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Firm chosen for library renovation study

On the Hammond Library Board’s unanimous recommendation, the Hammond Village Board voted 4-2 to hire General Engineering Company of Portage to conduct the Hammond Community Library’s feasibility study for the expansion of the upper level of the existing library building at its Monday night board meeting.

The feasibility study is the first step toward renovating the library and most notably, making the second floor a usable space.

Trustee Laurie Gruber and Village President Tony Bibeau both voted no. Trustee Mark Benton was not present.

Gruber said she thought the quote from Ayres Associates was better because it quoted more things, such as structural, plumbing and electrical engineering studies in its price.

She also is wary of GEC because she wants only Wisconsin workers used in the entire library renovation process if possible. Gayle Mack, the engineer from GEC who will conduct the feasibility study, used to work for Short Elliot Hendrickson (SEH), the firm that was in charge of painting the water tower this fall. According to Gruber, SEH promised to use Wisconsin workers when they were hired, but used some workers from Texas.

Gruber said she isn’t blaming Mack for that, but she wants to be sure GEC will use Wisconsin labor.

Library Board President Leah Tritz gave board members a recommendation letter that listed the following reasons the Library Board chose GEC:

-- Mack has communicated with library director Michelle Johnson since 2010.

-- GEC is not involved in a lawsuit with the Village of Hammond.

-- Mack has 20 years of experience with four to five library projects to her credit.

-- GEC offered upfront hourly costs to their grant writing

-- GEC’s proposal at $8,350 (not to exceed $8,500) was $800 less than Ayres’.

-- GEC  includes structural and civil engineers in their building design team.

-- GEC is a smaller company located in Wisconsin.

Tritz also pointed out that per the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, “the library has exclusive control over the money appropriated to the library. Therefore the Library Board of Trustees has final say in who to hire for the feasibility study as the cost would be covered by the carryover from the 2013 budget.”

Village attorney Tim Scott said he didn’t feel that statement was entirely accurate. That also didn’t sit well with Gruber, who pointed out that the village still owns the library building, so should have some say in who is hired for the study.

Scott asked that for the contract to be approved, the board require that HVAC, plumbing, electrical and structural engineering be covered in the feasibility study as well, per a verbal agreement between Johnson and Mack.

Other business

-- Al Bohl, the energy advisor from Focus on Energy, toured the village’s buildings to determine their energy efficiency and to pinpoint improvements that may be covered by FOE’s business incentive program.

Incentives are available for equipment and projects to make things more energy efficient, therefore saving villages money.

Trustee Lynn Pabst suggested Bohl work with Mack during the library feasibility study.

-- Hammond residents may have noticed their fire protection costs on their water bill went up by roughly $6 as of Jan. 1, while the water rate appeared lower.

Clerk/administrator Sandi Hazer explained that when the board voted to raise water rates a couple of months ago, they had to request the increase from the Public Service Commission.

The PSC allocated the increased water rates under the fire protection portion of the bill, Hazer said.

-- Public Works employee Bob Trudell said the public works department has finished clearing snow from around the fire hydrants in the village. He said they appreciate when homeowners do it, but the swath around the hydrant needs to be wide to accommodate connecting fire hoses.

-- The board convened to closed session to perform evaluations of library employees.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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