Partnership in the Works

By: Karen Kostko
By: Karen Kostko

The plans date back to studies in the 1970s, but now the village of Weston and the city of Wausau are one step closer to finalizing a partnership.

The most recent study took place in 2000 when a fire consolidation panel was formed. Plans for combined services at that time fell through. Then in 2003, Weston and Wausau put together a shared services plan that was put on the back burner due to financial issues.

Today, it's a different story.

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple says he began serious talks with Weston back in December.
Now, those talks have finally lead to a plan both sides seem to like. The plan is to strengthen fire services and save the taxpayers money by combining the Fire Department services of Weston and Wausau.

In the agreement, Wausau would back up Weston during a large fire with their staff and equipment and vice-versa. Two aerial fire trucks would be part of the deal. Wausau would house, insure and maintain Weston's recently purchased aerial truck, saving the city more than $1 million in borrowing costs to buy a new one.

Weston would house the second aerial truck owned by Wausau. They'd save nearly $250,000 in personnel cost by relying on Wausau's backup.

"We can provide metropolitan area fire coverage to our businesses and growing industries in Weston. It would be difficult to do without assistance of Wausau," says Chief Mike Pierce of the Weston Fire Department.

"When you're having a heart attack or house on fire you don't care what it says on side of truck, they want service, that's all they really want," says Dean Zuleger, a Weston administrator.

But plans are not finalized yet. Training still needs to be organized between the departments and Weston's Public Health and Safety Department would have to approve.

Both communities will meet next week to go over finalized plans with hopes of ratifying a deal.