Storm rips New London
A violent storm cell with 70 mph winds left some feeling lucky to be alive after it ripped through the city and areas just south of New London around 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20. The storm erupted with little warning and caused widespread damage.
There were no injuries reported as a result of the storm.
Hundreds of trees were down, cutting power to 3,500 customers, clogging streets and damaging buildings and cars. Large hail fell in parts of the city. Torrential rains left streets flooded and cars stalled in low lying areas.
Cell phone and radio communications were severely disrupted. Mayor Gary Henke declared a state of emergency by 4:30 p.m. New London Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Louis Dressen reported 2.4 inches of rain fell during the short storm. New London Fire Department received 37 calls. Lt. Don Gorges said Waupaca County Emergency Government used an automated alert system to summon all available personnel to the station, after traditional communication lines went down. Off duty police officers, retired firefighters, and citizens came forward to help.
An ammonia leak at Saputo Cheese forced a detour around to the only bridge open in the city.
All New London Police and Fire Departments, Utilities and street division employees were summoned and worked through the weekend. Waupaca Red Cross, Emergency Management, and Health and Human Services Department also responded.
4-K enrollment better than expected
In March, the School District of New London hosts an informational session for families regarding the recently approved 4-year old kindergarten program slated for the 2010-11 school year. The 4K program is an optional, four half-days per week preschool program that prepares four-year-olds for school success.
New London School Board members approved the 4-Year-Old Kindergarten handbook for the 2010-11 school year in May. There are currently 116 students enrolled in the New London’s new 4K program and registration will continue until August.
“We had hoped for about 90 kids so we have exceeded our projection which is thrilling,” Director of Teaching and Learning Kathy Gwidt said.
4K curriculum planning will begin May 19 and Gwidt anticipates much of the program details to be completed by June.
The district submitted a 4K Start-Up Grant to the Department of Public Institution. Due to reductions in the state budget, potential grant awards will not be available until year two of the program. However, priority will be given to districts like New London, using community approaches to implement 4K.
Rail Spur acquisition
City council members took action on the acquisition of a segment of railroad track and spur serving the Wolf River Lumber plant. According to City Administrator Kent Hager, if they didn’t, more than 80 acres of developable land on the eastern side of New London could lose valuable rail service for the foreseeable future.
Wolf River Lumber at one time shipped 200 cars of freight per year on the spur. In recent years, the rail spur became inactive because Wolf River Lumber claimed it was cheaper to haul to their customers by truck.
In Sept. of 2008, Canadian National informed the city and gave Wolf River Lumber notice to terminate rail service to the spur because it was not being used according to the industry track agreement.
The city will pay the net liquidation value for the track, which is $90,000.
A land contract for the acquisition of the former Simmons property in New London has been signed by the city and delivered back to the bank’s attorney, according to City Administrator Kent Hager in a memo to council June 30.
In May, city council approved (6-3 vote) to purchase of the property from First State Bank for $215,000. Additional cost would include $55,905 in delinquent taxes, $165,940 in demolition costs (recorded with a lien on the property), and $15,000 for Benzene chemical clean up, and $3,000 to update the Phase I environmental site assessment. The total project cost is $454,845. The city intends to borrow the funds at an interest rate of 3.5 percent.
There are two metal buildings on the property that could immediately be used for cold storage of city equipment. Council members toured the facility and discussed developing the buildings into a future city garage facility.
Since then, owner Eric Spirtas was able to keep the property from going to foreclosure. He now claims the city’s contractor caused damage and losses to the property during demolition and he is seeking payment from the city.
Hatten Stadium renovation discussed
Hatten Stadium renovation possibilities were the topic of discussion as New London Parks & Recreation Department Director Chad Hoerth in conjunction with the Hatten Stadium Foundation welcomed the public to a planning meeting Monday, Nov. 8, at the Washington Center community room.
The goal of the foundation is and always will be to renovate the field itself, but they also realize the stadium has to be addressed. When a grant was awarded to pay for planning of the stadium, this meeting was set and now they are going forward with the process, always mindful of their initial and constant intent, to restore the field.
On the Hatten Memorial Stadium Foundation board are President Mike Frederick, Vice President Lee Meyers, Secretary Kami Quinter and Treasurer Chad Hoerth.
It’s happening right here June 28 – July 2. After a year of steady progress, the funding goals are achieved, the houses to repair are selected, the supplies are purchased, and excess ladders are stacked and ready. The huge Teen Serve Christian work camp will headquarter at the NLMS and 340 teens and chaperones will spend five days painting and repairing homes within a 25-mile radius. When all is said and done, over 60 residences had newly painted homes, new decks or wheelchair ramps, or minor repairs done.
Dog Park location gets city approval
City council members approved a site for a potential dog park in New London with an 8-2 vote in August. The motion set forth by the Parks & Recreation Committee did not include funding for a future dog park.
“At this time we’re not looking at any tax dollars to initiate construction,” said Parks Director Chad Hoerth. “Actual construction of the dog park would come from private funding.”
The Parks and Recreation Committee, along with a group of citizens recommended the River Road site, a total area around five acres with a perimeter of about 2,200 linear feet. The site will offer access to the river for dog owners who want to use it. Other positives for the River Road site included: the close proximity to the existing DOT parking lot, adequate distance from residential housing, and easier access to electricity for possible lighting.
The New London Jaycees donated $9,000 to be used towards a new dog park in the City of New London. Start-up costs for the park are estimated at $13,000.
Wegner resigns from school board
Wegner writes a letter to the residents of the New London School District, thanking them for allowing him to serve on the Board of Education for the past 15 years. On Oct. 1st he tendered his resignation. Stating that he was ‘unable to complete my final term … circumstances not of my choice or making made staying on the Board an impossibility. One cannot serve and be effective if your actions and statements cannot be viewed openly and at face value.’
New London School Board President Keith Steckbauer reports that the board of education has a vacancy and the term would run from December 2010 until April of 2012. After reviewing letters of intent, the board selected Mukwa resident John Michels to complete Wegner’s term.
Construction to start on New London Pearl Street Bridge/CTH D
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announces that work is beginning July 12 to remove the existing Pearl Street Bridge, constructed in 1939, replacing the structure with a four-span concrete bridge and reconstructing the existing roadway and sidewalk. The project cost is estimated at $1.4 Million. The project was scheduled for completion by Nov. 19 and opened Dec. 17, due to high water conditions.
Library/museum board moves forward with planning
The Museum/Library Board of Directors has met numerous times with the city to determine what should be done about expansion of the library. Board President Ron Steinhorst announced a personal $35,000 gift to start fund raising at a meeting held in November. The board now has the city block west of the existing library/museum earmarked for the new library.