|1/6/2020 2:44:00 PM|
A year in review for 2019:
There have been a lot of events that have shaped Iowa County's history for 2019 and for the 157th year the Dodgeville Chronicle has reported on them. The news team at the Dodgeville Chronicle has selected many categories that highlighted some of the top events that occurred during the past year.
COURTS: The Dodgeville Chronicle is literally right next door to the Iowa County Courthouse, and thus the news staff has covered many court cases throughout the year. Here is a synopsis of the top cases for 2019.
Valdez case: Reporter Kasi Greenwood's comments: With only over a year under my belt at the Dodgeville Chronicle, this case thus far has been the most challenging and time consuming. It is still one of my top projects and it is still continuing. For further background to those who have not followed the case, it starts on March 24, 2018. Austin D. Valdez, 19 at the time, was originally charged with second degree reckless homicide when he shot and killed his stepfather Robin Reeson of Ridgeway in the early morning of March 24, 2018. He has claimed that he was acting in defense for himself and to protect his mother Melanie Reeson in an alleged domestic incident.
He has made many appearances in the Iowa County Courthouse since last year. At the end of January, his charge of second degree reckless homicide was upgraded to a first degree reckless homicide. During that week Grant County Court Judge Craig Day stood in as Richland County Court Judge William Sharp had been recovering from an unexpected injury. Larry Nelson argued at the time that while Valdez recklessly caused the death of his stepfather, he felt that Valdez acted out of disregard for human life thus his reason for the amended reckless homicide charge. Valdez's defense attorney Jeremiah Wolfgang Meyer O'Day said during testimony that Reeson had a tendency to be angry, but on March 24, 2018, "this time was different. The way he described it, it was the difference between pissed off and raging."
After testimonies from members of the Iowa County Sheriff's Department, members of Valdez's family, a forensic pathologist, a therapist and others, the jury felt they could not come to a unanimous decision thus resulting in a mistrial. In April, Nelson declared a retrial. However only a few days later, he unexpectedly passed away leaving the case with the question being "what now?" Attorney General Amber Hahn has taken over for the state's perspective and has upgraded the charge to first degree intentional homicide. What also makes the case more complicated is that Melanie Reeson, Valdez's mother, passed away earlier this year. From the mistrial in February to a NEW trial scheduled for March of 2020, this case does not come short with updates and complications. After the unexpected passing of District Attorney Larry Nelson, along with Austin Valdez's mother Melanie Reeson earlier this year, and an upgraded charge, it will be interesting to see what happens as the case unfolds. It is really a case that The Dodgeville Chronicle will be there for the retrial.
Mysterious Miller Road case: Reporter Kasi Greenwood's comments: This is a case that has left Iowa County wondering what happened to the "young girl on Miller Road?" This was a case that finally revealed suspects a year and a half after 13-year-old Selah Kaden was found dead at 1049 Miller Road in the town of Mineral Point on May 31, 2018. Two people have been identified as the suspects: Laurie Barry, 50, and her daughter, Alexis Barry, 27. They have been charged in this case and their next hearing is scheduled for late February of 2020. Charges were officially filed in July of this year. The case went to court again for a motion hearing in October where testimonies were heard from two Iowa County Sheriff's detectives Brian Fitzsimons, Lana Bowers along with Dr. Michael Stier a forensic pathologist for UW-Madison School of Medicine. During his testimony Fitzsimons said he interviewed the EMT's who responded to the call, who both thought the caregivers showed little concern to Kaden's grave condition. Detective Lana Bowers interviewed both Barry's and learned more about Kaden's reactive detachment behavior. The Barry's agreed to take Kaden in as her younger sister needed heart surgery. Under questioning Bowers said she had learned that after April 24 when she was introduced into the Barry household, Selah's behavior escalated and periods of what the Barrys considered fake falling and self harm began to take place. Bowers said in her interview with the Barrys that they had gotten up around 11 a.m. on May 31 and Alexis took Selah to the kitchen with her. Selah slept in the same room as Alexis and a younger Barry sister, Charity. The reason for the late arousal was because they were fostering some young raccoons and had been up during the night and early in the morning. Sometime later Kaden told the Barry's that she had to use the restroom, fell and struck her head very hard. She then fell a second time, this time letting herself down easily. Bowers said the Barrys decided to leave her on the floor as she seemed to be doing fine, was quiet and was shifting her position to get comfortable. She was also tracking them with her eyes. Laurie Barry told Bowers they checked on Selah every 10 minutes. When Selah's color started to change Laurie began contacting Selah's family. At first the family felt there was no need to take her to the ER. When Jesse Barry got home he determined the situation was more serious and 911 was called.
