Bad news travels fast. Good news takes the scenic route,” as Doug Larson says.

True to the proverb, it takes time to get the word out about all the good going on in town. Frankly, right now there’s a lot of good news that needs to be repeated if only for the sake of the slow route it usually takes. 

For starters, the city council recently rezoned two plots within the city limits that will allow for future development: a formerly R-1 lot was rezoned to C-1 (commercial) in order that a new Family Dollar/Dollar Tree could be built sometime next year. On the same night, the 39 acres on the west end of town (aka “Area 51”) was rezoned from A-1 to R-3 (family multi-dwelling), another crucial step toward a future housing development there. Both of these decisions are necessary ones to take in preparing for population and tax revenue growth in the coming years. That’s good news!

At the special city council meeting this past Thursday night, the 2022 budget was passed, resulting in the city’s tax levy remaining the same as it was this year. At the same time, the mill rate went down almost a dollar per thousand of valuation. That’s even better news!

However, the best news to pass on was inexplicably cut from the mayor’s column last week: the city of Chetek was recently awarded a record-breaking $10 million dollar grant toward our new Waste Water Treatment facility that will be built in the next few years.

On the same night the council was voting to rezone the parcels on both the north and west ends of town, Tia McCarthy of CBS2 was on hand to give us an update on the Waste Water Treatment plant. Tia is the Project Manager for this $22 million dollar project. While with us she revisited the timeline we’re on which amounts to what on a map might be a “You Are Here” sign. But the most important reason she was present that night was to deliver the good news - really great news - that USDA-Rural Development has awarded the City of Chetek a $10,344,000 grant toward the treatment plant. This is the largest grant of its kind for a public works project in Wisconsin’s history which promises to cut our projected expenses for the new plant nearly in half. Obviously, the remaining $12 million is still a lot of zeroes but not as many as 22 million. We should be so very grateful for Tia’s work and USDA’s generous consideration. 

Presently we are in the design portion of the project. While surveying the property, a number of archeological sites were found on the plot of ground where the new WWTP will be built but thankfully no bones, meaning it is not a Native American burial site. The site has been farmed for many years, and, therefore, lots of arrowheads, pottery shards and the like have been found and will be removed in a respectful manner according to the archeologist’s instructions. We’re a long way from turning dirt out there, but it’s load off everyone’s mind that our construction costs have nearly been cut in half. And that truly is great news!

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