Milton residents bend mayor's ear
Chesmore held his first listening sessions at The Gathering Place and Red Zone restaurant Friday to communicate that message.
Attendance was low, but Chesmore said he plans to hold similar events in the future.
Milton resident and school board member Jon Cruzan attended the noon session at Red Zone with four other people. He thanked Chesmore and said the sessions are a great idea.
“I realize the turnout is disappointing, but it’s a beginning,” Cruzan said.
Though residents are welcome to comment at city council meetings, Chesmore said he understands the formal situation can be intimidating and wanted to provide an alternative.
Chesmore opened the session by emphasizing the commitment of city staff and the police department to eliminating drug use, a problem he said affects everyone from adults to children.
“I do not want to be sitting in the mayor’s chair when we lose our first child,” he said.
The issue is a “top priority” for Police Chief Jerry Schuetz and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., Chesmore said.
“I want people to know that if you bring your poison into this city, you are going to jail,” Chesmore said.
Milton resident Jim Borgwardt asked why other drugs such as marijuana or cocaine had not been addressed sooner.
“Heroin to me is just the next step,” he said.
Chesmore said he agreed, but the city’s past efforts to eliminate problems with marijuana and cocaine “weren’t enough.”
Chesmore said he met with other officials evaluating the interest in a bus line between Janesville and Milton this week, but plans are just beginning.
“We have a lot of retirees in our community who aren’t able to get around anymore,” he said.
Students at Blackhawk Technical College, residents traveling to Mercy Hospital in Janesville and those who don’t feel comfortable using highways also might benefit from a bus line, residents at the meeting said.
Problems at the United Ethanol plant are the company’s responsibility, and the city has the tools to force change, Chesmore said.
The plant is working closely with the Department of Natural Resources after finding 170 permit violations, according to a DNR report issued earlier this year. Neighbors of the plant also have complained of odors at city council meetings.
“The last thing we want is for (the plant to close),” Chesmore said. “We’re going all out to make sure they comply.”