According to Bowers Laurie and Alexis followed the ambulance to the hospital. When it was determined Selah was gone Laurie did not want to call her mother, instead asking an ER person to do it. Things became real interesting in Dr. Stier's testimony case. According to the Barry's, Selah had a history of self-sustaining injuries. However Stier's autopsy report says a different story, in terms of its multiple findings. The first finding lists blunt head trauma, acute and mixed. In other words, there were multiple contusions on top of the head. He also found these were acute lesions that occurred within "minutes or hours," prior to death. He also revealed that this is the first case in which he used the word "torture." Stier concluded that Selah's death was due to "homicidal smothering and suffocation, and blunt force patterned beating." He stated that the lesions found during the autopsy were in no way consistent to self sustained injury, and further concluded the multiple types and distributions of injury may constitute torture."I cannot imagine the scenario in which this child was willing to sustain such a beating without restraining," Stier said. "Therefore, it leads me to the interpretation or conclusion that more than one individual is involved in the fatality of this child." This is another page-turning case, and it will be interesting to hear all points of view as the next hearing is scheduled for February 21 in 2020.
WEATHER: The weather in Iowa County Southwestern Wisconsin has been all over the place.
Wisconsin Winter Wonderland:
The end of January saw a polar vortex throughout the county. Forecasts called for dangerous wind chills, reaching about 65 degrees below zero.
While Winter in Wisconsin sure is cold, people were worried about dangerously cold it would be, prompting many responses.
Many businesses closed during the last Wednesday and Thursday in January in order to keep their employees safe. There was a genuine fear that emergency vehicles may not have been able to get to those in need if anything happened.
Highland, Dodgeville, Iowa-Grant, Mineral Point, Barneveld, River Valley and Pecatonica Schools all closed, but being closed most days the week forced many of the area schools to figure how they would make up their time. Iowa County Sheriff's Department personnel responded to many weather related incidents: one smell of smoke, a gas leak in the village of Barneveld, two gas odor reports in the city of Dodgeville and one fire alarm.
Also, there was a problem with the heating at the Health and Human Services building with staff inside the building working at temperatures that got down to and inside temperature of 40 degrees. Employees were forced to go on the roof, closing air intake vents to cut cold air intake.
Then the first weekend in February saw temperatures reach the mid 40's.
Rain, Rain Go Away
A wet spring caused a lot of heartache for Iowa County's farmers, forcing farmers to think hard about their planting season. For crop insurance purposes farmers are expected to report their planting acreage reports to their local Farm Service Agency centers during mid summer. Because of wet conditions, USDA extended their crop reported deadline to July 22, instead of the normal July 15 deadline. It didn't get much better during the fall as it prompted many farmers around the area a delay in the harvesting. Many cornfields are still up in the area. If there were good days, most likely farmers would be out in the fields.
The Heat Was On
Cooling centers were available to the public at various facilities in Iowa County.*****
THOSE WE LOST
While every death is a loss, we are listing some who have special meaning to us. They all have their special stories on how they impacted many lives. This is not an all inclusive list, rather a list of people who we remember.
January 3, 2019
Ronda Elaine Forseth, 73, Dodgeville. Rona was a crafter, a knitter, a genealogist, a mother, grandmother and friend. She was also my (Pat Reilly) classmate. Her father, Walter Leigh, was a Dodgeville policeman who died in the line of duty.
