The Main Street paving project in Rice Lake began on Monday and will involve milling and repaving Main Street from the south city limits to Stein Street.
Milling operations began in the northbound lanes on the south end of the city on Monday morning, and work will progress to the north. Asphalt paving operations will follow the milling and tentatively begin on Friday. All work is weather dependent and scheduled to be substantially completed by Aug. 6.
Monarch Paving is the prime contractor for the project. Crews will begin milling the outside lanes first, and repaving, and then move milling and paving to the inside lanes. Work is scheduled to take place Monday through Saturday weekly until the work is completed.
Main Street will remain open to traffic during construction, with flagging operations present near the daily working area. Traffic will generally be reduced to two lanes throughout the entire 2¼-mile project, and traffic signals may be temporarily modified to a flashing configuration. Short-term temporary closure of intersections will be needed to complete milling or paving operations at street crossings.
Business accesses will remain open, except for very short-term closures when milling, paving or rolling is occurring immediately in front of driveways.
Drivers are cautioned to be alert, obey the marked speed regulations and drive with caution through the work zone, and follow all directions of the flagging operations.
Motorists are reminded that using handheld cellphones in Wisconsin work zones is illegal.
After complaints reached Rice Lake City Council ears about the presence of farm animals in a residential neighborhood, Rice Lake legal counsel presented a proposed ordinance to address the situation but will tweak it and bring back a new version after discussion with council members.
At the June 8 council meeting, Council Member Doug Edwardsen presented information on ordinances regarding animals after hearing from a woman who commented on a neighbor who is raising 60 to 70 farm animals, from chickens to goats, in city limits.
The council directed city staff to create a new ordinance or amend an existing ordinance to cover raising farm animals within the city limits, and Arnie Koehler, Rice Lake legal counsel, wrote a new ordinance regulating the ownership, keeping and harboring of all animals within the city.
Koehler categorized the animals in three parts. The first covered household pets, which are permitted in areas zoned residential. The third section on large domestic “farm animals” said keeping them in city limits would be prohibited.
Questions arose, however, over the second category that covered outdoor animals, including chickens, ducks and geese. In Koehler’s original edition of the ordinance, he suggested that no more than three can be kept and they must be housed in a suitable enclosure. He admitted the number of three was completely arbitrary on his part.
Edwardsen wanted a definition of a suitable enclosure and advised that distance from property lines must be addressed. The council settled on the enclosure being at least 10 feet from the nearest property line. Koehler said he would research other ordinances on how to define suitable enclosures for a variety of species.
Council members also questioned Koehler if three animals encompassed the total number of animals or three of each species.
“I never thought of that,” he said, but somebody else might.
Council member Gina Sookiayak advised that friends in Chippewa Falls said most people would never have just three chickens, at least six would be the number they’d want to feed their families.
Harlan Dodge also advised adding a prohibition against butchering animals.
“I don’t think people want to see chickens beheaded in town,” he said, also noting that people should understand that when a large number of animals are kept in town, they can bring diseases, rats and mice.
And wording will be added to say animals must be kept to the back yard.
In other matters, Barron County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Dave Armstrong presented business development information, the city clerk-treasurer was questioned on the upcoming purchase of only one touchscreen voting devise and two people spoke during public comment on the need for a noise study on Birchwood Manufacturing.
City Clerk-Treasurer Kathleen Morse said the state advised only buying one touchscreen device when the six they currently have are retired. According to studies, voters prefer paper ballots and cities of Rice Lake’s size were recommended to invest in only one touchscreen.
“We can always add another one if we need one,” she said, plus the vendor was willing to rent the city a touchscreen for big elections.
Stephen Brown and Abbey Fischer, who both live on Highland Street, asked the city to move forward with a sound study to begin addressing the noise emanating from downtown’s Birchwood Manufacturing.
Multiple people have complained, Brown said, and one family told him they were leaving because of the noise. Fischer said since a storm in 2017, the noise has been consistent and annoying. Sometimes it abates, but sometimes it’s horrendous. Everyone is interested in working with Birchwood to address the problem, she concluded.
A man shot by a Barron County Sheriff's Department deputy remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting in Mikana that occurred on the evening of July 14.
According to the DOJ, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department was called for a wellness check for an adult, white male subject after he had made a threat to a person who lived nearby. Upon arrival, deputies observed the male barricaded in a room with a firearm. Law enforcement and the subject talked through a standoff.
At one point the subject raised a firearm at a deputy who then fired at the subject. The subject was struck. The subject was provided medical support and then airlifted to a regional hospital.
The subject is in critical but stable condition, and his identity will not be released because he has not been charged with a crime at this point in the investigation.
The involved officer is Barron County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Weigand. He has been in law enforcement for eight years.
All involved law enforcement are fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation. Weigand has been placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.
DCI is leading the investigation of the officer involved critical incident with assistance from Wisconsin State Patrol.
No other persons were injured during the incident.
DCI is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to the Barron County district attorney when the investigation concludes.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is currently available.