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Proposed Rhinelander halfway house: another viewSubmitted: 04/04/2014

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com

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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.

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