RHINELANDER - Lee Emmer took the oath of office at the Rhinelander City Council meeting Monday night. Mayor Chris Frederickson nominated Emmer to replace Sherrie Belliveau in District 3, which the Council voted 6-1 to approve. He received a round of applause from his fellow council members, but the sense of unity didn't last long.
"We don't hide taxpayers' money," Alderwoman Dawn Rog said.
Rog laid into City Adminstrator Daniel Guild for the better part of an hour during the meeting. She was upset over about $13,000 Guild used to buy office upgrades without council approval.
"We told the taxpayers we were going to spend this money on salaries and we didn't. We spent it on furniture," Rog said.
The items didn't appear on the agenda under bills and claims for approval at the Jan. 28 council meeting. Council President George Kirby got upset with Guild for not putting it on the agenda, then proceeded to walk out of the meeting that night and restricting the council from starting the meeting due to a lack of quorum.
Monday, some council members shared their frustrations with Kirby's move.
"I feel it is vital that we create a culture where this council works as a collaborative team," Alderman David Holt said.
Holt and Ryan Rossing used the public comment portion to scold Kirby for "embarrassing" the council.
"It's always the little things that keep hanging us up and stop us from truly succeeding and growing as a city," Rossing said during his allotted two minutes at the podium.
Guild's overall department budget had plenty of room for the purchases, with more than 20 percent to spare at the end of 2018. That was largely due to the fact salaries were $42,000 below budget due to no one in the office between Keith Kost's resignation in April and Guild's hiring this fall.
However, the items overran Guild's "office supply" budget by more than $11,000. Guild didn't speak during this portion of the meeting, but told Newswatch 12 last week that Frederickson approved the purchases before they happened.
"I believe Mr. Frederickson ran his campaign on transparency," Rog said. "Was that just a slogan? Was it just a campaign?"
Finance Director Wendi Bixby apologized for confusion on the matter, noting she's only in her second year in that role. She told the council Guild and Frederickson were within their legal right to authorize the purchases without getting council approval first.
Rog suggested the council inspect and approve every budget item line by line each month. That's something Alderman Steve Sauer said would bog down getting important work done.
"If we look through this, we would be making literally hundreds of budget amendments a year," Sauer said.
Rog argued this situation was a clear example of why the council should bring back its Finance Committee. The council temporarily eliminated committees in December.
Her motion to wait another two weeks on approving the purchases passed 5 to 3, with Rossing, Tom Kelly, Kirby, Rog, and Emmer voting in favor and Andrew Larson, Holt, and Sauer voting against it.
"This is a lot of money, this is 13 thousand dollars," Rog said. "I just hope that, in the future, that we can do a better job."
Newswatch 12 reached out to Guild via email for comment on the meeting Tuesday morning. As of 7 p.m. Tuesday Guild had not responded.
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.
ARBOR VITAE - Do you know where your food comes from? Kindergarteners at Arbor Vitae-Woodruff elementary do. They have been growing their own fruits and vegetables all year. On Thursday, their work culminated in a final celebration as part of the first-ever Wisconsin School Garden Day.
Each kindergartner was partnered with a fifth grader to help them with planting and weeding.
Organizer Adriane Morabito said it is important for young people to know where their food comes from.
"It teaches them important skills like empathy, compassionate, and kindness," said Morabito. "It also helps them eat healthy."
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.
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