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The Year in Review, part two
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Two more properties were approved for buyouts in the Gays Mills relocation effort: 211 Orin Street and 102 School Street… The Gays Mills Fire Department pumper truck was used to flood the plaza above the new Mercantile Center as the village board attempted to investigate drainage issues of the site with Vierbicher and Associates, the engineering firm that designed the plaza...Despite some rain in the area, drought conditions and temperatures remained high throughout the county… Ferryville celebrated its 100th year as an incorporated village in conjunction with the Annual River Bluff Daze Celebration…Twenty-nine year-old Nicole Repinski of Viroqua was discovered injured and unconscious along the side of the road on County C a mile-and-a-half east Star Valley………Horizon Organic Dairy filed suit against Organic Valley in a dispute centered on a former Horizon employee hired by Organic Valley. Horizon claimed the employee, Larry Hansen, was in breach of confidentiality due to the nature of his position with Organic Valley.


Despite a hard freeze in the early spring, which destroyed apple crops throughout the upper Midwest and the northeast and was followed by drought, the orchards surrounding Gays Mills produced a good crop of apples. Picking was starting an average of two weeks early… North Crawford Schools were the recipients of a $323,553 grant for health and fitness. The Physical Education Grant (PEP) would be disbursed over three years and would assist the school in upgrading education equipment and educational offerings…  The study group collecting information for formulating regulations on franc sand/non-metallic mining in Crawford County came to the conclusion that the county could not legally regulate the industry due to the lack of county-wide zoning. The group was instead focusing on creating model ordinance to provide to city, village, and townships should they choose to adopt ordinances for managing the impact new or expanding mines……The Seneca School Board approved new contracts with teachers, which included a 1.6-percent raise, the maximum allowed under state budget restrictions legislated earlier in the year… An increase in wild ginseng poaching on public and private lands led to an appeal by the Department of Natural Resources for help in catching the poachers. The increased poaching raised fears for the viability of the plants survival.


Seneca kindergarten teacher Deb Benish began a school-based “backpack” food pantry program for Seneca students at risk of hunger outside school. The program was based entirely upon monetary donation, with Benish purchasing supplies each week to minimize storage needs at the school. Backpacks would be filled with food for the weekend and sent home with the participating student on Fridays, with the empty pack returned on Monday morning…..Ron and Bonnie Murphy, who had owned and operated the business for nearly twenty years, sold the Rolling Ground Tavern to Allen Klema……A model non-metallic mining ordinance was made available to all municipalities within Crawford County. Crawford County Conservationist Dave Troester met with all interested officials to answer questions about the draft ordinance…The eighth annual Driftless Area Arts Festival was held in Soldiers Grove. The festival experienced a 19-percent increase in attendance with a crowd of approximately 5,100. The festival featured 80 area artists…..North Crawford’s Beyond the Bell, an after-school program, received a $20,000 increase in funding for the year. The extra money would be used to expand the program, increasing community interaction and focusing on implementing a system to ensure middle-school students completed their homework… The Soldiers Grove Library Expansion Project began seeking construction bids. Fundraising efforts had raised $605,000 needed for the project estimated to cost $680,000 if fully funded and built…Two new tenants moved into the Gays Mills Mercantile Center. The Arts Collective of the Driftless Area opened a gallery in time for Apple Fest and Nikki Dull moved her 5-6-7-8 Dance Studio from the village’s old community building.


