Colfax Messenger: Top news stories of 2014: October, November, December

COLFAX  — Here is a look at the top news stories of 2014 from the months of October, November, and December.

October 1, 2014

• The Colfax Village Board approved a residential development concept for part of the Jim and Mary Schindler farm on Railroad Avenue September 22. The residential development could eventually include more than 100 new homes.

• Deb Dix, a frac sand specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources, will be speaking and answering questions about non-metallic mining at the Howard Town Hall October 7.

• Vannessa Marsh, 18, of Elk Mound was killed in a traffic accident in the Town of Tainter September 23. The driver, Gunnar Zurek, 19, and a passenger, Joseph Thalacker, 34, of Augusta, were both seriously injured and were transported by ambulance.

• The Colfax Village Board approved a conditional use permit following a public hearing September 22 to allow Susan K. Hill of Colfax to operate a bed and breakfast at 503 Pine Street next door to her residence. The B&B will be called The Tapestry Trunk.

• The Colfax Village Board has approved sending out requests for proposals (RFPs) for the possibility of building a new library or a new multipurpose building to house the village clerk’s office, the police department and the library.

October 8, 2014

• The Colfax Village Board has approved pay increases for public works employees, the director of public works and the Colfax Rescue Squad director of 35 cents per hour, $1 an hour and $1.25 per hour.

• Eric Davidson, a CPA with Bauman Associates out of Eau Claire, presented the auditor’s report for 2013 to the Colfax Village Board September 29 and said Colfax is solvent and in good financial shape.

• The Elk Mound Village Board approved pay increases of 3 percent for village employees following a closed session October 1.

October 15, 2014

• The state Department of Natural Resources is still considering enforcement action for frac sand pollution of Eighteen Mile Creek in  September, according to Deb Dix of the DNR, who spoke at the Howard Town Hall October 7 about the creek and other issues associated with frac sand mining.

• Lucerne Neumann was the guest of honor at the Senior Bowling League at Colfax Viking Bowl October 8. Neumann, 89, has bowled for 60 years, although health problems are now preventing her from bowling.

• A 21-year-old Cadott man, Michael D. Sonnentag, has been arrested on two counts of homicide by the intoxicated use of a motor vehicle following an accident on I-94 near Elk Mound that killed two people and injured six others.

• Farmers in the Town of Grant north of Colfax participated in aerial application of winter rye on standing corn in September. The aerial application in Grant was part of 7,000 acres seeded aerially with winter rye in Dunn, Chippewa and Barron counties between September 22 and September 24.

• The Howard Town Board approved a frac sand borehole ordinance following a public hearing October 7.

October 22, 2014

• Following a second round of interviews for administrator-clerk-treasurer, the Colfax Village Board has offered the position to Lynn Niggemann, who serves the City of Menomonie as treasurer/comptroller.

• The Colfax Railroad Museum added another piece to the collection when a Milwaukee Road refrigerator car was unloaded by a crane October 17.

• The Dunn County Board will consider approval of a balanced budget of $74.6 million for 2015 at the annual budget meeting in November.

• The Elk Mound Board of Education expelled a high school student for possessing, using and distributing prescription narcotics at school following an expulsion hearing October 13.

• Main Street in Colfax will be detoured for two weeks while Canadian National Railroad fixes the railroad crossing on Main Street beginning the week of October 27.

• A Legacy Stone placement ceremony was held October 4 at the Highground Memorial Park in Neillsville for Everett (Bud) Wheeler, 92, of Elk Mound. Wheeler served in the United States Army in World War II and Korea.

• The Colfax girls’ volleyball team survived a five-set thriller over Elk Mound to earn the second straight conference championship October 14.

October 29, 2014

• A former Wheeler resident, Terry L. Gums, 54, has been sentenced to seven years of initial confinement in state prison and eight years of extended supervision for the second-degree sexual assault of a nine-year-old girl.

• Colfax volleyball players celebrated their Regional Championship after taking a three-set win in their home gym against Grantsburg on October 25.

• Incumbent state Representative Tom Larson of Colfax (67th Assembly District) will face another Colfax resident, Gary Stene, in the November 4 election. State Senator Terry Moulton will be on the ballot with challenger Phil Swanhorst. Two incumbent candidates, Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith and Dunn County Clerk of Courts Clara Minor, will not have any opposition November 4.

• Christina M. Dixon, 24, who is serving prison time for her participation in stabbing and cutting throat of another woman in the Town of Grant northeast of Colfax in 2011, has been sentenced to 10 years of probation for a 2008 armed robbery at Torch’s Valley Bar.

• The Colfax Vikings football team ended their season with a Level 1 playoff loss to Chequamegon October 24 at home.

