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Ashland Little League Plans For 2021 Season

Little League baseball in Ashland is back after skipping last year. Registration is now open, and volunteers are needed on the field and off. This year operations will include a boost of technology.

"We are excited to announce our league has partnered with Sports Connect," said league official Blake Ellefson. "Their platform was created for Little League. The primary reasons Ashland Little League as a board decided to make the move now was its mobile app sync. We didn't have a mobile app and it is extremely important with young families."

Sports Connect is the official league technology provider of Little League International. The new system will also include integrated background, chartered league registration setup, streamlined communication for weather updates/schedule changes/team news, and family volunteer requirements with tracking tools.

All of this will help the league operate efficiently, according to Ellefson, which is important as key dates are coming up.

"Cleanup day is on April 10, as well as player evaluations," Ellefson said, "Families should save that date. Given we did not play last season, it will be important to have all players evaluated. We will also tentatively hold the April 17th date in case of rain."

Volunteers, a requirement this season, are needed for coaching, umpiring, working concessions, helping keep the fields in good shape, among things, according to Ellefson.

"Ashland area little league

is a non-profit organization that relies on volunteers to function," he said. "We need additional board members and volunteers that are interested in helping drive our future directions. To be as accommodating as possible, we have kept our registration fees low ($50) and we also offer families scholarships if they need financial assistance."

Fellow organizer Neil Hulmer, concurred.

"It takes quite a bit to keep the league running smoothly," Hulmer said. "Having all the families pulling together is invaluable. We need everyone contributing."

The goal is to have a robust league for years to come, according to Ellefson.

"While I am slightly biased, I really look forward to sunny evenings watching kids having fun playing baseball," he said. "Our goal is to give all kids in the Ashland area the opportunity to play baseball."

The Ashland Little League cleanup day is April 10, at which time player evaluations will be held. Registration is currently open. For more information call Blake Ellefson at 612-388-3586, Kelly Maday at 715-292-8917, Neil Hulmer at 715-292-0535, or visit the league website http://clubs.bluesombrero.com/ashlandllwi.

Emergency services prepare for the unthinkable
Rescue Task Forces drill to counter active shooters



With guns drawn, law enforcement officers from the Ashland Police Department and the Ashland and Bayfield County Sheriff's Offices warily worked their ways up the ornate wooden staircase at the Ashland City Hall.

With them were paramedics from the Ashland Fire Department, dressed, like the officers, in bullet-resistant vests and Kevlar helmets.

Although there was a strong element of realism in the advance, what was going on was not a real active shooter situation, but a Rescue Task Force training event involving law enforcement and emergency medical personnel; an effort to provide police, sheriff's deputies and emergency medical personnel with the training they would need in the

event of an active shooter situation in the Ashland area.

The need for the training could not be clearer. Just before the exercise, a lone shooter killed eight people on March 16 in the Atlanta area in three separate shootings at massage parlors. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. The alleged shooter, Aaron Long, 21 was arrested soon after the shootings.

Then, just after the training, 10 more people were killed at a Boulder, Colo., grocery shore, allegedly shot by a man, Ahmad Al Alini Alissa, 21, with an AR-14 style semiautomatic pistol.

"It can happen anywhere, at any time and in any town," said Ashland Fire Department Captain Scott Thimm. "It doesn't matter if it is a city of two million or a town of 8,200."

Responding to active shooters

Responding to the reality of active shooters who can pop up anywhere puts a premium on training, said Ashland Police Officer Ryan Bybee, who serves as the department's school resource officer and took part in the training. Accompanying law officers as they seek to secure a building where shootings have occurred in active shooter situations gives shooting victims a far better chance of survival if they are rapidly given emergency care. Out of this reality, the notion of police and emergency medical responders working in close coordination, even if that means emergency medical technicians and paramedics are in areas that may not yet be secure, has taken shape. It is a technique that requires both law enforcement and emergency medicine personnel to act as a team. Bybee said the only way that happens is for both groups to train together.

"We have our training, and the Fire Department has their training, and they are not always the same thing," he said. "Our job in a scene like that is security and safety; their job is to treat the victims."

The differences in emphasis can cost lives. The exhaustive methods used by police to ensure the safety of a shooting scene can result in the loss of time for shooting victims in "the golden hour" — the period of time when many trauma victims can be saved if life-saving procedures are begun immediately. The Rescue Task Force training is designed to incorporate emergency medical personnel into the police response to an active threat incident, like the active shooter episodes that occurred in Atlanta and Boulder.

Additional risks to save victims

Bringing them into the same response team with police increases the risk to firefighters, but it also means that additional lives can be saved.

