Posted 6/30/21

FROM PAGE 1 with the municipality taking the risk that a given candidate wouldn’t work out. But for students? “They’re getting wages on top of getting their education paid for,” Stanley Chief …

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with the municipality taking the risk that a given candidate wouldn’t work out. But for students?

“They’re getting wages on top of getting their education paid for,” Stanley Chief Weiland said, with sponsorship that used to be about a third of candidates had reached levels of 80 to 90 percent, highlighting the critical need for officers locally and nationwide.

In that track then, the Stanley Fire and Police Commission met Wednesday June 23 at City Hall on South Broadway to try and figure out just how to address an ongoing problem affecting both Stanley and local governments more generally: high staff turnover for part-time officer work, and what exactly to do about it.

Present for the meeting at Stanley City Hall this past June 23 were Mayor Al Haas, City Clerk Nicole Thiel, alderpeople Rick Hodowanic, Holly Kitchell, and Mark Fitzsimmons (the last via remote phone link), along with Police Chief Lance Weiland, Fire Chief Korey Hagenson and Hagenson's assistant fire chief.

Chief Lance Weiland’s bimonthly report laid out the stark reality and the meeting’s main topic.

“Within the last week I was informed by three (3) of our current part-time officers of their intentions of resigning from their employment with the City of Stanley for full-time employment at other agencies,” Chief Weiland wrote June 16. “This is devastating news for our department,” Weiland said, as it marked ten different part-time hires and personnel changes in less than two years.

With contract negotiations for full-time staff soon approaching, Weiland listed adding another full-time officer to the force as among the ways to address such chronic staffing issues, as fulltimers get benefits while part-timers generally speaking do not.

Alongside full-time and benefits offered was the parrellel and complementary suggestion made of Stanley seeking to partner with other departments for mutual benefit, with coverage costing taxpayer money and a reportedly ‘unwritten rule’ that the Chippewa Sheriff’s Office try not to send cars east of Highway 27 at Cadott. The reason for staying west as reported June 23 was that going east of 27 affected their response times on the west end of the county, though in case of need the department was reported to be “statutorily” obligated to respond to calls on Chippewa County’s east end. Another rule that was policy unless changed, Weiland said, was that Sheriff’s deputies couldn’t moonlight for other departments, as one such deputy had wanted to help out Stanley but couldn’t, due to reported “moonlighting” policy.

With Stanley offering 24-hour coverage locally and on the east end of the county, adding a full-time officer and then expanding to nearby communities could save taxpayer money across the board. Any such agreement, meanwhile, would both entail and require review by other municipal parties to said agreement prior to anything happening. The staffing problem, meanwhile, has also been seen elsewhere.

In the Village of Boyd, two officers (Hunter Imm and Tucker Tiege) but then hired and then moved on in quick succession, with a third (Kevin Hagmann) hired this Spring but also working part-time for the Village, with Cadott as his primary alongside part-time work in Stanley. Meanwhile to the east of Boyd there was also the question of covering time off for full-time officers, which the department up to now has managed to do without paying overtime, Weiland said. That could change, unless the current model is adjusted.

“If everyone took their allotted time it would be 1,000," Weiland said of full-time officer vacation and time-off to fill in the 24-hour Stanley Police Department.

Stanley police currently work alternating 12hour shifts to provide local police services, with shifts options from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and/or 6 p.m. to 6a.m., When no one else can, Chief Weiland fills in as being nearby and a City resident, but this current model wasn’t sustainable Weiland said, in part because each full-time officer also has a family and that “family time is more important than the pay" to the officers.

Dividing one-thousand hours by five parttimers, meanwhile, still means 200 hours that could need to be covered each year by the Stanley Police. All the current part-timers have full-time jobs, Weiland said. No final action was taken June 23, though the meeting did shift briefly to fire department and related matters.

“Everybody wants new stuff, but nobody wants to pay for it,” Mayor Al Haas observed of resident expectations along with those of departments in regards to things like fire trucks and ambulance service. The Boyd-Edson-Delmar department, Haas observed, had two ambulances, while another at Stanley would potentially cost $450,000 to local taxpayers, even though sharing could reduce the tax burden in more economical fashion. A new fire truck for Stanley, meanwhile, would be $500,000, while other departments also had the same high-cost equipment. With local water wells under stress, meanwhile, Chief Korey Hagenson made known there was a plan.

"If there's a fire we're sucking out of Chapman,” he said of the local water supply, with cooperation between area departments imperative to proper fire service. Whereas the fire districts currently work together on many calls they are administratively and otherwise separate at present, leading to added cost burdens across the board. The prospect of a single fire district was raised at the meeting, though no action was taken.

Returning to the police department end of things, there was also good news to balance downnote items in the Chief Weiland’s bimonthly report. For one, a final version of the new golf cart ordinance had been submitted to City Hall and was open to review by local citizens.

“As it pertains to the golf cart ordinance that was recently passed, I have submitted a final version to the city clerk's office for review by anyone that is interested in reading it,” Weiland wrote the Council in his report. “In the interest of being prepared for anyone that may come forward and look to have their golf cart inspected to see if it meets ordinance requirements, I am working with Insane Imaging of Stanley to create a one-of-a-kind metal license plate that will be issued to those that wish to register their golf cart with the city (after it passes inspection),” Weiland wrote. The cost of an initial plate will be included with the initial annual registration fee of $50 but any subsequent plate needing reissue due to loss, damage, or otherwise will fall on the customer, Chief Weiland made known. In the meantime, K9 Officer Trey and handler Officer Tyler Lewein are being taken care of.

“Our K-9 squad was experiencing an air conditioning cooling issue but that has since been addressed and the matter is no longer a concern,” Weiland wrote. Potential duty calls from residents in smaller towns, meanwhile, can and may include addressing loud apartment music towards midnight—some people have to sleep. For those in school looking for a way to secure employment, meanwhile, it could just pay to choose the police academy.

ON CALL: Charlotte Meyer, Travis Alger, Hunter Brandt (atop truck) participate in pump operations as part of the training that goes with belonging to a municipal fire department.