News
And Pierce County is showing ….

And Pierce County is showing its gratitude, helping lift up the popular sheriff as she battles brain cancer.

Roger Nelson’s ice formations are quickly becoming Pierce County’s must-see winter tourism destination. Nelson lives on a 400-acre farmstead at N2696 County Road A in Maiden Rock in a valley next to the Rush River. He has “crafted” his formations atop an artesian aquifer. There are over two dozen formations this year, and the “display” grows every year.

The Journal posed a number of questions to Pierce County Public Health Director AZ Snyder on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jan. 28

Members of the Ellsworth Ambulance Service (EMS) showed up in force to Monday night’s Special Meeting held by the Town of Martell. As some members felt the issue at hand was close to home, it was. Some of the members reportedly reside in Martell and felt like they were overlooked of the opportunity to present their case to continue to serve Martell as the officially contracted Emergency Medical Service.

Anthony Wadsworth, 32, of Hager City, died from injuries suffered when his vehicle left Hwy. 63 and drove into a ravine near 210th Avenue, according to the sheriff’s department.

On Jan. 19, the River Falls City Council, along with the City’s Utility Advisory Board (UAB), decided not to repair Powell Falls Dam – one of two dams/hydro facilities in River Falls – which was damaged in the June 2020 flood. As a result, Lake Louise, a 15-acre impoundment above the dam, will not be refilled after a drawn down was completed in October 2020 to prepare for an investigation of the dam structure.

Leann Peterson, a former Ellsworth student, is making her impact in the Ukraine. There are no signs she plans to change. “I was planning to teach English,” she said. But other plans developed as she was exposed to missionaries, Bob and Debbie Gilbertson, who were also sent from the Ellsworth area to serve in Kenya, Africa.

February Feb. 4

Monday night, River Falls police and fire departments responded to a home explosion in the 400 block of River Hills Road. Two residents were inside the home at the time of the explosion. Neighbors assisted the two to safety immediately after the explosion, but one woman later died from her injuries.

River Falls World War II veteran Arnold Roen celebrated his 100th birthday with a parade last Wednesday, Jan. 27 with the River Falls American Legion Post 121 Honor Guard, followed by many family and friends.

Pierce County 4-H is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2021. We are looking for Pierce County 4-H alumni to serve on a planning committee to organize a few events to celebrate this milestone.

Feb. 11

Fire and water—in strict succession. That’s what the Prescott Common Council covered in essence with its discussion of an open burning ordinance sent back to committee Monday, Feb. 11 followed with the first reading of the pool ordinance, due to become law soon, currently pending another reading and enactment.

Orlando P. Eaton, 32, has been held in the Pierce County Jail since Dec. 24, 2019; he was sentenced to prison last week for his part in the 2017 homicide death of 2003 River Falls High School graduate Patrick Pace. Criminal charges were filed against Eaton in 2019 following an arrest warrant being issued in the May 9, 2017 overdose death of Pace. In late December, 2020, a Pierce County Sheriff’s Department officer was attempting to take a subject into custody who was under the influence of several drugs and who was attempting to disarm the deputy. A witness called her son-in-law, Collin Gilles, who is an investigator in the department, and informed him of the situation. “Investigator Gilles responded from his home and was on scene within two minutes to engage himself in the situation. Both the subject and the deputy were still on the ground when Officer Gilles arrived. The subject was quickly apprehended and brought to jail.”

Got your shots yet? Maybe you’re not a fan of needles or vaccines, in which case the State does provide religious and personal conviction exemptions, pursuant to form completion. When it comes to broader public health, though, not having to deal with outbreaks of typhoid, scarlet fever, yellow fever, malaria, smallpox, cholera, diptheria, and polio like the first county ancestors did sure is nice.

