Black River Falls Common Council members took on a number of topics at their Tuesday meeting ranging from appointments to the city budget.
As the city works on bringing in business and getting a historical designation for the downtown area, Mayor Jay Eddy set up two entities that will focus on those subjects.
The Business Improvement District Board will handle the business portions and the members appointed are Laura Colloton Chrest, Deanna Lisota, Lyall White, Bill Moe and Andrea Hoffman.
Tackling the historical designation will be the Historical Preservation Commission that consists of Eric Erickson, Mary Woods, Barb Simonis, Joe Gaier, Darren Durnham, Jim Hoffman and Dana Olson.
The council also discussed a resolution to adjust how room tax dollars are distributed, the main change being an increase to 49 percent of the money going to the tourist entity in the city.
There were also minor adjustments in the amount going to the Jackson County Fair Park maintenance fund, with 37.5 percent going to the Milt Lunda Arena and the Jackson County Fair Park Association, while 25 percent will go to the Lunda Community Park maintenance fund.
The council also approved establishing a $1 million line of credit with the Black River County Bank.
Working with the municipal utilities, the city is establishing the credit for needed dam repairs.
The city and municipal utilities are also working together on a project to update the street lighting in the city to LED bulbs.
A few refunds to the city from the utilities for overcharges are expected to cover the cost of the update.
City Administrator Brad Chown said the update was needed and the prices have started going down making it the right time for the update.
Switching to LED lights should save the city a substantial amount of money and the longevity of the bulbs will also mean less maintenance costs.
They have done research into light wash studies to make sure the new lights aren’t affecting apartment complexes downtown too much.
Chown said the lights would be around the same wattage as the current ones, so it shouldn’t be a significant difference.
At the meeting Police Chief Kelly Bakken requested to rescind the police departments general order manual.
She mentioned that it duplicates policies and contradicts others. Moving forward, the plan would be to have one policy manual and work on assessing that one and updating it as needed.
The next meeting will be a special meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 18.
The City of Black River Falls will be accepting bids for the crushing of its street excavation rubble pile into 1” road base. The pile consists of concrete, asphalt and rock. Please make your bid by the ton. Crushing will be approximately 15,000 ton. Bids will be accepted until 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 19, 2017, at which time they will be publicly opened and read aloud. Send all bids marked “Crushing” to: City Hall, 101 S. Second Street, Black River Falls, WI 54615. The City reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids which are in the best interest of the City.
Black River Falls Parks and Recreation Director Steve “Petey” Peterson has been guiding Jackson County’s Little League program for years. Petey’s fellow Little League supporters started planning months ago to honor Petey, dedicating the softball field Marks East to Petey.
Thanks to Petey being summoned for a problem at the waterpark during one of the Little League meetings, planning was accomplished to a large extent that one evening.
The presentation was made during Saturday’s Pumpkin Ball Tournament, an event spearheaded by Petey and one that’s grown every year since it began. Surrounded by former and current ball players, family and friends, JC Little League President Steve Hansen presented Petey with a plaque sharing a few details of Petey’s dedication to the program and to the city.
“The field is dedicated to a man, who for over 30 years, has dedicated his life to this community, giving every child the opportunity to fall in love with sports as he himself has,” shared Hansen.
“I’m humbled,” shared an emotional Petey. “It takes a community to make an individual. To be compared to the Bob Teeples field, I don’t think there’s anything that can be a better honor than that.”
Mayor Jay Eddy was also on hand for the presentation. “He does this because he cares; he doesn’t do it for the money,” shared Mayor Eddy. “The day he leaves, those will be big shorts to fill.”
Following lots of hugs, quite a few tears, pats on the back, it was time to play ball. Petey took to the pitcher’s mound as his team, Team Petey, took to the field. First pitch, “Strike one.”
By JoDee Brooke / Banner Journal / September 13, 2017
The most important part of any good animal shelter is having a safe and clean space for cats, dogs and pets of all shapes and sizes.
Jackson County’s animal shelter has been looking at possible remodeling of their site to help update the building to better handle the animals they take in.
Over the past few months though, as fundraisers have been held and money has been raised, the better option might be to build a completely new building.
The current facility has serviced its volunteers well, but with a number of sanitary, sound and space issues, the better option seems to now be to start from scratch.
Some of the initial problems with this proposal was finding a place to go, moving outside of Black River Falls means the city would no longer pay for the utilities of the building.
Its proximity to the high school also allowed a lot of Tiger students take mini field trips to the animal shelter, so leaving Black River Falls meant leaving the help as well.
There is hope for a new site though as the Executive and Finance board discussed in their last meeting a possible new location.
“After some discussion we’ve come up with utilizing a small portion of land, maybe an acre and a half, behind the Veterans Memorial Park and across from the DHHS,” county chairman Ray Ransom said at the meeting.
That new location keeps the animal shelter right in the sweet spot of being able to have volunteers and students from the BRF school district and keeps it within city limits.
It’s an ideal move for both the county and the animal shelter as the county isn’t really having to sell or transfer the land to anyone and the shelter is moving almost laterally from its current position.
No construction has started yet as the funds for a new building still need to be raised, but it’s one step forward for the Jackson County Animal Shelter.
