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Black Bullet, elections and more
2014: a year in review
gmi yr review pt 2

The Year in Review continues with the second half of 2014, July through December.

July – A back-to-the-land gathering held at the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center brought more than 100 people to Gays Mills to reminisce and reflect on those days of urban relocation to rural Crawford, Vernon, Grant and Richland counties from 1965 to 1985. ‘Reflections on Community Building in Southwest Wisconsin,’ as the event was formally titled, grew from the work of two of the adult children of these early back-to-the-landers, Christine ‘Kelle’ Lemley, daughter of Bud and Katie Lemley; and Josh Feyen, son of John and Andrea Feyen… Seneca Schools' art teacher Cody Sime’s work was on display at the Crawford County Administration Building. Sime had resolved at New Years 2012 to paint one painting per week for a year. Seventeen of the 23 paintings on display came from that project…As promised, the man who calls himself Black Bullet, the self-professed crime fighter of Gays Mills, called the Independent-Scout editor’s cellphone to discuss his ideas and plans. Black Bullet explained his view of what he saw as rising crime rates not only in Gays Mills, but also all over the world. Black Bullet also sought to assure the public that he was not planning to take any direct action against “crime causers,” but would report information to authorities by calling 911. He was not carrying a gun and hoped to make an impact “mainly by being bold.”… The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sought lease proposals from outside groups on all three of its tree and shrub nursery sites with an eye to consolidating seedling production to only one site. The state currently had two active nurseries – Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel and Griffith State Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids – and a third in Hayward where some seed cleaning and research projects are done. The DNR intended to consolidate bare-root production of trees and shrubs at either Griffith or Wilson… The Town of Bridgeport’s recall elections saw incumbents Mike Steiner and Larry Karnopp retain their seats, while incumbent Rodney Fishler lost to Alan Flansburgh…The Seneca School Board seemed to reach agreement on a plan to provide universal free breakfast for the coming school year. The school already has over 60 percent of the students qualified for free or reduced lunches and breakfasts because of lower family incomes. The new program would make the breakfast free for all of those students, as well as the almost 40 percent of the school that pays full price out-of-pocket for meals.

August – The Gays Mills Economic Development Association (GMEDA) was exploring the feasibility of dredging the wetland pond north of the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. They hit their first snag—paying for an analysis of the silt debris. The organization did not have the funds, approximately $5,000, to pay for the analysis, so the village’s financial support would be needed to continue, according to GMEDA member Brad Niemcek…Local voters overwhelmingly rejected a North Crawford School District referendum seeking permission to borrow $1.3 million to build a fitness center at the school. The referendum was defeated by a very large margin with just 199 yes votes to 505 no votes. The fitness center, referred to on the ballot as a wellness center, was an outgrowth of North Crawford’s federal PEP Grant, which would have paid for most of the exercise equipment it would house… The historically late spring thaw, followed by significant rains in May and June produced heavy silting in July on the Mississippi River, as water levels dropped rapidly. The result was a river closed to barge traffic for approximately three weeks during its busy season… A 58-year-old motorcyclist from Dubuque was injured in an accident on the orchard hill in the Village of Gays Mills. Donald Galle was riding a 2010 Harley Davidson motorcycle west, coming down the orchard hill on Highway 171. He lost control of the cycle, while negotiating a curve on the hill, and slid across the roadway crashing into the guardrail. Galle was ejected from the motorcycle and severely injured. The accident scene has been the location of many other crashes over the years—both severe and minor in nature. More than one has been fatal… Interpreting and applying portions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act may present some challenges to school districts, like North Crawford and others that use non-staff members as athletic coaches. North Crawford School District Administrator Dan Davies broached the subject with the school board as part of his report on needed revisions to a coaches’ handbook. Language was added that all coaching assignments will be for one year and that the priority will be to give coaching assignments to professional salaried employees of the district i.e. teachers, administrators, etc.

September – The North Crawford School Board has approved the 2014-2015 budget. The budget, which may undergo some adjustments in October after the final numbers are available for state aid and equalized values, includes a slight increase in the district mil rate to 9.77 per $1,000 of equalized property value, up from 9.68… The Driftless Area Art Festival opened for its tenth year with 85 visual artists offering a wide range of work, including painting, drawing, multi-media, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, and fabric art. Of the 85 artists, 19 were new to the festival… Avalon (Avie) Paulson was selected as the Apple Ambassador for the Gays Mills Apple Festival.

