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Hidden Bay Graphics burns
Business to re-open at temporary location

Hidden Bay Graphics screen printing and embroidery plans to re-open operations within two weeks at their former location on Dyno Drive after a fire destroyed the business's new facility at Highway B and Hall of Fame Drive in Hayward Tuesday evening, Oct. 1.

Co-owner Becky Neibert said the business employs 17 people. All employees had left the building at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, she said. The fire was reported by a passerby at 6:17 p.m.

Neibert said insurance adjustors were on scene the day after the fire to secure the destroyed building and investigate the cause.

"We are going to try to get equipment here as soon as we can and operate out of the old building" on Dyno Drive, she said. "Hopefully we will be up and running again within a couple weeks."

Neibert said the fire department was able to retrieve some computers from the fire.

"Other than those few computers, everything is gone," she said.

Hidden Bay Graphics opened Jan. 7 at its new location on Highway B, after purchasing the former Loggers Mill and starting the remodel in August 2018.

"We finished that in November, had a party and moved in the last week of December," Neibert said.

Tami Rusch, director of sales and marketing, said that because all products are decorated off-site, the business is still able to help customers with all their promotional needs.

Hidden Bay Graphics and Hidden Bay Sports are separate companies.

Fire response

City of Hayward Fire Chief Mike Herrmann was the first firefighter to respond to the fire scene at Hidden Bay Tuesday evening. The building was "fully involved and the fire was already through the roof by the time we got there," he said. "When I arrived, the smoke was so heavy you could not see down Highway B. We closed Highway B because of the smoke and to keep people out of the fire scene. We had to use the hydrant across the highway, and had hoses going across the street."

Herrmann said about 12 firefighters responded from the City of Hayward fire department and 10 from the Town of Hayward department. Also providing fire trucks and personnel were the Bass Lake, Stone Lake, Round Lake, Cable and Exeland fire departments.

"We probably had 45 guys there," Herrmann said.

Also, a citizen provided a pickup truck to move six boats on trailers parked at M&M Rental next door, away from the burning building.

Firefighters were on scene until 11 p.m., Herrmann said.

He said the fire appeared to have started 20 feet to the back and 20 feet to the side from the main entrance.

"That's where it was through the roof first," Herrmann said. "There were multiple ceilings in there, which kind of hampered our fire suppression. The trusses above those ceilings burned off and then the roof collapsed. We used an excavator to pull the rest of it apart to get in and overhaul it (the fire)."

Herrmann said fire personnel remained on the scene after the fire was out and helped haul out file cabinets, records and any items of value that the owner wanted.

The chief gave "kudos to the city's water system." Public Works Director John McCue ramped up the pumps from the wells to provide water to the towers for the fire department's aerial ladder tower and other hoses used by the firefighters.

"The city has a great water supply," Herrmann said.

'Thank goodness there were no injuries," he said. "It was a long evening of firefighting and getting it under control."

Herrmann said he contacted a state fire marshal, but it was decided the marshal would not come up and assist in the investigation, because the excavator that was used to tear down the building would have disturbed any evidence of the fire's origin.

Grateful for response

In a statement this week, company owners Neibert and Shannon O'Hare and Sales director Rusch said, "As many of you know, on Tuesday evening Oct. 2, Hidden Bay Graphics was tragically lost in a fire. We are grateful that it was after hours, there was no one in the building and no one was injured.

"A BIG thanks goes out to the multiple fire and emergency departments that tirelessly worked to put out the fire," they said.

"We are busy working to reopen in a new and temporary location so that we are able serve you in a speedy manner while we rebuild at our location on Highway B," they added.

"New equipment has been ordered and will ship to us very soon. Our staff will be working to get us back up and running in the next 3-4 weeks at the latest.

"During this time we are still taking orders for promotional items which are decorated off-site. We are also booking future business for screen printing and embroidery for the upcoming hunting and holiday season.

The contact person is Director of Sales Tami Rusch at (715) 934-0095 or (715) 699-0078.

"Thank you for the outpouring of love and support that we have received. It has fueled our resolve to work extra hard to reopen and serve you as quickly as possible. At the moment we may be down, but we are not out. We look forward to serving you again in the near future," they said .


Stone Lake Market to close Saturday

"Store Closing" and "Sale 40% Off" are two signs taped to the door of the Lakes Community Cooperative Stone Lake Market on Main Street in Stone Lake.

The cooperative market that opened its doors in July 2008 will be closing them at the end of business Saturday, Oct. 12.

Over the course of its 11 years, it's been a struggle to keep those doors open, but by the grit and determination of the board, members, volunteers and patrons — some of whom occupy all four roles — the little grocery store has defied the odds and offered a local, convenient source of groceries.

In March 2018, the previous board moved to close the store, but the membership was ada-

mant about giving life to the business, and a new board with a new determination gave the store a new name and logo, a new look and a new business plan, adding local products available only at the store, such as restaurant meats and Burnett Dairy cheese. But all of their noble efforts eventually failed to achieve profitability.

Board President Susan Walker said the little store had four pressing challenges: competition from the new Dollar General store that could offer lower prices, aging equipment and mounting repair bills, inability to pay competitive wages to workers and the cyclical market, with a booming summer tourist season followed by sleepy winter months.

"The membership chose to keep it open and for the last two years we have tried to meet that expectation," Walker said. "We had some very generous financial gifts to help us through that, but it was not enough to sustain the business."

