By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Princesses, lawsuits, and new business
2014: a year in review
year in review 1

Each year, as one year ends and the next begins, we take a look back at what has happened in our community.

We give you the first half, with July through December to run in next week’s issue.

January – Mt. Zion’s Kaitlyn Riley, the Crawford County Fairest of the Fair, was selected as the 2014 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair… The Gays Mills Vil­lage Board appointed trustee Harry Heisz to serve as village president fol­lowing the resignation of Pat Brockway from that po­sition…The North Crawford School Board opted to delay putting a referendum on the ballot in April for a proposed fitness center building to be run by Vernon Memorial Hospital. The board and staff decided to continue working on the fitness center proposal and seek additional public comment with the August 12 election eyed as a possible ref­erendum date… Grant County Judge Craig R. Day ordered the Town of Bridgeport to hold a new hearing for the Crawford Stewardship project and Bridgeport landowners Ar­nold Steele, Mark Fishler, Lo­ren Fishler, and Dan Linder, who had brought a suit against the township seeking to overturn a frac sand mining permit held by Pattison Sand Company…Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) announced that he would not run for re-election in November, after 23 years in the state senate… Propane users were being told to check their tanks as a shortage loomed throughout the upper Midwest and prices were beginning to climb.

February – An investigation into the possible misappropriation of funds in Clayton Township was underway. The Wisconsin Department of Justice Divi­sion of Criminal Investigation was handling the case… The Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly were preparing to vote on a bill authored by Senator Dean Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) that would trim the Department of Natural Re­sources ability to regulate high-capacity wells. The bill sought to redefine high capacity wells, alter the permitting process, and limit conditions applying wells including consideration of cumulative impacts… The venue and time for opening arguments in the Pat­tison Sand Company vs. Low­er Wisconsin State Riverway Board case was moved to Grant County. The case, involving the de­cision of the Lower Wiscon­sin Riverway Board to deny a mining permit application from Pattison Sand Com­pany, was originally slated to be heard in the Crawford County Circuit Court…  North Crawford, Sen­eca and Boscobel School Dis­tricts had used all of their available snow days. Like other schools throughout the region, their school boards were adjusting their calendar and adding days to the school year… Soldiers Grove Fire Chief Dave Clason resigned from his position, citing “the ongoing drama that doesn’t stop” and “certain board members who keep dig­ging up things that continue the drama” relating to the loss of several emergency radios in the fire department.

March – A major chapter of the floodplain relocation project closed at the March 3 meet­ing of the Gays Mills Village Board. Gays Mills Village Clerk Dawn McCann reported that the review of the project by the U.S. Department of Com­merce’s Economic Devel­opment Administration was complete. EDA issued a final payment to the village and the agency’s file on the project was officially closed… Area municipalities were struggling to keep water and sewer lines open.  With frost penetrat­ing to seven feet, water mains across the state were freezing, prompting municipalities to request residents keep their water running…  Laurel Hestetune stepped down from his position as the village presi­dent in Soldiers Grove siting health issues aggravated by stress... A group of resi­dents from the Town of Bridgeport began circulating pe­titions seeking the recall of Bridgeport Township Chair­person John Karnopp and Bridgeport Township Supervi­sor Mike Steiner… North Crawford Playhouse’s production of  ‘The Pirate Merchant of Venice’ opened. The play was a comic adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ written by North Crawford’s very own Rob Ghorm­ley and Jared Spiller… The SMRT bus route running from Prairie du Chien to Viroqua, via Seneca, Gays Mills, and Soldiers Grove, was cancelled due to low use… Decorated veteran and Soldiers Grove resident, Eugene Moran passed away at the age of 89.

April – The North Crawford School Board issued two resolutions to deny claims seeking damages totaling $450,000. Ritch Stevenson, Vickie Stevenson, and Aubrey Stevenson seeking damages in an amount of not less than $250,000, and Jodi Swiggum and Thomas Swiggum seeking damages in an amount of not less than $200,000, filed the claims for defamation. The denied claims arose from the exclusion of North Crawford volleyball players from the All-Conference team last fall. That decision was made by conference coaches on the basis of their understanding of a social media incident that occurred earlier in the season… North Crawford graduate and Soldiers Grove native Misty Hirschfield left for Afghanistan on a second deployment to the Middle East with the National Guard… The position of Fire Chief at the Soldiers Grove Fire Department would remain vacant until after the November elections. The village board accepted Chief Jim Cox’s letter of resignation. First Assistant Chief Ben Clason and Second Assistant Chief Brian Copus would be in charge of fire department operations until that time…  Donald J. Macleod, 29, died Saturday, April 12 at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in LaCrosse from a gunshot wound to the head that he had received the previous day in Gays Mills. On Friday, April 11 at ap­proximately 3:50 a.m. the Crawford County Dispatch Center received a 911 call from a residence in the village of Gays Mills, according to the sheriff’s department. The call­er, 44-year-old Branston Hag­gerty stated he needed medical attention for his friend who had shot himself.

