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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Since last 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 July, August and September of 2020.
July 1, 2020
Six inches of rain fell in the Colfax area Sunday night into Monday, flooding ditches, roads and turning 18 Mile Creek into a torrent.
The Colfax Community Fire Department has not yet made a decision about whether to hold the Firefighters’ Ball in September. Don Logslett, fire chief, said the firefighters want to wait and see what the situation was with COVID-19 as the summer progresses.
A committee comprised of Elk Mound school district staff members will begin meeting in mid-July to start planning for the fall semester in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dunn County Board has approved adding a non-binding referendum question to the November ballot asking whether the Wisconsin Legislature should create a non-partisan procedure for drawing legislative and congressional district maps.
The Dunn County Board has authorized an application for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant from the state Department of Natural Resources to build a new stairway at the Devil’s Punchbowl south of Menomonie in the Town of Menomonie.
July 8, 2020
The Dunn County Fair Board has established modified rules and procedures of this year’s fair because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dunn County Fair, scheduled July 21 through July 25, will not be open to the public.
Ray C. Stuart, 42, Boyceville, who is charged in Dunn County with six misdemeanor counts related to poaching Whitetail deer, has rejected a plea deal after the Dunn County district attorney unexpectedly added jail time. Stuart did not have an attorney and was representing himself during a July 2 court hearing before Judge James Peterson.
The Colfax Village Board’s public safety committee has recommended that the village board approve allowing ATVs/UTVs to operate on village streets from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round.
Bail has been set at $30,000 cash for former Colfax resident Jeffrey McCulloch, who has been charged with five felonies related to the sexual assault of a child.
July 15, 2020
Solid waste and recycling fees in Dunn County, currently set at $23 per person, are expected to increase anywhere from $57 to $72 per person in 2021.
Three people are dead following a house fire in the Town of Spring Brook late Friday evening, July 10. Those who perished were Merrill Tande, age 76, Christopher House, age 49, and a 6-year-old girl, whose identity has not been released. All three victims were from rural Menomonie.
As of July 7, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin was 32,556, with nearly 17,000 of those cases occurring since Memorial Day.
Youth baseball and softball teams in Elk Mound plan to start practice sessions soon, and while they will not be playing other teams, they are hoping to get in some scrimmages.
July 22, 2020
The Colfax Village Board has agreed to move forward with developing an All Terrain Vehicle and Utility Terrain Vehicle ordinance that would allow the vehicles to operate on all village streets.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher committees in the Colfax school district are working on how to teach blended, hybrid classes simultaneously for students in the classroom and for students who are at home.
A 73-year-old Colfax man, James Kiesow, died July 13 after being pinned under a tractor.
A 48-year-old Elk Mound man, Richie Knuth, has been bound over for trial in Dunn County Circuit Court on three felonies and one misdemeanor related to the sexual assault of a child.
The Colfax Village Board’s public safety committee is recommending that the village contract with the state Department of Revenue as the debt collector for the Colfax Rescue Squad.
July 29, 2020
As of July 23, the Colfax Public Library is now requiring patrons to wear masks since the COVID-19 activity level in Dunn County has moved from “moderate” to “high.”
The Elk Mound Village Board has approved a “Radio Over Internet” protocol emergency communications memorandum of understanding between the Elk Mound Police Department and Boyceville and Colfax.
A 50-year-old Wheeler woman, Nola M. Tyrrell, has been accused of debit card fraud, resulting in the loss of $40,000 from a bank account belonging to a resident at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and students in the Elk Mound school district will have three options for starting the 2020-2021 school year: in-person instruction five days per week, a virtual option with a “non-Elk Mound” teacher and a “live” virtual option with an Elk Mound instructor.
August 5, 2020
A 22-year-old Wheeler man, David J.R. Hoffmann, charged with two counts of armed robbery at Peoples State Bank in Boyceville and at U-Fuel near Elk Mound, has been sentenced to eight years in prison and eight years of extended supervision.
Gary Styer, who is accused in the death of his father, Edward Styer of Colfax, is scheduled for a plea hearing and sentencing hearing in Dunn County Circuit Court September 4.
The Colfax Village Board spent a portion of the July 27 meeting discussing some options as an alternative to the county solid waste and recycling program, such as taking over the Colfax collection site, which the village currently owns, and buying the equipment from Dunn County.
The Colfax Village Board has approved a certified survey map (CSM) related to the sale of the former nursing home on High Street. The entire lot where the former Area Nursing building is located covers a little over six acres.
Although many people may have already assumed that it was, the Viking Bowl and Lounge will soon officially be located within the Colfax village limits. The Colfax Village Board approved a “unanimous petition for annexation” from Viking Bowl owner Alicia M. Young at the July 27 meeting.
August 12, 2020
The Colfax Board of Education has approved starting school this fall with five days per week in-person instruction at school with masks required for students and staff to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
A proposed development in Elk Mound, Settlers Ridge, could add up to 1,000 residents to the village, which had a population of 878 in the 2010 census. Jim Rooney, representing Settlers Ridge LLC, spoke about creating a second Tax Increment Finance District for the development at the Elk Mound Village Board’s August 3 meeting.
A developer from Appleton is proposing to build a Dollar General store in Elk Mound and is preparing to make an offer to the village board for the empty lot east of the village hall. Mike Pfefferle of Pfefferle Companies, Inc., spoke to the Elk Mound Village Board August 3 about the site at E220 Menomonie Street.
