Taylor County Drug Opposition Partners Coalition Needs Your Help
The Taylor County Drug Opposition Partners Coalition is working with a group of UW-Eau Claire senior nursing students to completing a project focusing on adult attitudes related to youth alcohol consumption. As part of that project they have created a survey. We’re asking you to please take two minutes of your time and complete this nine question Survey Monkey survey. The data from this survey directly impacts people living in Taylor County. The survey will be open until March 31st. Recently, Jean Flood of the Taylor County Drug Opposition Partners Coalition and three nursing students from UW-Eau Claire stopped by K99 Radio in Medford and shared the details and goals of this youth alcohol consumption survey with K99's Russ Gowey.......
K99's Russ Gowey w/Jean Flood and the UWEC Nursing Students
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met on Thursday. To salute two individuals for receiving the highest award in 4-H Youth Development, the board passed a pair of resolutions recognizing Bailey and Samuel Krause for achieving the Wisconsin Key Award.
A recently retired 23 year employee of the county, Betty Blumenstein was thanked and presented a plaque of appreciation by the board.
The board took a moment to pass a resolution in memoriam of Allan Thielke who passed away recently. Mr. Thielke served on the county board in District 2 from 1994 to 1997.
A resolution commending Bill Brenneman for his service as Taylor County Emergency Management Director was passed. Brenneman was credited with the completion of the county hazard mitigation plan, a mass casualty plan, the establishment of the Code Red Reverse 911 Emergency Notification System, and assistance in establishment of the MABAS mutual aid system.
Terry Phillips of the Taylor County Tavern League thanked the board for their support of the 100 Safe Rides provided during the holiday season.
The board approved funding of the Aging and Disability Resource Center, the ADRC of the Northwoods. The ADRC assists older people and people with physical and developmental disabilities to secure needed services. The resolution called for Taylor County to provide a one-time $90,000 no interest loan to the ADRC.
In support of the many benefits which are derived from the services which are provided by volunteers, the board passed a resolution which proclaims April 15-21, 2018 as National Volunteer Week in Taylor County. Hundreds of individuals are credited with being volunteers in Taylor County and the number of volunteers nationwide is estimated at more than 63 million.
Due to the recent rapid rise in troubles among Taylor County citizens, residents and visitors in relation to problems arising out of the use, abuse and overuse of opioid medications, the county board passed a resolution in support of the opioid epidemic litigation. Taylor County has engaged in discussions with law firms related to the potential for the county to pursue certain legal claims against certain opioid manufacturers. The law firms would not be compensated unless Taylor County receives a financial benefit from the claims. Taylor County would join with the Wisconsin Counties Association and a number of states and counties in the litigation against the named opioid manufacturers.
By harvesting timber from the county forest, the Taylor County Forestry Department returns cash to the county annually while providing jobs to loggers and related industries. The county board approved the annual work plan for 2018 which includes continuing timber harvest projects, forest protection, wildlife projects, reforestation, and recreation areas for public benefit.
In an effort to assure timely completion of processing, recording and indexing of documents on the same day they are received at the Register of Deeds office, the county board passed an ordinance indicating that a document must be received by the Register of Deeds office no later than one hour prior to the end of the business day.
The Board of Canvass received a pay increase. An ordinance to increase half day pay from $40 to $50 with total compensation for a given day capped at $75 instead of $65 was approved.
A clerical change regarding voting during meetings of the North Central Region comprehensive coordination committee was approved.
The county board did NOT approve an ordinance which prohibits animals from “running at large” within the county. The only exception would have been for hunting dogs, and in the case of hunting the controlling person needs to be in the immediate vicinity and have the landowner’s permission to be on the property with the animal.
The pay scale for the next 5 years for the Clerk of Circuit Court and the Sheriff was set. The Clerk of Court shall earn $57,573 in 2018 and increase to $59,114 in 2022. The Sheriff will earn $85,149 in 2018 and increase to $87,298 in 2022.
With the recent job shuffle involving Emergency Management, the board passed an ordinance which will create a full time position of Emergency Management.
