2016: A Year in Review: A look back the top news stories in October, November and December 2016

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Although 2017 has only just begun, the Year in Review concludes with the top news stories from October, November and December of 2016:

October 5, 2016

• Representatives for municipalities in Dunn County made history when they gathered at the Dunn County Judicial Center September 29 for the first-ever statewide “Turnout for Transportation” to discuss ways to fund transportation. At the same time, on the same night, Turnout for Transportation meetings were held in all 72 counties in Wisconsin.

• The Colfax Village Board has decided Colfax should remain as part of the Dunn County Outdoor Recreational Plan for 2016-2020.

• “Doing your best” was one of the themes Carl “Energizer” Olson emphasized during a presentation to Colfax Middle School students September 29.

• The Elk Mound Village Board agreed at the September 28 meeting to hold committee meetings to determine the viability of hiring a full-time police chief.

October 12, 2016 

• Melvina Solberg Evenson turned 100 years old this summer, but that has not stopped her from making lefse. Evenson and her son, Ronald Solberg, demonstrated making the flat Norwegian potato pastry Saturday, October 1, during the  Colfax Lutheran Church’s annual fall bazaar.

• Informational mailers have been sent out to residents in the Colfax school district regarding the $7.2 million referendum in the November 8 election.

• Northern Sands LLC, the company proposing to develop a 1,300 acre frac sand mine southeast of Colfax in the Town of Howard, has received an extension on the deadline for submitting reports about environmental studies. The previous deadline was July 31, 2016. The new deadline is December 31, 2017.

• In an attempt to learn more about how to control an invasive plant called Wild Chervil, eradication attempts will continue this fall in the Town of Howard. 

• Homecoming week was celebrated at Colfax and Elk Mound, culminating with a football game, the crowning of Homecoming royalty and a dance October 7 at Colfax and October 8 at Elk Mound. 

October 19, 2016 

• Work on Third Avenue in Colfax was progressing well the second week in October. Haas Sons had already poured the curb and gutter, and crews were working on pouring other concrete.

• The Elk Mound Village Board learned once again of plans for a housing development at the October 12 meeting, this time along Independence Drive. The developers previously had approached the village board about a development on the north side of University Street in April and about multi-family residential on Jersey Lane in June. 

• A 20-year-old Elk Mound man has been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated after fleeing from a Wisconsin state trooper in Eau Claire, striking another vehicle and ramming the state patrol cruiser several times around 3 a.m. Saturday, October. 15.

• The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee met October 11 and discussed the possibility of a moratorium on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to allow time to study impacts. The ordinance for a moratorium was expected to be presented to the Dunn County Board at the October 19 meeting.

October 26, 2016 

• Human remains found by hunters in northern Dunn County could be a man reported missing more than ten years ago. Douglas Poach was last seen January 3, 2006. “After reviewing (the missing person report from 2006, investigators) feel it is very likely to be the remains of that missing person,” according to a news release from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department. 

• A concrete truck from Haas Sons rolled over and ended up in pieces on state Highway 40 south of Colfax about 4 p.m. Friday, October 21.

• Dunn County’s proposed 2017 budget of $78.4 million will use $1.17 million of general fund balance.

• Reminiscent of performers who appeared in the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium 100 years ago when the building was brand new, the nationally-known comedy juggling duo from Colfax, In Capable Hands (also known as Steve Russell and Kobi Shaw), will be performing at the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium November 3, to help the Colfax Public Library celebrate its 100th anniversary. 

• The Dunn County Board approved a six-month moratorium on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations at the October 19 meeting.  The moratorium will give Dunn County time to consider whether the county has adequate staff and resources to monitor and enforce new or existing ordinances that apply to livestock facilities. 

November 2, 2016 

• Crews from Oium Asphalt Paving worked on digging up the asphalt from a small section of Railroad Avenue in front of the Colfax Railroad Museum October 28. 

• Scott Polenz, district administrator for Marshfield Clinic, along with other Marshfield Clinic staff, held a public forum in Colfax at the Viking Bowl October 26 to talk about the possibility of Marshfield opening a clinic in Colfax. 

• The Dunn County Board’s Planning, Resources and Development Committee has taken the first step toward forming the Livestock Operations Study Group. Steve Rasmussen, chair of the county board, reported at the PR&D’s October 25 meeting that he had been talking to potential nominees for the study group. Three people had said “yes,” and Rasmussen said he was waiting for three others to call back.

