Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Skydiver falls to his death

A Chippewa Falls man fell to his death Friday, August 8 after his skydiving chute made "an abrupt turn" just prior to landing, according to the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department, and the man landed at a 45 degree angle.

Todd Jacobson, 39, was skydiving at Skydive Twin Cities in the afternoon, just west of Baldwin on CTH J. According to the Sheriff's Department, "witnesses at the scene stated that Mr. Jacobson was skydiving with a group. His chute deployed normally, but just prior to landing his chute made an abrupt turn in the air so that Mr. Jacobson was at a 45 degree angle to the ground," causing him to land on his head. The Sheriff's Department release said it is unknown why the abrupt turn was made.

The Sheriff's Department was notified at 2:18 p.m. of an injured person at the scene. Upon arrival, deputies performed CPR on Jacobson. He was then transported to Baldwin Area Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 3:07 p.m.

The Sheriff's Department news release said Jacobson was identified as an experienced skydiver with several thousand jumps to his credit.

According to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Jacobson was a safety and training advisor and videographer for the Skydive Wissota Indianhead Sport Parachute Club. According to that Club's webside, Jacobson had successfully completed 5,200 jumps since 1991.

The St. Croix County Sheriff's Department news release said the death of Jacobson remains under investigation by his office.

Gold Finch Farm provides cut flowers to retailers

If you make the commute between Baldwin and Woodville on Highway 12, you've probably noticed the transformation which has occurred at the former Francis and Ruby Dees farm.

For the last four years Harold Wilkins and Bryan Gjevre have transformed the former dairy farm in a huge flower and shrub garden the partners grow to sell to retail floral shops, such as Hermes Floral, for floral arrangements.

"We are wholesale only," Harold stressed.

Wilkins is retired from a career of Professor of Horticulture, which included 25 years at the University of Minnesota and two years filling an endowed chair at Ohio State University. Gjevre was a student of horticulture, attended the U of M and met Harold while both were working on a project at Berkeley in California. Because the flower business is seasonal, Gjevre said he is attending a CNA program and hopes to work at Park View in Woodville during the winter m

Currently the partners have about three of the five acres at Gold Finch Farm under production. The top annuals include zinnias, sunflowers, amaranthus, celosia, dill, broom corn, sage and trachelium.

The broom corn can grow up to 15 feet in height, Wilkins noted. "A local farmer stopped in the first year we were here because he was amazed at how tall it was and no cob."

Perennials growing at Gold Finch Farm include artemesia, sedum, a variety of lilies, hostas, phlox, echinops, yarrow, Siberian Iris, allium, dahlia, Chinese Lantern, three species of milkweed, astilbe, campanula, foxgloves and callas.

"Bryan is in charge of research and development," Wilkins noted. Gjevre admitted some of his plantings do not work, mostly because they don't last in a bouquet. Only two varieties of foxglove survive the winter.

Eriogron is a flower they tried, but no one wanted to buy," Gjevre said.

Sweet pea flowers was another experiment that didn't work. "We ordered a variety from Britain, but couldn't sell a one," Wilkins said. "But we also had a variety from a test seed organization blooming when we got a call from a Hudson florist. A woman had passed on who loved sweet pea
flowers and the family wanted them for a funeral bouquet. So we sold $5.00 worth."

"Harold has the contacts (for wholesale), including the Baldwin Greenhouse," Gjevre commented. They also have an arrangement with Baldwin Greenhouse to use the walk-in cooler to store cut flowers before delivery.

Other local contacts include the three workers the business employs. Logan Veenendall and Justin Morrissey are high school students working seasonal full time at Gold Finch Farm, while Diane Hudson works part time weeding flower beds and Byron Jelen provides mechanical services

"We found the local workers are excellent," Wilkins said.

Harold also has arrangement with Jon-De Farms to have manure delivered to be used at mulch and fertilizer.

Gjevre said woody shrubs have also been planted, "but is takes three to five years for them to be ready." The shrubs are not grown for replanting, but are instead the branches are cut to be used in floral arrangements.

The next time you travel from Baldwin to Woodville, or vice versa, watch for Gold Finch Farm located on the north side of the highway on the curve and you'll see what's growing. You'll most likely see Bryan, Harold or one or more of the employees weeding the flower beds.

Area residents invited to Open House at Contour Plastics

Contour Plastics, Inc. invites members of the public to the expanded facility in Baldwin's Industrial Park on Friday The facility now contains 91,000 square feet of floor space.

To celebrate the completion of a multi-million dollar addition to their manufacturing facility in Baldwin, Contour Plastics is hosting an open house on Friday, August 15 from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The company is located at 660 VandeBerg Road in the Baldwin Industrial Park in Baldwin.

The Contour addition project began in May of 2007. The addition nearly doubled the facility to 91,000 square feet. The project includes a two story structure that added a mezzanine level, offices, training, production and clean rooms that regulate air flow, pressure, temperature and filtration. Frisbie Architects of River Falls served as architect for the project and Gavic Construction of Hudson was the general contractor.

In recognition of the job opportunities and contributions to the community, Governor Jim Doyle announced on June 8, 2007 that Contour Plastics would receive up to $250,000 in Technology Zone credits as part of the facility expansion.

Contour Plastics specializes in the manufacture of precision injected molded plastic production parts and assemblies, principally for the medical, electronics and communication industries. Growing demand by these industries for specialized services, including class 10,000 and 100,000 clean rooms, were some of the pivotal reasons for this expansion. Customers choose Contour Plastics for the quality of its people, the speed of performance and its technical excellence.

Contour was established in 1990. In 1994 the company was honored as the Wisconsin Emerging Business of the Year by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. St. Croix Economic Development Corporation named Contour Plastics as the 2000 Business of the Year (medium category) in St. Croix County. Currently, the company has more than 200 employees.

The public is invited to the open house.

For more information about Contour Plastics go to www.contour-plastics.com.

Hayley Hawkins is "Miss Hammond"

Hayley Hawkins was crowned "Miss Hammond" at the Hammond Heartland Days pageant last Thursday evening. Joining her on the Heartland Days court are princesses: Kelsey Criego, Tiffany Rogers and Kayla Forrest. Kelsey Criego was also chosen as Miss Congeniality.