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2012 in the news
Wand Vigil picture
Luminaries were part of a memorial to Allen, Joseph and Jeffrey Wand during a memorial service in Argyle Sept. 26. The three boys were killed in a house fire in Argyle Sept. 7. Their father, Armin, and uncle, Jeremy, face charges of first-degree intentional homicide, with trials scheduled in 2013.

Jan. 2: Former Platteville running back Louis Nzegwu scores a touchdown on a fumble recovery during Wisconsin’s 45–38 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The game is the last for another Platteville native, Paul Chryst, who leaves Wisconsin to become the head coach at Pittsburgh.

Jan. 6: Darrel Kallembach, owner of 21 Platteville rental properties, is found in contempt of court for failing to produce leases and failing to arrange inspections of his properties. Kallembach is sentenced to four months in jail unless he complies with the court order by Jan. 26.

Jan. 6: The Belmont/Platteville wrestling team wins its first dual meet since 2006, defeating River Valley 42–36. The win ended a 19-match losing streak and a 28-match losing streak in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference.

Jan. 10: Adisyn Jean Haney, daughter of Patty Walton and Todd Haney of Shullsburg, is the first baby of the year born at Southwest Health Center.

Jan. 10: A study by Southwest Design Associates reports that renovating the Municipal Building in Platteville will cost about $1.65 million, while building a new city hall will cost an estimated $1.9 million.

Jan. 10: The Platteville Common Council enacts an ordinance creating parking permits and parking permit regulations.

Jan. 15: A benefit is held at Sts. Andrew–Thomas School in Potosi for Army Sgt. Adam Alexander, who was injured in Afghanistan Nov. 10. Alexander was undergoing rehabilitation at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis.

Jan. 15: Jared, Zac and Quincy Pick of Platteville run in the PF Chang’s Rock ’n Roll Marathon in Phoenix, each in less than four hours.

Jan. 18: Three men plead no contest in Grant County Circuit Court to 70 charges of vandalism in connection with damage to headstones at Rock Church Cemetery near Livingston.

Jan. 20: Professional photographer Mark Hirsch drives by a tree on Airport Road, and takes a photo with his new iPhone 4s.

Jan. 21: Twelve members of Community Evangelical Free Church in Platteville and the owner of Momentum Bikes and Boards take refurbished bicycles to a church in New Orleans.

Jan. 24: Paul Wedig of Belmont wins $250,000 in the Mega Millions lottery. Wedig bought his ticket at a Dubuque convenience store.

Jan. 28: UW–Platteville student Brandon Marteny opens Gallery M115 on Main Street in Platteville.

Feb. 1: Kailee Kamps of Belmont signs a national letter of intent to compete in track and field at the University of Minnesota.

Feb. 6: UW–Platteville announces that the annual Heartland Festival will not take place this year because of renovations at the Center for the Arts.

Feb. 6: The Platteville Plan Commission discusses preliminary talks to sell the city’s Pine/Bonson parking lot to a developer for a proposed multiple-use development, including apartments, commercial space and approximately 76 parking spaces. The preliminary plan would give public access to half of the stalls, fewer than the 51 stalls in the Pine/Bonson lot.

Feb. 17: Duane and Michelle DeYoung, owners of the Avalon Cinema and Millennium Cinema, are named Business Persons of the Year by the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Feb. 18: UW–Platteville hosts a discussion with Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) on the proposed mining bill.

Feb. 19: The Dane County Sheriff’s Department Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit is called after a traffic stop by Platteville police revealed two suspicious devices.

Feb. 23: Belmont beats River Ridge 37–19 to win the Six Rivers Conference West girls basketball title, its first conference girls basketball title in school history.

Feb. 25: Platteville senior Dusty Jentz wins the WIAA state Division 2 182-pound wrestling title, while Iowa–Grant senior Blake Welu won the Division 3 182-pound title.

Feb. 26: St. Mary’s School in Platteville announces it will be switching to multi-age classrooms for its 2012–13 school year.

March 12: Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Grindley of Hazel Green dies in Afghanistan.

March 13: The Platteville Common Council discusses the possibility of eliminating the city’s police dispatch center, or combining it with Grant County’s.

March 14: Professional photographer Mark Hirsch takes a second photo of a tree on Airport Road and posts it on Facebook. That begins a year-long project to shoot one photo per day of what on Facebook is called That Tree.

