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Phillips approves new parks plan

Following a public hearing, the Phillips City Council unanimously approved a revised and updated parks and recreation plan describing all ongoing, future, and potential outdoor recreation projects within the city on May 14.

The newly approved plan will now allow stakeholder groups to pursue government grant funding for specific projects, such as the multi-purpose stage proposed for Elk Lake Park.

Comment was received by a handful of community members who attended the public hearing.

Ideas discussed included a variety of suggestions for the plan, including adding a sign to Elk Lake Park, creating several small signs detailing local history to be placed along the walkway in the park, the possibility of adding bike trails to the city, adding a recreational feature to the city to celebrate

This is only a sample of the 30 calls the Phillips Police Department responded to from May 6 to May 12.

May 6

• An officer received a report of lost property from a city resident. An informational report was generated in case the property is found.

• The department received a report of illegal dumping from a local charitable organization. The representative from the organization was able to provide a video and a license plate. An officer identified the suspect and issued a citation with restitution fees added.

• An officer stopped a vehicle for playing music loud as the officer could hear the music from a distance greater than 75 feet. The operator was given a warning for the loud music.

• An officer assisted a Price County Deputy with taking a probationer into custody.

May 7

• An officer assisted the Central Price County Ambulance Service with a female subject who had fallen.

May 8

• An officer assisted the Park Falls Police Department by transporting an inmate to the Price County Jail.

• An officer unlocked a vehicle for an owner who locked their vehicle keys inside.

May 10

• The Phillips Police Department along with the Taylor County K9 assisted Phillips High School with a K9 sniff on vehicles parked at the school parking lot. The K9 alerted on five vehicles which were searched after school officials asked law enforcement to assist with the search. No illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia were located.

• Received a complaint from a female driver about a vehicle driving recklessly in front of her. Officers took statements and will further investigate.

May 11

• Officers responded to a report of two females having a verbal argument in front of an apartment complex. The officer spoke with the people involved and determined no law violation had occurred.

May 12

• An adult female contacted the department about a dog she found. An officer attempted to contact the dog's owner.


Rustic takeoff

(Left) Dennis Dickinson brings his seaplane in for a landing on the Flambeau River in Park Falls May 15. Dickinson, a commercial airline pilot with 28,000 hours of flying time was on a four-day journey from Halifax, British Columbia with fellow aviator Dusty Dorshorst. The two men were on their way to hanger the plane at the New Richmond airport when they heard about the possible gathering of seaplanes at the Park Falls airport and decided to stop for fuel.


Baratka recipient of 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award

William Baratka

William (Bill) Baratka of Phillips has been chosen by the Price County Development Association as its 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. The seventh-annual award ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 29, at the NTC-North Campus in Phillips.

Family ties brought the Baratka family back to Phillips from Milwaukee when Bill was a sixth grader. Those family ties still run deep at Phillips Plating, which has been Baratka family-owned since 1969 and extends to those employees who are not biologically related. It's that family-first, community-minded spirit that has kept Bill an integral part of the Phillips community for many years.

As well as being aco-founder of Phillips Plating with brothers Robert Sr. and David, Bill is a long-standing member of the Phillips American Legion Post, the Moose Lodge, the Knights of Columbus, the Phillips Booster Club, the Phillips Czechoslovakian Festival, the Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Industrial Development Corporation. And though his four children, Larry, Brian, Darin, and Cari, have now managed the day-to-day running of the business for the past five years, he keeps himself aware of what's going on at their location on Hwy. 13 and is usually on site for at least part of each day. His wife of 65 years, Betty, is also a daily presence at the business that she has been part of since its inception 50 years ago.

Bill graduated from Phillips High School in 1952. From 1952-56 he served in the U.S. Air Force as a non-commissioned officer in charge of the Airborne Electronics Division at an RAF Station in Burtonwood,

England. He returned to Phillips after his discharge and worked in the insurance business. It was during this time that Louis Vokurka, a good friend as well as the co-founder, along with Robert Cervenka of Phillips Plastics Corporation, began to exert influence on Bill to open up an electroplating business. Phillips Plastics was jobbing out all its plating work to Chicago and Vokurka thought it could be a viable business venture to have that plating done closer to home, much closer to home, as in the same community.

After extensive research on the process of electroplating, which was still in its infancy at this time, Bill and his brothers agreed to give it a try. In October of 1969 Phillips Plating was born. Betty worked the front office while Bill, his brothers, and approximately a dozen others took care of other aspects of the fledgling business.

"It was all done by hand back then," Bill recalled with a grin in a recent interview with the Review.

Most of the items that were hand-dipped in those earliest days of the business were radio and television knobs and appliances. This evolved into a larger market in the 1970s as injection molding began to replace die-cast molding. It allowed the business to branch out into the automotive, home hardware, and powersports industries while remaining economical, with a much more lightweight, yet sturdy, end product. It also made it necessary for the company to enlarge its workspace and offices, the building that houses Phillips Plating has undergone change over the years, too.

