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Commerce
'Mayberry effect' draws residents to Corny

Roger Lindgren, chairman of Bayfield County's town of Bell, calls it the "Mayberry effect."

People come to Cornucopia to vacation or rent summer homes and fall in love with its small-town charm — its beach, quaint marina, mainstreet stores and, of course, the lake that allows folks to think they've been transported back to a less-complicated time.

"Cornucopia is a safe, vibrant, welcoming community with a thriving art and music climate," Lindgren said.

The Mayberry effect helped make the Cornucopia area the fastest-growing part of Bayfield County, according to the 2020 Census.

All of Bayfield County grew by 8% between 2010 and 2020, according to the Census, bucking the trend of northern, rural Wisconsin counties that have been shedding population in recent years. While Bayfield County added 1,206 people in the past decade, Ashland County, for example, lost about 130 residents over the same time period.

Lindgren's town, which encompasses Cornucopia, topped Bayfield County by adding 92 people — a 35% increase since 2010.

The town of Orienta was right behind Bell with 34% growth, or 42 people. The town of Namakagon added 70 people, a 28% increase.

Lindgren is convinced the Mayberry effect is responsible.

"One person asked if Cornucopia was real and not a movie set," Lindgren said.

Corny, for example, is home to Ehler's General Store, a throwback to a 1950s general store where customers can find everything from a bottle of wine to local smoked whitefish from Lake Superior.

Thaddeus Hardy, an Ehler's employee, said the COVID-19 pandemic brought him and his girlfriend to the area from Asheville, North Carolina.

Her family is from Port Wing, and the couple decided to relocate to the farm to help out and "hunker down," Hardy said.

Then, the marina, art shops such as Wren on Lake Superior that sells everything from cards to felted hats and screen-printed t-shirts, grabbed hold of him.

Lindgren said Cornucopia's community center is open 24 hours a day, offering a food shelf and wi-fi, staffed by volunteers. He credits Bell's active volunteer community for making it the beacon on Lake Superior it is turning into.

"The challenge is to grow, but not change too much," Lindgren said. New businesses such as the Fat Radish restaurant, which recently moved from Bayfield, are a welcome addition to the thriving community.


Politics
'Mayberry effect' draws residents to Corny
Census forces Bayfield County to draw new board districts

Abeles-Allison

Bayfield County's 8% growth over the past decade means that it needs to modify its 13 County Board districts to adhere to federal standards that require equal numbers of people to live in each district.

And because the Census numbers came in Aug. 12 — late due to the pandemic — the county needs to do it in a hurry.

A county redistricting committee has developed four new maps with redrawn lines for residents to consider, said Scott Galetka, a member of the committee and Bayfield County land records administrator.

Each district must have roughly 1,248 residents, but they are allowed to vary by up to 5% per district. Because some parts of the county grew while others shrank over the past 10 years, some districts vary by more than 40%, County Administrator Mark Abeles-Allison said.

And some of the plans move a current County Board member into a new district, so the maps will have real impact on residents' lives.

The law requires districts to be compact and contiguous, to preserve communities and maintain the unity of political subdivisions, Galetka said. This is so communities of like-minded individuals can vote for officials that reflect their values, he added.

The committee used special computer programs to draw new districts boundaries in the fairest possible way. The state provided the software that helps determine such data as where people over 18 are living, Galetka said.

A new plan must be chosen by November to avoid delays in spring elections, so a first public hearing on the boundaries is scheduled for Sept. 21, Bayfield County Clerk Lynn Divine said.

See the maps

To see each of the redistricting plans or send comments on them to the county, visit https://bayfieldcounty.wi.gov/1261/2020-Census-Redistricting-Committee


Medicine
Health care workers prep for vaccine mandate

Mueller

Rice

Douglas

Van Deelen

Frontline care workers in Ashland are among those who will be affected by new requirements that will mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all frontline health care workers in facilities that receive federal funding.

