Complaints of “bees’ wings” return to Adell

by Rodney Schroeter
of The Review staff

ADELL — The village had a full night of business Wednesday, Nov. 8, with a Plan Commission meeting, a public hearing, and residents once again complaining about “bees’ wings.”

Questions were asked of the Plan Commission during its half-hour meeting by Kevin Struck, growth management educator at the Sheboygan County UW-Extension. Struck is assisting the village in updating its comprehensive plan.

At a prior meeting, the commission chose to take the “basic addendum” approach to its required plan update. Struck said Wednesday night it’s conceivable that his December meeting with the commission might wrap up all requirements for the update.

The public hearing addressed the proposed 2018 budget for the village. There were no questions or comments from the public, so the hearing was adjourned after one minute.

The Village Board then convened. Village President Andrew Schmitt jumped immediately to the topic he anticipated several audience members wanted to address: bees’ wings.

“Bees’ wings” in this respect have nothing to do with flying, honey-producing insects. They are a nickname for the tiny, thin membranes that come loose from a corn kernel when the kernel is dry. Another name for it is “red eye” because of its reddish color.

Residents complained of these husks a year ago, at the November 2016 meeting. Now, the bees’ wings are not only a nuisance, but causing property damage and monetary loss.

“It’s becoming a huge problem this year,” Tim J. Deckert, owner of Adell Auto Body, told the board. In 2016, residents said the problem was worse than previous years; Deckert said now, the problem is worse than last year.

Deckert opened a plastic cup. “This sample was taken on [Nov.] 9. In 45 minutes, I open up my overhead door, three to five inches, and that much came into my overhead door.” Deckert walked up to the board’s table and poured the cup’s contents onto the table top.

Deckert showed the board a portion of a car body. Its surface was textured with the bees’ wings, which had drifted onto the entire car after it was painted, and had imbedded themselves into the drying paint.

Deckert said the car had to be buffed and repainted. He said, “I can’t leave vehicles sit inside for a week, just because of this nuisance.”

Schmitt said that at last year’s meeting, the Adell Co-op and Great Lakes Agri Services, both located within the village and both engaged in drying corn, were asked to find some solution to bees’ wings.

Mark Garofalo, owner of Great Lakes Agri Services, was present. Jerry Leick of the coop was not (until later). Garofalo said he’d not seen a problem, but Deckert and others contradicted him, saying the problem was obvious.

Trustee Jane Schneider said it looked like it was snowing outside her home, at one point. Deckert said a customer’s car, parked outside his business for 45 minutes, was “completely covered” after that time. “And he had to drive it through a car wash,” Decker added.

Deckert said this year, bees’ wings have caused $8,076.02 in damages to his and his customers’ cars. He made it plain that he was beyond being irritated.

Other residents confirmed that bees’ wings were a nuisance.

Schmitt said he’d schedule a special meeting with the board and the village attorney. “We’re going to have to find a solution, because we’re getting a lot of complaints,” he said. “Part of the conditional use permit [issued to the two facilities processing corn] was that they were not supposed to create dust. We’re going to have to figure out how to fix it.”

The board then heard complaints of another kind.

“We have a stack of complaints of a white, powdery dust that is clinging to vehicles,” said Schmitt. The problem, he said, seems to be in the vicinity of Milk Specialties Corp.

Todd Spykstra and Mike Artery of Milk Specialties were present. They said the plant has made improvements to its air filtering procedures to reduce dust. They admitted there had been an issue with a dust filter two months before, at which time more dust could have been released than usual.

A resident said particles from Milk Specialties adhered to her car and it now needs to be buffed. She said the company has not been responsive to complaints.

Resident Bill Such said his classic car was covered by white crystals, causing about $3,000 in damage.

“We all agree we have a problem,” said Schmitt after more discussion. He said this complaint, too, would be addressed by the special meeting with the village attorney.

Other village business

Director of Public Works Shawn Bigelow reported that a water drainage problem for several residents will be fixed temporarily by deepening a drainage ditch.

The board unanimously approved:

• The village’s 2018 budget.

• A request from the Adell Yeti Snowmobile Club, requesting permission for trail usage.

• The annual exemption from the county library tax.

• A request from the Adell Fire Dept. to apply for a state loan to replace an equipment van. (Trustee Leighton Holtz abstained from voting.)

• The village’s 2018 insurance proposal.

• The 2018 Joint Powers agreement with the county for the 911 emergency system.

• The shared revenue program from the county sales tax for infrastructure maintenance in 2018.

• 2018 support request for Adell First Responders.

• An operator’s license for Sawyer Houpt, for the Adell Mini Mart.

The topic of bees’ wings kept coming up, especially when Jerry Leick of the Adell Co-op walked in when the meeting was well in progress. Schmitt asked Clerk/Treasurer Kelly Rathke to check with other communities where their co-ops or other corn-handling facilities are located right in the communities. It was remarked that such facilities in nearby communities might not be near enough to residences for bees’ wings to be a nuisance.

Police report for October: one warning, four complaints investigated (assist Sheriff’s Department; follow-up on previous complaint; directed patrol for trick or treating; field interview), 11 property checks, no citations, arrests made, traffic accidents investigated, court appearances or warrants.

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