Thursday, October 8, 2009

Homecoming being celebrated at B-W

The culmination of homecoming week at Baldwin-Woodville High School will be the crowning of new royalty on Friday night after the football game.
B-W takes to the field against Ellsworth in the football game.
Pictured above are the senior candidates for homecoming King and Queen, from left: Amy Jo Bakke and Taylor Mabis; Tana Mabis and Luke Vanasse; Rachel Paulson and Jon Willert; Bailey Larson and Logan LaFavor; and Ashley Robole and Ben Simons.

Baldwin man killed in accident

On Friday, September 25 at 8:36 a.m. the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office responded to a single car crash on 100th Ave., approximately one-half mile east of STH 128 in the Town of Springfield.
A 1999 GMC pickup, driven by Joseph J. Anderson, age 34, of Baldwin was traveling eastbound on 100th Ave. when it left the road and rolled, striking some trees. Anderson was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Croix County Medical Examiner.
Mr. Anderson was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. This is the 11th traffic fatality of 2009. The crash remains under investigation by the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office.

BAMC rate increase is an attempt to “even out” increases

The notice in this issue of a rate increase for Baldwin Area Medical Center (BAMC) is part of a process to even out increases as part of the annual budget process for the hospital. The process was instituted last year.
According to BAMC Chief Financial Officer Karen Traynor, in Wisconsin “hospitals are seeing decreases in patients” and at the same time seeing “increases in non-compensated care” or for patients who qualify for discounted or free care, which the Hospital characterizes as “Community Care.”
Traynor said the Hospital has about $2.8 million in uncompensated care on gross revenues of approximately $25 million, or about 7%.
Chief Executive Officer Alison Page said the hospital is approaching the decrease in patients and increase in uncompensated care in several ways. First, she said, the hospital is “trying to control our costs. This place runs very lean.” In addition, the Hospital attempts to connect people to coverage if possible.
So, said Page, the Hospital is doing more than just raising prices.
The hospital in a prepared statement said “The Board of Trustees, administration and medical staff of Baldwin Area Medical Center are committed to maintaining high quality, cost effective health care services for residents of the communities served by the Medical Center. In fulfilling its obligation to maintain the financial health of the organization, Baldwin Area Medical Center monitors the need for rate adjustments and periodically implements changes.
“Through a comprehensive budget forecasting process, Baldwin Area Medical Center has determined that a rate increase is necessary at this time. The increase will be effective November 1, 2009 and will increase gross patient revenues by 9.0% on an annualized basis. The Medical Center last implemented a 9.5% increase on October 3, 2008.
A question and answer format follows:
Q. Why is there a need for BAMC to implement a rate increase at this time?
A. A rate increase is necessary at this time to ensure that the Medical Center is able to maintain its highly qualified staff, to secure current technologies and resources, and as a means to meet the increasing costs of providing care. In addition, the rate increase will, in part, provide the revenues that are necessary to offset the high level of unpaid health care claims (bad debt) and the continued shortfalls in payments from government health programs (Medicare and Medicaid); shortfalls that are indicative of payments that fall below the actual cost of care for the service provided. Rates paid for Medicare and Medicaid patients are prescribed by the Federal and State governments. While the Medical Center’s classifications a Critical Access Hospital in 2004 resulted in improved Medicare and Medicaid program reimbursement, that reimbursement still falls short of true (total) costs for the care delivered.
Economic times have been challenging in all industries. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has begun a quarterly survey process of State hospitals to capture real-time data regarding the market’s impact on health care. The most recent findings were published in April 2009 and are available from a link at the following WHA website:
Among other information, the report cites:
“As the national economic downturn tightens its grip upon the state, Wisconsin hospitals continue to see margins drop, charity care increase at an alarming pace, and bad debt climb as patients are unable to pay their bills.
“It is a situation that is causing a great deal of anxiety not only among hospital executives, but also among community leaders. As some of the largest employers in the state, hospitals are an integral part of the community’s health network, but they also are responsible for a large portion of its economic health. A healthy hospital fosters a healthy community.
“The health of Wisconsin hospitals is on the decline.”
Q. What has Baldwin Area Medical Center experienced in regard to uncompensated health care?
Q. So if “the health of Wisconsin hospitals is on the decline” as measured by recent hospital fiscal performance indicators and cited by the WHA, what does that mean for the quality of the care that patients are receiving in the state of Wisconsin?
A. We are pleased to cite another publication from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, a new release dated June 26, 2009 in which it is reported that a “Federal Agency Ranks Wisconsin #1 in Health Care Quality” as measured and released by the Federal Agency for Health care Research and Quality. In fact, Wisconsin has been in either the #1 or #2 position since 2006 and is cited as a potential model for national and state health reform programs. The press release is available directly from
Q. WHA identifies a hospital as a vital part of a community. What economic value does Baldwin Area Medical Center bring to the community?
A. This is information we’ve been pleased to make available to the community within the past year. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has provided hospitals with a standardized tool that can be used to calculate the economic value of a rural community hospital. We bring 245 direct jobs to the community, one small part of the total 435 jobs that are derived from the operation of the Medical Center within our community.
Q. What does it mean for the Medical Center to implement a 9% rate increase?
A. The rate increase means that the Medical Center’s gross patient revenues will increase by 9% on an annualized basis. “Gross Revenue” means the total charges generated by the Medical Center from inpatients and outpatients for services provided regardless of the amount the Medical Center expects to collect.
In fact, there are multiple payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and a number of commercial payers, for which the rate increase will result in no additional revenue to the Medical Center.
By way of illustration, for every $1.00 of additional inpatient revenue generated by the rate increase, the Medical Center estimates it will collect approximately 20¢ prior to adjustment for bad debt and Community Care program discounts.
Q. What does the rate increase mean for the typical patient who utilizes hospital services or sees a provider at the Baldwin Clinic?
A. It depends on the health insurance coverage the patient has, if any, and the specific services used by the patient. The individual’s medical provider will make a determination about the type of service that is appropriate based upon the patient’s presenting medical condition. The health insurance policy is an agreement that exists between the patient and his or her insurance plan. The health insurance policy defines the costs for which the patient is responsible.
For those patients without insurance—approximately 6% of the Medical Center’s business—the Medical Center offers financial assistance that includes opportunity to qualify for a discount or to establish an interest free payment plan. In addition, the Community Care program provides free or discounted care based upon financial need.
An individual or family may qualify for a discount under the Community Care program if their personal income falls below 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines as published annually in the Federal Register. Eligibility for Community Care is based upon a combination of family size and income in combination with documentation that no other health insurance is available to the applicant. Discounts are offered on a sliding scale and range from 10% to 100%. This is not an insurance plan and there is no ability on the part of the Medical Center to recover Community Care discounts.
It is also important for uninsured members of the community to look into the state of Wisconsin’s programs that provide access to health insurance for low income residents via BadgerCare (in addition to traditional Medicaid program offerings).

