The end of an era was marked Monday morning, April 26, when the demolition of the massive and historic Telemark Lodge began in the Town of Cable at the former location of the once-bustling winter recreation resort.
The demolition will make way for the property's redevelopment and a new era of cross-country skiing activity by its new owner, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, which has ambitious plans.
The crew for the demolition contractor, Haas Inc. from Thorp, Wisconsin, began its work at the southwest wing of the resort hotel rooms, near the concrete slab where once stood the former Telemark Coliseum.
The demolition went mostly unnoticed, as there were no observers when work began on a cool, rainy Monday, just minutes after after the Bayfield County spring road weight limits were lifted. The lifting of the limits allowed a heavy excavator-wrecker to be delivered to the site, and allowed for trucks to haul away the rubble and recyclable materials.
Various materials were set aside by the demolition crew. Items to be recycled include concrete, cedar beams and stone from the massive fireplace that formed the famous lodge centerpiece, a visual never to be forgotten by the many thousands of guests and competitors who visited over the years.
The demolition of the lodge and site clean-up is expected to continue all of this week. The former ski hut also will be demolished.
Two online auctions were held last year to sell various memorabilia and equipment contained within the lodge. The lodge has been closed and vacant since 2013.
The Sawyer County Board on Tuesday, April 20, on a full voice vote of the board, sent a rezone request for a proposed campground back to the county Zoning Committee for further consideration, asking the developer to include a conditional use permit (CUP) application with his rezone request.
The proposed rezone concerns two parcels of land located off the south side of Highway 77 in the Town of Hayward, just east of the new Birkie Bridge that crosses the highway.
On March 19 the Zoning Committee had been advised by legal counsel that approval of a rezone request for the purpose of creating a campground could not be based on whether a conditional use permit for the campground accompanied the rezone request.
Matthew Sink of Sinkhole Investments has requested one parcel of 18.9 acres adjoining Highway 77 to be zoned recreational residential 1 (RR1) and another parcel of 40 acres behind the 18.9 acres now zoned agriculture 1 (AG1) to be rezoned recreational residential 2 (RR2) in order to create a campground. In Sawyer County campgrounds are allowed only in RR2 zones.
However, on March 19 when Sink appeared before the zoning committee, he did not also apply for the required conditional use permit. Typically, a request to rezone for a campground also is accompanied by the CUP for the campground. However, on March 19, Rebecca Roeker, legal counsel for the county, told the committee Sink was under was no legal obligation to submit a CUP as part of the rezone request.
"So I would encourage this committee to not base a rezone decision on whether an applicant submits or does not submit that conditional use permit application in conjunction with the rezone," Roeker told the committee.
Sawyer County Zoning Administrator Jay Kozlowski told the committee on March 19 and the full county board on April 20 that one possible reason for not submitting a CUP with the rezone requests is that the cost to prepare CUP plans can be very expensive. If the rezone request was denied then those fees would have been spent for nothing.
During the March 19 hearing, six letters from neighbors were read and others appeared to speak against the rezone to allow a campground; only Sink and a distant neighbor spoke in support. On March 19, the committee voted 4-1 to recommend approve and send the application to the full board with only Supervisor Bruce Paulsen voting no.
At the April 20 County Board meeting, Paulsen offered a motion to send the rezone request back to zoning.
"I'll move to refer this back to the zoning committee to be brought back to the full board once the committee has reviewed the conditional use permit for the campground that is going to be located on this property," Paulsen said.
Ron Buckholtz, the chair of zoning who also had voted in support of the rezone on March 19, seconded the motion. Paulsen noted he has voted for approval of campgrounds in the past and did not want his motion on April 20 to be perceived as an "offhanded way to kill a campground."
Paulsen said Sinkhole Investments' rezone request was the first he had experienced for a campground that was not also accompanied by a CUP application.
Supervisor James Schlender asked why a CUP is needed if it is not required for approval of the rezone under state statutes. Kozlowski responded that even though a CUP couldn't be conditioned as part of the rezone request, the intent of the rezone had to be discussed.
However, on March 19 Sink clearly did discuss his intent to create a campground if the rezone was approved. Roeker was present April 20 via telephone but was not asked for her advice nor did she offer counsel on the matter.
