By Brian Roebke
Voters who want to vote early for the Nov. 3 general election won’t be able to show up just any time at the village hall this time around.
Village Clerk Michelle Seidl has developed a two-week schedule with voting possible every weekday before the election, with varying hours, at the village hall.
She said the state is only allowing in-person early voting for two weeks before the election. The dates are:
• Tuesday, Oct. 20, noon to 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, Oct. 21, noon to 4 p.m.
• Thursday, Oct. 22, noon to 4 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 23, 8-11 a.m.
• Monday, Oct. 26, noon to 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, Oct. 27, noon to 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, Oct. 28, noon to 4 p.m.
• Thursday, Oct. 29, noon to 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30, 8-11 a.m.
“We will have election officials here to man the village hall so that the staff isn’t overwhelmed because we’re assuming we’re going to have quite a few people in that limited amount of space,” Seidl said.
She also noted almost 700 people have applied to receive absentee ballots sent to them in the mail, up from “less than 20” for the presidential election four years ago.
“It was a new thing four years ago to vote absentee,” Seidl said. “It wasn’t as widespread and wasn’t as accepted as it is right now.”
She’s bringing five extra staff to work on Sept. 16 to get those ballots ready for mailing. The applications are due on the 15th and they must be sent out on the 17th. If requested, additional ballots can be sent out up to the Thursday before the election. She’s also lined up 13 people to work on Election Day.
“Our goal is that we don’t have to use National Guard members,” she said.
Absentee or early voting ballots cannot be counted until Election Day, and Seidl expects those staff working from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The village had 388 people vote in the April primary, with 280 of them done by absentee or early voting.
In response to a question about irregularities in voting, Seidl said she just didn’t see how it could be done.
“We have to account for (every ballot distributed),” she said.
People can track the status of their mail ballot from the time it leaves the village hall until it comes back through myvote.wi.gov.
Seidl noted the U.S. Census Bureau has updated the village’s population increase by 111 people to 2,986 this year.
During the utility portion of the meeting, Superintendent of Public Works Andy Vickman reported there’s likely some good financial news coming. Since the village changed to NEW Water as its water supplier instead of village wells, there was little to no sediment found inside the village’s water tower near the school facilities during the Aug. 7 draining process.
Vickman said the annual savings should be around $50,000 due to less sediment, meaning the sediment doesn’t need to be removed.
Administrator Travis Coenen said that was a big part of the reason for changing to NEW Water.
Vickman also noted the water pumped in August was greater than usual because of annual water main flushing — that took only one day instead of two, tower renovation, and lawn watering along Clay Street.
Vickman also gave news that the village is trying to work with the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene to test for COVID-19 in the village’s affluent. Results provide health departments with information on a community infection rate 7-10 days before any symptoms even appear, but it’s a dead virus at that point.
“They’ve narrowed it down to the point where they can tell the percentage of positive number of cases that may be in a community,” Vickman said. “It’s an exciting thing to do for the community.”
The state lab is looking for three or four municipalities in each county to work with in the early stages of testing. The results are only reported to the village and the Department of Health.
Vickman added street sweeping was done in August and the Clay Street and street maintenance projects are finished.
He’s working with Brown County and area directors on a solid waste agreement that will go into effect in 2021 with the opening of the new landfill. Tipping fees will increase by $8 per ton the first 10 years, with a $5 per ton increase coming in the first two years.
Coenen reported he’s making progress with adding railroad access for the village and is planning to meet with CN Railroad this week. There are companies looking at the village but must have rail access.
He’s also taken care of the first light ordinance complaint, with Royal St. Patrick’s Golf Course moving the direction of some lights.
The board discussed a developer’s agreement with Global Concrete for a 17,000 sq. ft. building with a value of between $1 million and $1.3 million.
The company built a new operations center behind Bellin Clinic and now has another distribution company that wants to locate on that site.
“What they’re requesting in this developer’s agreement is they’d like to get $200,000 up front and then the rest PayGo for the total of the development of $1.7 million,” Coenen said. In subsequent years, Global Concrete would receive $9,600. At the end of the agreement, the village would give the company $344,000.
That didn’t sit well with trustees, who didn’t like spending unbudgeted money. Seidl said for cash flow reasons, she would recommend the village borrow the money.
Trustee Sue Byers noted the village has been using the PayGo method because it doesn’t cause the village to borrow money to pay it out.
“We’ve got to stop throwing money out there that we don’t have,” Trustee Scott Reignier said.
Trustee Terry Schaeuble’s motion to approve the agreement that included the up-front money failed 7-0.
Seidl sent another submission for a Routes to Recovery grant to cover COVID-19 related expenses. If they get 100 percent reimbursement that is $7,600, which will come close to covering all expenses, including $2,355 received from the CARES grant.
“We’re kind of excited about that,” she said.
The board approved amending an ordinance dealing with new applications to the fire department, adding that applicants agree to drug screening prior to membership in the department. Fire Chief Mike Schampers also reported the annual open house has been replaced with a drive-through cookout this year, held Sunday, Sept. 27, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He added ISO wants to do another audit that is time consuming but is necessary for determining insurance rates. “We can’t say no,” he said.
The village’s events this fall include a Bingo Bash on Oct. 13 and Halloween Bash on Oct. 31 with a band playing from 4-8 p.m. at the scenic lookout downtown. Trick or treat hours for that day are 4-7 p.m.
By Brian Roebke