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SEH specialist to be new Chippewa Falls city planner

The city of Chippewa Falls’ newest hire will be taking over the desk of recently retired Chippewa Falls city planner Jayson Smith.

Brad Hentschel, a community development specialist at downtown Chippewa Falls engineering and architecture consulting business SEH, will assume the position.

The council voted 5-1 to approve Hentschel’s compensation and benefits after closed session Tuesday.

Hentschel is currently vice president of the Chippewa Falls Main Street board, according to Main Street’s website.

At a Jan. 30 labor negotiations and personnel meeting, city finance manager Lynne Bauer was authorized to make an offer of employment to Hentschel.

Structure may

be razed after fire

A Chippewa Falls residence that was deemed a total loss after a New Year’s Day fire may be razed, minutes from a Jan. 30 city meeting say.

Members of a city financial committee approved costs of roughly $1,000 to $1,400 to pursue the possible razing of a residence at 1123 Huron Street in Chippewa Falls, the minutes say. The Chippewa Falls city council approved the decision at a Tuesday meeting.

“Effort will have to be made to locate all owners and afford them 60 days for a response,” the minutes say. If the structure’s owners cannot be reached, the city will publish public notices and post an order on the property.

Flames and smoke were reported coming from the first and second floors of the Huron Street structure at approximately 3:53 a.m. on Jan. 1, and fire crews contained the flames roughly an hour later. Two occupants of the residence escaped, neither with injuries.


RICHARD DREW, ASSOCIATED PRESS 

An image of President-elect Donald Trump appears on a television screen Nov. 9, 2016, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. President Trump has maintained an uncharacteristic silence since the stock market took a nosedive, notable for a businessman president who regularly points to the rising market as evidence of the success of his presidency and economic policies.


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AP
Why Trump has little influence on rising or falling stocks

WASHINGTON — For months, President Donald Trump boasted about having steered the U.S. stock markets to record high after record high.

What a difference a few days can make.

The market free-fall, explosive volatility and now partial recovery of stock prices have served as a stark reminder that Trump, like his predecessors, isn’t commander in chief of the U.S. economy — or the financial markets. The markets pivot on forces that owe at least as much to computerized trading programs, overseas investors and global central banks as they do to a president’s policies and force of personality.

The Dow Jones industrial average went on a wild ride Tuesday — ricocheting between losses and gains — to close up more than 560 points, or 2 percent. The gains weren’t enough, though, to offset the dizzying drops from the prior two days of frantic trading.

Anxiety has settled deep into a market that Trump long treated as a sure-fire triumph.

The same investors who cheered Trump’s tax cuts and stayed calm amid the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea are now dreading the risk of higher inflation and the prospect of rising interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

Beginning immediately after his 2016 election all the way through last week’s State of the Union address, the president repeatedly claimed credit for a surging stock market and increases in Americans’ retirement saving accounts. On Twitter, he declared that stocks would rise even higher once his $1.5 trillion tax cut was “totally understood and appreciated.”

Investors and the trillions of dollars they control, it turns out, have minds of their own.

“This is a healthy reminder that there are risks in the market,” said Mark Doms, a senior economist at Nomura Securities. “If you invest in the stock market, there are ups and downs. We just hadn’t had too many downs recently.”

It’s not just stock prices that have been tumbling. Bond prices have been falling and interest rates have been rising on U.S. Treasurys. The result is higher loan costs, which make it more expensive for the government to borrow and more burdensome for Americans who need to take on debt to buy homes or cars or to pay for college.

In the 1990s, James Carville, an aide to President Bill Clinton, declared that the bond market, not just elected officials, had power to shape White House budget policies. The bond market, in setting federal borrowing rates, determined just how much the government could afford to borrow.

“I used to think if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or a .400 baseball hitter,” Carville said. “But now I want to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

What the Trump administration may find frustrating is that markets have plunged off of relatively positive economic news. The January U.S. jobs report showed that Americans’ average hourly wages, which have lagged for years, had shot up 2.9 percent over the previous 12 months — the fastest such increase in more than eight years. And Trump’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts promise a further dose of economic stimulus.

