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City Council agrees to provide second school liaison officer

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news River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The City Council on Monday night agreed to provide a second police officer to work in the Hudson schools.

The new school resource officer will be assigned to the Hudson Middle School and the district’s six elementary schools if the Board of Education also agrees to the plan.

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There is already one resource officer, Jonathan Grass, working in the high school.

The school district asked for the additional officer earlier this summer, saying the officer would improve security in the schools.

At its Aug. 4 meeting, the council asked the Public Safety Committee to conduct further negotiations with the district on how the positions are paid for.

The district had offered to cover 75 percent of the cost of the new position, but didn’t address funding for the high school position. The district has been paying 67 percent of the cost of that position.

Mayor Alan Burchill suggested that the district pick up 75 percent of the cost of both positions.

Police Chief Marty Jensen reported that school Financial Services Director Tim Erickson tentatively agreed to the new cost-sharing plan in a meeting with him and Public Safety Committee chair Randy Morrissette II.

The district would continue to pay 67 percent of the cost of the high school resource officer position until Jan. 1, when the current contract expires, and then increase its funding to 75 percent.

If the new middle and elementary school officer is brought on prior to Jan. 1, the district will pay all of the officer’s wages and benefits until then.

The council approved the new position on a motion by Alderperson Mary Yacoub-Raad. There was little discussion, and no one opposed the action.

Yacoub-Raad said Jensen still needs to find $27,688 for the position (25 percent of the annual cost) in his 2015 budget, and that the school board also needs to approve the cost-sharing plan.

No change in beer license ordinance

The council decided against amending the city’s beer license ordinance to allow a proposed painting studio to serve beer.

It also denied the Cheers Pablo franchise’s application for Class B beer and Class C wine licenses.

But the Hudson residents seeking to open the “paint and sip” studio indicated they will submit a new application for a full liquor license.

Ben and Dayna Dreher and Brandon Rehmus, who are seeking to open the Cheers Pablo franchise in a strip mall at the corner of Hanley and Carmichael roads, attended Monday night’s meeting.

City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick reported on the type of liquor licenses held by painting and wine studios in other Wisconsin cities, which she was asked to look into at the previous council meeting.

Munkittrick reported that four studios in Fitchburg, Sussex, Waukesha and Wauwatosa have full Class “B” beer and “Class B” intoxicating liquor licenses.

The city of Delafield has issued a Class “B” beer and Class C wine license to a painting studio.

Two other painting schools, in Eau Claire and De Pere, aren’t stand-alone businesses, but give their classes at places that have wine licenses, Munkittrick reported.

At the Aug. 4 City Council meeting, Munkittrick warned that allowing businesses other restaurants to have beer licenses could open up the city to requests from all kinds of them – including some undesirable ones.

In moving to deny Cheers Pablo’s beer license application, Alderperson Yacoub said she understood that the business owners would be submitting a new application.

Engineering firms chosen

The council approved the selection of two firms to provide consulting engineering services, contingent upon final approval of the contracts with the firms.

The firms selected were Bolton & Menk, headquartered Mankato, Minn., and Short Elliot Hendrickson, headquartered in St. Paul.

An ad hoc committee comprised of City Administrator Devin Willi, Community Development Director Dennis Darnold, Public Works Director Tom Zeuli, City Engineer Tom Syfko, Public Works Committee chair Mary Yacoub-Raad and Alderperson Jim Webber chose the two firms after interviewing representatives of four firms.

Yacoub-Raad said the two selected have strengths that made choosing between them difficult.

The committee ultimately decided that it would be best to retain the services of both, and assign work to them on a case-by-case basis.

The city staff will decide which firm to use for a project based on their expertise and availability.

Yacoub-Raad said having agreements with two firms also would lessen the likelihood of the city being left without a consulting engineer, as happened when Foth Infrastructure & Environment announced that it was terminating its agreement with Hudson.

“They are both excellent firms,” Alderperson Jim Webber said of Bolton & Menk and SEH. “Either one would serve us well. Now we have an even better situation, having both.”

Other action

In other action, the council:

--Approved Fire Chief Scott St. Martin’s request to hire a part-time fire inspector on a month-to-month basis for the rest of 2014. The inspector will work 24 hours a week and be paid $25 per hour, with no benefits. The part-time inspector will assist in converting to electronic storage of records and reduce a backlog of overdue inspections to bring the city into compliance with state guidelines, St. Martin said. He said he would be proposing to make the position permanent in 2015.

--Agreed to allow the owners of the Smilin’ Moose Lodge Bar & Grill to make a $70,000 payment in lieu of providing off-street parking over a period of eight years. The interest on the unpaid balance will be set at 4.75 percent, 2 percent above the rate the city is paying on its last loan. In addition, the business will pay a one-time administrative fee of 1.5 percent. Building Inspector David Gray reported that the Smilin’ Moose is set to begin construction of a patio and deck that was approved earlier this year by the council. The council also approved a construction easement for the project, which is expected to take about 90 days to complete.

--Amended the city’s sign ordinance to allow one freestanding sign per 600 feet of street frontage in business developments that have a master sign plan. Developments were previously limited to two freestanding signs. The maximum height of the signs was raised to 45 feet from the previous 35 feet. The maximum sign area was increased to 300 square feet from the previous 135 square feet. The maximum area for any one business on the sign is 60 square feet. The developers of the Hudson Center, on the site of the former tourist information center, requested the changes.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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