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Hammond board approves alcohol license for hotel

The Hammond Hotel is going to be reopening ... sort of.

Owner Andrew Schmitz and manager Gary Gruber attended the Hammond Village Board Monday, April 25, to discuss the alcohol beverage license they were seeking.

The board tabled the request at its last meeting on April 11 as they were seeking more information, specifically about the use of the interior and the location of the port-a-potties.

Right off the bat, the board questioned where the port-a-potties would be located, as they would prefer not for them to be on Main Street. Schmitz and Gruber agreed and said they can be tucked off to the side and in the back. The board then asked, will the inside be open? Schmitz and Gruber said, not at this time, as it’s not capable of being open and they don’t want people going around and snooping.

The pair explained their plans are for only the patio to be open and for everything to be in containers except mixed drinks. No food will be served with the exception of candy bars and chips. The rationale, they said, is to get some revenue, so to decide if they want to pursue work on the interior or drum up interest so they can sell the business.

To abide by laws, they added, the port-a-potty will be handicap accessible and a sanitizer sink will also be on the patio.

Schmitz and Gruber also touted their experience in the tavern world, as they’ve operated others in the past, including the Wild Badger in New Richmond. They added their plans are to be open five days a week (likely Wednesday-Sunday) and be open until mid-September.

The board ultimately decided to approve the license for the front part and the patio only, since the side of the building closest to the library is a beer garden. This license is only good until the end of June, so they have to reapply in July for the next 12 months. They will decide if they want to go for the beer license at that time.

Organizational meeting

The last half of the meeting dealt with naming of committees for the upcoming year:

Board of Appeals — Tony Bibeau, Eric Arthur, Steve Peterson, Jan Hinchman, Wally Graf. (Graf is the new member replacing Mark Iverson)

Board of Review — Mark Benton, Laurie Gruber, Sandi Hazer. The Board of Review is scheduled from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., on Tuesday, May 17, preceded by the Open Book from 8-10 a.m.

Planning Commission — Tony Bibeau, Del Werner, Jamie Bolwerk, Lynn Pabst, Rob Ward, Steve Peterson, Wally Graf. (Graf is the new member replacing Mark Iverson)

Police Review Board — Eric Davis

The village board also appointed the following:

Assessor — Randy Dulin

Official Newspaper — Central St. Croix News

Emergency Management Director — Rick Coltrain

United Fire and Rescue Alternate — Rob Ward

Stoplights coming to Hammond?

The board held a discussion with Greg Adams and Wendy Sander from Cedar Corporation about the intersection at County Highway T and County Highway J. With Russ Davis Wholesale moving into the former Hammond Cold Storage building this summer, traffic is going to increase steadily at the intersection, and “that an unregulated intersection will be chaos,” meaning either stop lights or a roundabout is coming. Sander said there are grants available from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to help with costs, but it’s likely going to have to be a 50-50 split between the DOT and the village, which would be around $500,000. “I don’t think we have an option,” said Benton. “We have to do this.” The board gave the OK for Sander and Adams to proceed further with the DOT and with Ehlers and Associates, the village’s financial consultants.

Other action

The board named Rich Cronk to Lead Building and Grounds. Cronk is replacing Bob Trudell, who was elected to the village board on April 5 and had to retire from his position. On a related matter, the board set interviews for Wednesday, April 28, and Thursday, April 29, for the six finalists to fill the open vacancy in the public works department. The board hopes to have a final choice by next week so Trudell’s replacement can start by the middle of May.

The board approved a $500 salary increase for Coltrain as emergency management director. Coltrain said the position requires him to attend a couple meetings yearly during the day, which troubled Trudell because that meant the village was paying him twice. It was then discussed and the board agreed to fold the duties of the emergency management director into the duties as police chief. A motion was first made to leave the salary at $1,000 which died 4-3 as Ward, Gruber, Pabst and Bibeau voted no. A second motion was made to increase that salary to $1,500 and passed 6-1 with Bibeau voting no. Before the vote, Bibeau reiterated since Coltrain held the position for 15 years and did it for free, he should have gotten a noticeable increase.

The board approved the beer garden permit for the Parkside on Thursday evenings starting May 5. The permit is so the establishment can have beanbags.

Approved the library’s request for street closures on Charlotte Street from Davis Street to Main Street on Saturday, Aug. 13 ,from 4 a.m.-4 p.m. for its craft sale. Trudell abstained as library director Michelle Johnson is his daughter.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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