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A downtown Black River Falls restaurant has closed.Traveler’s Tales at 44 Main St. closed Sunday, June 14 after nearly two years in operation.Owners Ash and Sarah Duff couldn’t be reached directly for comment, but the eatery and bar’s Facebook page thanked customers for their support over the years and noted the business wasn’t drawing in as much revenue as hoped.“Thank you so much to everyone who supported us over the past two years – all the travelers and locals,” they wrote. “We are so genuinely sorry that we won’t be here for you anymore. We did our best. The money just wasn’t flowing as much as we hoped it would … so, we sadly have to go.”The Duffs opened Traveler’s Tales in early August 2013 after Larry Hickok owned and operated it as Laura’s Brickhouse Grill & Saloon for the previous year. Hickok purchased the historic BRF building in 2009...

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Bathrooms at Melrose’s Tank Park will be normally locked after continued vandalism.The decision comes after bathroom tissue holders have twice been recently damaged. In one incident the holders were ripped off the wall and had to be replaced. Vandals struck again earlier this month by damaging the holders and scattering tissue over the floor.Village Clerk Dan Ciechanowski said the bathrooms will be unlocked when the park’s shelter is rented for a picnic or other special event.Tank Park, located at the corner of Third and W. Hogg streets, regularly has been a target of vandalism over the years.“It seems that the persons causing the damage are young, unsupervised juveniles,” said Melrose Police Chief Cal Smokowicz. “Sometimes we catch them, sometime not.”The village put special covers on the bathroom windows after vandals used rocks to break them a couple years ago.Earlier this year a commemorative plaque on the park’s World War II-...

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Three elk calves recently were born in the acclimation pen in the Black River State Forest – a welcome milestone in the reintroduction project.Scott Roepke, a Wisconsin Department of Resources wildlife biologist, said three calves were born from three cows between June 6 and June 13 and all are doing well in their early days in their Jackson County environment.“All the calves are doing good so far. They’re hanging out with mom and getting used to their life in the pen,” Roepke said.“It’s a bonus to have three calves born.”The births are the first since a group of elk arrived in Jackson County after being trapped and transported from Kentucky. The milestone also comes after five of the 26 elk died from a tick-borne illness after following their arrival.The calves are doing well so far and it’s hoped they will have the antibodies necessary for warding off any illness, Roepke...

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The late Al Muth’s passion for motorcycles was so strong that he couldn’t fathom why others didn’t feel the same way.“He could just never understand why everybody in the world didn’t have a motorcycle,” said Muth’s wife, Jeri. “He just enjoyed that bike to no end.”Muth’s love of motorcycles – and in particular the iconic Harley-Davidsons – is what paved the way for a successful Jackson County business that’s known across the country. Al Muth Harley-Davidson is marking its half-century milestone this year after operating in the town of Adams for just over 50 years.“People in Black River have always accepted motorcycles,” said Mark Muth, one of Al’s sons who currently runs the business with his wife, son and 15 employees. “We love it here.“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been very rewarding. We have a lot of customers who are good friends – we really do.”Al...

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The Republican Party of Jackson County recently celebrated the grand opening of a new, more visible office space in downtown Black River Falls.Party members and elected officials gathered last Sunday on Flag Day at the 16 N. Water Street office to highlight the move from its former, smaller space.“We just decided it would be a much better place for us,” said Bill Laurent, chair of the county’s Republican Party. “It almost triples our square footage and we’re able to use it for better meetings and larger crowds.”The party, which has a total of 550 members in the county, for many years had its office space inside the Farm Urban building on the 10 block of Black River Falls’ Main Street and opted to pursue the larger space at the beginning of 2015.The group renovated the space and gave it an exterior facelift, and it now will be used to better...

