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Colfax Messenger 2018: A year in review … July, August and September

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Week in and week out, since April of 1897, the Colfax Messenger has delivered local news, local features and local sports. And, as an added benefit, the newspaper archives will be around one hundred years from now when your future family members are working on their genealogy projects.

Here is a look back at the top news stories from July, August and September of 2018.

July 4, 2018

The Colfax Railroad Museum has the engines, the cars, the track, the ties, and a grant from the Community Foundation of Dunn County for the installation, but the future of the train ride attraction is now in doubt. Based on the recommendation of the Colfax Plan Commission, the Colfax Village Board  at the June 25 meeting on a vote of five “yes” to two “no” turned down an offer from the Colfax Railroad Museum of $3,500 for a half acre south of the museum.

If a residence in the Village of Colfax has problems with sewer and water utilities that require the street to be dug up, homeowners will now pay the full cost of repairing the street.

A Dunn County judge has found probable cause and has bound two suspects over for arraignment who are accused in the shooting of a Town of Tainter man May 27. Shawn H. Goplen, 34, and Kari L. Blank, 36, appeared before Judge Rod Smeltzer June 28 for a preliminary hearing.

All together, 25 pigs and three steers were sold at the Colfax FFA Alumni Auction at the Colfax Free Fair on Sunday, June 24, and generated nearly $22,000 in sales.

July 11, 2018

Now that Northern Sands Wisconsin has submitted an application for the proposed Albertville Valley Sand mine, the Howard Town Board is in the process of hiring an engineer.

A 19-year-old Colfax woman has been charged with five felony counts of burglary, possession of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, and maintaining a drug trafficking place. Alexis E. Price, 715 Johnson-Olson Street, made an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court June 28.

The Chippewa Sand Company of New Auburn has filed an application with Chippewa County for a reclamation permit to expand an existing sand mine in the Town of Cooks Valley to 1,085 acres.

Ron Fjelstad, who was born and raised in Colfax, lost his father, Spencer, and his cousin, Lanny, in the June 4, 1958, tornado what killed 12 people in Colfax. Fjelstad, who lives in Hallie and is a custodian for the Chippewa Falls school district, was one of the featured storytellers at the Truth Be Told 60th Anniversary Edition of the Colfax Tornado June 2 at the Colfax Municipal Building.

July 18, 2018

The Colfax Village Board has agreed to sell some of the water meters that were just taken out and replaced with new “smart” water meters to the Village of Wheeler for $50 each.

An attorney defending a woman accused in the March murder of Alexander Woodworth in the Town of Spring Brook plans to file motions to suppress statements made by the defendant. Aaron Nelson, the attorney for 20-year-old Ezra McCandless, told Judge James Peterson during a court hearing July 9 he plans to file motions regarding statements made by McCandless.

A Dunn County judge has sentenced a former Colfax man to two additional years in prison and two years of extended supervision for a burglary in the village last December. Donald J. Binder, who is currently serving a prison sentence for violating his probation after being found guilty of stealing iron from the Colfax Railroad Museum in October of 2014, appeared before Judge James Peterson July 6.

The Elk Mound school district has been awarded a $64,133 school safety grant through the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The grant will be used to apply safety film to glass windows that makes the windows virtually unbreakable.

July 25, 2018

The dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Tom Prince Memorial Park is scheduled for 11 a.m. August 30.

Under the theme of “Red, White and Blue This Fair is For You,” the Dunn County Fair starts today and runs through Sunday, July 29.

This year’s Colfax Founder’s Day sponsored by the Colfax Commercial Club will be Saturday, August 4, in Tower Park from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Jamie Buchholtz, Colfax High School technology education teacher, demonstrated the new wood router as well as the Colfax school district’s new plasma cutter for the Colfax Board of Education July 16.

August 1, 2018

Usually Jay Risch, the state secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions, meets with bankers in conference rooms. The visit to Timber Technologies in Colfax July 26 was part of a field trip to northwestern Wisconsin during which Secretary Risch visited manufacturers and businesses.