During public comments, Sink said, "I like the idea of camping and I think it would bring a fun business to Hayward. Potentially, if all things go well, they (campers) will want to eat at our restaurants and use our cycling and ATV trails."
In a voice vote, Board Chair Tweed Shuman noted only two of the supervisors present voted against the motion and the motion passed.
Rescue Plan funds
Sawyer County Administrator Tom Hoff told the board the county would receive half of its $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds this May and the other half in May 2022.
Paulsen, chair of the finance committee, proposed that each county department provide a request for how to use the funds, which are part of the federal $1.9 trillion approved to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Tuesday, April 27, no charges have been filed and no suspects have been arrested in the death of a Stone Lake area woman, 42-year-old Cary Lynne Elkin, who was found dead in her home on April 2 with multiple gunshot wounds.
The death is being investigated as a homicide by the Sawyer County Sheriff's Office and state Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). Cary Elkin was found dead April 2 in her home on Hungry Lake Lane in Sand Lake Township.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Doug Mrotek told the Record, "We are waiting for some further confirmation from the crime lab. We're hoping to solidify a suspect.
"We should know something in a week or so," Mrotek said.
Carey Elkin's husband, Timothy P. Elkin, has been released from the Sawyer County Jail and no charges have been filed against him. He was arrested by Sawyer County deputies and Hayward police April 2 and was being held on probable cause of hiding a corpse.
After being postponed for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor's Fishing Opener returns to the Hayward Lakes Area this Friday through Sunday with a variety of events to highlight a major outdoor recreation pastime and a major tourism attraction.
Gov. Tony Evers' press secretary confirmed to the Record that the governor will participate in the event on Saturday.
The 55th annual Governor's Fishing Opener is hosted by Wisconsin Indian Head Country, the Hayward Lakes Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Association.
Events kick off this Friday with a "Wisconsin Fishing Opener World Class Expo and Fish Fry" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame parking lot. The event will include fishing and outdoor vendors, boat displays, a casting course and a free fish fry prepared by Cheryl Treland of Treeland Resorts.
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe dancers and drummers will perform at noon. Free tours of the Fishing Hall of Fame will be available.
Many guests will be invited from throughout Wisconsin to the Governor's Fishing Opener, including guests that are major sponsors for the event. People will be checking in that afternoon and taking tours of the Hall of Fame.
A banquet and opening ceremonies will take place at the Sevenwinds Casino Conference Center at 5 p.m. Friday.
Participants will fish the Chippewa Flowage both Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast will be served at The Landing Resort, and lunch will be served at Treeland Resort.
Saturday evening will feature an awards banquet, silent auction and fundraising raffles.
Wisconsin Indian Head Country coordinates and hosts the Governor's Fishing Opener in a different community each year throughout northwest Wisconsin. It attracts sports writers and other media from a four-state area, as well as government and state officials.
Wisconsin Indian Head Country Inc. is a nonprofit tourist promotion association serving the northwest 22 counties of Wisconsin. Its mission is "the development of the vast recreational assets of northwest Wisconsin, through a program of advertising, highway development, conservation and legislation."
Editor's note: This story was compiled by Irene Ahrenkiel and her two granddaughters, Kristi Gloppen and Marie Stockman.
Irene (Nelson) Ahrenkiel was born April 26, 1921, near Long Lake, Town of Sarona, Washburn County. She was the youngest of the three daughters born to Hans and Rose Nelson.
At 7 months old, Irene's parents moved to rural Hayward, where Hans purchased land in Hunter Township, bordering the Chippewa Flowage, from the Immigration Company. They built and settled in a small log cabin. Her father worked in the logging camps in the winter, while her mother boarded schoolteachers who taught at Hunter School, where she also worked as the janitor.
At age 7, Irene and her family moved to Barker Lake, where her parents worked doing building and maintenance work on the summer home of infamous prohibition gangster Joe Saltis. She enjoyed her time playing with his children.
After two years on Barker Lake, they moved back to Hunter Township to a comfy home that had no electricity or plumbing. Water was pumped from an outside well. One of her fondest memories of their house in Hunter is of lighting all the candles on their live Christmas tree each year.
In September of 1931 when Irene was 10, her family moved to Robertsdale, Alabama, to help on her uncle's farm. Irene recalls the long, bumpy and dusty trip they made in their Ford Model T.
