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Colfax Messenger 2020: A Year in Review: A look back the top news stories in April, May, and June

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  Since March, the year 2020 was dominated by news of the SARS-CoV-2  novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. But there were other items, in the news, too.

Here is a look back at the top news stories in the Colfax Messenger from April, May, and June of 2020.

April 1, 2020

The Elk Mound Travel Stop had the lowest price for gasoline in the area last week at $1.54 per gallon.

The ballot for the Dunn County Board of Supervisors in the April 7 election has five positions with no candidates and two write-in candidates, leaving three supervisory positions with no candidate.

The Colfax Post Office, which was damaged by a delivery truck the afternoon of February 21, is still closed. Colfax post office box holders must go to Boyceville to get their mail.

Even though the Village of Colfax is taking other measures to help slow down or stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Colfax Municipal Building will remain open for now.

The Colfax Village Board has approved staggering the schedules of Department of Public Works employees, along with paying them for being “on call,” as a precaution against COVID-19.

April 8, 2020

For the first time since 1943 during World War II — 77 years ago — there will be no Colfax Free Fair this summer. With the COVID-19 pandemic, even by the end of June, it could still be risky, said Steve Ackerlund, president of the Colfax Fair Board.

The Elk Mound Village Board met remotely April 1 using the online platform Zoom and agreed to keep the village’s COVID-19 response plan in place and evaluate it again in two weeks.

Bail has been set at $5,000 cash for Frank J. Bignell, 54, of Boyceville, who has been charged with four drug-related felonies, including maintaining a drug trafficking place.

Just hours after Governor Tony Evers had signed an executive order Monday, April 6, postponing Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary election until June 9 due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the governor’s order, allowing in person voting to proceed as planned.

April 15, 2020

Colfax resident Inez Christianson was surprised the afternoon of April 9 when family and friends got together to drive by her apartment — with horns blaring — to wish her a happy 81st birthday.

Although you may see people playing golf at Whitetail and other golf courses in Dunn County, the businesses are still technically closed due the “Safer at Home” order issued by Governor Tony Evers March 25. Golf courses are private businesses, however, and as long as social distancing requirements are followed by people from different households, the sheriff’s department has no authority to remove them from the golf course, said Dunn County Sheriff Kevin Bygd in an e-mail message to the Colfax Messenger.

The Dunn County Deer Advisory Council has made recommendations on a deer hunting quota and bonus tag and has agreed there should be no Holiday Hunt and no antler-less-only hunt this year.

Dunn County may now have “community spread” of the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to KT Gallagher, director/health officer of the Dunn County Public Health Department.

April 22, 2020

Work to repair the back wall of the Colfax Post Office started on Friday, April 17. The post office has been closed since the end of February after a delivery truck backed into the building and caused structural damage.

While driving through Colfax, it is hard not to see the signs that are placed in the yards supporting the Class of 2020. “Being a parent of a senior, I was heartbroken that she would be missing a bunch of her lasts since the quarantine,” said Sherri Scholfield, who helped design the signs. “Last prom, last play, last trip to state, and honestly, they were my lasts as well, being a parent,” she said.

The Colfax Village Board has approved on-line EMT training. While many events and activities have been canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, annual training for Emergency Medical Technicians is not one of them.

The Elk Mound Village Board has postponed making a decision on whether to refund reservations for the village park until the first meeting in May.

April 29, 2020

While taking a walk one day to think about his sermon for the next Sunday’s virtual service at Colfax Rural Lutheran Parish, Vicar Chuck Shingledecker came across a message of hope on the sidewalks of Colfax during the COVID-19 pandemic — “Help each other.”

A 22-year-old Wheeler man charged with two counts of armed robbery at Peoples State Bank in Boyceville and at U-Fuel near Elk Mound has pleaded guilty in Dunn County Circuit Court. David J.R. Hoffman appeared before Judge Rod Smeltzer April 21 for a plea hearing.

Former Colfax resident Richard Seehaver has pleaded “no contest” and has been found guilty in Dunn County of second degree intentional homicide in the death of John M. Likeness in December of 2018. Seehaver, age 53, appeared for a plea hearing before Judge Rod W. Smeltzer April 23.

Although libraries across the state are still closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can now arrange for “curbside pick-up” at the Colfax Public Library.

May 6, 2020

Dunn County’s solid waste and recycling collection sites could soon be closed on Wednesdays to help deal with the program’s 2020 budget deficit.

The interest rate for the Elk Mound school district’s nearly $16 million project may be up to one percentage point lower than anticipated.

You just never know who Colfax resident Kobi Shaw is going to be on any given day. So far, she has been a witch, a nun, Wednesday Addams, Santa Claus, an angel, a referee, an escaped convict, a Viking, a vampire, Marmee from Little Women, the Big Bad Wolf, Rosie the Riveter — more than 40 different characters so far in her Costume-A-Day Quarantine Adventure.

The Colfax Board of Education has agreed to keep community usage fees for school buildings “as is.”

May 13, 2020

Memorial Day activities for the Russell-Toycen American Legions Post 131 of Colfax have been canceled for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Dunn County Board’s facilities committee is recommending commercial activities at the Dunn County Fair be canceled this summer but youth exhibits by 4-H clubs, FFA members and other groups be allowed in some form.

