New uses planned for old Aurora school


Staff Writer

FLORENCE, Wis. – The old Hillcrest School in Aurora, Wis. will be getting plenty of use, thanks to efforts by the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

NWTC President Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn updated members of the Florence County Board of Supervisors about the programs during their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

This summer, NWTC will be transforming part of the Hillcrest School into the Woodland Regional Learning Academy.

The academy will allow students from the Florence, Niagara, Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine, and Goodman-Armstrong Creek school districts to start technical degrees while they are still in high school.

Programs offered include electro-engineering, health care customer service representative, nursing assistant, and photography and graphic design.

Students will be able to enroll in programs beginning next school year.

Board Chair Jeanette Bomberg was pleased with the initiative.

“It’s great that students can be earning college credits in Florence County,” she said.

Rafn added that the Hillcrest School is still home to the Woodland Kitchen and Business Incubator. It has been in operation since 2010.

Currently, seven processors from Florence, Marinette, Forest, and Dickinson counties use the kitchen to make their products. Products include antipasto, granola, and hummus.

In other business, the board:

– Adopted a resolution creating a tax increment financing (TIF) district in the town of Florence. Before the TIF becomes official, it must also gain approval from the joint review board and the state.

Supervisors John Halada and Holly Wahlstrom-Stratton voted against the motion. Halada represents the towns of Long Lake and Tipler, and Wahlstrom-Stratton represents part of the town of Aurora. Officials from all three towns have voiced objections to the TIF.

– Held a moment of silence for Supervisor Bruce Osterberg, who recently passed away. Bomberg noted that Osterberg had served as a board member on and off since 1968.

The board will be appointing someone to fill the remainder of Osterberg’s term. He represented part of the town of Aurora.

– Approved to contribute $20,000 to the forestry department so it can purchase a used backhoe from Florence Utilities. The total cost of the machine is $55,000, but the forestry department can get $35,000 in trade for its old backhoe.

– Approved to contribute up to $7,500 to install signs designating Florence County’s wild rivers. Signs will take tourists on a circle tour of the Pine and Popple rivers.

– Agreed to contribute $1,010 toward making the Florence County Library’s entrance handicap accessible.

– Added a new permanent full-time position to be split between the forestry department and the highway department.

– Recognized Stuart Boren, forestry supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who will be retiring after over 30 years of service to Florence County.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is