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Gays Mills Board seats new trustees
GM Village Hall

GAYS MILLS - The biggest event at the Gays Mills Village Board meeting on Monday night might have been the seating of two new village trustees. Actually, the new trustees, former village president Larry McCarn and former village trustee Kevin Murray, are hardly new faces on the board. However, neither has served on the board for several years.

Both McCarn and Murray seemed extremely comfortable discussing matters that came before the board, making motions and seconding motions. That was a good thing since the only other trustees present were Albert Zegiel and Lee Ruegg. 

Village trustee Kim Pettit arrived late—just in time for the closed session on swimming pool personnel. Trustee Aaron Fortney did not attend the meeting.

One of the more interesting moments at the meeting occurred when longtime village resident and former village employee Ralph ‘Stub’ Lomas addressed the board.

Lomas had filled out a village complaint form that listed problems with sidewalks, fire hydrants, the cemetery and Robb Park.

It seemed his biggest concern was probably the situation in the village-owned cemetery. Lomas discussed problems with the condition and maintenance of graves in the cemetery. 

The former village worker noted that graves were not being properly seeded or filled. He also explained the graves were being driven over with vehicles and this was not only wrong, but also unnecessary. 

Lomas told the board that every grave could be reached by open lanes across the grass and there was no need to drive over any of the graves to reach another one.

The former village worker gave village president Harry Heisz a list of graves with the names and dates of the people buried in them. He listed problems with the conditions of those graves and, in some cases, the headstones.

Lomas told the board that he had personally maintained his wife Ruth’s grave, but many others were in need of maintenance.

At one point, Kevin Murray said that if there was access without driving over the graves it should be used.

Heisz accepted the list of problems at the cemetery presented by Lomas and said he would look into it.

Lomas also said that sidewalks and curbs in the village needed maintenance. Heisz agreed, but told him the reason much of the maintenance was not done is the damage occurred during the fall flood and FEMA had not yet approved work on them. The village president said that the village could not on its own afford the necessary work this year. The village is hoping FEMA will soon make a decision to approve the necessary repairs.

Heisz also told Lomas that he and the fire department were aware that a fire hydrant at Main Street and Orin Street was bad and needed to be replaced. He said hoses would be brought from other nearby hydrants in they were needed during a fire.

As for damage in Robb Park, Heisz again acknowledged it had happened during the fall flood, but like the sidewalks and curbs, repairs were awaiting approval of the work by FEMA. The village could not afford to do the necessary work on its own in this year’s budget.

Another less than optimal result had occurred on the proposed trail from the Appleland Business Park to the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center and the Marketplace store, village president Harry Heisz reported.

The village had wanted the trail to start at the business park on the west side of Highway 131 and then cross to the east side of the highway as it approached the wetlands between the creek and Community Commerce Center. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation rejected that proposal and insisted the trail stay on the west side of the highway for its entire length. 

Because of the construction necessary to get through the wetland area the cost will be $70,000 to $90,000 more than anticipated. The project was originally budgeted to be $322,000. 

The bike-pedestrian trail is to be paid for by surplus money generated from the Tax Incremental Financing District. 

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• learned there was progress on the Stump Dodger Trail and a privacy fence near the village property may hide some construction materials from sight for trail users

• heard a report on the progress of the Friends of the Gays Mills Swimming Pool–including a large work party to clean up the pool Saturday after contractors had worked on it

• approved a resolution authorizing an $80,000 loan for the financing of the swimming pool repairs

• approved a Class B Liquor License for the Kickapoo Cultural Exchange to serve alcohol at their chili supper fundraiser on Saturday, May 11

Following a closed session to discuss personnel, the board reconvened in open session and approved hiring Kayla Fortney as the swimming pool manager. The board also approved hiring three more lifeguards. Three more bathhouse attendants were also hired dependent on the need for more help.