By a two-vote margin, the council decides to decriminalize marijuana use in the city. But on a more lopsided vote, council members approve the hiring of seven new firefighters for next year. Even though Mayor Matt Harter has objected to hiring new workers at this time, a compromise was reached with the mayor's office hours before the council meeting. On the marijuana vote, councilman Dick Swantz changed his previous vote in opposition to decriminalization, after talking to past and present judges in the area who approve of the law change.
Blame the usual suspect...a squirrel.
A furry animal tripped a few power lines in south La Crosse this morning, cutting off electricity to 51-hundred Xcel Energy customers. That was around 20 minutes to 10. Xcel spokeswoman Liz Wolf Green says more than half those customers got their power back by 10 o'clock, and the rest were back to normal after another 15 minutes. The outage messed up traffic on some busy streets, when the signal lights shut down.
Power is out on much of La Crosse's southside. As a result, a number of traffic lights aren't working. Intersections including Losey and Main and Losey and State are out. La Crosse police are sending crews out to help direct traffic. The power could be out until at least 10:30
La Crosse firefighters are clearly agitated. Vacancies in the department have meant more work hours, higher stress levels, and a hit to morale. The numbers kind of tell the tale, says firefighter union head, Jeff Murphy. He says the department is on its way to having nearly five thousand calls this year. And, though the department's organizational charts show 97 firefighters on staff, they're actually down to 87.
The city council has given preliminary approval to filling several empty slots on in the fire department, even while mayor Matt Harter seems to be indicating he'll veto the move.
No matter what the La Crosse city council decides, you're still not going to get that picturesque drive in on Bliss Road before the end of fall. You might not get it before next Spring. You might never get to take that drive. But the city council has at least given early approval to spending up to 15 thousand bucks to get plans and estimates for fixing the washed out road to Grandad Bluff. The city's public works department says it can't get a good estimate on fixing Bliss without spending some money on it. Next month, council members are likely to discuss a proposal to solicit money from surrounding towns to help pay for the upkeep and repair of Bliss Road.