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Cell tower upgrade coming to Gilman area

It’s no secret that cell phone service is patchy in rural Taylor County, but six months from now, that service could be greatly improved. In what started as a request from Harmony Towers on behalf of AT& T to construct a new tower, the Gilman Village Board approved a Conditional Use Permit Oct. 13, during a public hearing, prior to the regular meeting.

After Harmony submitted their request, SBA Communications made a request of their own, for the village to deny the permit, stating that AT& T has no reason to “go off” the existing tower. The village then researched the matter to find out what was needed, such as information and sworn testimony about Harmony’s service, which was then sent to the village attorney.

The attorney didn’t see a reason to deny the proposal and village president Jane DeStaercke said she feels by statute, the board has no grounds to deny the permit.

“They (Harmony) were thoroughly prepared for it,” said village clerk Candice Grunseth.

“I think it’s our obligation to do whatever we can to advance this community,” said trustee Greg Steinbach.

Since then, SBA has approved for Verizon to go on their tower.

“To me, it’s a good thing either way,” said Grunseth. “Now we have two carriers in our community, so, that’s a selling point for people who do want to work remotely.”

During the regular meeting, members gave the go ahead for the Community Betterment Association to move forward with getting bids to extend the roof line of the beer stand in the park. Final approval will be brought back to the board, possibly next spring, in time for June Dairy Days. DeStaercke said it is her understanding that the CBA will pay for the project, but that there may be money from the county that could be applied for. “There’s no money in our village budget for this year,” said DeStaercke.

The board also elected trustee Ericka Bertsinger as the village vice president. Trustee Cheryl Rosemeyer was nominated for the position, but declined, because of her already full schedule.

Resolution 2021-07 was also passed, in regard to a redistricting map establishing municipal wards. There were no changes for Gilman, based on population numbers from the recent census.

Members also agreed for Grunseth to move ahead with a conventional water rate increase, as the village needs to bump it up. The last conventional increase was in 2012, when the village fell behind and needed to have a major increase to catch up. Before that happens, the village auditor recommended the increase take place. Grunseth says when the paperwork is complete, if the board isn’t happy with the amount, they don’t have to go through with the increase.

Not on the agenda for approval, but discussed nonetheless, is updating the village ordinance that deals with underage users of tobacco products or those caught on school grounds. Police chief Tom Tallier says if the ordinance is updated, they can write citations locally and “reap the benefits,” as he is seeing more and more vaping use.

“So, we have to do a little update, because there’s no tobacco in the vapes,” he said.

The board also discussed changing their regular meeting hours to an earlier time, agreeing that a public hearing is needed to see what the community thinks is the best time. Grunseth says people have told her that the 7 p.m. time is too late to attend in the evenings. The public hearing will take place Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 6:45 p.m., following the budget hearing at 6:30 p.m.

If the time is changed, it would require an ordinance update.

“Whatever you’re going to change, think about it before you change the time,” said Grunseth.

C orrections A news article appearing in the Oct. 14 issue of The Star News incorrectly identifi ed Medford Wastewater treatment plant lab director Brooke Klingbeil by her maiden name Zondlo.

A headline appearing on page 20 of that issue also incorrectly stated the crisis that led to the call up of the Medford National Guard unit 60 years ago. Correctly, the unit was called up and deployed to Fort Lewis in Washington due to the Berlin Crisis.