Mole Lake Tribe hands out more than $84,000 to help groups across three countiesSubmitted: 01/15/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Mole Lake Tribe hands out more than $84,000 to help groups across three counties
MOLE LAKE - You don't find too many people hanging around the Lake George boat launch in mid-January, but Rollie Woltjen wants to see plenty of his workers there all summer long.

"It's so important for us to have those people at the landing," Woltjen said.

The Rhinelander-area lake association president has had a home on Lake George since the late 1980s, but only lately has the fight to stop aquatic invasive species been top of mind.  Woltjen and Scott Campbell work hard to find people to check boats for AIS and keep Lake George clear of eurasian watermilfoil.

"In the past, we had done it with volunteers, but volunteers are getting harder and harder to come by," Woltjen said.

That made the $4,000 check to help pay workers his lake association received Monday morning so important.

"It's great that they are so active in trying to help groups that want help and want to help themselves," Woltjen said.

Woltjen's association was one of 31 groups to receive more than $84,000 in funding from the Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa tribe in 2018. Libraries, snowmobile clubs, fire departments, and even the Forest County Humane Society cashed in on the generosity.

"This it the highlight of my January," humane society president Jay Schaefer said.

Schaefer says almost all - about 85 percent - of his $100,000 budget comes from donations like Mole Lake's. Groups needed to submit documents explaining why they need the money and what they would use it for.

"They're very casual on the application and yet very sincere," Schaefer said.

Gaming compacts with the state require tribes to give a portion of casino earnings to local governments. Mole Lake reaches far and wide with its donations, offering money to groups in Forest, Langlade, and Oneida counties, with a focus on protecting the environment.

"We don't see them daily or utilize their services daily, but sometime throughout the year we do need their service and when you need their service it's always a good part for us to remember them," Tribal Chairman Chris McGeshick said.

McGeshick simply calls the donations "holding up their part of the bargain," whether that means feeding more dogs or removing a few more invasive species from a lake.

"We all have a responsibility here and we just want to make sure that everybody understands we will be a responsible partner," McGeshick said.

The tribe ultimately gets to decide who receives the funding each year, but McGeshick says groups that protect the land, air, and water while promoting tourism get special consideration.

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