Watercross torch passed, but lake issues noted

Nicki Peterson and Kim Hallberg (L-R) are the new Watercross CEOs, and are hoping for improvements to Memory Lake.

The Grantsburg Watercross has some new management, as longtime coordinator Rick Quimby passed the torch to others at last weeks’ village board meeting, held on Monday, Aug. 9.

The 2021 iteration of the Watercross was a “successful event,” Quimby said, stating that while there were some complaints about the lack of a street dance and fireworks, they still had good attendance and hosted between 4,000-to-6,000 people for the weekend. 

While Quimby noted the difficulty in getting vendors this year, he also was adamant that the riders and organizers had “very serious concerns” about Memory Lake.

“There’s a lot of concern about the lake,” Quimby said, as he said there are a number of other Watercross locations trying to lure the IWA championships, and suggested that the village look closer at serious lake rehabilitation, that includes dredging and shore line work, even suggesting he’d like to see the village support efforts to maybe install a small pier, and possibly a swimming beach return.

Quimby said he has been in discussion with St. Croix Tribal leaders about possibly transplanting the small wild rice bed, which he said was “not a viable bed” and could be transported, prior to a dredging operation, which would take the rice with the sediment. He believed it to be about one-acre of wild rice, and is seeking approval from the Tribe on the effort. 

But then Quimby said he was stepping aside from the Watercross, and introduced the two new organizers, Kim Hallberg and Nicki Peterson, who will share the CEO position under the Grantsburg Revitalization Organization. 

Hallberg outlined their plans for the event next year, while also stressing the need for dredging and lake work. “Some significant things need to happen to keep it (the Watercross) for next year,” Hallberg said. “It’s important to keep the lake looking good.”

Hallberg said the Watercross association wants to have between 7 and 12-feet of depth, which is far beyond the current Memory Lake depth numbers, which are as shallow as 2-to-3 feet in most spots.

She also said several sponsors and residents were unhappy with the lakes condition, and hoped the village would support an effort to do the rehab. “I can definitely be part of the solution,’ Hallberg said.

The board voted to approve the 2022 Grantsburg Watercross for July 15-17, 2022, and they are planning on fireworks for that weekend.

The board made no comments or commitments on the lake rehab action, but will discuss it down the road.  

In other Grantsburg Village business:

• Trustee Diane Barton outlined several fire association discussions, including how they have had significantly more runs this year - 93 versus 70 - than last year at the same time.

She said they are trying some new approaches to attract recruits to lessen the load and expand the rosters, while also looking closer at issues with non-taxpaying individuals who may be staying at a location, not meant for camping or lodging, but there were few details. 

“All I can say is anyone who may want to be on the fire department, please, please encourage them,” Barton said to the board and gallery. 

• The board approved a Class “B” beer license and a “Class B” liquor license for Todd and Karen Satter, who are buying ‘Denny’s’ downtown, contingent on the closing purchase of the bar and lanes.

The Satters introduced themselves to the board and noted their excitement about the purchase, which Karen will manage. The duo will call the tavern ‘Joker’s Bar,’ in part because Todd is a stand-up comedian, and they plan to offer live entertainment down the road, as well as more indoor games and plan on converting some of the current bowling area to other games.

He said they are also planning a major exterior renovation and upgrade, as well as work upstairs. 

“Our goal is to revitalize that corner,” Todd Satter said, also noting that they are upgrading the security system and plan to make the outside more welcoming and finished. “We are so excited about being here,” Todd said. “This is a lifelong dream of ours!”

The board welcomed the Satters to the village and approved the liquor license application/transfers, which takes effect Aug. 17, after the closing of the sale. 

• The board also approved several items with little debate or discussion, including approving the $1.4-million Economic Development Authority grant for their Industrial Park expansion, which was discussed at length last month. 

They also approved the appointment of Jillian Lewis to the Grantsburg Housing Authority, filling Terri Stones’ term, which runs until 2026.