VIDEO | Century farms are saved as Washington Co. Board votes 22 – 4 on amended resolution

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May 12, 2021 – Washington Co., WI – On a vote of 22 – 4 the Washington County Board passed an amended resolution on a capital improvement plan to fix CTH S at STH 175 along with some changes in funding and leave the extension of CTH W off the table.

The four voting against the resolution were supervisors Denis Kelling, Chris Bossert, Jodi Schulteis, and James Burg.

save the Washington County farms

The gallery in the county board room was packed with farmers and friends of the Wenninger and Gehring families. Many held signs offering support including, ‘Save precious farmland Vote NO,’ and ‘Say No to W extension too much $$ – unneeded road – congestion in Allenton – new safety hazards – vote NO’ and ‘I want to be a farmer when I grow up, please don’t take my daddy’s land.’

save the farms

The meeting started with the county clerk reading a letter from the farm families that would be affected by the decision. That letter is posted below.

The Wenninger, Gehring, Goeller and other Washington County farm families appreciate this opportunity to address you, as a whole, since we have been prohibited from doing so verbally.

Our concerns regard the proposed Hwy W Extension, which you are being asked to vote on tonight. You will be shown elaborate slides and a lengthy presentation. This Extension proposal, virtuallyunchanged, was voted against by the Board, twice, in 2019.  The county voted against it for no other reason than it is unnecessary.When voting tonight, we ask that you consider the following:

It is claimed that the Hwy !75/ S and the HWY 175/83 are dangerous intersections. Since February 2019 to date, there were 2 accidents at 175/S and 3 accidents at 175/83.  You will be told, however, that they were “high impact.”  If this safety concern is true, and the need dire, WHY? in the past two years, has the county not addressed this problem?  Isconcern for loss of life truly the issue here?
Improving Hwy175/S and Hwy83/175, along with suggestions for: rumble strips, a four way stop, and round-a-bout, should be done first. These improvements are estimated to only cost an estimated $450,000. Then, evaluate after the needed improvements. Again, we ask that the county, Fix, again, Fix these intersections, before being persuaded, to build an entirely new road that will:
Cost, at least, two point one million dollars;
Increase travel time by a mere 20 to 30 seconds, while increasing danger on this new roadway;
Exclude much needed repairs on other Washington County Roads;
Contribute to additional railway congestion in Allenton at the Hwy W/33 intersection, where at least 16 trains, already snarl terrific, everyday. Everyone who regularly drives through Allenton is sincerely worried about this.  BUT MOST OF ALL, it will:  

    Destroy 3 Century Farms that are currently contributing to the economy of Washington County.  If the Hwy W Extension is progress, isn’t Washington County Agriculture, “progress” too?  The County Executive said in his April 22, 2021 speech,that we need to gain: …”a through and more in-depth respect for the struggles of our people in agriculture.” Let’s Do That!

This Extension will not just destroy 11.4 acres of valuable farmland; it will dissolve a heritage, a kind of history, in Washington County. These farms have remained in the same families through the start of Industrialization, the Roaring Twenties, the Depression, World Wars I & II. The families have protected and cherished this land through innumerable hardships.  If the road were necessary, this might mean a “yes” vote, BUT it is ultimately, unnecessary.  FIX Highways S and 83, at a much lower cost to our county, while showing respectfor saving lives and consideration for this actively farmed land. A 27 year old farmer of this land, representative of the future of agriculture in Washington County, present with his pregnant wife and small daughter, asks that you vote “no” tonight.   Submitted By.  Anne and David Wenninger

Initially the first amended resolution was a proposal to immediately approve CTH W extension by the year 2026 if 50% of the funding is not taxpayer money. The motion needed a simple majority to pass and it failed 14 – 12. (that voter tally will be posted when received from the County Clerk)

5 corners dodge

The next amendment to the resolution was to fix CTH S at STH 175 and leave the extension of CTH W off the table. There were also several changes to funding and changes a CTH S and STH 83. The measure passed 18 – 6. The board then voted on the compromise resolution.

Proposed W extension map

District 8 supervisor Brian Krebs was the one who proposed the amended resolution which pulled the extension of CTH W off the table.

wenninger and gehring
Wenninger and Gehring families – owners of century farms

After the final vote David Wenninger, owner of his boyhood home and a century farm on STH 175 said he was pleased. “I think people really put a lot of commonsense thought into this and I think the farmland is very important and we have limited farmland,” he said. “Somebody can take land and subdivide it into a subdivision and that makes our farmland even more important to keep it farmland.”

Jacob Gehring, a seventh generation farmer at the Stone House Dairy Farm, said the decision finally put his mind at ease. “Big relief,” he said. “I’ve kind of been waiting for this all week.”

Washington county executive Josh Schoemann has until end of Monday, May 17 to decide whether to veto the decision. Washington County attorney Brad Stern said, “This may not all be resolved tonight, but I think W is off the table.”

Click HERE for information on the original proposal to fix CTH S at STH 175 and put an extension on CTH W.

 

Final vote totals will be posted when information is received from the county clerk.

 

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