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Cornell City Council - County to help out with police coverage for a time

County to help out with police coverage for a time County to help out with police coverage for a time

Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes was more than happy to provide contracting services to the City of Cornell, when law enforcement staffing is in short supply, as he was previously a part-time officer with that department and the community holds a special place for him. When filling shifts, the sheriff’s deputy will be paid an hourly overtime wage, which will be billed to the city. Photo by Ginna Young

By Ginna Young

Cornell is still looking for a police chief, after almost a year of searching, but in the meantime, Officer in Charge Luke Abbate has kept the department going, along with help from full-time Officer Grant Kjellberg. Now, however, Kjellberg is attending National Guard training through the end of June, leaving Abbate alone to provide law enforcement to Cornell.

“The town could do with some evening coverage,” said Abbate.

To provide that, it was decided June 6, by the Cornell City Council to contract with Chippewa County, to fill in shifts, for an hourly overtime rate. A sheriff’s deputy will bring a patrol car, so mileage is not needed. Since county already has a system like this in place with Bloomer and New Auburn, they can ease Cornell into it with billing and payroll.

Abbate was relieved to have some help, while the council urged him to be patient, as the hunt continues to fully man the department once more.

“Please keep plugging away,” said council president Steve Turany.

The council also gave their blessing to the Cornell Public Library, to apply for a Flexible Facilities Program Grant, in the maximum amount of $4.25 million, with no match. The free money is offered to enable work, education and healthcare monitoring, in areas of need.

“It’s anticipated that it will be a relatively competitive grant,” said John Thompson, Inspiring and Facilitating Library Success (IFLS) director.

The project would focus on either an addition or renovation to the current facility, with a multi-purpose community room and other needed spaces. The library is celebrating its 100th year, in July, which means the building, which previously served as the town’s jail, was not constructed with modern purposes in mind.

“There are a lot of uses of that building, that it wasn’t designed to do,” said Thompson.

The library does have some funds to pay for work needed to apply for the grant and that would be reimbursed, if the funding is awarded.

“Do they still cover that if you don’t get the grant?” asked council member Terry Smith, to which the answer was no, the library would be out the money.

Because they are on a tight time frame, with applications due July 11, the council approved applying for the grant.

“Shame on us if we don’t try,” said Library Board member Nancy Hickethier.

Members also agreed on a tuckpointing proposal from Glen Hetchler’s Painting & More, for $1,200, for work on the exterior of the city office building.

They also listened to concerns of some residents on South Eighth Street, about things going on at the Wisconsin Veteran Farm & Winery. The citizens were directed to file police complaints, so the council had formal records of the matter.