March 16: At the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest, The Platteville Journal’s Ann Rupp and Carol Tyson receive a first-place award in the Best Use of Art Service category and the Bill Payne Award for a Snap Fitness ad. Sports Editor Jason Nihles receives a sports feature third-place award for “Living life in the fast lane.” Contributor Tina Davies receives a photo essay second-place award.

March 21: Platteville Deputy City Clerk Kim Lowery celebrates the 20-year anniversary of her heart and double lung transplant. Lowery is the longest surviving heart/double-lung transplant recipient in Wisconsin.

March 21: In a letter to parishioners, Rev. Faustino Ruiz of St. Mary Catholic Church announces that St. Mary’s School will close at the end of the school year unless $160,000 is raised by April 15.

March 22: The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announces the six finalists for the 2012 Alice in Dairyland.

March 27: The Platteville Common Council votes 4–3 against vacating part of Bonson Street for the proposed student housing building on what now is the Pine/Bonson parking lot.

March 31: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum visits Pioneer Lanes in Platteville.

April 2: Platteville High School is evacuated for part of the morning after a parent of a student called to describe a potential threat to the building.

April 2: The City of Platteville approves a development deal with Emmi Roth USA to bring a $44 million cheese factory to Platteville by July 1, 2013. The plant is estimated to create at least 32 jobs.

April 3: Write-in candidate Dick Bonin is elected to the Platteville Common Council over two candidates on the ballot. Eric Fatzinger is elected to the Platteville School Board.

April 13: Four men are arrested on drug charges after Platteville police and the Richland–Iowa–Grant Drug Task Force execute a search warrant.

April 18: The UW–Platteville Pioneer Farm hosts a town hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

April 21: Tud and Bryn Bowden of Platteville win the first Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship in Mineral Point.

April 25: Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison Catholic Diocese announces in a letter to parishioners that St. Mary’s School will close at the end of the school year. Morlino’s letter includes reference to turmoil between the church and its priests: “ … what remains are personal likes and dislikes, along with inflated rumors and gossip, some of which may even rise to the level of calumnious inciting of hatred of your priests, the faith, and myself.”

April 28: Platteville High School graduate Louis Nzegwu signs a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

May 2: The Platteville Journal reports that the developer for the proposed student housing building at the Pine/Bonson parking lot will not be pursuing the project.

May 2: In a series of search warrants executed by the Richland–Iowa–Grant Drug Task Force and Platteville police, 21 people, including 18 UW–Platteville students, are arrested on drug charges. The arrests follow a 10-month-long undercover investigation.

May 8: In the first statewide recall primary election in state history, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Tom Barrett win to face off in a repeat of the November 2010 gubernatorial election. Mahlon Mitchell wins the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

May 9: Steve Prestegard takes over as the new editor of The Platteville Journal, replacing Dan Wackershauser, who now is a communications specialist/editor for UW–Platteville.

May 9: The U.S. Postal Service announces service-hour reductions at the Belmont, Potosi and Dickeyville post offices to six hours per day, and four hours per day at the Livingston, Montfort and Rewey post offices. The reductions replace the Postal Service’s previous plan to close 677 post offices nationwide.

May 12: Westview Elementary School students Connor Timlin and Collin Bradley find a copy of the book I Grew Up to Be President at Westview’s Scholastic Book Fair. Four months earlier, Connor and Collin found a copy of the book that incorrectly listed Lyndon Johnson as the 43rd president, instead of the 36th president. The writer of the book sends an autographed copy to Westview two days later.

May 14: Grant County Sheriff Keith Govier announces his retirement after 15½ years as sheriff.

May 19: UW–Platteville graduate Rochelle Ripp is chosen the state’s Alice in Dairyland at UW–Platteville. The five Alice finalists toured agriculture-related businesses throughout southwest Wisconsin in the three days before the finals.

May 19: Katherine Zaimes of Platteville, co-owner of Steve’s Pizza Palace, wins three first-place awards at a regional ballroom dance competition in Milwaukee.

May 23: The Platteville Journal prints a letter signed by 94 downtown business owners, employees and residents asking the city to preserve downtown parking.

May 24: Platteville beats Dodgeville in a regional quarterfinal softball game 10–5. The win becomes a forfeit because the Hillmen played an ineligible player by Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association rules. The player had been suspended under Platteville High School’s activities code, but appealed the suspension. WIAA rules specify that suspended players who appeal are ineligible to play, contrary to Platteville School District policies.

