RHINELANDER - It often feels like there are two seasons in Wisconsin: Winter and Construction.
Drivers in Rhinelander will head into summer with a brand new construction-related headache to deal with on a major roadway.
"We're hopeful, and we'll work our best to get it to where we want it to be," city engineer Tim Kingman said.
Rhinelander city leaders think that's the mindset to take when it comes to a major construction project on busy Kemp Street. Smaller portions of the project will start in early June. That's on Bruner St. and Boyce Drive.
But drivers, get ready. When sewer work starts in the first few weeks of June on Kemp Street, you won't be going anywhere on it.
"When Kemp Street shuts down their work efforts will be focused on that street so it will be shut down for the shortest period of time possible," Kingman said. "Provided good weather and favorable conditions, we'd like to see the street open in three to four months."
Only home and business owners will have access to properties on Kemp Street once the project starts in mid-June. Other drivers will have to go around before the bridge on Sutliff Avenue or Oneida Avenue. The city says it will be well-marked.
Geremiah Young lives on Bruner Street - one of the several roads that will shut down during construction. He understands the 50-year-old sewer needs to be replaced, but he wishes the city had done a better job of notifying people.
"Give everybody letters that just inform them, 'Hey, we've got guys coming, we're going to tear up the street, just to let you know.,'" Young said.
They're walking across my lawn, marking up my yard, which I don't have a problem with, as long as they would have notified me."
City Engineer Tim Kingman thinks the city's done its part.
"We've gone out and had informational meetings and people have attended these things," Kingman said. "We're hopeful we've provided a good understanding to the general public about why and how we're doing this."
The how and why are set, now we'll only have to wait less than two weeks for work to start. Young thinks, despite the lack of communication, the city will handle the $6.3 million project just fine.
"If they learn from their mistakes and if they take care of everything they should, I don't have a problem with it," Young said.
The city plans to update progress on a regular basis. Info will be available online and via an email mailing list. To add your name to that list, please call the Public Works Department at 715-362-2728.
MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life. "It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury. Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time. "When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill. "As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi. After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change. "I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury. Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family. "Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi. Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born. "It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home. The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round. Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too. "There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani. Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife. "There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick.
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