W’bago considering ways to clean up town

WINNEBAGO – Winnebago is about to host hundreds of people for summer events. City Council members want the city to make a good impression, so on Monday they discussed ways to get it cleaned up.

Some council members recall a citywide cleanup some years ago that was successful but expensive – costing $12,000.

Police Chief Bob Toland said his officers have been photographing local nuisance properties. Police are drafting a letter to send out to property owners, who will have 10 days to clean up their properties. Officers will check on compliance, take new photos if problems persist, and another letter will go out. Property owners will then have five days to comply or be taken to court.

“Prosecutions cost money,” said Toland, noting that several houses will probably have to come down, and that will be expensive.

Toland said 30 locations on the west side of Main Street will get letters. Some have only minor problems, he added, but others face major issues.

The council discussed the benefits and drawbacks of its options. It also discussed whether to work a cleanup into next year’s budget or push it through before MotoFest, scheduled for Aug. 2-3.

City Attorney Doug Johanson suggested calling a special meeting. The council set such a meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday, when City Administrator Chris Ziegler will present findings on the cost and feasibility of the city organizing a citywide cleanup.

If the city decides not to fund a cleanup, there is still time for Toland to send out letters to property owners and take action before MotoFest.

In other council business, Barry Hager of CenterPoint Energy presented a Community Partnership Grand Award of $1,500 to the city toward the purchase of two portable ARMER radios for the ambulance department.

Accepting the check was Josh More, ambulance captain, who then asked the council to purchase an additional six portable ARMER radios.

“It’s two to five times as expensive as the old ones,” he acknowledged, but the crew has been using pagers, which isn’t working.

The council approved the purchase. The cost is $9,740. The funds will come from the CenterPoint Energy grant and the ambulance fund, which is comprised of donations and money from fund-raising activities. Its current balance is $51,493.