The Dunn County Highway Department had a $3.38 million budget deficit as of December 31, 2019. The expenses exceeded the revenue because of higher costs for maintenance and because of higher costs for winter maintenance, said April Larson of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, who presented the audit report to the Dunn County Board at the July 29 meeting.
Melvina Solberg Evenson celebrated her 104th birthday with a parade put together by friends and family who drove past her West River Street residence honking and waving. When asked by a family member what it felt like to be 104, Melvina reportedly replied, “No different than yesterday when I was 103.”
August 19, 2020
A northbound semi truck that caught on fire and pulled over on Main Street across from The Outhouse Bar was a total loss. The Colfax Community Fire Department was called out around 2 p.m. Thursday, August 13, on the report of a semi fire on Main Street. The truck, which was hauling turkey fertilizer, belonged to CWR Trucking out of Bloomer, said Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief.
The project to keep the Red Cedar River from washing out the wastewater treatment lagoons, for which Colfax has received a $592,000 Community Development Block Grant, is expected to be completed next summer. The entire project will cost $1.6 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will cover 65 percent of the cost.
If all goes according to plan, the Village of Colfax will soon be operating its own solid waste and recycling program. The Colfax Village Board approved moving forward with withdrawing from Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling at the August 10 meeting.
August 26, 2020
Now that the Village of Colfax and the Towns of Grant, Otter Creek, and Tainter have withdrawn from Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling, the municipalities have formed a committee to oversee the Colfax collection site. Representatives from each of the municipalities met August 18 at the Colfax fire station.
The Colfax school district held a virtual open house and freshmen orientation August 24 as a way to reduce the number of people in the buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Colfax is planning to start the school year September 1 with five days per week in-person instruction.
Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, has presented a proposed budget of $414,206 for 2021, representing an increase of $183, and a per capita of $17.67, representing a 50-cent increase.
The 53rd Annual Colfax Firefighters Ball has been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the circumstances, the firefighters have decided it would be best to postpone this year’s event, said Don Logslett, fire chief.
September 2, 2020
The Colfax Village Board has approved an ordinance regarding the operation of All-Terrain Vehicles in the village.
At least for the time being — and if there are no spikes in COVID-19 cases — the Elk Mound school district is planning to proceed with fall sports.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the League of Women Voters of the Greater Chippewa Valley are urging people to start thinking now about how they will cast their ballots in the November election.
The Elk Mound Village Board has directed the village’s financial consultant to begin the first phase of creating a second Tax Increment Financing District and has directed the village’s attorney to begin negotiating a pre-developer’s agreement with Settlers Ridge LLC.
September 9, 2020
Staff Sergeant Erik Rostamo of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, has been named the 2020 U.S. Army Drill Sergeant of the Year. He is the grandson of Dale and the late Helen Rostamo of Colfax and Norman and Carolyn Hubbard of Menomonie, formerly of Colfax. He is the son of Dean Rostamo and Brenda Rostamo of St. Michael, Minnesota.
The Colfax Village Board has rejected a new proposal from Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling to provide anon-mandated recycling drop-off and administrative services at a cost of $10.28 per person per year.
The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals is recommending a zoning change from B-2 business to R-1 single family housing for a portion of the Area Nursing Home lot on University Avenue.
September 16, 2020
The matriarch of our publishing family has died and left an enormous emptiness in our office and hearts. The voice that many callers have heard for four plus decades on the other end of the phone line, or that familiar face who greeted them in our Glenwood City headquarters, were those of Paula Jean DeWitt, co-owner of the Tribune Press Reporter and the Colfax Messenger, along with her husband, Carlton. Paula Jean, as she was referred to by family and close friends, succumbed to her 22-month battle with pancreatic cancer early Monday morning, September 14, having reached the age of 75 years.
Gary Styer has been sentenced to life in a mental institution after pleading not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in the death of his father, Edward Styer of Colfax.
After allegedly breaking into the Outhouse Bar, a 31-year-old Bloomer man who attempted to elude police officers in Colfax in early March by jumping into the Red Cedar River has finally been located for a court hearing. Joshua A. Whitley appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court by telephone September 9 before Judge James Peterson.
September 23, 2020
The Colfax Plan Commission has given approval for a developer to start the process for building a model home in the East View housing development on Dunn Street. John Fraley of Homes by Croix Creek spoke to the plan commission September 16 about preliminary plans to build a model home and “starter homes” in East View.
The proposed 2021 budget for Dunn County is expected to include a 2 percent increase in wages and a 2 percent increase in health insurance premiums. There will also be a freeze on employees being able to advance on the steps of the pay grade due to budget constraints.
The Colfax Village Board has changed the hours of operation for the all-terrain vehicle/utility terrain vehicle ordinance from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 24 hours per day.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, Dunn County had 345 positive cases of COVID-19, of which 132 were active cases.
September 30, 2020
The United Way of Dunn County has devoted all of the volunteer hours from the “Week of Caring” to the Colfax Railroad Museum. This year, with COVID-19, it was more difficult to find volunteers and projects for a Day of Caring, so the event was spread out over a week.
As of January 1, the Colfax and Elk Mound solid waste and recycling collection sites will operate as part of the Colfax Responsible Unit.
The Colfax Board of Education has agreed to continue the mask requirement adopted as board policy August 5, especially in view of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Dunn County.
The Elk Mound Board of Education has awarded bids for roofing projects and for the swimming pool unit that are part of the district’s $15 million referendum approved by voters in April.