"In the past if there was an unsafe scene, like a gun or a knife present, we would stage and wait several blocks away until law enforcement went in to do their thing and eventually after the scene was safe, we were allowed to go in and many times that is a long time, and patients are bleeding to death," Thimm said. "Now we are teaming up with law enforcement and they are leading us in much faster."

But the risk can be real.

"We may be operating in one part of the building and the active shooter may still be in another part of the building," Thimm said. "It does raise the risk of what we do, but our job is inherently dangerous. Every morning when I walk through the door (of the fire station) at any given time something can happen. Whether it is at a structure fire or a hazardous material call, an ice rescue or car accident, things can go bad."

Thimm organized the Rescue Task Force training and emphasizes the need for teamwork. He said the training called on both department to examine their standard operating guidelines ands established protocols that have been refined so that both law enforcement and emergency medical services know what their role will be in any given situation.

"You are taking them to a scene that may not be secure so that they can start treating the injured and we can start evacuating them as quickly as possible," Bybee said. "Before, they would never enter a scene that was not secure, they would wait for law enforcement, but we know if you wait too long, you are going to lose lives; people that were savable will not be saved."

It is a delicate balance, and the training held in Ashland was intended to give medical personnel the same skills officers bring to a dangerous situation.

Becoming a team

"The reason we train together is we have to find out what works for them and what works for us, and how to work together," Bybee said.

It is a system that has been developed over the past several years, with large-scale drills at Bretting Manufacturing and at Northland College. This latest training was a refresher for old hands, but for some it was their first exposure to the system. For all it has become vital training, said Thimm.

"We live in a different world now. When I went through my paramedic school with the Milwaukee Fire Department, it was fairly common for them to wear body armor 27 years ago. Things have changed now to the point where we now have our own body armor," he said.

Thimm said the kind of training Ashland has undertaken is becoming universal throughout the country. He said it provided one more method to help save lives.

"People don't have control over when bad things like this happen; and we are expected to come in and pick up the pieces. To have every tool in the tool box available to us helps us do that," he said.

Ashland City Council spring election

There are two contested races in the Ashland City Council spring election.

One race takes place in the Sixth District where newcomers Elise Kehle faces off against Eric Lindell for the seat currently held by Wahsayah Whitebird, who is not running for reelection.

The other contest involves the 10th District where incumbent Richard Pufall takes on Emerson Ziehr.

In other unopposed elections, Laura Graff is running in the Second District. The incumbent, Matthew MacKenzie is not a candidate for reelection, while Charles Ortman is unopposed in the Eighth District and Ann Whiting has no opposition in the Fourth District, as incumbent Kate Ullman is not standing for reelection.

Candidates in District Six and District 10 were asked an identical list of questions dealing with the issues that face the city, and it's future. Those questions, and the answers given by the candidates are printed below.

District Six Candidates

The City of Ashland is engaged in several major projects including a new police station, sewer replacement and road reconstruction. At the same time, because of COVID-19 restrictions the ability of taxpayers and businesses to raise revenue to pay their tax bills has been dramatically restricted. Should the city continue projects like these in the light of the kinds of difficulties the pandemic has imposed on Ashland Residents?

KEHLE: "The short answer is yes; in more detail, I would always want to look for ways we can save. In the forum the other night we talked a lot about the fact that a quarter million dollars had been shaved off of the cost of the police station by changing the finance plan, and I am very much of the opinion that if we were prepared to spend that quarter million on the police station, then we should spend it on improving social services and finally providing a homeless shelter here. There is a very good point about the loss of tax revenue, and a key part of what I am hoping to achieve is diversifying our revenue stream so we are not as dependent on tax revenue in

general and tourism in particular. We have some of the tools right here. The city runs the marina at a profit, and we can look all around the country at publicly owned businesses that generate revenue and provide essential services."

LINDELL: The Police station is virtually finished; within the loan they were able to save $250,000 so they didn't have to borrow the money and I think that is an excellent thing. My understanding is that the city was still able to balance its budget and was still able to do some of the work that is going to be happening. These are projects that are truly have to happen. I don't see another shutdown happening, and if we can lift these restrictions, we are in a good place. This is a place where the city needs to engage with the public more and get more input.

As spring approaches, we enter the season where the city's aging and leaking sewers again threaten to overwhelm the Ashland wastewater treatment facility. Is the city doing enough to mitigate this continuing problem? Can we afford to do more than piecemeal replacement and repair that will take decades to complete? What should be done about this crucial infrastructure issue?

