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Neillsville City Council and Chamber of Commerce Discuss City Events

Friday, November 26th, 2021 -- 9:00 AM

-The Neillsville City Council and Director of the Neillsville Chamber of Commerce discussed certain city events and who is responsible for them.

Diane Kren, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, stated she wants to work with the City and she does not want to create drama. When she took the Chamber job, she did not know a lot about who is responsible for what and it is hard to make posters and promote events if you don’t know.

The Tree Lighting was on Fridays, the stores downtown would stay open longer for people to walk around. Mayor Murphy has other obligations and moved the Tree Lighting to Thursday. Will the next Mayor continue to do the planning?

Council Member Dan Clough stated that the Hometown Holidays and Farmers Market are done by him as a Downtown business person not by the City. He puts out the Farmers Market sign so the Chamber Director doesn’t have to drive in to put it out, wait four hours, and then take it in.

He said they have gotten away from communication. Could the Chamber come in every three months or so and inform the Council of what’s going on? It would be helpful to have a central coordinator where every organization could list their events.

Kren stated that she doesn’t want to take something away from someone else. She wants to work together. Mayor Diane Murphy stated she called Kren and told her she was planning the Tree Lighting and Kren told her to go ahead.

A lot of the businesses in town don’t belong to the Chamber and as Mayor she represents them all. She likes doing the Tree Lighting and seeing the children. They are planning to have 150 treat bags and wagon rides.

Council Member Clough told Kren to call on him as a downtown business person. Kren stated on the other side, she has Chamber members who are confused and asking why the change? Again, they just want communication.

Council Member Neville stated he has run Farmers Markets for 15 years at his place of work. You need a point person, which they can work out, and form a partnership.

During the appearance portion of the meeting, Deanna Heiman, Neillsville Improvement Corporation and former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, presented a history of the Farmers Market.

In June 2011, she was contacted by Sheila Nyberg, Clark County Economic Development Executive Director about restarting the Farmers Market in Neillsville. A set of rules was developed and approved by the Council on March 27th of 2012.

The Chamber Director handled the management functions-paperwork, U-W Extension, and Public Health meetings. Dan Clough, a Chamber Ambassador at the time, handled setting out and taking down of the sign, vendor questions and walk-through compliance checks on Saturdays.

The Farmers Market has been June through October. She had an old flyer and listings in both the City’s and Clark County’s websites. Heiman stated that the Christmas Tree Lighting has always been a City event. In 2011, Mayor Dewey Poeschel, asked if the Chamber would help with the event.

The donations were to the City. Dan Clough as a downtown business owner has donated the beverages. During that time, weekend holiday promotion was added with the Chamber doing the promotion. The weekend promotion was on the back of the Tree Lighting brochure at that time.

Heiman stated this was a historical perspective. When you organize community events there will always be hiccups. It’s how you handle these hiccups that matter. Open channels of communication are needed, set aside differences, and the most important thing is the people we are trying to attract to come here. Drama is a waste of time.

In other business, Suzanne Stanfley, Clark County Social Services Business Office Manager and Mobility Manager, thanked the City for its partnership and support of the taxi services.

For 2022, the City has budgeted 7,929 hours for the Neillsville Taxi and Clark County has budgeted 3,600 hours for the County Taxi. The Federal and State Aid reimbursement rate is 59% through the Section 53.11 program.

The remaining cost split is 69% City and 31% County. Both taxi services are provided by Abby Vans, Inc. who was selected through a Request for Proposal process in 2017. Seeing that 2022 is an option year, the new rate had to be set using the Consumer Price Index which was 5.8%.

The new hourly rate will be $28.34. Ridership for 2019 was 11,831 or 33 trips per day, for 2020 ridership was 8,869 or 24 trips per day, projected ridership for 2021 is on the upswing at 9,164 through October or 30 trips per day.

Total local share cost is estimated at $123,518 (City $85,227; County $38,291). In 2021 the CARES Act funds covered 100% of the net cost. Stanfley asked for the City’s approval for submission of the 2021 taxi grant application jointly with Clark County and support of the City’s cost share.

The Council approved the request. Finally, the city approved a $2,750 donation from the Marguerite Listeman Foundation for the Listeman Park Pickleball Court lights.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.