Should the Taylor County Highway Shop stay at the intersection of Highway 13 and 64 in Medford, or should they move to a new location? That question was posed at a joint meeting of the Taylor County highway, finance, law enforcement and buildings and grounds committees on Tuesday.
Two representatives of Bariientos Design and Consulting, of Milwaukee addressed the meeting. The firm offers design, repair and construction services for public works buildings. The highway shop in Medford was built in 1939. A renovation project to upgrade the handicap accessibility, and improve tuck pointing, windows and the roof of the Highway Shop at a cost of $400,000 to $450,000 was done 19 years ago.
Recently Chippewa County paid to have a status study completed by Barriento’s. The study indicated that their current highway department buildings were valued at just over $7 million. It was estimated that $3.2 million in maintenance and repairs would be needed over the next 10 years. In spite of the fact that this amounted to about 45% of the buildings value, the Chippewa County board voted to not spend additional money for a new highway shop.
Barriento proposed a study which consisted of a Condition Assessment and cost estimate for the current highway building. A second phase would consist of a space needs assessment. To include the status of the Western Taylor County and Rib Lake highway shops brought the cost of the study to about $20,000.
The committees agreed that the debt for the new jail should be paid off first which is forecast for the year 2022.
Dave Krug told the group that they need a plan, with the debt being paid off in 5 years. He said, “The current building was built in 1939 which is the year I was born, it ain’t that old” which brought a chuckle from the group.
Accountant Larry Brandl advised the group to be proactive in maintenance issues and find out what the costs are going to be.
Sheriff Bruce Daniels indicated that improvements could be made to the impound lot which is adjacent to the highway shop.
The committee approved allocating up to $21,000 for Bariientos Design and Consulting to provide a condition assessment and space needs assessment for Taylor County’s 3 Highway Shop locations. The study is expected to be completed in 6 weeks.
The future of the Chelsea Lake Dam now is the responsibility of Taylor County. After countless hours at various meeting of haggling to determine who actually owns the dam and who should pay for required studies, the county board voted to establish ownership of the dam. The meeting started with County Forester Jake Walcisak handing out maps which showed who the adjoining landowners to the dam were. He indicated that in his opinion there was a serious breech on the Tlusty property and no legal access to it. DNR representative Mark Stevens told the board he noted that water was spilling over 2 or 3 areas of the berm with some erosion occurring. To minimize erosion he recommended removing boards from the dam so the water level is lowered to allow 2 or 3 feet of free board on the dam. Today’s level was estimated at 1 foot of free board on the dam.
With several other county board members proposing removal of the dam, Supervisor Gene Knoll asked how the removal of the dam would impact the lake. It was noted that if the berm washed out the lake level would drop about 2 feet, but if the dam was removed the lake level could drop 4 to 5 feet. To illustrate the impact, the current surface water is 120 acres, but without the dam it would drop to about half, or 57 acres.
As if to say we should drain the swamp, Supervisor Chuck Zenner drew moans from the crowd of about 20 people who support the future of the lake when he said that he felt that the lake is on a big wetland and that it would actually be a “prettier area without the dam”.
It was noted that if the county owns the dam they qualify for a 50% cost sharing grant while the Chelsea Conservation Club wouldn’t qualify for a grant.
After much discussion, Supervisor Mildbrand told the group that those who opposed the dam had been afforded about 30 minutes and he wished for 3 minutes to say why he was in favor of county ownership. Mildbrand indicated that due to a clerical error over 30 years ago the transfer of the title to the land from the conservation club to the county was never completed. He said that it was his firm conviction that the county fully intended to take ownership of the dam. Due to the clerical error, the title to the dam is in the Chelsea Conservation Club’s name.
Property owner John Tlusty addressed the board and expressed his surprise and disappointment that county officials had been on his land to assess the status of the berm. He said he would have appreciated a phone call prior to them inspecting or trespassing on his land.
Tlusty said that powerline impact money had been used to improve the court house grounds and could be used for Chelsea Lake.
Land owner Steve Mayer suggested that the berms on the north end of the lake act as auxiliary spillways. He expressed his frustration with someone who inserted a 4 by 8 timber instead of a 4 by 4 on the dam.
Lester Lewis quoted a county code which would require an environmental assessment before the transfer could take place. Attorney Ken Schmiege objected indicating that the transaction involved a transfer of title and not a purchase. Supervisor Dave Krug indicated that Taylor County has several beautiful lakes and that Chelsea Lake is one of those gems.
