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City awarded $1 million federal block grant for Main Street

The City of Hayward has been awarded a $1 million federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to address Main Street infrastructure issues and a sewer line, it was announced at the City Council meeting Monday, Aug. 12.

The CDBG award is a 2-to1 match grant requiring the city to contribute $500,000 to secure the $1 million. In total, $1.5 million would be available for projects.

The Main Street work would involve replacing water and sewer lines, curb and gutter, sidewalks and blacktop.

However, Michael Stoffel, a civil engineer with Ayres Associates, the city's engineering consultants, said the grant also could also be used for improvements and beautification.

The $1.5 million project also would include replacing a sewer line from California Avenue to Nyman Avenue, crossing county property. Public Works Director John McCue said the county would like to see a road on its property in the vicinity of the sewer line. McCue said another road could become another important north-south route.

"We have two years to spend this money," Stoffel said. "So essentially, by December of 2021 the money has to be spent."

Because of the project size and its location, Stoffel advised against attempting construction during the tourist season, from Musky Fest in June to Labor Day in September. McCue said his preference is the spring of the year versus the fall.

Stoffel also advised against attempting construction in 2020 to allow a year to meet with business owners and the newly formed Business Improvement District (BID) board to discuss ideas for the Main Street portion.

"I would say we spend this first winter (and) first summer meeting with the businesses, building consensus, getting everyone on board, preparing for it and then hammer it out the spring of 2021," Stoffel said.

McCue also said he wants to take the time and have meetings with the business owners to explore options.

This is the third CDBG the city has received recently. In 2016 it was awarded a grant for 5 th Street and another in 2018 for a project at Dakota Avenue and 2 nd Street.

The city is considering pursuing a fourth CDBG grant in 2021 for Railroad Street improvements.

Later in the meeting, the council approved a professional services contract with Ayres for $268,000 to develop the work plan for the $1.5 million project and to help supervise the actual work on Main Street.

Contaminated soil

The Department of Transportation (DOT) had asked the city to pay half the bill for removing contaminated soil found beneath Highway 27 during recent construction.

McCue objected because the water found under the street was not found to be contaminated even though the the soil was.

On Monday McCue told the council he had discovered the soil was slightly contaminated but could have been put back directly under the new blacktop, but during construction there were time constraints. The DOT decided there wasn't enough time to wait two weeks for official test results to return and so it had the soil removed and replaced.

McCue said had been aware of the issue at the time but wasn't consulted on the decision to remove the soil.

The DOT, McCue said, wanted the city to pay $12,744, or half the cost. He said he feared that if the city doesn't pay its half, the DOT might decline to pay any and leave the city to pay the full cost.

The council agreed to pay half of the cost.


With the recent acquisition by St. Joseph Catholic Church of a columbarium, a structure to hold the ashes of the deceased, McCue advised the council that the city needs ordinances pertaining to columbaria that would anticipate such issues as perpetual maintenance of the structures and who is responsible for the structures if a church relocates or closes.

The council agreed to begin research and discussion of an ordinance.

Other action

In other action, the council:

• Approved a Back to the Badge 5K fun walk/race for Oct. 19, beginning and ending from the walking trail at Hayward High School.

• Approved the second annual SuperHero 5K Run/Walk on Sept. 21 by the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Sawyer County.

• Agreed that the city would be the agent for Hayward Civic Club in securing an $800,000 loan from the state's trust fund to address a failing irrigation system at the Hayward Golf Club. The civic club would be responsible for repaying the loan.

• Approved a Homecoming bonfire for Hayward High School Oct. 11.

• Agreed to expand the scope of the liquor license for Thousand Oaks LLC, concerning Flat Creek Restaurant & Salon, to include the property's entire premises.

• Approved placement of an honorary veteran road sign by the Veterans Center.

• Approved for a one-year trial period a request by the North Country ATV Club to designate Nyman Avenue from Highway 77 to Main Street as an ATV-approved trail. It was approved for one year to observe that the approved ATV route does not interfere with the existing bike/pedestrian trail along Nyman Avenue.


Birkie Foundation members dedicate new Hwy. 00 center
Foundation had $3.49 million revenue, $474,000 net annual income

At its annual meeting Saturday, Aug. 10, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation dedicated the new facilities at the Birkebeiner Highway 00 Trailhead, and members heard good news about the Foundation's finances, snow-making capabilities and advances in "going green" for the protection of the outdoor environment.

