Elmwood high school students Sarah Larson, left, Luke Baier, and Bruce Zignego, along with their advisor, teacher Jeff Pickerign explain their plan to mount a DNR camera on village property near the high school at Monday night’s Village Board meeting (3-13-14). Photo by Katie Chaffee
Elmwood high school students Sarah Larson, left, Luke Baier, and Bruce Zignego, along with their advisor, teacher Jeff Pickerign explain their plan to mount a DNR camera on village property near the high school at Monday night’s Village Board meeting (3-13-14). Photo by Katie Chaffee

ELMWOOD, WI – Three Elmwood High School students got a chance to practice their public speaking skills as they made a request to the Elmwood Village Board at the March 13 monthly meeting.

The three – Bruce Zignego, Luke Baier and Sarah Larson – appeared along with their advisor, teacher Jeff Pickerign seeking permission to put a DNR camera on village property adjacent to the school. Pickerign is the Ag Science teacher and School Forest Director.

The students told the board that the camera would track animals, including deer, and that in turn would help them devise ways to protect the school’s orchard from the hungry four-footed predators.

They said the camera would be mounted at a height of 3-4 feet along a game trail, and that they intended to monitor it more often than the DNR required.

The board was told the project would benefit four classes at the high school – Animal Science, Biotech, Plants and Landscaping, and Horticulture.

Their pitch was successful and the students were granted permission.

Next on the agenda was a more complicated issue.

Sailer’s Meat Market expansion
Jake Sailer, owner of Sailer’s Food Market & Meat Processing, was making a second appearance to discuss expansion plans for his operation at 600 W. Winter St.

Sailer had come before the board last year looking for information on his options but had come away without much of anything. Members of a board committee formed to look into the issue said they hadn’t realized he needed answers right away.

Sailer said he hopes to double the size of his plant, possibly expanding both east and west, adding more space for both storage and production, and maybe even adding a second story to his building.

He needs some concessions from the village to make that possible because he is hemmed in by Hwy. 72 on the south and by Scott St. on the east. He wants the board to make some changes to the road and to traffic flow.

“I’ve got to know what the village is willing to do,” Sailer said.

Board President Bill Stewart said the neighboring Cenex business creates a lot of truck traffic that cannot be conveniently and safely rerouted, and no plans could be made without consulting Cenex.

“You’re a big asset to the town, but so are they,” Stewart said.

Sailer said that if allowed to expand, he would likely be an even bigger asset to the village, adding a second production shift and several jobs.

“Grandpa settled here 94 years ago, and I want to stay,” he said.

Lorna Ross, there to report on the meeting for the Pierce County Herald, suggested that in her experience a consulting firm was usually hired to explore the options, work with various government agencies and affected property owners, and propose a plan.

While Sailer was “ready to go,” the board was not and will consider this at the next monthly meeting.

Police Chief resigns
Elmwood Chief of Police Michael Schaffer’s resignation was accepted by the board.

Board member Dolores Radke said that although she understood why he was ready to move on, the Chief would be greatly missed by village residents.

“He knows people by name, and was willing to help anybody with anything,” Radke said in praise of Chief Schaffer. “His work at the school was exceptional.”

Her high opinion of Schaffer was echoed by Stewart and everyone wished him good luck on his new job as a patrolman in Woodville.

Schaffer acted as both patrolman and chief in Elmwood for two and a half years, coming from a part-time position in Spring Valley.

Woodville made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, Schaffer said, including a straight day shift and a 30 percent pay raise. He also likes the idea of a less complicated life just on patrol duty.

Schaffer started his new job last week, but has been coming in to work in Elmwood on his days off to take care of administration. Patrolling is handled by Pierce County deputies.

The police chief position will be posted through April 7 and interviews will follow.

“I’d like to be done in six weeks,” Schaffer said.

Nursing Home
Trustee Neil Boltik reported that the Heritage of Elmwood Nursing Home was doing everything it could to keep its doors open. An extensive remodeling project is expected to improve the financial situation as new residents are attracted by the fresh new look and the addition of private and semi-private rooms.

The renovations were absolutely necessary Boltik said, noting how many area nursing homes had closed.

“If we do nothing, that will guarantee we will close,” he said.

The home remains open during the remodeling and is taking applications for new residents.

Other business
In other business the board:

  • Heard from Library Committee member Josh Bleskachek that Katie Schneider, the new director, will be starting work next Tuesday, March 21. Library hours for March and April will be Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. -5 p.m. and Wednesday noon-5 p.m. Volunteers Sue Dzubay and Rick Jones will cover the Wednesday hours.
  • Approved a picnic license for the Elmwood Rod and Gun Club for an adult prom on Saturday, April 1 at the village auditorium. They also approved temporary operator’s licenses for that event. Tickets for the dance are available in advance at Kern’s Kurbside, formerly Big Dick’s.
  • Voted to lift the open container ordinance for the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 18.
  • Heard a report on police department activity for the month of February from Chief Mike Schaffer. Twenty-six incidents included eight traffic stops, three EMS assist calls, two background checks, and one animal complaint.