Tomahawk City Council Recap: 2022 Budget; Levy
Published on 12/01/2022 under News The Tomahawk City Council approved a slight increase in the budget for the upcoming year, though the general tax levy should be down slightly. Much of the work on the budget was completed during several special Finance Committee meetings last month. There was minimal discussion ahead of the vote and no comments during the public hearing. In the end, the total spending came in at $8.2 million up around $1.6 million from last year. This is largely due to an increase in capital outlay. Among the projects on the docket for next year are the reconstruction of Sixth Street, replacing the roof at city hall, and mandatory computer technology upgrades. The city will also fund a portion of planned renovation of Washington Square Park that will include a splash pad and all-inclusive playground. In addition to the budget, a corresponding ordinance set the city's general property tax levy at just over $1.7 million, a 13.5% drop or a decrease of approximately $300,000 when compared to the current year. The city's portion of the mill rate came in at $8.12 per $1,000 of valuation. The other pieces of the local budget puzzle, the Tomahawk School District, Nicolet College, and Lincoln County, have already completed and approved their budgets. ___ In addition to the budget, the City Council had one other topic on the agenda. They approved the division of a lot on Murphy Avenue off of CC. The property owner dividing one large lot into three smaller ones. That was approved with minimal discussion. Tomahawk Committee Meeting Recap The Health and Safety Committee held their regular November meeting. With a light agenda, the committee briefly reviewed the city's celebration budget. These are the costs the city picks up, primarily public works and police, during events like Powwow Days, the Fall Ride, and the Venison Feed, as well as duties such as hanging the holiday decorations. This year the city set aside $64,000, and they are running about $2,000 over budget. That budget had been down in recent years due, in part, to the pandemic and scaled back or canceled events. Police Chief Al Elvins, in his monthly report to the committee, highlighted the department received two separate state grants for $3,000. One was for the Fall Ride, and the other ongoing officer training. He also noted the number of calls for service is up, already surpassing last year's overall total. After a busy November working on the budget, the city's finance committee held their regular monthly meeting last night. The lone item on the agenda was the city owned property at 404 South Tomahawk Avenue. The city acquired it this summer from the county after it was taken for delinquent taxes. The eviction process is ongoing and the committee will discuss the future of the property once it is vacated. The city did have the property appraised at approximately $88,000.
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WPS Received Reliability Awards for Grid Improvements; Communicating Outages
Published on 12/01/2022 under News Wisconsin Public Service is celebrating a pair of national awards the power company received for reliability. Last month, WPS was presented with ReliabilityOne Awards for Greatest Improvement in Reliability and Superior Customer Engagement. WPS President Tom Metcalfe says, "Providing affordable, reliable and clean energy to our customers is at the heart of every decision we make. These awards show the dedication our employees have to enhancing reliability and delivering world-class service to our customers." The Most Improved Award recognizes utilities for significant and sustained improvements over a five year period. For WPS, improvements go back a bit further thanks to an eight-year, ongoing efforts to bury overhead powerlines here in the Northwoods. To date more than 2,000 miles have already been placed underground to improve reliability. The company has also focused on equipment improvements that will help pinpoint the location of outages for a faster response. The second award, for customer engagement, was the result of WPS communication with customers regarding power outages and restoration time. This was a multi-platform honor that recognized the WPS app, website, and social media accounts in providing real-time outage information. These awards, handed out each fall are eligible to all electric utility networks in North America.
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Aspirus: Ladder Safety When Hanging Christmas Decorations
Published on 12/01/2022 under News With the calendar flipped to December, complete focus has turned to Christmas. For folks planning an outdoor light spectacular, the staff at Aspirus are reminding caution on ladders to avoid a trip to the ER. December 1 is National Christmas Lights Day. Mark Heinrich is the grounds and landscape project coordinator at Aspirus. He and his team are tasked with holiday decorations at Aspirus. He says their teams access some pretty high spots, and safety is always at the top of mind. He shared a few tips for ladder safety when hanging lights and decorations. First, make a plan before you start and choose an appropriate ladder for the job. Check all your gear including the lights and the ladder. Wipe down the rungs and ensure it's on flat level ground. When climbing where appropriate shoes that won't slip. Always face the ladder. Avoiding reaching, instead move the ladder to the right location. A good rule: If your belly button passes over the rail, you're leaning too far. And finally, when done, put the ladder away rather than leaving a raised ladder unattended.
