PHELPS, WABENO - Two small Northwoods communities will be able to use state-level resources to help revitalize their downtowns.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation accepted both Phelps and Wabeno into its Connect Communities Program last week.
Phelps and Wabeno will be able to connect with similar communities around the state to share ideas.
State-level staff will also visit to offer training for revitalization and redevelopment.
"Phelps and Wabeno, I've been working with those communities for almost two years now in both cases. They have some potential with regards to the dedicated group of individuals that are there working with them," said Naletta Burr, a WEDC Community Account Manager.
We've told you about the Friends of Wabeno group.
The volunteers are committed to making Wabeno a more vibrant community.
"Phelps is not that different from that standpoint, either. They've got a very strong base of elected officials that are working with them," Burr said. "They're working on downtown. They've got some tremendous opportunities with regards to some redevelopment opportunities. Both of them are great candidates. I'm excited that they're both in the program this year."
The Village of Marathon City will also participate in this year's program.
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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