January 15, 2019
The Honorable James P. Fiedler died at the age of 90. He served as Iowa County Judge from 1972 until his retirement in 1996. In 1990 he was named Trial Judge of the Year. Two of his children are also judges, the Honorable Patrick J. Fiedler, a Dane County Circuit Judge and the Honorable Margaret Koehler, an Iowa County Circuit Judge.
January 17, 2019
LeRoy D. "Bud" Jewell, 92, served in the US Air Force during the Korean War. He ran a television repair business in Edmund then later bought Martin Oil and ran the business as J&J Oil for many years.
January 19, 2019
James Robert Phillips, 87, Dodgeville, owned and operated Philipps Distribution Company, taking it over from his father where he distributed Hamm's and Miller. He then began Philipps All Star Dairy, delivering dairy products to area home. He was a member of the Dodgeville Fire Department for 25 years and volunteered at St. Joseph's School. He served in the Korean War with the US Army and took a Badger Honor Flight in 2016.
February 24, 2019
Alice June Gravelle, 82, Dodgeville, grew up in Linden and wrote for The Dodgeville Chronicle as a correspondent under the name Merfy Rule. She retired to this area in 2003 and took up writing "The Linden News" which her mother, Alice also wrote in the 1930s and 1940s.
March 1, 2019
Theresa Ann "Terri Kinsman, 69, Mineral Point, was a very busy volunteer in the Iowa County and Mineral Point areas where she helped start the Mineral Point Rescue Squad in 1986. She spent a lot of time with the "squad" helping others. She was also an artist, a book illustrator, a 4-H leader and lived with her husband, Bill on their beef farm her entire married life.
March 7, 2019
Clemme Barbara Bollant, 24, Dodgeville, was a two time liver transplant survivor known for fighting her long battle with spunk and style. She was known for always seeing the beauty in life, helping others feel beautiful and capturing their style in her photographs.
March 17, 2019
John W, Bosch, 70, Highland, was a US Air Force veteran who graduated from Highland High School in 1966. He was a businessman in Highland operating American Family Insurance for 25 years. He was a member of Ss. Anthony & Philip Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Robert Kail American Legion Post #422 and Mineral Point DAV Post 67.
March 24, 2019
Erin Michelle (Honerbaum) Jacobson, 40, Dodgeville, was an inspiration to us all with the way she battled breast cancer from 2016 until her death. She was a nurse who worked throughout the US and even went to Ethiopia to assist with medical care with UW Health. She ended her career with Upland Hills ER where she worked until 2018 when she had to leave for health reasons.
Erin was a runner and a biker. She did the Ironman Wisconsin in 2012 and 2014. She also loved competing in the Berby Derby.
In her obituary it was stated, "Metastatic breast cancer is a terrible disease. Erin was a warrior; a brave, courageous woman who was determined every step of this 'marathon.' We are so proud of her.
April 15, 2019
Hunter James Gordon, 18, Mineral Point, was in a wheel chair all his life who was credited with being an inspiration to his classmates and never left a chance to be part of things. He was honored posthumously at his graduation ceremony with not a dry eye in the Mineral Point gym.
"We have learned so much from you over the years. We are grateful that Hunter has tought us how to love on a whole different level." it said in his obituary.
April 16, 2019
Larry Eugene Nelson, 59, Mineral Point, was born in Dodgeville, graduated from Dodgeville High School and then UW-Whitewater in 1982. He later received his law degree in 1988 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Upon graduation, he served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for Sheboygan County as well as, Municipal Attorney for Sheboygan Falls and the Village of Kohler. Since 1989 he served as a pillar of justice for Iowa County. He served as Iowa County Corporation Counsel and Assistant District Attorney from 1989 to 2006. He was appointed District Attorney by Governor Doyle in 2006 and served in that station until his passing. He was well respected by his colleagues and by those he helped. His legacy lives on by those who knew and loved, and by his children, friends and family.