From the Exchanges

  Interesting News Items from

    Surrounding Communities

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: a burst of progress toward developing the River Falls-based homeless shelter, Our Neighbors’ Place , means the project takes its first big step Oct. 5. It opens a day center at 109 Riverwalk in the downtown. Key organizers gave a presentation at a monthly St. Croix Valley United Way meeting in August. “We went there to tell them we existed…we presented our mission,” said Carole Mottaz, who along with Sue Watters and Mary Jo Sutton have helped a larger group organize and plan a comprehensive three-part shelter. Mottaz said after the United Way meeting, things started happening fast as different groups came forward to say, “We can help with that.” Among the significant developments was the West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency (West Cap) offer to provide two social workers immediately, one specialized in homelessness issues and the other in literacy. But the two needed a place out of which to work. The pair will be West Cap employees and federal stimulus money will pay their salaries for the first two years. Mottaz says Sutton found the Riverwalk space, which is owned by Joe Boles, and was previously occupied by Global M.A.D.E. The 2,200-square-foot space is not donated, so a top priority is to pay rent for the first year. That can be hard for a charity Mottaz is asking for 100 people to donate $10 a month for a year.

SUN-ARGUS (ELMWOOD): The Elmwood School District approved a Resolution on Thursday, September 10 authorizing the issuance and sale of $500,000 general obligation qualified school construction promissory notes (tax credit). The bonds issued by the District are qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and carry a zero percent interest rate. The deal is the fourth of its kind to be completed in Wisconsin and only the 19th to be completed within the U.S. since the stimulus plan was enacted in February.

