Small Comforts

Image result for Free photo to use of Crocs

There are some small things that bring me comfort and delight during this bout of below zero weather. As I’ve gotten older I find myself being grateful for the small things in life.

Today I am giving thanks to the Croc company. I may have gone a bit overboard but they were having a sale and I bought three pair of lined Crocs. I know. They are UGLY. But when you have all hardwood floors they are a small comfort.

They are also slightly less garish than the first pair my kids bought me years ago. Those are what I call “Clown Orange.” They are the pair my daughter groans when she sees them. They bought them as a joke but I found them so comfortable I wore them everywhere. Guess the joke was on them. At my age I’m not overly concerned what someone thinks of my shoes.

When I was working as a Realtor I had shoes galore. Many of them heels. Those days are over. I can barely make it through a dressy event with heels on where once I wore them all day, tramping in and out of houses as I was touring clients around. St. Vincent De Paul was the recipient of most of those shoes. I happily said good-bye to them. Bring on the Crocs.

Just went on their site and the sale is still going on. http://www.crocs.com. I may have to order more because now I noticed they have flip flops. Only shoes I wear all summer.

Room Tax

Here is a very interesting article about room tax. I know that this item came up at our November 13, 2019 Board of Supervisors meeting. Carol Williamson, the Sawyer County Clerk gave a presentation advocating for the benefit of having a room tax.

I’m interested in knowing what our local resort, hotel and lodging owners feel about having a room tax.

This article addresses some of the concerns I heard brought up during the meeting.

Would love to hear what you think.

From the January 17, 2019 edition of the Sawyer County Record. Round Lake may be 5th Sawyer County township to adopt a room tax. https://www.apg-wi.com/sawyer_county_record/paywall/round-lake-may-be-the-th-sawyer-county-township-to/article_4ce9dd40-37b0-11ea-8371-3bc7f5975b2d.html#tncms-source=infinity-scroll-summary-sticky-siderail-latest

A Delightful Evening

Definition of unique From Merriam-Webster

2a: being without a like or equal UNEQUALED

Winter morning on Big Spider Lake. Waiting for spring tenants to arrive.

This past Friday evening we had dinner with seven delightful companions. The dinner was arranged by one of our town residents. It was an opportunity for all of us to get to know one another better.

In this group were residents who had been involved in the creation of our Town Comprehensive Plan, former Board of Supervisors member, and concerned town residents.

We not only dined on delicious food but engaged in informative and energizing conversation. What a wonderful way to not only meet but get to know these supporters of Town of Spider Lake. Each and every one of them love this town for what it is. They are strong believers in protecting and preserving what we have grown to love.

When you take the time to talk with residents, both full and part-time, you get a feel for why so many have chosen this beautiful part of Sawyer County Wisconsin. It is unique. There is no where else like it and it is worth the fight to keep it unique and to preserve and protect what we have.

I’ve been told that after looking at many lake places in the area, some have chosen this town and it’s lakes for the protections that were put in place years ago. They enjoy the quiet lakes and semi-quiet lakes. They know the value of restrictions on over-development. They came and stayed for the quiet peace on a summer morning.

All of these are under attack by a group who falsely claim that the ordinances we have in Town of Spider Lake make our properties worth less. As a former Realtor I can say that that is completely untrue. As anyone who has purchased a single family home you know that the neighborhood that has restrictive ordinances and covenants has more value than a similar home in a neighborhood that has no restrictive ordinances or covenants.

The reason for restrictive ordinances and covenants is to protect the value of the homes and area. No one wants to live next door to a neighbor who has multiple vehicles, RVs, and assorted motorized recreational toys parked in the driveway, yard and street. Or the neighbor who decides to put up an 8 foot fence.

