 through Boehm Insurance, at a cost of $52,653. Lopez said the increase of $3,677 over last year came in less than what was in the budget.

n The board approved a fire protection and emergency medical services contract with the Edgar Volunteer Fire Department, at a cost of $33,777, running from April 1, 2024 to April 1, 2025.