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Northern Wisconsin native pens artistic memoir on military experience

When Dr. Carlin Kielcheski began writing his memoir, "Short Rounds From A Sketchpad: A Vietnam Vet's Visual Voice," it was mainly to answer the continuous questions he had heard throughout his career as an art professor for the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The book, published in January, tells the story from his birth in Phillips and childhood in northern Wisconsin to a budding interest in art that eventually led him to join the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in order to help fund his college education.

Over the course of his early military career, Kielcheski found himself called upon to teach the subject in which he had graduated from UW-Superior with a degree in fine arts. In December 1967, Kielcheski was sent to Vietnam as an Air Force information officer, spending a year in the country recording the war as a combat artist.

Frequently illustrated with Kielcheski's sketches and paintings, the book offers one man's thoughtful insights into his military experience, both before and after the war.

The term "short rounds" is military jargon for when artillery falls short of the intended target. While a short round may be harmless, it can also be deadly. According to Kielcheski, the term was used in his memoir to illustrate the critical turning points in his own life.

While Kielcheski faced regular doubt about the value of his work in the military, Kielcheski writes that art holds particular value in a military setting as a means of self-expression — lending context to the circumstances that send countries and people to war, and what is experienced in such times.

Kielcheski writes, "Ghastly media images of the Vietnam conflict will forever produce a misleading public perception of that struggling nation — the country and its people. My assignment to Vietnam as an Air Force information officer in 1968 helped me appreciate how military personnel might artistically help their kin understand the activities and environments of combatants in war."

"One of my objectives in writing this book was to share experiences of the military

CONTINUED FROM 1A lifestyle with others," Kielcheski writes.

His year-long tour in Vietnam allowed Kielcheski an insight into a range of different military and civilian men and women, from boring quiet days to ones where survival seemed dubious. The sketches Kielcheski produced during that time range from pastoral scenes and sketches of local food to military depictions and casualties on those same fields that earlier appeared so peacefully in Kielcheski's art.

The memoir is not a typical wartime autobiography, but one that captures Kielcheski's frank observations on war, the military, Vietnam, and art as a means of communication.

Kielcheski writes that artwork done by activeduty military is seldom circulated to the public; a lost opportunity to allow civilians an intimate look at the complex everyday realities of war.

"Pursuit of artistic expression will help develop what I call a visual voice that goes beyond words to address matters and modes that cannot be expressed, captured, or explained with words alone," Kielcheski writes. "It is another way for us to speak silently, forcefully, and beautifully."

Today, now a retired Lieutenant Colonel, Kielcheski resides in Colorado with his wife, Shirley.

"Short Rounds From A Sketchpad" can be found online on Amazon, as well as the Phillips Public Library.

Logging will continue as planned in Phillips school forest

Logging in the Phillips School Forest will continue as planned this spring, following a 7-1 decision by the board of education on Monday.

The scheduled timber harvest came under scrutiny earlier this month when the scope of the harvest became widely known among the community — particularly amongst those who are active users of the ski, biking, hiking, and snowshoeing trails that are available for public use on the property. The trail system has been created through volunteer- and student-led efforts over a number of years and is regularly maintained by volunteers.

The timber harvest encompasses two connected segments of school forest property: the most recently acquired section along the Elk River and the Worcester forest, which encompasses the silent sports trail system.

In a 24-acre section near the river, all trees two inches in diameter at 4 1/2 feet above the ground will be harvested, except oak, pine, and spruce. A buffer of 50 feet will remain between the harvest and the river.

For the section that includes the trails, 70 acres of the existing pine stands will be thinned by about a third. The vast majority of aspen, jackpine, scotch pine, and white birch is also slated for logging, along with any additional trees marked in orange. According to the district's consultant forester Joe Grapa, areas that are predominantly aspen stands will be more heavily logged, while others will be more lightly thinned.

The timber harvest has been scheduled in accordance with the district's forest management, which was initially developed by DNR forester Rich Windmoeller. The harvest was initially discussed by the school forest committee in July 2019, and a $109,106 bid was awarded to the Hayward-area logging company FutureWood by the school's business services committee in January this year.

