ELECTION UPDATE (04.03.2020)

Judge William Conley of the Western District of Wisconsin federal court has issued an order related to absentee ballots for next week’s Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary.  The Court ordered the following:

  1. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail, fax, email or online is extended to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020. Voters should go to www.myvote.wi.gov before 5:00 pm today to request an absentee ballot.


  1. The deadline for the receipt of absentee ballots is extended to 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 13, 2020.  The Court specifically did not add a requirement for a postmarked-by deadline as long as the ballot is returned by the new deadline.


  1. A witness signature on the absentee ballot certificate envelope is not required if the absentee voter provides a written affirmation or other statement that they were unable to safely obtain a witness certification despite reasonable attempts to do so, provided the ballot is otherwise valid.

Judge Conley’s decision was issued in a set of three federal lawsuits which were consolidated and which requested various remedies related to the Spring Election.  The decision did not grant other requests such as postponing the election date or suspending and photo ID requirements for mail-in absentee voters.

Polls will be open at City Hall, 101 South Second Street in the City of Black River Falls from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on Tuesday, April 7th for in person voting.  Extra precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers.  Social distancing practices will be adhered to with a 6 foot spacing between voters while in line and between voting booths.



Concerned About Paying Your Utility Bill?

Funding available for Black River Falls Utility customers in need.

Black River Falls Municipal Utilities urges electric customers concerned about being able to pay their bill to apply for Energy Assistance before the May 15, 2020 deadline. Funding is available to help income-qualified residential customers pay their electric bills, including those whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Customers are encouraged to apply by contacting Jackson County Health and Human Services Energy Assistance at (715) 284-4301. More information is available at homeenergyplus.wi.gov.

“The current health emergency has resulted in a lot of job loss, and we want to be there for our customers in these difficult times,” said Casey Engebretson, BRFMU General Manager. “By sharing this information, we hope to alleviate some of the financial stress in the community. We live and work in Black River Falls, too, and we want to know our neighbors are getting the help they need.”

In Wisconsin, energy assistance eligibility requirements were adjusted to more efficiently assist families impacted by COVID-19 and are now based on the household’s previous month of income, rather than the former requirement of the previous three-month’s income. Energy Assistance provides bill pay support for heating costs, electric costs, and energy crises.

Small business owners and private non-profits are encouraged to visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website at sba.gov. The recently passed CARES Act includes options that may be beneficial to small businesses and private non-profits to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. These options include the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Grants, and Small Business Debt Relief Programs.

Casey Engebretson, BRFMU General Manager
(715) 284-9463


Mayor Jay Eddy received this inspiring message on March 27th which illustrates the lengths truck drivers are going to in order to deliver needed supplies to our local businesses, the struggles these drivers are encountering just trying to get a meal, and what a kind community we live in ……
Good afternoon;
I am a Canadian semi truck driver from eastern Ontario close to the Quebec province border. On Thursday March 26 of this year during the great coronavirus pandemic, I had driven to your town almost 2000 miles from my home to deliver hydro cable to one of your local utility cooperatives.
That morning, after my delivery, I was making an attempt at getting some breakfast at a local McDonald’s restaurant. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, only the drive-through was providing service to customers who were in their cars. One of your local residents in a red pick up truck noticed my frustration and offered to go through the drive-through and buy me breakfast. Although I declined the offer it left a tremendous impression on me, the willingness of one of your local citizens to help me out when I was in need during this global crisis.
I want to thank you for your community’s culture of kindness towards a stranger who was in Black River Falls during this tumultuous time.
Steven Dolk
Brockville, Ontario


In these days of health protection safety, we need to be very careful of where we play.  With that in mind, I would like to remind people of just what the City Parks & Recreation Department is doing.  We will have the Parks open for public use in a limited fashion. They will be open for walking and open ground area playing. Even though the Parks are open, the Playground Area and the Equipment is closed to the public. This includes swings, slides, seesaws, twirls, bouncing toys and play structures and any other usable playground pieces not mentioned.

It is not possible for us to protect everyone from germs on playground equipment. That would require someone to be there all daylight hours watching for someone to touch them and then we try to clean up with some type of spray that we aren’t sure works.  This isn’t a realistic option.

Until further notice our parks bathrooms that normally open up in early April will also be closed until we get an okay from the State Health Department.  We are removing the portable toilets that are located in several parks for health safety reasons.  I don’t like to do this anymore than you like to see it done.  However, these are trying times and we all need to do what we can to keep our friends and neighbors safe.

Please enjoy the Parks in the limited ways that we can offer.  We hope to be open for your full enjoyment as soon as possible.


Steven Peterson

City of BRF Parks & Recreation Department


Because of the COVID-19, voters in the City of Black River Falls are strongly urged to act now to vote absentee for the April 7 Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary.

“Polls will be open in the City of Black River Falls for those who need them on Election Day, but most voters should vote absentee for this election,” said City Administrator Brad Chown.  “For that to happen, you should request an absentee ballot as soon as possible.”

