Last Thursday morning, Governor Scott Walker arrived at the Merrill Municipal Airport for an official ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony of the new airport terminal which was completed last fall.
Joining the governor at the airport were Mayor Bill Bialecki; Airport Commissioner Gary Schwartz; 35th Assembly woman Mary Czaja (R-Irma); Chamber of Commerce CEO Debbe Kinsey as well as several chamber ambassadors.
“The Merrill airport may not exactly be a large airport like down in Wausau,” Walker stated, “but I think it’s going to prove incredibly important in attracting and retaining businesses not only in Merrill, but in Lincoln County. I see it as kind of a front door for flying into the area. We were glad to be a part of it in terms of providing assistance.”
In discussing the governor’s visit, Schwartz was seemingly very excited.
“The governor’s visit and participation this morning provides recognition of the importance of economic development in aviation,” he stated. “What goes on at the Merrill Municipal Airport is pretty quiet to the average citizen. Most don’t realize the level of activity which happens over there on a daily basis. Representatives from various corporations and businesses fly in and out of Merrill on a daily basis; they’re here and gone.
“I’m proud to say we have a business-class airport with the appropriate infrastructure and amenities to accommodate our visitors and make them feel welcome,” Schwartz adds.
Following the ceremony, Walker proceeded on to the Lincoln County Service Center for a listening session with local officials.
The governor’s final stop of the day was welcomed by Sawmill Brewing Company staff and owners Stan Janowiak and Jean Ravn.
Upon arrival, the governor toured the new brew pub which opened in April, and sampled a blueberry brew.
During a brief informal interview at Sawmill, Walker discussed various topics raised at the listening session he attended earlier in the morning.
One of the key topics the governor mentioned, was that of a recent initiative from county administration to expand broadband internet service to all Lincoln County residents.
“This is a topic which comes up at all of our listening sessions,” Walker stated. “Particularly in rural areas, this is a big issue in terms of not only education but attracting and keeping businesses and tourism. We have tripled the amount of money we placed in our Broadband Access Grants and we will probably do a bigger increase in the next budget. My goal in the next couple of years is to assure everyone in the state of Wisconsin, has access to a broadband internet connection.”
Following his Merrill stop on Thursday, the governor was off to a Wisconsin Sheriff’s Conference in Green Bay.