I’ve lived in both type of neighborhoods in Minnesota, Colorado and Wisconsin. Our home in Fitchburg, Wisconsin had a set of covenants that was 8 pages long. It addressed everything. Parking, garbage cans, fencing, sheds, dog houses, kennels, square footage required, style of home, storage of boats, snowmobiles, ATV/UTVs and RVs and much more. Those covenants were available for us to review prior to purchasing our home. If we thought we couldn’t live with them then we had the choice to not purchase a home in that neighborhood.

Our town ordinances are available to anyone looking to purchase a property in the Town of Spider Lake. When we purchased our home in 1985 we were given a copy. We reviewed it and felt that we could live with all the ordinances.

We did look at other properties in other towns surrounding Hayward and found that it wasn’t what we were looking for. Many of the lakes were crowded with boathouses, docks, RV’s parked on lots, sheds and much more. The lots were only 100 feet of shoreline. Very little privacy. The shorelines were no longer natural looking. They were over-developed.

Over the years we have come to appreciate the ordinances more and more. We see how they protect the value of our property, the quality of the lakes, forests and the quiet enjoyment we are so blessed to have.

My goal as a supervisor would be to protect and preserve that which so many of us came here for. Clean lakes, uncrowded shorelines, privacy and the enjoyment of all the wildlife which we share this place we call home. It is worth protecting not only for ourselves but for all who follow.

I like being unique.

Spider Lake Fire Department Accolades

A huge thank you to the men and women of Town of Spider Lake Fire Department.

On Wednesday evening, January 8, 2020, I attended out Town of Spider Lake Board of Supervisors meeting. It was uplifting to see and hear from so many residents, Fire Chiefs from neighboring towns and WI DNR Foresters. There were letters of support and some of the Chiefs took their own personal time to attend and voice their support for Chief Lee Nelson and the fire department crew. Thank you, each and every one of you.

The thought of losing our fire department was and is disturbing. They not only protect our homes they also protect the forests that we live in and next door to. They provide much needed support to our neighboring town fire departments. No one department is large enough to deal with a catastrophic fire but working together they can.

One member of our town referenced the communication they had had with their insurance agent. Their agent told them that, yes, rates could potentially increase if our town no longer had a local fire department and was dependent on a fire department that was further away.

Chief Nelson and his crew have done an outstanding job for our town. Please join me in asking our supervisors to approve the September 5, 2019 election of Chief Nelson, Shannon Nelson and Tim Sheldon. We should also encourage them to re-install the Health and Safety Committee.

Do you want to lose our Fire Department in Town of Spider Lake?

Every call that our Town Fire Department goes out on holds an element of risk. That our fellow townspeople are willing to protect us and our homes is priceless.

This month has been disturbing. We are witnessing situations within our town government that have been brought about because of one person making the decision that our town governance does not need citizen input by committee.

Previously, with past town chairman and town boards we had a Road Committee, Health and Safety Committee and Plan and Review Committee. We now only have a Plan and Review Committee and the only reason why we have managed to retain that is that our town chairman found out that he couldn’t dissolve that committee.

It has come to our attention that our town chairman has made the decision to try and dissolve our Fire Department and let our Fire Chief go. He is proceeding with this course of action with no citizen input for continuing fire protection coverage for our homes and businesses.

We, as taxpayers, have been kept in the dark. We don’t know what his reasoning is or why he’s taken this course of action.

Here is a list of questions that need to be answered by our town chairman.

  1. Who would provide fire protection for Town of Spider Lake?
  2. What would the cost be to the taxpayers?
  3. What would the increase of response times be with another department providing fire protection?
  4. What would be the possible increase in our property insurance?
  5. Why?

I know from attending town meetings that our chairman and the fire chief have had differences of opinion but is this a reason to dissolve our fire department? One of the primary jobs of the town chairman is to create a positive working environment and a team atmosphere. That can be done even if there is difference of opinions. Respect for our town employees and elected officials is key. Respect for the work they do and for their combined knowledge. Any good manager knows this.

We need good management of our town and it’s resources. We need transparency. We need our committees put back in place. It’s time for all the taxpayers to have their voices heard.

