News

 

 Dunn County unveils new website for visitors! - 10/09/2023

A new website is giving visitors to Dunn County information about where to stay and what to do in all parts of the county. 
 
The website, visitdunncounty.com, was developed by Dunn County government and recently went live. 
 
“There are other local tourism sites that promote the city of Menomonie, but we wanted something that made an effort to promote the entire county,” said Jim Zons, a County Board supervisor and chair of the Community Resources & Tourism Committee.  “We wanted to give it more of a countywide focus.” 
 
The site contains links for things to do in the county, where to dine and drink, where to stay, information on the city, towns and villages in the county, and what businesses and industries are in Dunn County. 
 
Under “things to do,” for example, there are links for events, outdoor recreation, shopping, and arts and culture.  Hotels, motels and campgrounds are listed under the “stay” tab. 
 
“We were not looking at the site purely from a tourism standpoint,” Zons said.  “Our main focus was outlining all the amazing things to see and do in Dunn County, not only for visitors, but also current Dunn County residents who might not know about all the great things this county has to offer.” 
 
Zons said officials also hope that people who are thinking of moving to the area will use the site to see what the county has to offer, as well as those who are considering moving their business or industries to the county. “Economic development is an additional focus of the site,” Zons added. 
 
While the site has enough information on it now to be made public, it is by no means complete, Zons said.  The public and businesses are invited to submit information to be added to the site.  
 
“If a community organization or a business has an event or something else they want added to the site, there’s a link for submitting that information,” Zons said.  “We would appreciate the public’s help in making this site as complete as possible. We especially want to feature businesses and organizations that are in the perhaps less-traveled portions of Dunn County.” 
 
Zons said the initial reaction to the site has been overwhelmingly positive. 
 
“People appreciate the look and how it is organized,” he said.  “We tried to make it easy to find your way around to get the information you want. We can’t wait for people to check it out and become contributors to the site.” 
Dunn County ATV/UTV Map
Click on Map to view larger version!

 Dunn County ATV/UTV Map - 08/01/2023

Per Dunn County Ordinance - Chapter 18, All County Highways are now open to ATV/UTV Traffic with the exception of CTH B from STH 12/29 to STH 40, which will remain closed to ATV/UTV traffic. Attached is a map of the County ATV Routes. County Highways shown in blue are open, and County Highways shown in red are closed.

Note: State Highways are NOT open for ATV/UTV use. Please contact the Towns for information on ATV Routes on Township roadways.

 

 

 New Dunn County group to tackle housing issues - 07/12/2023

The final step has been taken to establish a work group in Dunn County to address the pressing issue of a lack of adequate housing throughout the county. 
 
“The County Board believes that it is essential to find ways to provide our residents with more housing choices at prices they can afford if the county is going to continue to grow,” said Kris Korpela, county manager, in announcing the members of the Housing Study Implementation Work Group. “This work group will be responsible for developing a plan that can fulfill that goal.” 
 
The county Planning, Resource and Development Committee voted in May to establish the work group and asked Korpela to nominate members. County Board Chair Kelly McCullough has approved formation of the group. and the committee has approved the following members: 
 
County Board members Diane Morehouse and Tom Quinn; Menomonie City Administrator Eric Atkinson; Momentum West Executive Director Steve Jahn; Dunn County Department of Human Services Director Paula Winter; Dunn County Housing Advisory Team member Louisa Gerisimo; Dunn County township chair Bob Cook; and community member Rob McDougall. 
 
Korpela and Planning and Zoning Administrator Anne Wodarczyk will serve as co-chairs of the work group. Korpela also said that Jahn is not an official member of the work group but will sit on it because Momentum West has been actively working on housing issues in the region. 
 
In 2022, the county asked the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to prepare a study on the status of housing across the county. That study, given to the county earlier this year, concluded that more rental stock was necessary since more than a third of renters said they lived where they did because of a lack of desired housing elsewhere, and half of the renters said a lack of quality rental housing was one of the key issues facing their community. 
 
Top housing concerns for homeowners were the cost of buying a home (54 percent) and property taxes (36 percent). Some 65 percent of respondents said there is a need for smaller single family starter homes, and 29 percent said there is a need for housing for senior citizens. 
 
Korpela said the intent of the work group is to create a plan and work for its implementation to address the concerns raised in the housing study. The group will report monthly to the county planning committee. 

