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Nature trails are big tourist business in Bayfield and Red Cliff and they may grow even bigger if communities show support for unifying regional trail systems at a forum slated for Nov. 2 in Red Cliff.
The Bayfield Area Trails Committee wants to develop short-and long-term goals to expand and connect trails in the Bayfield and Red Cliff areas into a network, member Kate Kitchell said, and top priorities include connecting Bayfield with Red Cliff, Mt. Ashwabay and the Fruit Loop.
But before the committee jumps into creating a nonprofit to tackle the task of building new trails and devising strategies to maintain them, committee members Jack Beagan, Jen Bratsch, David Eades, Erika Lang and Kitchell want to hear community members' opinions and gauge interest for the endeavor.
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Nov. 2 at Legendary Waters Convention Center in Red Cliff, residents can do just that at a four-hour forum dedicated to the discussion.
During the first hour, invited speakers from various organizations, including Ron Bergin of the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association and Peter Rondello, who was instrumental in developing trails around Boulder Junction, will share how they have successfully created trail networks.
The public is then invited to circulate, peruse maps and share ideas from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The committee especially hopes to update trail maps based on local residents' knowledge of the "lay of the land," Kitchell said.
So far, reception to building a unified trail system has been positive, she said.
For more information contact Beagan at email@example.com, Bratsch at firstname.lastname@example.org, Eades at email@example.com, Kitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lang at Erika@landmarkwi.org.
If You Go
What: Bayfield Area Trails Forum.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 2.
Where: Legendary Waters Convention Center, Red Cliff.
As Domino's franchisee Pizza Duane Carlson wrestled last week with a shiny stainless steel pizza oven he was installing at the new Ashland store, his mind wasn't just on fitting out the downtown restaurant.
He's also looking for a platoon of workers to operate the new business. Although he's already hired two or three, he still needs at least 20 more to fill out the staff.
And he needs them fast. He plans to open by mid-November.
"Build-outs are always an adventure," Carlson said as he and Domino's Development Manager Ken Guevara pushed the oven into place. Opening a new Domino's franchise is something Carlson knows all about. He operates a total of eight — three in Duluth, one in Cloquet, and the rest on the Minnesota Iron Range.
Carlson said one of the keys to a successful franchise is getting the right team in place. He's already interested in one person for the top manager's job, and has received a couple of applications for assistant manager positions.
"We really need from about 20 to 25 people to fill out the store," he said. "It's been a long time since I worked in Wisconsin so I'm not sure what the job market is, especially the local job market."
Carlson said he was looking for energetic and sociable employees.
"They should go to jobs.domionos.com," he said. "We are looking for drivers, assistant managers, customer service, we need them all."
Drivers need to be over 18, with a good driving record and an insured vehicle, while customer service employees need to be legally eligible to work. He said the store would consider school schedules and other factors in making schedules.
Carlson said the ability to relate well with customers ranked high on the qualities being sought from job prospects.
"You can't teach nice, so honestly if we can find nice people, we will figure out how they are going to fit into system. Nice is always the key," he said.
Carlson said he has visited the Ashland Job Center and said he got a "very positive" reception when he discussed his hiring needs.
Sue Stephens, regional manager of the Concentrated Employment Program in Ashland, which operates the Job Center, said the new jobs were a welcome addition to the local job pool, which at this time of the year is often seasonal — businesses seeking retail help ahead of the holiday season and harvesting evergreen boughs for wreaths.
"Having a new business open and having another storefront downtown is very exciting," she said.
Carlson originally projected a No. 4 opening, but said he would likely need to open about a week to a week and a half after that.
"We need to get people hired, get them training and get them through as much of the computer learning as we can get them through, as well as figure out how to get them hands-on training," he said. "Chances are when we first open up, it will be kind of a friends and family thing so they can practice. Chances are there will be some deep discounts or even straight-up free pizzas," he said.
Carlson said a more formal grand opening will take place once bumps in the road have been smoothed.
"Once we have the wheels firmly attached to the bus we'll get wild and crazy," he said.
Still, because of the name recognition of Domino's and its reputation for quality, he said he wasn't sure how soft an opening was possible.
"We tried it in Cloquet, and they absolutely destroyed us, he said. "There has been a fair amount of buzz here, a lot of people walking by and looking in the windows, stuff like that."
