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Members of Bayfield County's Large Scale Livestock Study Committee got an earful from over 40 speakers who offered testimony about a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) planned for the Town of Eileen in Bayfield County.
The event was held to obtain public input into a proposed operations permit that would regulate the activities of the 26,000 hog-rearing complex.
According to committee chairman Fred Strand, the meeting met the goals the committee had hoped for. He noted that the committee meetings in the past have been open to public participation, but this was the first meeting specifically set up to receive comment about the committee's draft report and its recommendations.
Strand estimated that there were 80 to 100 people in the audience, and over 40 of them spoke before the committee with others dropping off written comments.
Strand noted that there were no speakers who addressed comments in favor of the proposed hog rearing facility.
"There were people whose
comments were probably neutral, but most people fairly expressed some dislike of CAFOs," he said.
Strand said what the committee hoped to take away from the meeting was a sense of the feeling of the public for the proposed operations regulations which, when refined into their final form will be presented to the Bayfield County Board for their consideration.
In the comments Strand said the committee heard from people who were adamantly opposed to any CAFO development.
"We also heard the accusations that county board people say 'we can't do anything about it,'" he said. "Well, as a matter of fact, we can do some things about it. But if your goal is not to have CAFOs, we probably can't do that. But if they come, we want them to be good neighbors and keep our environment clean and our public health safe."
"The takeaway is that we all need clean water, whether you are a farmer or a consumer of farm products," Strand said.
One of the opinions that many speakers voiced was the need for strong regulation of any CAFO.
"As you finalize this document, I urge you to increase barriers to meat factories at every opportunity," said speaker Roz Nelson. ""Please be courageous; our water our lifestyle is worth anything at this point. Our backs are against the wall on this issue."
Nelson warned that the cost of waste management caused by a CAFO would be borne by the public for generations to come. She warned about the possibilities of pig-borne viruses affecting neighboring farms, the dangers of hormones used in pork production and antibiotic use as well as loss of lifestyle choices and property value declines.
Speaker Richard Retiring said the county should not adopt the attitude that there was nothing that could be done about CAFOs.
"I believe that priorities are confused when county administration willingly participates in litigation for snowmobile trails but is not willing to stand firm for the protection of our waters," he said. "Please adopt the strictest possible operations ordinance that is possible, and move to extend the moratorium to the full limit of the law," he said.
Speaker Missy Stevens thanked the County Board for enacting the moratorium on CAFO development.
"It has given us time to separate facts from unsubstantiated rumors and propaganda," she said.
Stevens said the education process has given area residents time to "realize the gross inadequacies and lack of oversight in the current state regulations that are supposed to protect s and our natural resources."
She cited Kewaunee County as an example of he inadequacies of current state law, asserting that contaminated water wells and a 30 mile wide "dead zone" in Green Bay was the result.
"We know better than to trust big business, the promises made by big business, as their goals are in sharp contrast to ours as a community," she said.
She observed that under current state laws, CAFOs were largely self-regulating and self-regulating activities like water usage, nutrient levels, manure storage and spreading.
"This one CAFO will be comparable to a city of 50,000 people suddenly dumping their untreated waste into the Chequamegon Bay," she said. "This statistic alone should be reason enough to justify enacting the most stringent regulations possible."
Speaker Joe Rose, a member of the Bad River Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians said it was important that the voices of the people should be heard.
"I think that we have to exert our local control to the best of our abilities," he said.
Rose noted that as a resident of Ashland County, living on the shores of Lake Superior, he was likely to be affected by the CAFO's potential pollution.
"It does not know physical boundaries," he said.
He recalled the big floods of the past and said the siltation plume from Fish Creek covered all of Chequamegon Bay and all the way out to the Apostle Islands and to Saxon Harbor.
"In a flood stage, I doubt if we have the technology or the financial resources to control those floods," he said.
Rose said the Bad River fish hatchery raises an average of 10 million walleye fry a year, plus fingerlings that are released into two different river systems that empty into Lake Superior.
"Are we going to be releasing those walleyes into polluted waters?" he asked. "We already have a Superfund site. There is another potential SuperFund site at the old DuPont munitions plant in Barksdale. Do we need another SuperFund site?"
State Representative Beth Meyers said she would try to be a partner with the county to share information as it becomes available.
Meyers advocated that the CAFO be required to post a bond to take care of environmental problems that could occur.
"They require that of nursing homes right now. If you are providing health care to someone, on that large of a scale, you have to have money set aside to make sure you are doing your job," she said. "It is an $88 billion industry; that is what you are up against. But don't let that daunt you in your task to protect the water, the land and the air of this area."