With some minor language changes, the resolution which was drafted by Scott Mildbrand to establish Taylor County ownership of the Chelsea Lake Dam passed by a 14 to 3 vote with supervisors Zenner, Lewis and Brooks voting no. Following the positive vote, Greg Krug told the county board that the Mayer family had offered to donate an additional 40 feet of land near the dam while a second family was interested in donating land near a boat landing.
The county ownership of the dam is contingent upon the Chelsea Conservation Club providing $12,000 to be applied toward complying with DNR directives. Additional funds could be requested from the powerline funds or the county’s forestry account.
In addition to authorizing ownership of the Chelsea Lake Dam, the county board passed a resolution expressing their appreciation to Russ Aszmann for his service as county forester.
With one day remaining in the month of June, the board approved designating June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. They adopted the revised Taylor County Comprehensive Plan. And approved a change in compensation for board members who attend out of town meetings which will compensate the board members the same as county employees.
A barn in the Athens countryside is a total loss after a fire Saturday, June 24th.
Firemen from Athens requested water mutual aid from Medford at about 5 PM Saturday. The Athens fire chief indicated that no one was in the barn at the time, there were no injuries, however 2 cows were missing. The remainder of the cows were trucked to neighboring farms to be milked. High winds may have contributed to the intensity of the blaze. The barn located at 1519 Willow Avenue is in the town of Bern. The 36 by 120 foot structure is considered a total loss. Cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Taylor County Forestry Department has a new administrator. Following the resignation of Russ Aszman, the previous assistant administrator Jake Walcisak was appointed as the new administrator at Friday’s, June 2nd Forestry and Recreation Committee meeting.
Jake told the committee that he is hoping to have 350 acres of logging available for 7 timber sales in autumn. Two loggers bid on the Pine Line Trail project, Jason Malchow bid $3.75 per ton and Randy Blomberg bid $4.08 per ton and was awarded the contract. Three other timber projects were awarded to the high bids with one contract going to Czarneski Forest Products, a second project bid to Brad Gumz Logging, and the highest value logging contract was awarded to McFarland Cascade.
Jake Walcisak told the forestry committee that McFarland Cascade is headquartered in Northwest U.S. but recently opened an office in Cameron, WI. The firm specializes in utility pole production and this particular logging project will involve thinning Red Pine which is large enough to be suitable for power poles. 3 new bidders were among the 6 logging companies which bid. McFarland will now subcontract the project with a logger from the area. Their top bid was for $73,975 for select cutting of prime Norway Pine in the Taylor County Forest.
The Stetsonville Volunteer Fire Department was called out Wednesday afternoon, May 10th, at 4:10 to the report of a skid steer fire. Stetsonville firefighters responded to the Brian Bunkelman farm at N417 CTH C. According to Chief Greg Brunner, the owners were able to pull the burning skid steer out of the barn before any harm was done to the barn. The skid steer was destroyed, no other damage was reported. 13 Stetsonville fire fighters responded and were on the scene until about 5 PM Wednesday.
Taylor County’s forest administrator Russ Aszmann announced his resignation on Friday, May 5th. Aszmann told the forestry and recreation committee that he wished to thank everyone who has supported him during his tenure. He indicated that he had no regrets in regard to his administration and management of the Taylor County Forests. The final day of employment for Russ Aszmann will be May 23rd. To assume the duties, the committee voted to appoint Jake Walcisak as the interim forest administrator beginning on May 24th.
The improvements to the Pirus shooting range are on hold. Federal grant funds were being utilized to make improvements, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service has put a freeze on all grants and cost- sharings over $100,000. Chuck Zenner told the forestry and recreation committee that’s why you shouldn’t start projects until we have the money in hand. The grant is derived from the Pittman Roberts Fund which is a federal gun tax fund. The federal agency is reviewing all grant funds. The Taylor County Sportsmens Club was instrumental in obtaining the grant. Club members also have volunteered numerous hours of labor to improve the safe environment which the shooting range provides. While the committee is hopeful that the funds will be awarded following the lifting of the freeze and review, until such time that the “money is in hand” the major improvements at the Pirus Shooting Range are on hold.
According to some members of the Pine Line Trail Commission their bylaws are out of date. To update the bylaws the commission approached Taylor County for permission to utilize the services of the county’s corporate counsel. Forestry and Recreation Committee member expressed his support by asking how do you think the Rail Trail Commission feels when you tell them to take care of the trail but you don’t give them any money. Technically the rail trail is a county park. No action was taken.
