Local

Jackson County has assembled a master plan that identifies rehabilitation needs for its ATV trail system in hopes of being in better position for future grant funding.The forestry and parks department this spring put together the document, which classifies several sections of the system in immediate or near-immediate need of rehabilitation projects.Jon Schweitzer, the department’s assistant administrator, said the comprehensive master plan, which was presented to the county board in May, wasn’t about “gloom and doom” but about prioritizing future maintenance needs and having a compilation of information required when applying for grants. “The plan was not mean to shed gloom and doom on our trail system,” he said after the board meeting. “It’s more to prioritize areas that we need to work on.“The decision to go ahead with the master plan was not a cost-based decision. It was environmentally based and safety based. We just said,...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

Guards in Wisconsin prisons are earning nearly 13 percent less on average than they were in 2009, lagging most Midwestern states.Since 2009, average prison staff salaries in Wisconsin have dropped 13 percent when adjusted for inflation — the largest decrease among six Midwestern states.The state’s correctional officers and guards earned an average, inflation-adjusted salary of $41,770 in 2015, according to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a decrease of more than $6,000 compared with six years prior. At the same time, staff shortages and problems filling vacant positions are plaguing prisons across the state.More than 500 correctional officer and sergeant positions are vacant, according to the Department of Corrections, and employees logged 1.2 million hours of overtime in 2015 for a total of nearly $32 million.“These things have consequences,” said Troy Bauch, who represents Department of Corrections staff in the American Federation of State,...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

Black River Falls may look to add restrictions on grass clippings being blown out into city streets.Street Superintendent Todd Gomer told the Committee of the Whole many residents blow cut grass out into the street, which then leads to issues with clogged storm basins, flooded roadways and overtime hours needed to clean them up.There aren’t any ordinances that directly regulate the practice, and Gomer said he’d like the city to look into adding language to its code to allow police to enforce it. “I think something probably needs to be done,” he told the committee at its meeting last Wednesday. “It’s terrible – no one cares.”Alderperson Randy Eddy said he agrees that the city should look for a way to prevent the issue.“I agree with Todd,” he said. “I’ve seen it more and more lately.” Mayor Jay Eddy said the city likely can look...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

There is no reason to have a bad day fishing, said Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait Shop in Tomah. He said the bite for mid-June is good.“In general the bite has been fairly decent,” he said. “No matter where (fishermen) go, they should be able to catch a few fish. Nobody should get skunked.”At Lake Tomah, Roscovius said few fishermen have been on the lake because of an algae boom, but on the Rezin marsh, some fish have been caught. “I got a nice crappie brought in from the Rezin marsh,” Roscovius said. “It was over 13 inches, and we got a 20-inch bass brought in from the Warrens area also. Some bass and also some nice northerns have been brought in.”Roscovius said he hasn’t received many reports on bluegills, but someone did bring in a monster.“We have a giant on our board,” he said....

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

Wisconsin wildlife officials recently approved shrinking the number of northern counties where hunters can kill only bucks this fall, signaling they believe the herd in that region is rebounding.Buck-only designations are designed to protect does, allowing them to give birth and grow the herd. The Department of Natural Resources’ board unanimously adopted a fall gun season framework in May that makes 10 northern Wisconsin counties buck-only. That’s down from 19 counties in 2014 and 12 last year.The buck-only counties are Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Jackson, Oneida, Sawyer and Vilas. Ashland, Forest and Sawyer will also be buck-only for youth hunters. Jackson County’s structure largely remains the same from the past two years, with its eastern forest zone in the buck-only designation. The county’s advisory committee also recommended the antlerless permit level nearly identical to last year’s number sold of 1,089 in Jackson’s western farmland zone.“It’s...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