Strand said that hearing from the public was an important part of the process of designing an operations permit that would protect the region.
"Before we finalize our report to take to the County Board, we wanted to hear from the people, to have them tell us what is good, to tell us what needs to be improved or changed," he said. "And we have heard much of that tonight."
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens premiered at Ashland's Bay Theater on Thursday with three showings, one at 7 p.m. and two more at 8 p.m.
At 3:55 p.m. on Thursday owner Ryan Suick said they had pre-sold 254 tickets for two show times in three different theaters and the 7 p.m. showing was already sold out.
Suick said he was pleased with the turnout.
"As of now I think it's awesome," he said. "And I think it's only going to get busier."
Suick said the two hour and 13 minute blockbuster's attendance rates had already superseded the other releases he has seen.
Suick began letting people into the theater at 5 p.m. but
fans were already eagerly waiting outside to get in with a line curving around the building.
Odanah area resident Jordan Bigboy was the first fan to take his place in line, arriving at 1:45 p.m.
"I'm actually pretty excited for this one," he said. "I do share the majority of Star War's fans opinion that the originals were better quality but I do find my enjoyment in the prequels."
Bigboy added to the reasons behind why he had high hopes for the movie.
"This one I'm really excited for because I know that the director is actually a huge fan of the originals," he said.
The great Star Wars debate for those new to the franchise is old vs. new, which to watch first, as a lifelong fan Bigboy had some advice for those who have never seen the franchise.
"If you really like the genre I would say watch the originals first because then you can get the deep story everybody fell in love with but if your looking for just the sheer experience of how big the world is watch them chronologically," he said.
Members of the group Washburn area resident Leo Gonia was with began arriving outside of the theater at 2 p.m. and Gonia himself arrived around 3 p.m.
Gonia said his feelings prior to the movie were indescribable.
"I've seen all of them, all six in the theater," he said. "This is epic proportions for me, people didn't appreciate episodes one, two and three so this is kind of a makeup for that."
Gonia said that his father took him to the movies and he is continuing the tradition.
"I have six kids and my youngest is two and a half and my oldest is there," he said pointing to his son. "And they are equally as gaga over Star Wars as I am.
"Now I'm taking my kids to the movie too."
Gonia talked about his expectations for the movie.
"It's a win-win," he said. "I am in high hopes that the force is strong with everybody because I want this one not to end this one, I want it to be like the originally trilogy and to still go on for more."
Gonia said he wasn't worried that Disney had taken over the franchise.
"They saved Marvel, the comic book company Marvel, Stan Lee did a wonderful job with that and they save movies, franchises them for everybody," he said. "I'm hoping they did the same thing for Star Wars."
Ashland resident Eli Goyke attended the premier dressed in full Jedi attire to show his love for the franchise.
"I just love Star Wars," he said. "10 years ago we went to the premiere in this same theater."
After viewing the movie Gonia and Bigboy both shared some spoiler-less insight onto whatthey thought about the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise.
Gonia said he thought it was "mantastic."
"I loved it," he said. "The whole essence of it was awesome because there was a family in front of us that brought their whole family - there was like 30 of them - that's what it's all about.
"That makes me feel really, really good because that's what my dad did and then I got to be there with my son and my brother and friends."
Bigboy said he enjoyed it but there were a few things he didn't care for.
"I did find some things that I didn't really entirely like," he said. "I didn't like all of the jokes in it but I did like it, I did think it was a good callback to the original ones with a bit of a blend into the newer ones.
"It was nice to see all of the old characters in it and to see them interact with a lot of the new ones, I just thought it was really fun."
Bigboy recommended seeing them movie right away, especially if they are fans of the old ones.
"Get out there as early as possible," he said. "One of the joys that I saw in watching it was sitting there with all of the people who saw the originals in theaters.
Bigboy said being in the theater really added to the atmosphere.
"Seeing them seeing all the characters they grew up with," he said. "It was just really cool to witness all of the reactions in the crowd and I think that is something everybody should experience."
In the end Suick said they officially sold 296 tickets and sold out two theaters.
"Come to the movies," Suick said.
For more information check out the Bay Theater on Facebook, visit them online at ashlandbaycinema.com; call the movie line at 715-682-3555 or the office line at 715-682-3369. Bay Theater is located at 420 Main Street West in Ashland.
One man has been arrested on hit and run charges in an incident that sent two Ashland residents to hospitals early Saturday December 12.
