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Renewal of former manufacturing sites in Merrill excites DNRSubmitted: 11/11/2016
Renewal of former manufacturing sites in Merrill excites DNR
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

MERRILL - An hour-long bus tour sold Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp on Merrill on Friday.

"Can I just say how impressed I am with all of the things going in on little old Merrill?" she said.

Specifically, it's the redevelopment of formerly abandoned manufacturing sites which had her excited.


"It is such a rewarding part of our agency," Stepp said. "It's really more of the glitter and rainbows when it comes to the feel-good stuff."

For example, the Hurd Windows and Doors company moved out of their factory on Merrill's west side decades ago. The move left behind environmental hazards.

"We're dealing with a dip tank and pentachlorophenol, which is difficult to treat," said John Robinson, the Northern Region Supervisor of the DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment Program.

Grant money from the DNR helped clean the site.

"It's a property in transition from unused to used and from unclean to clean," said Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson.

Right now, the property is being partially used by an alfalfa drying company. Huge mounds of alfalfa sit under massive white tarps.

Merrill hopes that with one more remediation step, a manufacturer can find success on the grounds.

"Success means having the jobs, putting it back into productive use, and addressing the pathways to make sure nobody is exposed," Robinson said.

The final remediation step includes dealing with contaminated soil on the property.

Part of Merrill's new Riverbend Trail runs adjacent to the old Hurd property, helping show that parts of cities once considered dead and dangerous can rise again.

"Seeing these properties come to life again, it's really the rebirth of a community," Stepp said.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 12/15/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Olson Memorial Library in Eagle River held a grand RE-opening that shows patience and perseverance pays off. We talk to the Library Foundation president and vice-president as well as Governor Scott Walker who attended the event.

We'll show you a half-court basketball shot a Rhinelander eighth-grader made that won money for him and raised money the Rhinelander Area Scholarship Foundation.

And tonight on Friday Night Blitz we'll bring you scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following basketball games:

Phelps vs. Laona Wabeno (Boys and Girls)

Rhinelander vs. Northland Pines (Boys and Girls)

Elcho vs. Crandon (Boys)


That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you all this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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EAGLE RIVER - Snowmobilers in Vilas County can get ready to ride.

Most trails in Vilas County will be opening at 5:00 p.m. Friday.

Vilas County Recreation Administrator Dale Mayo says the exception is the Phelps Trail system.

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RHINELANDER - Eighth-grader Alexx Huff doesn't practice half-court shots much.

At the end of basketball practice, he's usually too tired to try and make 40-footers. But Huff had plenty of energy two weeks ago, when he stepped onto the court during halftime of a varsity basketball game in Rhinelander.

"I'm really nervous, I'm really shaky," Huff said, remembering the night. "There's a lot of people watching."

Huff was randomly selected to take part a shooting contest held during every game. The contest ends with a half-court shot.

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CRANDON - Alyssa Samz spends her days washing, blow drying, and trimming the fur on dogs, and she couldn't be happier.

"It's fun. I love to be able to do something I enjoy every day," said Samz.

Samz spent the last year working for a groomer in Argonne, but now she's decided to branch out on her own.

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MADISON - A drug distributor from California hoped to flood northern Wisconsin with meth to create more addicts.  Now, Marcos Castaneda faces life in federal prison.

Castaneda, 37, pleaded guilty in federal court in Madison for providing nearly $6 million of meth between 2013 and 2016.

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RHINELANDER - Oneida County Circuit Judge Michael Bloom apparently didn't appreciate a standoff suspect's letter to him.

Mathew Smith, 21, wrote Bloom requesting a speedy trial, saying he "will not stand for this."

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RHINELANDER - The first batch of showed up at Rhinelander Brewery Thursday.
This moves Rhinelander a step closer to brewing beer here for the first time since the 1960s.
Thursday the brewery got its brew kettle, six fermenters and a storage tank.

The brewery will have a ten tap system and wants five of the beers to be made in Rhinelander.
The rest will come from a brewery in Monroe that currently brews its beer.
"Really excited that it's coming to fruition and the people have been waiting a long time for us to be making beer here. We're going to make some small batch craft beer," said Rhinelander Brewery gift shop manager Brenda O' Rourke. 

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