Chief resignations | Weekly Wausonian
Wausau news for June 29, 2023
Both the Wausau fire chief and the police chief will depart the city by the end of the year, we learned this week.
Fire Chief Robert Barteck announced at the city’s police and fire commission Monday that he would retire later this year. His last day will be Dec. 15. Barteck replaced retiring chief Tracey Kujawa a few short years ago.
Then at the same meeting a few minutes later, Police Chief Ben Bliven announced he had submitted his resignation to Mayor Katie Rosenberg. Bliven says he took a job with a company in Wausau and his last day as police chief will be Sept. 1.
Firefighters when interviewed about what kind of chief they wanted to see post-Kujawa was essentially more of the same. Kujawa, both Wausau and Stevens Point’s first female fire chief, was well-liked by both departments.
Wausau was approved recently to hire 12 new firefighters after staffing levels hadn’t increased since the 1970s.
Bliven resigns at a time when the police and the city are dealing with a growing homeless population and the problems that creates. The police a couple of months ago changed its policies, cracking down on homeless encampments in public places. (The Wausonian broke the story that this was permanent and not a temporary policy in response to rising water levels.)
We asked readers this week how optimistic or pessimistic they were about downtown after the first project’s delay was announced. This is what they said:
What else in Wausau?
Trail expansion: City Planner Brad Lenz led a tour Monday of the next segment to be built of the city’s River’s Edge Trail. The segment, which received up to $100,000 in room tax commission to cover any shortfalls in the city’s budget process. The city worked out an easement with Kolbe and Kolbe which will help make the trail happened, Lenz says.
Federal Loft loan: The city’s finance committee approved a TIF loan to the owners of the Federal Lofts building to make needed repairs. The building needs around $190,000 of repairs and the company, Metro Plains, only has $70,000 in its repair reserve. And because the city owns the actual land, it can’t get a loan from a bank for the repairs. The TIF loan will come with 2% interest.
High-risk arrest: Four individuals were arrested Wednesday morning as part of an investigation by the Central Wisconsin Drug Task Force. The three will make initial appearances in Marathon County Court later this week. Though the press release didn’t specify a location, residents in the southeast side neighborhood witnessed a SWAT team entering a home around the time the press release said the search warrant by the task force was executed.
Around the metro
Campus demo: The University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point’s library is undergoing exterior demolition, in preparation of Albertson Hall renovations. No detonation will be used in the process, university officials say. You can actually watch a live feed of the demo here.
Fat biking forever: Marathon County Parks officials this week made permanent a fat biking season at Nine Mile Forest. That came after a trial season last winter at the recreational area, and many positive comments received by the parks department and forestry committee. Though mostly positive, a few snowshoers were unhappy with the addition of fat bikes.
Nursing home broker: Lincoln County leaders Monday morning opened bids for a broker to sell Pine Crest Nursing Home, which is the county-run facility up there. A group of protestors held a press conference, which included a number of Pine Crest residents who would need to find a new home should the sale eventually happen. The Wausonian is working on a deeper analysis of the situation for a story later this week.
Road closures: Traveling to Stevens Point? Expect some roads to be closed ahead of the U.S. Senior Open happening this weekend at SentryWorld. Below is a map of the closures:
Weekly Wausonian sponsor
Venado Cerveceria Tap Room
We are excited to announce the much-anticipated grand opening of Venado Cerveceria's Tap Room in downtown Wausau! Located at 209 Grant Street, lobby of Onora Suites, this new establishment is set to officially open its doors on the 30th of June, creating a haven for beer enthusiasts and a welcoming space for all. At Venado Cerveceria, we have crafted an inviting atmosphere that offers a perfect setting for you to unwind and enjoy a refreshing draft beer. Whether you're a resident or a guest at Onora suites, we extend a warm invitation to experience the taste and ambiance we have carefully cultivated. Operating hours for the Tap Room are as follows: Weekdays: 11 AM to 7 PM; Friday and Saturday: 11 AM to 9 PM. So mark your calendars and be sure to visit us at Venado Cerveceria's Tap Room. Join us in celebrating this exciting milestone and discover the variety of beers we have on tap. We can't wait to share this experience with you!
Tuesday, July 4: Wausau, along with Schofield, Rothschild, Weston and Rib Mountain, are partnering up this year to hold a joint fireworks show for the Fourth of July. The fireworks will be held at Wausau Municipal Airport but are meant to be viewed from around the community - no one will be let into the airport grounds themselves. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes, since it’s their first time trying this. 9:30 pm.
Sunday, July 2: Speaking of Independence Day, Willow Springs has long held a pretty cool event for the Fourth of July on its beautiful grounds north of town. Besides all the vintage cars, there are characters in costumes, activities for the kids and a tractor parade. And they do their own fireworks show, which looks great with the round barn as a backdrop. 11 am to 9 pm. See the Facebook event for more details.
Thursday, June 29: Isherwood Hall is kind of a unique makeshift music venue. It’s a historic hall that’s hosted some amazing pop-up music shows. The latest is Willy Tea Taylor and the Turkey Buzzards — with a voice like Johnny Cash and the appearance of a country singer, Taylor packs a musical punch and ought to make for a fun show. The cool part is any money taken in goes right to the musicians. 7 pm. $10 suggested donation. Bring our own drinks and food. See the Facebook event for more details.
Looking for kids/family events? Check out the family-oriented listing from The Wausonian’s partner Wausau Mama, who puts together a weekly listing of children/family activities.
Beer biz: The new Venado Cervecaria tap room opens Friday in the Onora Suites, a new petite hotel at 209 Grant Street, across from the Graebel building downtown. The tap room is open to guests and the public alike, its owner says. See Onora Suites’ Instagram page for more, as well as their sponsorship ad above.
Beer and trails: It must be a beer week — Stevens Point Brewery released a new beer this week that will also benefit a local bike and pedestrian trail. The brewery released the Green Circle Pale Ale, and a portion of proceeds from sales of the brew will go toward funding the trail in Stevens Point, a favorite amongst even some Wausau folks since one can make a day of biking the entire trail.
College baseball: The Wausau Woodchucks managed to pull out an extra-innings win against Battle Creek, beating the Battle Jacks 7-5 Monday. Interestingly, Tuesday’s game was canceled due to poor air quality, owing to the Canadian wildfires and north winds. With the win, the Chucks are now in first place in the Great Lakes West division of the Northwoods League. They’re half a game ahead of Green Bay and every game will count as only one and a half games separate the top four teams in the division.
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