A contract was signed by district administration on Feb. 3, authorizing cutting to begin immediately and be completed by Aug. 1, 2022.

A number of those concerned about the scope of the project attended an advisory meeting of the school forest committee Feb. 4, giving public comment.

Concerns voiced included the extent of the logging on the trail system, the potential loss of the trail's value in retaining outdoor enthusiasts in the area, the quantity of slash and debris that would be left behind by the logging, potential environmental impacts due to reducing or removing certain species of trees, concern about the size of the buffer zone between the logging and the river, the potential impact on the site hosting the Phillips Flurry snowshoe race, and a lack of specificity in the logging contract itself.

The business services committee forwarded the discussion to the board of education meeting for discussion and possible action, with the main intent of accepting community feedback on the timber harvest for the benefit of the full school board.

Comments were received from a total of 13 individuals, with numerous other community and district staff in attendance Monday. The majority of the comments came from district staff, who voiced support of the harvest in order to fund construction of an outdoor classroom.

Ron Kendziera, an active user of the trail system and member of the school forestry committee, asked that the school board consider staggering the logging over a period of years. He suggested that through a combination of smaller-scale logging, grant-writing, and fundraising, the creation of an outdoor classroom could be accomplished without impacting the recreational use of the school forest.

Susan Jones, a neighboring property owner to the school forest, agreed with Kendziera, stating that the educational benefits of forestry could impact a greater number of students if the project were broken up over a period of several years.

District teachers Mary Rohde, Tara Scholz, Brandi Smith, Connie Schoenborn, and Bob Dural spoke in favor of continuing with the existing forestry plan and scheduled timber harvest.

While all commented on the value of the forest as it currently exists, most noted that it is difficult — particularly with elementary-age children — to conduct educational experiences at the school forest without access to a facility or indoor restrooms.

Rohde said outdoor educational opportunities offer invaluable lessons to students, and currently, few Phillips students are afforded these opportunities.

"If we want our graduates to stay in Phillips and Price County, it would be beneficial for them to learn about nature," Rohde said. "My question for the school board is, what is your vision for the school forest? Is it to teach generations to love and appreciate the wonderful nature we have, or to simply have the land available to the community and tourists to use it?"

Scholz said that while she currently uses the school forest for parent outreach activities, the lack of a facility limits what can be done. Having a building at the school forest would open a realm of new opportunities, she noted.

"I use it as a member of the community also," she said "But I do know that first and foremost it is a school forest and ... this is really for the students and the school."

Dural said that he believed this plan strikes a middle ground, improving opportunities for kids while treating the land responsibly, and will benefit the most people for the longest period of time.

A written statement from elementary school counselor and school forest committee member Caroline Corbett was read, saying that while the school forest is a benefit to the entire community, it is primarily designed to benefit students.

"The sooner we get a building, the sooner we have more access for students to utilize our school forest," Corbett wrote. "Putting our students' needs first has always been my main priority as the school counselor, and I know it is our community's priority too."

Community member John Krause, who works in forestry for the state, questioned the goal of the forestry plan, saying that while he was not opposed to the timber harvest, designating species for complete removal is not good forestry.

Krause provided a number of recommended revisions to the timber harvest, including retaining a number of snags for wildlife habitat, a few scattered large aspen trees with cavities for wildlife habitat, and some of the young paper birch and jackpine in order to maintain species diversity. Krause also recommended removing all red maple except in wetland areas and wetland margins, as it outcompetes native pines and oaks.

In regards to the wetland areas found on the school forest property, Krause recommended that logging equipment be prohibited from entering wetlands, and that the buffer along the Elk River be doubled to at least 100 feet.

Cross-country coach Eric Olson commented that the school's crosscountry team uses the school forest trail for training about a dozen times per season, and noted it is a nice resource. Olson commented that Phillips will host the Marawood Conference cross-country meet in 2021, and having a building at the school forest would be helpful.

Olson also noted that Phillips has not hosted a cross-country sectional in approximately 30 years, and said that being able to host the meet could give Loggers runners a significant home-course advantage. He said he believed the forest would eventually regenerate from the scheduled timber harvest and the facility gained through the sale of the wood would last well into the future.