A Dunn County Judge has ordered restitution of $7,500 each for two men found guilty of burglarizing a Town of Rock Creek home after it had been damaged in a fire October 11, 2017. Michael Tenney, 36, and Ryan Weiss, 41, appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court for restitution hearing before Judge Rod W. Smeltzer April 28.

To help fill some of the shortages of Personal Protective Equipment, Jamie Buchholtz, technology education teacher at Colfax High School, is using the school district’s 3D printers to make filtration masks that work like an N95 mask to filter out the virus that causes COVID-19.

May 20, 2020

It will not be the traditional graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 in the Colfax High School gymnasium packed with friends and family, but the seniors will receive their diplomas. The Colfax school district will be presenting diplomas to graduating seniors Wednesday, May 20, Thursday, May 21, and Friday, May 22, at a designated time assigned to each graduate.

The Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Board has approved Saturday-only hours at the collection sites as well as a request for a $1 million referendum question that would be recurring for five years.

The Colfax Village Board has approved changes to the village’s ordinances to allow bow hunting for turkeys within the village limits and to allow hunting on village-owned parcels.

A probation agent with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections has asked a Dunn County judge for Richard Seehaver’s mental health assessments so they can be used in writing the pre-sentence investigation. Seehaver has pleaded “no contest” and has been found guilty in the death of John Likeness.

May 27, 2020

The Dunn County Board has approved a resolution restricting this year’s Dunn County Fair in July to youth exhibits only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals, nursing homes and essential businesses have asked for donations of cloth masks to help with the Personal Protection Equipment (PPP) shortage. Colfax resident Angela Rebak saw the request and stepped up to help fill the need for masks. So far, Rebak has made and donated more than 3,000 masks.

The Dunn County Board has approved refinancing $14.2 million in general obligation bonds out of the $22 million in bonds issued in 2012 for building The Neighbors of Dunn County. The refinancing is expected to save at least $700,000.

The Elk Mound Board of Education has approved the sale of $9.6 million in general obligation bonds to finance a portion of the $15.7 million in referendum projects approved by voters in the April election.

June 3, 2020

Colfax High School student Jaclyn Olson misses her grandmother, Janet Hanes, who is a resident at the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center. To brighten the day for CHRC residents and to show her appreciation for CHRC staff, Jaclyn has put together 180 mesh gift bags filled with candy and tied with bows that she and her mother, Ann Olson, delivered to CHRC May 28.

Gary Styer, age 51, who is accused in the death of his father, Edward Styer of Colfax, has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by mental disease or defect.

The Colfax Village Board has approved an agreement to allow a private mausoleum to be built at Evergreen Cemetery. Nasser Hadidi, who is proposing to build the mausoleum, also plans to place $5,000 in a perpetual care fund for the 28-foot by 20-foot stone and brick mausoleum that would be located in the new section of the cemetery toward the back.

A 40-year-old former Elk Mound man has been sentenced in Dunn County to one year in jail and three years of probation for using another person’s financial transaction card and for theft of movable property. Shea D. Mattice appeared by telephone from the Eau Claire County Jail May 19 before Judge Rod Smeltzer for a sentencing hearing.

June 10, 2020

Dunn County Circuit Court Judge Rod W. Smeltzer has determined that the Farm Bird Sanctuary has no legal standing to request a permanent injunction prohibiting the Ridgeland Pioneer Days chicken toss and pig wrestling event.

Dunn County Judge James Peterson has declined to reduce a jail sentence by four months for a 48-year-old Menomonie man found in a Colfax garage in August of 2018 with methamphetamine, marijuana, gem Baggies and drug paraphernalia. Steven O. Johnson, who is in custody, appeared by video conferencing before Judge James Peterson in Dunn County Circuit Court May 28 for a motion hearing to reduce Johnson’s jail sentence.

While still maintaining other portions of the COVID-19 response plan, the Elk Mound Village Board has approved limited use of the library and the community center.

Employees from Timber Technologies worked on replacing the flower beds at Tower Park June 8.

June 17, 2020

The Dunn County Board’s facilities committee has recommended that the county board allow the Red Cedar Racing Association to hold races at the Dunn County Rec Park with certain restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A body recovered from the Chippewa River in the Town of Dunn has been identified as a homeless man from Eau Claire. According to a news release from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, the body was identified as Steven L. Feld, age 66.

Although the Colfax Village Board has approved an agreement to allow a private mausoleum to be built at Evergreen Cemetery, the village still has not received any communication from the state about the approval.

Even though Dunn County has cancelled the Clean Sweep event this year, residents still have the option of taking their hazardous materials to Polk County or St. Croix County Clean Sweep events.

June 24, 2020

An Elk Mound High School student charged in Dunn County in connection with making terrorist threats has reached a plea deal. The young man was ordered to pay $243 in court costs and a $200 DNA surcharge. If he successfully completes the deferred prosecution agreement, expungement of his record will be allowed, said Judge Rod W. Smeltzer.

The Dunn County Board has postponed a vote until July 29 on authorizing a referendum question on the fall ballot for the solid waste and recycling division asking for $1 million recurring for five years.

A  Dunn County judge has found probable cause and has bound a 51-year-old Wheeler woman, Lori K.  Feyen, over for trial on seven felonies related to financial crimes against the elderly.

Former Colfax resident Richard Seehaver has been sentenced to 40 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision for the murder of former Colfax resident John Likeness in Menomonie in December of 2018.

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