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September 23, 2019

9/3/2019 7:25:00 AM
Vilas board hears transit commission report
Abigail Bostwick
of the Lakeland Times

The Oneida Vilas Transit Commission last week shared findings of a recent audit and survey with the full Vilas County Board of Supervisors.

"As far as surveys go, I think a fairly good number of people responded," transit commission chair Erv Teichmiller said. "And the response is remarkable."

The survey was issued to passengers in June to complete and return anonymously. There was a 59 percent return rate, with 62 percent of those persons from Oneida County and the remaining from Vilas. Most participants were age 60 or older, second highest being under 60 and disabled.

Stats from that survey indicate most users do not have a car and utilize the service two or three times per week, which offers riders five days per week rides between some area communities.

About 86 percent of survey-takers "strongly agreed" the drivers are safe and responsible as well as helpful and courteous.

Nearly all agreed they'd recommend it to friends.

"I don't have a car, so the bus has given me options," one anonymous respondent said.

Others noted they wished the bus was available after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

"I'm very thankful for the service available," another commenter said.

Further comments reflected affordability, independence, a fun way to get around and visit as well as attend appointments and shop and a good way to save money.

"I'd be lost without it," a transit user noted.

The most valuable part of the survey is the comments, Teichmiller indicated to fellow supervisors, which show the elderly, disabled, those without vehicles and those who no longer feel safe driving are "... clearly being serviced."



Other news

In other transit commission news, Teichmiller covered some preliminary results of the organization's recent audit.

Teichmiller said it is, "...fiscally doing what it is supposed to be doing."

While there was some question regarding Teichmiller's role on the Commission as he has ownership in some property rentals used by the Commission, he said all was found to be in line.

"I excused myself," Teichmiller said of all votes regarding those rentals and procedures. "I think it passed the test."

In other business, the Vilas County Board:

-Unanimously re-elected Vilas County Highway Commissioner Nick Scholtes. He was elected fo a four-year term which ends December 2019.

"I think he's done an outstanding job," said Charles Rayala, Highway Committee chair. "He's a good one...we haven't had an experienced highway commissioner since I've been on this board (until Scholtes)."

-Approved amendments to the lodging/recreation establishments/food protection/tattoo and body piercing establishments ordinance.

"(This was) legislative and statutory clean up," noted Jack Albert, county corporation counsel. "We think we've got it right."

-OK'd an amendment to rezone a piece of property out of wetland status for a homeowner in the town of Winchester.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Army Corps of Engineers and township were all consulted.

-Heard a presentation from Cynthia Patterson, executive administrative assistant with Newcap, a non-profit service that aims to relieve community poverty and aid in housing, healthcare and other "life needs" in 21 counties.

"(Affordable housing) is something I would like to encourage this board to look into," said Patterson, indicating some grants and aid are available to build rental units for Section 8 housing. "We do need landlords in this area.

"We want to help (everyone) understand and show them what's available," Patterson continued. "We want to show people where to go to get help. We don't want people foundering."

-Passed an amendment of standing rules for Vilas County-ADRC.

-Approved adoption of Vilas County Comprehensive Plan Update Public Participation Plan, which will allow the Zoning Committee to approve a plan and go forward with the meetings necessary to update the plan, which is done so every 10 years, noted Dawn Schmidt, zoning administrator.

-Approved a resolution to amend the foreclosure of tax delinquent properties policy.

- Approved a budget amendment for the ADRC.

"This is just a matter of allowing the ADRC to balance things out," said Bob Hanson.

In committee reports, Vice Chair Gerald Burkett stated next month's county board meeting would feature a presentation by Sheriff Joe Fath regarding the jail's program aimed to rehabilitate inmates with drug and alcohol issues.

"Vilas County is leading the pack, the state and probably the nation in having people fight their addictions and becoming productive members of society," said Burkett. "I'm very proud of the program...you don't just go to jail in Vilas County. You get the help you need."

The next county board meeting is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 24 at the Vilas County Courthouse in Eagle River.





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