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The idling of the Unimin Corporation sand mining facility in Tunnel City was short-lived.Unimin announced last week it has added 19 full-time employees at the plant. The announcement comes five months after Unimin announced it was idling the plant and laying off most of its 65 employees.Plant manager Mark Massicotte said the plant ceased shipments for a week in March in preparation to idle, but orders quickly rebounded and no employees were laid off. The company had originally planned to begin layoffs March 21 and phase them in through May 21. The plant began operation in late 2013.“We have seen a steady increase in production the last three months,” Massicotte said. “In fact, we are closely monitoring demand and opportunities that could require additional staffing in the future.”Massiciotte said the plant now employs 84 full-time workers.Monroe County Economic Development Coordinator Steve Peterson said Unimin’s intentions in March...

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A proposed expansion to a frac sand mine in rural Hixton has drawn opposition from nearby residents and others concerned about air quality.A group voiced concerns about the impact of silica sand on air quality and health during a hearing for air pollution control permits for Wisconsin Proppants’ proposed project during a Wisconsin Department of Resources hearing held Friday at the Hixton Fire Hall.Ruth Swenson, who lives under a mile from the company’s current operation in the town of Curran, expressed concern about the impact an expansion would have on already-existing dust in the air. “Obviously, approving this permit application will double already unacceptable pollution levels,” she told the two DNR officials conducting the hearing. “Doubling the pollution and particulate emitted (is) not in the best interest for those who live in close proximity to the mine.”The DNR preliminarily approved the air pollution control construction and operation...

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Tammy Miller can’t narrow down what she enjoys most about the improved space at Riverfront’s Black River Falls location.“It’s very nice,” she said in the facility’s area for its Day Services program. “I just like it all.”Riverfront, which provides services for people with disabilities, last week celebrated its most recent renovation and related expansion of its services at the facility in the city’s Industrial Park. The project has allowed the addition and expansion of current programming, which assists participants in areas of job training, employment, residential support and daily living.“We’re thrilled about the expansion – to have a more user-friendly space that allows people to have quality experiences in programming,” said Nate Hundt, Riverfront’s director of marketing and communications. “It allows us to grow that programming.”The approximately $191,000 project involved creating a new classroom space for its C.O.R.E. program, which assists with career-readiness preparation, and also transitioning...

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Jackson County voters will weigh in on five contested races in the partisan primary next week.The primary election will be Tuesday, Aug. 9 with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Winners move on to the November ballot.The only contested state Legislature primary race on the local ballot will be for the 92nd Assembly District, which encompasses most of the western portion of Jackson County. Republicans Debbie Bork and Treig Pronschinske will square off in the primary, and the winner will take on Democratic incumbent Chris Danou. The local ballot also will have three contested primary races between two U.S. House of Representative seats up for re-election.The majority of Jackson County falls in the 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Ron Kind will face off against Myron Myron Buchholz in the Democratic primary. Kind will move on unopposed in the fall election.There will be two primaries for...

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Black River Falls installed a new marker along Foundation Trail in honor of former Mayor Ron Danielson’s public service and dedication to community projects.The marker, which includes Danielson’s photo and a description of his service, was unveiled Saturday at its location off Highway 54 near Jackson County Fair Park and Highway R.“I think the plaque says it all, but what I really appreciate is not just the effort but the attitude you put toward (service and projects),” said current Mayor Jay Eddy, who was elected last spring and took over after Danielson opted not to seek re-election. “I couldn’t have taken over for a better guy. “I hope you enjoy this for years to come.”Danielson served as a member Black River Falls City Council from 1990 to 2008, when he was elected mayor and held the position for the following eight years. He also was involved and...

