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Roberts discusses possible halfway house in area

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A halfway house may be moving into the Village of Roberts' backyard.

The proposed location on Highway 65 is actually located in Warren Township. However, the site backs up to the Hillcrest housing development in Roberts.

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According to Duana Bremer, director of Grace Place/Salvation Army in Somerset, Warren Township has already been notified of the proposal, but she wanted to get the Roberts Village approval.

"We really want the support of the community," Bremer told the board at their meeting on Aug. 9. "It's a good program to get these people on their feet."

Bremer said that the proposed facility will be a transitional living site, meaning that the male felons (up to four), will be checked on throughout the day, but there will not be a 24-hour staff living there.

"The big thing is that they have committed offenses in the community (St. Croix County, Polk County or Pierce County) - they won't be coming from Madison or anywhere else," Bremer explained. "There will be no sex offenders; we'll be critical of who resides there."

She said that many of the people coming from the prison will have about 90 days left on their sentence, and they typically won't want to jeopardize that.

"If they are sassing our staff, we call their parole officer and they are out of there," Bremer said. "We're a zero tolerance program."

She said that they did hit an obstacle with the existing ordinances.

"We didn't realize that there was an ordinance in St. Croix County that stated unrelated people can't live in the same house if it is zoned agricultural," Bremer said. "We now have to get a special exemption permit to move forward. It would be great to say that the village board approves of this."

The Salvation Army already operates a 24-hour staffed halfway house in Balsam Lake, and Bremer said she simply went door-to-door to let residents know what was proposed before the facility was set up.

Willard Moeri, village president, sad he did not have concerns about the safety of the house occupants, but more about what the neighboring residents would say.

"We have homes right backed up to that property and I know that people will be asking a lot of questions and we need to have the right answers," Moeri said.

"I know if I lived in that community I would expect to be notified," Nate Stork, board member, commented.

Bremer said the landlord has already approved the facility, but she is willing to help notify the Hillcrest residents if the board prefers.

Moeri said he would schedule a public information meeting for the Hillcrest residents.

In other news:

• Police Chief Dan Burgess said they are looking at selling the 2005 squad car with almost 100,000 miles on it.

• Public Works Director John Bond said that they are going to have to patch two spots on the Division Street sewer line. The patches would cost $3,600 as opposed to $30,000 to replace the entire line.

• Bond also said that the state's phosphorus requirements would be changing in a few years that will require the Village of Roberts to alter their technology. The proposed cost will be "in the neighborhood of $6-$8 million."

• The board is in its final stages of approving the village's Emergency/Disaster Management Plan. The final draft should be voted on during the September board meeting.

• The board approved the ShaRonDale subdivision block party on Sept. 11 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Ryan Ronald Road will be closed off and the possession of open container in same location ordinance will be suspended for that time period.

• The board listened to two presentations for village insurance. They will look over the information and make their decision at the September board meeting.

• The board approved the Roberts Lions Club picnic license for the Run Whatcha Brung tractor pull on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 6-10 p.m.

• The board approved a pay request from Red Wing Construction for $49,716 regarding the new library.

• Concerns were brought up regarding the policy on cleanup after renting the Park Building. Earlier in the season, a benefit had been scheduled for the building but the facility was not cleaned up in time for a graduation party the following day. Doreen Kruschke, village clerk, said nonprofits are not required to put down a deposit. Moeri suggested the Park Board/Urban Forestry Board review the rental guidelines and report back to the village board next month.

• The Village of Roberts meets on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Village Hall. The public is welcome to attend.

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