• Members of the Russell-Toycen American Legion Post 131 are wondering why “no smoking” signs have appeared in what is known as the “beer tent” at the Colfax Fairgrounds. Tom Dunbar, former American Legion Post Commander, and Chris Larson, current American Legion Post Commander, spoke to the Colfax Village Board October 25 about the signs. 

• The Colfax Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary October 22 with a program in the Colfax Municipal Building Auditorium.

November 9, 2016 

• James Peterson, 96, a resident at the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center’s Sandy Ridge Apartments, is now the remaining survivor of the World War II B-17 Black Jack.

• You just never knew who you were going to see on the streets of Colfax during trick-or-treat hours Halloween night. Three brothers, Tristan, Thorin and Brock Larson, stopped to pose for a picture on their way into the Colfax Public Library.

• Morgan Gerk is now the new Dunn County solid waste director.

• The Elk Mound Village Board approved a certified survey map application from Laverne Ausman and a petition to rezone Ausman’s property from agricultural to R4 during the November 2 meeting. The approvals pave the way for Cedar Corporation’s Len Schreiber and developers Gene Caron and Mike Ruwowski to start the first phase of a proposed 17-unit housing development on the south side of Independence Drive.

November 16, 2016

• Jeannette Hydukovich read a letter as part of the Veteran’s Day program at Colfax High School November 11 from Colfax Messenger Editor P.H. Swift when he found out he would be going off to World War II.  Swift’s letter was published in the Colfax Messenger September 17, 1942.

• Andrea Nodolf was elected as the Dunn County District Attorney in the November 8 election. Nodolf ran as a Republican and faced Democratic challenger Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Holly Wood Webster. Nodolf received 11,236 votes, and Webster received 9,676 votes.

• A referendum question in the Colfax school district asking for $7.2 million for school improvements was approved on a vote of 1,690 “yes” to 725 “no.”

• A referendum question in the Town of Colfax asking whether the position of town clerk should be appointed by the town board passed with 367 “yes” votes to 243 “no” votes.

• A referendum question in the Town of Otter Creek asking whether the combined position of clerk-treasurer should by appointed by the town board was approved by 141 “yes” votes to 109 “no” votes. 

• Bloomer Republican Rob Summerfield won the election for representative of the state’s 67th Assembly District with 18,574 votes. Summerfield faced Democratic challenger Dennis Hunt, who gathered 10,307 votes.

• The Mane Street Salon Boutique is now open at the Mane Street Salon in the Village Pointe Mall on Bremer Avenue in Colfax. The boutique officially opened November 7.

• Dunn County is working on a zoning amendment that would allow micro-breweries and brew pubs in commercial districts. The planning, resources and development committee discussed the amendments at the November 8 meeting. 

November 23, 2016 

• Ambulance crews from Colfax, Dallas and Gold Star and area firefighters worked to extricate Steven Matthys, age 61 of Barron, and Danica Smith, age 32 of Sarona, after their vehicles collided head-on shortly after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, November 16, on Highway 64 in Dunn County. Matthys was airlifted to Regionals Medical Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

• The Colfax Village Board has approved buying a new Bobcat Compact Track Loader priced at $67,091 for $5,600 for the Department of Public Works.

• Financial problems continue for the Neighbors of Dunn County, according to reports given to the county board at the November 15 meeting. The Neighbors had financial losses of $1.05 million in 2015 and $750,000 in 2014. 

• The Colfax Board of Education agreed at a special meeting November 17 to postpone making a decision on a proposal from SDS Architects until November 21 for worked related to the $7.2 million referendum approved in the November 8 election. 

• The Elk Mound Village Board passed a $302,723 tax levy for 2017 November 16 as part of the ongoing debate over a new full-time police chief. The village board had three levy amounts to choose from. The third amount allowed for both a contingency fund and money to staff the chief’s office. 

• The Dunn County Board approved a $79.3 million budget for 2017 with a tax levy that will amount to $21,591,213. 

November 30, 2016 

• Although interest rates have increased almost half a percent since the $7.2 million Colfax school referendum was approved November 8, new projections show the mill rate still could end up slightly lower. If the school district can lock in an interest rate of 2.97 percent, instead of the projected  $77 per $1,000 of property value, the mill rate could actually be $76 per $1,000 of property value, said Brian Brewer, the school district’s financial consultant with Robert W. Baird & Co. at the Colfax Board of Education’s November 21 meeting. 

• After working for the past year on finding just the right transport van, doing some fund raising, and then obtaining all of the proper certification, the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center is ready to launch its own transport service. CHRC will begin transporting residents December 1. The transport service will be available to the public January 1. 

• Middle school students in Elk Mound had a unique lesson in history and teamwork November 21 and 22 when they researched, prepared for and held the school’s first Renaissance Fair. 

