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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — For more than 120 years, since April of 1897, the Colfax Messenger has published local news, local feature stories and local sports.
Here is a look back at the top news stories from April, May and June of 2019:
April 3, 2019
• The first hint there might be something seriously wrong at the Colfax Department of Public Works building was when the ceiling started to sag. It’s much worse now. “Good thing” the bucket of the end loader is there to hold up the ceiling, commented Margaret Burcham at the Colfax Village Board’s March 25 meeting.
• Millie Packer, a resident at Ridge Crest Manor Assisted Living in the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation center, celebrated her 105th birthday on March 25.
• A 41-year-old former Boyceville man has been sentenced to 109 years in prison and 55 years of extended supervision all together for sex crimes involving children. Ted Lopez appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court for a sentencing hearing March 29 before Judge Rod W. Smeltzer.
• The Dunn-St. Croix Conference’s “Player of the Year” was announced last month for boys’ basketball, and Colfax’s George Scharlau was selected for the honor for the second straight year.
• A three-week trial scheduled to start April 3 for Ezra J. McCandless, 21, who is accused in the death of Alexander Woodworth in the Town of Spring Brook last March, has been rescheduled for October.
• After Colfax Police Officer Kurt Devroy completes the training, Colfax will have its very own Drug Recognition Expert. The Colfax Village Board approved at the March 25 meeting a request to send Devroy to the 16-day training, which will require four trips to Milwaukee.
April 10, 2019
• Fifty years is a long time. Fifty years of rehearsals. Fifty years of members coming and going. Fifty years of all kinds of weather. And now, 50 years later, the Dunn County Barbershoppers will be preforming their 50th annual harmony show April 13 at Colfax High School, “Malt Shop Mania.”
• Elizabeth Affolter, a senior at Colfax High School, has received a $10,000 Herb Kohl Student Initiative Scholarship. Elizabeth is the daughter of Teri Smith and Mike Smith.
• A recent court decision regarding the unconstitutionality of sex offender residency ordinances that place too great a restriction on where sex offenders can live has prompted the Elk Mound Village Board to amend its ordinance to 500 feet.
• After a great showing at state, seven of Elk Mound’s powerlifters made their way to Alexandria, Louisiana, for the 2019 USA Powerlifting High School National Championships March 28-31.
• Scott A. Gunnufson has been elected village president in Colfax. Gunnufson was the only candidate on the ballot for village president in the April 2 spring election, and according to unofficial election results posted on the Dunn County clerk’s website, received 161 votes.
April 17, 2019
• When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers listed possible solutions for the Red Cedar River eroding the bank and washing out the Colfax wastewater treatment lagoons, they reported that relocating the facility would cost $10 million. In addition to the high cost of moving the lagoons, there also would be the complication of finding a suitable site, said Jon Strand, a project engineer with CBS Squared at the Colfax Village Board’s public hearing on the application for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to be used for stabilizing the river bank.
• A group of nine tweens and teens will be putting in a little elbow grease at the Colfax Fairgrounds. The perpetrators thought it would be a fine idea to “trash” the Colfax FFA food stand, said Colfax Police Chief William Anderson at the Colfax Village Board’s April 8 meeting.
• Susan Hill of Colfax has about 350 handkerchiefs and bandanas in her collection. She brought some of her collection to the Merry Mixers April 4 meeting at the Grapevine for a presentation she called “Hanky Panky.”
• The Village of Colfax has officially received an answer that the collapse of the ceiling at the Department of Public Works building is not covered by insurance. According to a letter from the Municipal Property Insurance Company, there is no coverage for the ceiling collapse because of deficiency in materials, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s April 8 meeting.
• Colfax graduate Mallie Doucette, daughter of Colfax girls’ basketball coach Joe Doucette and his wife, Tracy, wrapped up her final basketball season at St. Cloud State University leading the Huskies in points per game with 12.3.
April 24, 2019
• As part of an effort to help students conclude nothing on a smartphone is worth someone’s life, Jim Jermain of AT&T Wisconsin brought the “It Can Wait” campaign to Elk Mound High School April 16.
• While it is unofficial yet, Dunn County may be in the running for hosting “Alice in Dairyland” in 2021. James Anderson, county board supervisor from Menomonie and chair of the Community Resources and Tourism Committee, reported on the application at the county board’s April 17 meeting.
