Ashland, Bayfield, and Red Cliff, Wis. – On Wednesday, June 29, Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld met with representatives from the Ashland, Bayfield and Red Cliff communities in Northwest Wisconsin, as well as six organizations and community groups providing housing, coastal management and conservation services in Ashland and Bayfield counties.
Secretary-designee Blumenfeld kicked off the day at the recently opened emergency homeless shelter in Ashland, meeting with former Ashland Mayor Deb Lewis, representatives from the Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency (NWCSA), the Ashland Homeless Task Force, and shelter volunteers.
(L-R: Deb Lewis, former Ashland mayor and Ashland Homeless Taskforce member; Millie Rounsville, CEO of NWCSA; Kathy Blumenfeld, DOA Secretary-designee)
“The state has been a great partner for us,” said former mayor Deb Lewis, and homeless task force member. “Some journeys out of homelessness take longer than others, but we’re helping people get back on their feet, so they don’t have to come back.”
The shelter had received more than $1 million in support through DOA programs, including a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant, a $3,000 State Shelter Subsidy Grant, and over $300,000 in Emergency Solutions Grant funds, to help make necessary renovations, critical electrical upgrades, and accessibility improvements at the previously rundown motel. Joined by Interagency Council on Homelessness director Michael Basford, the group toured the shelter which now offers safe emergency year-round housing to families and individuals, along with wrap-around services and support.
“This is a much safer operation than what was here before,” said homeless advocate and task force leader Parker Sterling.
Joined by DNR’s northern region secretary’s director James Yach, Ashland city administrator Brant Kucera, and City of Ashland parks and recreation director Sara Hudson, the Secretary-designee participated in a walking tour of the Ashland Ore Dock, and discussed future plans to create a public walkway which will extend a quarter-mile into Lake Superior, and provide accessible fishing and recreation opportunities. The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) within the DOA provided multiple grants for Ashland Ore Dock redevelopment, public access, and comprehensive outdoor recreation planning.
(Kathy Blumenfeld and Sara Hudson, Ashland Parks and Recreation, at the Ashland Ore Dock
In Bayfield, the Secretary met with City of Bayfield staff, former Bayfield mayor and chair of the Coastal Management Council Larry MacDonald, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore park superintendent Lynne Dominy, and several stakeholders from the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Landmark Conservancy, to discuss ongoing public access and coastal management projects. The city recently completed a Waterfront Walk project which received WCMP funding.
(L-R: James Yach, DNR; Kathy Blumenfeld, DOA; Billie Hoopman, City of Bayfield; Jeffrey Rennicke, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; Julie Van Stappen, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; Lynne Dominy, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore)
Ashland County experienced a 19% uptick in direct tourism spending, while Bayfield County experienced a 22% increase in 2021, reflecting the impact from Governor Evers’ focus and investment to support tourism. “We don’t feel left out,” said Erica Peterson, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore board member.
Finally, the Secretary-designee met with Red Cliff Tribal Chairman Boyd, Vice Chairman Gordon, and other tribal members to discuss ongoing pandemic recovery efforts, and areas of tribal concern, followed by a tour of the Red Cliff Fish Company. The Red Cliff Tribe is the largest employer in the county, and Tribal leadership continues to invest in workforce and other quality of life issues for the community.
(L-R: Mike Friis, DOA; John Dillet, DOA; Dawn Vick, DOA; Diane Baker, Bureau of Indian Affairs; Chairman Chris Boyd, Red Cliff; Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld; Vice Chairman Nathan Gordon, Red Cliff)
“What an incredible opportunity to see the impact of state investment and community partnerships and collaboration firsthand, across Northwestern Wisconsin,” said DOA Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld.
“We’re so proud to support ongoing efforts to help the crown jewel of our state to continue to rebuild and thrive.”
“Chi-miigwech to Secretary-designee Blumenfeld for visiting in person and for the open discussion on issues facing Tribal nations,” said Red Cliff Tribal Chairman Boyd. “It is very important for our Tribal nations to have the opportunity to work with the State to ensure our concerns are being addressed. We’re looking forward to strengthening relationships with the Wisconsin DOA.”
Wisconsinites can visit BadgerBounceback.wi.gov