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VIDEO | Rebroadcast of Kewaskum Village Trustee candidate forum

Kewaskum, WI – Seven candidates are running for four Trustee seats on the Village of Kewaskum Board; each seat carries a 2-year term. Winners in the April 5, 2022, election will begin their term April 18, 2022.

Candidates include incumbents Village Trustee Nathan Wendelborn and Trustee Richard Knoebel along with Marnie Parse, Mary Schlitt, Fuzz Martin, Justin Weninger, and Teresa Melz.

Opening statements:

Trustee Nathan Wendelborn – Served on Plan Commission, water-rate increase is a concern, want to achieve needed improvements in Village.

Marnie Parse – 10 years in Kewaskum. Like to be able to have chance for people to be heard. Nurse.

Mary Schlitt – live in Kew since 2017. Worked and shopped and played in Kewaskum and the community has always been special.  Kewaskum is kindness and sense of community. Job is Washington Co. chief deputy clerk and prior to that was a church administrator. Good people work toward common goal.

Fuzz Martin – work to help budget and help businesses reach goals, volunteer with 9-11 Memorial, brings business and volunteer experience.

Justin Weninger – trustee with Kewaskum athletic assoc. Pheasant pens on Riegel Drive. Need to show people community is growing. A trustee on union board.

Trustee Richard Knoebel – Kewaskum PD for 39 years. Ran after he retired. Happy to see candidates. Goals to see Village is safe and nice place. Familiar with history of Village.

Teresa Melz – Masters in Math. Career in math education and prof at MPTC. Always active in community. Canter at Holy Trinity in St. Michael.  Kew. Junion women’s group. Sewed curtains in Annex.  2008 on Kewaskum Public Library Board. Prez of library board since 2017. Elections inspector. Shared facility committee member. Regular attendee at Village Board meetings.

Question 1: With the current state of inflation how do you plan to provide a high level of Village services and capital improvements.

Marnie P – fixed income and has to be a way to help and make things better in community. It all takes money. There are ways to help community get to where it needs to be.

Mary S – need to be clear on priorities and goals. Focus on priority-based budgeting. Make hard decisions on what can be foregone

Fuzz M – as a biz owner there are difficult choices to make. We need to review price increases and possible cuts. As a Village we may not be able to keep up. We need to analyze and determine best course of action. Do we increase rates or make sacrifices?

Justin W – tough decision. Look at facts. What is best for the Village. Difficult decision. Look for best prices on maintenance and look to keep things affordable.

Richard K – when tax keys went down, the growth helps us – then we get a better tax base. Need to review road projects and some improvements are mandated.  Hopefully we add people and growth.

Teresa M – impressed Village Board has been good stewards with tax dollars. On Library Board personnel is a big item.  TID development is needed.

Nate W. – may have to pay best employees more to keep them. Find grants to help pay for infrastructure. Need to have prioritized budgeting.


Question 2: Sewer utility has been running a deficit of $5 million and there is  proposed 20% increase in rates. Thoughts?

Mary S – not an easy situation. This has happened over the long term. Nobody wants to see a 20% increase. We need to recognize where we’re headed. Deal with situation at hand. How do we keep this from happening again?

Fuzz M – there hasn’t been a price increase in rate since 2015. Instead of having gradual increases we’re being sacked with costs. With no increase the bubble has built – now we will likely saddle the increase.  We have to look toward future and work to keep eye down the road.

Justin W – it’s inflation. This is a hard decision. What can we do in the future? Looking forward, if there are increases it hopefully won’t be this bad. It is going to be tough.

Richard K – one biggest problem is DNR is making new mandates. The lift station and DNR demanded it be moved. Everybody wants clean water, but nobody wants to pay for it.  We should raise it a percentage or two each year. Building on south end of town never happened. We need to get building going on in order to help pay off sewer.

Teresa M – sewer rate study will have more info next week. 20% is a tough pill to swallow. Fixed and usage component on water bills in Kewaskum. Mistakes were made before our time, and we should do our best.

Nate W – the TID or development on south side was supposed to pay for this. Usage rate goes from $218 to $280. DNR throws mandates at us. We need an incremental increase and build funds as well. We need reserves.

Marnie P – we need to look forward and try to figure a way to not smack everyone with huge increase. Need to figure out TID and make small increment increases.

Question 3: current assessment of Kiwanis pool and future of facility

Fuzz M – located right behind our house. We are competing for job opportunities and paying for a supervisor.  I want it to stay open and try to figure a way to keep it open. Reality is we’re competing for other businesses to hire students. Do our best to make it attractive.

Justin W – Painful to see last year how often it was closed. This is a community jewel. When I heard it would close, that was a sad day. We need people to work. Do we have to increase the price to keep it open? I’m for keeping it open.

Richard K – back in the day they were supposed to build a pool at the high school. If we can’t get people to apply, we can’t open it.  Or, open without lifeguard. That’s a risk. If not open, look at opening next year.

Teresa M. – hiring employees is key. Pool opens in June when college kids get home in May. Loss of $60K to $70K.  Pool is an attraction to live in community. Maybe look at next year.

Nate W – huge amenity for Village. The pond is running at a deficit of $60K to $70K. We also don’t charge a lot. Maybe charge more. Nobody wants to manage. Pond is a community staple. Reality is possibly close this year in order to open in future. Partner with other business and trade lifeguards. Need serious community research.

Marnie P – Can’t compete with increase in pay. Sad to close, but maybe find money in the future. Find lifeguards from other areas.

Mary S – nobody wants to see the pool close. It’s a great resource but definitely a staffing issue. Taking a pause can be scary. Tough decision. Maybe shorter hours and more pay.