If you are already registered to vote, then scroll down to “How to Request an Absentee Ballot“.

Acting by Wednesday, March 18, is especially important for anyone who needs to register to vote by mail.  If your name or address has changed since the last election, you need to register with your current information.  You can check your registration status at https://myvote.wi.gov, click on “My Voter Info.”

If you know you are registered but cannot find yourself on the website, you should contact City Hall at 715-284-2315 or Wisconsin Elections Commission. There is possibly a typo in the spelling of your name or your date of birth.  City of Black River Falls voters who cannot find themselves on MyVote should call City Hall at 715-284-2315 or call the Wisconsin Elections Commission at 866-VOTE-WIS (866-868-3947) or 608-261-8005.

How to Register to Vote by the Deadline

Wednesday, March 18 is the deadline for electors to register to vote by mail or online for the Presidential Preference Primary and Spring Election. After this date, electors must register in person in the municipal clerk’s office or at the polling place on Election Day.

According to state law, mailed voter registration forms must be postmarked no later than the third Wednesday before the election. Online registration closes at 11:59 p.m. the same day.

Online voter registration is available at https://myvote.wi.gov. There are two ways you can register using the website:

  • People with a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card whose address is current with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation can complete their online registration immediately. People who need to update their address with DOT can accomplish that online and complete their online registration.
  • People without a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card can fill out the voter registration form online, then print it, sign it and mail it to their municipal clerk’s office along with a proof-of residence document. The website has detailed instructions. If you do not have a printer where you are, you can save the completed form as a PDF and make arrangements to have a family member or a friend with a printer, or a copy center, to print it for you.

Voter registration forms that can be printed and filled out by hand are also available here in English: https://elections.wi.gov/forms/el-131-fillable

Voter registration forms that can be printed and filled out by hand are also available here in Spanish: https://elections.wi.gov/forms/el-131-spanish

Blank voter registration forms are also available at City Hall located at 101 South Second Street, Black River Falls, WI during these hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

Remember, the deadline to register online or by mail is Wednesday, March 18.

Voters who miss the deadline may also register in their municipal clerk’s office until the Friday before the election, April 3 or at the polls on election day.

How to Request an Absentee Ballot

There are several ways registered voters can request absentee ballots. If they have internet access, the easiest way is to sign up at MyVote Wisconsin, https://myvote.wi.gov.

Just look for the “Vote Absentee” button near the top of the page. On a mobile phone, use the menu button in the upper right corner of the website. There is a three-step process that starts with putting in your name and date of birth, followed by requesting your ballot. If you don’t already have a photo ID on file with your clerk’s office, you can upload a copy. Mobile phone users can take a picture and upload it to MyVote. Absentee ballot requests submitted this way go directly to your clerk’s office, and you can track your ballot by returning to the website.

Voters can also request absentee ballots by mailing, emailing or faxing their municipal clerk’s office. You can find your clerk’s contact information on MyVote Wisconsin. These requests must be accompanied by a copy of your photo ID.   If you already have a photo ID on file from previous absentee requests under your current registration, you will not need to provide it again.

Voters who are indefinitely confined, meaning they may have difficulty getting to the polls for reason of age, illness, infirmity, or disability are not required to provide a photo ID.  Voters in care facilities can have a representative of the facility confirm the resident’s identity instead of providing a photo ID.  More information on photo ID and exemptions can be found at bringit.wi.gov.

The deadline for registered voters to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you is the Thursday before the election, April 2. However, Chown urges voters not to wait, due to possible delays in mail delivery.  If you get an absentee ballot mailed to you, you can still decide to vote at the polls on Election Day if you haven’t returned it.

Your absentee ballot must be received in your clerk’s office or at your polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Again, Chown urges voters to request and return ballots as soon as possible.




Is drinking tap water safe? 

EPA recommends that Americans continue to use and drink tap water as usual. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the, “presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low.”  Additionally, according to the CDC, COVID-19 is mainly thought to spread between people who are in close contact with one another.  Further, EPA’s drinking water regulations require treatment at public water systems to remove or kill pathogens, including viruses.

Do I need to boil my drinking water?

Boiling your water is not required as a precaution against COVID-19.

Is tap water safe to use for hand washing?

EPA recommends that Americans continue to use and drink tap water as usual. According to the CDC, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What should I do If I’m concerned about my drinking water?

WHO has stated that the, “presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low.” Homeowners that receive their water from a public water utility may contact their provider to learn more about treatments being used. Treatments could include filtration and disinfectants such as chlorine that remove or kill pathogens before they reach the tap. The city water supply is disinfected through chlorination.

Homeowners with private wells who are concerned about pathogens such as viruses in drinking water may consider approaches that remove bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, including certified home treatment devices.

Do I need to buy bottled water or store drinking water?

EPA recommends that citizens continue to use and drink tap water as usual. At this time, there are no indications that COVID-19 is in the drinking water supply or will affect the reliable supply of water.