Conveyers have replaced hands in the dipping process, but according to the Baratka family it would be nearly impossible to fully automate or mechanize their business since they dip items in such a wide variety of sizes. These range from button-size parts, to hair care products such as Wahl hair trimmer parts, to car door handles, to the chassis cover for an Indian motorcycle. Dipping racks are built in-house at Phillips Plating to accommodate the size differential of items that might be dipped in copper, nickel, or chrome. The racks are cleaned following each dip in a bath of nitrous oxide. This ensures removal of buildup that could impede the electrical impulse necessary in the electroplating process or cause a less than desirable end product. After dipping, all parts are sorted, dried on racks, carefully inspected by human eyes, packaged, and shipped via truck to a multitude of locations. Its customer base is quite broad, including about 100 different companies. Some are large, such as auto manufacturers Ford, General Motors, and Volkswagen, and some are small. It still performs work for the neighboring Phillips Plastics, now known as Medisize, dipping parts used in health-care products.

Phillips Plating is a self-contained, self-sustaining business. It has two labs, one for testing chemicals and one for quality control and holds itself to strict standards for both cleanliness and quality, according to Baratka. The electroplating industry standard for rejects is between 5% and 7%. Phillips Plating operates at 1%. It is also ISO-certified (a certification pertaining to quality management services) and has all Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permitting in place for its wastewater treatment plant. There are 125 employees at present and the addition of another plating line is already in the works as the business continues to expand. The new line will allow plating of items used on the exterior of vehicles rather than on interior parts only.

The Baratka siblings pretty much grew up working around the plant, as they recall. As youngsters they swept floors and filled soda machines. Now they are co-owners of the plant, having purchased their uncle's shares in 2014. Bill had served as president up until that time.

"We've been really blessed," Betty said. "Sometimes families that work together don't get along all that well. That's not the case here."

Darin agrees, saying there is no micro-managing. Each person has his or her specific area of expertise and works to and on that end. Business decisions are always shared.

Even though Bill still shows up at the plant most days he is not all about work. He has long enjoyed the Northwoods pursuits of fishing and hunting and has also been both an avid bowler and an avid golfer. He claims positive attitude is part of his business' success and hopes that will be maintained as the company further evolves in the future. He says there are always ups and downs for a long-standing business, but he hopes his children will focus more on the ups as he has tried to do during his career. He also hopes they will carry on the community-minded spirit he and Betty have maintained for the past half century.

The next generation of the Baratka family is confident their father's hopes will be honored. As Darin put it, "They [the elder Baratkas] left us a real nice cake to put icing on."


Plans for potential dog park discussed for Tuscobia Trailhead Park

Local Lions Club members have taken an initial interest in facilitating an off-leash dog park in Park Falls.

A group of citizens has stepped forward to plan the Lions Bark Park — as it is tentatively named — and the idea is stirring up a good deal of interest in creating a fenced area for dogs to run off leash.

Leading the effort are Park Falls residents Tia Kropf-Beninger and Mary Schmocker.

The pair presented the idea

to the Price County Forestry and Parks Committee last week. Schmocker said that the effort began by taking an online survey to gauge local interest in opening a dog park.

"We had a great response. We were expecting a dozen or so responses and we received surveys from 85 people," Schmocker said.

The surveys indicated that 59% wanted a park near a recreational area such as an existing park that has other resources offered.

"Respondents also would like a park near the edges of a city which led us to pursue the possibility of using an unused portion at the Tuscobia Trail Head Park," Schmocker said.

While all plans for this facility are tentative at this point, the idea is to fence in an area at the north end of the park.

"It matches most of the criteria identified on the survey," Schmocker said.

The plans for the park are to offer a fenced area for large dogs and a smaller fenced area for small dogs.

The fencing, possibly chain link, will be the biggest expense.

"We are hoping the Lions Clubs will sponsor the fencing," Schmocker said. "They are always great for helping with community parks."

"The plans are to put up double gates so that it helps keep dogs from escaping when someone new comes in," Kropf-Beninger said. "Otherwise, it is a fairly simple plan. We would need to have some dispensers for bags for visitors to pick up after their dogs, and some garbage containers to dispense of it."

She noted that most dog owners are conscious about keeping the park clean.

"It would be very convenient for those who wanted to use the rest of the park and trails," Kropf-Beninger said.

The area being looked at is about a half-acre.

There is a pedestrian path that cuts across one corner of the dog park area, but Parks and Forestry Director Eric Holm said that that could easily be moved.

It was discussed that there is a small area of gravel that would have to be relocated either within the park or outside on a trail, Holm added that could also be done. He also said there would be some trees to be trimmed and brushed.

"We are just here to get an idea about what the county would think about us using their property," Schmocker said.

"I don't see any problem," Holm said. "All that is in the corner are a few apple trees and mostly brush. But, it would be a pretty nice location, it is really nice out there with the pond and the trails."

Price County Administrator Nick Trimner said that he would have to investigate the liability that the county might have with the potential of dog bites etc., but noted that he didn't see any other problems.

There would need to be a written memorandum of understanding signed between any partners on the project.

"I could talk to our insurance provider, they are usually quick at getting an answer back to us," Trimner said.

The organizers were told they needed to put the whole proposal down on paper and include information from the Lions or other sponsors on what they were willing to contribute. Their proposal should also include details regarding the maintenance and whether Park Falls could lend some help with the mowing.

"We are trying to get all of our partners lined up, but we needed to get a response from this group to see if it was even possible," Schmocker said.

Information on the way the project is proceeding will be posted on Facebook and comments from all of those who are interested in the development of the park are welcome, she said.

Trimner and Holm said they probably could not move forward until after their written plan is received and any other necessary documents have been approved.

"But, I'd say it sounds like it would be a good use for that corner," Holm said.


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