May – Above average moisture in April was capped off by a solid week of rainy weather. It made fieldwork and plant­ing pretty much impossible to date. The situation was being complicated by cold soil tem­peratures, which must warm up about 10 degrees for seeds to germinate… The Norskedalen Trio from Westby was headlining the 22nd Annual Gays Mills Folk Festival of Music and Dance… Two recall petitions were filed in the Town of Bridgeport. The petition to recall John Kar­nopp contained 146 signa­tures and the petition to recall Mike Steiner had 138 signatures. By law 96 valid signatures are required to trigger the recall election in Bridgeport at this time… Patrick J. Lucey, who was twice elected Governor of Wisconsin died on Saturday, May 10 in Milwaukee. He was 96. Patrick Lucey was born in LaCrosse, grew up in the Village of Ferryville and graduated from Campion High School in Prairie du Chien… A recall petition against Bridgeport Township Supervisor Rodney Fishler was filed with the township clerk, Linda Smrcina. Fishler, a local dairy farmer and opponent of the frac sand mine permitting process in the township, was elected to the three-member town board the previous year… The North Crawford School Board approved holding a referendum vote on the August 12, 2014 ballot seeking the authorization to borrow and spend $1.3 million to build a wellness center… Two joint meetings of the Town of Bridgeport Board and the Plan Commission were held to address conflicts of interest, meeting space insufficiency and public comment problems, which may have been encountered during last year’s frac sand mine permitting process. Ultimately, the joint meeting was continued at the request of the plaintiffs’ attorney Glenn Reynolds, in order to give the board and plan commission time to review submitted documents. The meetings were ordered by Grant County Judge Craig R. Day to develop the public record in an ongoing lawsuit brought by the Crawford Stewardship Project and Bridgeport landowners Arnold Steele, Mark Fishler, Loren Fishler, and Dan Linder against the Town of Bridgeport. The plaintiffs were seeking to have the conditional use permit that allows Pattison Sand to mine frac sand on property leased from three township landowners voided and the permit application reheard.

June – A larger than usual crowd of about 120 people attended the Crawford County Dairy Kick-Off Banquet Sunday, June 1 at the Eastman United Methodist Fellowship Hall. The highlight of the evening was the crowing of Autumn Moret as the 2014 Crawford County Dairy Princess. Autumn is the 17-year-old daughter of Randy and Lori Moret. The Morets milk 40 cows on their 420-acre farm in rural Boscobel… In a decision that produced both dismay and satisfaction among those in attendance, Grant County Circuit Court Judge Craig Day ruled in favor of Pattison Sand Company in their lawsuit against the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board (LWSRB) on Tuesday, June 10. The ruling overturned the decision by the LWSRB last August to deny permits to the Pattison Sand Company to mine frac sand within the Riverway boundary… A would be crime fighter – the Black Bullet – announced his intention of stopping rising crime rates in the village of Gays Mills. Crawford County Sheriff Dale McCullick expressed perplexity. McCullick could only wonder what the self-appointed crime fighter was describing as rising crime. The sheriff said that in his experience there wasn’t a higher crime rate in Gays Mills than most of the rest of the county… Business entrepreneurship took a bit of an odd twist in the Village of Gays Mills. New businesses were springing up in the 200 block of Main Street in repurposed spaces, rather than renting spaces in the largely vacant Gays Mills Mercantile Center or building in the accommodating Applewood Business Park. It began with the Olde Towne Shoppe, which Betty Jennison opened in the former Gays Mills Public Library. Across the street, local resident Kay Smiley also repurposed a former village-used space, when she located her Make’n Mend Shop in the former village clerk’s office on the second floor of the Gays Mills Community Building at 212 Main Street.