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Oneida County Summer ATV/UTV Trails Closing Friday
Published on 12/01/2022 under News We continue to receive closure announcements for the summer ATV/UTV trails this week. The latest to announce the end of the seasonal trails is Oneida County. Their ATV/UTV trails will close as of 8am Friday. The closure also includes the Enterprise campgrounds. We previously announced the closure of the summer ATV/UTV trails in Lincoln and Langlade Counties which close as of today (Thursday.) The Vilas County Trail system closed last month.
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DNR Offering 'First Harvest' and 'First Hunt' Certificates for New Hunters
Published on 12/01/2022 under News More than 200,000 hunters registered deer during the recently completed season. That likely included a number of first time hunters. The DNR is offering a personalized memento for those hunters. The DNR offers free first harvest certificates for those who get their first deer. In addition to first harvest certificates, they also have a first hunting experience certificate for those that got out for the first time, but weren't lucky enough to bag a deer. Hunters and trappers of all ages are encouraged to check out the DNR's selection of free first harvest certificates. They have similar certificates for various other hunting seasons as well. Those interested can submit a photograph to be included, as well as details about the experience. This information will be displayed on the individually customized certificate sent electronically to the recipient. The DNR has additional information on their website.
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Local, State Deer Harvest Up in 2022
Published on 11/30/2022 under News Building on the success of opening weekend, hunters across the state wrapped up the gun/deer season by exceeding last year's harvest as well as the recent average. With the conclusion of the 9-day season Sunday, the DNR release the preliminary deer harvest totals from the season. According to that data, hunters registered around 204,000 deer. That's up 14.4% when compared to last year, and 7.7% higher than the 5 year average. The increase came despite fewer hunters in the field. Gun license sales were down 1.6% from last year. As a whole, the 20 county Northern Forest Zone saw a 21% increase. Taking a look at the local harvest numbers... Lincoln County hunters registered 2,149 deer, up 36.6% or approximately 600 animals. That includes 1,333 bucks. Oneida County hunters also found greater success with 1,877 deer registered; a 21% increase over last year. Vilas County hunters took 1,335 deer, boosted by a large increase in antlerless take. That resulted in a 22% year-over-year increase. The DNR has additional data including a breakdown of antlered and antlerless deer on their website. While a full analysis is expected by DNR biologists, several factors likely played into hunter success. This includes a snow cover making deer more visible and easier to track, mild conditions after a chilly opening day; and the overall health of the herd after several consecutive mild winters. The DNR will provide final numbers in early January at the conclusion of all deer seasons including the ongoing archery season. County 2022 Harvest 2021 Harvest 5 year Average % Yearly Difference % Comparison to Average Langlade 2,659 1,619 2,111 64.2% 26% Lincoln 2,008 1,573 2,008 36.6% 7% Oneida 1,877 1,555 1,812 20.7% 3.6% Price 2,231 2,067 2086 7.9% 7.0% Taylor 3,8453,243 3,131 18.6% 22.8% Vilas 1,335 1,096 1,085 21.8% 23%
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Fire at Home in Antigo
Published on 11/30/2022 under News A home was destroyed in a fire in Langlade County, leaving behind two family pets. The Antigo Fire Department was dispatched to that fire in a mobile home on 10th Avenue Tuesday afternoon at shortly before 2:30pm. Crews arrived to find heavy smoke and flames. The lone occupant was able to evacuate to a neighbor, but sustained minor burns. That individual was treated on the scene. Unfortunately, two family pets were lost in the fire. The Red Cross is working with the residents. Based on the preliminary investigation, they believe the fire started from a cigarette that was dropped near a medical oxygen source. Crews were on the scene for around two hours.
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Tomahawk Kinship Gets New Logo
Published on 11/30/2022 under News The Tomahawk Kinship program has been a mainstay in the Tomahawk Community dating back 23 years. And after two decades, they recently got a makeover, with a brand new stylized logo. Those driving past their Wisconsin Avenue location in recent days have seen the new branding on the signs on the building. They've also showcased the logos on their social media and website. The workmark prominently features the letters 'K' and 'i' in the work kinship. The angled strokes of the letter K appear as a stylized adult reaching out to the smaller lower-case 'I' representing the youth. They wrote, "We at Kinship of Tomahawk really like the new look and hope you do too." For those unfamiliar, the Kinship program offers a number of services for Tomahawk area youth. The mentoring program has connected hundred of local kids with mentors over the years. They also provide additional support including after-school space; tutoring, lunch buddies, organized activities, and supplemental food and snacks.
