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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board has approved a “Radio Over Internet” protocol emergency communications memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Elk Mound Police Department and Boyceville and Colfax.
The Elk Mound Police Department’s radio equipment is older and outdated, and inside some buildings and in outlying areas of the village, there is no radio coverage or emergency communications, said Elk Mound Police Chief Chad Weinberger at the Elk Mound Village Board’s July 20 meeting.
The Boyceville Police Department has received a grant for a computer to plug into Internet radio that allows the use of cellular telephones to communicate with dispatch or wherever communications are interrupted, he said.
The cost to replace the Elk Mound Police Department’s radio system would be $46,000, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The subscriber fee to use the Boyceville Police Department’s system is $4.57 per cell phone per month, and using the Boyceville system would provide a back-up when needed, he said.
Cynthia Abraham, village trustee, asked if the Elk Mound Police Department has already been using Boyceville’s system.
The police departments are currently in a testing phase and have tried several different systems, including ESChat (Enterprise Secure Chat), a Dane County system and a state system, Police Chief Weinberger said.
ESChat would give local control of the system. Usually there is an officer on duty at Boyceville, but if there is no officer on duty, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department has access to the Boyceville Police Department, he said.
There have been several incidents in schools and other buildings where Elk Mound officers have had to use a telephone to communicate with dispatch and other officers, Police Chief Weinberger said.
The Elk Mound Village Board voted unanimously to approve the memorandum of understanding for Radio Over Internet protocol emergency communications with the Boyceville, Colfax and Elk Mound Police Departments.
Voting in favor of the motion were Steve Abraham, village president, and village trustees Cynthia Abraham, Deborah Creaser-Kipp, Paula Turner, Jesse Jenson, Greg Kipp and Terry Stamm.
The Elk Mound Village Board met using the Zoom online platform.
The Elk Mound Village Board has approved continuing with the village’s COVID-19 response plan until the next village board meeting on August 3.
Steven Abraham opened the discussion by saying he assumed the village board would want to leave the policy “as is” until the next meeting.
The village’s COVID-19 response plan includes keeping the village hall locked and asking that deliveries be left in the entryway, not opening the bathrooms at the village’s parks, not renting out the village parks for mass gatherings and refunding park rental fees that have been paid, and not renting out the community center for mass gatherings.
Cynthia Abraham asked how park reservations had been impacted by the COVID-19 response plan.
So far, the village clerk’s office has refunded $350 in park rental fees. The village parks have a healthy savings account that’s been built up over the years, and the community center has a good savings account as well, said Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer.
“We are holding our own” for rentals fees, she said.
Cynthia Abraham said people had talked to her about being upset that the parks are not open.
Village board members are “servants of the people,” she said, adding that she felt the rights of village residents were “being trampled on.”
While the Village of Elk Mound is not renting out the parks for mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic and is not opening the bathrooms, the parks are not closed to foot traffic.
Village board members have reported seeing people walk up to Mound Hill Park and seeing people playing catch, batting and chasing balls in the Elk Mound Village Park.
Stamm, who lives near Mound Hill Park, said he has received complaints from older people who feel “penalized” because they are not able to walk up the top of Mound Hill Park.
“Our job is to tell what we are hearing from the public,” he said, noting there is an upper Mound Hill Park and a lower Mound Hill Park and that the lower park has been quite busy as well.
The Elk Mound Village Board approved maintaining the COVID-19 response plan until the next meeting August 3 on a vote of five “yes” and two “no.”
Voting in favor of the motion were Steven Abraham, Creaser-Kipp, Kipp, Jenson and Stamm.
Voting against the motion were Cynthia Abraham and Turner.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Learned the Elk Mound Police Department had 113 calls for service in June.
• Learned that the Elk Mound Police Department did not receive the school resource officer grant.
• Learned from Hahn that the Menomonie Public Library Board has approved requiring masks in the library to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Since the Elk Mound library is a satellite branch of the Menomonie Public Library, masks also will be required in Elk Mound, she said. The Menomonie library learned that older people and others with risk factors were avoiding going into the Menomonie library because masks were not required, Hahn said.
• Approved a two-year contract with HydroCorp in the amount of $2,472 for cross connection inspections. The amount represents a $3 per month increase, said Mark Levra, director of public works. When asked his opinion of HydroCorp, Levra said the company is keeping Elk Mound compliant with state Department of Natural Resources regulations and that it is not recommended for municipalities to do their own commercial inspections in order to “keep the peace” with local businesses.