Rhinelander city administrator, council president pledge to move forward after office furniture replacement conflictSubmitted: 02/06/2019
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Rhinelander city administrator, council president pledge to move forward after office furniture replacement conflict
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander city administrator and city council president sat next to each other and stayed in the council chambers Wednesday afternoon, which was a change from just last week.

"This is water under the bridge," City Administrator Daniel Guild said.

Monday, Jan. 28, Council President George Kirby refused to join the council for its bimonthly meeting.  Instead, he sat in the gallery and made a brief statement before walking out.

"I was trying to prove a point as a taxpayer, I wanted to sit with the taxpayers," Kirby told the media during a joint press conference Wednesday.

Kirby was upset with Guild for not including bills and claims from December on the agenda. He took exception to a combined $13,261.88 Guild spent on desks, tables, chairs, file cabinets, carpeting and other replacement items for the Administrator's office.  The purchases, which totaled more than 57 items, included $834.24 for two file cabinets, $730.56 for two bookcases, and $1,183.20 for a large conference table.

"I still kind of stand behind... Well no, I still stand behind my actions, yes I do, sir," Kirby told Newswatch 12.

According to Guild, Kirby approached him after Tuesday night's Plan Commission meeting asking if the two could talk through their differences.

Guild said it was all a big misunderstanding.  

City records sent to Newswatch 12 via an open records request show Guild had room in his budget for the purchases. Page 5 of the "Revenues With Comparison to Budget" report shows a line item of $11,742.18 under "office supplies" which would more than cover all of the office charges aside from invoices to pay for carpet supplies and installation.

Guild told Newswatch 12 he got verbal approval from the mayor and finance director first before purchasing the items. Even including the office purchases, Guild came in under budget, according to the expenditures report, using just 76 percent of his allotted amount for the year.

The administrator explained many of the items in his office were decades old and didn't provide the proper space for file organization and meetings.

Wednesday, Guild explained there was confusion and misunderstanding because the agenda schedule shifted when the city eliminated its committee structure for a Committee of the Whole last year, including the Finance Committee.

City leaders initially planned to include bills and claims review in the second committee meeting of each month, but a check of the Wisconsin state statutes showed those items need to be handled at the first meeting of the month, according to Stat. 62.09(9)(c). That led the administrator and city attorney to agree to handle bills for December 2018 and January 2019 at the upcoming Feb. 11 council meeting.

Guild admitted he didn't make that clear enough to Kirby prior to the council president's angry speech.

"I want to take this moment to humble myself and apologize to George publicly," Guild said.

The city hired Guild in September as its fifth administrator in four years. He noted his experience, which according to his LinkedIn page includes public roles in five other communities (most recently spending the last six years as Weston's village administrator) since 2005 has prepared him for conflict.

"Being a council member is community service. And you do it because you're passionate. You do it because you have strong opinions. And you do it because you care," Guild said.  "I like George and I respect him."

Kirby told the press Wednesday he has no intentions of resigning. Instead, he looks forward to talking about the purchases at the next council meeting.

"The city's gotta keep going with the right foot forward, we can't keep going to the past," Kirby said.

"As adults, as people of goodwill, and as people who are passionate of doing right by the city, [I hope] that we can come together, find solutions to those differences, and then move forward," Guild said.

Newswatch 12 asked Kirby if he was upset about the amount Guild spent or how he went about buying the items. Kirby wouldn't comment, saying he will go over it with the full council on Monday night.

The full city council meets Monday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m.

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RHINELANDER - A man died near the entrance of Nicolet College in Rhinelander on Thursday afternoon.

Neither the campus nor the public were in danger, according to the Oneida Co. Sheriff's Office. Due to the circumstances of the man's death, Newswatch 12 is not releasing more information, but there appears to be nothing suspicious about the death.

Police got a report at 3:55 p.m. about a man lying face down near the entry drive to Nicolet College. Emergency responders took him to St. Mary's Hospital, but he died.

The Oneida Co. Sheriff's Office, Rhinelander Fire Department, Pelican First Responders, and Oneida Co. Medical Examiner's Office were involved in the response.

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MINOCQUA - Mixed in with a sea of cakes, brownies, and muffins, Sue Loeffler thought her cookies stood out.

"Yeah, yeah, it was a real production," Loeffler said of her work.

Loeffler spent the better part of Wednesday making 91 cookies for a bake sale, which started Thursday, knowing her role was an important one in drawing a crowd.

"Us Methodist women are really good bakers, so we have this reputation in town for good food," Loeffler said.

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RHINELANDER - A semi-trailer arrived in Rhinelander this week carrying a lot of bees. While some people don't like to be around bees, they provide a lot of benefits.

The owner of a local honey farm wants to show the great things bees bring for everyone.

Concerns about the declining bee population have been around for many years.

"There's a few different elements to the decline and I think most of it is going to stem from stress [on the bee population]," said Hansen's Honey Farm Owner Chris Hansen.

The biggest cause of stress is mites.

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ASHLAND - A man wanted on a federal warrant died in a police shooting in Ashland.

The Ashland Police Department posted on Facebook that the shooting happened in the 800 Block of 4th Avenue West.

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RHINELANDER - People living in Rhinelander may notice discolored water at different points throughout the month of June.  The city plans to flush its hydrants over a four-to-six-week stretch.

The routine flushing helps clear out iron deposits in water lines and make sure hydrants are working properly.

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RHINELANDER - Grow North is a corporation working toward a stronger economy in the Northwoods. Their annual meeting Thursday focused on housing.

Executive Director of Regional and Economic Development at Nicolet College Sandy Bishop said housing is the number one issue for local business-owners.

"Part of what we're learning about is the need for housing across the region and then also looking at what kinds of incentives and resources are available that can be tapped into," said Bishop.

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The Oneida County Beekeepers Association promotes beekeeping in the Northwoods. 

It does its part to save the bees, and wants to encourage to do the same. It works to recruit new beekeepers, as well as teach people the importance of honeybees in our everyday lives.

"Bees are essential for our food supply," said Oneida County Beekeepers Association member, John Bigley. "If we lose the bees, we lose most of the food supply. So, we got to keep them healthy. We have to ensure that they are pollinating not only the flowers, but the fruit trees and vegetable gardens."

The organization is holding a class on June 1st for anyone who is interested in learning how to become a beekeeper. 

It's also an advanced class for beekeepers to learn more about bee tips and tricks. 

It will be held at Hansen's Honey Farm.

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