TOWN OF PESHTIGO — At the special Town of Peshtigo board meeting held Thursday, several concerned citizens spoke up in support of the resolution that was adopted in April to form a citizen’s advisory committee to help address the issues of the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) water contamination that the town is currently battling.

Chairperson Herman Pottratz discussed with the board members how many should be on the committee, suggesting four members would be sufficient. Town Clerk Clarence Coble asked how the committee would be formed — under the umbrella of the town board, subjected to open meeting rules and postings, or as an independent committee that would report to the board.

The question sparked a discussion lead by Chuck Boyle, who asked, “If this is an independent committee, would it have access to the information from Cedar Corporation?”

Coble responded that the Cedar Corporation is working for the town board, and if they provided information that could be released to the public, he would do so. If there were items that he wasn’t sure about, he would have the town council review before posting, or not, as the case may be. 

Cedar Corporation is an environmental consulting firm that has expertise in similar issues to the Town of Peshtigo water contamination, and helps to resolve those issues between municipalities and manufacturing. They are considered experts in the field to help local communities understand the issues and work toward a resolution to solve the issue. 

When pressed about what exactly Cedar Corporation has done for the town so far, Pottratz stated that they hadn’t done anything yet, and had only met once to date.

“We are waiting for Tyco to have it in writing that they are paying for them. It’s being worked on with our attorney,” he said. 

Several residents asked what Cedar Corporation was supposed to be doing. Town Council David Spangenberg explained that Johnson Controls (JCI), formerly Tyco Fire Protection Products, had verbally said they would pay for the legal fees and for Cedar Corporation. The company and the town were waiting for Cedar Corporation to put an action plan together that defined the scope of the project for JCI to review. Both JCI and the town, via the town council, had submitted relevant information to Cedar Corporation. Spangenberg said that Cedar Corporation had said they would provide the required information by Thursday — Coble said that as of 2:30 p.m., when he left the office, he still had not seen anything from Cedar Corporation. 

Pottratz made a statement about JCI, saying, “They want you to have city water. We don’t want that. They have said, basically, ‘it’s our way or the highway and the City of Marinette water is the only way.’ That’s going to cost a lot of money, a few million. We are not going to sit by and rot. We should drill new wells.”

Ruth Kowalski angrily responded, “I have an issue with your statement that you are making. You are making a decision for all of us that are in the contaminated area. For my property and other people’s property.”

Joe Wilke also responded with fervor. 

“Herman, you have already made up your mind to drill wells,” he said. “You’ve got to take off the blinders and look at the whole situation. You have to do what is right for the whole town.” 

More discussion followed, trying to determine how the advisory committee should be formed, how many individuals should sit on it and who it should include. Kowalski, Martha Rettke, Jeff LaMont, Cindy Boyle and Chuck Boyle all suggested that the committee should be comprised of people in the contaminated area and people outside the area.

“We really want this committee to be impartial,” Kowalski said. Several pointed out that just because someone wasn’t in the contaminated zone now, doesn’t mean that down the road they wouldn’t be. 

It was also suggested that a board member should be part of the committee, which was hastily declined. Pottratz said that the board didn’t need a member on the committee, as they would be reporting to the board. 

During the discussion, town board member Dan Staudenmaier said regarding the water contamination, “I really don’t know anything about it.” In response, Cindy Boyle asked for each of the board members to commit to learning about the issue going forward. None of the board members reside in the contaminated area. 

It was determined that the committee would be independent of the board and would provide updates to the board and the town at the monthly town meetings. Attending town citizens asked that Cedar Corporation would work with them as well as JCI to work together on a solution. “None of us caused this. We are all on the same team,” Cindy Boyle said. 

In other matters: 

¦ The board discussed opening the town roads to ATV and UTV traffic. This was supported by an Oconto ATV club that said they would help with the process. The board is adopting the ATV/UTV rules that the Town of Grover is using. Wendel Johnson suggested that the town hold a referendum on the issue. “I don’t really care one way or the other but there may be some people that oppose having all the town roads open to the ATV/UTV traffic.” 

The board decided to make copies of the proposed changes to the ordinances to allow ATV/UTV on the town roads available in the town hall and will be posted on the town’s web page. 

The topic was placed on next month’s meeting agenda for a vote at that time.