Colfax can expect to soon have a miniature train ride. The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved selling Soo Park to the Colfax Railroad Museum at the July 23 board meeting for $3,500 and an agreement for the museum to pay for finishing the portion of Park Drive from where it ends now to connect with the museum’s property.

The Colfax Village Board has approved demolition permit fees of $100 for properties with sewer and water service and a permit fee of $25 for properties without sewer and water in anticipation of the demolition of the old nursing home building on High Street.

A 37-year-old Colfax man has been found guilty on one felony count of burglary while two other felony counts of burglary were dismissed but will be read into the record for sentencing. Danny E. Davis pleaded no contest in Dunn County Circuit Court July 26 and was found guilty by Judge Rod W. Smeltzer.

Colfax school board members will be paid $5 more per meeting and $50 more per year after April 30, 2019. Increases in school board salaries were approved at the Colfax school district’s annual meeting July 23.

August 8, 2018

To accommodate changing trends in nursing home care, the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center plans to convert 12 skilled nursing beds and the short-term care units in Birch Lane to assisted living.

The Dunn County Judicial Center was packed to standing room only with people eager to hear what the five candidates for Dunn County sheriff had to say about a variety of questions. The forum held on July 30 included candidates Jacob Ohman (Republican); Kevin Bygd (Republican); Adam Zukowski (Republican); Randy Knaack (Democrat) and Rod Dicus (Democrat).

The Colfax Messenger and the Tribune Press Reporter welcome a new reporter, Amber Hayden.

The Elk Mound Village Board has approved a parks plan wish list to include in Dunn County’s outdoor recreation plan. Some of the items on the wish list include a 3-to-9-hole Frisbee golf course; a fourth baseball field at Elk Mound Lions Club Park; and upgrading lighting in Field I at the Lions Club Park.

August 15, 2018

Melvina Solberg Evenson, who is remembered by many around Colfax as the owner of Solberg’s Ready-to-Wear on Main Street, celebrated her 102nd birthday at the Grapevine Senior Center August 5.

Jim and Becky Kiesow decided as long as they were renovating the barn that has been in Becky’s family for over a century, they may as well add a barn quilt to it. The Kiesow farm is located on County Highway A southeast of Colfax.

The 2018 J.D. Simons Community Volunteer Award was presented to Ramona Thorson at the Colfax Founder’s Day celebration August 4.

Adam Wedlund of Colfax says he gets more “looks” and comments about his rat rod than he does about the classic car he has restored. The rat rod is combination of a Chevrolet Astro Van and a 1949 Chevrolet pickup truck.

August 22, 2018

Twenty-three young people showed up at Colfax Lutheran Church the morning of Monday, August 13, and by Friday at 5 p.m., they were ready to put on the Missoula Children’s Theatre play in the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium, “Blackbeard the Pirate.”

The Colfax Village Board has approved placing a culvert under Bremer Avenue as part of the expansion plan for Timber Technologies.

The estimated price for replacing 2,068 linear feet of curb and gutter along University Avenue turned out to be much higher than expected at approximately $100,000.

Bail has been set at $2,000 cash for a 47-year-old Menomonie man found in a Colfax garage with methamphetamine, marijuana, gem Baggies and drug paraphernalia. Steven O. Johnson made an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge James Peterson August 10.

Among a field of three candidates in the Republican primary August 14, Kevin Bygd, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department Captain of Field Services, won the primary and will face Democratic challenger Rod Dicus, an investigator with the sheriff’s department, who won in the primary against Randy Knaack.

August 29, 2018

Bremer Bank collected donations during Hunger Awareness Week in June and presented a check on August 24 for $255.14 to Rev. Craig Conklin, the pastor at Colfax United Methodist and Tainter United Methodist for the Caring Ministries Food Pantry.

The Elk Mound Board of Education has accepted the resignation of high school principal Paul Weber, who has accepted a position in the Madison area.

Colfax High School students will not have to pay a Chromebook technology fee this year. William C. Yingst Jr., superintendent, told the Colfax Board of Education at the August 20 meeting he was recommending the Chromebook fees be eliminated.

Electors approved a property tax levy of $2,905,117 for the 2018-2019 school year at the Elk Mound school district’s annual meeting August 20.