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Plows and Maintenance Vehicles Get Option for Green Flashing Lights
Published on 11/30/2022 under News Yesterday, we talked about Snow Plow Driver Appreciation Day, and briefly mentioned the new flashing green lights. Tuesday afternoon, the DoT provided a some additional information on the new light options. They said, "A new law took effect in April allowing county and municipal snowplows to use fluorescent green warning lights..." The change was made in part to create a greater contrast than other warning lights colors to improve visibility, especially during snowstorms. It'll also help distinguish road maintenance vehicles from other emergency vehicles that display flashing red, blue, white, and amber lights. The additional green warning lights are meant to increase safety, enhance driver awareness and improve visibility of maintenance vehicles. Some local municipalities have already begun to outfit the vehicles with the new green lights. It make take others longer to transition their lights based on time, cost, and availability. Several states including Michigan have already adopted green lighting on maintenance vehicles to generally positive reviews.
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Lincoln County UW-Extension Beginning Changes Following Budget Reduction
Published on 11/30/2022 under News With county funding for the Lincoln County UW-Extension largely eliminated, officials recently outlined some of the upcoming changes. As we previously covered, during the budget process, the Lincoln County Board cut a majority of the Extension funding. Art Lersch, who oversees the regional UW-Extension offices says, "We recognize that the board has many difficult budget choices to make on an ongoing basis but the reduction in funding for Extension services will have ripple effects throughout Lincoln County communities." He also provided a brief update on what people can expect going forward. An agreement was reached to extend the 4-H educator position, and the FoodWise nutrition education program, aided by federal funding, will continue as well. He shared that those offices will be by appointment only starting December 12. Among the programs that will be discontinued:· Health & Well – Being/Positive Youth Development Programs – Debbie Moellendorf (e.g. StrongBodies; mental health related education to adults and youth; Social Norms project; Healthy Minds preventative and other education in conjunction with the Lincoln County Health Department; and AODA education; etc.). · Community Development Programs – Elizabeth McCrank (e.g. organizational assistance for nonprofits and businesses; organizational assistance for local governments; strategic planning for nonprofits; rural broadband expansion planning; housing expansion planning; community health assessment planning; etc.). · Agriculture Programs – Scott Reuss (e.g. Youth Tractor & Machinery Certification Course; Nitrogen enhancement product research plots/nutrient management education for farms to increase crop yields and protect the environment; Nitrogen and sulfur rate effects on winter wheat yield research plots; one on one and group farm consultations; etc.). · Office Support – Becky Kludy (e.g. ability to answer customer questions; ability to sell plat books, ability to assist with food preservation questions and pressure canner testing; soil sample kits, water sample kits; ability to provide in office, email, and phone customer service related to a wide variety of topics; etc.) The changes came amid a passionate effort by members of the public at County Board and Finance Committee meetings. Lersch and the rest of the staff offered a thank you for the "tremendous outpouring of community support." They wrote, "It has been our pleasure to serve you and to help create positive community change in local communities." Anyone with additional questions on the transition can contact Lersch at art.lersch@wisc.edu or 715-218-5360. .
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Forest Officials Encourage State Grown Holiday Evergreen Decorations
Published on 11/30/2022 under News Forest officials are encouraging shoppers to look for Wisconsin-grown evergreens for their holiday decorations. This is to avoid the spread of the elongate hemlock scale. In previous years, plant health inspectors have intercepted evergreen decorations infested with invasive hitchhikers sneaking a ride into Wisconsin from other states. EHS appears as small brown oblong scale insects on the underside of the needles, typically causing discoloration. According to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, EHS is a threat to Wisconsin's Christmas trees farms, as well native hemlock, and balsam fir forests. Brian Kuhn is the agency's Bureau of Plant Industry director. He says "Since pests like EHS are not established in Wisconsin, the best way to prevent the establishment of these invasive pests is to make sure your tree or wreath was grown in a state without the pest." Wisconsin is home to more than 375 licensed Christmas tree farms that sell trees, wreaths, garlands, and other décor. If you suspect a tree or decoration you purchased has EHS, contact the DATCP for proper disposal recommendation and tracing.