If you are unable to attend town meetings and you don’t want our fire department dissolved, write an email, send it to clerk@townofspiderlake.com. Be sure to ask that your email be read at the town meeting.

Voices of Town of Spider Lake

It was pointed out to me yesterday that some people might think that this site is just about Spider Lake and not the town. I wanted to clear that up.

This site is for the residents, property owners and visitors of Town of Spider Lake. To be perfectly honest, whenever I think Spider Lake, I think town and all of the lakes, land and businesses. When someone asks where I live I say Spider Lake.

We have over 100 lakes. National, County and State forests cover over half of our town. We have well maintained snowmobile and ATV/UTV trails that wind their way throughout the area. There are many rustic and improved camping sites. We are hosts of the American Birkebeiner, Fat Tire Birkie, numerous fishing tournaments and so much more. Festivals, church luncheons, community picnics bring us together.

Many who have spent years only being able to come here on the weekends or during vacation have made the decision that this is where they want to retire. I can’t count the Sunday afternoons when we were leaving to go back to home and work that I would sit at the end of the dock and wish I didn’t have to leave. Now I don’t.

This is another reason I made the decision to run for supervisor. I love this town and everything it has to offer. I want to be able to say that I did everything I could to protect its people and their homes, support the businesses that depend on the quality of the lakes and forests to bring much needed revenue into our town. I also want to be able to say that I passed on to the next generation a place where the beauty of our land and the pristine waters are waiting there for them.

Post Christmas

Fog on the lake.

Post Christmas clean up is underway. Dishes are washed, beds being remade and the vacuum is going full steam after three dogs have played from one end of the house to the other. I’ve found chew toys hidden in the couch cushions, under the couch and in one of the beds.

Our son and daughter just got on the road to head back to Madison. I miss them already. This is really the only downside of living here, not being closer to them. They are fun to be with and both keep me on my toes when we debate issues.

I spent last Saturday at our Town waste and recycling facility, or dump as we all call it. I was getting signatures for our Spring election. Tim Sheldon was there in the morning meeting and talking with town voters and I was there in the afternoon. Tim is also running for Town Supervisor.

If you get a chance, talk with Tim. He has some excellent ideas and would be a great addition to our town government. We both agree that going forward there is a very real need to take our time and have ample research done prior to making further changes. We need to know the pros and the cons of what those changes would cause and if we as the residents of the Town of Spider Lake want to pay that price. We also need the time to get feedback from as many of our taxpayers as possible.

The ATV/UTV survey is an excellent example of how to get taxpayers involved. Unfortunately our town board refused to listen despite having an overwhelming response indicating they did not want our town roads opened to ATV/UTV use.

There is one question that has been asked of me and in all honesty I have no answer. Our town Chairman has stated that there is a minority group of disenfranchised taxpayers that he feels compelled to represent. This was his reason for voting to pass the ATV/UTV ordinance.

Majority rule is one of the foundations of Democracy. We had a majority of our taxpayers who do not want the town roads opened up to ATV/UTV use. So my questions to our Chairman are these. Who are the disenfranchised? Did they not have the same ability to fill out one of the surveys as everyone else? How are they disenfranchised? Is being one of a small group wanting the roads open give them more rights than the majority who do not?

I personally did not want the town roads opened to ATV/UTV use for two reasons. Number one was safety. So many of our town roads have no shoulders, are narrow with many blind curves. On those roads in the summer are cars and trucks pulling boats on trailers, landscaping trucks pulling trailers filled with equipment, large delivery and construction trucks. I took the time to look up the statistics on ATV/UTV deaths and injuries in Wisconsin. Not one of the victims was wearing a seatbelt and only one had a helmet on. Bicyclists, roller bladers and people walking can hear vehicles coming and can easily step or pull off the road. Not true with an ATV/UTV. What’s even more disturbing is the increase in injuries and even deaths of younger riders.

