MERRILL - The City of Merrill plans on tearing down eyesores in the community. But at the same time, the city plans to build a new building just a few blocks away.
"Badly peeling paint, bad roofs, broken windows, just a building that would look uninhabitable." Says Merrill City Administrator David Johnson.
Merrill, along with six other counties and cities, are receiving grants from the state to tear down the old and decrepit buildings in town. On the docket, is this building on Grand Ave.
Spreading like a virus, the "doctor" recommends demolition to save other buildings in the neighborhood. Johnson says plans are in place to tear it down, before the community goes down. "Once one goes down[in aesthetic terms], and property values begin to fall, people don't see any reason to invest in their own properties either. So you have this deterioration spreading through the entire neighborhood."
While some buildings in Merril are being demolished. Other buildings are being built. Like a new fire house which will be going up across the street from the post office. This building will also go hand in hand with a restructuring of the department.
"By only having one station and building a new central station, we'll still only have one station, and there is no longer a need for that level of supervision." Says Johnson, "So what we've done is collapse the organization somewhat."
The fire department will keep all of its employees, according to Johnson. But the two previous firehouses in town will come together underneath one roof with one new chief, David Savone. "Twenty-eight years of fire-fighting experience, he is a paramedic, and his ability to teach. The fact that he is teaching at a university presently speaks volumes about his abilities."
The building on Grand Ave. is expected to come down next week. While the city decides who will get the contract to build the new firehouse.
RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group held a seminar at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Tuesday, to plan how to make Wisconsin more attractive to skilled workers and manufacturing businesses.
WMC's president believes the shortage in younger people in the industry has to do with two big misconceptions about manufacturing.
"The younger kids, as do their parents, have a perception on what manufacturing looks like and it's about 40 years out of date. If you're in an advanced manufacturing facility now, it's clean, it's high-tech, the engineers and technicians are working together," said Jim Morgan."We have a perception problem. I think we still have a definition of success that's says unless you have a four-year degree, you're not successful."
Morgan says groups like WMC work to change that perception. He believes workers with a two-year degree are just as successful in the industry.
So far, WMC held seminars at nine other technical colleges. For Rhinelander, more manufacturers could mean more economic independence.
"The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is looking to see how it can help and partner with local manufacturers to make the Rhinelander area a more favorable place for them to locate their businesses, as well as to attract and retain skilled workers to make those businesses successful," said Dana DeMet, Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce director.
Over the next six months, WMC will continue to look for ways to attract more workers and businesses to the state.
In December, it hopes to have 1000 representatives for a meeting in Milwaukee focusing on how manufacturing will benefit the state.
WMC also works with the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Ruby's pantry opened their doors Tuesday in Lac du Flambeau. This is the first time the Ruby's pantry has set up shop there. They decided to come to Lac du Flambeau because of the good turnout in Rhinelander. The food pantry asks that people give a $20 donation.
“It's not your typical food pantry,” says Gloria Cobb, Ruby's Pantry Lac du Flambeau Lead Coordinator. “This is an opportunity to give people dignity, to serve with dignity, and it's a donation base.”
“I mean look at the hustle and bustle going on we've got the community coming together not only Lac du Flambeau but the surrounding community coming together to meet a very basic need and that's to help with hunger,” says Cobb.
The pantry offered items like strawberries, cake mix, and toilet paper. More than 400 people were expected to show up.
“A participant will go through the line with a laundry basket and or box and they will be offered items,” says Cobb. “They can refuse them however we will encourage them to take the item because somebody else that they may know may have a need.”
“They get a certain amount of each item and they go through the line like an assembly line,” says Cobb.
The pantry had more than 21,000 pounds of food to give away.
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