As a result of the exciting news in Shell Lake, we couldn't wait to sit down with Andy Eiche, Shell Lake's City Administrator since 2014 and where better than our favorite Spooner coffee shop, the Dock. As Andy drinks his favorite Dock Blend coffee, here's a little bit of his background.
Andy was born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, and after a successful career in finance, he and his wife and four children moved away from the rat-race to the area where he used to vacation spending happy hours fishing.
He terms his position in the town as “an exciting challenge, where there's something new happening all the time.”
This year Shell Lake has two significant items on its growth plate. First is the school referendum which calls for a vote on a new school gym and the addition of the pre-K-grade school to be re-built as part of the 3-12 complex, leaving approximately thirteen acres of land available for housing development.
The second exciting building project will involve bringing all the county offices from their locations throughout the county into one spot, Shell Lake, the County Seat.
Andy Eiche was instrumental in bringing to fruition this project which was recently voted on by the Washburn County Board of Supervisors.
So, Andy, who was instrumental in getting this massive building project to Shell Lake?
“Through the coordinated efforts, the Washburn County Public Properties Committee, the City of Shell Lake, the Indianhead Medical Center and various residential and commercial property owners, Shell Lake was able to present a solution for Washburn County to consider when they were deciding where to relocate their new Health and Human Service facility.”
And what was your part in all of this?
“When I first heard of the County's plans to consolidate their services operations to one location, I knew the City of Shell Lake would need to quickly devise a solution which would meet the future needs of the county, city and the residents of Shell Lake.
“I first heard of the county's plans to consolidate in November of 2017. At that time the county was considering a location in Spooner, next to the County Highway Shop on county road H. I requested the opportunity to speak with the county's Executive Committee to ask for the opportunity to present a Shell Lake solution. The executive committee approved my request, so with the assistance of S.E.H. Inc., a local architectural firm, in only a short time we were able to present a visual plan to accommodate not only the new Health and Human Service facility, but address future county needs relating to the Sheriff's office and the jail facility and administration that would be built in Shell Lake.”
There is talk of doing all this construction in one central area of Shell Lake across from the Indianhead Medical Facility (IMC). What would be the advantage of doing that?
"To begin with, the plan was presented with the architect's design options for the Shell Lake location. The concept included a plan for all the county offices to be near to each other and by constructing the facilities in Shell Lake, it would create efficiencies for all the offices due to their proximity to the other existing county departments."
It must have been very gratifying when the Washburn County Board of Supervisors approved the Shell Lake location on February 20 of this year.
"I'm very excited to have this opportunity to have all the county departments on one campus, and it will open the possibility of interaction with the IMC and their plans regarding changes to their hospital and clinic. Not only will it streamline services, but it will result in enhancing employment opportunities as well as providing a boost to the Shell Lake economy."
There will be other plans coming to the front of the line before the final decision is made, but this one seems to the favorite of the Shell Lake City Hall.
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Is there a time frame for this project and where will the money come from for its creation and completion?
"Although we would hope to see the project completed by the end of the 2020 construction season, the answer to this question lies with the county. By timing, the creation of the debt for the new county project to coincide with the retirement of the current Highway Department's debt, the impact to the taxpayer will be minimum."
In other words, the new construction project's debt, which can be anywhere between eleven and fourteen million, will be rolled over into the small remainder of the Highway Shop's debt as it continues to be reduced.