UPDATE: Burnett County Removes ‘Closed’ Sign, Whitetail Wilderness Re-Opens
Whitetail Wilderness RV Park owners Mike and Jean Waltzing are busy on the phone and email today (Friday) notifying their campers and summer residents that their RV Park is open again.
Mike Waltzing told DrydenWire Friday morning that staff from Burnett County came to the park and removed the ‘Closed until further notice’ sign from the gate.
“Yes, we are very busy here getting things ready for the weekend,” Waltzing said. “The county came back this morning, and all of sudden there is a different attitude. They did an inspection and opened the grounds. There are ongoing issues we are working on with the county through our attorney,” Waltzing said.
In a public statement issued at noon Friday, Burnett County Administrator Nate Ehalt said, “This morning I went with staff and met with Mike (Waltzing) at the campground and inspected the units that had been discharging blackwater.
“The units of concern had been corrected. Therefore, Public Health lifted the order and we expressed to Mike that he could let his tenants know that they are welcome to come back.”
The county’s move ends a week of lockout at the RV Park. The events started about 5 p.m. Friday, June 1. Staff from the Burnett County Zoning Department, accompanied by Burnett County Sheriff Department deputies and a Health Department staff member, arrived at the RV Park with a special inspection warrant issued by the Burnett County Court. Zoning staff began digging holes around park models and other units, removing skirting and inspecting sewer lines under the units.
At the same time, deputies went door-to-door, telling everyone they needed to leave the park by 8 p.m. The evicted campers, including some who live there as their only summer residence, scrambled to find motel rooms or accommodations with friends or relatives.
Several campers contacted Rep. Adam Jarchow during the week to express their concerns. Jarchow responded by sending an open letter to all Burnett County Board Supervisors, asking them to remove the Burnett County Zoning Administrator from his position. Jarchow’s letter to the board appeared on DrydenWire.com Thursday.
Late Friday morning Rep. Jarchow called DrydenWire and said, “The campground is open again and campers can return. This victory shows the power and importance of the free press.”
Burnett County Administrator Ehalt also responded to Rep. Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) in a letter:
Dear Representative Jarchow,
After reading the letter dated June 7th that was sent to the Burnett County Board of Supervisors, I apologize if you felt that I in anyway gave you a “runaround”. The conversation between the two of us was brief and I did not state who made the final determination as I was unaware of all the decision points when we spoke. I appreciate the opportunity to express this to you via phone this morning, and will brief you of our inspection that is taking place today once it is complete.
Understanding the importance of small businesses and tourism within Burnett County, we are working diligently to re-open the campground as soon as possible, while ensuring the safety of all those whom visit the campground through elimination of human sewage that was present and which led to the closure.
As the County Administrator I share in the responsibility of the actions our staff take. I want to assure you, our business community, residents and visitors that we approach situations like these in a thoughtful manner and look at the entire scope of the situation and do not haphazardly take unnecessary action.
Sincerely, Nate Ehalt
Attached is the letter from the County Health Department (PDF)