Members gave a champagne toast at the dedication to all who donated toward the new recreation center and recited a litany of dedication "for the adventure, fitness and fellowship of all who use these new facilities."

Executive Director Ben Popp paid tribute to "the almost 2,400 people who donated to make this (recreational center) happen. The Birkie Trail generates energy from all who use it," he said.

The membership heard speakers from each of the new facilities, indoors and outdoors, at the recreational touring center, which is located adjacent to the Birkie OO and Kortelopet trailheads east of Seeley, halfway between Cable and Hayward.

The sponsors of the new facilities are the Samuel C. Johnson family (Outdoor Center), the Jay and Judy Hoeschler family (Key Log Crossing bridge over Highway 00), Thom and Utina Malnourie (GymRage Outdoor Fitness Park), Gus and Julie Virkus (Virkus Fitness Room), Dr. Brent Carlson Gathering Space and New Moon Ski and Bike Wax and Tech Room.

Popp also thanked Terry Penman, the architect who de-

signed the new center, and building contractors Ben and Rex Droessler. He said almost 100,000 trail users pass through the Highway 00 trailhead each year.

Popp also acknowledged "the huge partnership we have" with land owner Sawyer County.

"This is public land. We feel it's a good partnership on both sides," he said.

Foundation members voted by ballot to fill two vacancies on the board of directors, and incumbents Charlie Dee and Jeff Tumbleson were re-elected. The other candidates were Karen Manske, Kate Constalie and Mark Ignatowski.

Board President Paul Eckerline said, "We had a great year, and a lot of good years leading up to it that made this year possible."

Foundation Treasurer Mike Brown reported that the ABSF had $3,490,202 in operational revenue and $3,016,107 in expenses for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, for a net income of $474,095.

The Foundation ended the year with $539,114 in cash, a decline of $409,142 from the previous year.

The annual income increased by 14 percent this year, which was "really terrific," Brown said. Expenses were up 6%.

"We're spending money both in expenses and capital. Our events are growing," Brown said. "We're asking you to support this vision. Payroll is up; we're adding staff because we have things going and we need to invest."

The Foundation had $988,333 in capital expenditures at the Highway 00 and Town of Cable start line trailheads, most of which was raised through the Phase 2 capital campaign.

The Foundation had an independent audit of its finances performed by Certified Public Accountants Anderson, Hager and Moe.

"We're living within our means," Brown said. "We should all be thankful for how you (members) and this team chooses to spend money."

Year in review

Popp said there is "a likelihood" that the new Becker Law Link bridge carrying the Birkie Trail over Highway 77 two miles east of Hayward will be built this fall.

Other capital projects included newly-built trail cabins at Timber Trail, Fire Tower, Boedecker Road and Mosquito Brook, which were funded by various families and the Birchleggers Club.

"We want not just hardcore skiers and mountain bikers, but families and people new to the sport to come out and hang out here (at Highway 00) and not feel intimidated," Popp added.

The Birkie Foundation over the past two years also has operated the Lumberjack World Championships and Lumberjack Run.

The Foundation also operates the Trail Kids and Dive for the Dirt recreational programs for youth. Currently 3,740 youth participate in Birkie programs and events and 20 Nordic clubs that are recipients of ABSF youth grants. To date, $551,000 has been awarded in grants to youth sports development.

"We feel this is an investment and time well-spent," Popp said.

Popp said the Sept. 28 Birkie Trail Run Festival will include the state half-marathon trail championship.

This past winter the Foundation started making snow to cover more than three kilometers of trail at the Town of Cable race start area. The snow guns were fed with water via a 2,000-foot pipe from the wells at the former Telemark Resort.

"We learned a lot" from the snow-making experience last year and "we know we will do better this year," Popp said. "Knowing that we had an option (for ski races) was a huge step forward for us. We don't necessarily have to rely just on Mother Nature. We know that we can't run a Birkie on three kilometers of snow, but we can run a lot of high school races."

The Birkebeiner this year "was a really good event as a whole," he added. "Everybody made it from the start to the finish and it was safe. People love it and want to come back."

