Residents speak out at town meeting
By Jane Myhra
Soot, noise and traffic surrounding the Thiel mine continue to annoy some citizens of the town of Little Wolf.
They were given a chance to voice their complaints during the town board’s Aug. 3 meeting.
Board members wanted to know if citizen approved of their plans to appeal a Waupaca County Board of Adjustment decision to the circuit court.
Mostly, they heard complaints about the number of big trucks traveling on the town roads.
“It’s an incredible disruption in our lives,” said Mary Kowaleski, who lives near the pit mine.
She said she counted 65 trucks during one hour, and 19 tanker trucks in the past three days.
“I’m sure there were others we didn’t see,” she said.
John Ashby had concerns after attending a recent hearing.
“In my opinion, several board of adjustment members did not have all the facts concerning this case,” he said.
Ashby was also concerned about the portable processing plant located on the Dave and Sally Thiel property. It is operated by American Asphalt, which also operates the mine.
“Why can’t they process elsewhere?” he said. “I worry about the health factors involved.”
He said he was not opposed to the mine, just the stench and increase in traffic.
Dave Abrahamson said he is in favor of an appeal. He also believed the BOA members did not have “a good grasp” of what was taking place. He said the decision is “better left to a judge” so it is based on laws and state statutes.
Carol Peterson suggested the board wait until they hear a decision from Judge Vicki Clussman concerning an injunction on road weight limits.
“That will be a clue as to how the issue will proceed legally,” Peterson said.
According to Town Clerk Jackie Beyer, the town had set a 6-ton weight limit on Baldwin Road and North Water Drive. American Asphalt obtained a temporary a restraining order that allows them to continue hauling bigger loads on the roadways.
Beyer said the judge’s decision is expected by mid-August.
“For the last three years, there has been an increase in traffic on Baldwin Road and North River Drive to the point where the road needs to be repaired,” said Duane Abrahamson, who lives next to the Thiel mine.
He also said there is a stench and dark smoke coming from the processing plant. He described it to be like having a skunk living in the backyard.
“Sometimes, the whole north end of Bear Lake gets gray, but people say (the emissions) meet the standards” Abrahamson said. “They should come breathe that stuff every day.”
“It stinks so bad we have to go inside. It’s not fun coming home,” said Chad Hedtke. “The truck traffic shakes our house and our dry wall cracks.” He was in favor of appeal the board of adjustment’s decision.
Derek Wilz asked if the town budgeted any money for an appeal. He also asked if American Asphalt would be responsible for repairing the roads damaged by their trucks.
“(County) BB and B are just nasty,” he said.
Wilz suggested the board get a vote from the taxpayers before proceeding with an appeal.
“If we do appeal, what will the cost be?” asked town supervisor Lowell Prellwitz.
“The major cost has been accrued already,” Town Chairman Alan Moede said.
The board tabled voting on the appeal until after Clussman makes a decision on the injunction.
The board agreed to proceed with plans to lower the speed limit to 35 mph on North Water Drive, from Baldwin Road to State Highway 110. The board agreed to allow Moede to publish notices and schedule a public hearing.
After the meeting, Moede provided this statement: “The actions of Waupaca County Zoning is proof of how townships are losing local control.”