The county’s employment code was modified to include Finance Director and Emergency Management Director positions.
The oversight and management of the Emergency Management Director position was shifted from a contract position to an employee position. Benefits will cost the county an additional $19,000 to $20,000. That committee will have the authority to appoint the Emergency Services Director. The department is tasked with organizing a Taylor County Class B Hazardous Material Incident Response Team. The ordinance indicates that the Hazmat Team shall be responsible for responding to all hazardous material incidents occurring in Taylor County that are within its capabilities to control or mitigate.
Recently there have been meetings involving the Personnel and Finance Committees who have negotiated with representatives of the Sheriff’s Departments Sergeants Union. The parties have agreed to terms of an agreement for 2018 and 2019. The agreement clarifies the hours of work and overtime. Also addressed is the uniform allowance, holidays, health insurance, the trial period and length of contract. Pay rates shall increase 1% January 1st and July 1st 2018, and 1.5% January 1st 2019, then 1% July 1, 2019.
A similar contract involving the Deputy Sheriffs Union was also accepted. In addition to similar pay increases the agreement included clarification on Seniority.
That was some of the business conducted at the March 8th meeting of the Taylor County Board of Supervisors.
The Stetsonville Volunteer Fire Department was called out Thursday night to the report of a chimney fire. According to Fire Chief Greg Brunner the fire was just up the road from the firehall at 303 East County Trunk A in Stetsonville. Chief Brunner indicated that due to the intensity of the fire in the chimney, the blaze was just minutes from becoming a fully involved house fire. Stetsonville firefighters worked to cut away some drywall and framing lumber which was charred at temperatures exceeding 200 degrees. Fortunately the home was saved, with repairs to the chimney and surrounding structure needed. 12 Stetsonville Firefighters were on the scene from 11 PM to 1:45 AM Thursday night. No injuries were reported.
New Chair Ski Lift Coming To Taylor County 2/27/18
The highest point in Taylor County is going to be the site of a new chair ski lift. Representatives of Forest Springs applied for a permit to replace two rope tows with the chair lift. Because the base of the lift would be 15 feet instead of 75 feet as required from James Lake, Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan referred the decision for a zoning variance to the Board of Adjustment. The 3 person board consisting of Arlen Albrecht and substitute members Jim Metz and Patty Smith listened to details of the project from Eric Stolhammer, Mike Harenstein, and Del Kroeker. Forest Springs has been in existence since 1958 working to improve services to an estimated 14,000 people annually. The closest concrete anchor for the chair lift would be 15 feet from the high water mark which is farther away from the water than the existing rope tow. Speaking as a citizen, county board member and Rib Lake School District resident, Rollie Thums spoke in favor of the project indicating there are some students who are unable to utilize the rope tow but would be able to enjoy the safety of the chair lift.
Area landowner Fred Ebert indicated he also supported the concept and said that barring a rare 4 to 5 inch per hour rainfall, the proposed erosion double silt walls should help to minimize the effects of erosion.
Chairman Arlen Albrecht chuckled when he said pieces of his mittens were probably still on the rope tow. Albrecht felt that safety would be greatly improved. Jim Metz called the project a progressive move and also supported the increased safety features. Patty Smith told the group she would rather take steps than a rope tow. She appreciated the affordable nature of Forest Springs, but expressed her concerns with minimizing erosion during the project.
Forest Springs officials indicated that the proposed chair lift will be a refurbished system from the eastern U.S. To assure safety, all fix grips which attach the chair to the cable would be x-rayed to verify tightness after 1 year of use. Following that, each year 20% of the fix grips would be x-rayed to insure tightness. The chair lift will have a capacity of 1200 people per hour and will stretch 660 feet up the hill.
Following discussion the 3 member Board Of Adjustment voted unanimously to grant the zoning variance and allow Forest Springs to install the new chairlift on Taylor County’s highest point near Westboro.
The Medford man who was involved in an armed standoff with sheriff’s officers in January has been charged.
Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty has charged Jake M. Wendt with 2 counts of 1st degree recklessly endangering safety, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm-domestic abuse or child abuse injunction, a count of burglary-arm self with dangerous weapon, a count of possession of THC 2nd offense, and 2 counts of battery or threat to judge, prosecutor or law enforcement officer. Those 8 charges are all felonies. Other charges include: Operate firearm while intoxicated, possess drug paraphernalia, and disorderly conduct which are misdemeanors.
The charges against Jake Wendt stem from an incident on January 17, 2018. It is alleged that Wendt armed himself with a hand gun, and as officers approached the home on Allman Avenue, several shots were fired. After a lengthy phone negotiation between the suspect and Taylor County Officers the suspect came out of the residence unarmed and was taken into custody without any injuries occurring. Bail for Wendt was set at $30,000 cash. Initial appearance for Jake Wendt is set for March 6th in Taylor County Court.
Medford Elementary Placed On Precautionary Lockdown 2/21/18
The Medford Area Elementary School was on a precautionary lockdown for a short time this afternoon Wednesday, February 21st. According to district administrator Pat Sullivan, an employee indicated that she had an issue with her spouse, and she was uncertain if he would show up at the school. As a precaution, Medford police were positioned at the entrances to the elementary school from 2:15 until 3 PM. According to Medford Police Chief Brian Carey, Medford and Taylor County Officers were able to talk with the adults involved in the issue. Following the conversations it was determined there was no safety threat. The incident was only at the elementary school and not at the high school. Chief Carey stressed the importance of individuals working together and being diligent in reporting potential incidents.
Judge Rules In Favor Of Little Black “Super Dairy” 2/16/18
Judge Ann Knox-Bauer has made a judgement in a case involving the Town of Little Black and Breeze Dairy Group, LLC. Breeze Dairy is proposing the construction of a 4,000 cow dairy facility. Little Black and Stetsonville residents have expressed concern about their drinking water wells as the dairy would require a high capacity well system providing in excess of 100,000 gallons of water per day. Studies have indicated that Taylor County’s aquifer provides among the fewest gallons per minute compared to other counties in the state.
In the judge’s decision, she noted that Breeze Dairy applied for the farming operation on February 10, 2017, which was 5 days before Little Black passed a zoning ordinance for agricultural land. On the day Breeze Dairy applied for permits, the township had no zoning on agricultural land. Judge Knox-Bauer ruled that the Town may not deny the plaintiffs’ application on the basis of the zoning ordinance enacted February 15, 2017.
On the issue of the high capacity well system the Judge wrote: "The plaintiffs’ argue that the Town’s ordinance as set forth is preempted by state law and therefore is an invalid attempt to regulate groundwater". The judge wrote: “The legislature has adopted a complex and comprehensive statutory structure for permitting, installation and use of high capacity wells”. “The end effect is that the Town could deny the high-capacity well permit, and shut down the use of the well, in violation of an express DNR approval.” “The ordinance runs contrary to the structure and spirit of the legislature’s grant of this authority to the DNR under WI Stat. section 281.11, and therefore, under the Anchor test, is preempted by state law and therefore is unenforceable against the plaintiffs.”
Judge Ann Knox-Bauer made the judgement in a 21 page document which was filed February 15, 2018 with the Taylor County Clerk of Courts.
Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty has charged two Rib Lake women for allegedly stealing from the Medford Cooperative Cenex C-store in Rib Lake. According to the criminal complaint, 66 year old Susan Gutowski admitted to Rib Lake Police Chief Gary Krueger that she needed money and had skimmed money from the cash drawer by voiding transactions. The complaint indicates that managers of the Medford Cooperative believe that Gutowski stole $5,937.00 in voided transactions according to their review of records. Susan Gutowski is charged with Theft-Business Setting from $5000-$10,000, a Class H Felony, upon conviction may be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 6 years, or both.
Also facing a theft charge is 43 year old Kimberly Kettleson of Rib Lake. Kettleson told investigators that while working at the Cenex Station she stole money by voiding transactions and skimmed cash off the cash register. Her statement indicated she was sorry she took the money and didn’t know what else to do to support her family. The criminal complaint indicates that Medford Cooperative documentation indicates that Kettleson had stolen over $24,000. District Attorney Kristi Tlusty has charged Kimberly Kettleson with Teft-Business Setting over $10,000 which is a Class G Felony, upon conviction may be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
The initial appearance for Gutowski and Kettleson is set for March 20th in Taylor County Court.