October – Second Monday Weavers & Friends held a farm and studio tour for fiber art enthusiasts… Close to 50 people were in attendance at the intersection of County C and White Road for the ceremony thanking the Ho-Chink Nation for their funding to replace a bridge on County Highway C… The buzz of the parade and maybe all of the 2014 Apple Festival was the drone that appeared during the parade. Yes, a small remotely controlled drone aircraft complete with video camera taking pictures of the whole event from above. The drone was under the control of longtime Gays Mills resident Marilyn McManamy’s grandson-in-law Andrew Mulholland, a rather creative real estate agent from Rochester, Minnesota…Gays Mills area resident Ray Anderson gave himself a nice birthday present when he earned two silver medals in the Wisconsin Senior Olympics on the day he turned 63 years old…Tracy Hames, the Executive Director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association, met with a small group of people interested in tourism development of the wetlands on the north end of Gays Mills on Sunday, Sept. 21. Hames met with a group comprised of village board member Ed Block, Royal Bank President Rick Busch, former Gays Mills Economic Development Coordinator Julie Henley, Mark Drake, and Jack Knowles. Also in attendance was Maggie Jones, a local conservationist…A new group formed to work on restoring the remnant prairie on top of the hill northeast of North Crawford Schools. Friends of the North Crawford Prairie planned on sawing larger brush and trees, clipping smaller ones, treating stumps to prevent re-sprouting, and moving branches into a burn pile… It was a large soybean and corn crop in Crawford County, according to most everyone. However, the harvest is off to a slower start. Late-maturing crops, a lack of killing frosts and resulting high moisture content in the crops are all playing a part in the delay… With transportation demand greater than the available supply, costs are rising and commodities such as grain and coal are backlogged on the Mississippi River and railroad lines… The body of Roger Goodell was recovered from the Mississippi River just south of Lock and Dam 9 on Saturday, Oct. 25 by members of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department. The 64-year-old Ferryville man had fallen out of the boat from which he was fishing two weeks earlier near the dam… The Wisconsin Public Service Commission recently awarded CenturyLink a $124,000 Broadband Expansion Grant to make fiber optic infrastructure improvements in northwest Crawford County. The area served includes the Village of Ferryville, the Town of Freeman and the Town of Seneca.

November – It was another day of victory for the incumbents in the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election, both locally and statewide. Party didn’t seem to matter as much as long-term incumbency did. Five-term incumbent Republican 96th District State Assemblyperson Lee Nerison and nine-term Democratic Third Congressional District U.S. Representative Ron Kind both retained their offices beating challengers Pete Flesch and Tony Kurtz, respectively... Community Health Services (CHS) is looking to create an assisted living facility in the area, according to a short presentation made at the Soldiers Grove Board meeting on November 6 by Jackie Carley, the Vice President of Finance and Administrator of Sannes Skogdalen Heim. CHS has been in talks for some time with David Connelly of the Crawford County Economic Development Corporation, according to Carley… North Crawford Playhouse produced Damon Runyon’s classic Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls, to a full house and favorable reviews… A former Readstown Fire Department Chief and a former Readstown EMS President were charged with felony misconduct in office along with additional charges of theft. According to the criminal complaints filed in Vernon County Circuit Court on October 28, Roseanna N. Welsh, 51, Readstown, and Phillip R. Townsend, 45, Readstown, are suspected of taking “advances” in pay above the amount they could be owed from hours worked. The brother and sister have been charged with felony misconduct in office. Welsh, the EMS president and fire department treasurer, was also charged with felony theft and Townsend, the fire chief, was charged with misdemeanor theft… The North Crawford School Board approved creating the new position of assistant musical director for the playhouse’s fall musical. The position will receive $2,072 in compensation. In addition to creating an assistant musical director position for the fall musical, the board also agreed to increase the salary of the assistant director of the spring play to $2,072 from the current $1,036 salary. Likewise, the board approved increasing the salary of the assistant art director to $1,726 from the current $690 salary.

December – David D. Mageland, former owner of the Gays Mills BP, also known as the Gays Mills Amoco, has been ordered to pay the state $10,506 in forfeitures, statutory fees, and prosecuting costs for violating a July 17, 2013 administrative order requiring him to take responsibility for soil contamination at the gas station site found in October 2011. In addition to the payment, Mageland has also been ordered to investigate the nature and extent of contamination found in the soil of the former Gays Mills BP gas station he had operated, and to take any action necessary to restore the environment…Gays Mills Economic Development Association’s Julia Henley led a meeting to discuss development options for the wetland, locally referred to as the Cutoff Slough, which is located on the northern edge of the village near Highway 131. The meeting, held on Saturday, Dec. 6, filled the boardroom at the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center, which is located adjacent to the wetland area.  Henley was unable to facilitate the completion of the agenda after the initial introductions took longer than anticipated.