More than anything, she said, it was the slow winter months that the business couldn't overcome.

"We cannot sustain ourselves in a cyclical market, where a lot of businesses can close during the winter months," she said. "That's not feasible for a business like this, and we cannot sustain our monthly expenses during the winter months."

She discussed the efforts to put the store on a new footing in the spring of 2018.

"We initiated a cleanup effort," she said. "We re-staged the store. We rebranded with the Stone Lake Market logo. We did try to meet the expectations of the members who wanted to keep the store open. However, that happened at the same time that Dollar General opened here. We've noticed a marked decrease in our sales, and during our winter months, I don't think there is enough population in this area to sustain both of those businesses."

The previous board suggested those who wanted the store to stay open to dissolve the cooperative with all its debt and reopen under a new name with a fresh, new slate. Walker said there is no interest in doing that.

"Everyone has ideas; everyone has suggestions," she said. "The bottom line is we cannot sustain the business overhead during the winter months."

The building itself is looking sharp and clean and attractive. Walker said there had been a "concerted effort" last spring to give the building a new look that many noticed.

A letter went out to the 511 cooperative members on Friday, Oct. 4, to announce the closing. There will be a membership meeting Saturday, Oct 19, where the board will present its position.

Walker said it is possible the membership could choose to keep the store open but she doesn't know how that could be accomplished.

"The board has done everything it could," she said.

Walker has volunteered to be the store's manager during the summer, and other board members also have volunteered. And she is thankful for the employees staying on until the final day.

"This is a hard thing to do no matter how you look at it," she said. "It's not how we wanted it to come out, but it is the way it has. We're done."

She added, "It has been our pleasure to serve the community. We will miss our customers."

5-year-old Nolan Bearheart fulfills his dream of being a police officer

Courtney Bearheart said her 5-year-old son, Nolan, has always dreamed of one day becoming a police officer.

And it's no surprise he'd dream of becoming an officer, since his mom is a police officer for the City of Amery and his dad, Henry, is a Lac Courte Oreilles conservation warden.

"Nolan tries to pull his sister over in his Power Wheels," said Courtney in describing her son imitating an officer.

But it's very likely the youngster will never get the opportunity to serve his community as he would like to because little Nolan has a rare terminal illness called Lamin A/C muscular dystrophy. It is a very rate genetic condition in which his heart is enlarged, but the heart walls are thinning.

Doctors have called Nolan a "a new breed of its case."

"It's day-to-day with him," said his mom.

Roughly five weeks ago the Bearhearts reached out to Kids Wish Network to fulfill Nolan's wish of visiting Disney World in Florida.

"During the interview process (with Kids Wish Network) they asked Nolan what he wanted to be," Courtney said. "He immediately rattled off 'police officer.'"

On Monday, Oct. 7, the Kids Wish Network and the Sawyer County Sheriff's Office arranged for Nolan to come to the sheriff's office in Hayward so he could become a police officer for the day.

Inside the sheriff's office, Nolan was greeted by 28 officers from 11 agencies, including sheriff's deputies from Sawyer, Barron, Polk and Washburn counties and police officers from the cities of Amery, Shell Lake, Hayward and Rice Lake. In addition, there was a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden, a Wisconsin state trooper and a U.S. Forestry ranger.

Little Nolan immediately seized the opportunity to ask for department stickers from each of the officers as he went around shaking hands, receiving high fives and hugs.

And then Sawyer County Sheriff Doug Mrotek spoke.

"As we all know, today is Nolan Bearheart Day," he said. "On behalf of Kids Wish Network and law enforcement, we're honored and proud to acknowledge Nolan today. As we know, Nolan has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, and it is his goal and wish to be a police officer someday when he grows up, and we want to honor him and help achieve that as well, with added sup port."

Sheriff Mrotek asked Nolan to step forward and the sheriff presented him with a miniature Sawyer County sheriff's deputy shirt, which his mother helped put on, and then the sheriff again turned to Nolan.

"We are going to make you a junior police officer."

Then Nolan raised his hand and recited the oath.

"I Nolan Bearheart . . ." he said, but when it came to "constitution," as in the United States and State of Wisconsin, he needed some help in pronunciation.

After taking his oath, Nolan also received an official badge from Mrotek and the crowd gave him a big round of applause. Then the sheriff announced that Nolan would receive a ride in a squad car and SWAT (special weapons and tactics) vehicle.

And then the sheriff produced a pair of Mickey Mouse ears for another announcement:

"On behalf of the Kids Wish Network, they are going to give you and your family a trip to Disneyworld," he said.

"Alright Nolan," someone yelled. "You're going to Disneyworld!"

This was the first time the family had been officially notified of the Disneyworld adventure.

As Nolan took a pause to taste some cupcakes, his mom spoke to the Record.

"This is amazing," she said. "In a world where everybody is so against cops, this is good for people to see. Henry and I know these people would do anything for us, but the community does not. I think it was awesome that they were able to present the wish on Kids Wish Network and have all the little people see it, too. We didn't expect this at all."

After the announcement, Nolan walked outside with his family and was able to pet service dogs from seven agencies.

And there were still those rides in the law enforcement vehicles ahead.

For one day, there was one very little, and happy, police officer.


For more about the Kids Wish Network, visit kidswishnetwork.org.

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