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NEWS STORIES

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

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


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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Students at Rhinelander High School hoped they would be driving home in a new car Wednesday afternoon. The prize was part of the school's year-end celebration. The car was the top prize connected to the school's Positive Behavior Initiatives and Supports initiative.

This is the third year that the school district has been involved with the initiative. Throughout the year students who display good behaviors such as being on time and assisting others in the classroom can receive special green cards.

These cards are collected and are put into drawings where students can win prizes such as free pizzas from Dominos. The drawings are a weekly event but the green cards are also held over the year for an end of the year grand prize drawing.

Brittany Haakenson, an art teacher at Rhinelander High School, has been very involved with the initiative and the planning for Wednesday's assembly.  She was excited for the work the initiative has been able to accomplish and for the grand prize; a new car. "It's totally random and whoever gets that special key, there is going to be six keys that won't open the car, but there will be that one winner," said Haakenson.


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