Jonathan Richie BW.tif

There are a lot of facets to this job and one of those is government meetings. Some are at the County level and others are village and school board meetings.

Most of these meetings take place at the Government Center in Meenon. I’m the big guy frantically taking notes, near the back, with my recorder nearby to make sure the articles are as accurate as possible because my memory is not perfect.

All these meetings have a space reserved for public comments. In my time in Burnett County, I would venture that at eight meetings out of 10 there are no public comments. At some of the meetings the chair of the committee, or village president, or school superintendent will ask if there are public comments and then say something like, “No, it looks like all we’ve got today is the press.”

A few weeks ago, the topic of opening the Gandy Dancer Trail up to motorized use, which everyone seems to have a strong opinion on, was brought up, and that gathered more public interest than any other meeting I have attended.

People in favor of keeping the trail nonmotorized in the summer months have been going to meetings and their numbers are growing. The other side is hoping to get the County to open up the Gandy for motorized use year-round and has also become more vocal during public comment sections.

When the year-round motorized use folks made a presentation at the Board of Supervisors meeting in February the room was full and they had to put overflow seating outside. One supervisor said in all their time on the board they had never seen that many people at a single meeting.

Tuesday morning the Land Use and Information Committee met and held a public hearing for a proposed camp on Big Wood Lake in Grantsburg.

People opposed to development were able to gather over 700 signatures for an online petition and sent it to the County in opposition to the proposed camp.

The issue, from a distance, seems simple enough. A developer wants to put a camp on the former Bible campsite by the Lake. Local residents believe the lake cannot handle that many people moving in and it could ruin the current atmosphere.

Check out the Sentinel’s front-page story for all the details.

Public comments are a key part of democracy. “All politics is local” is a famous phrase most notably affiliated with Tip O’Neil. It does not matter if someone is serving on the school board or as a County Supervisor, it is your right as a citizen to tell them what you think on any or all subjects.

Finally, I am always looking for story ideas. If you have any ideas for stories we should look into let me know.

Feel free to give me a call at the office, 715-463-2341 or send me an email at

Jonathan Richie is the editor of the Burnett County Sentinel.