Feb. 18

Brandon Bleyle, a Prescott man, was taken into custody Thursday after an apparent explosive device was found left on a city street Aug.23, 2020. A search warrant was executed at a residence at 803 Kinnickinnic St. with the Pierce County Emergency Response Team and agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

If Pierce County Public Health Director AZ Snyder could use just one word to describe the past year, it would be “heartbreaking.” But amid the heartbreak in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming constantly evolving challenges, moments of hope have also surfaced.

Another election year, and another easy victory for U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, right? Not quite. It was tight this time, as campaign cash flooded Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, which hugs the Mississippi River and was won by President Donald Trump with about 52% of the vote. Kind triumphed in the district he has held for nearly a quarter century with 51% of the vote. He received a total of nearly 200,000 votes, while Republican challenger Derrick Van Orden got nearly 190,000.

Feb. 25

The Pierce County Land Management Committee put its stamp of approval on a proposal for a beginner fly fishing school on the Rush River off of 400th Street in the town of El Paso.

Anne Marie Sjoquist sits in her farm kitchen in blue jeans and cowgirl boots. The mother of two fits well in the saddle of parent and business woman. A graduate of UW-River Falls Equestrian Science program, she shares her love of horses. Her equestrian business has quietly grown on a 15-acre farm in Beldenville, where she boards and trains horses and those who ride them.

A man charged with making a bomb found on a Prescott street in August also allegedly made one uncovered in a search of a Hastings residence by the Dakota County Drug Task Force earlier this month. Brandon Bleyle, 27, faces up to six years in prison and fines up to $10,000 for manufacturing the explosive device that shut down streets around the Prescott Post Office for several hours on Aug. 23.

The Friends of the Ellsworth Public Library are nearly a third of the way in a fundraising program to help with the acquisition and renovation of the Ellsworth Public Library into the former BMO Harris Bank Building just west of the Pierce County Courthouse on Main Street.

March March 4

Pierce County Public Health (PCPH) has allowed their Mass Gathering Advisory Order, which limited public gatherings to 50% of capacity, to expire. However, PCPH continues to urge caution and will put the advisory back into place if the numbers start to increase. River Falls Wildcats Coach Zac Campbell didn’t hide the way he felt Saturday when his team won their WIAA Sectional Championship game in thrilling fashion over DePere, earning them a spot in the WIAA State Tournament.

A building in Prescott’s Broad Street business district has undergone a facelift and will soon open its doors as a luxurious, indulgent boutique hotel, providing guests a place to lay their heads at night. The Port of Prescott will open March 15 at 201 Broad St., once home to Most Pharmacy.

March 11

A fuel tank was likely removed from the BMO Harris Bank site in downtown Ellsworth that is to be the site of the new village library. However, since there are no guarantees, the bank agreed to take $100,000 less for the property.

On Monday, March 8, the City of River Falls Police Department will officially move from a 15,000 squarefoot building at 125 E. Elm St. in the downtown area, to a new 27,000 square-foot facility at 2815 Prairie Drive in the city’s Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park.

It’s been a tough year on the Prescott American Legion Post. The Legion’s famous chicken fry events have been cancelled in the last year, and that’s the main source of income for the Prescott Post, which is also actively seeking new members.

March 18

April 6 will be a big day in Ellsworth, as it will mark the first village election day in decades that Gerald DeWolfe won’t be on the ballot for village president. He is not seeking reelection after holding the position for 30 years.

Candace Anderson of the River Falls Community Food Pantry accepted the award for Nonprofit of the Year at the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce annual awards and recognition banquet Thursday.

In his report to the Prescott City Council last Monday night, Police Chief Eric P. Michaels said it’s been a trying year, with overall calls for service down because of COVID-19-related issues, but major crimes increasing.

March 25

Every teacher and staff person who works in Pierce County K-12 schools has been offered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Pierce County Public Health announced today. Pierce County Public Health (PCPH), in partnership with nearby Dunn and Pepin Counties, has completed first dose vaccination clinics for each of the county’s six school districts.