CENTRAL ST. CROIX NEWS (HAMMOND): Hammond Village Board trustees say they know they have some tough budgetary decisions coming up and they are turning to village residents to help them make those. This week, every village residence received a “hard copy” of the survey in the mail – along with instructions directing them to the village’s website where they can either complete the survey online or download it and drop it off at the village office or mail it. The introduction of the survey reads: “The new budget cycle is here, the Village would like to ask its citizens to weigh in and tell us what services you find most valuable. In these financially challenging times, we are all being asked to look closely at our budgets and find opportunities to “tighten the belt,” and the Village of Hammond is no different. We will use the results of the survey as input into deciding what to keep, what to trim, and how much to trim.” Completed surveys are due by September 30 and the results will be published online November 9. “I’d rather know that the citizens would prefer to lose the flowers on the main street vs. the brush pickup,” said trustee Erin McComb, who is also the chair of the Personnel & Finance Committee that recommended the survey. “At the end of the day I’d rather get an earful…then (residents) can’t say we didn’t ask them.”

TRIBUNE PRESS REPORTER (GLENWOOD CITY): Chief Dan Wellumson reported to the village board Monday night that he had some bad news and good news. “We have yet to solve the break-ins at the library and St. Luke’s,” he told the board. But the good news is that ten reported thefts have been solved. Wellumson said that they interviewed three juveniles about items being taken from parked cars within the village. The police department has recovered some of the stolen property. But he told the board that one of the juveniles interviewed indicated that $500 was taken from a car parked in front of an establishment in the village. “We have no victim,” he told the board. Apparently no one ever reported the money missing. Wellumson noted that after this item appears in the paper, someone may come forward.

Labecki presents sportsmanship award

Deputy Director Wade Labecki of the WIAA, third from left, returned to B-W for a presentation on Friday night. He presented the sportsmanship award from the WIAA to the Fusion girls hockey team that won the state title last winter. The Fusion is a co-op team with members predominantly from River Falls and B-W. Also pictured, from left, are JR Dachel, who occupies Labecki’s former place as Dean of Students, Athletic Director and Transportation Director; High School Principal Eric Russell; Labecki, Fusion Coach Matt Cranston; players Tanis Klingler and Tori Klingler; and Assistant Fusion Coach Karl Erickson.

Pilot project to test beneficial reuse of combustion byproduct

The state Department of Natural Resources intends to issue a grant of exemption to Xcel Energy and its project manager, Beneficial Reuse Management, to use spray dryer absorber (SDA) material in an equipment storage pad.
SDA material is generated by the combustion of coal and the injection of lime into stack gases, removing sulfur dioxide from air emissions and converting it to calcium sulfite. The material also contains fly ash. The purpose of this pilot project is to determine if SDA material can be used safely in the environment and function as a geotechnical fill, as in the construction of a storage pad.
The Xcel Energy A.S. King Power Plant in Stillwater, Minnesota, is the generator of the SDA material. The proposed pilot project is located at Blackhawk Nutrients, 645 270th St, in the Town of Springfield, St. Croix County.
Monitoring and sampling devices will be placed below the 160 by 270 foot pad to determine the quality of rainwater or melt water that filters through the compressed material. Engineers will also be evaluating the effects of freeze-thaw cycles on the material’s stability.
The proposed action is not anticipated to result in significant adverse environmental effects. The DNR has made a preliminary determination that neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement will be required for this action.
Public comments on the proposed pilot project are welcome and will be received through Oct. 7. Comments can be directed by mail to Michael Miller, DNR, 4732 Griffith Ave, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494; by phone to Miller at (715) 421-7821; or by e-mail to

B-W students receive AP Scholar Awards

Nine students at Baldwin-Woodville High School have earned AP Scholar Awards in recognition of their exceptional achievement on last May’s AP exams.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) program provides motivated and academically prepared students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school. These students may earn college credit, advanced placement, or both at the college or university of their choice. Only about 18% of the nearly 1.7 million students worldwide who took AP exams performed at a sufficiently high level to also earn an AP Scholar Award.
At B-W, Elisa Folden qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by earning an average of at least 3.5 out of 5 on five or more AP exams. Jordan Hampton-Hayes qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by earning a 3 out of 5 on four or more exams.
Seven B-W students qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more exams with grades of 3 out of 5 or higher. These AP Scholars are Josie Gheen, Ellen Hawley, Seth Kersten, Daniel Peterson, Dan Ramberg, Jordan Simons, and Rachelle Veenstra.

