Zoning CommitteeTakes More Time on Helicopter Hangar PermitSubmitted: 05/01/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

WOODRUFF - People live in the Northwoods for the peace and quiet it provides. But some important services create plenty of noise. Services like the Ministry Spirit 2 helicopter, which needs a new home.

It's currently housed at the Rhinelander Airport, but the hangar is for sale. Ministry proposed moving it to the Howard Young Medical Center, but some people in Woodruff don't want it there.

Tonight the Oneida County Zoning Committee had an opportunity to decide whether they'd approve the move.

Ministry says housing the chopper at the hospital will help them reach the majority of their patients in the quickest amount of time.

Doctors from the hospital told committee members it would cut down on critical time for heart attack, major traumatic injury and stroke patients.

"If they have a life-threatening problem having the helicopter at Howard Young will offer them a better, higher level of care," says Ministry Medical Group President Stewart Watson.

"I've had a heart attack. When I have my next one I want to be able to call 911, say, 'I'm on my way over. Get it running'," says Woodruff resident Corky Sheppard.

But plenty of people who live nearby object. One reason is noise; but many say it goes way beyond that.

"Several things we as a board had asked for, or questions we had put to the Howard Young Ministry staff simply were not acknowledged or answered," says Woodruff Town Supervisor Judy Allen.

Woodruff residents were given the chance to speak to the committee. Some voiced support for the hangar location. Others said they didn't oppose the helicopter moving to Woodruff, but rather the use of the land for housing and maintaining it right on hospital property.

"The reason that we're here is a land use issue. We're just opposed to how it's going. We would like to see some compromise and some common sense," says Woodruff resident Todd Albano.

Other people also said they wanted a compromise on the location of the hangar in the Woodruff Area.

The committee decided to pay a visit to the proposed site before they'll make a decision on the conditional use permit.

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