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Bids for logging in county forest exceed estimates

Members of the Taylor County Forestry and Recreation committee got good news at their December 4 meeting about the sale of timber projects in the county forest.

Forest administrator Jake Walcisak reported the county received multiple bids for each of the four projects bid out this fall with a combined bid value of $305,796.35. The combined county minimum bids for the projects was $179,306.50.

“We were very happy to sell all four sales at a very good price,” Walcisak said.

Committee members had been concerned that with mill closings and current market conditions there would be less demand for timber sales. Walcisak said the county benefits from its location and the type of timber harvest with a mixture of winter and summer cuts. Combined with the projects let out last spring, the county had timber sales totaling $577,816.60 for the year, which is within the $550,000 to $600,000 range the county has maintained in recent years.

Because logging is such a weatherdependent activity, the contracts are for more than one year with the option of loggers requesting extensions if they have not been able to get the jobs completed.

Economic conditions played into the request from four loggers for extensions to current projects. Steve Dassow requested six-month extensions on sale No. 655 and one year on sale No. 661. Bell Timber requested a six-month extension on sale No. 662. Gumz Logging requested a twoyear extension on sale No. 671.

While the county has the ability to impose penalties with the extensions, historically the committee has been lenient with them recognizing the long-term relationships the county has with the local loggers.

Walcisak recommended not imposing an additional penalty beyond the $50 administrative fee charged for all extension requests. Committee chairman Chuck Zenner agreed with following past practice.

“As a logger I appreciate that,” said committee member Gary Beadles. He noted the issues loggers are having.

“It is our way of showing our appreciation to the loggers,” he said.

In other business, committee members:

_ Approved contracting with Eby’s Welding to replace the final two remaining bridges on the Pine Line Trail. The projects replace the decking and include a 55 and a 28-foot long bridge. The cost is $24,310 with the money to be paid through state trail improvements funds.

_ Approved up to a half-time position to replace Christina Schuld who will be transferring from Forestry to the Sheriff’s Department. She is currently shared with the zoning department. Concerns were raised that zoning was considering asking for an additional full-time position as part of a succession plan for the eventual replacement of a long-time employee. Walcisak praised Schuld noting she has stepped up with projects and taken on more responsibility and duties and allowed Walcisak to spend more time in the field. Committee member Mike Bub, said it was important to have the position rather than having Walcisak do clerical work. “You are very expensive clerical help,” Bub said.

Bub suggested that until things get figured out between the forestry, zoning and personnel committees, the county may need to look at hiring temporary help to fill the position.

“I don’t want to go backward,” Bub said. Walcisak agreed noting that it was not efficient to have a department head doing clerical work.