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The City of Eagle River could give up ownership of Olson Memorial Library propertySubmitted: 07/02/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson


EAGLE RIVER - The City of Eagle River wants to reduce its involvement with the Olson Memorial Library.

The city council, on Monday, voted unanimously to give the library property to another local town if it wants it.

The Eagle River City Council disagrees with the library's board and foundation on whether they need to get design bids for the library's remodeling project.

That project includes an addition that would double the size of the library.

The library's board hopes to buy the renovation plans designed by Jeff Visner of Design/Build by Visner.

Board members say professional projects like designs don't need to be bid out.

The foundation got more than $2.5 million in donations based on those plans.

"Our major donors donated on the plan that we showed them which was Design/Build by Visner and they are becoming increasingly unhappy that with the fact that we are now looking for other designs," said Library Board of Trustees president Laurie Stoegbauer.

But the city council says they need to take bids for the project.

"The city has been torn by this decision. We have the opinion of two attorneys that tell us we need to bid the entire project. The trustees and the foundation believe they have the ability to control some of this project. We're not going to go against the advice of our attorneys. We want the library to go forward so for the sake of no longer having that split, we've decided to step back," said Eagle River City Council member Jerry Burkett.

The library board will now approach the towns of Lincoln, Washington, Conover, Cloverland, St. Germain, and Arbor Vitae to see if they'd like to take over ownership of the property. Those towns are part of the joint library system.

"We're optimistic. They've all been very supportive and the City has been very supportive in the past. They have supported our library for years," said Stoegbauer.

If another town decides to take the library, the City of Eagle River would still be a contributing member of the joint library system.

The library serves about 14,000 people.

Stoegbauer says the library will seek bids for the construction.

The city clerk/treasurer will no longer serve as the library's fiscal agent as of August 15th, meaning the board may need to find a new owner and fiscal agent by then.

The city council, library board, and library foundation members all agree giving the property over to a town would be a good step.

They say they all want the library project to move forward.

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That's why former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is encouraging people to vote on August 9th.

He faces another democratic senate candidate Scott Harbach from Kenosha.

"I wouldn't say I'm nervous but I take nothing for granted," Feingold said at a Wausau event on Wednesday. 
"You should never take an election for granted and that's why we're working very hard at traveling all over the state this week to help people take advantage of early voting and if not to make sure they get out to vote on August 9th." 

If Feingold wins the election, he faces incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in November.

A recent Marquette University Law School poll shows Feingold leading. The link is posted below.

But Feingold said he doesn't want to get too hung up on the numbers.

"I don't want to get really serious about polling, that isn't the way that I've ever conducted myself," Feingold said. "What I do is go out to listen to people and find out directly not through polling what people are thinking and how they're feeling."

A third candidate named Phillip Anderson is also running for the same senate seat. He is a libertarian from Fitchburg.

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FLORENCE COUNTY - Driving through the Northwoods, you can see plenty of deer, cows, and horses… But bison? That's a little rarer.

Unless you travel to a ranch in Florence County, where the Rock family thinks they've tapped into a special and healthy food source.

Raising bison has always seemed normal to Michael Rock. His favorite is Badaxe, who is 25 years old.
"He became my baby and I feed him maple syrup and apples all the time, that's his favorite treat," said Michael.

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"We got into it for the health issues because now we know what we're eating," said David.
David started the business about 10 years ago. These days, the Rocks have around 130 bison on their Florence County ranch.

"For me this is enjoyment because I'm outside and I'm with my family. And I like to be outside and work with them on that," said David.

Two of the Rocks' four children live and work on the ranch.

"Being able to tell them what to do. I'm still the dad, so I rule the roost. They are a big help and they do have good ideas. You do have to watch the younger generation," said David.

Their daughter, Josie, and son, Michael, help with feeding and maintaining the herd.

"My favorite are the babies. The babies when they're younger, they like fighting and playing. And they'll just be running around and playing," said Josie.

But raising these animals isn't just about entertainment. In the 1800's, bison were almost killed off. Now, the Rocks hope to promote the animal's health benefits be carefully managing which ones go to be processed.

"Bison is about the only other meat out there that they can eat. It's healthier than chicken, it's healthier than salmon, pig, beef, anything. It's the top of the line," said Karen.

Raising an animal is a large project, one that Michael would like to do for a long time.

"I like bailing hay with the tractors, I like taking care of the animals. I have a future goal, to have big barns full of them," said Michael.

All of their meat is sent to the U. P. to a USDA approved facility and most of it stays local to the Midwest.

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