News/PR

County board passes resolution for state forestry department relocation

May 19, 2016

Author:  
Daleth Mountjoy

Source:  
Northwoods River News

The Oneida County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday joined the chorus of local officials lobbying to bring the State Division of Forestry office to Oneida County.

The Rhinelander City Council passed a resolution last week asking the state to consider Rhinelander for the soon-to-be relocated office and Tuesday the county board passed a similar resolution.

The measure, offered by the Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee, asks the state to consider "any municipality located in Oneida County" for the relocation.

The 2015-17 state budget calls for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a proposal to move the State Division of Forestry headquarters to a location north of U.S. Highway 10.

Municipalities have until May 26 to contact the DNR and express their interest.

Supervisor Jack Sorensen referred the presentation on the resolution to John Bilogan, Oneida County Forest Director, and Roger Luce, executive director of the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation (OCEDC).

Bilogan started the presentation by explaining the state's recent solicitation to communities in northern Wisconsin that might be interested in housing the Division of Forestry.

"I guess the theory guiding it was, why not locate foresters where the forest is," Bilogan said, adding that whichever municipality is chosen will is expected to receive an added bonus, an estimated 50 high-paying jobs.

"I personally thought that Oneida County is already kind of identified as maybe being the hub of the forest in the northern tier counties," Bilogan said.

Luce said that he was available to answer any question the board may have, and complimented Bilogan and the Forestry Land and Recreation Committee for their work on the resolution.

"It supports your effort as we try to attract these offices to the area, anywhere in the county," Luce said, adding that the state's request for information from municipalities was very basic. Essentially, the state wants to know what makes community officials think their community would be a good fit for the headquarters.

Luce said this was a preliminary procedure and a request for formal proposals will come at a later date.

Supervisor Robb Jensen of Crescent had a question.

"If we get this to the next phase, is this going to be a countywide effort and is that something, Roger, that your office is kind of manage?" Jensen asked.

"John and I have talked and we'll work cooperatively," Luce said. "Our corporation will take the lead. We have sent out notices to the municipalities, we will assist them if they would like us to. What we'd really like to do is have a coordinated effort."

The resolution passed 18-0 with three supervisors absent.

In other business:

•The board approved resolution 30-2016, offered by the Public Works Committee, to purchase a new patrol truck with the price not to exceed $250,000. The board heard from highway commissioner Freeman Bennett that patrol trucks are replaced every 17 years.

• The board approved resolution 31-2016, offered by Labor Relations Employee Services (LRES), to increase the assistant facilities director to a full-time position because of addition responsibilities.

• The board approved resolution 32-2016 to add two new full-time positions at pay level G to the Public Works Department. Bennett explained public works does not have the manpower to do all of the workload. He explained with the lower asphalt prices and grants from the DOT, where the county would normally pave four to five miles, this year, they were planning on paving 13 miles.

• The board approved resolution 33-2016, from the Forestry, Land and Recreation Committee, to purchase a 40-acre parcel near the town of Lynne for $63,000. The parcel is currently bordered by county land, and also includes timber that is estimated at a value of at least $15,000. The board heard from Bilogan, who explained that the committee would investigate filing for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant with the DNR, which could offset the cost to the county down to $20,000 including the monies made from future timber sales.

Daleth Mountjoy may be reached at d.mountjoy@rivernewsonline.com.

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