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Vander Sanden

Vander Sanden

I generally like to focus on one main topic in each of my monthly Under the Clock Tower columns. I’m going to take a break from that this month because there are so many different things to share right now in our fair city.

It was my pleasure this week to join Public Library Director Cindy Fesemyer and all of her staff, volunteers and supporters, in celebrating the fact that the Columbus Public Library was recently named, the “No. 2 Small Library in America,” by the Library Journal. We aren’t No. 2 in eastern Columbia County, or central Wisconsin, or even the Midwest, we’re No. 2 in the Nation! Finally, America is learning what I’ve known for years! If you haven’t checked out the Columbus Public Library recently, I encourage you to do so. Congratulations and great job goes out to Cindy, her staff, the Columbus Library Board and all the volunteers – Friends of the Library and others.

In front of the library, there’s a huge street project going on, and it is in the home stretch… the reconstruction of State Highway 16/60, or as we call it, James Street, is getting close to the finish. Just on Wednesday, I saw the new downtown streetlights on the West James side of the project are working. More paving is taking place now to allow a little more access to local traffic as well. Thank you for all of your patience and your continued patience with what is to come over the next month or so.

Folks who live on James Street will be anxious to see a return to normalcy on their street again, other than the backhoes, jackhammers and people with hardhats that have roamed the area for the past several months. One of the things that will be new but not associated with the project will be trash and recycling carts. Automated waste collection isn’t a gift special to those on James Street though, as all residential properties will be receiving the carts, starting on Monday. I hope that you have all your questions answered on this new program. Columbia County Solid Waste is ready to roll with this, but acknowledge there will be an adjustment period. Please see the city website for further information or contact Columbia County directly at 742-6651.

Libraries, street work and waste collection doesn’t happen without funding. The funding priorities for the city are set via the city budget. In the fall months, autumn and football aren’t the only seasons, as we are in the thick of “budget season.” This fall will be my fifth budget season as Columbus City Administrator, and while I think the process to create the city budget keeps improving, each budget is very distinct and unique. City staff and our elected officials work diligently over the span of about five months to ensure that spending priorities are appropriate and city services can be provided next year in the most efficient ways possible. There will be a number of workshops held throughout October and at the city council meetings in November, the formal review of the budget, public hearing and action on the document is expected.

Finally, keep an eye on information from the Columbus Recreation Department. The fall to winter months are very busy, particularly with Halloween activities, highlighted by the Community Bonfire on Friday, Oct. 27 at Kiwanis Park, and the Columbus Trick or Treat event on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 5-8 pm.

As the leaves keep turning to their fall colors and the temperature changes these days, the autumn always invigorates our community with a burst of activity.

If you have any questions on this or any other issue before city government, please contact me at city hall at 623-5900 or via email at

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask