Recently, in the paper’s comment section, dismay for Rhinelander was expressed about two pressing issues: the paper mill’s sale and the referendum to fund our schools.
Regarding the mill, the individual said we should “strike up the band. The fat lady is getting ready to sing.” Regarding the referendum, the same individual suggests we are “deluding” ourselves about the scope of our schools’ needs.
However, we can’t give up on either as, more than ever, they are connected.
The folks at the mill are rightfully concerned. The wider dynamics of the sale are likely taking a back seat to concerns over livelihood: health care, mortgage payments and support of children.
We need to help those mill employees, and, in turn, help ourselves as the far-reaching impacts of the mill’s future are obvious. We literally cannot afford to sit back and accept this.
Potential buyers are right now being sought. Mayor Dick Johns said on WJFW that “the community can rest assured that this office and City Hall is well behind anything to keep that mill up in operation.”
In approaching buyers for the mill and other potential employers, for that matter, Rhinelander must be able to list positive attributes of our community, must be able to brag on infrastructure, current mill employees, and, yes, our schools.
That’s where the community can be of help, where passing the school’s referendum comes into play. The issues are now truly intertwined.
For those who take this letter as a manipulative play on last Friday’s shocking news, it is not. It is from a place of concern and common sense, pro-active business. We can show potential investors, who may also have kids of their own, that this town invests in itself and will provide a quality education for its workforce and its children.
Even before Wausau Paper’s news, the chamber of commerce and business-led Partners in Education group were behind the referendum as an important factor in Rhinelander’s economic development. It follows that this support, now, is even more.
Passing the referendum by itself, is not the entire solution but it is at least a proactive step we can take now.
Personally, I am praying for our community. But, also, as the saying goes, the Lord helps those who help themselves. Let’s join the mayor, taking every step we can.
We may be down, as the saying goes, but we need not be out.
Michael Kitze, Rhinelander