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Oak Creek to hire life coach

Town Board votes for counselor, against medical marijuana grow operation

— The town of Oak Creek is going to get a counselor.

After a 40-minute private session with the town lawyer, Oak Creek Town Board members voted unanimously Thursday night to set aside as much as $5,000 to hire a life coach for town employees.

Mayor Nikki Knoebel said the coach could start as early as next week, providing counseling and advice about communication and interpersonal relationships for all town employees.

"We're just trying to get some cohesion with all the staff because we don't have a town manager," she said later. "We're trying to get some camaraderie between the department heads, where they can work together and work with each other."

The $5,000 will come from the general fund.

Town attorney Bob Weiss said the board met in the private executive session because the Town Board members were getting advice from counsel.

After the vote was taken and the board voted to set aside the money for the life coach, an audience member shouted out a question about what the vote means.

"We are trying to enhance staff at Town Hall, and we're going to mediate and work on some policies and get us all on the same page," Knoebel said. "We're going to (work) with the staff and how we want them to interact and how we want everybody to work together."

Knoebel said issues including budget cuts have raised tensions for staff.

"Nobody got raises, things like that," she said. "We just want a morale booster."

Knoebel said she has a life coach in mind she has worked with and plans to contact him about the project.

She said communication and policies also could be addressed during the process.

"I think in every comp­any, somehow communication always falls through," she said.

The town has slightly more than $1 million in the budget for 2010, including $369,363 in the general budget, according to documents from the Oak Creek Town Hall.

No grow space

Medical marijuana provider Jacob Wise again was left without a grow space after the meeting.

Wise was trying to get approval to turn a storage space at 106 Moffat Ave. into a growing area for his Oak Creek medical marijuana dispensary, Mary's. Town Board members voted, 5-1, against allowing the land-use change. Trustee Lawrence Jaconetta voted in favor of the proposal.

Wise tried to sell the town on the idea that the building hasn't been in use for years and the town would benefit from having more workers.

"It's a small town; there just aren't many options," he said. "The building hasn't been utilized, and the building is currently being used for light industrial, and I really don't feel like I'm hurting anything."

Town Board members said they supported Wise's business — especially because the center is paying taxes to the town — but did not think the location was appropriate.

Town Board members and audience members also debated whether the grow operation could be located near a park — the site is less than 1,000 feet from one — but the town's medical marijuana code and state laws do not require that grow operations stay away from parks, only centers.

After Wise's application was denied, Town Board member Dawn Smith said the town should consider helping Wise find an acceptable space.

The Town Board also:

■ Voted to retain Old West Sanitation, of Craig, as the town's trash service. Old West and Waste Management submitted sealed bids at the town's request.

■ Voted to increase water and sewer rates by 2 percent to compensate for increased costs.

■ Spoke with Weiss about the town's land-use code. The town will begin to prepare the code for approval.