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Fixing the school bus | Weekly Wausonian
Wausau news for Feb. 2, 2023
School bus company First Student sent a letter to parents with a plan to do better after a fall plagued by bus route delays and cancellations.
First Student offered the following solutions:
The company raised its starting wage to $20 per hour this year. That’s more than any other bus company in the region, First Student says.
The company starting Monday brought in additional CDL drivers to help maintain Wausau bus routes.
The company installed a new management team, it says, with a proven track record of success and finding solutions.
Their team of route planners is looking for efficiencies to keep the buses running smoother.
Whether or not that can solve the problem long term remains to be seen, especially as transportation is one of the main concerns parents and school board members have in the district’s new broad restructuring plan. See The Wausonian’s breakdown below:
What else in Wausau?
White House visit: Mayor Katie Rosenberg spoke at the White House last week as Wisconsin is one of four states to partner with the Biden Administration’s Get the Lead Out plan. The program provides funding for municipalities to remove lead pipes from their cities. Rosenberg at the White House said that Wausau still has 8,000 lead pipes in the city, and each one costs about $10,000 to remove. See her speak here (Start about an hour in if the time stamp doesn’t work.)
Grand opening: The new Community Partners Campus opened officially on Grand Avenue Wednesday, though the non-profit center with seven different partners all in one building has been open in some capacity since November. The last to move in was The Neighbors’ Place, which opened its food pantry several days ago. The Wausonian spoke to several people at the Campus Wednesday so expect a full report soon.
Around the metro
Kayak vending machine?: The county’s parks commission Tuesday approved the parks department seeking funding for the first app-powered kayak rental machine at D.C. Everest Park. If ultimately approved, the device would allow users to rent kayaks via an app, the same one that operates the bike share downtown. The kiosk would cost $5,000 for one year or $20,000 for five years, and the parks department would get a share of the revenue.
Budget tweaking: Last year’s budget hearing was a bit of chaos, loaded with last-minute budget amendments and number crunching. So county leaders are looking into some ways to tweak the process - possibly following St. Croix County’s model. (Fun fact: St/ Croix is the state’s fastest growing county probably because of its proximity to the Twin Cities.) Mostly that involves county board members getting much earlier updates on budget projections and being more involved in the process early on. BUT, a possible challenge is that Marathon County’s board is 38 members - the biggest in the nation.
Energetic for energy: Marathon County could form its own energy task force. Brought forth by county board member Ann Lemmer, the task force could look at ways the county could be more energy efficient, which tends to also save money. County Board Chair Kurt Gibbs signaled he’s on board with that.
Bed Bath and Begone: Bed Bath and Beyond is closing up shop in Rib Mountain, as the company sheds 87 stores in 30 states. That expands on the news that the company already announced closing 150 stores as the company is near bankruptcy. Bed Bath and Beyond would join Gorman’s in closing in that strip on Rib Mountain Drive.
Saturday, Feb. 4: Willy Porter is one accomplished musician. The folksy/pop singer released his first album 30 years ago while living and playing music in Madison, and has in total released 11 albums and toured on multiple continents. He’s opened for some big names including Jethro Tull, Tori Amos, Sting, Paul Simon and Jeff Beck. Porter and company will take to Whitewater Music Hall, which has climbed its way to one of the best places to see music in the Wausau area. While you’re there, have one of their beers made right on-site. 8 pm. See the event page for more details.
Saturday, Feb. 4: Ready for an adventure on snowshoes? The Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Underdown Dells Project are hosting a snowshoe hike on the Underdown trails. The Great Wisconsin Glacier rolled through here thousands of years ago, and this is one of the top glacier feature areas in the state. The trail is well-marked and packed down, and there should be a lot of folks out there. Four hours is the longest hike, with plenty of shorter routes, so you should find something to your liking. And enjoy a fire with warm beverages afterward! Starts at 10 am, details on the event page.
Fri-Sun, Feb. 3-5: If you’re picturing a school play here, you’d better readjust your expectations — the Central Wisconsin Children’s Theater brings a level of production that is tough to beat. This weekend they will perform James and the Giant Peach, the story of James, who is sent to cut down a peach tree. But instead, he finds an enormous peach that leads to all kinds of adventures. Times vary, check out the event page 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.
Girls hockey: The Central Wisconsin Storm has now extended its win streak to nine games straight. The Storm defeated Hudson 5-2 Monday at Greenheck Field House to extend its streak. The 16-3 Storm take on Chippewa Falls today (Thursday) in Chippewa Falls.
Boys hockey: Wausau West has fallen to second place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Warriors are now 6-2 after losing to first-place SPASH 7-4 Thursday. The Warriors will head to crosstown rival Wausau East today (Thursday) and host D.C. Everest to close out the regular season.
Girls basketball: Wausau West remains the top Wausau area team, third place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Warriors will host Wisconsin Rapids today (Thursday) before heading to D.C. Everest to close out the season.
Boys basketball: D.C. Everest remains the top Wausau area team, holding third place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. Everest takes on second-place SPASH Friday.
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