May 25: Harry Scott of Somers Point, N.J., plays 18 holes at the Platteville Golf and Country Club. Scott’s round was part of his goal of playing 50 rounds of golf in all 50 states on 50 consecutive days.

May 30: Less than a month after she graduated from UW–Platteville, Katie Binning is killed in a crash in front of the school in which she was student-teaching, Wisconsin Heights High School near Black Earth.

May 31: Now & Then, an antique store that opened in February, closes and moves to Monroe, due to, the owners say, their building’s lack of vehicle access during the Water Street reconstruction project.

June 1: St. Mary’s School in Platteville holds its final day of classes.

June 5: Republican Gov. Scott Walker wins the state’s first gubernatorial recall election, defeating his November 2010 opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

June 5: Belmont High School valedictorian Emily Cushman arrives in Uganda, where she spends eight weeks at an orphanage as part of a church mission. Cushman writes about her experiences at

June 5: Michael McPhail of Darlington, son of former Platteville residents Dennis and Joyce McPhail, wins the U.S. Olympic Team Trial 50-meter Rifle Prone match to qualify for the Olympic Games in London.

June 7: The final day of classes in the Platteville School District is also the final day of work for 19 teachers and school district employees with a combined 513 years of service.

June 12: Joe Nolan of Platteville donates one of his kidneys in a kidney exchange program so that his father, Jim, can receive a donated kidney.

June 12: The Grant County Board Administrative Committee holds a closed-session meeting on the topic of supervisors’ getting along with each other.

June 14: Joseph Fecht of Potosi, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison and 20 years extended supervision for the 2003 murder of his wife, has his total sentence reduced by five years. The sentence reduction ends nine years of state and federal court appeals.

June 17: Cecelia LaBarge of Platteville is named Wisconsin High School Rodeo Queen at the Wisconsin High School Rodeo Finals in Richland Center. Ryan Myers of Platteville wins his second consecutive state team roping title to qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., in July.

June 19: One week after their closed-session committee meeting, the Grant County Board holds a meeting so contentious that a vote on naming a supervisor to a committee — the only candidate for that committee vacancy — has to be conducted by secret ballot.

June 24: After 52½ years in business, Ed’s Café in Platteville closes for the final time, with owners Clayton and Kathy Poller retiring.

June 25: Platteville High School graduate Adam Niehaus begins basic training in the U.S. Marine Corps. At the end of basic training in San Diego, Niehaus earns the Marine Corps’ Leatherneck Award for being the most physically fit Marine in his 600-person recruit class.

June 27: After four months as a fugitive, Platteville landlord Darrel Kallembach is arrested at one of his properties. Kallembach spends four months in the Grant County Jail and owes the city $309,804 in fines over his 21 rental properties.

June 28: Representatives of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference and the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League meet in Dodgeville on potential conference realignment among Southwest Wisconsin high schools. No agreement is reached.

June 29: Belmont High School graduate Kailee Kamps is named’s Triple Play Triple Threat Female Athlete of the Year.

June 30: Chantae McMillan, granddaughter of Becky Jentz of Platteville, finishes third in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials heptathlon, qualifying her for the Olympic Games in London.

July 1: Several priest changes at Lafayette County Catholic churches include the closing of St. Michael Catholic Church in Yellowstone.

July 4: A man is found unconscious on the front lawn of a Platteville house early in the morning. Steven Todd Rech, 28, was pronounced dead at Southwest Health Center.

July 4: The Veterans Honor Roll is dedicated in City Park in Platteville before more than 300 people.

July 7: Platteville’s high temperature is 95 degrees, a record for the fifth consecutive day in a summer in which rain is infrequent.

July 22: Trinity Episcopal Church in Platteville celebrates its 150th anniversary.

July 24: Grant, Lafayette and Iowa counties are declared disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to the ongoing drought.

July 25: Lafayette County’s fire chiefs unanimously endorse an outdoor burning ban throughout the county.

July 27: An 8-year-old Jamestown boy dies in an accidental shooting at his home.

July 29: A kayaker from Argyle drowns in the Pecatonica River north of Argyle.

July 31: The Lafayette County General Store in Belmont closes because it is “unable to generate the revenue required to operate the store.”

Aug. 3: First National Bank in Platteville announces it is being acquired by Heartland Financial USA, parent company of Dubuque Bank & Trust. First National’s name is changed to Wisconsin Bank & Trust.

