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Police chief says ATVs are causing issues again

Speeding ATVs and UTVs are once again becoming a problem in the cities of Colby and Abbotsford, according to police chief Jason Bauer.

“We don’t have time for our guys to be chasing four-wheelers around,” he said at Monday’s monthly police commission meeting.

Colby commissioner Dan Hederer said ATV and UTV riders need to do a better job of policing themselves or the two city councils may consider banning the vehicles with city limits.

In 2017, Colby’s city council adopted an ordinance allowing ATVs and UTVs to be operated on all city streets, as long as they followed the 25 mph speed limit and other traffic and safety rules. In 2016, Abbotsford’s council established a ATV/ UTV route that enters the city from Hiline Avenue at Pine Street and runs along Business 29 to Pickard Avenue.

Riders living in Abbotsford are supposed to take the most direct route from their homes to the established route.

Abbotsford commissioner Roger Weideman said riders usually don’t cause any problems on Business 29; it’s the side roads where they tend to bother residents and create safety concerns.

Last summer, Abbotsford commissioner Frankie Soto floated the idea of banning ATV/UTV operation within the city limits after experiencing ongoing problems in his neighborhood.

On Monday, however, Soto said the problems have mostly gone away in his area, except for one ATV driver who continues to cause problems. Bauer said riders can always be issued citations for speeding or violating other traffic rule, but it’s not always easy to catch them in the act, especially since they can easily ride out into the surrounding townships. No recommendations were made by the commission at Monday’s meeting, and city council action would be needed if ATV/UTV operation were to be restricted or eliminated within city limits.

Other business

_ The commission recommended approval of a new computer maintenance contract with Computer TR, for a cost of $500 per month for one year. If approved by the councils, the new contract would be retroactive to May 1, 2020, and go until April 30, 2021.

Seth Pinter, owner of Computer TR, said he has already moved 12 of business clients to a monthly service contract, which allows for more efficient computer maintenance and consistent staffing on his end. He said the contracts also include anti-virus protections.

Bauer said he normally budgets $5,000 annually for computer maintenance, so the new contract would be an increase of $1,000 per year, but he sees the advantages of paying a flat monthly fee for servicing the department’s technology.

_ Commission president Todd Schmidt brought up the idea of reviewing the department’s training for local officers in light of the George Floyd killing by a Minneapolis police officer.

Bauer said he was open to the idea of exploring more training, especially in the area of defense and arrest techniques, though he believes his officers would never do anything as “heinous” as what happened in Minneapolis.

“I trust our officers and I don’t see any of them doing anything like what that offi cer did,” he said.

_ Bauer said seven arrests were made in the past month as result of the department’s drug-sniffing K-9 being deployed.

_ The commission approved $15,593 in monthly expenditures.

_ The commission met in closed session to review job applications from those seeking to replace officer Chris Brandner, who took a job with the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department at the start of this month. Interviews of the finalists are planned for later this summer.