Stanley J. Smith, the 66-year-old Gays Mills resident charged with entering the dwelling of Jay Haggerty with the intent to steal, received a one-year sentence for burglary as part of a plea agreement…..A challenge grant was issued for the Soldiers Grove Library Expansion Project. The challenger agreed to match up to $8,000 of funds received through the end of the month… Mary Janka, 35, of South Milwaukee, faced charges for allegedly shooting and missing nine times at Jane Beutin, 49, of South Milwaukee, the wife of Janka’s lover Tad Beutin. The shooting occurred at the married couple’s Wauzeka Township property… Sherry Jazdzewski and her union representative, Miguel Morga, were contesting her termination of employment as administrative assistant and bookkeeper for the Crawford County Highway Department. Concurrently, results of the investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigations of Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock were turned over to Crawford County District Attorney Tim Baxter. The termination, according to Crawford County Board Chairman Pete Flesch, was not directly related to the Pelock case… Pattison Sand Company was in negotiations with four Bridgeport landowners for the 60-year lease of 191 acres for frac sand mining…The Soldiers Grove Library received an anonymous donation of $25,000 toward the library expansion project.


John Barlow of Gays Mills took first place in the giant pumpkin contest in Stillwater, Minn. with his entry of a 1,462.5-pound pumpkin. His friend and neighbor Caleb Jacobus took fourth place with a 1,411.5-pound entry of his own…North Crawford Playhouse put on the play ‘Grease.’ The show sold out on all six shows…The former Gays Mills Public Library building was sold to Jim Showen for $15,000. A real estate appraisal on the building was not obtained before its sale…Gays Mills artist Christine Myhr was chosen to exhibit her work in the Crawford County Administration Building’s Artists Gallery…Local harvests proved better than expected. While corn yields were slightly lower due to the drought, prices were up…Bridgeport Township’s Plan Commission began the process of considering a Conditional Use Permit for the proposed frac sand mine on the properties of Rodney and Sandra Marfilius, Lee and Joan Pulda, and Earl and Amber Pulda. Rod Marfilius is a member of the township board. Over 70 people attended the commission meeting, with several attendees asking for a rescheduled meeting so that a larger space might be found for the overflow crowd…The Soldiers Grove Board voted to limit snow removal. Village equipment would no longer be used to plow private residences and sidewalks…Projected revenue from the Gays Mills Mercantile Center were falling well below expectation. Rents from the building had been initially been planned on to fund loan payments for the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center and Kickapoo Culinary Center at $29,172 per year. At current occupancy and rental rates, the building would only generate 44-percent of the needed revenue.


At a time when the Gays Mills Food Pantry was normally flush with assistance, an appeal for donations was necessary. Rising need, increased food prices, and lower donations were behind the call for help… The Arts Collective of the Driftless Area hosted a weekend holiday event, featuring an expanded display of art, which spilled through several rooms in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center… The last remaining cheese factory in Crawford County, the Mt. Sterling Co-op Creamery, announced the expansion of their facilities. The co-op was remodeling the residence just west of the factory to hold the co-op’s offices, dry storage, and retail space… The appeal hearing for Sherry Jazdzewski was suspended and rescheduled after it was determined that the county’s lawyer was missing communications about the appeal…The Town of Bridgeport Plan Commission tabled action on the Conditional Use Permit for the proposed frac sand mine in the township. The commission struck the agenda item allowing public comment. Over 70 people attended the meeting. Several took exception to the agenda change…The Scenic Mississippi Regional Transport (SMRT) bus began a soft start to offering commuter bus service linking Prairie du Chien to Viroqua, via Eastman, Seneca, Mt. Sterling, Gays Mills, Soldiers Grove, Readstown and back again. The transit service planned to publicize the service once the bugs were worked out of the schedule… The Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board decided to seek legal counsel before moving forward on a permit application made by Pattison Sand Company and several Bridgeport Township landowners for a frac sand operation, which would lie partially within the Riverway’s boundaries………Crawford County District attorney Tim Baxter announced that charges of wrongdoing against Crawford County Highway Commissioner Dennis Pelock would not be forthcoming. Baxter determined that results from the recently concluded investigation of Pelock by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation  “did not lead us to believe that we could prove a criminal case against Mr. Pelock beyond a reasonable doubt” and the “quantum of evidence is not sufficient to carry a criminal action through to a guilty verdict.”

Part one is located at