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Somerset Village board addresses winter issues

There will be a new cat roaming the streets of Somerset.

The Village of Somerset approved purchasing a CAT 921 to replace the old 1996 loader for the upcoming snow season.

"We use this as a critical piece of snow removal equipment," explained Rob Weldon, public works supervisor. "It has us very nervous as we approach winter."

Weldon got estimates from three manufacturers, and suggested going with the Caterpillar 921 H from CAT Fabco out of Eau Claire. The cost for the loader would be $92,174, on a five-year pay installment with the first year's payment being the 1996 loader trade-in.

The board approved.

Along with the village's winter preparations, the board discussed the parking regulations.

Ryan Sicard, public works committee chairperson, said that the winter parking regulations are in effect from Nov. 1 - April 15 from 2:30 a.m. - 7 a.m.

"Officers would use discretion," said Sicard, when asked about people having company stay late for family gatherings. "They won't throw tickets around."

Dave Carufel questioned the rationale of starting the parking regulations at the exact minute the bars close downtown.

"I thought that wouldn't be enough time to get people off the streets," he began. "But (Chief of Police) Doug Briggs said it did not seem like it would be a big issue."

Sicard also told the board that he wanted to notify the public about how to properly handle snow removal from their properties.

"We are requiring all residents to remove snow on the sidewalks within 48 hours of snowfall," said Sicard. Those who live on the school routes will be plowed by the village.

The initial wording in the announcement said "the width of the sidewalk." However, Jeff Johnson, village president, objected to the phrasing.

"You are in a battle with homeowners that the snowplows are throwing up all the snow that they have removed," said Johnson. He suggested changing the wording to shovel enough space to allow two people to pass in opposite directions.

The board approved the change to state "four foot width" instead of the "width of the sidewalk."

Another point of concern was the stop light on Main Street. According to Sicard, it has been knocked over three times, but hit multiple times.

"The buildings there were built with zero setbacks," said Weldon. "As a result, the turning movement got tight from Spring Street to Main."

The primary culprits have been commercial trucks. The village tried to create a separate truck route elsewhere, but not all commercial drivers adhere to it.

Rob Jones, of Cedar Corp., suggested moving the pole back five feet. He said much of the current equipment can be reused, so the cost should be around $6,000, as opposed to $13,000 for all new pieces.

The board authorized the public works committee to proceed with the traffic signal relocation, not to exceed $8,000.

In other news:

The board approved Structures Unlimited's bid of $43,760 for a salt sand storage building.

The board approved paying $2,100 to KLM Engineering for an inspection quote for both water towers.

The board approved allowing Christ Lutheran Church to have two directional signs on village light poles on Main Street. The village will install them and charge one hour labor to the church.

The board approved a picnic beer license for St. Anne's Church for the Church Hill Block Party on Oct. 1.

The board approved purchasing two ballistic bat shields for $4,350 plus shipping for the police department from Baker Ballistic Battle Shields.

The board was asked to allow bow hunting on the village property off Highway 35. It was sent to the public safety committee to consider.

The board approved the Xcel contract for $4,655 to move the light pole to allow for the police department expansion.

The board approved SMC's request for expansion to add parking stalls to their property.

The board approved BigBadToyStore's request for expansion pending final review by the village engineer and public works committee.

The board approved the grievance procedure in the employee handbook by inserting an additional step in the process to have a hearing with the finance/personnel chair before going to an outside source.

The board approved considering TID #4 a distressed district. Now it can get assistance from other districts within the village.

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