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Plum Lake purchases a road grader

July 23, 2019 by Brian Jopek

The wait for a newer road grader for the town of Plum Lake is nearing an end. 

Now, it just needs to be delivered from North Dakota.

Last week, meeting in special session for just under 15 minutes, town chairman Will Maines and town supervisor Gary Schmidt approved the purchase for $88,000 of a 2008 John Deere 770D road grader from Fargo, N.D.-based Butler Machinery. 

The road grader will replace a 1978 John Deere 770A the town recently received an assesment from McCoy Construction that estimated nearly $20,000 to repair — not including new tires.

‘We’ve got a grader’ 

The road grader issue had most recently been discussed at a town board late last month, the town’s other supervisor Vern Wiggenhauser not totally opposed to spending the money to repair the 41-year-old grader. 

“Well, we’ve got a grader,” Wiggenhauser said to Maines at that meeting. “It’s our grader, we know what the problems are, we can look at here (the assessment) and see what has to be replaced.” 

Maines said the town could put $25,000 or $30,000 into the 1978 John Deere. 

“Once that’s fixed, what’s the next thing that’s gonna break on it?” he asked.

Nothing was decided at that meeting other than Schmidt would talk to Troy Schalinske with the Vilas County Highway Department to get a better idea of what the town really needed. 

‘The way it worked out’

At last week’s special meeting, it came down to the 2008 John Deere and a 1998 John Deere 772CH road grader. 

However, Wiggenhauser hadn’t shown up yet for the meeting and Maines said he’d wait a few minutes to start. 

Former state legislator Sheehan Donoghue, a resident of the town, told Maines if he was waiting for Wiggenhauser, “he’s at another meeting.”

“Oh, he is?” Maines asked. 

“He’s at the library board meeting,” Donoghue said. “You guys didn’t check on that before you scheduled this yesterday.”

The meeting, held Wednesday, July 17, was originally scheduled for the day before. 

“Well, it fit into the only time frame I could make,” Maines said. 

Donoghue chuckled.

“Interesting,” she said. 

“That’s just the way it worked out,” Maines said. 

“Is that what happened last Saturday when he (Wiggenhauser) was here for the meeting and the two of you weren’t?” Donoghue asked, a reference to a building committee meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 13. 

Those present wait 30 minutes until it was confirmed by town clerk/treasurer Sharon Brooker neither Maines, who was at Copper Peak, or Schmidt would be there. 

Turning back to the meeting at hand, Schmidt asked Brooker if she called Wiggenhauser about it. 

“He knew?” he asked her.

“Yes,” Brooker responded. 

“And he didn’t say anything to you,” Schmidt said to Maines. 

However, Donoghue didn’t leave the meeting that didn’t happen on July 13 alone.

“He was at the meeting, you guys weren’t,” she said. 

“Yes,” Schmidt told her. “We know.”

“So he (Wiggenhauser) is expendable,” Donoghue said. 

“Nobody said that, Sheehan,” Schmidt said.

A few minutes later, after Maines and Schmidt voted to purchase the 2008 John Deere, they talked about financing the purchase and Schmidt began to make a motion. 

Donoghue interrupted, starting to ask a question.

Maines, though, shut her down.

“Sheehan, you can ask after the meeting, but right now, it’s a town board meeting,” he said. “We are not taking public comment at this meeting.”

Schmidt restated his motion to finance $35,000 of the road grader purchase with the rest of it come from the town’s 2019 budget. 

After the vote, Maines adjourned the meeting, telling Donoghue if she had any questions on the numbers, Brooker could go over those with her. 

Donoghue asked what the town would do with the 1978 John Deere road grader. 

Maines said that was something the town board would have to decide, but what he’d been told by dealers he’d talked to, the town could expect in the neighborhood of $5,000 for it. 

“We’ll start making calls to arrange that,” Maines said. “I mean, we may not draw any interest. Hopefully, we will. All we can do is put it out there.”

“We’ve got some interest already,” Schmidt said. 

Maines said there was one more thing each dealer he talked to said about the 1978 John Deere the town has.

“Do not try to fix the old one,” he said. “

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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