 Dunn, Chippewa and Eau Claire Counties ADRCs participate in Independent Living Supports pilot program - 06/28/2023

New pilot aims to promote independent living for older people and people with disabilities in Wisconsin  
 
The Aging and Disability Resource Centers of Dunn, Chippewa and Eau Claire counties, partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), will participate in the state’s new Independent Living Supports pilot program, officials have announced. 
 
This pilot program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, is intended to help people to remain in their homes longer, and to achieve better health outcomes and better quality of life. Enrollees will have access to program benefits for up to 12 months. The program offers short-term, flexible services for older adults and people with disabilities. 
 
"The Independent Living Supports pilot program offers a unique opportunity for our communities to access essential services that promote independent living," said Tracy Fischer, manager of the ADRC of Dunn County. "We are proud to partner with DHS in implementing this pilot program and look forward to making a positive impact on the lives of Wisconsin residents."  
 
The pilot will offer up to $7,200 in one-time, periodic or continuing services based on the needs of participants. Possible supports reflect the broad range of what people might need, including:  
  • Specialized medical equipment and assistive technology  
  • Home and vehicle modifications  
  • Personal care, care management, or supportive home care  
  • Personal emergency response systems  
  • Internet/Wi-Fi services  
  • Financial management and legal assistance, and more  
“The Independent Living Supports pilot program aims to improve the ability of Wisconsin residents to live independently, increase health outcomes, explore the cost effectiveness of this approach, and provide insight into potential barriers for people who need to access services and supports,” said state Medicaid Director Jamie Kuhn. 
 
To be eligible for this pilot, program participants must:  
  • Be a Wisconsin resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible immigrant   
  • Live in a pilot service area  
  • Be over age 18  
  • Not be currently enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs or living in a licensed or certified residential or long-term care facility  
  • Earn less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level with no deductible or consideration of spousal income  
  • Have at least one eligible functional need  
  • Have a qualifying diagnosis (may be a long-term disability) if under age 55  
The ADRCs of Dunn, Chippewa and Eau Claire counties will help identify eligible participants, assist them with enrollment, coordinate one-time and ongoing services, and support participants in transitioning to other services when the pilot ends.  
 
"We are excited about the potential impact of this pilot program on the lives of Wisconsin residents and look forward to sharing updates and results as the program progresses," said DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson.  
 
For more information about the Independent Living Supports pilot program and how it benefits the local community, please contact the ADRC of Dunn County at 715-232-4006, the ADRC of Chippewa County at 715-726-7777 or the ADRC of Eau Claire County at 715-839-4735.   

 Grant to improve broadband access in northern Dunn County - 06/21/2023

An additional 500 residences and businesses in northern Dunn County will have access to high-speed broadband services from Nextgen Broadband next year after the company’s grant application was approved recently by the state Public Service Commission. 
 
The PSC’s Wisconsin Broadband Office announced that Nextgen Broadband, a subsidiary of Clear Lake Telephone Co., will receive $1.33 million to bring fiber broadband access to 557 residences and seven businesses in the towns of New Haven and Tiffany in Dunn County.  The company will have to match that amount to complete the project. Dunn County is contributing $20,000 to the project; the town of New Haven, $3,000; and the town of Tiffany, $2,000. 
 
“Nextgen Broadband has already completed fiber-to-the-home construction in Boyceville and Downing,” said Tim Kusilek, Nextgen Broadband general manager, and is taking new customers now. The PSC grant, he said, will allow the company to bring fiber access to Tiffany and New Haven and “fill a gap between Clear Lake and Boyceville and Downing, and allow us to provide fiber redundancy to all our communities that we serve.” 
 
The PSC in May awarded funding of $16.6 million for 24 projects statewide to expand broadband internet to 6,042 residential and 276 business locations that are underserved. The projects receiving awards will impact 19 counties. The PSC received 74 applications. 
 
“The investments we’ve made in Wisconsin’s Broadband Expansion Program since 2019 have helped to deliver affordable, high-speed internet to communities across our state,” said Gov. Tony Evers in announcing the grants. “The longer it takes to expand access, the more costly it will be for our state to catch up. … This latest round will help even more folks connect with one another.” 
 
Kusilek said that without the PSC grant, “the high cost of a fiber-to-the-home build would not allow us to provide affordable broadband” to their customers.  The company was able to secure the grant, he said, because the project fit well within the criteria set by the PSC, and “Nextgen has a proven record of completing grant projects on time.” 
 