What is EPA’s role in ensuring drinking water remains safe?

EPA has established regulations with treatment requirements for public water systems that prevent waterborne pathogens such as viruses from contaminating drinking water. These treatment requirements include filtration and disinfectants such as chlorine that remove or kill pathogens before they reach the tap. Additionally, WHO notes that, “conventional, centralized water treatment methods which utilize filtration and disinfection should inactivate COVID-19 virus.”


Public hours for City facilities and public transportation will be modified as follows:

Shared Ride Taxi:  Running 6am-10pm daily

City Hall:  Closed to the public beginning March 19, 2020 except for absentee voting.  Offices will be staffed so we are still available by phone or email.  We HIGHLY RECOMMEND voters request an absentee ballot. There are several ways registered voters can request absentee ballots.  If they have internet access, the easiest way is to sign up at MyVote Wisconsin, https://myvote.wi.gov.  If assistance is needed call City Hall at 715-284-2315.

Police Department Lobby Window:  Closed to the public beginning March 19, 2020.  Offices will be staffed so we are still available by phone or email.

Fire Department:  Closed to the public beginning March 19, 2020.  Offices will be staffed so we are still available by phone or email.

Public Library: Closed to the public beginning March 18, 2020

 Municipal Utilities:  Closed to the public beginning March 18, 2020.  Customers can continue to pay their bills by check using the US mail or the drop box located by our lobby door at 119 N. Water Street.  Offices will be staffed so we are still available by phone or email.

At this time, it is our intention to maintain all essential city functions with our employees continuing in their normal capacity while working remotely or within the facilities closed to the public.

We recognize that this is an unprecedented and unique situation and appreciate the public’s flexibility and support.  We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed to effectively respond to this rapidly changing environment.  Updates will be provided on our Facebook page and on our website at www.blackriverfalls.us .


Similar to actions taken by other utilities, the Black River Falls Municipal Utilities (BRFMU) will close its office to the public, effective Wednesday March 18th, until further notice. According to BRFMU General Manager Casey Engebretson, “While we are aware that many BRFMU customers choose to visit the utility office to conduct business, we at BRFMU are taking the recommendation of social distancing very seriously. Although this may cause some inconvenience to some, we at BRFMU feel this approach will help to mitigate the potential health concerns for our employees, customers, and the community, allowing us to continue to provide the vital service our customers rely upon every day.”

Customers can continue to pay their bills by check using the US mail or the drop box located by our lobby door at 119 N. Water St. Please include your bill stub and write your name and address on the envelope to ensure proper application of payment. If you choose to pay in cash, any amount paid in excess of the amount due will be applied to your account (applied to bill or as a credit).

Customers may also use our third party vendor, Payment Service Network (PSN), to pay their bill over the phone or online.

PSN – Over the Phone

  • Call 1-877-885-7968
  • Have your BRFMU Account Number available
  • A $2.95 transaction fee will apply when using this service (up to a $300.00 transaction)
  • If you have not used this service before, you will be required to work with the PSN representative to set up an account.

PSN – Online

  • Please see our website at brfmu.org/bill-payment-options (this link is found on our website under Customer Service, Bill Payment Options).
  • Have your BRFMU Account Number available
  • A $2.95 transaction fee will apply when using this service (up to a $300.00 transaction)

Customers also have the option to set up Pre-Authorized Payments through your lending institution. Pre-Authorized Payments (PAP), and ACH transfer from your checking/savings account to our bank account are only withdrawn only once a month on the due date.  If you are interested in this option, we would need to receive your information by March 24 to become effective in March. The authorization form for PAP is found on our website at www.brfmu.org/bill-payment-options.

For any other business or inquiries, email us at brfmu@wppienergy.org or call our office at 715-284-9463.  Thank you for your understanding during these challenging times.


Restrictions on City of Black River Falls Streets will be in effect Friday, March 13, 2020 and will remain in effect until approximately May 1, 2020
Weight Limits:
16,000 lbs – Single Axle
26,000 lbs – Tandem Axle


Sealed bids will be received by the City of Black River Falls Public Works Department, 101 S. Second Street, Black River Falls, WI 54615 until 10:00 am Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at which time they will be publicly opened and read aloud.  The project to be bid includes the following streets:

  • South 8th Street from Main Street to Fillmore Street
  • North 4th Street from Van Buren Street to Madison Street
  • Madison Street from N 4th Street to N 3rd Street
  • N 9th Street from Golf Road to dead-end
  • Jackson Street from N 3rd Street to dead-end
  • Vine Street from Madison Street to dead-end
  • S 9th Street from Pierce Street to dead-end

Bid specifications for this project will be available at City Hall, 101 S. Second Street, Black River Falls, WI 54615.  Please include 3 completed municipal paving projects as references and include municipal contact information.  Sealed bids shall be labeled “2020 Street Projects”.  The City reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids, to waive any technicality and to accept any bid in the best interest of the City of Black River Falls.