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March 24, 2015

MADISON - Two Barron County communities will receive state assistance in investigating possible environmental contamination issues at two properties with the help of brownfields awards from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

In Chetek, county officials want to take a closer look at contamination concerns at an old pickle cannery; in Turtle Lake, village trustees want to know what environmental issues may be present at a former creamery.

The awards to Turtle Lake and the county come from DNR's Wisconsin Assessment Monies Contractor Services program, which provides no-cost environmental assessments at closed or closing industrial sites to help ready them for reuse or redevelopment.

Each award is valued at up to $30,000, depending on the services provided.

"These awards are meaningful for all our communities tackling brownfields," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "They can help reinvigorate a lingering project where resources are stretched thin."

In Chetek, Barron County officials want to take ownership of a property that for many years was a pickle cannery near the railroad line in the center of town. The property has been underutilized for a number of recent years. A review of potential environmental issues at the site, including sampling, will help inform the county as to what issues, if any, exist at the property.

The former Turtle Lake Creamery in the heart of the village turned out a variety of dairy products for roughly 50 years until it closed operations in the 1980s. A fire damaged much of the property in 1991 and now the site is mostly rubble. There are concerns over possible contamination on the property; the award will be used to determine if that's the case.

"Each of these communities has a property that requires some environmental investigation work," said Christine Haag, DNR brownfields section chief. "These awards are critical for returning the property to productive use."

The Wisconsin DNR WAM awards are in the form of state-provided consulting services to the recipient, and therefore require minimal effort by the awardee. This program is especially useful in smaller communities because there is no match or project administration involved.

Applications for WAM awards can be submitted at any time. Eligible sites include closed or closing manufacturing plants and vacant land with a history of manufacturing. Gas stations, dry cleaners, salvage yards and agricultural co-ops are not eligible. Search keyword "brownfield" on the DNR website, for more information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Haag, Brownfields and Outreach Section Chief, 608-266-0244; Andrew Savagian, Communications, 608-261-6422

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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