Ellsworth residents will elect trustees Tuesday
Village of Ellsworth voters will choose between four candidates for three Village Board seats in Tuesday's election.
The candidates are Curtis Betthauser and incumbents Neil Gulbranson, Kenny Manfred and Curt Wandmacher for trustee. In addition, incumbent Gerald DeWolfe is up for re-election to the village president seat.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Here are excerpts from contested candidates' responses to questions:
Please give a brief description of yourself.
Betthauser: Curtis Betthauser, 52. A commercial carpenter by trade, I live on Summit Avenue with my wife, Michelle, and our three children, Jacob, Kelsey and Logan. We've been here for 24 years.
For 20-plus years, I held a seat on the River Falls Sportsmen's Club board including as president numerous extended terms. You cross a wide array of people and personalities, learning to deal with them. I feel that would be an asset to bring to the board.
Gulbranson: Neil Gulbranson, 600 Crest Lane, age 59, wife Sue, three daughters and one granddaughter. I have lived in Ellsworth for 58 years. I have a degree in police science. I retired after 39 years working for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, with 27 years as chief deputy.
Since retiring, I worked for the American Red Cross and Goodwill. I currently work for Wisconsin Emergency Management as a part-time planner with nuclear power plants.
Manfred: Kenny Manfred, 113 Hall Hill St., and graduate of Ellsworth High School. Married to Carolyn. We have two grown children and one granddaughter. I have served on all Village Board committees throughout my 24 years.
Wandmacher: Curt Wandmacher, 61. I grew up in Hager City. I graduated from Ellsworth High School. I received a degree from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I have been employed by Smead Manufacturing in Hastings for 39 years. I have lived in Ellsworth for 37 years with my wife of 41 years, Vickie Bjork. We have two grown sons.
How can occupancy of the rest of the Shopko Pharmacy building be encouraged? Should an outside recruiter be hired?
Betthauser: Occupancy of the Shopko retail space is really the problem of the owners.
If you hire a recruiter and it's successful, it's a great idea, but if you hire a recruiter and there's little or no success, then you're chastised with wasting taxpayer dollars. And so it goes, the general public seems to remember the mistakes a lot longer than the positive outcomes.
Perhaps some other avenues need to be explored.
Gulbranson: The village has been in discussions with the owner and Shopko management with the goal of the property becoming a full service Shopko Store. At this time, it is unclear what might happen. We are also very limited what we can do.
We did hire a recruiter for approximately four years and now we are using village staff, board members and Pierce County Economic Development to follow leads and encourage growth.
Manfred: The Village Board is in contact with Shopko and the building owners, as well as Matchy Marketing and Pierce County EDC, all trying to get the building occupied again.
Wandmacher: Shopko does not own the building; they have a 10-year lease remaining with the developer. Shopko is currently paying rent on the whole building, so other than trying to give incentives and encouragement to convert the building into a Hometown Shopko Express, the village cannot do much.
The Village Board and village clerk have worked with an outside recruiter to promote new business locally; it was unsuccessful. The Village Board is currently working with the Pierce County Economic Development Corp. and some interested parties to bring in new business and industry. The Village Board currently has a developer that is looking for investors for a project in the Midway area.
Working with the PCEDC, interested parties and contacts through the Village Clerk's Office has been more cost effective than working with an outside recruiter.
What should the Ellsworth Public Library's approach be to resolving its need for additional space?
Betthauser: In August 2012, the Village Board approved the formation of a building/space committee for the library. This committee started its work on a long-range plan Oct. 1. The ball's in their court now.
Gulbranson: The Library Board formed a building/space committee with very smart and capable people to explore options. They are working, having open meetings, traveling to surrounding Libraries and looking at ways others solved their space problems.
I feel, and I am sure they will, need to explore and study all possible solutions, including joint ventures with Ellsworth Schools, Chippewa Valley Technical College, the UWRF and other organizations. Grants and fundraisers are a must.
Manfred: The library is actively addressing additional space needs with a diverse committee. There is much research happening, as well as looking at options such as financing and available grants. I look forward to working with this committee for a much-needed facility.
Wandmacher: The Ellsworth Public Library needs to look at current larger buildings that are available, sharing a library with the school district or building a new building. If the library moves into an existing building, the cost of bringing that building up to code for a public library will have to be considered. Future maintenance cost would have to be considered.
The Village has approved a team of very capable citizens to look into resolving the space needs.
Elaborate on any other important issues facing the Ellsworth Village Board.
Betthauser: Identify the necessary improvements to Young Field and then partner with the school district so that high school baseball can be played right here at home.
Gulbranson: Our small village has seen progress the past year. Our new waste disposal plant is in the final stage. The board has worked hard on the Midway Project. Well-established. older businesses like the Ellsworth Creamery and Quinn Motors are expanding. Many Main Street/East End businesses have made beautiful improvements to their buildings and storefronts. Much work by many made wonderful improvements to the East End Park. Hopefully, more will follow.
Manfred: I am hoping that the Village will receive additional revenue from the state of Wisconsin to continue future street and sidewalk improvements. We are working with the state on lane change improvements on Main, Piety and Beulah streets.
Wandmacher/: The state of Wisconsin has restricted the amount that taxes can be raised, but the cost of providing services continues to grow. The board needs to look at other ways to increase revenues so services can continue to be provided. Bringing new businesses and industries into the community hopefully will bring in more residential development and together increase the tax base, creating more revenue.