But the prospect of faster wage growth carries potential downsides, too. Inflation could end up being higher than expected, which could lead the Fed and other global central banks to raise the short-term rates they control faster than investors had been expecting. There is also the risk that the Fed could overshoot, as it sometimes has throughout its history, and raise rates so much or so fast as to cause an economic downturn.

The markets, in short, have had to adjust to the risks of higher inflation, more government debt and the potential for central banks around the world to simultaneously reduce their economic support by raising rates — perhaps aggressively. In an era of computerized trading that moves in microseconds, these adjustments can cause the markets to violently whipsaw as they did Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

For now, the Trump administration is choosing to emphasize the possibility of faster wage gains. But it’s not apologizing for placing so much emphasis on the stock market’s performance. At a House hearing Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked whether the administration would take any responsibility for the recent market drops.

“I think we will still claim credit for the fact that it is up 30 percent since the election,” he said.

Yet while Trump has bragged in public about record stock prices, in an interview last year with The Associated Press, he acknowledged the trade-offs that result from linking his presidency so closely to the financial markets.

“You live by the sword, you die by the sword, to a certain extent,” he said.


CHARLES KRUPA, ASSOCIATED PRESS 

Librarian Thelma Tracy, right, folds editions of "Weare in the World" with her co-workers Jan. 22 at the public library in Weare, N.H.


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County seeks input on opening game trail to vehicles

Chippewa County is considering opening a game trail near Lake Holcombe to motorized vehicles – something that’s banned under a current county forest plan – and is seeking the public’s thoughts on the matter at a Feb. 15 public hearing.

The roughly three-mile trail, often called the Tealey Creek Game Loop, is in a portion of the county forest in the town of Birch Creek. It’s a wide, grass-covered walking trail most often used by hunters, and occasionally used to haul cut logs out of the forest, said county forest administrator Mike Dahlby.

At present, only foot traffic and disabled ATV-riding hunters with the appropriate permits are allowed into the loop. But after a citizen request to open the trail to larger vehicles, the county is mulling the possibility of extra traffic.

Opening the trail to motorized vehicles would most likely benefit fox, coyote and bobcat hunters, Dahlby said: “In the event that there ever was a wolf season again and it was open during frozen ground conditions, it would apply to wolves as well.”

The county would need to improve and add several culverts on the trail if access was granted, Dahlby said.

But the current county forest land use plan – which is in effect until 2020 – prohibits public vehicle access. Changing that plan would require an amendment.

Dahlby did not comment on the benefits or dangers of allowing vehicle access, saying the county hasn’t conducted “specific analysis” yet: “I’d note that (the Tealey Creek loop) has been closed … since prior to my tenure. I’d assume there was rationale for that.”

Although the citizen requested to open a single trail, there’s a good possibility that opening the Tealey Creek Game Loop to cars and trucks would create a trend across the county, Dahlby said.

“In 2015, there was a similar request in the town of Ruby, in county forest,” he said. The county granted the 2015 request because the east side of the Chippewa River, where the town of Ruby sits, has few of the county’s recreational trails.

However, the Tealey Creek loop lies squarely to the west of the Chippewa – which is the portion of the county that hosts the most recreational ski, equine, mountain bike and ATV trails.

One public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 in the Chippewa County courthouse, room 302. The public is welcome to submit comment at that hearing.

Those comments will make their way to a Feb. 21 county forest management meeting at 4:30 p.m. at the courthouse, room 302, which will also be open to the public. A final public hearing will be held March 21.

Entrance to the Tealey Creek Game Loop can be found at the intersection of the State Snowmobile Trail 27 and 300th Ave., east of County Highway E, in the town of Birch Creek.

For more information on the public hearing, contact Dahlby at 715-726-7921.