On July 19, 2017, the Hiring Committee for the city of Black River Falls named Kelly B. Bakken as the new Chief of Police / Criminal Investigator for the City of Black River Falls Police Department. Bakken has been employed with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department since 2005 as a patrol officer (2005-2010), a detective (2010-2016), and most recently as a Captain (2016). She has 19 years of law enforcement experience previously serving 2 years as Chief of Police for the Village of Merrillan, 4 years as patrol officer and investigator for the City of Baldwin, and 3 years as a Deputy Sheriff Jail Officer with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department. Bakken earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Upper Iowa University and her Associate Degree in Police Science from Chippewa Valley Technical College. The City’s Hiring Committee received 9 applications and interviewed 4 candidates for the position. The two finalists were Kelly Bakken and former City of Black River Falls Interim Chief of Police Patrick LaBarbera. Bakken will begin her tenure as Chief of Police / Criminal Investigator for the City of Black River Falls Police Department on September 5, 2017, and one of her first tasks will be to hire a full-time patrol officer and additional part-time patrol officers for the department.
If you receive this letter please DO NOT send any money. The Black River Falls Fire Department is not associated with this in any way. They have no association with this organization who is using their name to solicit donations. Money sent will not benefit your local fire department. Please share so others do not send money to a business using our name to solicit money from our community. FD solicitation
Digging began a couple of weeks ago on the new site for a strip mall off STH 54 next to the new Arby’s in Black River Falls. Developer Todd Waller of Lee & Associates said the 7,000 square-foot space should be completed by September.
Waller said Cell-Plus and TRICOR Insurance are the first two lessees going into the mall. “We have space for up to three more,” explained Waller, “depending on the space they would need.”
“Yes, we are super, super excited to have the opportunity to expand,” Cell-Plus store manager Nancy Stevens said. “It cements our commitment to the Black River Falls area. We’re hoping to move in to our new store by early fall.”
“It’s our understanding sometime this fall we’re moving,” Black River Falls TRICOR Branch anager Howard Gomer also confirmed.
“I am really looking forward to he construction of a new multi-unit retail building next to the new Arby’s Restaurant on STH 54,” shared Black River Falls Administrator Brad Chown. “This facility will provide new retail space for some local businesses and will bring in new companies looking to establish a presence in Black River Falls/ We are very fortunate to have so much new development occurring in the city which should be a catalyst for even more business and residential growth in our community.”
Black River Falls Street Department Supervisor Todd Gomer fills a tank Tuesday to haul to Clifton and Forrest streets to water down gravel and keep the dust in check. He said de-watering of Gordon Street should begin next week if all goes as planned.
Dennis Jelinek, shown in front of his home Tuesday, has lived on Gordon Street for 45 years. He looks forward to a reconstruction project for the street which is long overdue, he said.
Gordon Street resident Dennis Jelinek said though he didn’t like how the city handled a reconstruction project at first, he is happy knowing that it is moving forward and hopes it will alleviate the “river of water, sand and grass clippings” the street turns into during heavy rain.
If all goes as planned, “de-watering” will begin on the street next week, Street Department Supervisor Todd Gomer said. Then comes reconstruction and sewer work.
“At first they didn’t handle it right because they kept promising they’d do it,” Jelinek, a 45-year-Gordon Street resident, said of the city’s failure to get the project going. But they didn’t. Jelinek started a petition, gathering about 60 signatures, asking Black River Falls’ leaders to make the street a priority.
The city listened, he said. That’s a relief for Gomer. “I hope I don’t have anybody upset anymore,” he said Tuesday while pointing out issues with the street that cause runoff and water back-up problems. Plans were made to fix neighboring Forrest and Clifton streets before Gordon, leaving neighbors upset. Gomer encouraged citizens to go to city meetings and they did, which got the ball rolling. “They actually know everything that’s going on now.”
Then came rain, rain and more rain, which seeped its way into the construction project before it even began.
The Common Council was given good and bad news in the same announcement from Gomer that there was a fix for the street’s issues, but it would come at a cost.
A company could be brought in to de-water the area and make things workable, but the city would have to pay $20,500, putting the street department over budget. Gomer stressed that the Gordon Street project was the biggest concern for his department at the time though as the de-watering needed to happen before any construction could take place and there wasn’t much of an option to put it off.
The official decision from the Common Council had to be put off until the next meeting, leaving the residents waiting for an answer.
At a council meeting July 6 it was time for the council to make a decision, but one question lingered.
“How will we pay for it?” Alderperson John Ross said.
The new project was set to put the Street Department over budget, but City Administrator Brad Chown said it would still remain within the city’s planned borrowing.
The council approved it in hopes crews could get back to work.
Jelinek hopes once the project is complete his neighbors don’t have to worry about sewage backups and he doesn’t have to worry about his home when he goes on trips.
Stephen Knoll & Jennifer McBride River Valley Media Group / Jul 12, 2017
The Hoffman Aquatic Center is finally open now that repairs to the furnace that heats the water has been replaced. Daily rates or the center remain the same as last year, but membership rates have been reduced because of the late start. The aquatic center is open Monday-Saturday 11:30 am, to 7:00 pm and Sundays 12:30 pm to 7:00 pm.
Thank you to the Lunda Community Center and the Melrose community pool for helping out with extended hours and employing several Hoffman Aquatic Center lifeguards until we were ready to open!