President Joe Biden's Thursday mandate will affect hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and community health facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

That means organizations like North Shore Health Care, which operates both Court Manor Health Services and Ashland Health Services nursing homes in Ashland, will have to make major changes in their vaccination policies.

"It would definitely mean that we would have to figure out all the logistics and how it applies to our staff," said North Shore Senior Director of Communications Kristin Mueller, who noted that about 80% of the company's staff has already received vaccinations.

Muller said she does not yet know what the company would do if employees refused to get vaccinations in spite of the federal mandate.

"There are way too many unknowns to really know what we would do, what the parameters of the requirements will be for how we operate. We just really have to work with individuals to make that individual choice for themselves before it becomes a requirement in the hope that we can get more and more people vaccinated. There is a lot more to learn," she said.

Still, Muller said the mandate was not entirely unexpected.

"We learned a couple of weeks ago that there was the potential for a vaccination mandate from the federal level so knowing that was a possibility, we were starting to have conversations about what that looked like," she said. "We just need to wait and learn more and we will figure out how we can make sure that we are not only in compliance with all the regulations, but that we are also at the staffing levels we need and making sure we have the care we need for our residents."

Biden said last month that he would impose the requirement for full staff vaccinations at all federally funded nursing homes. That would affect about 15,000 nursing homes and 1.3 million people. But the requirements he announced Thursday will cover federal workers, large employers, Head Start workers as well as the 7 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from the federal government.

The requirements will affect federally funded community clinics such as NorthLakes Community Clinic, which operates facilities in 12 northern and central Wisconsin communities, including Ashland, Washburn, Iron River and Hayward.

NorthLakes Chief Executive Officer Reba Rice said a number of NorthLakes employees have pushed back against any vaccine requirements.

"We have gotten strong feedback from several of the people who are not vaccinated saying if we did mandate it they would pursue a religious or medical exemption," Rice said.

The requirements outlined by Biden include only limited exemptions for those claiming religious or medical exemptions.

Rice said if the requirements apply to all medical operations receiving Medicare and Medicaid, that would mean essentially all hospitals and clinics in the nation would fall under the requirements.

"That is going to make it very simple for us," she said.

Rice said she was not opposed to mandate requirements if they are uniformly applied.

"I want to do this with all of our partners," she said. "If lots and lots and lots of people get vaccinated, not just one little business, that will make a difference, and if we are pushed, we will absolutely do it."

Rice said about 75% of NorthLakes personnel have already been vaccinated. The remainder will have to make difficult decisions.

"If some people want to leave the health care industry, that is a choice they are going to need to make, and that is a fair choice," she said. "I know this is going to make trouble for people, and I am sorry for them."

Rice observed that the mandate was not unprecedented.

"There are other vaccines that we mandate, that everybody is required to get, so I don't feel like this is a terrible thing, but it is a big thing," she said.

Schools, for example, mandate vaccinations for measles and other communicable diseases in all 50 states, and health care workers commonly are required to have hepatitis, influenza, measles, mumps and other vaccinations.

Memorial Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Jason Douglas said before Thursday's announcement that while MMC had no plans to impose a vaccination mandate on its employees, it was nevertheless prepared to abide by one if it were issued by the federal government

"As an organization, we are at 80% vaccinated across our workforce," he said.

Douglas said he feared that a mandate could create instability across MMC's workforce.

"So we have not chosen to put in place a mandatory policy," he said.

The presidential action appears to have forced a reversal of that policy, but Douglas said MMC was prepared for it. He said there has not been active opposition or support for mandatory vaccination.

"We've heard very little from our team about it," he said.

St. Luke's Chequamegon Clinic already requires its staff to have had at least a first vaccination and a second by Oct. 1.

"We understand people have strong beliefs about this," said Dr. Nick Van Deelen, St. Luke's co-president/CEO said. "Ultimately, the policy is about keeping our patients and staff safe and reducing the community transmission of a serious disease."

As of Thursday, 78% of St. Luke's employees and 97% of its physicians had been vaccinated, Van Deelen said.


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