Colfax Top news stories of 2014: July, August, September
Complied by LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Year in Review for the top news stories published in the Colfax Messenger for 2014 continues with July, August and September.
July 2, 2014
• An EF1 tornado struck Colfax at around 3 p.m. Friday, June 27. The tornado tore part of the roof off the 1898 train depot on Main Street that was the residence of Ed Eggen, skipped over much of the rest of Colfax, and again touched down at the Colfax school where it damaged the roof of the school buildings and destroyed an equipment shed. Several trees in town also were uprooted.
• Three youngsters from Elk Mound earned their black belts in Karate this spring: Jared Strand, 14; Seth Hazen, 12; and Joseph Javanovich, 10. All three trained at the Karate America studio in Elk Mound under Master Josh Linberg.
July 9, 2014
• Tornado damage at Colfax schools could top $1 million, the Colfax Board of Education learned during an emergency meeting July 1. When the tornado tore HVAC unit covers off the roof, holes that were four feet by eight feet in size allowed rain water to pour in through the roof, said Bill Yingst, school district administrator.
• The Colfax Sesquicentennial has been in the planning stages for the past year and is set to begin on July 17. Calls for volunteers to be on the planning committee for the Sesquicentennial yielded six volunteers. About 80 people were listed as members of the planning committees for the Colfax Centennial in 1964.
July 16, 2014
• The Colfax Sesquicentennial Committee announced that the grand marshals for the Colfax Sesquicentennial Parade on July 19 will be Melvina Evenson, the former owner of Solberg’s Ready-to-Wear, and Ray and Marlene Johnson, the founders of Ray’s Metal Works.
• Colfax public works employee Keinn Steffe, along with Rand Bates, director of public works, put up the new Main Street banners the Colfax Woman’s Club ordered for the Sesquicentennial. The banners feature photographs from Colfax through its 150-year history. The Colfax Village Board agreed to purchase the banners, and the Colfax Woman’s Club made a contribution toward the purchase price.
• The Dweebs, a band composed of family members and family friends from New Richmond, will perform on Main Street in downtown Colfax the evening of July 19 as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration.
• To honor the area’s Scandinavian heritage, Jim Nelson, a Scandinavian folk singer and storyteller with Colfax roots, will be performing July 19 at 3 p.m. in the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium.
July 23, 2014
• Although the sky looked threatening for a little while, in the end, there was no rain on the Colfax Sesquicentennial Parade, Saturday, July 19. Parade watchers lined the street, in some places three, four and five deep, from the high school to downtown and from the Cenex corner part of the way to the fairgrounds. The Colfax Sesquicentennial Parade had about 140 units and lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes.
• The Colfax Railroad Museum has an 1884 mail car that is likely the oldest remaining mail car in the United States. Because of the car’s age, Herb Sakalaucks, curator of the museum, thinks it may be the only remaining mail car ridden by Owney, the postal service dog.
• As part sponsors of the new banners along Main Street, the Colfax Woman’s Club is holding the Minda Burling Photo ID Contest to identify the photos on the banners.
• Three days after Joseph Albert Briske, 45, was reported missing from the Hudson area, his body was discovered in the Red Cedar River in Dunn County.
July 30, 2014
• Cindy Polzin, a representative for Governor Scott Walker, visited Timber Technologies in Colfax July 23. Polzin is the governor’s senior director of legislative and local affairs and was visiting a number of counties and a variety of businesses on what was called a fact-finding mission.
• A UW-Stout research project running from June 15 to August 8 sponsored by the National Science Foundation is examining phosphorus pollution in the Red Cedar River Watershed. This year was the first year of the project that will span three summers all together. Students from UW-Stout and from other states, such as Colorado, Rhode Island and Iowa are working on the project.
• According to a report presented to the Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee by Ron Verdon, president of the Tainter Menomin Lake Improvement Association, Dunn County reported 26 cases of algae-related health complaints between 2009 and 2011. TMLIA is working to improve water quality in the two lakes.
• Holden Lutheran Church celebrated its 150th anniversary with a special service and dinner July 20.
August 6, 2014
• Two Democratic candidates are on the ballot for the August 12 primary for Dunn County Sheriff: Incumbent Sheriff Dennis Smith, and Chris Kruse, the Dunn County medical examiner.
• Gene Smith, Dunn County manager, reported at the county board’s July 30 meeting that the projected shortfall for the 2015 budget is $450,000.
• The Elk Mound Board of Education approved a budget of $11.3 million for the 2014-2015 school year that will be presented to the school district’s electors at the annual meeting in August.
August 13, 2014
• A 24-year-old woman, Christina M. Dixon, who was convicted of attempted murder for her role in stabbing a woman in the Town of Grant and leaving her for dead in 2011, is now a suspect in a 2008 armed robbery at Torches Valley Bar.
• The Elk Mound Village Board approved at the August 6 meeting buying a new squad vehicle for the police department for $13,300 cash and a $14,500 trade in on the existing squad truck.
• The question of what to do about a public library in Colfax was discussed during a joint meeting of the Colfax Village Board and the Colfax Public Library Board August 4 at the Colfax Rescue Squad building. In 1999, a report from the engineering firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) stated that Colfax needed more library space.