Question 4: Village working toward new Village Hall, library, and PD. Relocate it to Annex site

Justin W – I’m all for the project. The Annex needs updating. Facilities in this town need to be upgraded. I’m in construction. It is expensive but needs to be done.

Richard K – we’ve outgrown Village Hall. How much more money will you put more money into an old building. Nobody wants to lose the Annex parking lot. We need to investigate property purchase. Roof is leaking, AC is too loud. Update needed.

Teresa M – on shared facility committee since 2018. Do we do updates, or do we knock it down, we want to maintain PD. Someone said the Annex spot. We did investigate properties in Village. I’m excited to move on with concept plans and space needs. Next will be an RFP and we will try to minimize the footprint to save parking

Nate W – when we spend $25K on concept plans. We need to spend a little money to right-size the Annex site for future expansion. Then look for the best spot. We have a unique chance to turn building into beautiful backdrop for a 2-story building. We need to revitalize the downtown and its businesses.

Marnie P – In favor of new shared building. Police need more space. There has to be a way. Biz may lose parking but in a few years will you care about the lost parking spots. 9-11 Memorial needs to be showcased with a new building.

Mary S – a passionate issue. We need a new facility. We are not ADA compliant. Something new makes sense. It is a unique opportunity to plan for the future. We can make other accommodations for parking. Key components still need to be addressed. We need something sustainable for future.

Fuzz M – police need a larger facility in a current sub-par facility. We need to start with back the blue. The Annex is a good spot. Squad parking is limited. I support the project and hopefully will help increase parking.


Question 5: Future ATV and UTV use in Village of Kewaskum

Richard K – 18K cars a day on Hwy 28 and Hwy 45. Where do vehicles cross? What happens if there’s an accident. If you lose your license, you can still operate an ATV and drive to tavern.  If ATVs allowed, will snowmobiles be next. Topic needs a lot of discussion.

Teresa M – where will ATV/UTV drive? Is there liability insurance, joyriding in neighborhood, can you pass if they’re not up to speed limit.  Need a cautious decision.

Nate W – ATV’s have their place. Clubs are responsible; however, problem is people who aren’t part of the clubs. Need a decent proposal and meet with clubs.

Marnie P – lots of cars and kids and be as young as 12 and drive an ATV/UTV. If there is a way to find a connector route but at this point it is not feasible or safe.

Mary S – it’s a conversation worth having. Defer to public safety committee. But now in Village it is not safe. Large discussion.

Fuzz M – we are the gateway to the Kettle Moraine. Visited Viroqua and they had ATV/UTV traffic. I support specific routes. Exploring safe routes. Nobody asking for ATV on 45 and Hwy 28. In favor as long as specific routes and limited noise.

Justin W – I’m for this. Help support local businesses as long as it is dealt with safely and governed appropriately.

Question 6: Future growth of Village

Teresa – start with the TID. There are side-by-side condos on Prospect and a new care facility on Edgewood and shared facility project. Good things are coming. Homes built and development. What’s good for Village is good for all of us.

Nate W – expanding Village and make housing affordable. We’ve identified a few sites to help grow the Village. If new Village Hall moves forward that could open up more land for biz or residential. If we get TID under control, we will be in a good place in next 10 years.

Marnie P – trying to keep young people in the community and affordable. Everybody comes together. Future is great because of all of you. Want to see that continue.

Mary S – want to see affordable housing so kids can come back. Make it possible to see people come back and work and that only enhances the community. I want to be a part of ti.

Fuzz M – secret to success is to create the jobs and then the housing and amenities. Working to attract biz to TID will help support jobs and need employees willing to work. Need to position ourselves as a place to live and work. It is not simple. Need to make village as attractive as possible.

Justin W – everybody wants to see the village grow and we need to do it. This is a bedroom community. There are not a lot of places to work. If TID can get going. We need to attract more local businesses.

Richard K – when I started there were 3,200 people. I’ve seen good and bad. This is a beautiful place to live. I want to see downtown revitalized. Years ago, the biz were turned into apartments. We need biz downtown and in the TID. Make it a safe place for everyone.


Closing statement

Nate W – If reelected I will find long-term solutions for aging facilities. Passionate about keeping water rates low and work with DNR mandates. Find a long-term solution to Kiwanis Pond.

Marnie P – lots of hard decisions. I’m passionate about a lot of things with shared facilities, PD, and water issues. People need to be heard. Need to work on ways to save but to be a trustee people can trust

Mary S – I would be honored to serve. The Village of Kewaskum wins tonight.  We are the hearts of public servants. I want to make the Village the best and have a wonderful quality of life.

Fuzz M – I have the credentials Kewaskum needs to move it into the future with fiscal responsibility. Find solution for Kiwanis Pond and Kewaskum to have responsible recreation.

Justin W – I’ve lived here my entire life, volunteered around town, next hat I want to wear is Village Trustee. I accept challenges very well. I promise I will make this town the best it can be.

Richard K – Appreciate your vote. Will continue to promote Village and industrial park. Keep promoting Village as a great place to live and raise a family. I’ve taught hunter safety. Encourage candidates to attend the board meetings. You have to know what’s coming up.

Teresa M – A lot of positive things in Kewaskum and new care facility on Edgewood. Shared-facility project. Potential development in TID. Our beautiful river and Eisenbahn Trail and there’s something for everyone at the Public Library. Staff and department heads are wonderful. I possess valuable qualities to be a Village Trustee. I’m prepared and do my research. My math background makes me an experienced problem solver.

The Kewaskum Candidate Forum was organized by the Kewaskum Area Chamber of Commerce.

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