Zoning CommitteeTakes More Time on Helicopter Hangar PermitSubmitted: 05/01/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

WOODRUFF - People live in the Northwoods for the peace and quiet it provides. But some important services create plenty of noise. Services like the Ministry Spirit 2 helicopter, which needs a new home.

It's currently housed at the Rhinelander Airport, but the hangar is for sale. Ministry proposed moving it to the Howard Young Medical Center, but some people in Woodruff don't want it there.

Tonight the Oneida County Zoning Committee had an opportunity to decide whether they'd approve the move.

Ministry says housing the chopper at the hospital will help them reach the majority of their patients in the quickest amount of time.

Doctors from the hospital told committee members it would cut down on critical time for heart attack, major traumatic injury and stroke patients.

"If they have a life-threatening problem having the helicopter at Howard Young will offer them a better, higher level of care," says Ministry Medical Group President Stewart Watson.

"I've had a heart attack. When I have my next one I want to be able to call 911, say, 'I'm on my way over. Get it running'," says Woodruff resident Corky Sheppard.

But plenty of people who live nearby object. One reason is noise; but many say it goes way beyond that.

"Several things we as a board had asked for, or questions we had put to the Howard Young Ministry staff simply were not acknowledged or answered," says Woodruff Town Supervisor Judy Allen.

Woodruff residents were given the chance to speak to the committee. Some voiced support for the hangar location. Others said they didn't oppose the helicopter moving to Woodruff, but rather the use of the land for housing and maintaining it right on hospital property.

"The reason that we're here is a land use issue. We're just opposed to how it's going. We would like to see some compromise and some common sense," says Woodruff resident Todd Albano.

Other people also said they wanted a compromise on the location of the hangar in the Woodruff Area.

The committee decided to pay a visit to the proposed site before they'll make a decision on the conditional use permit.

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PARK FALLS - Many people in the Northwoods go to church on Sunday mornings, and for some of them it may be begrudgingly.

But there are plenty of people, often elderly or sick, who want to go to church but have a hard time doing so.

Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls wanted to change that. Since May, they've been undergoing some construction. On Sunday, the church had a dedication ceremony for a special new addition—an elevator.

Now people like 100-year-old Ruth Olson can worship with greater ease.

Before the elevator, Olson said she would get to church by literally pulling herself up the stairs using the railing.

Olson's story is like many. As the older population grows, church buildings don't evolve with them. The buildings are often old and sometimes lack accomodating features for the elderly or disabled, and takes money to update the buildings.

"We have churches where the people are getting older and it's very hard for people to get around," said Rev. Dwayne Lueck, the district president for the North Wisconsin District Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

Some parishoners couldn't do what Ruth used to do, and so they would have to worship at a service held across the street in the day care center, instead of in the beautiful church.

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The congregation at Peace Lutheran believed in an elevator, so they paid for it.

"We been talking and planning this for...a long time," said Dick Ross, president of the congregation. "Pretty hard for some of the people, and I think you saw them, pretty hard for some of the people to worship here, so it was time."

"You can see it in their eyes more than anything when they know they have access and when they come up here and just enter the building and no steps, it's a great thing," said Buzz Peters, a parishoner who helped design the new elevator and space.

"We can finally have access for everybody to get into the worship facility, free access, that's what this is all about," Heinlein said. 

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