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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has agreed to allow hunting to continue at the Colfax Solid Waste & Recycling site for this year but to review the decision before the 2022 hunting season.
The people who work at the collection site are concerned about hunting, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s November 22 meeting.
Niggemann said in view of the employees’ concerns, she and Rand Bates, director of public works, decided the Colfax Solid Waste & Recycling site should be posted “no hunting.”
After the collection site had been posted, several people became upset about hunting not being allowed, and so now the issue is on the agenda for the village board to decide, she said.
The options are to not allow hunting at all. To allow hunting on one 40-acre parcel of the 80-acre site but not on the 40-acre parcel where the collection site is located. Or to not allow hunting on the days the solid waste and recycling collection site is open, Niggemann said.
The collection site was posted “no hunting” on Friday, November 19, the day before the opening of gun deer season, she noted.
Included in the village board packet was an e-mail message from Jason Johnson that was sent at 3:32 p.m. Friday, November 19, asking to speak to the village board to seek a permit to allow hunting for him, his daughter and his father at the solid waste and recycling collection site.
“The land wanted to hunt is wooded and safely distanced from city workers. All involved on this permit request are DNR hunter safety certified and/or have many years of gun handling and experienced,” Johnson wrote.
The solid waste and recycling collection site, which is owned by the village, is not inside the village limits, but rather, is located several miles west of Colfax on 960th Avenue.
Since the collection site is municipally owned, it is not considered public hunting land, and the collection site is not listed by the state Department of Natural Resources as public hunting grounds, Niggemann said, adding that she had checked the county’s map as well.
There has been hunting out there in years past, with both bow hunting and also gun hunters driving the woods for deer, said Jeff Prince, village trustee.
Prince, who served previously on the village board some years ago, said he does not recall the issue of hunting at the collection site coming up before this during village board meetings.
People assumed that because the collection site was owned by the village that it would be open to the public, he said.
Johnson said that when he has hunted the collection site in prior years, it was generally just him and his dad, and now it would be his daughter as well.
A few people have bow hunted the collection site, but it is not heavily hunted, he said.
What do you do on Saturday morning when the employees are there? asked Anne Jenson, village trustee.
Johnson said he does not hunt the landfill part of the property and also that the first rule of hunting is know what’s beyond the target you are shooting at.
Part of the 80-acre site is a closed landfill that was used before 1970.
According to the DNR’s website, “historic fill sites” are landfills that were built before 1970 and were not licensed by the DNR.
Johnson said he and his family hunt the north end of the site and that there is a hill and a valley between where they hunt and the collection site.
“You can’t shoot through a hill,” he said.
Have the workers requested that it be posted “no hunting” in the past? Prince asked.
Prior to this year, the employees were reporting to Dunn County and not the Village of Colfax, Niggemann said.
Up until January 1 of this year, Dunn County operated the solid waste and recycling collection site and leased the site from the Village of Colfax for $1.
Prince said the village board should not allow the collection site to be hunted.
Village Trustee Margaret Burcham said she would prefer that the village issue permits so that the village board knows who is out there hunting.
Niggemann said it was up to the village board to decide if the collection site would be open for hunting or not open for hunting, “but I want to be able to tell everyone the same thing.”
Several trustees mentioned the village’s ordinance that does not allow hunting within the village limits and also asked whether people are allowed to hunt in Evergreen Cemetery.
The landfill is not in the village limits, while the cemetery is within the village limits, Niggemann said.
Prince asked whether hunting was allowed at the wastewater treatment lagoons west of the village.
The lagoons are gated, Niggemann said.
Bates, as director of public works, had been driving around the village’s property with the village’s insurance agent, and when she saw the gate to the lagoon was open had asked, “Why is that gate open?”
The insurance agent said the gate should be shut to limit the village’s liability, Bates said.
The insurance agent was concerned about someone driving in through the open gate and then accidentally driving into the lagoon and the liability associated with that, he said.
Burcham reiterated that she believed the village should know who is hunting at the collection site.
Would that help for the liability, since the lagoon is no trespassing? Jenson asked.
If someone jumps the fence and then falls into the lagoon, the closed gate would show that the village took precautions to keep people out of the lagoon area, Niggemann said.
If someone jumped the fence, then they would trespassing, Prince pointed out.
Safety is not an issue for hunting with the topography at the collection site, Johnson said.
“What do we want to do?” asked Jody Albricht, village president.
Does the village board want to allow hunting or not allow hunting? he asked.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to leave the Colfax Solid Waste & Recycling collection site open for hunting this year and then review the decision before the 2022 season, noting that no permit was needed to hunt at the site for now.
Voting in favor of the motion were Albricht, Burcham, Jenson, Prince and Village Trustees Carey Davis and Jen Rud.
Village trustee Gary Stene was absent from the meeting.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Charlea Paulsen (Kyle’s Market) from November 22, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
• Approved the final pay request from Skid Steer Guy LLC for the Riverview, High and Dunn Street projects in the amount of $53,156. The original contract amount was $359,717. When the final pay request is paid, the project total is $315,127, which includes the 5 percent retainage of $8,685.
• Approved a contract amendment with Ayres Associates for an additional $2,000 to prepare the maps for Tax Increment District No. 5. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue requested an enlargement of one of the areas of the overlay map to help visually show the overlays of both TID 3 and TID 4, resulting in a fifth map that had not initially been included in Ayres’ scope of work. Ayres Associates also reworked the maps for edits multiple times because of comments after the initial preparation of the maps from Ehlers, the village’s financial advisor, and the village. The maps were amended and resubmitted a total of six times.
• Approved an agreement with Bauman Associates to conduct an audit of the village’s financial records for 2021 for a minimum cost of $26,950 and a maximum of $28,150. The fees include $22,350 to $23,300 for an audit of the financial statements of the village for the year ended December 31, 2021, which includes the presentation of the audit to the village board; $1,500 to $1,600 for preparation of the Form C for the year ended December 31, 2021; $2,450 to $2,575 for preparation of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin report for the year ended December 31, 2021, including reporting operations of the non-regulated sewer utility; and $650 to $675 for reconciliation of the budget to a proper basis for presentation in the general fund budgetary comparison schedule per GASB No. 41.
• Approved the 2022 maintenance assessment agreement with Barbara L. Zempel, the village’s assessor, in the amount of $10,800. The fee will be due in monthly payments of $900 that are payable on the first of each month. Zempel completed a revaluation of Colfax this year. State statute requires that assessments of property value must be 100 percent market value of the properties at least once every five years. Colfax will now have five years before another revaluation is needed, Zempel said.
• Approved the final plat for Phase 2 of the East View residential development (East View First Addition). The Wisconsin Department of Administration notified Cedar Corporation on November 10 that the plat complies with state statutes. The plat establishes three single family residential lots and two multi-family residential lots. The multi-family lots could accommodate tri-plexes and four-plexes as well as larger multi-family structures.
• Approved a budget transfer in the amount of $3,309 from cemetery wages part-time retirement to cemetery wages part-time no retirement. After Tony Braaten passed away, wages were being paid to staff who did not receive retirement benefits based on their part-time status.
• Approved a budget transfer in the amount of $12,000 from street maintenance to street maintenance outside services to account for Fahrner Asphalt Sealers completing the crack filling this year for $12,000.
• Learned that the village had received a check for a parks and recreation grant in the amount of $1,719 from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Mutual Insurance. LWMMI has established a $1 million parks and rec grant for their members. Each member municipality received at least a minimum of $500. The exact grant amount is based on the member municipality’s prorata portion of LWMMI’s total direct earned premium for a 12-month period ending June 30, 2021.