Council 1

Sara Jesse, health educator with the Sauk County Health Department, gives a presentation on heroin and opioids during the Aug. 14 Reedsburg Common Council meeting.

HEATHER STANEK/Times-Press

Park impact fees and business growth will receive a closer look thanks to Reedsburg Common Council.

The governing body approved an economic development agreement with GRAEF of Green Bay during its Aug. 14 meeting at Reedsburg City Hall. Agenda topics included a park impact fee study, police radio dollars and a presentation on Sauk County’s opioid problem.

GRAEF will look at Reedsburg’s south and east sides, including South Albert Avenue and East Main Street, to find ways to bolster economic development. The $17,650 fee will be paid from Tax Incremental District Funds, according to city documents.

City Administrator Stephen Compton said GRAEF could pinpoint business opportunities, such as where and how to sell parcels and suggested types of businesses. The city’s south and east sides show promise thanks to the high school and Kwik Trip, which is always busy but attracts greater traffic during the school year.

Fees

It’s time to look at park impact fees, Compton said. Vierbicher in Reedsburg would complete the review for $6,000. It could take about 70 days to finish the study.

The proposal comes on the heels of Lakeside Foods requesting total reimbursement of its fees, which are assessed on new residential buildings. In the past the City has agreed to partial reimbursements, Compton said.

Officials may want to adjust where they charge the fees, Compton said. The money was intended for park updates and maintenance but commercial properties may not use parks as often as general residents. In the Lakeside Foods case, the building was a dorm for temporary seasonal workers.

It’s been 16 years since Reedsburg studied its park impact fees, Compton said.

“A lot of things have changed in the construction world in the last 5 years, much less the last 16 years,” he said.

Block Grant

Council also agreed to shift some of the burden off its staff by outsourcing management of the Community Development Block Grant. The 2-year contract with MSA will cost $40,000.

MSA of Beaver Dam will run the program, which provides assistance to homeowners and improves neighborhood quality. It has the resources to stay up to date on HUD rules, comply with laws and rewrite policy documents if necessary, said City Clerk-Treasurer Jacob Crosetto. It will also handle inspections and title searches, saving the City money on legal fees.

Crosetto said Reedsburg will retain the authority to choose and pay developers. He also shared information about the proposal during the Aug. 14 Finance Committee meeting, where the measure passed.

“The City really doesn’t have to do much other than cut checks,” he told the Finance Committee.

Prior to the shift, the Community Development Block Grant was overseen by Darleen Wohling, who also serves as court clerk. Her court duties are growing, according to city documents.

Inspections were done by Brian Duvalle, who’s busy with planning and zoning administration. City Attorney Jim Gerlach and his office provided title searches and legal tasks.

Radios

The Reedsburg Police Department will receive new radios ahead of schedule. Chief Tim Becker had hoped to wait until next year to ask council for the money but an opportunity prompted him to act.

Motorola has offered $300 each to trade in the old radios, Becker said. The highest he’s ever seen is $50.

Becker said the current radios were purchased in 2007 and are outside their warranty. Parts are no longer produced so the department has to acquire old radios from other departments for components.

It plans to buy 22 portable radios for $61,686 with the trade-in values. Becker said the Capital Equipment Budget would fund the purchase.

The new radios would last until 2027, he added.

Becker told both the Finance Committee and Common Council the radios are a matter of safety. Old radios can’t pick up signals as well. He considered purchasing radios here and there but he couldn’t justify leaving some personnel ill-equipped.

“It’s hard to come up with which officer gets a new radio and which officer does not get a new radio from a safety standpoint,” he told the Finance Committee. “You want everyone to have the best.”

Fighting heroin

Opioid and heroin abuse have become an issue in Sauk County but leaders are taking steps to address it. Sara Jesse, health educator with the county health department, and Heidi Schultz of Tellurian talked about Reedsburg MATRS, which provides 24/7 assistance for addicts. The helpline can be reached at 608-402-4312.

This year the Sauk County Health Department started free training to equip residents, law enforcement and entrepreneurs with nasal Narcan, an emergency medicine used to counteract overdoses. Anyone who has overdosed still needs to be taken to an ER but Narcan can provide extra time and possibly prevent death.

So far the county has trained about 300 people, Jesse said. More sessions are expected in the next few years.

Schultz said she’s worked with heroin and opioid users and their condition prevents them from thinking clearly. Family and friends are advised to help them seek treatment or carry Narcan if an overdose occurs.

Jesse said there are “very dangerous substances here” due to powerful tranquilizers being mixed with street heroin. Some drugs are so potent just inhaling powder can be deadly. Carrying Narcan can save not only users but anyone exposed to a substance.

“We’re no longer powerless in the face of this very scary epidemic,” she said.

Follow Heather Stanek on Twitter @HStanek1 or reach her at 608-697-6353.

I am the reporter and photographer for the Reedsburg Times-Press. I also shoot, edit and post videos for stories.