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The Year in Review, part one
January-June 2012
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The Gays Mills village offices and library moved to their new home in the Community Commerce Center…Gays Mills Recovery & Development Director Julia Henley presented the Discovery Center Plan to the community, the culmination of six months of work. She hoped to find enough interest in the project to form a steering committee to bring it to realization…Valley Stewardship Network released a water monitoring report on the health of the Kickapoo River watershed. The report compiled 10 years of data collected largely through the efforts of citizen volunteers…Rural Soldiers Grove farmer Bonnie Wideman created a conservation easement on her 160-acre farm with the help of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. The easement would protect the agricultural nature of the property, while helping ensure the use of conservation practices in the future…Save Copper Creek received an $11,000 award from the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter to assist in their efforts to stop a proposed high-capacity well in Utica Township, less than 550 feet from a Class I trout stream.


Seneca Girls’ Basketball Coach Kim Redman, a player on the school’s first girls’ basketball team, was on a roll with an undefeated season. The coach’s early interest in the sport was supported thanks to the passage of Title IX, the federal law guaranteeing girls the right to participate in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance… Michael J. Burroughs, accused killer of Shannon Fischer, his girlfriend, pled guilty to first-degree reckless homicide… Sheep farmer Dorin Schmalbergher delivered quintuplets to one of his 175 lambing ewes. The optimistic farmer raises the sheep for milk and was seeking a new market for his product… Mothballing the old Community Building in Gays Mills was delayed another month as the village board addressed concerns over existing use and citizen proposals for future use… Amy (Oppriecht) Schaak released a CD of music composed through her work with adults and children in the Gundersen Lutheran Cancer Center and Hospice Program. Schaak’s parents, Kevin and Laurie Oppriecht, and siblings Kraig, Bethany, and Kirsten all appear on the album…Between 250 and 400 people attended the Open House for the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. The new EMS building and one of the new single-family relocation residences were open for attendees to tour…..Action on a proposed non-metallic mining moratorium was delayed after the Finance Committee changed the wording for the Crawford County Board agenda. The Crawford County Land Use Committee had recommended a six-month moratorium…John Young of Soldiers Grove was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service, recognizing his 32 years of work on the board of CoulleeCap.


The Soldiers Grove Library was awarded a $274,000 Community Development Block Grant to assist in the library expansion project. The grant required matching funds and would vary in the final amount received based on the success of fundraising efforts…Stanley Smith of Gays Mills was arrested on burglary-in-progress charges after being discovered by the returning homeowner at 411 Orin Street…Jim and Sharon Chellevold reopened the Red Apple Inn, opting to hire a manager after having two restaurants in four years fail to make it…A total of ten charges were filed against Readstown police officer Shay Larson, four of which were felony charges. Larson had served as the Soldiers Grove police officer for three years previous to his tenure in Readstown…Five candidates were on the ballot for three seats on the Gays Mills Village Board; incumbents Earl Winsor, Aaron Fortney, and Albert Ziegel, and challengers Jim Showen and Don Lampert…Unseasonably warm weather was raising concerns for local growers as woody plants were beginning to develop buds a full month ahead of schedule.


The formers Michael’s Pub was set to reopen as the Last Call Bar and Grill after being granted an alcohol license in Gays Mills. The bar had been closed since the flood of 2008…Jim Wedeburg of Gays Mills was awarded the Ray Haas Organic Pioneer Award by Organic Valley. Wedeburg is a founding member of the dairy cooperative and had recently passed his farm to sons John and Jake…A memo of understanding was approved for the construction of a new funeral home in Gays Mills as part of the village’s relocation efforts. The memo was between the village, Jay and Kathy Vosseteig, and Richard and Lin Bertram…The Village of Soldiers Grove approved a contract with Community Development Alternatives to manage the CDBG grant for the library expansion project…Chris Sukis, a 2008 graduate of North Crawford High School, graduated from the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy. Sukis was accepted into the academy with one semester left for a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at UW-Platteville…A three-day Earth Day celebration was held in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center, featuring original compositions from composer William Neil incorporating local bird songs into music. Education events featured speakers John Francis, Bill Christofferson, and James Walktendonk and more…Crawford County passed a six-month moratorium on new or expanded non-metallic mining operation as they looked to address updating or changing ordinances in response to rising demand for silica sand in hydraulic fracturing extraction of gas and oil reserves elsewhere in the country. Concerns over air quality, highway wear and tear, and quality of life were raised…The Village of Gays Mills decided to sell the former library building on Main Street…Three former Main Street businesses were relocated and open for business in the Gays Mills Mercantile building: The Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout, Lana’s Family Hair Care and Designs by Denise, and Robert E’s Barbershop.


The Gays Mills Folk Festival of Music and Dance celebrated its 20th year. Organizers added a new event, an outdoor concert at the Lions Park featuring Irish music duo Cilla Skrade and Matt Shortridge… The 14th Annual Lil’ Britches Rodeo was held in Gays Mills. The Gays Mills’ rodeo was the first in a series of rodeos for the season held for 6 to 18 year olds around the state… Mike Finnell, a neighbor to the new Gays Mills Community Commerce Center, requested the village make efforts to reduce noise from the Kickapoo Culinary Center’s refrigeration and freezer units. Finnell also said that the new building, built in close to proximity to his residence, had taken away all privacy in his backyard…Mike Lind of Driftless Organics in Star Valley became an organic farming mentor through the practical Farmers of Iowa Saving’s Incentive program. The three partners in the business, Lind and Noah and Josh Engel, have drawn attention for their success and diversification efforts… Planting was off to a fine start, with 85 to 90-percent of planting complete by May 25. Corn is some fields near Boscobel were already approaching knee-high.


The proposed bistro-style bar and restaurant to be created by Maxine Brooks in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center was approved for a $340,000 build-out in the form of a forgivable seven-year loan through a Community Development Block Grant…New events were added to the annual Crawford County Dairy Days in Soldiers Grove. A canoe race and a two and five-mile walk/run were added to the lineup… Cody George, 21, of Gays Mills, died in a motorcycle crash on Highway 131 north of Readstown. George was a 2009 graduate of North Crawford…With indoor renovations complete, Carol and Hollis Roth held an Open House at the Old Oak Inn in Soldiers Grove. The owners also own the Roth House Bed and Breakfast in Soldiers Grove…..The Stumpdodger Bash was back for a second year. The campground hosting the event featured new rock walls and gardens...Nationally acclaimed folk musicians Keith Terry and Elvie Ladin performed at the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. The Gays Mills Folk Festival of Music and Dance sponsored the event…Organic Valley sponsored an “On Farm Renewable Energy Tour” at Sweet Earth Farm in rural Clayton Township. The organic farm, owned by Harriet Behar and Aaron Brin, features a solar array tied to the grid allowing the farm to draw on the grid when solar production was down and to sell power to the utility when energy production exceeded demand… Dylan Vondra of Gays Mills placed fourth in team roping at the state rodeo finals held in Richland Center. The placement advanced him to the national competition in Wyoming… New USDA food guidelines were complicating the picture as area schools sought to plan their lunch programs for the coming year. Guidelines reduced the caloric intake, as well as tightened rules on fat intake and grain and protein servings.

Part two can be found at