News
Ellsworth Village Board debates change order process

Village wants to buy, revitalize old junior high

By Sarah Nigbor

ELLSWORTH – Bills are rolling in as the Ellsworth Public Library project gets underway at 388 W. Main St. and the process of how the bills should be approved and paid came up again at the May 19 special Ellsworth Village Board meeting.

In a memo dated May 18, Administrator/ Clerk-Treasurer Nicole Stewart reminded the board they voted at the Aug. 2, 2021 village board meeting to have all change orders associated with the library project go before the Finance, Purchasing & Buildings Committee or the Village Board. A change order is any item outside the awarded bid that changes the dollar amount and project.

“The Village Board has streamlined getting the change orders approved by allowing either the committee and/or the full board to approve them,” Stewart wrote. “The one item that needs to be considered is how much funding is available for the change order process by the library. That way the project stays within budget.”

Village President Becky Beissel requested that the change order requests be grouped as evciently as possible to try to minimize the number of special meetings that have to be called.

“Taxpayers are paying for these meetings,” Beissel said. “We can’t have three meetings a week.”

Village attorney Bob Loberg asked if it would be feasible to allow the village pres- ident and finance committee chair the abili ty to approve change orders under a certain amount, reducing the need for meetings to be held for approval.

Stewart said finances could get out of hand pretty quick that way.

“It’s a hard way to keep track,” she said.

“What if you run out of money?”

Ayres Architect Jodi Nelson said it’s part of her job to make sure the change orders aren’t “completely out of line.”

The board voted to allow Village President Beissel and Finance Chair Andrew Borner the ability to approve any change orders under $10,000, in order to streamline the process, but not before someone in the audience asked if Beissel has anything to do with the library and questioned if it's a conflict of interest. “That’s a strange question,” Beissel said.

"I'm not making any money ou the library project. I would be very clear and I am very conscious about things like that.”

Beissel co-owns and operates Limelight Social Media, which has worked with the library in the past.

Loberg clarified that for it to be a conflict of interest for Beissel, any money involved would have to be a direct financial gain for her.

The board approved two change orders for the library project: One for $6,383 for roof repairs and $7,219.88 for removing a sink in the future Maker’s Space.

Former junior high

The Community Development Authority/ Village of Ellsworth plans to present a request for funds to the Pierce County American Rescue Plan Acts Ad Hoc Committee in June for the purchase and revitalization of the former Ellsworth Junior High, located at 254 S. Chestnut St.

CBS Squared is helping to figure out an estimate to bring down the building and repurpose the property. Right now, the estimate hovers at $1 million based on discussions with another municipality who conducted a similar project.

Long-term benefits – in Nicole's reports Trustee Lance Austin wondered if it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars. After a closed session at the May 2 village board meeting, board members voted to send an ouer to the owners of the property, although that amount was not disclosed.

Pierce County property records list the owners as 254 South Chestnut LLC, c/o Guilded Salvage in Minneapolis.

Other business

• Beissel read a proclamation declaring May 20 as Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Day.

• The board approved an engineering proposal for CBS Squared totaling $9,760 to perform construction oversight and bidding for the village streets slurry project.

The streets that the village hopes to provide a slurry coating include West Cairns Street (from Highway 65 to Grant), South Piety (from West Viola to West Ridge), West Summit (from North Beulah to North Grant), North Beulah (from Hollywood to West Summit), South Maple (new pavement to town line), West Hollywood (from Grant to Beulah), South Chestnut (from Hillcrest to Woodworth), High Point (from Maple to EMS parking lot), and Woodworth (from Chestnut to Piety).

• The board approved a manhole adjustment change order request in the amount of $11,093.28. This will put concrete around the 24 manholes on the new Highway 10/ Main Street asphalt, which extends the manhole longevity.

• The board approved Donohue, a waste- water engineering firm from Sheboygan, to do the stormwater review for the West Central Wisconsin Biosolids Commission sludge receiving improvement project. The pavement area will be expanded to access a new garage, plus the facility is expanding its ability to accept sludge by expanding the storage tank capacity and adding two new truck bays with scales.

• The board approved the asbestos inspection report for the current Ellsworth Public Library (312 W. Main St.) The total project cost $30,441, but the village will be reimbursed for $24,352 from the WEDC. No underground fuel storage tanks were found, but a low-level grade contamination was found in the soil from previous tanks. The report detailed that at one time, a service station was located at the site, plus a Mercury dealer.

• The board voted to renew a Class B (sixmonth beer) license for the Hubbers Baseball team, Bob Young Field, Summit Park concession stand, Agent Kasey Christopherson.

• The board approved hiring Monarch Paving Company to make repairs to the asphalt at Piety/Hines, Grant/Kinne and Highland Drive where water mains had broken. The total will be $9.015.

• The board approved a street use permit for St. Paul’s United Church of Christ and Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce for the Ellsworth Farmer’s Market on Crosscut Avenue from Highway 10 to Wall Street. Dates of proposed use are Thursdays, June 2 through Sept. 29 from 3:15-7 p.m.

May 24, 2022