RHINELANDER - Traffic flowing easily along Stevens Street this winter will face barriers that are familiar to downtown Rhinelander starting this spring.
A more than $14 million reconstruction project (with approximately $4 million more in supplemental allowances, additions, and contingencies) replacing pipelines and roadway is almost certainly guaranteed to cause some headaches, but the Rhinelander City Council faced two routes to get through it.
"Both are viable means," Public Works Director Tim Kingman explained during a council meeting Monday night.
A bid from Dorner Construction out of Green Bay would finish the work in two years at a cost of $14,886,926. Meanwhile, Rhinelander's Musson Brothers' bid to do the work in three years came in at $14,225,696, about $650,000 less.
"That is a considerable amount of money and a considerable savings," Alderman Steve Sauer said.
Under Dorner's bid, Musson Brothers would be hired as a sub contractor to do underground excavating and pipe work. Mussons plans to hire A1 Excavating to do the same job.
Kingman argued Dorner's one year for underground pipe work and the second year for repaving limits the risk a longer term project presents. Kingman's recommendation went toward Dorner.
"Every time you open up a ditch line, every time you leave the road open, it is potential for flooding residences and basements and all kinds of things," Kingman said.
Alderwoman Dawn Rog asked if finishing the project in just two years could free up resources for other road work.
"[Would we have the] opportunity to work on a separate road that was probably in need of repair for that third year other than working on this particular project?" Rog said.
Rog also worried about the impact an extra year of construction would have on businesses along the two-mile stretch of Stevens Street from just north of downtown to the Highway 17 bypass.
However, Hodag Country Fest Coordinator Gerry Van Harpen said the work near their main access road (County Highway W) wouldn't hurt attendance at the Pine Lake festival.
"We would like to see whatever is the most cost-effective savings," Van Harpen said.
Saving money by going with Musson Brothers could have further benefit. Vice President Greg Hilgendorf said his company would see more than $1 million extra in work on this project if it got the main bid.
"[You would have] a greater percentage of money staying within the Rhinelander area," Hilgendorf said.
The council voted 5-3 in favor of Musson's three-year bid. Sauer, Tom Kelly, George Kirby, Andrew Larson, and Steven Holt voted yes while Rog, Ryan Rossing, and newly elected member Lee Emmer voted no.
"Six-hundred fifty thousand dollars is not something to scoff at," Sauer said.
The tentative work schedule has construction starting on Stevens Street in March, depending on the weather.
THREE LAKES - Plenty of Three Lakes High School students didn't know what they want to do for a career as of Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, many still weren't sure, but dozens got an inside look at possible careers.
The school held its annual Career Day on Friday morning. About 25 presenters included police, an FBI agent, college teachers, and graphic designers.
The school first held Career Day in 2009. Organizers hope students realize they have plenty of opportunities close to home.
LINCOLN CO. - The Lincoln Co. Sheriff's Office is calling a death east of Merrill on Thursday a homicide.
In a press release on Friday morning, the sheriff's office said a 77-year-old woman was found shot and killed around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. In the same home, a 78-year-old man was found critically injured from a gunshot wound.
It happened at a home on Range Line Road in the Town of Pine River.
The sheriff's office said it believes the shooting is isolated and the public is not in danger.
The Lincoln Co. Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Lab worked to process the scene.
RHINELANDER - A former contracted janitor accused of sexually assaulting a Rhinelander student appears headed for a trial.
Stavros Iliopoulos appeared in Oneida County Court on Friday afternoon. Attorneys told Judge Michael Bloom they had not reached a plea deal. Bloom decided to schedule one final pre-trial conference for late August before a two-day jury trial was set for Sept. 4 and 5.
In late November, police said Iliopoulos, 65, took a girl into a dark closet and hugged, kissed, and touched her inappropriately at Northwoods Community Elementary School, a public charter school in Harshaw.
Iliopoulos worked for a contracted company, Victory Janitorial, at the time.
All sorts of animals are affected by icy conditions. Some Northern Wisconsin owls dive INTO the snow to hunt small rodents. But recent freezing rain has formed an ice crust that owls can't break through. That means owls are beginning to starve.
Amanda Schirmer has been working at the Northwoods Wilderness Center for the past four years. She says that owls may hang around birdfeeders to prey on smaller birds. They may also be seen near roads.
SEYMOUR, IND. - A chain-reaction crash in southern Indiana killed a Minocqua couple on Wednesday morning.
Glenn Cardelli and his wife, Kathryn, both 57 years old, were traveling in south an RV near Seymour, Ind., on Interstate 65. The RV was behind a semi and an SUV, both of which slowed due to highway maintenance.
Another semi failed to slow down behind the stalled traffic and crashed into the Cardellis' RV. The crash killed the couple and John Mumma, 67, an Illinois man driving the SUV.
The vehicles caught fire. Interstate 65 was closed for about eleven hours for cleanup and crash investigation.
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