The former Shopko in River Falls will be home to Tattersall Distilling, which will feature the company’s manufacturing facility, as well as a full-service restaurant and cocktail bar, along with an outdoor patio and a large amphitheater for weddings, festivals, concerts and markets.

The Public Service Commission Wisconsin announced Friday the next round of recipients for the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. Four Pierce County programs were among 58 projects totaling $28.4 million in an effort to expand highspeed broadband internet access to unserved and underserved locations in 44 counties.

April April 1

An armed robbery in downtown Prescott remains under investigation this week. Prescott Police Chief Eric P. Michaels announced Friday that a gun was brandished in a reported armed robbery at St. Croix Liquor Store on Orange Street.

More than a year into the COVID19 pandemic, local clerks are ready for the Spring Election. Voters have been turning in absentee ballots in droves ahead of the April 6 election day.

The Prescott Fire Department’s drive-thru “world famous” pancake breakfast was held Sunday morning, with vehicles lined up for the tasty meal. The Easter Bunny was also on hand for photos and greetings. Rick Kornmann was honored by the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce as Community Leader of the Year at its virtual annual awards banquet last Monday night. When an Ellsworth Middle School student informed her parent that she had viewed the video, “The Most Dangerous Year,” which begins with a disclaimer: “This video may be inappropriate for some users,” it didn’t go over well. Last Thursday, Ellsworth Middle School teacher Billie Jo Johnson, decided to show seventh grade Readings Foundations class a video promoting transgenderism that stirred up a Facebook frenzy.

April 8

With word that several large gifts were received, the Ellsworth Public Library building fund is well on its way to meet its goal of raising $350,000 for renovation of the BMO Harris Bank Building. The Village of Ellsworth has agreed to purchase the building and will borrow $500,000 for the project, contingent on the Library Building Committee raising the money.

Sarah Nigbor will begin her new editor/reporter position at The Journal on Wednesday, April 7. The self-proclaimed grammar geek and River Falls native is looking forward to stepping back into the Pierce County and River Falls news scenes.

With dam repairs not balanced by electrical production in the next couple years, the River Falls Council recently decided to maintain the current drawdown of Lake Louise and continue moving forward on the Powell Falls dam removal. The decision as communicated by City Administrator Scot Simpson in the annual ‘State of the City’ address came after “it rained a little bit in June,” he said for a small understatement, the rain resulting in damage to the manmade electricpower dam already planned for removal by 2025.

A building at 1235 Canton St. in Prescott was damaged by fire last Thursday night. The Prescott Police Department was notified of the structure fire at 8:13 p.m. No one was in the business at the time of the fire.

April 15

A young Prescott couple killed in an Easter Day car crash in Burnsville, Minn. will not be forgotten by the many family and friends who packed Prescott High School’s gymnasium Sunday to mourn their loss. Dalton Lee Ford and Tayler Nicole Garza, both 22 and Prescott High School graduates, died of multiple blunt force injuries as a result of a crash at 10:30 a.m. April 4 at County Road 42 and Newton Avenue, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.

After a failed bank robbery attempt in Hudson on Friday, March 26, police arrested a 21-year-old Lakeville, Minn. man in the River Falls McDonald’s parking lot, where he had allegedly fled. Police identified the man as a suspect in armed robberies at liquor stores in Prescott and Elko New Market, Minn. the day prior.

Becky Beissel defeated Mike Steele for the Ellsworth Village President position in the April 6 election. The electorate chose Andrew Borner, Dale Hines and Lance Austin as village trustees.

April 22

April 19, 2021 marked a bittersweet, yet celebratory meeting for the Ellsworth Village Board. Village President Jerry De-Wolfe presided over his last meeting after 30 years of public service. It was also the last village board meeting for longtime trustees Neil Gulbranson and Curt Wandmacher, and Public Works Director Greg Engeset, who is retiring after 35 years in his role. A local father/daughter duo who enjoys working outside and taking on new projects is sharing their knowledge with YouTube viewers on their new Garden Hands channel.