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The alcohol-free environment at Madison’s Ho-Chunk Gaming casino will soon be smoke-free as well.Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison will become the first casino in Wisconsin to be completely smoke-free after the new policy takes effect on Aug. 1.“We’re excited to offer our guests and employees a completely smoke-free environment,” said executive manager Daniel Brown.Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison, located on the city’s far southeast side near the Beltline interchange with I-39/90, is making the move after taking a survey of customers.Casino spokeswoman Missy Tracy said electronic cigarettes will be allowed on the gaming floor because they do not produce smoke, only water vapor.Regular smokers will be allowed to smoke in a facility that will not be attached to the existing casino.“There will be a tent set up temporarily as the designated area outside of the facility until the separate structure is built,” Tracy said.Wisconsin enacted a smoking prohibition in restaurants, bars and...

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Black River Memorial Hospital has made the switch to an improved electronic medical records system that complies with federal mandates and looks to improve patient care.The hospital officially went live with the new system on April 6 and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 14 to celebrate the implementation of the estimated $7 million project.BRMH has had an electronic records system for more than 15 years but last summer began exploring a different system with better capabilities. The former system also wouldn’t allow the hospital to comply with federal government requirements for electronic records – helping push forward the need for the switch.The changeover has been an extensive process, most particularly in training staff in using the new system and becoming acclimated, said hospital president and CEO Mary Beth White-Jacobs.“Really, a lot of our investment was in our people and it was a focus on our own people seeing how the...

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The city of Black River Falls will begin reviewing candidates for police chief after receiving nearly 20 applications for the position.City Administrator Brad Chown said BRF had 19 people apply by the June 10 deadline for the combined chief and investigator position. The city’s hiring committee planned to meet earlier this week to launch the selection process, he said.“We’ll have to meet with the hiring committee and go through the applications and screen and see what else they want to do,” Chown said. “I think that’s a good field to choose from … We’ll have the hiring committee go through them and see if we can screen them down to a more manageable number and go from there.”The city launched the search for police chief after an April 7 referendum voted in favor of keeping a city-administered police department staffed by a chief/investigator, five full-time officers, at least four limited...

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An official at the Tomah Veterans Administration Hospital hopes the facility’s golf course can reopen as early as this year.Acting associate director Jeff Evanson said Monday the hospital has “a number of inquiries” from outside operators to run the nine-hole course.“I would like to see it open sometime this golfing season,” Evans said. “There are no guarantees on that. We’re working through the contracting process.”The course was opened to the general public in the late 1990s but was closed at the end of the 2013 season due to funding restrictions. Evanson said the model of using volunteers to staff the clubhouse and collect greens fees violated VA policy because it constituted the use of “general post funds.”“The law doesn’t allow the use of general post funds as essentially a bank account to run a business,” Evanson said.He said that’s why an outside entity is being sought.“We are currently seeking a...

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Past Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland was elected to return to lead the tribe following last week’s election.Cleveland, who previously served as president from 2007-11, prevailed 761-496 over Robert V. Two Bears in the June 2 general election. Cleveland opted not to seek another term four years ago after being the first elected president to complete a full four-year term.Cleveland, who was running as a write-in candidate, advanced to the general election after garnering the most votes in the primary. He couldn’t be reached for comment on his election as of press time.Ho-Chunk Nation voters also went to the polls to elect representatives for three legislative seats. Douglas G. Greengrass topped Susan Waukon in the race for District 1’s seat 2 and Kathy DeCamp defeated Heather R. Cloud for District 3’s seat 1.The race for District 4’s seat 2 had Shelby J. Visintin winning over Muriel D. Whiteagle Lee.A swearing-in...

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Torch Runs are meant to raise money for and awareness about Special Olympics. A recent event in Jackson County is hoped to do that – and more.More than 75 people took part in a Law Enforcement Torch Run in Black River Falls last week, believed to be the first ever in Jackson County.The event, which is one of dozens across the state, involves members of law enforcement and athletes running the “Flame of Hope” to the opening ceremonies of the state’s Special Olympics while serving as a grassroots fundraiser and awareness campaign for the organization – one that gives children and adults with intellectual disabilities an avenue for athletic competition.But, in Jackson County, officials hope the June 3 event will help spur the revival of the local agency of Special Olympics that has been inactive for an extended period and closed a few months ago.“We would love to be able...

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