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Neighbors will build fences to contain cattle

Board members helped craft an amiable resolution to a fence and loose-cattle dispute between neighbors at the town of River Falls regular board meeting Dec. 3.

At the Nov. 19 board meeting, Mark Gehl, N7573 730th Ave., told the board he was fed up with loose, wild cattle damaging his property and he wanted a fence review.

The fence in question separates Gehl's land from that of Marvin and Judy Nielsen, W7502 740th Ave.

Gehl said he's had trouble with stray cattle for years and wanted it resolved. Board members agreed to examine the fence between Gehl's and Nielsen's and did so Nov. 23.

After the fence review, it was determined that 24 loose cattle belonged to the Nielsen's.

Gehl had been housing and feeding some on his property to keep them from causing more damage. Gehl and his wife Kathy operate Gehl's Buffalo Hill Ranch.

The Nielsen's and Gehl's have agreed to work together to rebuild the dilapidated fence between their properties. The Nielsen's will also rebuild fences bordering 740th Avenue.

Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald and Supervisor Brad Mogen made maps of fence lines bordering the Nielsen farm as a first step.

The Nielsen's agreed to remove trees growing in the fence on their half. When facing the fence, each neighbor owns the half of the fence on his or her right side.

Each party must have his own brace post at the end of his section of fence. The fence must be barbed wire and at least five strands with no more than 10 inches between each wire.

The top wire must be at least 48 inches off the ground. The bottom wire can be no more than eight inches off the ground. The posts must be 12 feet apart and the fence wire will go on the owner's side of the fence.

Town Board Chairwoman Diana Smith said these fencing rules are state law.

Judy Nielsen said the priority of the fence is to allow cattle to be pastured. She said she wants the fence done in time for them to ready the fields for their renters in the spring because crops must be planted by a certain time to be eligible for crop insurance.

Smith agreed, saying that the Nielsen's should use any materials from the old fence that are in good shape.

"We just want it to be done so your cattle are safe," Smith said. "If you can utilize the posts that are there and the wire that is there, that is great."

Gehl was not at the meeting, but Smith said he was in support of the plans.

Mogen said he wants a final review of the fence when work is completed before any cattle are pastured on Nielsen's land.

Nielsen said she and her husband want it done as soon as possible because they have cattle in the barn that need to be pastured. The loose cattle that were corralled will be shipped out and sold. Six cattle are still loose.

Everyone present seemed pleased with the agreement and decided it will be approved at the next regular board meeting after Marvin Nielsen and Gehl have had a chance to read it and voice any questions.

"I think things are going to work out," Supervisor Leroy Kusilek said.

Mary Matheson, N8507 805th St., made a plea to the board to fix 805th Street.

The Matheson's received a letter from the school bus garage, saying they have to bring their kids to the end of the road when conditions are icy. The letter said 805th Street is too dangerous when icy and would endanger the kids already on the bus.

Matheson has lived on the road since 1999. She said the condition of the road has always been good until recently.

"We're not fussy people," Matheson said. "We're not picky. I grew up on a farm and am used to gravel roads. But what I'm concerned about is safety."

Matheson said the road no longer drains properly and pools of water turn to sheets of ice on the road. She also said there are no ditches left since the road is so flat from time and use.

Matheson said when it was graded this summer, the edges were torn up and culverts exposed. She drives onto the grass to avoid the deep potholes and ice.

She described the road as impassable and said there are 18 drivers who live on the road. She was also concerned how the road's condition would affect the ability to sell her home if she chose.

Mogen said one thing damaging the road is people illegally driving four-wheelers on it. He said when he went to examine the road, he was almost broadsided by two girls on a four-wheeler.

Smith said she knows ditch work was done and gravel was added to the road in the last two years, but the heavy snows of 2010-11 may have taken their toll.

Smith also said the bus garage sent letters like the one the Matheson's received to parents on several roads in the school district.

She told Matheson she will go look at the road again with the county Highway Department and see if there's anything that can be done now. She said redoing the entire road down to the base would be a three- to four-year process, but is on the town's list of roads to evaluate in April.

"I want you to know it's on our radar," Smith said. "Because of the number of houses on that road, it has changed. It's more populated."

In other business, Town Board added UTVs to its existing ATV law, with UTV being clearly defined.

The board also approved an AT&T replacement cable for 810th Avenue.

The date for the 2013 caucus was set for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Town Hall.