• The Dunn County Board has authorized the sale of the Ferry Pit north of Colfax to Landmark Conservancy, which has the intention of deeding the 146-acre parcel to the Town of Colfax to be developed as a recreational area.
• Members of the Colfax FFA honored two members who died this past year and also awarded 12 Greenhand and eight Chapter FFA degrees. Colfax FFA member Braden Lemler and Colfax FFA Alumni member Penny Snyder were honored during the Colfax FFA Chapter member awards banquet April 17 at Colfax High School.
May 1, 2019
• The Colfax Village Board has approved interim financing in the amount of $630,000 for the village’s share of the river bank stabilization project at the interest rate of 3.56 percent with Dairy State Bank on a 10-year loan.
• Trevin Garrick Mounce Hinrichs has become Colfax’s 23rd Eagle Scout and Troop 243’s second Eagle Scout. Trevin received the Eagle Scout badge during an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at Colfax High School on April 20.
• By the time school starts next fall, Colfax students — and the community — will have new tennis and pickleball courts. The Colfax Board of Education at the April 22 meeting approved on a vote of four “yes” and two “no” to contract with Monarch Paving Company for $86,000 to install new tennis-pickleball-basketball courts for the 2019-2020 school year.
• The Colfax school district has received a “gold” award for the transcripted credit partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College. CVTC held an awards banquet for schools participating in the transcripted credit program last Wednesday, and Colfax received a gold award, said John Dachel, high school principal, at the Colfax Board of Education’s April 22 meeting. CVTC provided recognition for the 82 students at Colfax — sophomores, juniors and seniors — who participated in the program.
May 8, 2019
• One year ago, on May 11, 2018, Colfax High School student Braden Lemler, age 16, died in a car crash on his way home from school. The day before the Colfax High School Junior Prom this year on April 27, Braden’s mother, Kaylee Lemler — along with Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad; Sergeant Travis Mayer with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department and an EMT from Lifelink — spoke to Colfax High School Students about the tragedies that can happen in mere seconds.
• Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief, reported at the April 24 meeting of the Colfax Community Fire District Board that the Tainter Trail Tamers Snowmobile Club had donated $10,000 toward Polaris Ranger Utility Terrain Vehicle with tracks, and the Colfax Sno-drifters had donated $4,000. The total cost of the UTV side-by-side was $21,000, so the Colfax fire department covered the rest of the purchase price with funds raised during the fire department’s annual Colfax Firefighters’ Ball.
• A Dunn County judge has granted standing for the Town of Otter Creek to intervene regarding sex offender housing selected by the county’s 980 Committee. Judge Rod Smeltzer granted the township’s motion at a court hearing April 26 to intervene in the placement of Jamie Lane Stephenson.
• A second man involved in a burglary at a Rock Creek home destroyed by fire has been ordered by a Dunn County judge to help pay $62,785 in restitution. Ryan J. Weiss, 30, appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge Rod Smeltzer for a plea and sentencing hearing April 29.
May 15, 2019
• All together, 23 Colfax High School seniors received scholarships and recognitions at the senior awards program May 1. The scholarships totaled more than $350,000.
• Stepping Stones of Dunn County, a non-profit organization out of Menomonie which has been providing food, shelter and support to area residents since 1986, is considering starting a “pop-up” food pantry in Colfax.
• A Boyceville contractor has been charged with two felony counts of theft in a business setting totaling more than $5,000. A criminal complaint was filed in Dunn County Circuit Court against Richard D. Madison April 30 concerning renovation of a home in the Town of Tainter to make it handicapped accessible on a written bid of $24,000. After receiving a deposit of $18,000, the complaint alleges the work was never completed.
May 22, 2019
• Colfax resident Chad Berge has been appointed to the open village trustee position on the Colfax Village Board. The position opened when incumbent David Wolff decided not to run again for re-election, and no other candidates registered for the April ballot.
• The Colfax Town Board is considering appointing a management committee for the Ferry Pit recreational area.
• The Dunn County Board has approved the sale of $8 million in promissory notes. The money will be used to remodel the Community Services Building for additional offices, for computer software and settlement costs, and for capital projects that include county highway improvements, information technology infrastructure, emergency management and sheriff’s department equipment purchases and for bullet-proof glass at the Dunn County Judicial Center.