Local business owner and parent Dan Vernig commented that he would like to see the usage of the school forest diversify to accommodate a variety of interests. As a hunter safety instructor, he said he cannot currently use school forest land to teach students how to safely handle a firearm. He said he would also like to see the opportunity for students to learn ATV and snowmobile safety on school forest property.

A student in the district, Justin Polacek, commented that he cannot remember the last time he'd been taken to the school forest as a student, and he would like to see student use of the forest increase.

A written statement was read from community member Tim Popp, saying he was confident the school district would appropriately manage the effect on the trail.

Following public comment, discussion was held by members of the school board.

Board member Kevin Rose, who also serves as a member of the school forest committee, noted that while the funding raised by the timber harvest may result in the construction of an outdoor classroom, it is a bonus and not the primary goal of the logging. Board member Joe Fox agreed, saying the logging had been part of the school forestry plan since 2012.

Board member Tracie Burkart noted that with the number of mature trees on the property, their value will be lost if they die or fall down, resulting in a future expense for the district in order to clear the trails and have the fallen wood removed.

Board member Paula Houdek said she was concerned about the process the district had followed in approving the timber harvest and educating the community about the scheduled logging.

The school's policy on school forest usage, which was originally adopted in 2009 and most recently revised in 2019, states that bids for timber harvests will be brought to the board of education for approval.

In the case of this timber sale, and historically within the district according to district administrator Rick Morgan, bids have been approved by the business services committee, and the full school board then informed of the sale.

Board member Marty Krog commented that as the school forest, it should be utilized first and foremost for the benefit and education of students. He commented that he had heard support for the logging project, and said he felt staggering the harvest would only increase the amount of damage to the trail system.

Board president Jon Pesko said that the district has welcomed community members to participate in the process on the school forestry committee, and has relied on the expertise of Grapa and Windmoeller to create the forestry plan.

After the topic was discussed, a motion was made by Krog to continue moving forward with the existing forest management plan, and to also formally accept the timber harvest bid as laid out in the district's policy.

The motion was seconded by Burkart, and approved by all board members present except Houdek, who cast the sole dissenting vote. Board member Hailey Halmstad was absent from the meeting.

Following the meeting, district administrator Rick Morgan told the Review that the school's policy committee will review the language in the school forest usage policy to ensure the policy accurately reflects the district's procedure in accepting timber harvest bids in the future.

Hotel project has state backing but needs investors

If enough investment dollars can be drummed up, there's $250,000 on the table from the state to go towards building a Cobblestone Hotel & Suites on the south end of Park Falls.

The city is being awarded the quarter-million Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to renovate, expand, and rebrand the current 30-room AmeriVu Inn hotel into a 50room Cobblestone, according to a Feb. 13 press release from the state.

But for the state funds to be used, the project needs private investment dollars to get off the ground, according to mayor Michael Bablick.

"If we found a half a million it would go," he said. "It could be one person, or five people, or 10 people, it doesn't matter."

The Park Falls Area Development Corporation commissioned a feasibility study in 2018 to produce sales projections and return on investment figures for potential investors. The study is available to potential investors by signing a nondisclosure agreement through the corporation office, located at the Northwoods Community Credit Union building in Park Falls.

"All I can say is that the return on investment is good," Bablick said. "The study really justifies [the project] and it's really what the state saw in order to give us this grant. They needed some sort of proof that this was worth their money. It's a very competitive grant process, so the fact that we got it says something."

The total project is expected to cost $3.6 million and create 14 jobs, however, the city cannot draw on the grant funds until the project begins, according to David Callender, WEDC communications director, who said eligible expenses must be incurred by Dec. 31 this year. The contract may be extended though, to allow more time for completion.

The expanded hotel would also address a tourism concern. According to the study, the northern part of Wisconsin does not have enough quality lodging options, making tourism promotion difficult.

"We can get people here, we've just got to have places for them to stay," said Pete Maynard, president of the Park Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. "We do need affordable, top-quality lodging so that when we attract people up here with winter sports, outdoor activities, we need a place for them to stay or they're going to only spend a half a day here fishing on the river and then when the day is done they're out of town."

