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|Paynesville Press - July 18, 2001|
Township moves to protect its signs
A new Paynesville Township resolution aims to protect their signs from vandalism, theft, and alteration, including moving the 9-1-1 signs erected within the last year.|
Board members debated at length how strongly the resolution needed to be worded. Violations of the resolution may be punishable by a misdemeanor.
While a consensus on the board existed from the start that vandalism of signs should be punished, opinions varied when it came to homeowners who wanted the 9-1-1 sign in a different location.
Supervisor John Atwood was concerned with criminalizing the moving of a 9-1-1 sign. He thought the township should keep working with property owners and using public relations to keep the signs in place.
"I think if we don't have a penalty, they will still comply," he said.
Supervisors Don Pietsch and Warren Nehring argued that the resolution was useless without a possible penalty. "If you don't put some teeth in it, then it means nothing," said Nehring.
Pietsch added that the township maintenance man Mike Jensen has used persuasion and persistence to return moved signs to their proper location. In some cases, he has moved signs three and four times, Pietsch said. "We've asked him to use as much public relations as he can to get the signs where they belong," Pietsch added.
Kent Kortlever of the Paynesville Police Department testified that the 9-1-1 signs are helpful in finding residences. Inconsistent signage isn't nearly as helpful, according to Kortlever. The township strictly followed county recommendations in putting the signs on the same side of the road as the residence, with the sign pointing toward the house.
The supervisors agreed that residents could opt not to have a 9-1-1 sign by their residence, but these residents will be asked to sign a letter acknowledging that they are declining to have a sign and are accepting responsibility if emergency personnel can't find their residence in an emergency.
"I don't like the idea of forcing a 9-1-1 sign on people," said Pietsch. But signs can't be placed helter skelter, he added, and it costs the township every time they have to return the sign to the place they belong.
It also costs the township $15 to replace or buy new signs. The original 9-1-1 signs cost $8, and the county paid for half.
Residents can also have input into the location of their 9-1-1 sign, but they shouldn't do it themselves, Pietsch said. If a resident contacts Jensen, he can come and discuss acceptable options for the sign's location. Jensen also calls and gets locations for underground cables and pipelines to insure that the signs are placed properly. Residents who move a sign on their own are taking a risk, said Nehring.
The board considered tabling the resolution, but a compromise was reached by changing the wording from "shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor" to "may be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor."
The resolution then passed unanimously.
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