Dairyland Power Cooperative has announced plans to purchase 98 megawatts of electricity from a wind farm to be built near Platteville, nearly tripling the La Crosse-based utility’s wind capacity.Construction of the Quilt Block wind farm is expected to begin next year pending regulatory approval. The 49 turbines are expected to begin generation by the end of 2017.Dairyland CEO Barbara Nick announced the purchase agreement Wednesday at the cooperative’s 75th annual meeting in La Crosse. “This is a significant addition to our renewables portfolio,” Nick told the gathering of more than 460 member delegates, employees and guests.According to RENEW Wisconsin, the wind farm, to be owned and operated by EDP Renewables North America, would be the state’s fourth largest and would increase Wisconsin’s wind generation capacity by about 15 percent.The clean energy advocacy group praised Dairyland and EDP for designing a locally-supported project, which will be Wisconsin’s first...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

The Third Street Elementary School building has housed many grades, teachers and students throughout its long history in Black River Falls.Earlier this month, it concluded its final school year after nearly a century as the district looks ahead to the opening of Red Creek Elementary and the eventual removal of Third Street.“I just think there’s a lot of sentimentality,” BRF Superintendent Shelly Severson said. “I just think that it’s a building that has served our community for so long. “The thing I appreciate the most is when we were having the referendum discussions, so many people would just say that when they mention the Third Street school, they get a nostalgic feeling.”School district voters in 2014 OK’d a $22.5 million referendum that included allowing a new elementary building near Forrest Street Early Learning Center to replace the aging Third Street facility, which was built in the 1920s.But...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

The Black River Falls Police Department welcomed two volunteer officers who already are assisting with ordinance enforcement and community relations.Dave Johnson and Mike Puffer started their community service officer duties a couple weeks ago and are enjoying the part-time, unpaid efforts that alleviate some of the workload from already busy patrol officers.“It’s really part of a culture thing. It will grow over time. People need to recognize them and see their roles and know what it is. At some point, people are going to actually come to see them,” said BRF Police Chief Scot Eisenhauer. “I love it – it’s great for the city.”Johnson and Puffer will do up to 15 hours a week of duties that don’t require sworn personnel, like nuisance ordinance enforcement, presence in schools and community events and walkthroughs of the downtown and places like the Foundation Trail.Johnson, a 1992 graduate of Black...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

The survival of monarch and Karner blue butterflies and other wildlife greatly depends on the private landowner. With the majority of land ownership resting in private hands, landowners who want to restore their land to benefit wildlife can partner with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reach their goals, according to a recent presentation.Mark Pfost, biologist with the USFWS, works with landowners to restore native plants and the environment for wildlife through the agency’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Pfost gave a presentation about land restoration at the Friends of the Black River’s June 8 meeting.“I have the best job possible,” he said. “I get to work with people who give a dam. Everyone has their own take on this. We make it work more often than we don’t, and if we can work together, we can make a difference.” Based at Necedah National Wildlife...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

For the first time in 90 years, voters in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District will not have a choice on their November House election ballots.No Republican candidates filed nomination papers with state election officials by the June 1 deadline, meaning Rep. Ron Kind or his Democratic party challenger Myron Buchholz will be the only name on the ballot.It will be the state’s first uncontested House race since 2006, when Sixth District Republican Tom Petri ran without a challenger. The last uncontested race in the Third District was 1926, when no one challenged incumbent John Nelson. A Republican from Madison, Nelson had won the previous three elections with 69 to 80 percent of the vote. Prior to the 1930s, the Third District stretched from Crawford County to Dane County. La Crosse was in the Seventh District, which has had contested races in every election since the 19th century.Tim Dale,...

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle

Paddlers are invited to join the Friends of the Black River for a number of upcoming opportunities.FBR will sponsor a paddle on the Black River reservoir landing just above the Black River Falls dam from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 2 as part of the Karner Blue Summer Festival. FBR will again hold the Paddle in the Park in the kids’ fishing pond at Lunda Community Park Saturday, July 2 from 4-5 p.m. Kayaks and paddle boards and related gear will be available for those who want to try paddling. FBR will collect freewill donations at the Lunda Community Park paddle for the park’s maintenance fund.Whitewater paddling can be experienced during Hatfield dam releases from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on July 9, Aug. 13 and Sept. 10. Paddlers should meet by the Highway K bridge on W. Clay School Road for put-in around noon....

Read more @ Jackson County Chronicle