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Village clears way for new highway shop

The Rib Lake Village Board followed the recommendation of the planning commission and at its meeting on December 9 approved a request to rezone 15 acres of property along CTH D from residential to light industrial.

The Taylor County Highway Department had approached the board at its October meeting to request a variance on the 1,200-foot setback requirement in the village’s wellhead protection ordinance so it could purchase the property for a new highway shop. The board wanted more details on how the county planned to protect the groundwater before granting the variance. The highway department came back to the board at its November meeting with the details and the trustees approved the variance request, subject to plan review by the state of Wisconsin and the village’s planning commission.

Village president Bill Schreiner said the planning commission held a public hearing on December 2 on the highway department’s request to change the zoning of the property from residential to light industrial. He said the commission received input from county highway commissioner Ben Stanfley and Joe Desris, who owns the property where the county wants to build the shop and recommended that the village approve the zoning change request. He said Gary and Dorathy Nelson also attended the hearing and wanted to know if the property they own would also be included in the zoning change and were told no.

Following the approval of the zoning request, Stanfley told the board the county was planning to close on the property in January and would come to the board meeting in March or April with the final design specifications for the board’s approval before the project is put out on bids.

In a written report to the board, MSA Professional Services said the Department of Natural Resources has approved Staab’s proposal to install a flat cover on the sludge storage tank to help reduce operational difficulties due to freezing and that MSA was working with Staab, Crane Engineering and the cover manufacturer for the design of the cover. Cost of project would be $169,917, which would be paid for with unspent contingency funds from the sewer plant project.

Clerk Dawn Swenson told the board the village has received notice it would be receiving a $14,800 grant for reimbursement of expenses related to COVID-19. She said items submitted for reimbursement include rubber gloves, sanitizers, materials for the plexiglass screens for the election workers and clerk’s office, touch-less faucets and touch-less flush urinals for the bathrooms in the various village owned buildings and any other purchases related to providing protection from COVID-19. Swenson said the fire department would be receiving some of that money because it had purchased some items through the village to protect the firefighters.

The board approved purchasing four security cameras at a cost of $300 each. Police chief Derek Beckstrand said there are four cameras on the old system which haven’t been switched to the village’s new security system. Beckstrand said he had received a $1,000 Community Foundation Public Grant, which would be applied toward the cost, and had spoken to trustee Jack Buksa about buildings and grounds paying the rest of the cost.

The board approved a grant from the League of Municipalities to update the police department’s manual. Beckstrand said although the village has added ordinances here and there, the police department’s policy and procedures manual hadn’t been updated since 2009. He said the village would be contracting with a company to create policies and procedures for the village and update them on an annual basis, and that the League’s insurance has agreed to reimburse the village for all costs.