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Colfax Year in Review: A look back the top news stories in July, August and September 2015

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Here are the top news stories that appeared in the Colfax Messenger in July, August and September of 2015.

July 1, 2015

• The Village of Colfax is giving away six free lots in the East View residential development on Dunn Street. The lots have an assessed value of $15,000 each.

• Dennis K. Mittelstadt, 48, formerly of Colfax, was sentenced June 22 in Dunn County Circuit Court to one year in jail and three years of probation for selling methamphetamine and maintaining a drug trafficking place. Mittelstadt was one of several arrested during a drug raid in March.

• Jim Woodford, conductor of the Ludington Guard Band and band teacher in the Colfax school district, was inducted in the Wisconsin Bandmaster Association in June.

• The Colfax Village Board approved hiring another 30-hour per week EMT on a temporary basis until the end of the year.

• The top hog price was $4.25 per pound at the Colfax FFA Alumni Animal Auction at the Colfax Free Fair.

July 8, 2015

• A thunderstorm that dumped five to seven inches of rain on the area left roads flooded July 6.

• Kelcy Arvold of Colfax graduated from the National Guard Challenge Academy in June.

• Elizabeth Dachel, an eighth grader from Colfax, explored firefighting and EMS careers at the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s “Girls on Fire” Camp in June.

• Cafe II, owned and operated by Mark Johnson of Colfax, opened for business in the Colfax Arts and Antique Mall June 16.

• Dennis Johnson of Elk Mound bought the semi-pro Menomonie Thunderhawks last winter. Johnson, age 39, also plays on the team.

• Three bands have been confirmed by the Colfax Commercial Club for the August 15 Main Street Block Party: Dave Melgaard and the Top Notchmen; Hickory; and Stimulus Package.

• Judge Rod Smeltzer has denied a request in Dunn County Circuit Court for Beth M. Mittelstadt, 44, formerly of Colfax, to obtain a third new public defender to represent her. Mittelstadt has been found guilty in connection with a house fire and threatening police officers with a machete.

July 15, 2015

• Katie E. Bundy, 37, of Colfax, who has been convicted on drug charges, is facing additional drug charges stemming from alleged drug use while out on Huber and while in the Dunn County Jail.

• Jordan Aaron, a junior at Colfax High School, was presented with a trip to Alaska from the Make-A-Wish Foundation after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Jordan and his family will be leaving for Alaska this week.

• Sand Creek will be celebrating its 150th anniversary this weekend.

• A 22-year-old Cadott man, Michael D. Sonnentag, was sentenced to six years in prison July 9 for killing two people and injuring six others in an I-94 crash near Elk Mound last October.

• The Dunn County Fair starts Wednesday, July 22, and runs through Sunday.

July 22, 2015

• Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is an invasive plant spreading mostly along the roadsides in West Central Wisconsin that can cause huge, burn-like blisters on the skin. The worst spots in this area are along state Highway 25, Highway 72, Highway 29, and Interstate-94, said Chris Gaetzke, a conservation planner with Dunn County who is an expert on invasive plants.

• The Nature Connection’s reptile handler entertained 56 children and 21 adults at the Colfax Public Library’s Summer Reading program July 15.

• Lisa Ludwig, director of the Colfax Public Library, reported at the library board’s July 15 meeting that following recent heavy rains, she had discovered puddles of water in the municipal building basement.

• In addition to being about a month past the project completion date, the Colfax Village Board learned at the July 13 meeting that 53 curb spots needed repair on the Fourth Avenue street project.

• Karen A. Herrera, who was arrested during a drug raid in March at 408 Cedar Street in Colfax, was  sentenced  July 17 in Dunn County Circuit Court to four years in prison and five years of probation.

July 29, 2015

• Former Dunn County Attorney William R. Lamb, 55, was found guilty by a Dunn County jury July 17 on felony counts of theft and forgery for cashing a forged check for $10,500 that was a client’s insurance settlement and keeping the money.

• The Elk Mound school district has selected a new gym floor logo to replace the one that officials from the Milwaukee Bucks and the National Basketball Association believed was too close to the Buck’s new logo.

• Ruth Gregory Gochnour, a 1944 graduate of Colfax High School, donated her Girl Scout uniform from the 1930s to the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group for the history room. Ruth is a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland.

• Darren J. Bishop, 24, of Ladysmith, was sentenced July 21 in federal court to 42 months in federal prison for stealing a firearm from the Elk Mound Police Department during a break-in last November.

• The $330,000 Fourth Avenue project in Colfax received a second coat of asphalt the week of July 20, about a month past the expected completion date.

• Eric J. Pevan, 24, formerly of Ridgeland, was convicted by a Dunn County jury July 23 on one felony county of mistreating an animal for poisoning his neighbor’s dog.

August 5, 2015

• The Colfax Village Board agreed at the July 27 meeting to have a structural engineer assess the municipal building basement to determine the source of water infiltration.

• The Elk Mound Board of Education approved an $11.49 million preliminary budget for 2015-2016 at the July 27 meeting.

• A benefit for two-year-old Blayne Keck was held July 31 through August 2 at Tom Prince Memorial Park. Blayne fell into a campfire in May.

• Judge Rod Smeltzer changed his mind at a second hearing July 2 and appointed a third new attorney for Beth M. Mittelstadt, who was found guilty of criminal damage to property and recklessly endangering safety in June.