Life in the segregated south was extremely challenging. Other children were not accepting of Northerners (Yankees), so she was frequently bullied. She remembers walking to school barefoot because they could not afford shoes. Irene worked picking potatoes and other vegetables for 10 cents per day. It was long, hot work.
Irene was 13 when her dad died. They were living on a small farm in Alabama that had been willed to them by Hans's foster uncle. She and her mother struggled to keep the little farm going.
After completing 8th grade, she moved to Pensacola, Florida, to live with her sister, Mildred. She went to business school and later worked as a cashier and secretary for the Brownsville Theater. She can recall seeing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the theater when it was first released in 1937. Irene had never seen anything like it before — it was the first full-length animated film in color and with sound. There was a lot of excitement around the movie.
For fun, she and her friends would go dancing and roller-skating.
In 1940, Irene, her mother and her sister's family took a trip back to Hayward. Sam and Marie Ahrenkiel invited Irene to stay. In return, Irene helped on the family dairy farm. She became reacquainted with their son, Elmer, and they soon fell in love. Irene, age 19, and Elmer were married in March of 1941 at the Congregational Church in Hayward by Reverend Barnes.
The young couple settled in a small apartment Elmer built above Sam and Marie's farmhouse out on Highway B. Their first child, Rose Marie, was born in 1944 and a son, James, followed in 1948. Both were born at home.
Like many, they washed their laundry by hand with a wringer washing machine. All the clothes were dried outside on the clothesline even in the winter. The clothes would be brought in frozen stiff and put in front of the stove to finish drying.
In 1948 the young family moved into their own home built on the Ahrenkiel's land that the two of them constructed with help from friends and family. Irene felt blessed that later that year the Rural Electrification Administration came and they would get a phone. If there was an emergency, they would have to drive a few miles to their friend's house to make a call.
Elmer worked for the Sawyer County Highway Department blacktopping in the summer and plowing in the winter while he and Irene also worked to keep up the family dairy farm for Sam and Marie. All the cows were milked by hand.
They kept food fresh using ice blocks, cut from Round Lake each winter, which were packed in sawdust and stored in a concrete icehouse.
They kept food fresh using ice blocks, cut from Round Lake each winter, which were packed in sawdust and stored in a concrete icehouse.
Irene said that they rarely went to town and only for essentials. But they still had plenty of fun. They enjoyed dancing and frequently went to the country dances at Round Lake School and other dance halls and also played lots of cards.
Once Elmer and Irene went to town so Irene could apply for a driver's license. The examiner looked at Elmer and asked if Irene could drive. Elmer responded, "She wouldn't be driving my car if she couldn't," and the examiner immediately wrote out the license.
In 1966 Elmer and Irene sold their farm and moved to Anna Marie, Florida. Irene worked at Dunaway's Restaurant, which was owned by the parents of the famed actress Faye Dunaway. Elmer continued to do construction work.
They stayed in Florida less than a year, returning to Wisconsin after Elmer suffered a heart attack. They briefly rented Laura Camilletti's mobile home while building their new home on Highway B, just past Round Lake. Irene worked at Camilletti's Italian Restaurant as a cook's assistant for a few years.
She stayed in the home on Highway B until 1994. She moved to be closer to town when the yardwork and upkeep became too much for her after Elmer's passing in 1992. However, she has always missed being out in the country.
Over the years, Irene has stayed busy as a member of First Lutheran's quilters and card making group, attending Bible studies, volunteering at the Hayward Hospital gift shop, sewing, embroidering and baking.
Irene said that besides technology, such as TVs, computers and cell phones, the biggest change in our country has been the prolific waste and trash. She aid absolutely nothing was wasted during the years of the Great Depression.
Every scrap of food or material was saved and repurposed. They fixed items instead of throwing them away when they became broken. The same was true during the rationing of World War II. Not only were sugar and flour hard to come by, but so were tires. Blown tires were sometimes filled with sawdust because you could not get innertubes to fix them. Poverty was the way of life in those times and people made do with what they had.
Over the decades Irene's family has grown from two children to include four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Irene loves nothing more than visits and letters from her dear family.
Her family feels blessed to have had her in their lives this long and to benefit from her wisdom learned over her 100 years.