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Joy Hinrichsen is a mother of two, and without good childcare, she wouldn't be able to keep her full-time job at Memorial Medical Center in Ashland as an infection preventionist.
"I frequently have people come up to me and ask who my childcare provider is," she said. "Frequently there is a year-long waiting list for infant child care."
In fact, she said, child care is so scarce in the Ashland area that some parent are getting on waiting lists before they even become pregnant.
"A lot of time, people can't return to work if they don't have child care, or what they do is juggle childcare — grandpa you watch the child today, grandma, you watch the next day, friend, you watch the other day, oh I don't have someone for Friday. I don't know if I can work on Friday," she said.
The dire need for care drove Hinrichsen to volunteered as a board member for the EverGrow Learning Center, a group interested in community development and creating better childcare opportunities in Ashland. For the past three years, the board has been working to create an early childhood learning center for up to 100 children. That center now is set to open this fall at a building located at 417 Ninth Ave. W.
During a recent visit to the site, a front-end loader was
pushing earth around where a new playground is to be constructed. Inside, painters were at work on newly installed drywall, and multi-colored wiring hung out of walls like so much spaghetti, awaiting an electrician's finishing touches.
Yet the classrooms were also taking shape, and it's not hard to imagine dozens of youngsters safely being cared for while their parents can work with their minds at ease. That is a major step forward for employers like Memorial Medical Center, Hinrichsen said.
"It will impact recruitment. If we were to recruit a new employee, and once they get over the hurdle of housing, and are now looking for childcare, if they can't find it, it may make them reluctant to take the position, especially if they have to relocate," she said.
The lack of childcare could even affect when couples choose to have a baby, Hinrichsen said.
"It's that important," she said.
Construction of the new facility is "rolling along" said Melissa Rabska, operations and communications manager for the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, one of the community partners responsible for creating the learning center.
Rabska said the center director and assistant director positions have been filled, but that she was not yet at liberty to say who they were. That announcement could come some time this week, she said.
"Both individuals are extremely qualified for the positions. They very much complement each other in terms of their knowledge and expertise, she said. "They are both people who grew up in the area and are coming back."
The center will employ a staff of 20 in full and part-time positions when it comes up to full speed, something that is likely to happen quickly; Rabska said 134 children have been listed by their families as being possible enrollees for the center.
Rabska said EverGrow's fee of $170 a week per child, with options available for before-school and afterschool care, is competitive with other day cares in the area. Low-income parents can take advantage of the Wisconsin Shares childcare subsidy program to assist with costs.
"By no means are we going to be able to handle all the demand for childcare in the Ashland area, but we are making steps with this project to fill the gap that now exists," she said. "With that said, its only going to be part of the solution."
However for many families, it's a very important part of the solution, said Hinrichsen — far better than trying to juggle care among grandparents and friends.
"Or you are forced to bring your children perhaps to someone who is willing to take your children but maybe isn't the best option for your family and you are looking for a better option," she said. "People have to work to support their families, so they feel like they have no options. I am very excited that we are going to have this opportunity for members of our community to have a safe, stellar childcare facility."
Americans write a love letter to their country every Independence Day with parades, feasts and fireworks. This year will be no exception as Bayfield and Ashland county communities eagerly anticipate celebrating freedom and patriotism beginning July 3 and stretching into the weekend.
Here's a roundup of what you can expect over the holiday:
The city of Ashland kicks off Independence Day with a cannon salute at 6 a.m. The parade starts at 11 a.m. and proceeds west to east down Main Street. The Lion's Club's brat stand is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Courthouse and Moore's on Main, and Chequamegon Food Co-op hosts a cookout from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in its parking lot. Voices for Recovery of Chequamegon Bay will host a cookout and potluck social at the Partners in Recovery Club, 410 Lakeshore Drive W., starting at 12:30 p.m. with fireworks viewing in the evenings.
The day concludes with a fire run at 9:30 p.m. on Main Street followed by fireworks at approximately 10 p.m. over Chequamegon Bay.
Madeline Island is justifiably proud of its Fourth of July bash as it's been described as one of the top 10 small town celebrations in the country.
A parade starts at 10:30 a.m. with units lining up at the Yacht Club. After the parade a patriotic display of song, speeches and music occurs on the village green in front of the Madeline Island Museum. Fireworks will fly at about 10 p.m.
Let freedom ring at the five-mile and two-mile Bell Ringer Run at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday in Mellen. A parade — featuring a fire truck ride for children — begins at noon. Fireworks will soar high at dusk from water tank hill.
The VFW Auxiliary sponsors Glidden's Independence Day festivities with a parade, games, food and fireworks at dusk at Marion Park.
The city of Bayfield's fireworks at dusk have twice the flair on Thursday. From the vantage point of Memorial Park, patriots celebrating in Bayfield can watch not only a show on the mainland, they also can enjoy the finale of Madeline Island's fireworks across the water.
Communities in the Mason, Delta and Iron River area will get a jump on Independence Day celebrations with fireworks set for 10:15 p.m. Wednesday at Frosty's, 62480 E. Highway H.
Cable boasts a full day of activities on Thursday. The Red, White and Blue Pancake Breakfast runs from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at the Cable Community Center. The CARE 5K and 10K walk/run begins at 8 a.m. at the Old School Mall Lawn.