My second reason was our wildlife and many of the fragile wildflowers. During the spring many birds nest in the ditches. If riders run into the ditches, which many do, they will be destroying not only nests but wildflowers.

I went into our town meeting on December 11th not knowing what the results of the survey were. As I walked into the building my thoughts were, well, if the majority filled out their surveys in support of changing the ordinance, I will have to live with it. So I was happy to hear that the response was 2 to 1 opposed to opening the roads. Little did I know that our town board would go against what the majority of our property owners/taxpayers wanted. That they had in reality made the decision to ignore the survey and the majority of our property owners from the very beginning.

Going forward I think it is becoming clearer that we need more taxpayer input in the decision making process that affect us all. We need time to research both pros and cons of those decisions. We need time to get as much input as possible from as many taxpayers as possible. Every decision made affects not only the registered voters of our Town but every tax paying property owner. Who is speaking for them?

Our town deserves leadership that listens to everyone. Not just a small group of people but listen to all the taxpayers. Currently we don’t have that. If we want to maintain the beauty and serenity that we currently have we need to be good stewards and do what protects not only our way of life but the very land and waters we live on.

A Great Day In the Neighborhood

Snow, snow and more snow.

Today was a great day. I spent several hours at our town trash and recycling facility. I have to thank Bob for taking the time to introduce me to residents as they came through. I was then able to introduce myself and get signatures on the form I need to get on the ballot for the April 7, 2020 election.

I had some very informative conversations with many who stopped. I want to thank all of them for taking the time to let me know what their views and concerns were.

I reinforced that I am not running against anyone. I’m running in hopes that I can be part of creating an environment where we come to a better understanding of one another. Community conversations that allow us to get to know each other and what each person’s concerns and opinions are.

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson –

This is my goal. Not allowing our differences in opinion to cause us to withdraw from our neighbors but rather engage in civil discourse. Finding out what is important to them. We may never come to agree but we can respect each other’s views. We all love this town and that is one thing we can all agree on. This is not “us versus them.” It’s just us, residents of Spider Lake.

So despite a cold nose, ears, and feet, it was worth every minute.

Town Board Meeting December 11, 2019

On Wednesday evening I attended our TOSL board meeting. Two of the main agenda items were the Plan and Review Committee recommendation for a change to town’s camping ordinance and the ATV/UTV survey results.

The PRC, after a public hearing, hours of time spent, ample public participation, came up with a very decent compromise. This was brought to the board for approval. Our town Chairman refused to have a vote on it and informed the Chairwoman, Bobbi Huot, that she needed to take it back to the drawing board. In part, it didn’t give him what he wanted. Just one example of our voices not being heard.

The second agenda item was the results of the ATV/UTV survey that was sent out to every property owner in the town. I was astounded at the number of responses that were received. This was an issue that many property owners felt strongly about. Over 900 property owners responded. Tim Sheldon one of the members of the ATV/UTV committee who were tasked with creating the survey and getting it out to all property owners, had been chosen by the committee to give the presentation. The Power Point presentation made all of the answers and responses visible to those attending. The response to the survey was overwhelmingly against allowing ATV/UTVs on our town roads. Two to one was the tally.

Despite the majority of our residents not wanting ATV/UTVs allowed on town roads our Town Chairman was the deciding vote in allowing them. Of course our first clue should have been that an ordinance had been drafted prior to the meeting and was available to the public when they arrived.

Why is the majority rule important? The principle of majority rule has several functions. For one, it establishes a clear mechanism for making decisions. A majority of 50 percent plus one decides an issue or question. This ensures that when decisions are made more people are in favor than against. Majority rule is a decision rule used most often in influential decision-making bodies, including all the legislatures of democratic nations.

Majority rule is one of the founding principles of Democracy. Yet our town board and our chairman made the decision to ignore approximately  65% of the property owners to give his core supporters and a fellow board member what they wanted, in spite of the survey results.

