Oconomowoc business owners uneasy about safety measures
Construction, investigation leave merchants at ‘standstill’

By JEFF RUMAGE - GM Today Staff 

April 5, 2008


Accentuate! owner Bill Winkels hung construction hard hats in his storefront window display to highlight Oconomowoc’s downtown construction project. With business slowing prior to Wednesday’s explosion at First Baptist Church, it is now at a virtual standstill, he said.


OCONOMOWOC - Carrie Burdick has had her Door to Door business open for nine months in downtown Oconomowoc.

Faced first with the reconstruction of Wisconsin Avenue and now the aftermath of the explosion of First Baptist Church this week, Burdick said she has wondered about the road ahead.

"My question is, ‘Is it worth staying or do I relocate?’" Burdick said. "We are all starting to get used to dealing with the construction. Now with this added situation of the explosion - and the down time and delay due to the investigation - it will create a greater loss."

Wednesday’s dramatic destruction of the church, 307 W. Wisconsin Ave., in an explosion that damaged nearby houses and caused an estimated $1 million in damage has caused others to worry about safety in the days ahead.

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"I had one of my customers come in today. She said, ‘If I wasn’t sure where I was going when I died (pointing upwards), I wouldn’t have risked coming in here,’" said Beverly Bartel, owner of Beverly Designs.

Oconomowoc Mayor Maury Sullivan said the city is taking a close look at things, adding that earth-disturbing activities will cease until the city is assured safety procedures are being met.

For full story, go to the electronic version of The Freeman. Click here to access the electronic version.   

(Freeman reporter Kevin Passon contributed to this report.)

Jeff Rumage can be reached at jrumage@conleynet.com


This story appeared in The Freeman on April 5, 2008.