KEHLE: We are really talking about two problems here. One, we've got runoff threatening the bay, and as our rainfall continues to increase because of climate change, that is only going to get worse. The other is that our sewer system is outdated, and that is frankly unacceptable. I understand that a complete replacement of the sewer and water system is going to need a lot of funding, and I'm willing to look into that. I am certainly not an expert about what grants are available, but I want to make sure we are availing ourselves of every chance we have. What I am hearing is that people don't believe the city is doing enough there. There are a lot of really great permaculture ideas that can mitigate the problem while repairs are ongoing. For spiritual, economic and moral and tourism grounds, we need to protect the bay. An investment in keeping the bay clean and safe is an investment in all of our futures."

LINDELL: The biggest opportunity we have is that Washington is talking about an infrastructure bill and there is no reason we cannot reach out to Congressman Tom Tiffany, Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Ron Johnson's office and make sure we are considered a priority. I mean, with Chequamegon Bay, the Apostle Islands out there, there is no reason we should not be at the top of the priorities. We should work with the Red Cliff and Bad River tribal communities to bring in these dollars to get these problems fixed. Can we do more? Of course, we can always do more if there is money. I think there is an opportunity for council members to lobby and organize people to lobby to get this money into our city."

As major roadwork is being proposed on streets around the oredock deck, the question of waterfront development and its costs again come up. What are your views on waterfront development, especially with regards to how the various proposals that have been made thus far are to be paid for?

KEHLE: "Generally speaking I am inclined to listen very closely to what people are saying are best for their interests right there, if anything is going to get in the way of folks commutes. One of our last big projects, the Sixth Street repaving was pretty disastrous and cost us one of our major businesses in the area at the same time I want to make sure that we don't do that. I want to make sure that we are listening to folks on the ground. I am also very much in favor of remodeling and working with the buildings we have now rather than giving away any more land to developers."

LINDELL: I support waterfront development, but when people in my ward, behind Kwik Trip behind Ellis Avenue talk to me they say their roads are in bad repair and they want to make sure they are being heard. Sometimes they feel that they are not being given an opportunity to participate in some of the budget priorities. I think Dick Pufall has a good idea if he can get it to work, to get a battleship that has a connection to Ashland, and bring some federal dollars with it. It is an idea worth exploring. This is one of the more undeveloped waterfronts I have seen in a waterfront community. I think there are more opportunities to put in things along our waterfront that people will use, but don't forget about the rest of the city at the same time."

Is enough attention being paid to Ashland's streets? Although we have had major projects on segments of streets like Chapple and Vaughn Avenue, there are many other streets that are in very poor condition. What can and should be done about this?

KEHLE: "I recognize that people trying to work on a city budget in a city that is shrinking at the moment, have to set priorities, but the people I have been talking to say they don't think enough attention is being paid to roads. I would like to introduce a participatory budgeting plan for the roads so people can vote on what roads get repaired and when."

LINDELL: "You have downtown sidewalks that are in total disrepair, there are streets that are mud and no street, places where the sidewalk just disappears into the grass. I understand about Vaughn and Chapple and the major avenues, but we need to make sure we are taking care of streets that tourists don't necessarily see, but where our residents live. People want to know when their street is getting done. Let's get some communication flow going here."

Please talk about what else the voters of your district should know about you and of the views you have about the city's other challenges.

KEHLE: Ashland is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Both my opponent and I are recent arrivals in Ashland and I feel so welcomed in this place and that is really why I am running. I want to make sure that Ashland is as welcoming for everyone as it has been for me. That means making the city make an iron-clad commitment that we will have a warming shelter set up by next winter so we don't have any folks stuck out in the snow in the next winter storm. I am really interested in electoral reform and I am looking for a collaboration between civil society, education and government to find ways to make the things we love even better."

LINDELL: I want to bring accountability to our budget process. I support the affordable housing project that is coming into Ashland; I think it is a very exciting thing. The mayor's task force on homelessness is closing in on a homeless shelter and I am very excited and I fully support that. She is putting together a task force to connect money to the problem. It is going to be addressed and I am very thankful to see that. I am also someone who understands how to go to Madison and talk to our state representatives and senators in a way to help draw in revenue for us. I also want to see tourism expand. We have opportunities in parasailing, more kayaking. Some of that may have to wait until we have our sewage issues cleaned up. One thing I do not want to see is our businesses having to compete against cityrun businesses. My opponent supports them, but I feel it would be a burden on the taxpayers and on the city, and I don't think it's realistic. I think there is a very clear choice between my opponent and me on Election Day.

District 10 Candidates

The City of Ashland is engaged in several major projects including a new police station, sewer replacement and road reconstruction. At the same time, because of COVID-19 restrictions the ability of taxpayers and businesses to raise revenue to pay their tax bills has been dramatically restricted. Should the city continue projects like these in the light of the kinds of difficulties the pandemic has imposed on Ashland Residents?

PUFALL: "Hopefully the stimulus money that President Biden has put out is going to help that, especially for people with large families. They are going to get a signifi


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