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Belay That Slow-No Wake Order, Say Minocqua Supervisors

Town of Minocqua

With the 2021 fishing opener just around the corner, the status of the slow-no wake designation of the winding river channel between Lake Minocqua and Tomahawk Lake has suddenly taken an unexpected turn.

At its March 2 meeting, the Minocqua town board voted 3-2 to designate the entire thoroughfare that lies within Minocqua Township as slow-no wake. Previously, boaters could go on plane for about a 3,000-foot stretch between the mouth of Mid Lake and 1,200 feet north of the Thoroughfare Road bridge.

But on Tuesday, with supervisor Bill Stengl, who voted in the majority March 2, absent, the board deadlocked 2-2 on adoption of an amended ordinance making the change to slow-no wake. The tie vote meant the amendment was not adopted.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim the next day clarified what transpired between the two votes. In his e-mail to this reporter, he said:

“Any time we have a motion that requires amending an existing ordinance or creating a new one, we have to have a subsequent public first reading and a public second reading and adoption. The adoption after the second reading requires a vote to adopt.

“What happened last night has never happened before. In short, with Supervisor Stengl absent, the adoption of the amended ordinance was blocked by Supervisors (John) Thompson and (Brian) Fricke.” In favor of the motion were Hartzheim and supervisor Sue Heil.

“We are trying to get information from the Wisconsin Towns Association’s legal department to see where this stands as far as being able to block adoption of a previously approved motion,” Hartzheim added, “and/or how long until the matter may be taken up again for consideration.”

Compounding the issue is that the town of Woodruff has designated all of the channel that lies within its township as slow-no wake – including a small portion that snakes back in the middle of what was thought to be the Minocqua’s portion.

For now, it appears boaters can exceed the slow-no wake in the aforementioned area. Personal watercraft operators, however, must adhere to slow-no wake the entire channel, according to state law forbidding a faster speed within 200 feet of a shoreline.

The state’s general fishing season opens Saturday, May 1.

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