RHINELANDER - Neighbors of a proposed halfway house in Rhinelander packed City Hall this week to oppose the project.
Their advocacy was effective.
A city commission recommended the City Council deny a private agency's ability to set up the house.
It would serve recovering ex-convicts.
But some others point out the good things a halfway house could provide.
Tony Fralick has worked at Community House in Rhinelander for three years.
It's a different kind of halfway house - serving people with mental illnesses instead of ex-convicts with drug and alcohol problems.
But like the proposed house on Phillip Street, there was plenty of skepticism about Community House in the beginning.
People worried about their new neighbors, their own safety, and property values.
That was in the late 1980s.
"A lot of our guys and women in Community House go in the community every day. You wouldn't even know it. We haven't had any problems with the neighbors since. People just accept it. They're like, hey, they do good work there," Fralick says.
Opponents are concerned the new halfway house would be near their homes, a city park, and a school bus stop.
Fralick doesn't live in that neighborhood.
But he thinks the chance for people to do GOOD outweighs their concerns.
"I understand their concerns, and their safety, and their stuff, and their homes, and everything. That's fine. I'd feel the same way. But at the end of the day it's about making a difference. It's about helping people. It's about second chances. We all deserve one," Fralick says.
The city's Planning Commission rejected the idea on Wednesday.
But nothing is decided just yet.
The City Council will have the final say on April 14th.
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.
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