What I find additionally disturbing is that it was very clear that this decision was made prior to receiving the results of the survey. So I ask our town chairman, John Leighton. Why was the taxpayers money spent on compiling and mailing the survey if you were going to ignore the results? Another example of tax monies being wasted.

This is one of the reasons I am running for Supervisor. We have to be the stewards of this town and its many lakes and forests which are irreplaceable. This very quality of life is what drew so many of us here. Every year more and more seasonal residents become full-time residents. Why? Because they have come to love and appreciate what this “Jewel of the North” has to offer.

It’s important that as our town moves forward into the future that decisions made for change must be thoughtful and researched to assess the financial and environmental impact that would occur. We need to have more of our residents involved and start to create a working relationship with one another. Committees that bring us together as neighbors. The current “us versus them” is destructive.

The ATV/UTV committee is proof that working together with one another, who have differing opinions can work. This is what we need in our town governance. Together we can maintain this jewel for the generations to follow.

Running for Supervisor

The Miller girls, Easter 2018. The grumpy one is my oldest sister. I’m the one second from the right.

In November I made the decision to run for one of the open seats available on our town board, Town of Spider Lake. I felt it was time to get involved in our community on a level more than just showing up at meetings.

Being retired I have the time and resources to be what I feel would be a productive part of our town’s governance. I think each of us should consider, when possible, to get involved in any way we can.

So a little about me. I’ve had 3 careers. I started out as an LPN working at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis on the Neurosurgical ward. Not an easy job but extremely rewarding. We had limited resources for our Veterans but the staff I worked with were second to none. When we moved to Denver for my husband to attend graduate school I continued working as a nurse. But unfortunately, I worked nights, from 11:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. and with a pre-school son, it became too difficult.

So, I started my second career. I went to work as a waitress at a restaurant near our home. Working lunches and made more money than I did as a nurse. I was approached by the divisional manager and asked if I would be interested in their management program. I said yes. I started as the dining room manager in the evening. Several months later I was promoted to assistant manager so I worked both lunch and dinner shifts.

When we moved to Rochester, Minnesota it was during one of the only times there was an overabundance of nurses. The only job I could find was at a nursing home as an evening charge nurse. Back to the 11:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. shift. It soon became difficult having an elementary age son involved in hockey to work those hours.

When I mentioned it to a friend who was the food and beverage director at the Rochester Golf and Country Club, she said, “Come work for me.” I did. When she left for a different job I was promoted to her position. I loved the fast pace, involvement in wedding and party planning, working with a European trained chef and so much more.

After eight years there I had our daughter. It soon became apparent that I needed to be able to have a more flexible schedule so very reluctantly left the country club. But I wanted to continue working.

My solution was to get my real estate license. My third career. I started out with a large group and was hooked. I could set my own schedule and more than anything enjoyed being a part of finding someone just the right home.

I continued with real estate when we moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin and again when we moved to Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve made so many friends through real estate and it was an industry where you are always learning something new.

I had planned on staying in real estate when we moved here to Spider Lake in 2014. Unfortunately, within months of moving here, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer. I spent the next year recuperating from surgery and chemotherapy. The upside is, I’m five years out since diagnosis and my Oncologist gave me the good news in September, “You’re cancer-free.” The early diagnosis saved my life

Some truths I learned from my illness. There are no guarantees. That giving back has more value than taking. That you will find yourself amazed at the kindness of strangers. Anger is self-defeating, it’s better to forgive even though sometimes it’s hard. Enjoy life, you only have one.

I would love the opportunity to talk with any and all residents of Spider Lake. I want to hear from you. One of my goals would be to see our town become one where everyone has a voice, not just the loudest voices. That we come together as a team, not the current “us against them” atmosphere. I want to see our town grow but doing so in a responsible way that protects our environment and property values. And by doing so we are holding to the core beliefs of those who came before us. I want to see our town be fiscally responsible for decisions made that affect our taxes. Again, I welcome your thoughts and comments.