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home : government September 14, 2014

Gunshots nearly struck neighbor
Criminal charges have been leveled against two Rice Lake men accused, in part, of shooting multiple times through the floor of an apartment, nearly hitting a couple on the bed above.
Randal K. Hoffman, 35, of 212 N. Wilson Ave., Apt. 2, and Terance L. Hansen, 50, of 11 1/2 W. Slocumb St. appeared in Barron County Circuit Court last Thursday for an initial hearing. Hoffman is charged with felony charges of two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and possessing methamphetamine and misdemeanor charges of operating a firearm while intoxicated and intentionally pointing a firearm at a person, both as a party to a crime.
Hansen is charged with misdemeanor possessing drug paraphernalia, operating a firearm while intoxicated, intentionally pointing a firearm at a person, both as a party to a crime, and obstructing an officer.
Judge James Babler set bail ...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Village will fence retention pond
Responding to worried parents, the Cameron Village Board voted Monday to move ahead with fencing around a water retention pond off Clayton Avenue.
Families near the pond say they are concerned that children may wander into the pond, which now has a water depth of 5 to 6 feet because of the unusual amount of rain the area has been getting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Council seeks solution to street flooding
The Rice Lake City Council discussed how to alleviate flooding on the South side of the city at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
Most recently, south Main Street, Macauley Avenue as well as other streets and properties on the south side of the city flooded for more than an hour on Aug. 29.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
County proposes plan for officer in schools
A school liaison officer may once again walk the halls of area schools, if the dollars to put him or her there materialize.
Earlier this month, Barron County Executive Committee members gave the nod to create the position, effective in next year's budget. That recommendation will subsequently go to the County Board, which will vote on the matter this fall.
Cost for the county's liaison officer would be just over $100,000, with 30% of that cost covered by the school districts, contingent on school board approval, Fitzgerald recently said. The Sheriff's Department also receives a tribal grant that will ...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Walmart denied liquor license; library upgrade delayed
A liquor license for a major retailer was denied and a decision on upgrading the city library was delayed by the Rice Lake City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 19.
Walmart was denied Class A liquor and beer licenses with a vote by Mayor Steve Harrington breaking a 4-4 tie. Those opposing cited disparities in the application, past precedence and increased risk of underage drinking as reasons to deny the license.
On its application, Walmart requested a space of 1,800 to sell alcohol. Alderman Mike Diercks pointed out that a graphic of the floor plan submitted with the application showed a space half that size.
After casting the tie-breaking vote, Harrington said he was concerned about the store having the option to expand its liquor department to that size.
Aldermen Diercks, Justin Fonfara, Dan Genereau and Dan Schwab also opposed.
Genereau said he felt it was unfair to liquor retailers who paid to acquire a license to grant new licenses.
In 2001 MarketPlace paid $135,000 to acquire its liquor license from Hardy's Liquor, while Gordy's, the last to get one of four Class A licenses in the city, had no such cost other than the application fee.
Schwab said he was concerned by the correlation between the amount of underage drinking and the number of places to get alcohol, a phenomenon brought to attention by the Barron County Safe & Stable Families Coalition at a prior council meeting.
Aldermen Mark O'Brien, Stu Durkee, Dan Lawler and Bruce Willers voted in favor of a motion to grant the license.
Willers said giving Walmart a license would be favorable because it would reduce traffic into the city by people planning to buy alcohol.
The matter may be re-considered at a future meeting at the request of a council member who voted against granting the license.

