Letter to the editor: Norwalk Village Board should be involved in phosphorus-reduction decisions

By BUTCH JOHNSON | Norwalk

After reading the March 22 Monroe County Herald story on the front page, “Phosphorus trading program hits snag,” I question what the Norwalk Village Board was talking about at the March 13 meeting. I should say, what our village board president was talking about. He asked for and got $50,000 approved to begin this program on his farm. He told the board that between the chemicals at the sewer plant and removing 79 pounds of phosphorus from the watershed, we would be in compliance with the DNR’s .075 phosphorus level to renew our permit at the sewer plant. He said he and the head maintenance man, Henry Vian, and land conservationist Bob Micheel and Dave the engineer from Cedar Corp. had a meeting to discuss a project on his farm.

My question is, why wasn’t the water and sewer committee involved, and why wasn’t the finance committee involved? He said that he and the village clerk had looked over the books and the money was not there, so we would have to borrow it.

When board trustee Kevin Hilliard asked if this would be put out for bids, he basically got shut down by the board president and was told Bob Micheel would be in charge of the contractor, just like the creek-bank project.

I have talked to Bob Micheel, and he has told me that is a false statement.

When our board president gets these ideas, he fails to allow the committees to do what they are elected to do. He takes over and tells them how it’s going to be.

He told the board $50,000 would get things started. Really? How much in the end? Sparta already has spent $200,000 on the program and was expecting another $300,000 over the next three years, and now they don’t know how many credits and how much more money has to be spent.

I believe ALL of our elected officials should be involved in this process. The common phrase heard around town is, “Well, it’s better than spending $2 million on a new sewer plant.”

Our head maintenance man has said more than once that work needs to be done at the sewer plant.

We elect people on the village board to do the best for the village, so let the members of the board be involved with the research and not to take the word of the village board president, Mike Wiedl, who can feed it back to the board however he wants.

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