May 29, 2019
• Because of a steady rain the morning of May 27, Memorial Day, the decision was made to hold the Memorial Day ceremony at Colfax High School rather than at Colfax Evergreen Cemetery.
• According to a benchmarking study completed by Focus on Energy, the Colfax school district’s K-12 building has an Energy Star score of 91. The score is reported as a number between 1 and 100 and is considered “excellent.” A number higher than 50 indicates a customer uses less energy than similar properties.
• Kathy Asper, Manager of Prevention Services with Arbor Place, spent two days the week of May 13 doing presentations at Colfax High School and Colfax Middle School on the dangers of e-cigarettes and “vaping.”
• The Elk Mound Board of Education has hired MEP Associates for preliminary facilities work to determine cost estimates for construction projects and Rettler Corporation for cost estimates on the athletic field.
• Dunn County has been selected to host the Alice in Dairyland finals in 2021. Dunn County Board Supervisor James Anderson, chair the community resources and tourism committee, made the announcement at the May 15 Dunn County Board meeting.
June 5, 2019
• The Honorable Dave Zien, former Republican state senator representing District 23, was the keynote speaker at the Memorial Day ceremony at Colfax High School May 27.
• The Colfax Village Board has approved subdividing 211 Main Street to allow the adjoining landowner to purchase a portion of the lot. Ron Swartz, 207 Main Street, told the village board at the May 28 meeting meeting he wanted more space to park his camper.
• The Elk Mound fire station is receiving a “facelift” with new siding being installed on the front of the building.
• The Colfax Free Fair will only have one 100th anniversary celebration, and that has prompted the Colfax Village Board to donate $1,000 toward the fireworks for the fair.
June 12, 2019
• Lyle Christianson, former editor and publisher of the Colfax Messenger, was enshrined on the Memorial Pylon at the Wisconsin Association’s Memorial Grove at the Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River at the June 7 ceremony. Christianson died in September of 2018.
• The Colfax Public Library has received an additional $2,500 grant from 3M for the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program.
• A pop-up food pantry provided by Stepping Stones of Dunn County and the Feed My People food bank will be available at Viking Bowl in Colfax on the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
• Colfax High School band director Jim Woodford is retiring after 33 years of service, and CHS business teacher Kara Zutter is retiring after 30 years of teaching.
June 19, 2019
• Under the banner of “celebrating 100 years of history, heritage and tradition,” the 100th Colfax Free Fair begins Thursday, June 20.
• The Colfax Village Board has approved spending up to $25,000 to remove the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) from the Department of Public Works building in preparation for fixing the ceiling.
• The Colfax Community Fire District Board has allocated $20,000 toward the the purchase of a pickup truck and an ultra-high-pressure fire fighting system.
June 26, 2019
• A Dunn County judge has found probable cause and has bound former Colfax resident Richard Seehaver over for trail in connection with the death of John M. Likeness last December in Menomonie.
• A 58-year-old Ridgeland man who pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property and negligent handling of burning material related to a garage fire near Elk Mound in 2012 has finished paying restitution. At a court hearing June 17, Judge Rod Smeltzer dismissed a felony count of attempted arson on the basis of restitution being paid and no costs remaining in a case against Roger I. Thompson.
• Students at Colfax Elementary passed 36,979 Accelerated Reader quizzes this year and earned 30,598.8 points with an average comprehension score of 90.7 percent.
• Following a refusal to deny the rezone, the Dunn County Board has approved a rezone for American Patriot Storage on state Highway 25 in the Town of Sherman from general agriculture to general commercial. The Dunn County Board voted 20 “yes” to six “no” to approve the rezone at the June 19 meeting.
• Students at Colfax High School will have their choice this fall of 28 credits that can be applied toward a degree at a two-year or four-year college. A speech class has already been added to the list for the 2019-2020 school year, and there is a possibility Computer Aided Drafting could be added in the fall as well, said John Dachel, CHS principal, at the June 17 meeting of the Colfax Board of Education.
• The Dunn County Board has approved allowing the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department to charge additional fees but has rejected a booking fee that would have been imposed on people who have not been convicted of a crime. Under due process, people are innocent until proven guilty, and charging a booking fee when someone is arrested and booked into the county jail but has not been convicted of a crime imposes a punishment on an innocent person, said Mike Rogers, county board supervisor, at the Dunn County Board’s June 19 meeting.