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December 10, 2019

11/12/2019 7:29:00 AM
OC public works panel approves road plan, discusses culvert issue

Brian Jopek
Lakeland Times Reporter

The Oneida County public works committee on Thursday approved a five-year road plan compiled by highway commissioner Bruce Stefonek.

A handout Stefonek presented to the committee included totals the county spent on roads in 2017 and 2018 - just over $1.6 million for 2017 and a little more than $1 million in 2018 - for comparison.

For 2020, $2,081,737 in expenditures for a little more than 14.5 miles of construction and maintenance of stretches of County Highways D, Y and N are listed.

Committee chairman Robb Jensen noted that the road plan is a "living document."

"It can change," Jensen said toward the end of the discussion. "It gives a tentative look at 2020."

The committee members also stressed that Stefonek should have a plan for the grant application process.

"That grant thing ... you're supposed to use every conceivable reason it should be done," committee member Ted Cushing said. "Is it for tourism? Does it effect tourism if it doesn't get done? Do people have to use it (the road) to get to work?"

"I mean, you gotta use your imagination. It's unbelievable," Cushing said.

Early in the meeting, Jensen said the five-year plan Stefonek was presenting was for information only.

The comments from Holewinski and Cushing apparently changed that.

"I'm assuming," Jensen said to Stefonek, "us approving the road plan is beneficial in terms of your applying for projects? Would you like us to approve this?"

"I'd like to get approval," Stefonek said, adding grant funding for chipping on County Highway. D hinges on that. "Yes, we need to have it approved."

Kemp Street culvert

Stefonek also briefed the committee on his recent appearance at a Rhinelander City Council meeting where he asked the council to honor a verbal agreement between himself and former city public works director Tim Kingman regarding a 50/50 cost share between the county and the city for the $38,000 culvert project on Kemp Street.

Stefonek informed the committee he was told council members had not received copies of bills for replacement of a culvert on Kemp Street Stefonek had submitted to the city a few weeks earlier.

"So, the council members were just basically listening," Stefonek said. "A couple questions came forward."

He said Rhinelander mayor Chris Frederickson asked him to gather information.

Stefonek said information has also been submitted to the county's corporation counsel, but because he hadn't received everything, the matter couldn't really be discussed.

Stefonek told his committee he was planning to attend Monday's council meeting.

"How early on the agenda are you?" Jensen said after Stefonek jokingly referred to members of the committee attending to "back me up."

"I went there to a meeting ... they went through and approved every voucher," Jensen said.

"One at a time?" Holewinski asked.

"One at time," Jensen said.

He then returned to the topic of the culvert payment.

"This (culvert replacement) was to be a joint effort between the county and the city," Jensen said.

"Right," Stefonek said, indicating it was an agreement between himself and Kingman, who was fired over the summer.

"Well, they'll say 'He had no right to make that decision,'" Cushing said. "That's what they'll do."

Stefonek said he'd tried to get a written agreement from Kingman.

"But he would not give it to me in writing," he said. "It's not like I didn't ask."

Holewinski noted the county handles the city's sand and salt storage.

"There's nothing in writing with that," he said. "With the fuel, there's nothing in writing on that. We've been operating together a long time and now, because they have to pay, they don't wanna pay?"

Stefonek indicated he should know more after the council meeting.

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