According to Ashland Police Captain James Gregoire, neither the names of the victims or the suspect in the case would be released pending the filing of formal charges by Ashland County District Attorney Kelly McKnight.
According to Gregoire, a hit-and-run was reported to the Ashland County 911 emergency dispatcher at 2:38 a.m.
"We arrived and located two victims, a 22 year old female and a 27 year old male. The female was taken to Memorial Medical center and then on to a hospital in Duluth. The male victim was also taken to Memorial Medical Center," he said.
Gregoire said the suspect was located the next day based on witness identification.
He was identified only as a 22-year-old male who resides in Ashland.
The suspect remains in the Ashland County Jail pending the filing of a criminal complaint, Gregoire said.
Gregoire said the suspect faces possible charges of hit and run, reckless driving causing great bodily harm and possibly operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing injury. Those potential charges are only being considered and have not yet been formally made, Gregoire said.
"What the charges will be is up to the district attorney, based on what he feels he can prove," Gregoire said.
The Daily Press was unable to contact District Attorney McKnight for comment Friday afternoon.
A group of 14 local citizens have gathered together to investigate the option of making the waters of the Chequamegon Bay and Apostle Islands a National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
As part of their exploration, the group hosted an informational meeting at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center on Monday evening. The discussion was led by two guest speakers currently connected to NOAA's efforts to preserve and protect 13 oceanic NMS and one Great Lake sanctuary "with special conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, archaeological or aesthetic qualities of national significance."
According to speaker Ellen Brody, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for NOAA's Office of NMS, there are numerous benefits becoming a NMS. If designated, NOAA would bring financial and technical resources to the Lake Superior NMS for education, research and community engagement.
Brody suggested that a Lake
Superior NMS designation could be as beneficial to the region as the Thunder Bay NMS designation was to Alpena, Michigan.
"There is no doubt that in Alpena, Michigan it has changed how the community thinks about itself," Brody said. "From an industrial community where the industries were shutting down, to a place where there is more tourism. A place where kids grow up thinking they have a future in Alpena, Mich."
A Lake Superior NMS designation would not affect treaty rights, or require local or state funds or taxes to operate.
"All Great Lakes waters are state waters... they remain state waters," Brody said. "Also, in the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the governor of the state has significant authority when it comes to giving a thumbs up or thumbs down for what NOAA is proposing."
A change to NOAA's nomination process in 2014 now includes nominations from public, state and federal agencies and tribes, which is why a NMS is being considered in the Chequamegon Bay and Apostle Islands region for the first time.
"Communities are part of sanctuaries, so when we go into an area we want to work with communities fundamentally, and we want to know that there is an interest in partnering with NOAA," said Brody.
Written and anonymous questions from the audience covered a wide variety of topics, including whether or not a CAFO in the region would affect NMS designation and if the NMS designation could prevent CAFO operations if it had an effect on the site. Brody and Carol Bernthal, Superintendent of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, agree that a CAFO in the region should not prevent NMS designation.
"I hope the CAFO would not impact the qualities of the area that you're looking at to the extent that it doesn't meet the national standard," Bernthal said.
However, a Lake Superior NMS designation has the potential to regulate operations that negatively affect the sanctuary.
"Regulations do address impacts to sanctuary resources from outside the sanctuary. If you can demonstrate that damage is occurring from an activity — whether it's terrestrial or in the waters outside of the sanctuary, theoretically we can address that in some capacity," Brody explained. "In our decades of managing sanctuaries, we are better tested at the activities that are outside of the boundary but in the water. For example oil and gas development."
Brody concluded that it can "be difficult to make the case that a particular activity is harming a sanctuary resource."
The process for becoming a fully designated NMS is two-fold and can take months or years to complete. First, the area must be nominated and meet specific criteria as established by NOAA. If the nomination is successful, the Lake Superior NMS would be added to the inventory list and does not guarantee designation. In order for a site to be officially designated an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and management plan must be completed and approved.
"The community is responsible for building the nomination. Which takes time, education and establishing a vision," Brody explained.
Although a specific nomination entity has not been identified in this community, planning committee members looking into NMS nomination include Karin Kozie, Ellen Kwiatkowski, Cathy Techtman, Joan Elias, Sandy Brue, Stephanie Julian, Beth Wrege, Mike Friis, Rose Haveri, Bob Mackreth, Devon Brock-Montgomery, Mark Peterson, Ellen Peterson and Kellie Pederson.
According to Pederson, the committee is currently working towards gathering 100 letters of support from "key agencies" in the area before moving forward in the nomination process.
"We're in the education phase. We need to see if this is a good option for our community," Pederson said.