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Proposed Rhinelander halfway house: another viewSubmitted: 04/04/2014
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Proposed Rhinelander halfway house:  another view
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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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/22/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you live to Crandon and update you on the death of a Lac du Flambeau woman whose body was found following a report of a gunshot early Wednesday morning. Three people were put in jail following the reported incident.

A lake in Conover has flooded, but not just from the rain. We'll bring you the details.

And we'll show you a Rhinelander pasty shop that is getting ready to re-open its door nine months after it caught on fire and closed down.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - Hodag Park received a sizable donation Thursday morning. New sand was dropped off to help the Rhinelander Parks Department grow the beach back to its original shape.

There were thousands of pounds of sand dropped off and spread out. There was a high need for this because of all the rain we've had this season.

"It was getting in pretty poor shape and washing out more and more, but this year especially, it just seems like we've lost a lot of sand. So now we're going to shape it up nicely and hopefully it'll last the year," said Rhinelander Parks Director, Jeremy Biolo.

All of that sand was donated and delivered by a company in Rhinelander.

"Musson Brothers, Inc. donated all the sand and they said we could help ourselves to as much as we want, which is unbelievable because this beach really needed some work," said Biolo. "Every little bit like that helps our community out and it improves the community. It's awesome that the Musson Brothers stepped up and would do that for us."

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RHINELANDER - Nicolet College's Motorcycle Basic Rider Course teaches folks to safely hit the road on their bike.

The class is in full swing for the season.

Nicolet College Rider Coach Mike Murray says even experienced riders can use a "safety brush-up" this time of year.

Riders should always wear their helmet, long pants and shirts, gloves, and boots.

It's also important to keep your eyes moving for critters that come out of the woods,especially deer.

"If you know you're going to hit it: let off your brakes, hit it with your handle bars straight ahead looking straight ahead so that your bike stays straight up," says rider coach Mike Murray.

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RHINELANDER - After nearly 40 years as a pharmacist, Tom Welke has been robbed, threatened at gunpoint, and had his pharmacy burgled.

"It just kind of goes along with the job, in a way," Welke said in Rhinelander's Apothecary Pharmacy on Thursday afternoon.

One of the main reasons lately for those crimes tends to be people trying to get their hands illegally on pseudoephedrine pills, which they can use to make meth.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Thursday, volunteers faced mosquitos, ticks and rain to conserve 96 acres of land.

The Marshall Wildlife Conservation Center in Lac du Flambeau hosted a volunteer work day to dismantle a deteriorating pier and platform on a new conservation land donation.

Northwoods Land Trust Executive Director Bryan Pierce says the land has a creek and pond with many swans and beavers.

"We're going to be installing a brand new pier, so it will be a real nice wildlife observation area for people to look at the water, the swans and cranes," said Pierce.

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CONOVER - June 22 makes it the 14th day of rainfall for us this month, and it's not been very convenient.

People all over northcentral Wisconsin have had to deal with storm damage or flooding in some way.

Pioneer Lake in Conover has had a particularly tough time with flooding not only because of the rain, but also because of a dam upstream.

"We've got 20 piers here, and they're floating away, they're underwater," said Maple View Resort and Campground Owner Tony Osiecki. "I've never seen it like this in fifty years."

Osiecki blames the deluge of rain we've gotten in the past few weeks for the flooding in his resort. But he and many others on the lake also blame a dam upstream.

It's located on the southwest side of South Twin Lake in Phelps. It's owned by Wausau-based Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company, and it's meant to maintain the levels of the Twin Lakes. Peter Hansen, the company's Vice President of Operation, admits they are releasing a lot of water--because they are federally required to.

"We are releasing an amount of water that is more than the 500-year rain event," Hansen said. "That means the rain that we've had, according to our calculations, is only supposed to happen every 500 years...We're doing everything within our federal license to lower the water level on Twin."

Downstream of the dam is the Twin River, which flows into Pioneer Lake. Hansen says the company is not responsible for what happens downstream.

That leaves some people frustrated

"[People] have been calling wanting to know what we're doing about the water and what they've got to do to fix it," said Pioneer Lake Association President Terry Wright. "If it's affecting us we have to have somebody we can call to change it."

In the meantime, Osiecki deals with the flooding.

"Move everything back a bit and try to get someone to close the dam and compromise," Osiecki said.

Hansen says the company has been able to cut back on the water release in the past few days, but with more rain in the forecast, that might change. He says Pioneer Lake does not have a controlled structure to help with the lake's water levels.


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RHINELANDER - Bill Makris taught P.E. at Rhinelander High School for 30 years. But he's since shifted his time to teaching summer camps.

"These are kids that want to be here," said Makris.

The camps aren't your typical workshops or outdoor activities.

"Strength training, speed development, agility," said Makris.

He helps younger kids concentrate on attainable athletic goals.

"I do like running track and cross country so I want to increase my speed ability," said Rhinelander 8th grader, Sage Flory.

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