From the Exchanges
    Interesting News Items from
        Surrounding Communities

HUDSON STAR-OBSERVER: Two Hudson men face felony drug charges for something that came in the mail. Hudson police arrested the two in a parking lot of the Hudson post office last Friday afternoon just after they picked up two packages, each containing three pounds of marijuana . According to Det. Sgt., Eric Atkinson, a postal employee became suspicious because of the smell emanating from the boxes and the U.S. postal inspectors were called in. The inspectors searched the packages and allegedly found two carry-on size suitcases, each filled with three plastic bags with about a pound of marijuana in each. On Thursday, the inspectors notified Hudson police and a plan was set in motion. The post office contacted the two men Friday and told them their packages were available for pick up. Police were waiting in the parking lot. The men arrived at the post office around 2 p.m. One of them went in and retrieved both packages. As the man was putting the boxes in the trunk of his car, police moved in and arrested them both. One man was taken to jail and questioned. The second man was taken to his residence and interrogated there. The men’s names will not be released until charges are filed.

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: Wisconsin State Troop Inspector Kirk Danielson of River Falls was honored for courageous conduct last week in Madison. He got a Meritorious Service Award from State Patrol Superintendent David Collins in the Governor’s Conference Room at the state Capitol. Danielson was one of 21 state troopers to be recognized for exemplary service at the ceremony. The daring rescue took less than a minute but inhaling smoke and dodging the shooting flames made it seem endlessly long. Danielson was trying to pull an unconscious man from the cab of a burning pickup truck. An eastbound pickup had veered off I-94 just inside Dunn County and crashed into a ravine some 100 feet below against a rocky culvert. For Danielson the scene triggered memories of a similar rescue attempt three years before. He and a St. Croix Sheriff’s deputy tried pulling a motorist from his burning car after a head-on crash with another driver who was drunk on Co. Rd. A near Hwy. 12. While the victim was probably dead, the two officers failed to get him out before his small car was engulfed by flames. “I wasn’t going to let another guy burn up. That was going through my head,” Danielson said about the I-94 rescue on a late afternoon last April. One motorist tried unsuccessfully with a fire extinguisher to douse the flames of the smoking pickup. Danielson cut the seatbelt and dragged the driver out but the man’s foot caught on the four-wheel drive shift lever. Besides smoke, flames were now flowing from the cab vents. Danielson crawled back a second time to reach in and free the man’s foot. Danielson started CPR on the driver, including chest compressions. Several minutes later Menomonie fire and ambulance paramedics arrived to take over. Despite the valiant rescue, the victim was pronounced dead.

THE SUN (OSCEOLA): More charges were filed Monday against Blake Charles Nelson, 19, of Stacy, Minn., stemming from a September 11 armed robbery of the Riverview Conoco station in Taylors Falls. Nelson was charged with aggravated robbery in the first degree, two counts of assault in the second degree and transporting a pistol by an ineligible person. According to the criminal complaint, Nelson came into the Riverview Conoco about 8:40 p.m. wearing an orange ski mask and carrying a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. He then clambered a round, threw a bag at the cashier and demanded all the money. He pointed the gun at the cashier and a patron, and, after receiving the money, fled the store. Nelson stashed the gun, mask and money under a tree near the Taylors Falls Community Center where the police found it. The police then staked out the area and apprehended Nelson later when he came back to retrieve the items.

Public flu forum held at B-W High School

A forum on the H1N1 (also called “Swine”) flu titled “Prepare, don’t panic!” was held at Baldwin-Woodville High School Monday evening. Representatives from several local institutions were present to provide information about the plans being made to prepare for a possible large outbreak. The forum was organized by the Baldwin Public Library.
Those present on the panel included, from left, Rebecca Dixon, librarian at the Baldwin Public Library; Sandy Somsen, Baldwin Area Medical Center (BAMC); Wendy Kramer, St. Croix County Public Health; Karen Hollabaugh, BAMC; Mike Kohlrusch, BAMC; and Eileen LaFavor, Administrator at Baldwin Care Center.

