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No date yet for houses to go up in flames

The waiting game continues for the houses on W. Grove Street in Ellsworth. 

Pierce County Maintenance Supervisor Scott Walker told the building committee Tuesday it’s likely it won’t be until 2014 when the houses at 364 and 372 W. Grove St. are no more.

Walker said Ellsworth Fire Chief Brent Langer told him during a recent meeting, due to the fire department’s schedule, it won’t be until 2014 at the earliest when the houses will be burned.

Walker notified the committee the county has done everything on their end and are in a waiting game.

“Everything has been disconnected,” he said. “Whenever they want to burn it, it’s ready to go.”

In December 2011, the fire department held a controlled burn at 388 and 420 W. Grove St. The two lots were purchased by the county earlier that year with the hopes of expanding the fairgrounds or construction of a new building. Three-sixty-four and 372 W. Grove Street came under county ownership in 2008 and 2003, respectively.

The W. Grove Street site, located to the east of the Blue Building, is one of the favorites for the new Pierce County Jail to be housed on, along with the county woodlot, which is located near the newer Ellsworth water tower.

The building committee also again talked about the Front Lawn project. Administrative Coordinator JoAnn Miller reiterated to the committee, after their actions and those of their fellow supervisors, the county has $150,000 to spend on the project.

With advice given to her from Highway Commissioner Chad Johnson, she told the committee it was best to get this project to the bidders as quickly as possible and, due to the scope of the project, it was to best bid it out as one project instead of multiples.

Before that was done, Committee Member Ron Bartels said he was getting feedback from the public about putting in a retaining wall. Discussion then ensued, saying plans have moved forward without the wall. Bartels replied, due to the cost, it should be explored again. He made a motion for two bids, with the wall and without. It died for a lack of second. A motion was then made to bid it as quickly as possible. It passed 3-2, with Bartels and Scott Bjork voting no. Bjork’s concern was it would eliminate local contractors from being able to bid.

In addition, the committee also approved changing the design of the Veterans’ Memorial once it is completed. By a vote of 4-1, it was decided to go more “softscape” (i.e. plants and green) than “hardscape” (concrete). Bartels also voted no.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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