The City of Eagle River could give up ownership of Olson Memorial Library property
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.
FLORENCE - The Florence County Library looks much more appealing nowadays. That's thanks to thousands of dollars worth of hand-me-downs from southeastern Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee suburb of Cedarburg wanted brand new furniture and shelves for its new state-of-the-art library. Florence was pleased to take Cedarburg's unwanted shelving - and Florence got it for free.
"They provided basically all of the shelving that you see in our library for anything that's stacks, which is where the books are, on both sides of the library, along with the oak desks that you'll see in the back of the library," said Florence County Library Director Stephanie Weber.
RHINELANDER - The Hodag Country Musical Festival kicks off on Thursday.
But there are already plenty of people camping out for the big event in the Northwoods.
Those campers benefit businesses in the Northwoods both new and old.
Johnny Nickolaou, who opened his liquor store in Sugar Camp around Thanksgiving, understands the importance of tourism.
"Huge, you know you depend on locals year round and they are great, but if it weren't for them I could never afford to be open," said Nickalaou. "But it's really nice getting this push to hopefully get us through the winter months."
Nickolaou set up a deal in preparation of Hodag Country Festival. He discounted around 10 large orders.
"15 case orders, most of them which is quite a bit I thought," said Nickalaou.
LINCOLN COUNTY - A Tomahawk homeowner was able to scare off burglars back in March, even after being hit in the face with the hatchet. Now, a Merrill man will need to find $25,000 in cash to get out of jail.
28-year-old Chad Staehle was charged with four felonies for breaking into a home in Tomahawk. Police believe he and three other men broke into the home with a hatchet and crowbar.
FLORENCE - People in some areas of Wisconsin may take easy access to groceries for granted. People in Florence don't.
Last year, the USDA considered the Florence area a "food desert". There was no grocery store in all of Florence County, and it had been that way for seven years.
That's all changed. Pat's Foods has now been open for a year in town.
A vacant space in Florence looked like a slab of concrete with a roof a year ago. Now, Pat's Foods stays busy every day at the location. The full service grocery store supplies food and fresh produce, meats, and dairy. That convenience means people are shopping steadily at Pat's, and business is good.
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