A parade through downtown Cable begins at 11 a.m. followed by a Lion's Club picnic. Fireworks conclude festivities at dusk at the town ballpark at the intersection of Cable Sunset Road and Highway M.
Not to be outdone, Lakewoods Resort outside Cable also plans to hold a cookout, games and live music beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday with a fireworks display at dusk over Lake Namakagon.
A patriotic parade leaves at noon Thursday from the Barnes Town Hall to make its way to the VFW Post, where a flag-raising ceremony will be held afterward. Fireworks begin at dusk at Town Park on Highway N; Barnes Fire & Ambulance Services will provide refreshments before and after the display.
Grand View holds off a day before letting the fireworks fly. A fireworks display will go off at dusk Friday at the ballpark on Highway D.
Cornucopia stretches out the holiday's patriotic fervor even further with fireworks at dusk on July 6 off Siskiwik Bay Harbor. Live music follows.
Birch Grove Campground, south of Cornucopia on Twin Lakes, shoots off fireworks at dusk on July 6 as well.
Red Cliff Traditional Pow Wow
The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa hosts its 41st annual traditional Pow Wow Friday through July 7 at the Pow Wow grounds in Red Cliff.
Highlights include grand entries at 7 p.m. on Friday, 1 and 7 p.m. on July 6, and 1 p.m. on July 7. Registration for the NIBI – Water is Life walk/run is at 8 a.m., and a runner's breakfast is at 9:30 a.m. July 7. The run starts at the Pow Wow grounds.
The public is invited to the family-oriented festivities, and a shuttle service will ferry visitors between the Pow Wow grounds and Legendary Waters Resort & Casino, Red Cliff.
Editor's note: Following is the latest in our coverage of the Rainbow Family Gathering, which is expected to bring 5,000 to 10,000 followers to the Northwoods over the next two weeks where the Rainbows, as they are known, will pray for peace, celebrate nature and live in harmony with one another. To read previous coverage, visit ashlanddailypress.net.
Twenty-one people — four U.S. Forest Service representatives and 17 Rainbows — formed a circle, linked arms and let loose an "Ooommmm."
As the Rainbows settled on the ground Thursday, leaving the forestry people standing by their sides, a slim, 6-inch stick — barely bigger than a blade of grass — made its appearance.
Rainbows passed the stick around the circle, granting the person holding it the right to hold the floor and share what was on their mind.
The circle and discussion lasted just over an hour, sometimes with people talking peaceably and jokingly, sometimes not so much. More than once the person wielding the stick waved it when interrupted by compatriots.
As the hour wore on, a storm approached and more Rainbows sat down to join the circle. The group tried to iron out a few persistent issues the Rainbows have with the "LEOs" — law enforcement officers — led that day by Tony McGallicher, U.S. Forest Service senior special agent.
Some Rainbows expressed outrage over the Forest Service's use of nearby space at the critical care camp the Rainbows wanted for the handicapped parking, as well as the LEOs' reluctance to meet them down the trail in the meadow. They also took umbrage with the site plan presented by the Washburn Ranger Station in lieu of a permit.
At time tempers flared and snark flew among the crowd of about 45 Rainbows, only to settle when the Forest Service representatives pleaded their need to leave for other meetings.
A young Rainbow, looking to be maybe in her late teens, dropped off a small bottle of Pepto-Bismol at CALM, Center for Alternative Living Medicines, which serves as the Rainbows' medical service. She thanked the two Rainbows manning the tent, saying the Pepto — plus papaya — had done the trick.
The interaction spurred a lively discussion over the efficacy of papaya to soothe gastrointestinal distresses and the seeds' ability to treat parasites.
The medical crew on hand refused to divulge their medical backgrounds for fear of being harassed by authorities. But they claimed highly trained medical personnel including doctors, nurse practitioners, acupuncturists and a topnotch herbalist among their ranks.
More than a few Rainbows — many sporting dreadlocks and the ubiquitous tie-dyed clothes — tread the forest roads and trails barefoot Thursday.
And they had the potential of putting some miles on their bare feet now that about 1,200 Rainbows have set up camp in anticipation of the main gathering starting Monday.
Cars, vans and buses stretched for miles along rock-studded dirt roads, and the trail leading from the road to the meadow where group meals and activities take place, is nearly a half-mile.
But these Rainbows ranging in age from young kids in denim dungarees to those of advancing years trusted their feet to the earth.
Glowing Feather Magi
A Vietnam veteran who attended the very first Rainbow Family Gathering as a 23-year-old in 1972 stepped up the hill from the critical care camp looking like a leprechaun who had been captured at the end of a rainbow and dipped in tie-dye.
Pom-poms dangled from Glowing Feather Magi's Rainbow-colored magician's hat, psychedelic sunglasses shielded his eyes and he held noise-making rattles in both fists.
He was jovial, cracking jokes nearly constantly, and seemed to be known to all and sundry as he made his way to meet the Forest Service and speak his peace in the circle.
Hardly any sight or anyone can be taken for granted at the Rainbow Family Gathering. Rainbows of all shapes, sizes, dispositions and professional backgrounds have now arrived off Canthook Road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
And with the official opening on Monday and the Fourth of July — promising to be the penultimate occasion drawing the greatest crowd — still a few days away more sights and scenes are sure to follow