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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Elk Mound will most likely have three new limited term employment (LTE) part-time police officers soon.
Based on the recommendation of the employee relations committee and Elk Mound Police Chief Chad Weinberger, the Elk Mound Village Board approved establishing an eligibility list and starting the hiring process for three part-time officers at the November 6 meeting.
The recommendation is to hire one part-time police officer right away and start the process for hiring a second officer, said Village Trustee Greg Kipp.
The recommendation also includes establishing an eligibility list containing the names of three candidates, said Village Trustee Montana Grotthus.
“They are three excellent candidates,” Police Chief Weinberger said.
The first is Kyle DeVries, an officer with the Wisconsin State Patrol who lives near Elk Mound, he said.
If the name is familiar, it might be because DeVries was recently on Court TV and was a witness in the Ezra McCandless murder trial in Menomonie, Police Chief Weinberger said.
“He is very qualified and very professional,” he said.
The Elk Mound Police Department has budgeted for 20 hours per week for part-time police officers.
Village Trustee Terry Stamm wondered if any of the three candidates would require a certain number of hours of employment per week, especially considering an anticipated budget deficit that might reduce the number of part-time hours.
DeVries works full-time for the state patrol. His children go to school in Elk Mound, and he would be willing to work as a part-time officer to help the community, not because he needs the income, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The second candidate for a part-time officer works full time in security at Sacred Heart Hospital, and the third candidate graduated from the police academy in October.
Other police departments in small towns in the surrounding area have a full-time officer along with a police chief and part-time officers, Police Chief Weinberger noted.
Elk Mound has a “good call volume,” he said.
“It’s good to have a list of candidates,” said Steven Abraham, village president.
The Elk Mound Village Board voted unanimously to approve the motion to establish an eligibility list and to start the hiring process.
Voting in favor of the motion were Abraham, Stamm, Kipp and Grotthus along with Village Trustees Deborah Creaser-Kipp and Rebecca Livingston.
Village Trustee Paula Turner was absent from the meeting.
In other police department business, Alex Freuler, an intern with the Elk Mound Police Department, spoke to the village board about the police department developing a social media platform that would be useful for disseminating information quickly to the public, such as severe weather warnings or traffic delays because of an accident.
Facebook would be the most useful, and implementing a Facebook page also would require having archiving software to preserve the posts because of the state’s open records law and the federal Freedom of Information act, he said.
The police department is seeking permission to go forward with a social media program, Freuler said, suggesting that a meeting with the public safety committee would be appropriate so the committee could make a recommendation to the village board.
The police department is looking at options for the archiving software, and the software could result in a cost to the village, Police Chief Weinberger said.
Abraham wondered about limiting the users of the Facebook page to avoid inappropriate comments posted by the public.
A group could be formed that potential users would have to ask to join, and then the comments could be subject to approval before being posted, Grotthus said.
Users cannot be restricted, Police Chief Weinberger said.
Wisconsin is an open government state, and the Facebook page must be left completely open. If the page restricts users, the restrictions could be challenged in court, he said.
Abraham said he was still concerned the Facebook page would be left so wide open that anyone could write anything.
The Facebook page would have a policy in the “about” section that makes the rules of engagement clear and lets people know they can be banned from the page, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The police department’s Facebook page would be “open for business” until someone shows he or she should not be on the Facebook page, he said.
The Elk Mound Village Board tabled until the next board meeting an agenda item pertaining to reallocating police wages to uniforms and a computer server.
The police department has budgeted 20 hours per week for a part-time police officer, but not all of the hours have been used, Police Chief Weinberger said.
Body armor vests are $500 each, and when the police department hires new officers, the new officers will need body armor, he said.
The state Department of Justice frowns on police departments not having a computer server, and a server also would eliminate having to remember usernames and passwords for different programs because the server would only require one login name and one password, Police Chief Weinberger said, noting he had received a quote of $1,200 for a computer server.
Using the money allocated to wages for another purpose would require a motion by the board to move the money to a different category in the police department budget, said Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer.
The agenda item was tabled to allow the police chief time to establish the amount of money that would need to be transferred in the budget.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Learned from Stamm, who is the village’s representative on the Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Board, that a special meeting of the solid waste and recycling board is scheduled for Thursday, November 14, to discuss the closure of solid waste and recycling sites in Dunn County and/or reducing the hours of operation at various sites. The solid waste and recycling department is facing a budget deficit. The solid waste and recycling board is requesting representatives from each of the municipalities attend the meeting, Stamm said.
• Approved an application for a mobile home park license from VLCL Properties (Nelson Mobile Home Park). The license fee is $64, and the maximum number of mobile homes allowed under the license is 32.
• Approved a personnel performance evaluation form.
• Approved purchasing a grapple attachment for the village’s Skid-Steer at a cost of $875. The grapple attachment will be handy for storm cleanup and for moving brush and compost piles at the solid waste site, said Mark Levra, director of public works. The hours the Skid-Steer operates at the solid waste site are billable to the county, he noted. A total of $3,412 remains in the loan account, and the grapple attachment can be purchased with those funds, Levra said.
• Approved purchasing a quarter-inch thick plastic bed liner for truck No. 1, which is the village’s snowplowing and sanding truck, at a cost of $1,178.45. Multiple holes have developed in the bed of the truck, Levra said. After the bed liner is purchased from the funds in the loan account, $1,312 will still remain in the account, he said.
• Tabled until the next meeting the agenda item pertaining to parking on Menomonie Street/U.S. Highway 12 near the intersection with county Highway H. While it is not illegal to park on the street in front of the Elk Mound Community Center, parked cars do make it difficult for drivers on Highway H to see traffic on Menomonie Street. The item was tabled until the next meeting to allow time to determine what kind of jurisdiction Elk Mound has regarding parking on U.S. Highway 12.
• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Chelsea Sue Whiteside (The Pourhouse).