Aug. 7: After a day-long search by police, Milan D. Halverson, 47, Belmont, was found dead after a crash near Lone Rock. The search included a lockdown of Southwest Health Center.

Aug. 9: Five Iowans are arrested on felony drug charges after a traffic stop on U.S. 151. The five are accused of purchasing supplies for making methamphetamine from Platteville-area businesses.

Aug. 9: Downtown Platteville business owners form the Downtown Parking Alliance, intending to influence the creation of a downtown parking plan.

Aug. 11: The North American Manx Museum, commemorating immigrants from the Isle of Man, opens at UW–Platteville.

Aug. 13: Platteville Ald. Barb Daus, chair of the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Authority, unveils a plan to rent 85 parking spots in or near downtown for six-month permits.

Aug. 14: For the third time, Rep. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City) defeats Dave Kuhle of Hazel Green in the 49th Assembly District Republican primary. Kate Findley wins the Democratic nomination for Lafayette County district attorney; Findley will replace retiring DA Charlotte Doherty because no Republican ran for the office.

Aug. 14: Grant County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nate Dreckman takes over as sheriff, replacing retired Sheriff Keith Govier. Dreckman was named sheriff by Gov. Scott Walker earlier in the summer.

Aug. 21: An attempt to oust Grant County Board chair Larry Wolf fails 9–8 — the same margin by which Wolf was installed as board chair in April.

Aug. 25: The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 229th Engineer Company holds a sendoff ceremony in Prairie du Chien.

Aug. 25: Firefighters from seven fire departments and three EMS services fight the Chicago’s Best fire at 95 N. Second St. in Platteville. The building was gutted, 12 tenants lost their apartments, and two firefighters were treated for injuries.

Aug. 30: UW–Platteville’s new Rountree Commons dormitory officially opens. That same day, ground is officially broken on UW–Platteville’s next dorm, which will be called Bridgeway Commons.

Aug. 31: Army Sgt. Adam Alexander, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan in November 2010, is honored at halftime of the Belmont–Potosi football game at Potosi High School.

Sept. 1: Platteville High School graduate Louis Nzegwu is cut by the Atlanta Falcons, who decide against signing Nzegwu to their practice squad.

Sept. 4: The first day of classes at UW–Platteville includes record enrollment of 8,621 students and the largest percentage enrollment increase of any UW System four-year campus.

Sept. 4: Tornado sirens are sounded in Platteville because of a suspected funnel cloud between Potosi and Platteville. The same storm produces a tornado that destroys much of a Bloomington farm, and 4 inches of rain in parts of Grant County.

Sept. 5: The second day of classes at Platteville High School — freshmen had PHS to themselves for a day-long orientation the day before — was the first day for a typical load of drivers on the new roundabout at North Water Street and East Madison Street, part of the Wisconsin 80 project between Platteville and Livingston.

Sept. 7: Three boys — Allen, Jeffrey and Joseph Wand — are killed in an early-morning house fire in Argyle. Their mother, Sharon, sustains severe burns and is hospitalized at UW Hospital in Madison. The boys’ two-year-old sister is treated and released from a hospital.

Sept. 9: Armin J. Wand III, the father of the three boys killed in a house fire two days earlier, and Armin’s brother, Jeremy, 18, are arrested on arson charges. The Wands eventually are charged with four counts of first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

Sept. 11: Travis J. Sedlak, 32, Platteville, and Matthew T. Boyd, 32, Dodgeville, are arrested on felony drug charges after a search warrant reveals a $300,000 marijuana-growing operation in Sedlak’s Ellenboro house.

Sept. 11: The Downtown Parking Alliance holds a meeting in which a speaker says “people in the community” feel “they have little input.” Two hours later, the Common Council takes the Downtown Redevelopment Authority’s proposal to lease 30 stalls and increases it to leasing 89 stalls.

Sept. 18: A&E’s “Shipping Wars” does a segment about the Ferris Wheel sold by Mildred Faith, the owner of Mound View Shows, to a Pennsylvania buyer.

Sept. 25: The City of Platteville’s plan to bid on seven properties owned by landlord Darrel Kallembach is stopped by Kallembach’s declaring bankruptcy just before the sheriff’s sale on the properties.

Sept. 25: The Platteville Common Council tables a proposal to lease downtown parking spaces.