During a four-hour motion hearing August 23, Aaron Nelson, the attorney for Ezra J. McCandless, focused much of his questioning on whether McCandless knew she did not have to answer questions from law enforcement officers. McCandless is accused in the March stabbing death of Alexander Woodworth in the Town of Spring Brook.

September 5, 2018

The dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Tom Prince Memorial Park August 30 included a UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, also known as a Huey, landing on the ball field.

The Colfax Public Library has received a $5,000 grant from the 3M Company to fund the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program.

The Colfax Rescue Squad is proposing  $464,189 budget for 2019, representing an increase of $1,726 over the 2018 budget.

Five new teachers will be on duty in the Colfax school district when school starts September 4: Tiffany Schaffner (Colfax High School agriculture teacher); Heather Niesen (Colfax Elementary special education in early childhood); Emily Mattson (Colfax High School English and Language Arts); Kassandra Behymer (seventh grade math and science).

September 12, 2018

It is with a heavy heart the Colfax Messenger must report on the death of Lyle Christianson, former owner, editor and publisher of the Messenger for nearly 30 years. Lyle died September 4 at the age of 82 of prostate cancer.

The Colfax zoning board is recommending a B2 zoning for the Colfax Railroad Museum’s Soo Park.

The Elk Mound Board of Education has hired a new high school principal. The school board held a special meeting September 5, and during a closed session, agreed to contract with Paul Kling for the position.

The documentary about Fred Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” will be shown at the Colfax Municipal Building Auditorium on Sunday, September 16.

The theme for the day was “Welcome Home” and “Thank you for your service.” Another theme for the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Tom Prince Memorial Park in Colfax August 30 was “It’s never too late to right a wrong.”

September 19, 2018

The 2018 Homecoming King and Queen crowned at the Colfax High School Homecoming Dance at the Viking Bowl September 14 were Brett Foyt and Kaitlyn Field. Other members of the court included Chris Scharlau (2018 Colfax High School prom king) and McKenna Yingst (2018 Colfax High School prom queen); Dalton Schotter and Kyah Quast; Trevin Mounce and Cassidy Reitz; Trevor Rothbauer and Maddy Shipley; and Tanner Nierenhausen and Liz Affolter.

A group of about 20 volunteers from Colfax Lutheran Church built and installed a new fence at Evergreen Cemetery in Colfax on Sunday, September 9, as part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s “God’s Work. Our hands.” initiative on that day.

The Colfax Village Board’s approval of Business 2 zoning for the Soo Park parcel has brought the Colfax Railroad Museum one step closer to make the miniature train ride a reality.

Joan Scharlau of Colfax collects head vases and brought her collection to the Grapevine Senior Center to do a presentation for the Merry Mixers September 6.

September 26, 2018

Thunderstorms moving through the area Thursday evening, September 20, blew down trees and branches in various locations around Colfax. The same line of storms caused serious damage to Spring Valley High School and also damaged a bus from Colfax used to transport the girls’ volleyball team to Spring Valley.

Kayla Brown calls it “the day I did my Crappie Flop.” Her friends don’t think it’s funny to compare herself to a dying fish. Her brother, Chuck Brown, says it was a day when there were a number of coincidences, and people in the right place at the right time coming together to save Kayla’s life. The day was Monday, June 11. And at the age of thirty-four years old, Kayla Brown suffered a massive heart attack.

The Elk Mound school district will soon be expanding its boundary by a dozen properties. The land records division of Eau Claire Planning and Development has discovered there are 16 questionable properties as to which school district they belong.

Kari L. Blank, 36, who was present when her boyfriend allegedly shot a Town of Tainter man in the leg May 27, has pleaded guilty in Dunn County Circuit Court to one felony count of possession of methamphetamine.

Dunn County has now completed the sale of 5.5 acres between U.S. Highway 12/29 and the Neighbors of Dunn County to Prevea for $651,000.

“Remembering Our Fallen from Wisconsin” was set up September 12 in the Colfax High School lobby and remained in the lobby until September 13 before being taken down and moved to the next location. The traveling display is from “The High Ground” in Neillsville.

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