The Taylor Couny Drug Opposition Partner's vision is to partner to prevent youth alcohol and drug use.
The mission of TCDOP is to engage the communities within the county to educate, advocate, delay the onset, and implement strategies to reduce youth substance use and its life-time consequences.
Recently TCDOP held a Sustance Abuse Town Hall Meeting in the Red White Theater of the Medford Area Senior High School featuring guest speaker Joel Fisher. Joel is a former Medford student who told of his journey through addiction, starting at the age of 12, and his road to recovery.
Joel Fisher recently stopped by the K99 Studios in Medford where he shared his story with K99's Russ Gowey....
Shore Land Zoning Has The Power To Move Buildings 12/6/17
A garage which was built too close to a lake front needs to be moved or cut off.
According to Taylor County Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan a garage was built with an overhang which is 8 feet too close to Long Lake in northern Taylor County. According to Mr. Noonan the eave overhang of one corner of the 28 by 30 foot structure is 68 feet from the ordinary high water mark of the lake. The required distance for accessory structures is 75 feet. The building owner Rhonda Emmerich applied for a variance to the codes which would allow her to keep the building in its location.
A public hearing to grant the variance was held before the Board of Adjustment on December 6th. The board consists of Stanley Schmidt, Arlen Albrecht and Dave Krug. Kyle Noonan indicated that when a permit was applied for on April 28th there was a concern of the location of the town of Rib Lake road right of way. Rhonda Emmerich said that 3 town officials met at the site and agreed to the location of the building 33 feet from the center of the road. On the other end of the building, a stake was placed at 75 feet from the lake for one corner of the building with the lake meandering to a distance which is less than 75 feet on the other corner. The owners commented they didn’t realize the entire building had to be 75 feet from the lake.
It was noted that 3 neighbors’ cabins or homes were at 57, 48 and 35 feet from the lake. Administrator Noonan pointed out that principle structures such as homes or cabins may be closer than 75 feet to the water depending on several factors, but new accessory structures such as a garage must be 75 feet from the water.
Stanley Schmidt said that Long Lake Road legally ends about half way in front of the Emmerich lot and is legally only .93 mile long although it goes past their lot to several other homes. He said legally the town doesn’t own much of that road in front of you and the building could have been closer to the road.
Arlen Albrecht expressed his concern for aquatic life with structures encroaching on waterways. It was noted that Long Lake is actually a private land locked lake with no public access.
Dave Krug said that he took a ride to see the structure. He felt it was a very nice looking building and didn’t see what harm a few feet would do. He said we need to talk about hardship.
Stan Schmidt said it is after the fact resulting in self-inflicted hardship. He said there were no unique restrictions on the property which would have prevented moving the building’s location. He said “Rules are rules and we’re not empowered to change the rules.”
A Town of Rib Lake official commented that in cases such as this, using a ruler may not be reliable. He felt that a certified survey to show the distance from the water to the building would have been a good decision.
Dave Krug said that this was a tough issue due to the fact that the building is up. He questioned whether the property owners knew that the building was too close to the water.
Arlen Albrecht replied that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Krug reminded the board that they made exceptions for the height of Taylor Electric’s tower and the Stetsonville Water Tower in regard to the airport zoning regulations. Albrecht replied that was a different issue dealing with public safety. Schmidt expressed his concern of setting a precedent. Krug said it will be a major undertaking to move or tear down the building. Albrecht said its’ location is against state and county rules and ordinances.
Dave Krug made a motion to grant the variance but the motion failed due to the lack of a second. Stanley Schmidt said he sympathized with the building owners but he made a motion to deny the variance “based on the rules before us”. Albrecht seconded the motion and the motion to deny the variance passed on a 2 to 1 vote with Dave Krug voting no. Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan told the board that he would give the building owners until July 1st to have the building in compliance with the 75 foot setback rule.