April 19, 2019
Steven J. Hermanson, better known as "Hermie," 69, Mineral Point, was a server and protector for Mineral Point. He was an officer for the Mineral Point Police Department for over 30 years and retired in 2011. After retirement he continued to serve his community by serving coffee to guests at Red Rooster cafe, and stopping by saying hello to those he knew and loved. He is remembered as a server, a protector and a beloved community member.
May 20, 2019
William E. "Bill" Schmitz, 80, Mineral Point, was was a member of the Mineral Point Fire Department for 43 years, and he was an honorary member of the department since 2006. The fire department was a second home to him. Bill and his beloved wife Barbara were longtime supporters of Mineral Point athletics and had children and grandchildren that went to the district. He was known by many and always had a bright smile on his face. He will be missed by those who loved and cared for him.
June 18, 2019
Karen Jane Greenwood, 79, Mineral Point, on June 13, 1940 in Darlington, and graduated from Mineral Point in 1959. She married her highschool sweetheart Lee, who worked for a longtime in Dodgeville at Dick's Supermarket (now Piggly Wiggly). She worked a long time at Wenger's Chiropractic and was known by many throughout the county.
Her grandaughter Kasi is a reporter for the Dodgeville Chronicle and Democrat Tribune and Kasi always says to this day, "she had to pick a Tuesday deadline to go." Kasi knows now that there were divine reasons behind that. She was always there for Kasi, and she even had the honor of seeing her recognized as a future headliner up in Madison in April of 2018. Although she suffered from Progressive SupraNuclear Palsy, she always had a bright outlook on life and embraced everyone with her kindness and positivity.
June 22, 2019
John M. "Jack" Reynolds, Jr., 92, Dodgeville, came from Hollandale to run a successful beef operation along with being an auctioneer who had over 7,000 sales in his 42 years of auctioneering. He sold $21 million worth of livestock in 1980 at area markets. He was active in many national organizations in the beef industry and auctioneering and received the lifetime achievement award from the Iowa County Livestock Association,
After he retired Jack became an antique expert and ran Carousel Collectibles and Antiques with his wife Virginia from 1988 until her death in 1995, then with his daughter, Cherie until 2002.
"He will be remembered as an innovative thinker with a twinkle in his eye, a great sense of humor and a man who loved his family," his obituary stated.
June 27, 2019
Eleanor M. Janssen 95, Dodgeville, grew up helping her father, John Raess, at his butcher shop then worked at the county office responsible for testing milk. She later helped run Janssen's Self Service gas station with her husband, Bob, did baby sitting and worked at Lands' End. '
"She was a loyal and caring friend: said her obituary and those of us who knew it fully agree.
June 30, 2019
Satyanath (Sath) N. Menon, 71, Dodgeville, was born in Baroda, India and came to the United States to earn a graduate from the University of New York at Plattsburgh with a BA in Economics and Business Administrations. He later received an MBA from the University of New York at Buffalo School of Management. He worked in several areas, many dealing with human resources.
He came to Dodgeville after marrying his wife, Cheryl, and got involved in many volunteer opportunities. He was a very friendly, generous man with his money, time and talents and always fought for what was right.
July 10, 2019
Alfred J. Ernzen, 86, Dodgeville, owned a gas station in Mineral Point then came to work at Hennessey Motors in Dodgeville for 43 years. He was a husband, father, grandfather and was very talented in carpentry, wood burning, mechanics and welding. He was also a winning euchre player. He celebrated his 77th birthday by buying a 1977 Corvette.
"He will always be remembered as a kind, loving person." his obituary states.
July 17, 2019
James C. Murn, 94, Dodgeville, got his start in business keeping detailed records of the family farm operation where he was raised during the Great Depression. He became involved in the farm implement business first in Palmyra and finally in Dodgeville where he opened Murn Tire and Tool. He served many small farm families which was his focus.