On behalf of the Taylor County ATV/UTV club Don Liske recently approached the forestry department to ask that all entry roads to the county forests be signed to indicate that the county forest roads are open to ATV/UTV usage. The county forest’s 15 year action plan indicates that the county forest roads would be open for ATV/UTV usage from May 1st to November 30th. Regulations indicate that once roadways are opened, the trail signs need to be placed beside the roads. The Taylor County Forest and Recreation Committee voted to fund the placement of ATV/UTV signs at about a half dozen entry points to the County Forest. Labor will be provided by the forestry department.
Timber! Latest from T.C. Forestry & Recreation Committee
The Taylor County Forestry & Recreation Committee met on Friday, May 5th. Jake Walcisak told the committee that while most of the current timber harvest contracts in the county forest are satisfactory, one in particular is causing concern. The logger failed to gather just under 12 chords of wood leaving single logs and small piles scattered throughout the woods. The small saplings are now nearly 4 feet high so any attempt to salvage the remaining logs would cause residual damage to the new growth. The total amount of wood left behind amounted to 477 sticks of mostly aspen which would fill one pulp truck. The committee voted to charge the logger single stumpage for the timber which was not removed, an estimated value of $468.
Loggers will have the opportunity to bid on 4 different timber sales in Taylor County forests. The Lake 10 East contract consists of 57 acres of select hardwood/red maple in the Town of Rib Lake. Minimum bid will be $12,846. The second offering is called Four Corners Southeast. This is a 38 acre project with red maple/aspen. This will be a winter ground contract with minimum bid of $14,978.50. The next contract is called Scattered Pine. This timber will have a higher value involving the thinning of 65 year old mature red pine, many of them suitable for utility poles. It will be the 4th cutting on the 38 acre tract located in the Town of Rib Lake. Minimum bid on the contract will be $23,566.50. The fourth timber sale is along the Pine Line Trail. The cutting will commence at Center Avenue and extend north 15.6 miles to the Price County line. Cutting of all marketable timber will be done from the outer edge of the trail out approximately 30 feet. Out of respect for wood turtles, areas within 200 feet of the Black River and its tributaries will have restrictions. Minimum bid on the Pine Line Trail timber sale will be $2 per ton. Bids on the timber sales will be accepted by the Taylor County Forestry department until 4:30 PM Thursday June 1st.
Prestigious United States Forest Service Eastern Region Honor Award for Volunteerism and Service bestowed on the Ice Age Trail Alliance
The United States Forest Service recently recognized the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s commitment to creating and delivering an outstanding volunteer experience as part of its Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) program.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance forges strong relationships with a wide-range of partners as a means to engaging a diverse population with the vision of creating, maintaining and protecting a thousand-mile footpath through Wisconsin. A popular mantra of the Alliance, “Trailbuilding is people building”, ensures quality skill-building and service-learning components go hand-in-hand with the trail work that must be accomplished during an MSC event.
Recently, Tim Malzhan, Director of Trail Operations and a key partner recognized for this award visited with K99's Russ Gowey.....
The last time that the Taylor County Board of supervisors got a pay raise was in the year 2011. At Tuesday’s county board meeting supervisor Sue Breneman told the board that in order to make the position more appealing to potential candidates, the pay needs to be in line. The proposal was to increase the pay from $50 to $75 per meeting. Several members expressed concern on the 50% amount of increase. County accountant Larry Brandl indicated that the increase would have a negligible impact on the county tax levy. Lester Lewis said that in comparison to similar sized counties, Taylor County was below average in their board and chairman pay rates. Mike Bub proposed cutting the increase from 75 to $60 per meeting but that proposal failed by a 7 yes and 9 no vote count. The original proposal to raise the pay to $75 per meeting and $100 for full day events passed, but had 5 supervisors, Krug, Hanson, Bub, Mildebrand and Knoll voting no. The pay increase will take effect after the next county board election.
ATV/UTV routes on county roads received some funding from Taylor County’s powerline impact fund on Tuesday, April 18th. Don Liske told the county board that the Taylor Made ATV club has received about $123,000 annually from the state. However the money can only be used for trail maintenance and not signage. He told the board that while Taylor County currently has 35 miles of ATV/UTV designated routes there are requests for an additional 35 miles. He indicated that several neighboring counties have been proactive in opening up trails and roadways to ATV’s with the goal of attracting tourism dollars. The communities of Tomahawk, Owen, Curtiss and others have opened all of their streets to ATV operation. 19 of Taylor County townships have opened all of their town roads to ATV’s. A request to provide $10,000 failed for lack of a 2/3 board approval, but a request to provide $5,000 of Powerline Impact funds for ATV route signage passed by a vote of 13 to 3.
