Wausau wrestles with homelessness | The Weekly Wausonian
Wausau news for the week of March 30, 2023
On a chilly Tuesday afternoon, Deputy Police Chief Matt Barnes led a group of city council members, staff and other officials on a tour of the encampments along Scott Street bridge.
As Barnes showed, encampments exist on both sides of the bridge, including on the west side where one slip could lead to an icy death in the river below (to get under the bridge on that side, one needs to walk down a steep icy path to the bridge — officers sometimes need to get down there to help homeless people). That’s not hyperbole — homeless individuals have been pulled out of the river already.
Barnes showed plans for fencing along the bridges to prevent encampments there, both for perceived safety of individuals who want to use the nearby River’s Edge Trail but don’t out of fear; and for the actual dangers posed by sleeping next to the river in winter.
The tour preceded a four-hour meeting on what to do about the unhoused in Wausau, including the possibility of a new department (that was largely rejected Tuesday night). Instead, city and county leaders plan to meet to discuss further collaboration.
This week everyone read a story behind the $1 million settlement for a development project more than ten years ago. The Wausonian was the first to report on this settlement, of which the village has already paid half.
The Wausonian also nearly published a longer story on Congressman Tom Tiffany’s survey about his bill about wolves: Trust the Science Act, but discovered some things at the last minute that led me to pause its publication. The act would delist the wolf from the Federal Endangered Species list. But if you want to weigh in on the act, here is a link to the survey (available to CD 7 residents only). I may still do a longer piece but I will need to rework it.
What else in Wausau?
Thomas redesign: City leaders took input from roughly three dozen residents on what they would like to see from new housing along the Thomas Street corridor. The city plans to use that input to design affordable housing for the neighborhood, using grant sources to make up the difference (since developers can’t build affordable houses profitably). More meetings are planned.
Transit direction: The city of Wausau has a new transit director. Matthew Rosenboom-Jones started last week as the department’s new director. As he starts, the city has a new transit plan and is close to solving its bus driver shortages. And he will have to navigate a school district that could be about to dramatically increase its busing needs, which Metro Ride will be a part of (it provides school transportation for some students).
Around the metro
Calming chaos: Four of the five candidates for the village of Kronenwetter village board participated in a forum at the village hall Tuesday. The Wausonian was in attendance and plans a deeper dive into the forum, but the main message was all four — incumbent Chris Eiden and challengers Alex Vedvik, Guy Fredel and Kelly Coyle — want to work toward restoring some normalcy and ending the drama that has encumbered the current board. Kim Tapper, the fifth candidate and current board member, apparently refused to attend.
Fighting the Great Resignation: County leaders seemed to have made strides in combating the Great Resignation. County vacancy rates have dropped from 10% to 6%, according to County HR Head Molly Adzic. That’s because of things like raising pay, opening up and simplifying its application process and providing more benefits to its employees (and making the true value of those benefits more clear). Adzic was directed to bring more proposals back to county leaders, which could even include a four-day work week.
Friday, March 31: It’s Pert Near time we added an entertainment post about Whitewater Music Hall (see what I did there?). Pert Near Sandstone is making its way to the brewpub/concert hall this Friday. This Twin Cities cosmic folk/bluegrass/country act is one of the confounding bands of the Blue Ox Music Fest and have been a midwest stalwart since the early 2000s. 8 pm. Check out the event page for more info.
Friday, March 31: As a lover of all things Japan, it’s exciting to see the Grand welcome the Yamato Drummers. Let the infectious rhythms draw you into this spellbinding performance mixing the ancient and sacred with modern choreography. This show promises to be both an auditory and visual spectacle. 7:30 pm. Check the event page for more details and tickets.
Saturday, April 1: Malarkey’s has an interesting show on Saturday - J.R. Richards, formerly of Dishwalla, will be heading to the Irish Pub for an acoustic set starting at 7 pm. There’s not really an event page for it, but you can find a short description on Malarkey’s Facebook page.
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.
Legendary retirement: Long-time Wausau West Girls Basketball Coach Tom Weinkauf announced he will retire this year, WOAW is reporting. Weinkauf coached the Marathon boys team to three state titles in the 70s, coached the Newman Catholic girls team to state championships and took 15 teams to state during his time coaching. He is a member of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
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