He served on the Iowa County Rescue Squad as a first responder and was on the Iowa County Board of Supervisors for 24 years. He was chairman of the Iowa County Highway Committee. He was very active at St. Joseph's Church, Dodgeville and the American Slovenian Catholic Church along with the Knights of Columbus.
July 27, 2019
Iva Ann Polkinghorn, 100, Cobb, was known for her huge vegetable and flower gardens. She was very active in 4-H in Iowa County and was a leader for the North Survey 4-H Club for many years.
August 14, 2019
Phyllis A. Fritch, 77, Cobb, spent most of her career in the health care industry. She served on the Board of Directors of Dodgeville general for five years then helped with the merger of Dodgeville General and St. Joseph's hospitals into what became Memorial Hospital of Iowa County and is now Upland Hills Health. She was directly involved in many building programs, recruitment and fundraising. She was also very active in various state and federal health boards.
Not one to sit around in her retirement Phyllis was a part time Economic Specialist for the city of Dodgeville for two years.
Phyllis had a strong connection to God and her church. She was a church board member, an organist and a Sunday School teacher.
"We will miss her faith connection and loving, grace-filled example."
The Iowa County Board saw its share of passionate people asking them to support their causes. In some instances the board did just that while in others they said no.
The protest against the Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC) power line that is proposed from Dubuque to Middleton was approved by the Public Service Commission. For months the board was asked to vote against anything to do with the line and after it was approved the opponents asked the board to join a lawsuit against the line and the PSC's decision. The board authorized spending up to $50,000 in attorney fees and joined the suit.
The Badger Hollow solar farm in western Iowa County received its share of protests but that project is proceeding as scheduled.
The most recent controversial decision came at the December meeting as the board, after an hour of people speaking in opposition, voted to support a resolution from the Health Committee that would remove parental choice for required vaccinations for daycare and schools.
In Mineral Point there were two items that drew its share of protestors. One was opening up streets for ATV/UTV access that would allow them to travel closer to businesses. The city eventually approved routes with a few areas declared off limits.
Another item that drew protests was the proposed Dollar General store which would be built at the site of Ridge Lumber on the Ridge. Members of the arts community felt it was not in keeping of what Mineral Point is all about but the project has been working at meeting zoning requirements.
There was much concern from the local units of government over information they deemed false from the SWIGG report. The Dodgeville Chronicle was thanked by the Iowa County Board for reporting the correct facts about the water quality in this area. The Lafayette County Board tried to threaten the press with legal action with a resolution dealing with how news releases on water quality can be handled but it was tabled.
A group of students from Dodgeville High School took a day off school and went to Madison to protest climate change. They plan to stay involved and do what they can to save the planet.
Ongoing news includes a possible new law enforcement center/jail, a merger of the two nursing homes in Iowa County (Bloomfield Manor and UHH), a new gym and auditorium at Dodgeville High School, a remodel of the elementary school at Mineral Point and a potential new library for the City of Dodgeville. An advisory referendum is scheduled for February on the library project.
Some of the news we will be covering in 2020 is ongoing with the most visible being the opioid crisis that is not only an Iowa County problem but one nationally. There have been several overdose deaths with some of them resulting in reckless homicide charges and jail or prison time for the person providing the fatal drugs.
Also, there were three meth busts in Mineral Point last year. And, the court is full of cases for possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia, and driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
On the flip side is the start of a recovery house with another in discussion. There are also graduation exercises held frequently for those completing drug court. There was also a well attended public meeting held with the speakers addicts who have successfully received help and completed programs. That meeting took place September 25 in the Iowa County meeting room.
The Substance Abuse panel received a grant that allowed them to have nationally recognized speaker talk about addiction and his 12 years of sobriety. The speaker, Tony Hoffman, had sessions at both Dodgeville and Mineral Point.
Other issues that are ongoing are:
-Vaping in schools
-Rural broadband needs
-Additions to the Veterans Wall at Dodgeville High School.
