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Somerset Village Board hashes out various issues

The Somerset Village board did its own version of spring cleaning when they had extensive discussions and made decisive actions on many of its Tuesday, May 17, agenda items.

Updating radios is denied

Ryan Sicard, chairman of the public works committee, told the board that the Federal Communication Commission requires municipalities to switch to narrow band -- or some other digital spectrum -- within the near future. He made the recommendation to purchase as few radios as possible, not to exceed $8,832.

However, some of the board members did not agree.

"The public works department was welcome to keep whatever radios they have, the police would have to upgrade," said Jeff Johnson, village president.

"But to be in compliance with mutual aid (with other municipalities), we would have to upgrade all," argued Sicard.

"We still have cell phones," replied Johnson. "This is a quicker and easier way to communicate. I fail to see the need to spend $8,000 to upgrade the system."

"If the old ones start going bad, we can get the narrow band," suggested Dave Carufel, board member.

The motion to buy the new radios failed.

Liquor license validity is questioned

A big item on the board's agenda was the approval of operator's licenses and liquor license agents. All the operator's licenses were approved, but the approval of the agents did not run as smooth.

After John Montpetit was approved as the license agent for Float-Rite Inc. and General Sam's, he questioned the board's approval of Chad Schmitt for Bootlegger's bar. He said he wanted to be sure that the license was being used correctly.

"If a bar locks up, someone else can't open up doors and run under that license," said Montpetit.

"He said the reopening was here, and that is the only place the license is good for," answered Pam Donohoe, village clerk.

"But he didn't reopen, it was a different corporation," said Montpetit.

Donohoe said that the best thing for the village to do was to consult their attorney for the best way to proceed.

The board also approved the beer garden permit for the Float-Rite concert site contingent on Donohoe reviewing the lease agreement between Float-Rite Inc. and the new owners of the Somerset Amphitheater.

Agreement with township is debated

For several months, the Somerset Township and Somerset Village have been discussing 180th Street. The town owns the street and wants to do some minimal upgrading. However, because it is located within the village, they are concerned that they will spend the money on this street and then the village may annex it.

Johnson said that if the village did annex the street, they would still have to put money into it to bring it up to the village's standards, such as curb and gutters. So the town is asking for an appreciation over 10 years for their expenses should the village annex the property.

"It's a remote possibility," stated Johnson. "I don't foresee us annexing anytime soon. We would have to remove everything they had done. I verbally agreed, but later found out that the board was divided on this -- why should we give the township money when we would tear it up again regardless of the condition of the road?"

Greg Sayers, board member, had been opposed to this agreement since it was introduced.

"This deal is contingent upon annexation," he began. "My question is this: why is this even here if there is a remote chance and they are going to do it anyway?"

"We should do this the right way as a jurisdictional transfer," offered Sicard. "We take over the road, and they pay us, rather than doing a reverse maintenance agreement."

Carufel brought up how the township had already had this scenario happen to them before.

"We already burned them once, but I don't see anyone annexing that property for a long time," said Carufel. "It almost seems like a gesture of goodwill."

"I understand being neighborly, but my No. 1 responsibility is to the people of the Village of Somerset," responded Sayers. "Half of a bad deal is still a bad deal.

"The only way we can say it won't cost us anything is by not getting into an agreement."

The board decided to deny the agreement.

In other news:

• Johnson announced that Ron Hill, former board member, had resigned and that Bartt Palmer will take his place. Palmer had been on the board the prior year.

• The board approved hiring Tim Stockman, engineer, to design a solution to prevent the wastewater treatment plant SPR tanks from freezing over in a contract not to exceed $6,400. Once the design comes back, they will send the project out for bids.

• The board approved a contract with Cedar Corp. to design a new lift station system to replace the old for the industrial park.

• Sicard said that Xcel Energy acknowledges there was a mistake in billing the village for street lighting on Rivard Street. The board approved paying the difference of $2,664.64.

• The board awarded Belisle Excavating the contract not to exceed $3,600 to grade Forrest Drive.

• Sayers said that the public safety committee is replacing the 2006 Dodge Charger police car with a 2011 Dodge Charger from Bernards.

• Sayers also reminded the board that on June 4, Churchill Road will be closed for a few hours. The Fire/Rescue department is going to burn a vacant house near the road, so the county will detour traffic.

The Village of Somerset meets the third Tuesday of each month at the Village Hall at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.