November 5, 2014

• The Elk Mound Board of Education approved a tax levy of $1.899 million at the October 27 meeting. The mill rate will decrease by 5 percent, and the tax levy has decreased by $61,000.

• Donald J. Binder, 25, of Colfax, has been arrested for walking off with steel from Anderson Bridges in Colfax and also has confessed to stealing iron from the Colfax Railroad Museum.

• The Colfax Village Board has approved smaller minimum lot sizes of 12,000 square feet for residential zones in the village and larger accessory building setbacks of six feet from the lot line.

November 12, 2014

• State Representative Tom Larson was elected to a third term in the 67th Assembly District during the November 4 election, and state Senator Terry Moulton was elected to a second term in the 23rd Senate District.

• Max Whinnery, 23, of Colfax, has been sentenced to one year in jail for third-degree sexual assault in Dunn County and in Chippewa County.

• The new warning siren was installed next to the Colfax Rescue Squad building the week of October 27.

November 19, 2014

• The Colfax School District and Elk Mound High School honored veterans with their annual Veterans’ Day programs November 11.

• The Colfax Village Board’s public works committee is recommending that the village board establish a lagoon bank restoration fund with a beginning amount of $10,000 for the 2015 budget.

• The Dunn County Board approved a tax levy of $20.9 million, representing a 2.43 percent increase, at the November 12 meeting. The $74.6 million budget represents a 3.16 percent increase.

November 26, 2014

• The Colfax Village Board has approved an offer to purchase seven acres from the Jim and Mary Schindler farm for $110,000 for a residential development.

• Although it is only November, the Red Cedar River through Colfax has started to freeze over. Temperatures have been 20 to 40 degrees below normal since November 10.

• The Colfax Board of Education approved increasing substitute teacher pay from $90 per day to $110 November 17. Substitute teacher pay had remained at $90 “for a very long time,” said Bill Yingst, district administrator. The Elk Mound Board of Education also recently increased substitute teacher pay to $110 per day because of competition for subs from the Eau Claire school district.

• The Village of Elk Mound tax levy will increase for the first time in five years to $272,254, representing a $13,000 increase.

• William R. Lamb, a former attorney in Dunn County, has been bound over for trial on theft and forgery charges. Lamb is accused for cashing a forged check for $10,500 that was an insurance settlement for a client.

December 3, 2014

• Darren Bishop, 23, has been identified as the suspect who broke into the Elk Mound Village Hall the early morning hours of November 22. Bishop also is wanted in connection with burglaries in Rusk County and in Chippewa County.

• The Colfax Village Board has given the go-ahead for the Colfax Commercial Club to order wayfinding signs for Colfax.

• The Colfax Village Board has approved the Colfax Commercial Club’s request to show “Elf” in the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium on December 20.

December 10, 2014

• Representatives for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers toured the Colfax wastewater lagoon sites on December 3 and said that stabilizing the lagoon banks would be a top priority for the Army Corps during the next grant cycle.

• The Colfax Village Board has reviewed six Requests for Proposals for a new library or multipurpose building.

• Darren Bishop, 23, who is suspected of breaking into the Elk Mound Village Hall on November 22, was arrested in Minnesota on December 1.

• Although there has been plenty of speculation among area residents about the proposed 2,000 acre frac sand mine in the Town of Howard east of Colfax, no permits have been issued yet the Howard Town Board learned at the December 2 meeting.

December 17, 2014

• The Colfax Village Board has approved purchasing two portable lift assists for the Colfax Rescue Squad that can lift up to 500 pounds at a cost of $7,000 for both devices.

• The Colfax Village Board has approved a $1.13 million budget for $2015, representing a nearly 4 percent decrease over the 2014 budget.

December 24, 2014

• Beth M. Mittelstadt, 44, was shot by a Colfax police officer on December 18 at around 1:15 p.m. The officer was attempting to serve an arrest warrant, and Mittelstadt allegedly armed herself with a machete-type knife.

• The Elk Mound Village Board has approved purchasing a security system for the village hall from Per Mar Security Systems at a cost not to exceed $4,000 and $20 per month for the service.

December 31, 2014

• Local school officials from Colfax and Elk Mound, along with Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson and Kevin Bygd of the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, participated in Alert Lockdown Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) training in Rice Lake and at Cameron Middle School December 9. The training helps law enforcement and school officials to be better prepared in the event of an active shooter in a school building.

• “Elf,” shown by the Colfax Commercial Club at the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium on December 20, was the first movie shown there in decades and played to a full house.

• A four-day jury trial has been scheduled in May for a 21-year-old Michael Sonnentag, who has been charged in connection with a traffic accident on I-94 near Elk Mound that killed two people and injured six in October.