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Small community feels forgotten, blames highway signage

(NBC15)
Published: Feb. 2, 2020 at 11:05 PM CST
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Ridgeway community members said they're feeling forgotten, and highway signage is to blame.

People from the community of about 600 said it's about more than just a sign.

"Boy I’ve been working here since I was 14. I love my work," Tony Ayers, Ayers Furniture Owner said.

Ayers Furniture, the family-owned store, has stood tall in Ridgeway since 1940. Ayers said this place is his life.

"People ask me about retirement, I say I have no plans for retirement," he said.

He said the customers are what makes his job special every day.

“Ridgeway, we're a pretty proud community," he said.

But he said lately their pride has been hurt, and a highway sign is to blame.

"Our slogan is 'It's well worth the trip' and we want people to be able to make the trip and find it when they get here," he said.

After 2018-2019 Highway 151 road construction, Ayers said Wisconsin Department of Transportation put up this "Exit 52 Ridgevue Rd" sign to direct people to Ridgeway, but it’s not doing its job.

“The community of Ridgeway is separate from the town roads, and we're thinking people may have a problem finding Ridgeway," he said.

The Ridgeway Village Marshal Michael Gorham said it's like they've being forgotten.

NBC15 took a trip down the highway 151 corridor westbound and other town signs dotted the highway, but not in Ridgeview. Gorham said it can lead to confusion for drivers who aren't familiar with the area.

"We're along the highway and it would be easier to find us if it was properly signed,” Gorham said.

There is a small eastbound sign for Ridgeway, but Gorham said it’s too close to the intersection for drivers to make the turn in time. He said it's not only about the sign, it's about community recognition.

"Any time you exclude people or dismiss them it becomes community pride,” he said.

He said what could be a small mistake can have a big impact when the village is attempting to grow and enhance the community.

"These are hardworking people. These are good people here and they're trying to develop their community in challenging economic times,” Gorham said.

Gorham said drivers using GPS is not dependable because of weak signals in the area.

“Oh I would appreciate it very much if they change it and we're going to definitely work on it to get it changed," Ayer said.

NBC15 reached out to WISDOT for the reasoning behind the signage, but we are still waiting for an answer.

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