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Snow Plow Drivers Recognized Monday on Appreciation Day
Published on 11/29/2022 under News As snow plow drivers await the first major snow of the season, Monday was dedicated to their efforts throughout the winter. Governor Tony Evers proclaimed Monday as Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day in Wisconsin. WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson says, "We are grateful for snowplow drivers throughout the state who work around the clock to clear Wisconsin's state and local roadways to ensure safe driving conditions every winter season." He added, "Motorists are encouraged to show their appreciation to snowplow drivers and drive carefully, give snowplows room to work and, when possible, avoid travel during heavy storms." Motorists should maintain at least 200 feet behind a working snowplow. A good rule of thumb, make sure you can see the plow's mirrors to ensure the driver can see you. If you pass a snowplow, remember that the cloud of snow behind a plow can obscure vision and note that the road conditions will not be as good ahead of the plow. New Law Allows Flashing Green Lights for Road Maintenance Vehicles: As part of Snow Plow Driver Appreciation Day, the Department of Transportation also shared a recent law change that will allow road maintenance vehicles, including snow plows, to display flashing green lights. The additional green warning lights are meant to increase safety, enhance driver awareness and improve visibility of maintenance vehicles. It'll also help distinguish from other vehicles that display flashing red, blue, white, and amber lights. While some municipalities have already begun to introduce green lights to their fleets, it make take others time to adopt due to the cost.
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Merrill Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Fatal Child Neglect of Young Child
Published on 11/29/2022 under News A Merrill man found guilty of neglect in the death of his one year old son will serve five years in prison. Cody Robertson was back in Lincoln County Court Monday for his sentencing hearing. Back in August, the 26 year old pleaded no contest to a single count of neglect of a child resulting in death. In exchange, four other charges were dismissed. Robertson, and the child's mother Amber Boyd, were arrested following a months-long investigation into the death their 15 month old child in November of 2020. An autopsy revealed signs of physical abuse and traces of methamphetamine in the child's system. At Monday's hearing, Judge Robert Russell ordered Robertson to serve 5 years of initial confinement followed by 6 years of extended supervision. Jailed since the time of his arrest, Robertson received a 558 day sentence credit. As for Boyd, she entered into a plea deal earlier this year. She was sentenced to four years in prison.
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Thanksgiving Fire at Lincoln County Farm, Several Animals Died
Published on 11/29/2022 under News A Thanksgiving Day fire at a farm in Lincoln County destroyed a barn and left several cattle dead. According to the Merrill Fire Department, dispatch was initially paged for a structure fire at around 5am Thursday morning at a farm in the Town of Scott. That initial call indicated a growing fire in the barn and the reporting party trying to get the cows out of the barn. Upon arrival of responders, the fire was already beginning to spread to the roof and caused a structural collapse which required an excavator to reach hot spots. Crews were finally able to get the fire under control at shortly before 1pm, with Merrill Fire noting some 210,000 gallons of water was used. According to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Report, the fire is believed to have started around a skid-steer parked in the barn. While there were no human injuries, they reported ten calves died in the blaze. In addition to firefighters from a half dozen agencies, the Lincoln County Highway Department was brought in to salt roads during the water transport. The Salvation Army also provided firefighters with food and water during the nearly 10 hour response. -Photo provided by Pine River Fire Department-
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#GivingTuesday-Donate Smart; Think Local
Published on 11/29/2022 under News After a weekend of holiday shopping; today is set aside for giving back. Giving Tuesday is a national movement encouraging people to donate to non profits. People looking to donate are encouraged to a do a little research, and not to forget local organizations. Groups including the BBB and State Department of Consumer Protection offered warnings about scammers taking advantage of a good cause. As usual, avoid pressure tactics, ask questions, and avoid any unusual payment requests. While there are many worthy national organizations, its also a good idea to think local as there are a number of groups and organizations in every community that are able to fulfill their missions thanks to people's generosity. That includes: food pantries, animal rescues, youth programs, and temporary shelters. And if money is tight during the holiday season, consider donating blood, winter clothing items, toys, or even your own time. We've currently got a number of local organizations with ongoing collection efforts in the WJJQ Community Calendar.
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