Another matter we will cover is the replacement for Dr. Jeff Jacobson as Dodgeville District Administrator. Dr. Jacobson announced his retirement recently and will leave the district the end of June.
There will also be coverage of the plan for High Street in Mineral Point. The street through the business district will be torn up at a later date to take care of infrastructure needs.
Covering sports for The Dodgeville Chronicle has taken on a new dimension when the daily paper previously covering this area stopped at the Dane County Line. We have published sports supplements, named all-area teams in football, volleyball and boys and girls basketball and continue to cover our athletes who have gone on to compete in college.
It is an ongoing process to get results, statistics, photos, quotes...but it is worth it.
Here are some of the highlights from 2019.
One of the biggest sports news for the Pointers came at matside where Hall of Fame coach Scott Schmitz retired as wrestling coach after 32 years. His successor is one of his former wrestlers and two time state champion Curtis Fiedler who hopes to continue the Mineral Point wrestling tradition and so far he has done just that. Scott was always a good interview and a real ambassador of wrestling in Wisconsin.
The Pointers had one state appearance and that was by the baseball team under the direction of Jordan Tibbits. The team has gone to state the past two seasons and in 2019 finished runner up to Webster in Division 4, giving the school another trophy for their trophy case. They were also SWAL, Regional and Sectional champions.
The softball team won the SWAL and made it to the sectional finals.
The girls basketball team shared the SWAL title with Cuba City, won a Regional title and got to the sectionals before losing to eventual state champion La Crosse Aquinas.
The Mineral Point golf team won the SWAL and Simon Mitchell went to state as an individual where he finished ninth in Division 3.
The football team under the direction of head coach Andy Palzkill won the SWAL for the third year in a row and got within two games of Camp Randall where they lost to Mondovi on a last second score.
On another wrestling note freshman Kylie Rule who is a 126 pounder on the varsity is ranked second in the state in girls wrestling. She went to Sweden last summer where she competed in a World wrestling competition and brought home a bronze.
The combined teams made up of Dodgeville and Mineral Point students had a good year also. The Dodge/Point gymnastics team won the SWC and went to the WIAA state tournament for the third year in a row where they finished seventh.
The Dodgeville/Mineral Point track team crowned one state champion when junior Nicole Johnson won the high jump with a leap of 5-2. There were several qualifiers who made up relay teams along with some individuals who competed also.
Henry Keith represented the Dodgeville/Mineral Point boys cross country team at the state meet in Wisconsin Rapids. It was Henry's fourth appearance at the meet. He finished 20th at state.
The girls softball team was one of the few teams to challenge eventual champion Poynette and went extra innings with the Pumas before being eliminated in the Division 3 Sectional finals. The Dodgers won both the SWC and Regional championships.
The Highland softball team won the Six Rivers West championship along with the Regional title before losing to Blair Taylor.
The Highland football team played in the Ridge and Valley conference for the first time last year and earned a spot in the post season.
While the athletic teams did not win any championships the community proved once again is a champion by helping one of their own. Megan Hodgson Wilson's daughter, Palmer, went through extensive treatment for childhood cancer and Barneveld joined other communities in southwest Wisconsin to show how much they support the family through donations for the expensive care.
For the first time in several seasons the Iowa-Grant cross country teams were able to compete with full squads. The boys came through with the SWAL boys championship and was a participant at the WIAA state tournament in Wisconsin Rapids.
The baseball team at Pecatonica won the Six Rivers East title and the 4x800 relay team placed fourth at the WIAA state meet.
The Blackhawks won the SWC football title and got to the semi-finals before losing to eventual state champion Catholic Memorial.
Two gymnasts, Larisa Shatrawka and Sofia Sanftleben, qualified for the state individual tournament where Shatrawka won the Division 2 balance beam competition and set a new state record. The gymnastics team competes as River Valley/Barneveld.
Madison Krey and Beau Gloudeman finished 38th and 75th at the state cross country meet as individuals.
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