Sept. 25: Harvard University student Philip Streich, 21, is found dead on his family’s farm near Platteville. Streich was profiled as a “nano entrepreneur” by Discover Magazine in December 2008 for his work on nanotechnology with a UW–Platteville professor. Streich also received $50,000 for a nanotech startup in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest in 2008.

Sept. 29: Jordan Stombaugh and Emma Wilson of Platteville win The Grand’s Got Talent contest at the Grand Opera House in Dubuque.

Oct. 5: Platteville High School holds its first Homecoming parade in several years.

Oct. 9: The Platteville Common Council forgives tickets issued on three September dates during two football games at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium and a cross country meet in Memorial Park.

Oct. 12: The baseball field at Potosi High School is named Kading Field in honor of Ron Kading, the Chieftains’ longtime baseball coach, and assistant coach Jerry Downs.

Oct. 13: In their first bodybuilding competition, Todd and Jessica Allion win two divisions each in the Midwest National Bodybuilding Competition in Monona.

Oct. 18: The Platteville Common Council decides against spinning off the Rollo Jamison Museum to an undetermined nonprofit organization. The spinoff had been proposed in the city’s initial 2013 budget.

Oct. 20: UW–Platteville’s Homecoming ends with the traditional lighting of the M, in the M’s 75th anniversary.

Oct. 22: The state Department of Public Instruction issues its first School Report Cards. Platteville High School, Platteville Middle School and Westview Elementary School rank first, fifth and eighth respectively in Southwest Wisconsin, each meeting the “Exceeds Expectations” category, as was Potosi High School. Iowa–Grant Elementary School, Belmont Elementary School, Potosi Middle School, Potosi Elementary School, Iowa–Grant High School, Belmont High School all scored in the “Meets Expectations” category.

Nov. 1: Thomas Welp, 71, Dickeyville, is arrested after a gunshot hit a vehicle on U.S. 61 north of Dickeyville. Welp told Grant County sheriff’s deputies he was shooting at a red-tail hawk in a tree and was unaware that his shot hit an SUV that had a woman and four children in the van.

Nov. 5: The last of the 21 defendants from the May 2 Platteville drug raid are sentenced in Grant County Circuit Court. The largest sentence for any defendant is two years probation.

Nov. 6: State Reps. Travis Tranel (R–Cuba City) and Howard Marklein (R–Spring Green) are reelected in the 49th and 51st Assembly districts, respectively. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D–Madison) is elected to the U.S. Senate, replacing retiring Sen. Herb Kohl. State Rep. Mark Pocan (D–Madison) is elected to replace Baldwin in the Second Congressional District.

Nov. 9: A competency hearing is ordered for Robert VanNatta of Platteville, who faces 109 charges — ranging from having sex with a child 16 or older to kidnapping to solicitation to commit first-degree intentional homicide — with maximum penalties of 907½ years in prison.

Nov. 9: Down 20–14 with 90 seconds remaining, Potosi scores 16 points to defeat Randolph 30–20 and advance to the Chieftains’ first WIAA state football championship game.

Nov. 10: UW–Platteville student Mark Curda is arrested after he allegedly tries to manufacture methamphetamine in his Rountree Hall suite. The resulting fire forces an evacuation of the residence hall, and five people, including Curda, suffer smoke inhalation.

Nov. 14: North Water Street in Platteville officially opens to traffic, part of the completion of the Wisconsin 80 project between Platteville and Livingston.

Nov. 15: Potosi loses to Glenwood City 46–21 in the WIAA Division 7 football championship at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Nov. 28: The Platteville Common Council votes 4–3 to raise city nonunion employees’ pay by 1 percent, resulting in a tax levy increase for 2013. The 2013 budget, also approved 4–3, includes a new garbage collection fee of $60 for single-family households and $120 for duplexes. The fee is placed on city property tax bills, but is not deductible off income taxes, as property taxes are.

Dec. 10: Ground is broken for a new Benvenuto’s Italian Grill on Progressive Parkway in Platteville.

Dec. 11: Dennis Novinski, 82, Blanchardville, is killed in a crash on U.S. 151 at Grant County O. Novinski is the former owner of the Montfort Mail and Blanchardville Blade newspapers.

Dec. 11: The City of Platteville announces the sheriff’s sale of the 21 Platteville properties owned by Darrel Kallembach will be Jan. 15. Kallembach had filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but failed to submit a payment schedule or make the first payment to creditors.

Dec. 15: UW–Platteville’s fall Commencement features the largest fall graduating class in UWP history.