Village board votes to keep Furlong's open
A big debate among Ellsworth Village Board members occurred even before the regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
That's because the board conducted a public hearing to debate whether or not to suspend or revoke the "Class B" retail license for Furlong's Bar and Grill.
The reason for the hearing was Furlong's had been cited for three violations of closing hours and one failure to display license, which all occurred in a short amount of time
Trustee Neil Gulbranson asked Police Chief Greg Place whether or not he's seen that number of violations in a short amount of time and Place replied not since he's been chief.
William Furlong, owner of the bar who was found guilty of all four violations, responded, stating that when he's around full-time during the summer, is when none of the violations occurred. When he resumed school in the fall is when they occurred.
"I know the rules, I know the violations," he said. "I've gotten to know the people in the year I've been here and I like this town.
"Starting school and trying to run a bar has gotten to be too much."
After that, Dave Furlong, William's uncle and actual owner of the building, addressed the board.
"I've own the building for six years and I've had numerous leases that have run that bar during that time and I don't think it's good for us, the city or Greg (Place)," Dave Furlong explained. He then mentioned he's filled out an application to take over the bar, which the board will decide on in a 5 p.m Dec. 19 special meeting. If approved, he takes over the bar on Jan. 1, 2007.
"Billy is willing to release his license as of Jan. 1," Dave Furlong said. "He's obviously younger than me and therefore the bartenders he's hired are young and young bartenders bring in young crowds.
"Greg (Place) knows me and knows my tolerance isn't going to be that high."
Discussion then split among the board members on what to do. Trustee Curt Wandmacher was the first to speak, saying that if the board doesn't do anything at this meeting, how many violations will they allow before something happens.
"We need to do something," he added.
Gulbranson agreed, saying that's a high number of violations in one year.
However, those two were in the minority, as the vote came 4-2 in favor of doing no action and allowing the transfer to take place to Dave Furlong on Dec. 19.
During the regular meeting, the board:
--Held a public hearing for the 2007 budget. Because no one spoke, the hearing closed and a unanimous vote was made to approve the budget.
--Discussed a Larry Murphy dispute. Murphy, who has property near the Crossing Meadows development, is in discussion with the board about village water/sewer utilities. It was stated during the meeting that, because the Murphys were in violation of a village ordinance because they built a private well, they needed to gain approval from the board. The Murphys were asking for the village to enter into a 30-year agreement with them and which they would not enter into the village sewer system because the Crossing Meadows development would have village utilities. The matter will be discussed more at the meeting on Dec. 19, as Murphy's application will come before the board.
--Tabled the 2006 Audit Engagement letter from Wipfli, LLC, until the meeting on Dec. 19. The reason was lack of information at this time. "We don't know what we're paying for them," said Wandmacher. Also tabled until that meeting was appointing election inspectors for 2007.
--Took no action on paying membership dues for Western Wisconsin Intergovernmental Collaborative, Inc. Village President Jerry DeWolfe, who has attended previous meetings, said most of the meetings revolve around St. Croix County cities.
--Approved the request for a change in zoning from Commercial to Business Park at the Crossing Meadows development.
--Increased the water rate for fire protection by 71.25 percent and the general water rate by 55 percent. In explaining the increase, it was stated there hasn't been an increase in 10 years for Public Fire Protection.
--Voted 5-1 to increase pay rates for the village president and village trustees. The president will now earn $3,500 a year, while the trustees will earn $3,000 a year. Each committee chairman and member will also get a $5 raise. The increases go into effect the following year, because Gulbranson, chair for the Salary and Labor committee, said, it's against the law to give yourself pay raises while you're in office. Trustee Dave Deiss was the only one to vote no.
--Voted 5-0 to approve Anita and Todd Straub's bid of $5,998.80 of cleaning the village hall. The lone abstained vote came from Richard Hines, whose bid of $7,748 was rejected. "I did it for the past five years and I think the village for doing it," Hines said.
--Set the January meeting for 7 p.m. Jan. 8, 2007.