Chief presents solutions for homelessness | Weekly Wausonian
The Weekly Wausonian for May 19, 2022
Wausau Chief Ben Bliven presented a series of potential solutions to the homelessness crisis. Those solutions followed a sobering 30-minute video featuring squad and bodycam footage of interactions with several homeless videos.
The first starts with a man holding a hammer in the Jefferson Street parking ramp. He’s screaming obscenities and banging the hammer on the inside of the stairwell that officers initially think someone is shooting a gun. A resident opens the door and quickly shuts it.
Following that scene are a series of scenes in which officers deal with homeless people drinking, defecating and urinating in the parking ramps, and they show a series of fights at the Big Bull Falls gazebo.
You can see it yourself here (I’ve timestamped it to near the start of the police video):
Following the video were the chief’s recommendations to the city’s Public Health and Safety Committee.
Hire a community outreach specialist — this was already proposed and this would be a civilian position that would replace the role Officer Eric Lemirand served in as a homeless liaison officer.
Hire additional Community Service Officers — this would be in addition to the CSOs that already work every summer. Compass Properties have offered to help pay for additional CSOs.
Specific park areas designated for homeless — this would set a specific area for homeless people to camp in. Right now, Bliven says, some groups helping the homeless are providing camping gear, despite the rules against them using them in parks. And Bliven says some of those groups are providing alcohol to homeless individuals.
Eliminate drinking in certain parks — similar to how the city eliminated drinking before 4 pm at the 400 Block in response to problem behaviors.
Adopt a littering ordinance — litter is common in areas where homeless people congregate.
See The Wausonian’s ongoing coverage of the homelessness crisis in Wausau:
What else in Wausau news?
Residents got their first look at the development of a new master plan for Marathon Park and the surrounding area. The plan will look at new uses for Marathon Park, some changes to the UWSP campus and the area just south of Marathon Park. New uses ranged from mountain biking parks to ziplines and moving around the ice arenas. The Wausonian will have a more detailed report this weekend.
Wausau’s Public Health and Safety Committee approved an ordinance allowing goats in city parks. The city experimented with goats eating invasive species on Barker-Stewart Island last summer, and it worked pretty well.
Around the metro
Former Portage County Executive Chris Holman has been named the new Marathon County deputy administrator. Holman served one term as Portage County executive before losing in a three-way primary this spring. Holman says he worked with Marathon County many times as Portage County Executive and looks forward to working in the position.
Everest Metro Police are investigating a rash of vandalism in Weston Parks. Everest Metro Police Chief Clayton Schulz tells The Wausonian that Kellyland Park and Machmueller Park were littered with profanity-laced graffiti. That includes Weston’s dog park.
County leaders are already looking to replace one of the newly elected county board members. Peter Hanson, elected to District 24 in April, already submitted his resignation, which The Wausonian obtained. Hansen told the board his circumstances changed so that he can no longer fulfill his duties. The board will interview candidates for the position, and the final candidate will be subject to county board approval.
This week in data
As part of his presentation about homelessness in the downtown area, Chief Bliven also shared updated call statistics. They match or possibly outpace the hours spent, showing how much the problem has been exacerbated in the past year.
Saturday, May 21: Miss getting your dog registered with the city? Stop on down to Paws and Protect at 180 E Wasuau Avenue with your little bow-wow and get registered, a free rabbies vaccine and get a $10 microchip. You’ll have to pay a $5 late fee if not already registered. Check out the event page for more details.
Thursday, May 19: Eager to get that old bike out of the garage and put some miles on it? Kronenwetter will be celebrating National Bike Month (But really, shouldn’t every month be bike month?) by hosting a ride starting at 6 pm. There are rides from 1-9 miles and kids can win prizes, including bikes. Check out the detailed event page for more info.
Saturday, May 21: Good Night Gold Dust is an interesting group. Falling squarely into the indie-pop genre but blending electronic elements, this Minnesota group’s sound is polished and fun, ranging from emotional to energetic. The combination of vocalist/guitarists Laura Schultz and Colin Scharf has created musical gold here, worthy of the stages at Coachella. ATWOOD Magazine describes their music as “amplified intimacy” and that might be the most apt way to put it. Their side project, Silver Summer, will also make an appearance. They blew the roof off of Whitewater in this last appearance so don’t miss this one. 8 pm. See event page for details.
Looking for kids/family events? Check out the full listing from The Wausonian’s new partner Wausau Mama, who puts together a weekly listing of children/family activities.
D.C. Everest Girls Soccer continues its dominant run in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Evergreens are now 10-0 after a pair of shutout wins against Merill (5-4) and Wausau West (4-0). Jenna Baumann scored two in the win against West, and Ruby Kowal scored a third (the fourth came from a West own-goal).
Wausau West Baseball is one game out of first place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Warriors last beat Merrill 1-0 to keep its second-place spot. Ethan Oelke threw 8 strikeouts in the win. The Warriors head to Wausau East for a doubleheader Friday.
Wausau West Boys Golf continues to lead the Wisconsin Valley Conference, holding off Wisconsin Rapids in second. West finished third in the sixth leg of the season at Stevens Point Country Club Monday, allowing Rapids to gain ground. The season heads to Pine Valley Golf Course for the last round of the season Friday.
On the Pod
In this week’s episode, we sit down with two of the members of Fuzzdolly, a local band from the 90s reunited for a new album, new tour and bringing plenty of nostalgia to local music fans. Check it out:
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