Retired farmer Tim Wiff and daughter Lindsay Lindner, both of rural Spring Valley, found themselves watching YouTube videos for tips and ideas on how to do projects.

The good news for students is, Pierce County schools will be holding proms this year. But unfortunately, excited parents will not be able to attend most indoor grand marches for that time-honored tradition of photos/video. However, don’t despair, because as with most things during this pandemic, a creative alternative is coming.

April 29

Israel Haas, the executive director of the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center, enthusiastically addressed the Prescott School Board on Wednesday, April 21 about Coulee River Trails Consortium and Partnership. CRT is a multi-agency, publicprivate group partnering for recreation, education and conservation via a greenway and trail network throughout Prescott.

Once you tear a historic building down, you can never bring it back. Not only is it a testament to the past, but the construction quality is rarely rivaled in today’s world. There’s a reason those buildings can last more than 100 years. The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce virtually hosted speaker Joe Lawniczak, a downtown design specialist with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, on Thursday, April 22.

The bald eagle population in Wisconsin is seeing a promising uptick in numbers since the 1970s after measures were enacted to protect the nation’s bird. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that the bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009.

May May 6

River Falls City Council unanimously approved an implementation plan and development agreement between the city and T Buck Properties LLC at the April 27 city council meeting for Dawes Place Phase I, a planned unit development in the Highview Meadows development off of County Road M.

You’re driving through the countryside when a pop of color catches your eye. You turn and see a brightly colored square on the side of a barn. It looks like a quilt! How did that get there? What’s the story behind it?

Imagine launching a new business, and all of a sudden, a global pandemic hits. The world comes to a standstill. Businesses through which you were hoping to sell your product are either shut down or operations are drastically limited. That’s what Mama K’s Frozen Pizza in Prescott faced in February 2020. But not only did they pursue their dream, they succeeded.

May 13

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people stir crazy, itching to get out of the house, yet unsure maybe where to go. If you’re looking for a safe, social distancing friendly day trip with gorgeous scenery, check out the Wisconsin Rustic Road Program Guide.

New York Times bestselling author Brian Freeman will give readers a glimpse behind the scenes of his success during a River Falls Library Program at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 13.

Gwen Glaus loves business. That’s why 15 years ago she began a successful bakery from scratch in an old brick building on Main Street of the small town of Plum City, Wis. It was a delightful set-up with strong community response. Two key components contributed to her success: great products and great people. Now she has a new venture in the same building: The

Jan. 21 – Sheriff Nancy Hove accepted a check from the Pierce County Peace Officer Benevolent Association from its fundraising efforts to help the sheriff, who was diagnosed in September with brain cancer.

Feb. 4 – River Falls World War II Veteran Arnold Roen celebrated his 100th birthday with a parade Wednesday, Jan. 27 with the River Falls American Legion Post 121 Honor Guard, followed by lots of family and friends.

River Falls Wildcats Coach Zac Campbell didn’t hide the way he felt Saturday when his team won their WIAA Sectional Championship game in thrilling fashion over DePere, earning them a spot in the WIAA State Tournament Saturday in Oshkosh.

The first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to teachers in Pierce County, Public Health reported.

The River Falls Council recently decided to maintain the current drawdown of Lake Louise and to continue moving forward with the Powell Falls dam removal. A storm in June 2020 caused severe damage to the manmade electric-power dam already planned for removal by 2025.

A young Prescott couple killed in an Easter Day car crash in Burnsville, Minn. will not be forgotten by the many family and friends who packed Prescott High School’s gymnasium Sunday to mourn their loss. Dalton Lee Ford and Tayler Nicole Garza, both 22 and Prescott High School graduates, died of multiple blunt force injuries as a result of a crash at 10:30 a.m. April 4 at County Road 42 and Newton Avenue, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.

January 11, 2022