This past year, the Birkie Foundation spent $391,000 on trail grooming and maintenance, and spent 1,600 hours grooming the Birkie Trail, Popp said.

A new initiative this year is "Operating the Birkie while thinking Green," Popp said. That includes a 25% reduction in paper use, a 10-fold reduction in plastic gear bags, 9,800 reusable Birkie gear bags in use and a reduction in cups by 7,650 in 2019-20.

It also includes passive solar heating, paperless finances, an electric volt car charger at Highway 00, solar lighting and recycling, Popp said. Staff is working with a university professor on an energy audit for the Foundation. "We spend a lot of money on diesel fuel," he mentioned.

Popp added that "We challenge our vendors and sponsors to be good stewards" of energy.

He noted the Foundation this year signed a two-year lease with the owners of the Telemark property, which contains many of the trails that the Foundation uses for high school and other ski meets and snow-making. The lease includes an option to purchase.

The Highway 00 facilities were "built as a touring center. It's not a great event center," Popp said. "It's meant for people (such as the Nordic Kids program) to come and go." But the Birkie start venue off McNaught Road near the former Telemark Resort "was built to foster competition," he said. "You can bring 1,000 people there for a race and it functions really well. It could be the outdoor recreation capital. Our plan is moving forward.

"Our staff are committed; they believe in what they do and are open to input from you," Popp added.

An audience member questioned whether people could contribute money strictly toward grooming the trail. Popp responded that it's possible to have such a dedicated fund; grooming now is part of the general budget and the top priority is making sure the trail is ready for the Birkie race in February. The second priority is maximizing the trail for weekend skiing.

Questioned as to whether the former snow-making equipment at Telemark is still there, Popp said, "It's not in super great shape to be usable; there's a lot of old pipes there."

History of the Birkie

Tom Kelly, who was part of the Telemark staff in the late 1970s and early 1980s under Tony Wise, presented a slide show and talk on how the resort, the Birkebeiner and Worldloppet Series were started and developed by Wise.

John Hallett of Oconomowoc, who has been involved with logrolling at the Lumberjack World Championships since 1977, presented a pewter prototype Birkie Warrior medallion he created. The cast bronze medallions will be presented to Birkebeiner and Kortelopet race champions.

Hayward teacher charged with selling cocaine

Guy Mittlestadt

A longtime kindergarten teacher in the Hayward School District, Guy Andrew Mittlestadt, has been charged by Sawyer County authorities with five felony counts of selling cocaine.

In charges filed Thursday, Aug. 8, by District Attorney Bruce Poquette, Mittlestadt, 46, of Highway 70, Stone Lake, is charged with five counts of delivering cocaine in amounts between one and five grams to confidential law enforcement informants in transactions monitored and controlled by Sawyer County sheriff's detectives and state Division of Criminal Investigation special agents on Oct. 9, Oct. 12, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20 in 2018, and March 14, 2019.

According to the charges, two of the alleged cocaine transactions took place in the Town of Sand Lake and three alleged sales took place in the Village of Stone Lake.

Mittlestadt appeared in Sawyer County Court Aug. 8 with his attorney, Robert Eaton, before Sawyer County Judge John Yackel via video conference. He was placed on a $1,000 cash bond. He was scheduled to make his initial court appearance Wednesday, Aug. 14, before Judge John P. Anderson.

On Monday, Hayward Schools Supt. Craig Olson issued a press release stating that on Thursday, Aug. 8., the district became aware of criminal charges involving an employee.

"The district has placed the employee on administrative leave pending the outcome of the district's investigation into

the matter," the press release said. "Further, the district is cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation. Because this is a personnel matter, the d istrict will not comment further regarding the employee or the ongoing investigation."

Complaint details

On March 14, 2019, an informant and a special agent met with Mittlestadt at a residence in Stone Lake. The agent told Mittlestadt they were interested in buying half ounces of cocaine, to which Mittlestadt reportedly replied the price would be around $1,000 per half ounce. He also reportedly told the two visitors that "I'm a teacher and no one needs to know about this."

The informant smoked marijuana from a pipe packed with marijuana by Mittlestadt and Mittlestadt also smoked from the pipe, according to a conversation on a recording device given to the informant by detectives.

The informants gave Mittlestadt $300 and they received a knotted bag containing cocaine with a total weight of 3.6 grams, according to the narrative.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)