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Eau Claire City Council hears public opinion on presidency, bus fare, train purchase

Eau Claire (WQOW) – City council hears public opinion on options for a new president, a low-income bus fare, and re-purchasing a piece of Eau Claire’s history. 

Monday, for the first time, the Eau Claire City Council got the public’s opinion on how to fill its vacant presidency.

Former city council president Kerry Kincaid resigned on June 12, leaving an empty seat on the dais. 

The council has three options to fill the seat. They can take applications from community members, have current vice president Andrew Werthmann serve as chairman, or pick another member to serve.

City council vice president Andrew Werthmann told News 18 he plans to put his name in the ring. 

"The process is really one that I want council to wrestle with and figure out… and also to hear all the public input. We’re about to hear that tonight where folks want to go", Eau Claire City Council Vice President Andrew Werthmann said Monday.

The city council votes Tuesday, but Werthmann mentioned there may be a motion to postpone the vote. Regardless of the decision, a special election will be held in April 2019. 


The public also had a chance to weigh in on the low-income bus fare debate.

 The resolution calls for those making less than $15,000 a year seeing a drop in fares by $0.25 making the cash fare $1.50. While a monthly pass would cost $4.50, a $5 decrease.

"We want to fill those buses and we want them to be in service to our community. It’s supposed to be a bus service. So let’s provide people transportation and make it as accessible as possible," said Eau Claire City Council Member Jeremy Gragert.

Gragert says the reduction is necessary because the transit should be available for everyone.   

This change requires a $7,000 budget adjustment. The council needs a 2/3 majority to pass the measure on Tuesday. If approved, the new rates would go into affect July 1. 


A plan to purchase a piece of Eau Claire history is chugging along.  

The Soo Line Steam Locomotive 2719 was donated to the city in 1960 and displayed in Carson Park for 36 years. It was sold in 1996, then bought back for $1 in 2015. It turned a profit, after selling for $2 to the Lake Shore Railroad Museum in Duluth. Now, the city council will consider buying it back for $4 to return the history home. 

One resident who had seen the train in Duluth, warned the council about doing it due diligence.

"I went up there about a year after it was there. I didn’t see the headlight, I didn’t see the bell. Seems to me the rods were missing or they were cut. I couldn’t get all the way exactly where they had it, so I’m not sure what condition it’s in..and I think that needs to be explored before you look at bringing her back," the resident said.

The city would need to spend roughly $60,000 for a shelter and track for the locomotive, and approximately $31,000 to transport it. Where they will get that money is still up for debate. 

?The measure is up for a vote Tuesday.


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