Vandalism at Water Kiosk Reported at Groundwater Meeting
Algoma School Superintendent Nick Cochart said Wednesday that a kiosk the Algoma School District had provided for residents with contaminated wells to obtain clean water had been vandalized for the third time.
Cochart, a member of the Groundwater Task Force, told the panel that vandals had twice smashed the computer screen at the kiosk, making it difficult for people to obtain the free water, and on March 5 had spray-painted profanity on the kiosk.
He said approximately 40 county residents were currently using the kiosk.
When asked if Cochart or another school official had reported the vandalism to Sheriff Matt Joski, Cochart said “I have a long history with that person and nothing gets done.”
Environmentalists at the meeting said they were aware of vandalism against county residents who had protested against excessive manure spreading or spraying that had been reported to the sheriff’s office and no action had been taken.
“Who attends these meetings who has not had their mailbox smashed?” said Todd Lohenry, a citizen at the Groundwater Task Force meeting.
County Supervisor Lee Luft said that he would ask Joski to provide more patrolling around the kiosk. The kiosk is located behind Algoma High School.
Luft also noted that Randy Ebert, who owns a large concentrated animal feeding operation and has children who graduated from Algoma High School, had attended the Feb. 22 meeting of the Algoma School Board and told the school board that they should not be providing clean water from Stonehouse Water Technologies of Milwaukee to residents with contaminated wells for a number of reasons.
Ebert told the board that Stonehouse’s website contained inaccurate information about the groundwater problem in Kewaunee County and that if something went wrong with the kiosk it opened the school district to litigation.
Ebert said he had a particular problem with an ad for Stonehouse that the school district had published in its newsletter because it was for a non-local, for-profit business.
Ebert told the School Board that providing clean water to residents was as “simple as turning on a faucet.”
But school board members defended the kiosk as a way of providing students in homes with contaminated wells with safe water.
During the Feb. 22 meeting board member John Pabich said that in order to provide clean water to the public the school district had to ensure that both the vessels used to transport the water and the water nozzles were safe.
Board President Barb Rodgers said that the school board’s intent had only been to help people whose wells are contaminated by providing access to clean water.
At Wednesday’s task force meeting, Luft said a video of Ebert’s presentation at the school board meeting would be sent to groundwater task force members. The video can also be viewed at Algomatv.com here.
“You try to help people and you are vilified,” Cochart said.
Joski said after the meeting regarding Cochart’s description of the kiosk vandalism, “I don’t know the man … he hasn’t reported it.”
He said that his department always investigates a complaint without an bias towards the complainant and that there had been recent complaints from both manure haulers and environmentalists about vandalism recently.
He said tensions between those on either side of the groundwater issue were increasing.
“This is a very emotional issue,” he said. “We don’t have a bias.”
Karen Ebert Yancey can be reached at [email protected], on Facebook at Kewaunee County Star News Facebook, on Twitter at @EbertYancey or by calling 920-559-1235.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Vandalism at Water Kiosk Reported at Groundwater Meeting