The Taylor County Board met on Tuesday, April 18th. They expressed their appreciation to county employees who recently retired including: Betty Danen, Beth Abegglen, Ruth Ann Pipkorn, Robin Dassow and Don Erl.
Next up the county board approved buying a strip of land that is ideally suited for a spaghetti factory. The parcel is about ¼ mile long and varies in width from 4 feet 8 inches on one end and meanders to zero when it meets Little Rib Road. Several months ago the county board voted to purchase the Deseris property which borders the county forest on the edge of Rib Lake. Following the purchase, county surveyor Bob Meyer noted that the “V” shaped sliver of land was not part of the sale and actually laid between the newly purchased county forest and a third party. Supervisor Sue Breneman said it would be good public relations to pay $50 plus transfer fees for the slim parcel and all board members except Chuck Zenner agreed.
Taylor County could soon be a part of the “Safe Ride Program”. Terry Phillips told the county board that all Taylor County Tavern League members would be eligible to offer the safe ride option to their patrons. Mr. Phillips indicated that currently about half of the county’s taverns belong to the tavern league. He felt that by being able to offer the safe ride option it would be a good incentive to join the league. Supervisor Bub amended the resolution to provide powerline impact funds and to increase the amount from $3,000 to $5,000. The money would be used to start up the safe ride program in Taylor County. The amended request passed with supervisors Zenner and Krug voting no.
Taylor County Board Puts "Band Aid" on Chelsea Lake Dam
The Taylor County Board put a band-aid on the Chelsea Lake Dam. For more than an hour Tuesday, April 18th, board members expressed options and debated opinions on the best way to proceed with the dam issue.
Chuck Zenner told the board that the issue has been stretched out for the past 15 years and it was time for a resolution. The DNR has issued an order to have a dam failure analysis done before the end of 2017. Cost of the study is about $14,000.
The Chelsea Conservation Club installed the dam in 1961. The permit to install the dam was supposed to be transferred from the conservation club to the county but that was never done. The DNR has rendered an opinion that the Chelsea Conservation Club owns the dam.
In 1993 the county board indicated that the county would be responsible for maintaining the dam. The county owns the land which the dam is on, and an easement to get to the dam is apparently under water. The county had proposed forming a Lake District which could be comprised of the Conservation Club, the Town of Westboro and land owners around Chelsea Lake. 51% of land owners or 51% of the involved land would need to approve the formation. Gene Krug told the board that the likelihood of land owner approval was a hard sell. He said there are only 6 residences on the lake and only 8 or 9 developed lots. Greg Krug told the board that if the county took ownership of the dam, the conservation club would pitch in $12,000. Lester Lewis said that the county doesn’t own the dike, and that’s a bigger issue because it’s been leaking for years.
Gene Krug told the board that it’s possible that the Chelsea Conservation Club will be out of existence in a few years.
The board voted to accept the $12,000 from the Chelsea Conservation Club and to assume ownership and maintenance of the dam. Supervisors Zenner, Lewis and Brooks voted no. It was uncertain what the status of the dike was as the bulk of the dike is on private land.
Local Horses Help Outfit Cellphone Towers in Rural Wisconsin
Old and new technologies are merging in rural Wisconsin, as U.S. Cellular is using draft horses to help install cellphone equipment.
The big draft horses, owned by Goodrich dairy farmer and logger Jason Julian, are usually used for logging, dragging timber out of the woods where a truck or tractor would make a mess. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the horses are being used to haul equipment up steep wooded hillsides, where trucks have gotten stuck in the mud and all-terrain vehicles haven't been up to the job. The horses pull the high-tech gear, which weighs nearly a ton with all the pieces included, with a wooden wagon. The equipment is needed to upgrade mobile phone service in sparsely-populated areas.
Recently, Jason Julian stopped by the K99 Radio studios in Medford and shared his story with K99's Russ Gowey....
Who owns the Chelsea Lake Dam? Who will pay for the required maintenance and studies which are required by the DNR? At Friday’s meeting of the Forestry and Recreation Committee, chairman Chuck Zenner indicated he has met with representatives of the Chelsea Conservation Club and that he sees 3 options for the future of the dam: They could remove the dam, the county could take ownership, or a lake district could be created which would then take control of the dam.
The DNR has indicated that a culvert, a riser and a flood dam analysis need to be done at an estimated cost of $25,000. Mr Zenner indicated that for a lake district to be formed, 51% of the landowners must approve. There currently are 27 landowners around Chelsea Lake including Taylor County which owns the boat landing and a park.
