Sherman board discusses road issues with Krier Foods

by Rodney Schroeter
of The Review staff

SHERMAN — John Rassel, president of Krier Foods Inc., was invited to meet with the Town Board at their March 6 meeting.

Certain processing at the company generates food-grade wastewater. Krier works with local farmers to spread the water on their land, and they hire a trucking firm to haul the water.

In recent months, the board has discussed two concerns about this process. The first is that trucks could be causing damage to roads. Second, trucks sometimes take up nearly a full lane when parking, and cause safety concerns when parked in no-passing zones.

Rassel assured the board that he wanted to work toward a solution. He described the basic process of spreading the wastewater; the fact that it was permitted and regulated by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR); that it’s been going on in Sherman for 11 years with no issues; that it contains sugar and no manure; that trucks used are Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant.

“At the request of Mr. Goehring, we’ve stayed off Abbott, to let the shoulders settle, understanding that it is a new road,” Rassel said. He indicated that he would like to use Abbott Drive again, as he believed it was “more than engineered enough to handle our truck parked on the side of the road with the proper signage.”

He asked the board if that were not good enough.

“I would say no,” replied Supervisor Kris Klein, who works for the Sheboygan County Highway Department. “Every one of us board members has witnessed one of those trucks parked out there. Sometimes there are no signs. Sometimes the signs are laying in the ditch. You stop and talk to the driver, they say, ‘Oh yeah, they blew over.’ They don’t bother putting them back up. That time [Supervisor] Jim [Fahney] and I were out there, there was no strobe light. There was nothing.”

“I’m not making any excuses,” Rassel replied. “We did change haulers. I believe 100 percent that our current hauler is much more professional than our previous hauler. This is our first winter with this [new] hauler. This company wants to work with us. They do this for more companies than just ours.”

Rassel mentioned one major improvement in their policy. They once spread the wastewater at night. Now, it’s only done in the daytime.

“I’ve done things to make this process better,” he said. “I don’t want you to think I’m not trying.”

Rassel said his long-range plan is to deal with the village of Random Lake, and either have them process the wastewater through their treatment plant, or to construct a means to directly apply the water to farm fields. What he is doing now, which affects Sherman, is a short-term solution to disposing of the water.

Supervisor Robert Boehlke said it was the haulers he was perturbed with, not Krier Foods. Several residents have called him with safety concerns. “What we want is common sense,” Boehlke said.

Supervisor Patricia Horne told of personally observing a parked truck causing unsafe conditions near a hill. Rassel said he would work with the truckers. “I contract them,” he said. “I expect people to do their jobs.”

Rassel said opposition to the wastewater disposal might be due to more than concerns over roads and safety. He told the board the company had requested a permit to build a wastewater storage tank, a few years previously, but the board had turned that down.

“It didn’t meet our zoning requirements,” replied Goehring.

Horne added that the tank permit was declined because its proposed location is zoned agricultural, but the process creating the wastewater is commercial. Rassel said he suspected Lakeside Foods’ similar wastewater storage tank is not on commercial land. Horne said the difference was, Lakeside is an agricultural business.

“But it’s still a business,” Rassel said. “It’s still industry. You can’t play it on one hand, and not the other.”

Klein asked Rassel if Krier Foods would take responsibility for road damage, if it were documented with before-and after video. Rassel was agreeable, so long as he was part of the documenting process, and if they could agree on how “damage” was defined.

How would the town distinguish, Rassel asked, between damage caused by trucks hired by Krier, or a farmer’s eight wheeler? Klein said parking in the same spot for the time required to unload the wastewater flattened and stretched the pavement. If Krier chose a spot on Abbott Drive where they wanted to operate over time, a before and after video comparison would show if damage occurs.

Rassel asked for the Abbott Drive’s repaving engineering specs. The board agreed to provide them.

“I want to work with you guys,” Rassel told the board. “I do ask for reasonableness.”

“I think we had a great discussion tonight,” said Goehring. He asked Klein to be the contact with Rassel.

Other town business

The evening started with a public hearing, addressing a request for a conditional use permit from Lyle Ten Pas, allowing removal of a trailer home and construction of a single family home. With no public comment, the hearing was closed after about a minute. The regular town board meeting convened. Goehring noted that the Ten Pas request had been reviewed by the plan commission, and unanimously 5.64 recommended to the board for approval. The board unanimously approved the request.

The board unanimously approved transferring $3,000 from the road repair into the brush cutting line items on the budget.

The next board meeting would fall on Tuesday, April 3, but elections will be held that day. The meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday, April 4.

Clerk/Treasurer Rhonda Klatt said she’d received inquiries asking if the liquor license issued to Terry Keller for the Silver Creek Pub is available. She said it is not, until it expires in June, unless Keller surrenders it. Apparently, the building’s owner would like to rent it out to someone else. No one present could answer where Keller is.

Starting in April, the transfer station will again be open every Saturday.

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