Maynard said he's aware of businesses who also have had to put up their visitors in neighboring counties due to a lack of places to stay.

The city and PFACDC believe private investment will be stimulated to the degree that the new project will attract more people to stay in Park Falls. The total project is expected to increase the tax base of the city by more than 1% and increase revenues to all tax jurisdictions by $94,500 per

year, according to the release.

"The new Cobblestone Hotel & Suites will not only address a gap in lodging services in Price County but will also create jobs and encourage future economic growth in Park Falls," said Missy Hughes, secretary, and CEO of WEDC.

Cobblestone Hotels LLC was founded in 2007 and is currently based in Neenah. The company builds, owns, operates, and franchises hotels in many smaller communities, according to the company website.

Phillips receives update on economic development merger

Members of the Phillips Industrial Development Corporation attended the Feb. 4 Phillips committee of the whole meeting, providing an update on changes to the county's economic development organizations.

As of Jan. 1, the Price County Economic Development Association merged with the Park Falls Area Community Development Corporation, effectively dissolving the PCEDA. The purpose of the merger was reportedly to make the work of the economic development groups — now united as the PFACDC — a more efficient service to the entire county, mainly offering revolving loans to local businesses.

Phillips IDC members Jeff Klaver and Mark Brzeskiewicz reported to the city council that the Phillips IDC had recently met with members of the Park Falls Area Development Corporation in order to initiate a cooperative relationship.

The Phillips IDC has financially joined with the PFACDC on an application to the Department of Agriculture for the purposes of bolstering the local revolving loan fund, with each group contributing $25,000.

Klaver noted that the group will be seeking financial assistance from the City of Phillips, as it serves the entire county. The PFACDC already receives funding from Price County and the City of Park Falls. The topic will receive further discussion at the city's regular meeting in March.

Municipal water/sewer update

The city council passed a motion authorizing engineering firm Ayres Associates to begin the application process for a $1 million community development block grant to go toward upgrading the city's wastewater treatment plant.

City water superintendent Todd Toelle reported a quote had been received from R&R Waste Systems for cleaning and televising the sewer main under Lake Avenue, coming in at 60 cents per foot for

televising only or $1.20 for televising and cleaning. At approximately 4,000 feet, the total cost would range between $2,400-$4,800. Toelle recommended the city having the main both televised and cleaned since it has not been done in a number of years.

It was reported that the city would need to determine if there are finances that can be used toward the project.

Toelle also reported that the city is currently failing to meet the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource's requirements on inspecting residential and commercial structures to determine whether they comply with backflow and cross-connections requirements.

Toelle noted this has been the responsibility of municipalities since 2012, and the city has not yet determined a solution for addressing the need.

Toelle said he had contacted other municipalities, and reported some hire professional companies to inspect residential properties while others train members of staff to complete the inspections. For industrial, commercial, and large apartment and nursing home facilities, Toelle said the city can require each to hire a state inspector or master plumber to go through their facilities and sign off on them.

A copy of a drafted letter containing this information was provided to city council members and city attorney Bruce Marshall. Following a review of the document by Marshall to ensure it is within the city's jurisdiction, the topic will be revisited at a future date.

Two illegal drug-related arrests made

During the regular update on the Phillips Police Department, it was reported that two illegal drug-related arrests were made in late January.

On Jan. 20, a search warrant was executed at a city residence, and a man was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Jan. 30, the Phillips Police Department, with the assistance of the Price County Sheriff's Office, arrested a man on a federal probation warrant and found him in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Other business

* It was announced that Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce director Laurie Hansen will be retiring, and the chamber is considering options for resolving the staffing issue.

* It was reported that the city's lawsuit against local property owner Anne Collins for not complying with the city's ordinances pertaining to contaminated wells had entered the court system.

* During committee reports, alderman John Klimowski said he had received a call from a local resident regarding parking along South Lake Avenue/State Highway 13. As the topic was not an agenda item, it was recommended for next month's meeting for further discussion.

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