By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
2020 – Year in Review Part One
The Boscobel Dial
Year in Review 2020

BOSCOBEL – 2020 was quite a year – one most will likely never forget, no matter how much they may want to.


Jim Boebel got an unusual early Christmas present last week — the one thing he really needed.

The Platteville School District superintendent received a kidney from his sister-in-law, Lori Barry of Fennimore, at UW Hospital in Madison.

“The new kidney is functioning,” said Boebel from his hospital room last Monday morning, and he is recovering from having his two kidneys removed as part of the transplant.

Boebel has polycystic kidney disease, a genetic condition in which cysts form in kidneys and interfere with their function.

“Eventually the cysts become too large and lead to renal failure,” said Boebel, a Boscobel native who formerly taught in Boscobel, then was the Cuba City Elementary School and Cuba City High School principal.

At their regular monthly meeting on Monday, the Boscobel Board of Education announced the hiring of a new varsity football coach to head up the program next fall. 

Dustin Johnson, new this year to the district as a high school mathematics instructor, will now take the reins of the football program as well.  Johnson will take over for Wayne Otto, who served just one season at the helm before parting with the district in December.  Johnson brings a solid coaching resume to the position, having served as a key varsity assistant at Darlington and Lake Geneva Badger high schools.

A 32-year-old rural Eastman man was arrested after a six-hour-long standoff with law enforcement Friday in which a La Crosse woman was shot in the leg.

Bryant Matti faces tentative charges of first-degree reckless injury, injury by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, false imprisonment, criminal trespass to a locked dwelling, and two counts of bail jumping.


Thirty years ago the lead front page story in the January 25, 1990 issue of The Muscoda Progressive started: “Vince Limmex, Chairman of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, has announced that Mark Cupp of Fitchburg, formerly of Richland Center, has been hired as the Board’s Executive Director.”

Thirty years and eight days later, Cupp noted that at this point he is not thinking about retirement, although he does have some reservations about the relationship of his knees and his sometimes requirement to get to the top of a Lower Wisconsin River bluff.

In 1990, Cupp was chosen from a field of 43 applicants for the newly-created position.

Brad Bay hadn’t planned on attending last Saturday night’s annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet, but when his wife Donna told him that their good friend Russ Atkinson was the recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award, well, he didn’t have much of a choice. However, that wasn’t exactly true. In fact, it was just the opposite. Brad would be receiving that prestigious award.

“Tracy Atkinson called me and told me that Brad was receiving the award, but that it had to be kept confidential,” Donna said. “She said they wanted our family there, but that it had to be a secret. No one could call Brad and congratulate him or post anything on Facebook.”

They also had to figure out a way to get Brad to the bowling alley Saturday night without letting the cat out of the bag.

“I’m not sure who exactly came up with the idea, but I told Brad that Russ had received the award and we had to be there,” Donna recalls. “Russ had all our children in school and we do a lot of things together.”


A good cup of coffee, hearty home-cooked meals and friendly conversation—that pretty much sums up Nancy and Doyle Lewis’ life as owners of Boscobel’s iconic Unique Café over the past 37 years. Those days are coming to a close this week as the couple sells the restaurant to longtime employee Melissa Cregg.

“It’s been a heckuva ride; I’m going to miss it,” says Doyle. “There’s a lot of stuff I would have liked to have finished like the windows and the upstairs, but I never had time. Thirty-seven years, that’s a lot of weekends tied up. I’ll be helping Melissa out on weekends, so I’ll still be around.”

A 22-year-old private pilot attending UW-Platteville did a remarkable job of flying when he made an emergency landing on a ridgetop cornfield near Woodman Saturday afternoon and walked away without a scratch. Even the plane appeared undamaged.

Colten Jaekel was flying a 1973 Piper at 4,500 feet from Dubuque to Viroqua to have lunch with his mother when he began losing power over Fennimore  and was forced to make the emergency landing. Fortunately, the corn had been cut and the snow wasn’t too deep.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, China, the center of the COVID-19 epidemic, meeting with, according to the New York Times, “front-line medical workers, military personnel, community workers, police officers and officials.”

That does not necessarily mean that the coronavirus epidemic has peaked in new cases or deaths. Nor does it mean its effects won’t be felt for some time to come.

Wisconsin has had three reported cases — the first at UW Hospital in Madison, on Monday a Pierce County resident who contracted the virus while traveling in this country, and on Tuesday a Dane County resident who also contracted the virus while traveling in this country. Those two people are self-isolating at home, according ot the state Department of Health Services.

During their regular meeting Monday, the Boscobel Common Council voted to close City Hall to the public immediately, along with the police department and library. The Tuffley Center and senior meal sites closed earlier in the day, although Meals on Wheels continues to operate. The moves were in response to the recent coronavirus outbreak that has cancelled schools and closed many restaurants.

Treena Knowles is Boscobel High School’s Class of 2020’s Valedictorian. She is the daughter of Jonathan and Cherryl Knowles, and she has four siblings: Andrew, Sarah, Erin, and Jonah. Since her first day of school, Treena has been a student at Boscobel Area Schools.

Rebecca Yahn, daughter of Pamela Yahn and Brian Yahn, has been named salutatorian of the Boscobel High School Class of 2020. She has a sister, Rachel Yahn, who is attending UW-Oshkosh. Rebecca has attended Boscobel School District her entire school career.


Last week, Grant County officials notified the public that the county had its first person die as a result of complications of COVID-19. Early April 9, the Grant County Health Department reported the first death of a resident that tested positive for COVID-19.  The individual, who was over the age of 80, was found to have been infected with COVID-19 due to tests conducted after their passing. Testing is available and will be done post-mortem on individuals if COVID-19 is suspected.

Incumbent Steve Wetter won re-election to his twelfth, 2-year term with 378 votes. That compared to 210 for registered write-in candidate Kaye Woodke and 124 for challenger and former alderman Lyle Vesperman. “This will give me 30 years of service to the city, 25 as mayor,” Wetter said Tuesday. “I’ll be coming up on 80 years old when this term is finished. I think it’s time to turn it over to someone else after that.”


Twelve days after he was thrown out of a fishing boat after hitting a submerged log in the Wisconsin River, the body of a 64-year-old Boscobel man was recovered Friday not far from where the initial accident occurred.

“Frank Etheridge was located today at approximately 8 a.m. by Warden Adams and Boscobel Police Chief Jaden McCullick,” Crawford County Sheriff Dale McCullick said Friday. “The had gone out looking for him and found him approximately 80 yards from where he was last seen going under the water. The family has been notified.”


One or more black bears were seen in several Southwest Wisconsin locations in the past week.

A bear estimated by the DNR to weigh 300 pounds was first seen north of Muscoda Saturday around 4:15 p.m. The bear then appeared near a full Riverside Campground in Muscoda around 7 p.m.

“That’s what raised our concern, the location,” said Village Administrator Cinda Johnson. “It was near a full campground with many young children present.”

The communities of Boscobel, Bagley, and Eastman have all canceled their 2020 Fourth of July celebrations due to COVID-19. According to event organizers, the decisions to forego these annual holiday observances were made after careful consideration about the safety of event-goers and volunteers. 

All have stated their events will be back on the calendar in 2021.

Apparently, the Wisconsin River is more frightening than the COVID-19 virus, at least to a majority of both the Boscobel Park Commission and Common Council. In a pair of split votes during a joint meeting Monday night at the Blaine Gym, the two bodies agreed to proceed with opening the city swimming pool as soon as possible, with the main rationale being the danger the river posed to children if the pool remained closed throughout the summer.

(to be continued 1/7/21)