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3/31/2017 7:28:00 AM
Wisconsin DOT: Hanson did not delay bike trail application

Evan Verploegh
Features Reporter

At a Feb. 8 Manitowish Waters Town Board meeting, town supervisors Eric Behnke and Chuck Rayala accused John Hanson of putting a permit for the Mercer Bike Trail connection on hold. Frustrated with the delay in the process, Rayala and Behnke were led to believe per a conversation with Mark Ratty of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that Hanson had intentionally delayed the process.

According to the DOT, the application needed to be resubmitted, along with a copy of the minutes in which the connection was approved by the town board.

Hanson firmly denied having any discussion with Ratty, nor putting any such permit on hold, thus preventing the connection from Tower Road to Manitowish Access Rd. Further, Hanson said he had not spoken to Ratty since Sept. of 2016. Following continued accusations and rebuttals, Rayala said he would complete the resubmission.

At the March 13 town board meeting, Hanson directly responded to these allegations by reading an email received on Feb. 27 from Ratty that he requested. In the email, Ratty denied Hanson delaying the process or putting the permit on hold. He also confirmed he had not spoken to Hanson since Sept. 2016.

"I do not recall John Hanson requesting to put any permit on hold or to be withdrawn. I assumed I would receive an update on the trail once everyone involved came together and/or I received the signed MOA (Memorandum Of Agreement) and Work on Right of Way application," the email from Ratty read.

The email went onto say Rayala contacted Ratty in early Feb. to inquire as to what applications had to still be completed to begin work on the bike trail connection. Ratty said he told Rayala there was a signed Right of Way application and MOA that needed to be completed.

Hanson informed Rayala and Behnke he had signed and submitted the applications as of that day (March 13). A motion was made to approve the MOA and the Work on Right of Way application for the purpose of sending the minutes to Ratty.

The next Manitowish Waters Town Board meeting is set to take place at 7 p.m. on April 11.

Evan Verploegh may be reached via email at everploegh@lakelandtimes.com.

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