• Mound View Elementary physical education teacher Jon Chisholm, wearing a turkey costume, cheered on students and teachers during the school’s annual “Turkey Trot” November 22.

December 7, 2016

• December is not typically a month when concrete is poured, but crew members from Andy’s Custom Concrete worked on a sidewalk on Pine Street and along Railroad Avenue the last few days of November and again December 1. Being able to pour concrete this late in the year is evidence of the warm fall weather that has been around since September.

• Glen (Pete) Johnson was honored at The Highground Veterans Memorial Park near Neillsville with a stone dedication ceremony October 1. Johnson served as a radar operator in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. Johnson died at the age of 62 in a vehicle accident caused by a heart condition due to exposure to Agent Orange.

• Dunn County’s Livestock Operations Study Group met for the first time November 30 and is operating as part of a six-month moratorium in Dunn County on expanding or developing new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The focus of the study group is to evaluate the impact of CAFOs on the healthy, safety and welfare of Dunn County residents and resources, to report on the group’s findings and to make recommendations.  

• Two vehicles were stolen from Anderson Bridges in Colfax last week. One vehicle was recovered a short distance away, and the other vehicle was recovered in Chippewa County. The discovery of the 2004 GMC Sierra 2500 crew cab recovered in the Town of Lafayette ended up involving the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department and the Lake Hallie Police Department in the investigation of another stolen vehicle.

• Replacing 410 residential water meters in Colfax with new “smart” Kamstrup water meters from Dakota Supply Group would cost Colfax $82,075. 

December 14, 2016 

• Tragedy struck Colfax around 5:30 a.m. Friday when Linda Salazar, owner of Mom’s Restaurant and Pub, was hit by a passing motor vehicle as she crossed Main Street on her way to the restaurant. 

• The Colfax Plan Commission is recommending that the lot sizes in the first phase of the East View Residential Development be increased. The village is giving away the first six lots, which are all zoned Residential-I and are 90 feet wide, 160 feet deep, and have an assessed value of $15,000.

• An attorney representing a former Boyceville man charged with child sexual assault has reported that the district attorney’s office and the Boyceville Police Department have been dragging their feet on turning over evidence.

• The young gentlemen of the Colfax High School Choir performed several selections for residents at the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center December 9.

• The Colfax Board of Education has expelled a student at Colfax High School for possession marijuana on school grounds following an expulsion hearing December 7.

• At a special meting December 7, the Colfax Board of Education approved the issuance and sale of $7.2 million in general obligation bonds to fund projects the voters approved in the November referendum. 

• The Elk Mound Village Board at the December 7 meeting approved creating a full-time police chief position and elected board member Tom Gilbert as village president to replace Andy Peterson, who announced his resignation and that he and his family are moving out of Elk Mound. 

December 21, 2016 

• The Colfax Messenger’s annual Christmas edition featured Christmases Remembered from Bernard Meacham, Joan Butson, Beverly and Dale Johnson, Marlene Johnson, Ron Peterson, Duane Hart, Shirley Rasmussen and Marion Nichols.

• Kyle’s Market, Mom’s Restaurant and Pub, and Dollar General are collecting funds for medical expenses for Linda Salazar, who was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident in Colfax early December 9 as she was crossing Main Street at Fifth Avenue on her way to the restaurant.

• The Colfax Village Board approved changes recommended by the Colfax Plan Commission to lot sizes in the East View Residential Development. 

• An attorney representing Ryan N. Kistner, 34, of Wheeler, who is charged with the repeated sexual assault of a child, plans to file motions with the court regarding inadmissible evidence.

December 28, 2016 

• A large flock of  geese decided that a picked corn field on 730th Street south of Colfax would be a good place to find something to eat. Sharon Erickson called the Colfax Messenger to say the geese were behind her house.

• The Elk Mound Village Board has tabled the discussion on a police chief.

• Students in the Colfax school district have raised $2,100 for medical expenses for Linda Salazar, the owner of Mom’s Restaurant and Pub. 

• The Colfax Plan Commission has recommended that the Colfax Village Board pursue RFPs for a rail spur. The plan commission held a meeting with local business owners December 20 to discuss the rail spur.

• Alva Misselt Spiros, a 1955 graduate of Colfax High School, has left $21,000 to the school district, the Colfax Board of Education learned at the December 19 meeting. 

• A demographic study presented to the Elk Mound school board indicates Mound View Elementary could see an 11 percent enrollment decrease in the next five years, while the middle school would see a two to four percent decrease. The high school can expect a slight increase in enrollment over the next ten years.