The council also split on whether or not to commit to borrowing money to fund half of a $10 million library renovation in 2016. Harrington again cast a tie-breaking vote to table the issue until after the 2015 budget is set.
"This is a big purchase. I'm questioning my nerves on pulling the trigger on $5 million," said Schwab, who voted in favor of tabling the issue along with O'Brien, Willers and Durkee.
The library project alone would require a spike in the tax rate of approximately 5%.
"You can't do this out of your existing tax rate," said city administrator Curt Snyder.
However, he said even ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Seal coat work will impact motorists
Seal coating operations are under way on a number of Rice Lake Streets, including Main Street and Allen Street.
Drivers should watch for workers, allow extra time for commuting and to use alternative routes when possible.
The most-used streets affected are Main Street from Messenger Street to the south city limits and Allen Street between Main Street and Macauley Avenue.
After streets are chip sealed, ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Judges sworn in to new terms
Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler, on left, swears in J.M. Bitney and Maureen D. Boyle to begin their new terms of office in a brief ceremony at the Justice Center last week. Both Bitney and Boyle were appointed by Gov. Scott Walker ...
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Quinn, Bewley win primary races
Victories in the Tuesday, Aug. 12 partisan primary were decisive in most races, including those for state Assembly and Senate.
Approximately 16% of registered voters and 11.5% of eligible voters came to the polls in Barron County, according to County Clerk DeeAnn Cook.
Voters chose the Republican ballot over the Democrat ballot by a nearly 2:1 margin in the county.
Former Rice Lake Mayor Romaine Quinn gathered 68% of the vote in the 75th Assembly district to defeat Turtle Lake pastor and Village Board member Ken Mandley.
Quinn won handily in Rice Lake by a 478-128 margin, while Mandley only took small margins in Turtle Lake, Chetek, Cumberland and Prairie Farm. The 75th district also includes parts of Polk County and the southern third of Washburn County. In Barron County Quinn had 71% of the vote.
"Ken Mandley was a very worthy opponent," said Quinn. "Both of us worked very hard. I look forward to working with Ken to secure the seat in November."
Mandley issued a press release Tuesday night congratulating Quinn and wishing him good fortune in the November election.
Elsewhere on the Republican ballot, ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
U.S. Senator hears local workforce concerns
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D, met with local workforce and economic development officials in a round table discussion to talk about local partnerships addressing workforce development and training needs in the community.
Baldwin said after the event at WITC-Rice Lake on Thursday that it was clear what they wanted her to bring back to Washington, D.C.-that changes to the Workforce Investment Act ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Midwest Frac buyout resolves Hwy. P lawsuit
A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit by Midwest Frac against Barron County over highway improvements, repair and maintenance agreements for a portion of Hwy. P in the Town of Arland.
Superior Silica Sands, the largest frac sand company in the county, is in the process of buying Midwest Frac and has agreed to assume all obligations of the agreements for about $1.3 million.
Under the road agreements with the county, Midwest Frac, owned by Matt Torgerson, was to pay the county $1.3 million to improve a 6-mile stretch of Hwy. P from 8th Avenue north to Hwy. 8 to haul silica sand from its mine to its customers.
Midwest Frac filed a lawsuit in Barron County Circuit Court against the county, highway commissioner Mark Servi and county administrator Jeff French on Jan. 3.
The company asked a judge ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
CN check aids safety program
CN Railroad presented a $1,000 check for use at the safety fair for children. The money will be used for safety vests, bicycle helmets and life jackets. Pictured above, in back from left, are Andrew Morrison, Jim Stoll, Jeremy Miller and Andy Krahenbuhl. In front are Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, Kathy Ricci Kevin Soucie and Patricia Durand.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Main Street repairs, Kern Extension approved
Having been summoned to an enforcement conference for not complying with state stormwater standards, the Rice Lake City Council on Tuesday, July 22 approved hiring a specialized attorney to fight Department of Natural Resources regulations.
The council also approved a project extending Kern Avenue to the intersection of Hwys. O and SS and borrowing funds in order to repair Main Street.
Two DNR wardens served Mayor Steve Harrington a notice of violation and enforcement conference request on Monday, July 14. The conference was scheduled for this Thursday but has been delayed with the help of Madison-based attorney Paul Kent, according to council documents.
City Council members had already approved the hiring of Kent to advise the city at a rate of $240 per hour, but hadn't defined the scope of his services.
On Tuesday, they agreed to have him draft ordinances and represent the city's interests in DNR enforcement action. The city had also considered using city attorney Arnold Koehler to draft ordinance while consulting with Kent as needed.
The next step in enforcement could involve the Department of Justice.
Snyder said he believes ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Cameron splash pad decisions made
The Cameron Village Board had to tread water through a number of aqueous issues at its meeting Monday, July 14.
Although uncertain when its splash pad at Guy Speirs Park will open, the Cameron Village Board gave the go-ahead for the Parks Committee to set operational plans for the recreational facility.
Committee Chair Randy Hill said work is still under way on the project to build a water feature at the park, but he said it could be open as soon as next week.
Splash pads feature touch activated nozzles that spray water upward out of a deck made of nonslip concrete. In April, the board approved the expenditure of $61,311 for the project, which had been expected to open earlier this summer.
After some discussion Monday about whether the village should staff the facility and charge a fee to users, the board instructed the committee to pursue its recommendation to operate the facility from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. daily staffed by a person to handle admissions and monitor activity.
Punch cards will be available ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


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