Carlson said he was also excited at the prospects for a downtown restaurant.
"I am amazed at how busy the downtown is," he said. "And then there is the third Thursday, holy cow! There are a lot of things going right downtown, and it's exciting to be part of that."
Ron Schwiesow was on patrol in Vietnam when he and a buddy switched off at being the point man for their squad.
As Schwiesow moved back to the squad from the point — the man out in front of the patrol scouting for the enemy — he heard his buddy swear.
"I knew that he'd stepped on a landmine," Schwiesow said.
Schwiesow quickly turned away, but the mine blast blew apart his buddy and sent shards of shrapnel hurtling through the jungle — and through Schwiesow's body.
He survived and made it back home, but the reception he got was no hero's welcome.
"When I came home, the career planner talked to a bunch of us, and told us the war wasn't very popular with the people back home, and if somebody doesn't know you were there, you probably shouldn't talk about it," he said.
Undoing that cold reception is one of the goals of the Honor Flight program — an effort to bring military veterans to visit the monuments to their wars and service branches in Washington, D.C. at no cost to them. The local Honor Flight chapter will hold a fundraiser Saturday to send its next batch of Northwoods veterans on the trip.
Schwiesow is among more than 223,000 veterans who have made the journey since Honor Flights began in 2005 — he went in April of 2017 — and like many Vietnam veterans, he found the experience cathartic.
"I can't explain; it was just so wonderful. There were thousands of people greeting you. I had several people come up and ask to give me a hug, to welcome me home. It was a very, very humbling, it brought tears to my eyes many times," he said. "Anyone who has a chance to do this should take advantage of it."
That's the magic of the flights. As former service members arrive in D.C., they are greeted by active service members and escorted through the airport. Crowds often stop and salute them, not just in the airport but at every stop on their journey.
And when they arrive back at their home airports, they are given the welcome some never received when their service ended, particularly for those who served in Vietnam or Korea, the Forgotten War.
"When I walked off that plane at the airport in Washington, D.C., it got me right there," Ashland's John Radloff said, pointing to his heart. "I
did not expect it; nobody told us it would be like that."
Radloff, who served in Korea, was walking near the Lincoln Memorial, one of the stops on the Honor Flight agenda, when a family approached him. Honor flight participants are given polo shirts, hats and name badges to help folks recognize them.
"The father shook our hands, the mother gave us hugs, and the children all hugged us. It was beyond belief," Radloff said. Like Schwiesow, Radloff wants every veteran to experience those feelings. But every Honor Flight costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in plane rental and other fees, so a lot of fundraising goes on before the trip begins. In the Chequamegon Bay area, Lake Superior Intermediate School teacher Nikki Sprague and a few other teachers team up annually with Neighborly Bar co-owner Jean Ronning to help raise those funds.
She was drawn to the effort when her grandfather, Korean War vet Jerry Gurske, participated in a 2016 Honor Flight.
In the beginning the group set a relatively modest goal.
"We were hoping to get enough money to send one veteran to Washington," said Sprague. "We raised just under $10,000."
That was enough to send not one but about 16 local veterans on the trip. In 2018, they increased that total.
"More than $20,000 over two years — that's 33 veterans we were able to send," she said.
Sprague said the event is a demonstration of the community's support for its veterans, with baskets being put together for a raffle, business donations and donations from individuals.
"We have a number of businesses that sponsor the full $600 for a veteran to go," she said. "People are really giving for vets. We just organize it; it's everybody that donates raffle items, donates money, that makes it a pretty powerful event."
This year's fundraiser will go on all day Saturday, and Sprague is keeping her expectations modest, hoping to again be surprised by Bay Area generosity.
"We always get really nervous beforehand, hoping that we can do better than we did the year before," she said. "Still, it would be amazing if we could raise $10,000 again."
If you go
What: Fundraiser for local Honor Flight chapter
Where: The Neighborly Bar in Ashland
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Additional info: The Bad River American Legion Post will provide Indian tacos with the proceeds going to the fundraiser. Raffle tickets will be on sale from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a 50-50 drawing also available. The raffle drawings begin at 6 p.m. with the 50-50 drawing following the raffles.