Dale Berman Offers City Historic Peshtigo Lumber Co. Ledger

Thanks to the foresight of the late Bernard Stehle of Badger Paper Mills and former Peshtigo Mayor Dale Berman, an historic old Peshtigo Lumber Company ledger that survived the Peshtigo Fire of 1871 may be on display at Peshtigo City Hall in the not too distant future.
Berman, who served as Peshtigo mayor from 1990 to 2006, was at the meeting with the old ledger book, assisted by his great nephew, Seth Berman. The immaculate old ledger, bound in tanned horsehide leather and filled with historic hand written records of Peshtigo Lumber Company transactions, is a foot and a half long, 13 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches thick.
One entry shows valuation of Peshtigo Lumber Company buildings on Jan. 1, 1871 was $70,047. Other entries show Peshtigo stock lost in the fire totaled $49,700, and valuation of the woodenware building and machinery totaled $146,895.02.
Berman commented that at one time the woodenware factory in Peshtigo was the largest in the world.
In a prepared statement, Berman told the committee he wanted to donate the old ledger, “Ledger C of the Peshtigo Lumber company,” to the city, to be displayed in a protective case at City Hall.
He said the old ledger had survived the Peshtigo Fire in a vault in the basement of the Peshtigo Lumber Company Store that was located at the corner of what is presently E. Front Street and Pine Street. He said the store had been purchased by Badger Paper Mill and was being cleaned out for paper mill use when the ledger was put on the burn pile.
Berman said Stehle had seen the ledger there, and rescued it for its historical significance. Upon the death of Mr. and Mrs. Stehle ownership and care had been transferred to Berman.
On July 19, 1996 he had sent the ledger to the State of Wisconsin Historical Society for examination and microfilming, and it was returned on February 3 of 1997.
“I believe this ledger to be an important piece of the city of Peshtigo’s history and as such should be out on public display for the community to view,” Berman said, adding that since the ledger represents an invaluable and irreplaceable piece of Peshtigo’s history, he put some conditions on his donation.
He said that the Common Council as a whole must vote unanimously to receive the ledger, and it must remain at City Hall for perpetuity and never leave it.
It is to remain in a fireproof box locked in the vault when not on display or if extensive construction or renovation is taking place at City Hall, and when on display there it should be enclosed in a secure, locked and preferably fireproof display case.
Individuals wishing to examine and study the ledger for research are to make a request in writing, and have it approved by City Council. Once approved, a city attendant is to be present at all times, and the individual is not to be left alone with the ledger.
Seth Berman said terms of the donation are open to negotiation, and they realize that a fireproof display case may be almost impossible to find.
Mayor Cathi Malke said she had looked a little on line and was not ale to find one. Seth Berman said he also had looked, “and it’s almost like looking for a unicorn.”
Dale Berman said his main concern was that he does not want an author or anyone else coming long and taking the ledger out of the building, and he does not want everyone to be able to just thumb through it.
Seth Berman had some pages of entries that had been photo copied by former Alderman Joe Race. One of the entries showed the company paid $100 for a blind horse to work in the wooden mill. There are entries from 1871 through 1871, including entries from the Peshtigo Fire on Oct. 8, 1871.
“I would love to see it stay here....I think this is a good place for it,” declared Alderman Katie Berman, who moved to accept her great uncle-in-law’s donation and recommend that the Finance Committee decide what needs to be done to provide the fireproof storage and display case. She added that the city attorney will need to review the donation agreement before it can be accepted.
Malke said she would like to see them include funding for a stand on which the ledger could be placed when on public display.
Alderman Chris Rohde said he had found a secure acrylic display case, but was unable to find one that is fireproof. Dale Berman said he would be okay with that, and Katie Berman said her committee will measure the book and look into case for it.
Accepting the historic ledger is likely to be on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
Moving on to other matters, Mayor Malke said she had asked that the city’s Transient Merchant Ordinance be placed on the agenda. Current fee for what she called a peddler’s license is $50 a year. She said someone had obtained one this year to sell ice cream, and she felt that fee was unfair to the city’s two businesses that focus on selling ice cream, since they are required to pay property taxes and utility bills for their buildings, while the itinerants do not. She felt the annual fee should be perhaps $2,500.
Committee members wondered if that fee would apply to businesses like the Schwan’s truck, and apparently it does not apply  to those with established routes. It would also not apply to vendors at special events approved by City Council. Background checks are also required for transient vendor license, and that cost should also be covered, Malke felt.
At the suggestion of Alderman Keith Klimek, with agreement from other committee members, action was postponed to allow time for more research.
Next item up for discussion was the issue of dogs running at large, and dogs who regularly dash out of houses and yards and frighten passers by.
Alderman Berman said her children no longer walk their dogs because of that, and added, “I don’t care how friendly your dog is, it’s frightening when they run out at you.”
There were also issues with dog feces deposited on other properties and left there.
Police chief Fred popp said there are ordinances covering these complaints, but he needs to know about them before he can do anything. He said pet owners are allowed 24 hours to clean up droppings on their own properties, and pets are not allowed to use other properties as a waste bucket.
Popp said if he gets complaints, he will enforce the ordinance, and also will enforce licensing requirements.
Fine for an unlicensed dog is $98.90, and an large complaint usually brings no penalty for a first offense, but a second offense results in an $86 ticket. If a dog is taken to the impound service the owner will have to pay to get it back, in addition paying the fine.
“If I have the name of the owner and where it is happening, I can certainly take care of it,” Popp said.
It was agreed people should call 911 if a dog is attacking, but otherwise they can call Popp at (715) 582-4511.
Animal Control Officer is Mark Madden, who can be contacted at  (715) 582-3041 before 3 p.m. or  (715) 938-2817 after 3 p.m..
There was discussion on how long it has been since these fines were increased, and Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal said there have been no changes since she has been working for Peshtigo. Popp said the city adopts state statutes governing pet control, including the fee schedule, but Council can set its own penalties if they wish.
Decision was to send the issue to the Police and License Committee with a request that they look at the fine amounts.
Enforcement of rules for rental properties was next on the agenda, and Klimek felt they need to have more inspections and enforcement. Apparently now there is enforcement only if there are complaints.
It appears that there is no listing of all the rental properties in the city, and committee members wondered how they can let property owners know they have to come into compliance with the rental property ordinance. Kasal suggested it is up o the Fire, Lighting and building committee to decide how the ordinance is enforced.
In regard to ordinances, Klimek said the last time the ordinance book was even partially updated was 2009. Kasal said city Attorney Dave Spangenberg has ben trying to do it. Chief Popp said the city’s police ordinances had not been updated since 1986, and it can be a matter of civil liability. He he is having them updated through Lexipol at a cost of about $5,000, but he did not know if they update entire ordinance books.
Malke asked if anyone had looked into the cost, and Katie Berman said she had checked the web for prices on updating ordinance books and found it would be in the $40,000 to $50,000 range.
Kasal said that price will not fit into this year’s budget with levy limits in place.
There was discussion on building being done without building permits, and Malke asked Popp to have officers report new construction when they see it. Permits are not needed for “flat work” like driveways and concrete footings and patios.
Kasal said the permit fee doubles if a building is started without a permit in place.
Berman said in some places they are doing fewer building permits. Malke agreed, and said one example is not requiring a permit if an old roof is being replaced with similar roofing material that would not increase the building’s value.
Kasal suggested anyone with questions regarding a building project should call Building Inspector Tom Smith. The committee took no action.


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