Pierce Co. Board opposes requiring farmers to have commercial driver's licenses
ELLSWORTH -- A proposed federal change for farm vehicles caught the attention of the Pierce County Board of Supervisors and caused them to act July 26.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it is considering new guidelines to regulate tractors and other farm vehicles more stringently, which would fall in line with commercial drivers. Data produced by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation said the new regulations, such as obtaining a commercial driver's license, would result in increased expenses of $124 for each farmer and employee as well as extra costs for behind-the-wheel training.
Considering data from UW-Extension on agriculture's impact on Pierce County -- 16% of the county's jobs, paying over $8 million in local and state taxes, and generating $97 million of the county's total income --the board unanimously approved a resolution opposing the guidelines.
The resolution was sent to the Wisconsin congressional delegation and the secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The board also supported a resolution calling for federal funding for Community Services Block Grants at 2008 levels. This resolution came at the request of WestCAP, which helps create economic opportunities for low-income people in Pierce County and surrounding counties through a variety of programs.
Peter Kilde, executive director, said in 2010 WestCAP's services in Pierce County had a total economic impact of $1,345,397 and served a total of 1,046. The block grants are vital, Kilde explained, because that's how WestCAP provides its services.
He said President Obama's budget calls for CSBG funding to be reduced by 50% and congressmen have called for deeper cuts. The 2008 levels call for 10% cuts.
"I've been executive director 17 years and this is the first time I've gone to the county boards for support," he said.
The other county boards in the WestCAP area - Barron, Dunn, Pepin, Polk and St. Croix counties -- have approved a similar resolution or it's on their future agendas, he added.
Supervisor Rod Rommel provided the board with an update on the administrative coordinator search. He said Springsted, the consulting firm the county has hired, had already received 10 applicants, with three of them "looking really promising."
Rommel said the schedule is following the timeline established and a candidate should be hired sometime in October.
Pierce County has been without a full-time administrative coordinator since May 2008 when Curt Kephart resigned. Barkla has been the interim since.
In other business
- The board heard an update from Supervisor Greg Place, who chairs the negotiations committee. He said the committee made its final offer to the union branch of the Sheriff's Department and is awaiting a response.
- The Sheriff's Department reported patrol responded to 845 service calls last month, while dispatch received 2,605 calls. Of those calls, 140 were 911 calls, 141 were animal complaint and 142 were fire and ambulance.
- The board issued a proclamation to Boy Scout Austin Fay and Troop 133 for their work outside the Sheriff's Department offices on the monument honoring fallen law enforcement officers and the landscaping.
- Sue Brown was commended for her 23 years of service to the sheriff's department as a dispatcher/jailer. Brown announced her retirement, effective Saturday.
- Mary Jo Hill and Max Neuhaus were appointed to the ethics board through August 2014.