The major topic at the 3/2/2020 Menomonie City Council meeting was a discussion of possible security issues for the upcoming Dairyland Forum and Rally for Rural Wisconsin. This March 29th event will include a presidential candidate forum in advance of the Wisconsin presidential primary.on April 7th. At issue is the cost of security if in fact presidential candidates attend the rally and forum. This event is sponsored by the Wisconsin Farmers Union and will take place at the Dunn County Fairgrounds, in the ice arena. 

Menomonie Police Chief Eric Atkinson suggested that two different plans are needed depending on whether any presidential candidates attend the forum  or not. The police department has drawn up a plan to have 70 security officers at the event since there may be political protests and protection for the candidates is important. Julie Keown-Bomar is the Executive Director of the Farmers Union, and objected to the size of the proposed security detail because it seems out of line with the security detail at other community events, and larger than the staff that has been proposed by the private security firm the Farmers Union has consulted.  The proposed cost of  security staff, ambulance, paramedics, and a mobile command unit would exceed $80,000 according to Keown-Bomar. 

Some discussion ensued about ways to reduce the cost and how the costs would be paid. A suggestion was made by council member Ryland Erdman that some costs could be assumed by the tourism budget since the event would draw people from around the state to stay in Menomonie. 

Council member Mary Solberg proposed that the council vote in support of the event and the road closures and parking accommodations that would be required, while postponing a decision on security arrangements until the next board meeting on March 16. At that time the council would also take up the issue of a temporary beer and wine license for the event (the license could not be taken up because it had not been posted enough in advance of this meeting to meet legal requirements). The council voted unanimously to support the event and defer the security discussion for two weeks. 

Note that this author is a member of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and has been involved in preparations for this event. 

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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