Construction on the project will begin in spring 2024, he said, with customers being able to sign up for service in fall 2024. 
 
Some 107 miles of fiber optic lines will be installed to the 557 households and seven businesses that currently have much slower DSL service.  Expanding broadband service to these locations, the company said in its PSC application, “will provide subscribers with a high quality and reliable broadband infrastructure to expand their educational, economic, and healthcare opportunities.” 
 
Kusilek said he was grateful for the support of Dunn County and the towns of Tiffany and New Haven in partnering with Nextgen Broadband for this project.  “The grant application would not have been successful without their support,” he said. 
 
Dan Dunbar, chair of the Dunn County Broadband Task Force, said the county is working hard to bring broadband access to underserved areas of the county, and this project will be a boon for people living in these two northern towns. 
 
“Our goal is to bring broadband access to all Dunn County residents and businesses who want it,” Dunbar said.  “This project is an important step toward accomplishing that goal.” 
 
Other western Wisconsin projects approved for funding include $107,244 for Eau Claire County to provide service to one business and 24 homes in the town of Fairchild; $131,000 for Bloomer Telephone Co. to reach 25 homes in the town of Tilden in Chippewa County; $635,966 for Ntera to reach two businesses and 207 homes in the towns of Ruby, Goetz, Eagle Point and Cleveland in Chippewa County; $193,003 for Citizens Connected to reach 67 homes in the towns of Chetek and Rusk in Barron and Rusk counties;  $110,000 for Tri-County Communications Cooperative to reach two businesses and 16 homes in the town of Clear Creek in Eau Claire County; and $118,150 for Bruce Telephone Co. to reach 53 homes in the town of Rusk in Rusk County 
 
More information on the PSC broadband grant program is available at https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/ServiceType/Broadband/GrantPrograms.aspx
 
 
More information on Nextgen Broadband is available at https://nextgen-broadband.net/
 

 Officials: Proposed shared revenue increase would greatly benefit Dunn County - 05/25/2023

A proposal to increase state shared revenue currently being debated in the Legislature would increase the amount Dunn County receives by 46.4 percent or over $1 million annually, according to a recent analysis of the legislation. 
 
“Our shared revenue payments have been stagnant for many years, and this increase would be significant as we begin looking at our 2024 budget and tax levy,” said Kelly McCullough, chair of the Dunn County Board of Supervisors. 
 
According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the bill increasing shared revenue, which passed the state Assembly and is being considered by the Senate, would increase the county’s shared revenue amount from $2.21 million a year now to $3.24 million, a boost of 46.4 percent. Other counties in western Wisconsin would experience similar percentage increases, including 47.3 percent for Eau Claire County and 60.4 percent for Chippewa County. 
 
Municipalities in Dunn County also would fare better under the bill under consideration compared to current levels. The city of Menomonie would receive $3.79 million annually, an increase of 19.3 percent, for example. Percentage increases for the villages in Dunn County would be Boyceville, 15 percent; Colfax, 18 percent; Downing, 147 percent; Elk Mound, 21 percent; Knapp, 31 percent; Ridgeland, 52 percent; and Wheeler, 29 percent. 
 
“We hope our local elected officials can work with their colleagues in Madison to pass a bill that will be signed into law giving our county and municipalities the increases we all need to provide essential services for our constituents,” McCullough said. 
 
Shared revenue is unrestricted funds the state sends to local governments and is used to provide essential services such as police and fire. The Wisconsin Counties Association has said that in the 1980s, shared revenue represented almost a third of the revenue local governments had to deliver these services, while in 2021 shared revenue made up just 11 percent of local governments' budgets. 
 
In addition, Kris Korpela, Dunn County manager, told the County Board recently that because of limits the state currently imposes on the amount of property taxes the county can collect, tax revenues have waned compared to inflationary increases. The county could increase its tax levy by 1.35 percent in 2022, she said, while inflation was 6.5 percent. 
 
State aid covered 46.4 percent of Wisconsin counties costs in 1987, but this percentage declined to 25.9 percent by 2019. The local share of county revenues, made up of taxes and other fees, accounted for 51 percent in 1987, she said, and was 71 percent in 2019. 
 
“Our local taxpayers are making up a significantly larger portion of the budget in recent years,” Korpela said.  “That is why this proposed increase in our shared revenue is so important to Dunn County taxpayers.”