Man drowns in St. Croix River Sept. 13

On Sunday, September 13 at approximately 5:53 p.m. the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible drowning in the St. Croix River just north of the Stillwater lift bridge. St. Croix County and Washington County Water Patrols responded to the scene and began a search of the indicated area. At approximately 7:55 p.m. Washington County Water Patrol using side scan sonar located a body. Divers entered the water and recovered an adult male’s body.
A joint investigation identified the victim as PHA Yang, age 38, 788 Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul, Minnesota. He had accompanied three friends to Stillwater where they rented a pontoon boat and began a trip north on the St. Croix River. After passing the Stillwater lift bridge, approximately 100 yards north of the bridge, PHA decided to take a swim. The operator of the pontoon stated he shut the motor off, but the pontoon continued to travel north. PHA swam after the boat but then they noticed he was in trouble. An individual on the boat threw him the anchor hoping PHA would be able to grab onto the rope, but he went under before reaching the rope. The driver, dove into the water but could not locate PHA. The two other individuals could not swim. Friends indicated PHA was an experienced swimmer.
This incident remains under investigation by the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office.

Crash results in traffic fatality

A one-vehicle crash early Monday afternoon on I-94 has resulted in a traffic fatality.
According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, at about 1:20 p.m. Monday a pickup truck towing a trailer fishtailed and went off the road near milepost 31 in St. Croix County, according to pager reports. The driver of the pickup truck was ejected and was pronounced dead at Baldwin Area Medical Center after efforts were made to revive him were unsuccessful.
A passenger in the pickup was wearing his seatbelt and was not injured, the State Patrol said.
Names of the people in the pickup have not been released by the State Patrol as of Monday evening.

Park View celebrates 50th anniversary Saturday

Park View Community Campus, including Park View Home, will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with an open house on Saturday, September 12 from noon until 3:00 p.m. A presentation at 1:00 p.m. will honor some of those with the vision to found Park View as well as unveil plans for an expansion project. In the picture above, in front, from left, are: Janis Helgeson doing the nails of resident Lorraine Zignego. Standing in back, from left to right, are: Karen Gunderson, Natjira Gorman, Candice Wolvert, Scott Blodgett, Shelby Kuhn, Steve Anderson, Jena Standaert, Administrator Melissa Walthall and Dalia Olson.

Members of the public are invited to help Park View Community Campus celebrate 50 years of service to the community as well as look into the future to Park View’s unveiling of their expansion project.
The Celebration Open House will be Saturday, September 12 from noon until 3:00 p.m.
The Golden Anniverary of Park View is a testatment to the vision of the people who more than 50 years ago believed that a nursing home could operate and prosper in Woodville while providing a vital service to residents. Four of those visionaries will be honored at a program at 1:00 during the open house. Special guest will be State Senator Sheila Harsdorf and honorees will be Don Hagen, Eula Casper, Jeannette Herald and posthumously Art Best with a presentation to his son Doug.
In addition to the program, there will be musical entertainment by the Holm Sisters, a bounce house to entertain children, barbecue and a video show presenting photos of the past.
“If you look at this building,” said Park View Adminstrator Melissa Walthall, “I feel it doesn’t look 50 years old. It’s been very well maintained. The impression I get from people is they feel it’s light and airy.” She added that there is a small town pride about the institution and facility. “Staff care about the residents and want to do a good job, and that’s reflected in the facility. Residents’ families are involved,” she said and often will come in for coffee and goodies.
Walthall has been administrator at Park View Community Campus for the past 12 and one-half years.
“I think one of the things that surprises people is that we employ between 90 and 100 people,” said Walthall. “There are a lot of loyal, long-term employees and also some new additions and we hope they stay as long.”
At the open house plans for the future will be unveiled, said Walthall. She said the focus will be on remodeling and adding on to meet future needs and that financing for the plan is nearing completion. The hope is to start the project in April 2010 and “the goal of the project to focus on the next 50 years.”
Park View Home was founded 50 years ago with 56 beds. Walthall said that the story of the founding of Park View is amazing, from the vision of the people who proposed it, donated land, traveling to Washington, D.C. to secure funding, resulting in the facility becoming a reality.
Park Views’ initial Board of Directors are listed on a plaque near the entry. They were: R.A. Somesen, president; Donald W. Hagen, vice president; Arthur M. Best, secretary; H.D. Olson, attorney; Ralph Radunzel; Delbert Afdahl; Leonard Wall; Rev. H.T. Haagenson; Rev. S.C. Knutson; Clarence Larson; Rev. H.L.Nelson; Lorentz Solum; Rev. Paul D. Schmidt; Raymond Anderson; Olaf Mathison; and Mrs. J.G. Behm.
Current members of the Board of Directors are: Greg Luecke, president; Larry Knegendorf, vice president; Eula Casper, treasurer, Lois Davis, secretary; Roger Humphrey; Allen DeLander; and Don Hagen.
Park Place North, with assisted living apartments, was built in 1985 as an addition to the original nursing home. It’s attached to the nursing home so it’s convenient to activities and services at Park View.
Kids View Learning Center was started 22 years ago in 1987 and originally licensed for 22 children. It was originally designed to provide day care for children of staff members but since then it has been opened to the community for day care, although staff members’ children still have priority. One nice feature of Kids View is that it allows children to visit the nursing home and multi-generational contacts are beneficial to both the children and residents of Park View.
In 2000 Park Place Apartments was built as a form of assisted living apartments. Each apartment has one or two bedrooms. Services include lunch, housekeeping services weekly, medication assistance and help with personal chores.