• Lee Boland, a Town of Colfax resident, said at a public hearing July 29 in Chippewa County that the proposed 1,300 Albertville Valley Sand mine could have problems with federal mineral rights. Boland is a registered engineer.

August 12, 2015

• A variety of people and tractors attended a joint service between Colfax United Methodist and Tainter Methodist on Sunday, August 10, for Drive Your Tractor to Church Sunday.

• Jared Brendel, 33, of Dallas, pleaded guilty August 6 in connection with a shoot-out with law enforcement officers near Ridgeland in June of 2014.

• The Colfax Main Street Founder’s Day Block Party will be this Saturday, August 15.

• Travis Hakes, the Elk Mound police chief, recommended at the August 5 village board meeting that the village increase the police patrol hours. The village board did not have a quorum for the meeting.

• If the recommendations of an independent engineering company are followed, mining activities at the proposed Albertville Valley sand mine could be delayed by a year.

August 19, 2015

• The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance August 10 to Ron and Evia Gehrman for their residence at 305 Main Street to build onto the front of their house.

• Eric Larson, 47, and his two sons, Michael Larson, 20, and Matthew Larson, 18, along with the pilot of the aircraft, were killed when their plane crashed in Polk County July 27. Father and grandfather, Jerry Larson, graduated from Colfax High School in 1955.

• Two men from Boyceville and Ridgeland, Miles Gloss and Ryan Hobbick, faced additional charges of stealing more than $60,000 from a construction sites in Chippewa County along with charges of burglary and credit card fraud of more than $10,000 in Dunn County.

August 26, 2015 

• A dump truck driven by Julie Ann Bluesky, 44, of Couderay, struck an overpass on I-94 near Elk Mound with its raised dump box late Saturday, August 14.

• Dunn County is currently facing a $3.5 million budget deficit for 2016. Part of the budget shortfall is a nearly $1 million deficit for The Neighbors of Dunn County.

• The Colfax Railroad Museum has asked Dunn County’s executive committee for about $9,000.

• The Colfax Rescue Squad is proposing to hire part-time EMTs rather than relying on volunteer EMTs. Don Knutson, rescue squad director, spoke about the proposal at the annual meeting August 20.

September 2, 2015

• The Colfax Village Board reviewed a report from Ericksen Roed & Associates at the August 24 meeting that indicates water draining off the municipal building roof is the primary source of water problems in the basement.

• Bremer Bank employees presented a check August 27 for $330 to Jenny Almquist for the none-profit organization Fierce Freedom, which works to fight human trafficking.

• Andrew Benson, a sophomore at Elk Mound High School, had completed a project at the Lions Club ball park for his Eagle Scout project.

• The Village of Colfax’s wastewater treatment lagoons only exceeded the phosphorus limit two times last year after starting a pilot project using alum to bind the phosphorus.

September 9, 2015 

• Northern Dunn County received between six and eight inches of rain September 2 that caused substantial road and culvert damage.

• Town of Howard residents believe Dunn County residents talk too much at the Howard Town Board meetings about the proposed Albertville Valley sand mine and would like the town board to not allow Dunn County residents the opportunity to speak.

• The Colfax Firefighters Ball September 12 will not have a pedal tractor pull this year due to a scheduling error.

September 16, 2015 

• The weather was perfect September 12 with sunny skies and cool temperatures for the Colfax Firefighters’ Ball.

• A trip to Thailand in January clarified the mission for the founder of Fierce Freedom, Jenny Almquist.

• The children of a former Colfax resident, Ruth Gotliebson Vossler, have been missing for 26 years. The case of the two missing boys will be re-visited in a television special sometime this fall.

• Terry Stamm, retired director of public works, has been appointed to the Elk Mound Village Board.

• Torrential rain September 2 that flooded Connorsville and Ridgeland and closed roads in northern Dunn County caused a “waterfall” in the Colfax Municipal Building basement, according to Lisa Ludwig, library director.

September 23, 2015 

• The Dunn County Board learned at the September 16 meeting that they will soon have to make a decision regarding the $925,000 deficit in the 2016 budget for The Neighbors of Dunn County.

• The Village of Colfax will soon begin accepting online credit card payments for utilities and ambulance services the Colfax Village Board decided September 14.

• Colfax resident Kathy Dunbar reported to the Colfax Village Board September 14 about people not cleaning up after their dogs around the village.

• Wisconsin frac sand production has been cut in half according to guests on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The West Side September 14.

September 30, 2015 

• The FOX Sports Wisconsin Bucks Fan Express visited Elk Mound high school September 25 to help the school district celebrate the new gym floor logo.

• The Colfax Village Board’s property committee is recommending that the village board spent $63,000 to address water infiltration problems in the Colfax Municipal Building basement.

• Leonard Larsen of Colfax is asking for state-wide training for law enforcement officers to recognize drug use following the death of his grandson in 2013 after being struck by a driver high on heroin.

• Instead of the anticipated 1,171 students for the 2015-2016 school year, the Elk Mound district has 1,217 students. Much of the 46-student increase is due to an open enrollment spike said Dr. Ron Walsh, superintendent, at the Elk Mound Board of Education’s September 21 meeting.