Chippewa County Clerk Sandi Frion has accepted an offer to become Bloomer’s first city administrator/clerk/treasurer. The Bloomer City Council will vote on her appointment Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Her resignation as Chippewa County Clerk will take effect April 28, well after the April 4 election. “I want to make sure everything runs smoothly,” Frion said Tuesday.
“It’s been a great opportunity for me,” she said of the clerk’s job.
Frion was selected from three finalists out of the 12 people who applied for the Bloomer job. The city created the position because Sue Stoik, the city clerk, Mike Meindel, the city’s street department head, and Pete Paulson, the city’s electric department head, are retiring.
“It just looked like a challenging position to further grow my career,” Frion said of the administrator position.
Before becoming clerk, Frion worked as a human resources-finance integrated specialist for the Chippewa Falls School District. She has an administrative assistant associate’s degree from Lakeland College.
Frion, who lives in the town of Auburn, was appointed as the county clerk in March 2011 by the Chippewa County Board. She succeeded Kathy Bernier, who was elected as the state representative from the 68th Assembly District.
She has been re-elected since, including running unopposed in the Nov. 8 election, where she received 23,691 votes.
During her tenure, Frion’s office worked with the downsizing of the County Board from 29 to 15 members and legislative redistricting.
County Board Chairman Anson Albarado said the county will likely need an interim clerk after Frion leaves for the Bloomer job. “We will probably take a look at how Kathy was replaced,” he said in finding a successor to Frion.
Chippewa County remains on track on backing the revival of passenger rail in western Wisconsin. The county board gave its support in a 11-3 vote Tuesday night. Voting against were supervisors Chuck Hull, Dean Gullickson and Leigh Darrow.
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The board had been scheduled to consider the project in January, but that session was postponed because of a storm. The resolution passed by the board does not obligate the county to pay for the rail service.
Gullickson said the county was giving support for the proposal without first seeing a business plan. “We don’t have enough knowledge of it to comfortably give that support,” he said.
David A. Christianson, executive director of the group proposing the rail plan called the Organizing Council, said the rail service will be run privately.
“It would not require public assistance or subsidy,” he said.
Christianson said his group is trying to line up support from counties to secure federal approval. He said his group has approached the Union Pacific railroad about using the UP line, and the railroad has given conditional approval. He said the group would next move to get a contract with the railroad.
The rail operation would include run from Eau Claire to St. Paul, Minnesota. The projected fare would be from 20 to 37 cents a mile, or $32 for a one-way trip from Eau Claire to St. Paul. There would be stops in Menomonie, Baldwin, Hudson, Stillwater, Minnesota and then St. Paul.
The estimated travel time for the 85.5 miles from downtown Eau Claire to the St. Paul Union Depot would be one hour and 20 minutes. Four round trips a day would be offered.
The West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition supports the concept of a self-sustaining, privately run rail service. The start-up and capital costs would be between $140-$450 million.
The board heard from Al Vorhees, who opposed the rail plan.”It will not take long for (there will be) a fiscal impact on Chippewa County citizens,” he said.
“This resolution is a stepping stone,” Vorhees said. He also the board to consider the long-term effect of supporting the plan.
The board also had a first reading on a policy governing social media use by county departments and employees.
Supervisor Jared Zwiefelhofer was absent from the meeting.