From the Exchanges
    Interesting News Items from
         Surrounding Communities

HUDSON STAR-OBSERVER: Longtime Star-Observer Publisher Willis H. Miller left a huge legacy last week. Miller, who died Nov. 16, 2008, at age 89, left $1,068,552 to UW-River Falls. The gift was the largest in the school’s 135-year history. The event was recognized by the university at a luncheon and press conference at the University Center Wednesday, August 26. The money will be used to establish endowed scholarships, giving preference to students from Hudson, North Hudson and their surrounding towns – Hudson, St. Joseph and Troy. “It’s a wonderful day for UW-River Falls,” said Chancellor Van Galen. “This is an act of amazing generosity. It’s the largest donation in our 135-year history and is a milestone for the university.” Van Galen said the magnitude of the gift is tremendous. “The impact on students will last for many years to come, living on into perpetuity,” Van Galen said. “Students will become teachers, business leaders – the impact will be great indeed.”

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: She claims to be 72 but take away that 2 and you have an idea what the start of the school year means to Donna Nicholson. “I don’t know who’s more excited, me or the kids,” she laughed last Thursday. “I woke up at 4:30 today because I have to go on a dry run to meet the kids and the parents. I can’t wait for school to begin.” Nicholson has driven school bus in River Falls since March 1967 – Lyndon Johnson was president; the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was the No. 1 album. That’s 42 years on the job. She drives a 170-mile daily route. Naturally, a reporter might ask, “So how much longer will you work, Donna?” “Indefinitely,” comes the reply, “I feel great. I love the kids, I love to drive, especially driving a school bus. That’s the qualifications for this job. The kids are really what make your day.”

NEW RICHMOND NEWS: U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold knew what he was in for as he walked toward New Richmond High School last Wednesday. Feingold had scheduled his St. Croix County “listening session” in the school’s auditorium the morning of August 26 and a large crowd had assembled. Like several previous gatherings in other parts of the state, Feingold realized the majority of the people in the crowd were there to talk about health care reform. Similar town-hall-type meetings across the nation have resulted in everything from shouting matches to lengthy civil discussions. The New Richmond event ended up having a little of both. Feingold shrugged when asked what awaited him inside. He said he’s not surprised that people are engaged in the debate over health care, but it’s not the only issue to ever have stirred up such emotion.

THE SUN (OSCEOLA): Osceola will soon have a new park. The village of Osceola closed a sale last Thursday of a vacant 0.6-acre lot on the west side of River Street that it intends to use as a park. The park will be named Ladd Park, in honor of Charles C. Ladd and family, who donated the land upon which the Osceola Medical Center — once known as Ladd Memorial Hospital, Inc., — formerly stood. Osceola Village Administrator Neil Soltis said the Village settled on a final purchase price of $130,000 for the vacant lot. The Village will use part of an $110,000 donation and a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to purchase and develop the lot. The park, which in part overlooks the St. Croix River, would likely include little more than a sign commemorating the Ladd family and perhaps a few park benches. “It’s designed to be a quiet place, as opposed to an active use park,” Soltis said. Unlike other accesses available near the Village, Ladd Park features an at-grade view of the St. Croix River, which will be ideally suited to the less physically able and the elderly. The Village will plan a park dedication either this fall or next spring, Soltis said.