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County, town are right

to help replace the dam

It’s great news for the 70 plus property owners who surround the Tamarack Flowage and the hundreds of recreationists who use the flowage that Vilas County and the town of Conover are pledging to help get the culvert-type dam replaced.

 

The county, which petitioned the state for permission to construct the initial dam across Little Tamarack Creek in 1941, can’t walk away now. Neither can a town government that constructed East Flowage Road over the area that was refilled by a private party in 1946, after the first dam failed.

 

Property owners are attempting to take the lead by developing a taxation district that will own the new structure. That’s a bold move on their part that deserves applause and should motivate the county and town to help wherever they can. We believe a county has more clout than a town or rehabilitation district in dealing with a state agency.

 

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should admit a stake in the project as well. This expansive flowage provides fantastic scenery, fishing opportunities, recreation and wildlife habitat. At the very least, the DNR should show some flexibility on engineering specs because the existing unengineered dam has lasted 70 years without incident.

 

We believe the lack of downstream development should enable the rehabilitation district to construct a low-hazard dam, which requires inspections every 10 years instead of every two years. This is not a high-hazard area with a bunch of homes downstream.

 

The county also is in charge of regulating the state’s shoreland zoning code in the town of Conover, so county officials would have some control over potential liability issues by preventing development and construction in the floodplain areas downstream of the dam.

 

Conover residents who reside around the flowage or who recreate there should expect that the town and county will step forward to preserve the flowage. They have trustingly purchased lakefront land and paid property taxes to these entities for decades, never expecting today’s controversy over dam ownership and repair might threaten the value and use of their property.

Time for public service

on a municipal board?

If you’ve got some spare time, an objective mind and a will to serve the public, maybe it is time to consider running for a county, town or school board seat. You might be the right candidate for the job.

 

The terms of all 42 county supervisors in Vilas and Oneida expire next April, and there are public service posts expiring on school boards in Northland Pines, Phelps and Three Lakes districts. There are also two terms expiring on the five-person town boards in Arbor Vitae, Cloverland, Lincoln, Phelps, St. Germain and Three Lakes.

 

Candidates began circulating nomination papers Dec. 1 to get on the ballot for the spring election, which is set April 1, 2014. It’s a tough, thankless job, but representing constituents has given many a feeling of significance that no other public service can provide.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

 

Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013 11:03 AM
 

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