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Black River Falls High School Principal Tom Chambers enjoyed the opportunity to welcome a fellow principal from Germany last year.This summer, Sabine Hartmann welcomed Chambers to Germany to allow him the opportunity to learn about its educational system as part of a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction exchange program for administrators.“I think it’s an excellent opportunity,” said Chambers, who spent June 10-18 in Gelnhausen, Germany. “Certainly, it was an excellent opportunity for me, and I think Sabine as well, to really look at another system of education, look at our own system of education and the things we do from a different perspective and put a different light on how and why we do the things that we do to educate kids.” Chambers, who is fluent in the German language, visited Hartmann’s school each day and shadowed several teachers in their classrooms, where he had the opportunity...

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The town of Brockway is considering contributing funding toward the city’s shared-ride taxi service.Black River Falls City Administrator Brad Chown approached the town about assistance because the city’s share of funding has been increasing in the past several years, and the taxi service’s area has included some of Brockway since 2015.“I was looking for ways to help offset that additional cost, and it just made sense to me that those that are benefitting from the service would potentially be able to contribute to the local share,” Chown said. “It just makes sense that they would help with that, and they were very open to that idea.” Brockway mulled the proposal at its July meeting earlier this month and will discuss it again at its August meeting.“(The board) just needs some more information,” said Brockway Clerk Jann Dahl.BRF’s shared-ride taxi service began 25 years ago and is funded...

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Residents and employees of the Melrose-Mindoro School District support moving forward with a referendum to build a united campus, according to recently released survey results.About 60 percent of those who took the survey said they can support up to a $27.5 million referendum that would add a new school building and bring all school facilities to the high school site in rural Melrose, according to the data presented at Monday’s school board meeting.“This is a fabulous result and we’re very excited because we know we’ve really been able to get the pulse of your people,” said Sue Peterson, a project manager with School Perceptions, which assisted Mel-Min with the survey. “At this point, we have a really clear direction.”The district got 592 responses for a participation rate of 33 percent, which Peterson noted is high in comparison to the 20 percent that typically is considered a solid...

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The Black River Falls and Taylor libraries are hoping to receive additional funding from Jackson County as they prepare their 2017 budgets.Directors from the two libraries approached the county’s executive and finance committee earlier this month in hopes of receiving more than the state-mandated amount they’ve received in the past.Additional funding would assist in maintaining and improving services and bolstering collections, they said. “I’d welcome anything that would be extra – every bit helps,” said Jody Hanneman, director of Taylor Memorial Library. “Ideally, you’d want to be reimbursed the amount for the services you provide, but the law being what it is, it would be great to receive anything extra.”The county would be mandated to provide $117,269 to the Black River Falls Public Library for 2017 and another $6,276 to Taylor, figures that represent a 70 percent reimbursement in the formula for how library funding is calculated.Both...

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Les and Katy Nortman had one wedding photo taken the day they were married on Oct. 21, 1967.The couple, like many in the Black River Falls area, solicited the services of admired photographer Jim Speltz who operated a studio on Main Street.The newly married Nortmans ventured to the business after opening presents at the church, paid the sitting fee and had the photo snapped. But that was the last they saw the photo until earlier this year.The young couple, who had graduated from high school a few months earlier, still was working to save money and didn’t have the funds to pay for a print.But, just recently, Katy had heard the negatives from the Speltz and Anderson collection were being housed at the Jackson County History Room at Black River Falls Public Library.“They would be there, so I thought, well, I wonder if we could get any...

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The Ho-Chunk Nation has pledged their support to the victims of recent floods in northern Wisconsin and will be donating $25,000 to the Bad River Tribal Relief Fund. The decision came a day after a group of Ho-Chunk tribal leaders and employees transported donated drinking water and cleaning supplies to the Bad River Community Center located in Odanah. “We are happy to be in a position to be able to provide some assistance and relief to the people of Bad River as they recover from the devastating flooding from the past week,” said Henning Garvin, a Ho-Chunk Nation District 2 legislator. “We are inspired to see the strength and resilience that has been displayed by our relatives to the north in meeting this immense challenge, and will continue to stand by to offer our resources to aid in the recovery.”Several other area organizations and...

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