At issue is a 25 year old county board resolution which was passed in 1993. At that time the Conservation Club installed the dike and culvert, and the county indicated they would pay for future maintenance and repairs. Several representatives of Chelsea Conservation Club expressed their frustration over the county’s unwillingness to pay for the maintenance. It was noted that the dam is on county land but in the opinion of the DNR, the county doesn’t own the dam.
The cost of creating a lake district is $3,000 to $5,000. The lake district would have taxing powers but would also be qualified for grant programs. The lake district could be comprised of Taylor County, the Town of Chelsea, and the surrounding land owners.
Committee member Michael Bub made an amended motion to recommend the county board approve that once the Chelsea Lake District is created, the county would allocate up to $5,000 for the district creation legal fees, and up to $20,000 for the currently required maintenance and flood dam studies. All future expenses would be incurred by the Chelsea Lake District. Ownership of the dike and dam would revert to the lake district. The county would maintain ownership of the boat landing and park. The motion passed unanimously. County clerk Bruce Strama indicated that the lake district would qualify for a 50% grant.
Michael Bub told the group that the measure was a good compromise, and that he wanted a long term solution to fix a 25 year mess.
The issue of what to do with the Chelsea Lake Dam will be voted on by the Taylor County Board at their April 18th meeting.
The Medford Veteran’s Memorial Park Flag Field will be the site of a new memorial honoring those soldiers killed in the line of duty.
The American Legion and Medford High School History Club invited the public to take part in a design competition to find the way to best honor and memorialize those citizens from Taylor County who paid the ultimate sacrifice in hopes of securing the promise of liberty for all.
The design is being finalized with a final rendering available in late May.
Recently Roger Emmerich of the Medford VFW, Medford Area Senior High School History Teacher Corey Nazer and Design Winner Emily Mahner stopped by K99 Radio to share with K99's Russ Gowey the goals of the project and a description of the winning design......
Roger Emmerich, Corey Nazer & Emily Mahner w/K99's Russ Gowey Part 1
Roger Emmerich, Corey Nazer & Emily Mahner w/K99's Russ Gowey Part 2
The Taylor County S.W.A.T. Team was involved in making an arrest on Friday, March 17th, on County O, west of Medford. According to Taylor County Sheriff Bruce Daniels, one male subject was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant. There were no injuries, and the sheriff indicated that there is no danger to the public. While details surrounding the arrest are sparse, the investigation into the incident is ongoing. Sheriff Daniels credited the officers on the scene and the resulting lack of any injuries.
The Price-Taylor County Pine Line Commission recently asked Russ Aszmann , the Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Director to apply for a grant with funding to be used for resurfacing the former railroad bed. The grant has been approved, but local funding is also required. The commission is hoping to raise $25,000 in addition to the $100,000 in grant funds which should be adequate to add a new surface to approximately 6 miles of the rail trail, or 1/3 of the distance to the Price County Line. Individuals or civic organizations who wish to contribute to the surfacing project can contact the Forestry Department at the Taylor County Courthouse.
Commission members include: Marv Kuenne, Patty Krug, Karla Klapatauskas, Chuck Zenner and Russ Aszmann. If adequate funding is secured, work on the project will begin this spring.
WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) — A north-central Wisconsin woman has pleaded no contest in a crash that killed a bicyclist in 2015.
Fifty-five-year-old Lorie Ann Miller of Rib Lake was found guilty of homicide by negligent driving after entering her plea Monday. Miller was accused of hitting and killing a bicyclist while texting and driving near Marshfield.
As part of the plea agreement, Miller likely will serve nine months in jail and nine years on probation. Sentencing is set for May 16.
USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Kyle Mayo said during the plea hearing that the family of the victim, 52-year-old Donna David of Marshfield, does not agree with the plea deal.
David taught chemistry at Northcentral Technical College and was a researcher with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.
Double Duty for Medford Area Fire Department Friday
The Medford AreaFfire Department was called out Friday afternoon, February 17th, a little after 3 pm to a skidder on fire back in the woods on Martin Drive east of Medford. An offroad firefighting vehicle was used along with a truck from the DNR.
Then while returning to the fire hall, Medford fire was paged out to a two vehicle accident at the intersection of County highway Q and State Highway 64. No patients were transported, Medford fire provided traffic control while the scene was cleaned up and returned to the Medford Area Fire Hall Friday evening around 5:30 P.M.