Federal money goes to HazMat, vehicles, parks, tower
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca County supervisors approved more than $2 million in ARPA fund expenditures at the July 18 board meeting.
Federal money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act will support the county’s purchase of equipment for the highway department, relocation of a communications tower in New London, development of a trail near Ogdensburg and a new hazmat vehicle, among other items.
Waupaca County has received a total of $9.9 million in ARPA funding.
After the county board approved expenditures in July, about $1.17 million remain in ARPA funds for future projects.
ARPA funds were distributed nationwide to stimulate the economy in an effort to mitigate disruptions caused by the covid pandemic.
Supervisors approved $1.175 million in ARPA funds for highway equipment.
“At the highway department we requested help in funding some large capital equipment purchases to include a motor grader, wheeled excavator and a vac sweeper truck,” according to Waupaca County Highway Commissioner Casey Beyersdorf. “Waupaca County has a current bid package request for each piece of equipment. We have a general idea of exact costs, hence that is why we requested the amount we received.”
Beyersdorf told the Waupaca County Post that motor graders “are utilized for leveling off road materials such as gravel, sand, recycled asphalt millings, sod removal, etc. They are also used during the winter season for plowing snow and pushing back snow drifts when the trucks are unable to push the drifts back.”
“Wheeled excavators are very versatile and can be used for ditching, loading materials, culvert projects, brushing, and anything that would require an extended reach,” Beyersdorf added. “The wheeled portion of the name allows the equipment to be more mobile and not require a semi and trailer to move it from jobsite to jobsite.”
A vac sweeper truck is used to clean debris off streets, and are most commonly seen in the fall cleaning leaves and in the spring cleaning sand from the previous winter.
The vacuum equipment is used to clear material out of manholes or inlets.
The county board approved a request for $1 million from the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office to relocate communications equipment in the New London area.
“We currently utilize the water tower at the Floral Hill Cemetery as one of our remote public safety radios sites for Waupaca County,” said Waupaca County Emergency Management Director Andrew Carlin. “That site has served us well for several years. However we are limited in both height and capacity at the current site.”
Carlin said having a higher tower will allow the county to have an increased range for both sending and receiving radio transmissions.
“With the added space we will be have room for all of our radio frequencies,” Carlin said. “The current site doesn’t allow room for all the frequencies that we utilize.”
Waupaca County has not selected a site for the new tower yet and continues to review all available options.
“Radio signals are line of site, so the higher the antenna is the larger range you will have,” Carlin said. “We are working with an engineer that specializes in this area to make the site as robust as we can.”
At its July meeting, the county board voted to use $70,000 in interest earned from the ARPA funds for Waupaca County Parks projects.
Of that amount, $10,000 will go to upgrading the Grand Pavilion at the county fairgrounds in Weyauwega and $60,000 will go to developing trails on the Pauer’s property located in the town of St. Lawrence, just north of Ogdensburg off of Smith Road.
The project also includes removing an old house that may be unsafe and building near the parking area restrooms.
The parcel consists of about 100 acres, according to John Francis, director of the Waupaca County Parks Department.
Francis said the property was donated to the county first as a conservation easement in 1984, then in 1992 they signed a quit-claim deed to the county with the understanding they could live there until they were unable to do so.
“The original intent was to develop an environmental education facility on the property much like CWES (Central Wisconsin Environmental Station) or Mosquito Hill, but that never came to be,” Francis said.
“Our current plans for the property include developing some multi-use trails on the site for people to come and use,” Francis said. “We will be grooming trail for cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking and snowshoeing starting this winter if conditions allow.”
The county plans to develop an initial loop for the trail by this winter, then add a more loops over the next few years.
Francis said the park is open to the public now.
“There is a parking area about halfway down the driveway near the gates,” he said. ”People are welcome to walk the property on the few unmarked trails that already exist.”
The property is closed to hunting.
IT, HazMat vehicle
Supervisors also approved to use $20,000 from interest earned on ARPA funds to pay for the Information Technology Department.
Waupaca County allocated money from another federal source of revenues: the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund, administered by the U.S. Treasury Department.
The county will spend $100,000 for a new HazMat vehicle.
Steve Fenske, director of the Waupaca County HazMat Team, said the current equipment is more than 20 years old.
He said Waupaca County purchased the used trailer from the Oshkosh Fire Department 20 years ago.
“It’s served its time,” Fenske said. “It’s time to upgrade.”
Currently, the HazMat team uses a pickup truck to haul a 30-foot trailer.
One problem is that the team cannot park both the truck and the trailer inside the county garage near Manawa without first unhooking them.
Fenske noted that the team’s response time is significantly delayed by having to hook the two vehicles together.
At the same time the trailer is too long for the garage, it is also too small for storing all the equipment the team needs for removing hazardous spills.
Fenske said the HazMat team wants to replace the truck and trailer with a used heavy duty rescue vehicle.
Bids for the vehicle will go out within a week.