August 20, 2014
• Ted Stark, director of the Menomonie Public Library, was interviewed by WEAU Channel 13 out of Eau Claire August 18 for the grand opening of the Elk Mound Public Library. The library in Elk Mound is a satellite facility of the Menomonie Public Library.
• Michael J. Larson, 19, of Colfax, died August 12 when the motorcycle he was driving failed to negotiate a turn on county Highway M just north of Colfax.
• Matthew Adix, 21, of Colfax, was arrested August 15 on pending charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety for allegedly striking another man in the head with a gun.
• Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith won the August primary with 56 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Chris Kruse, the Dunn County medical examiner. Sheriff Smith received 2,428 votes to 1,886 for Kruse.
• A memorandum of understanding between the Town of Colfax and the Town of Howard could protect Dunn County residents from any negative impacts of a 2,000 acre sand mine in the Town of Howard. Representatives for Northern Sands say they want to develop the sand mine in the Town of Howard near the border with Dunn County.
• James Kernan, the owner of Picture Perfect Photography in the Town of Tainter, was arrested in January for secretly videotaping a woman while she changed clothes in between photo shoots. As part of a plea deal, Kernan pleaded no contest August 13 in Dunn County Circuit Court to two misdemeanor counts and was found guilty of invading privacy and disorderly conduct. Kernan was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 160 hours of community service.
• The Colfax Village Board approved hiring Cedar Corporation at the August 11 meeting for a fee not to exceed $11,975 for planning a residential development within the village’s Tax Increment District No. 4.
August 27, 2014
• Tom Larson, the incumbent Republican representative for the state’s 67th Assembly District, and Democratic challenger Gary Stene, talked about their political views on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The West Side August 18.
• After the spring semi-annual fire inspection of the Colfax Public Library, director Lisa Ludwig learned that the library has a total occupancy of no more than 36 people at any one time.
• The Colfax Village Board’s public safety committee is recommending that the village board include a new warning siren in the 2015 budget at a cost of around $22,000. The siren mounted on a pole behind the old fire station, which is now being used by Cedar Country Cooperative as a car repair shop, is 25 years old.
September 3, 2014
• The Colfax Village Board took the first step toward possibly repairing the bank along the Red Cedar River close to the wastewater treatment lagoons by approving a resolution August 25 asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to verify whether the site could be eligible for an Emergency Bank Protection grant.
• Herb Sakalaucks Jr., curator and owner of the Colfax Railroad Museum, has purchased the two-story former Wisconsin Central Depot at 416 Main Street directly south of the railroad tracks. The roof of the building was damaged during the June 27 tornado, which made it possible for Sakalaucks to purchase the building.
• The Elk Mound Village Board approved purchasing a John Deere Gator with a snow plow from Tractor Central in Menomonie for the department of public works at a cost of a little over $18,000 at the August 27 meeting.
September 10, 2014
• Governor Scott Walker toured the western and northern portions of Wisconsin on his annual motorcycle tour of the state this past weekend. On Saturday, September 6, the motorcycle tour came through Glenwood City, Boyceville, Wheeler and Colfax.
• Sand mine companies in the Town of Howard will now have to include information in their application for a mine operator’s license about future plans for mining adjoining properties. The Howard Town Board amended the township’s mine licensing ordinance at the September 2 meeting.
• The Howard Town Board approved a motion at the September 2 meeting directing the township’s attorney to contact an attorney for EOG Resources about adding the Dale and Sandy Sikora property to the property value guarantee list. The Sikora property is adjacent to the EOG Resources sand mine but somehow was left off the list.
• Dunn County Deputy Rod Dicus received the D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year Award at the 2014 D.A.R.E. Conference in Lake Geneva in July. Deputy Dicus teaches the D.A.R.E. program to every fifth grade student in Dunn County and also teaches a D.A.R.E. program to seventh grade students in Elk Mound and Colfax.
• The Colfax Woman’s Club has extended the deadline for the Minda Burling Banner Contest until October 31. Entry forms are available at the Colfax Public Library. The contest offers cash prizes for first, second and third place winners.
September 17, 2014
• Eighteen Mile Creek through Colfax was a thick, chalky, caramel color from run-off at the EOG Resources frac sand mine on the Dennis Schindler property in the Town of Cook’s Valley following torrential rain on September 3. The sediment in the creek became visible on September 5 and was still visible more than a week later.
• Jackie Ponto, the village’s administrator-clerk-treasurer, submitted a letter of resignation to the Colfax Village Board following the September 8 board meeting. The village board held a special meeting September 11 to accept Ponto’s resignation. Ponto began working in Colfax in 2012.
• David J. Andrle, 30, of Colfax, was sentenced to 108 days in jail and two years of probation for several counts of battery, stealing a vehicle in the Town of Tainter, and bail jumping. Andrle was implicated in an incident that occurred in Colfax August 15 when the Colfax Police Department, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department and the Colfax Rescue Squad were dispatched to River Street in Colfax where a man had been hit in the head with a gun.
September 24, 2014
• The Elk Mound Board of Education is discuss refinancing debt at the September 15 meeting from the $9.325 million referendum in 2009 to keep the tax levy consistent until 2022.
• A house located northwest of Elk Mound on 830th Street was completely destroyed by fire on Sunday, September 21. According to news reports, the fire was called in at around 5:30 p.m. and was house was fully-engulfed by the time firefighters arrived.