Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knapp House destroyed by fire

The devastating fire that destroyed the Knapp House early Wednesday morning could have been worse, much worse.
Two people on their way to work Wednesday morning stopped when they noticed smoke coming from the landmark Knapp structure and awoke owner Rick Bloomfield, who lives in the structure. The two people knew Bloomfield lived there and entered the building to wake him.
Bloomfield escaped the building unhurt. But the building was a different story.
In the above picture members of the Menomonie Fire Department were still on the scene about 11:00 a.m. Wednesday. United Fire and Rescue was called to the scene to help haul water, as were other area fire departments.

Storms wreak havoc to homes, motorists

Baldwin and the surrounding areas were hit by three storms Wednesday. First was a storm late morning. Another came in the afternoon and a final storm passed by early evening.
The three separate storm occurrences dropped a total of 2.11 inches of rain at the official Baldwin measuring station that reports to the National Weather Service.
Two semi-trucks were blown off I-94, pictured above, at approximately mile post 18 Wednesday. According to emergency workers who responded to the scene, the two trucks were both empty and a strong gust of wind picked both up and deposited them on their sides off the road. The west-bound truck was deposited north of I-94 and the east-bound truck wound up on its side in the median.
The driver of one truck was apparently unhurt and the other suffered injuries not believed to be serious. Traffic was slowed while the two trucks were uprighted and removed from the scene.
Probably the storm that hit in the morning was the most severe. There were a number of houses damaged west of Hammond in that storm. According to St. Croix County Sheriff there were about 30 homes that suffered some degree of damage, from substantial, such as the one pictured at left which lost a wall of its garage, to relatively minor such as shingles missing or some siding damaged.
Sheriff Hillstead said three homes were significantly damaged, including another that also lost a garage wall and another with roof damage to cosmetic and minor damage.
According to United Fire and Rescue Baldwin Station Chief Gary Newton, last week was one of the busiest weeks United Fire has ever had. In addition to responding to the two semis that were upended in Wednesday’s storm, the Department was called to a report of a parachute that didn’t open, which turned out not to be true; to a gas leak near B-W High School; to the mini-bike rider who was hit by a vehicle Tuesday norning; to haul water to combat the fire at the Knapp House Wednesday; and to a motorcycle-car accident near the I-94/USH 63 interchange Sunday in which a vehicle pulled out in front of the motorcycle but luckily the motorcycle driver was able to walk away from the scene despite some injuries.

14 year old recovering after crash

A 14 year old boy who ran a stop sign on a mini-bike on 250th Street on Woodville’s northwest side and crashed into the side of pickup truck traveling on USH 12 is recovering from injuries he received according to St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead. “He’s a very lucky young man,” Sheriff Hillstead commented.
According to Sheriff Hillstead, the boy from Baldwin operating a mini-bike was traveling north on 250th Street and did not stop at the USH 12 stop sign. His vehicle crashed into the passengers side of a east-bound pickup on USH 12 driven by Amy Haney of Baldwin.
At the scene Sheriff Hillstead said the boy was “alert and seemed okay,” but was transported to Baldwin Area Medical Center where it was determined that he may have suffered serious internal injuries and was transferred to Regions Medical Center in St. Paul. However, when he was further examined at Regions it was determined that his injuries were not of the seriousness once thought. He was then listed in stable condition.
The driver of the mini-bike was not wearing a helmet or any other type of protective clothing.
Haney was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and her juvenile passenger was in a child safety seat and neither were injured. The truck suffered moderate damage.
Assisting the Sheriff’s Department at the scene of the accident were United Fire and Rescue and Baldwin EMS.

Village Board approves certified survey for First Bank

The Baldwin Village Board at their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 14 approved a certified survey map that splits off several acres from the parcel on which the former Jonquist Kitchens sat, which is now owned by the bank.
In a related measure, Village engineer Mike Stoffel presented bids for the well abandonment project at the bank-owned property. Stoffel said there were three bids for abandoning the well with the lowest only a third the bid of the highest. The Board accepted the bid of Keys Well Drilling which was the low bid. Stoffel said the Keys bid was much lower than the others because the company had worked on the well and was therefore familiar with it. In addition, the Board accepted a bid for removing the ammonia from the cooling system in the building. The bid was quite low because there was not much ammonia left in the system.
In other action at the meeting, the Board heard from Chris Klinkhammer, owner of Klinkers Korner, about plans for an outdoor fenced area in a portion of her parking lot that could be used by smokers. She said the state-wide smoking ban has “put a damper on business.” She said the area would be 24 feet by 24 feet, or enough to hold a couple picnic tables and stools around the perimeter. There would be a door opening from the bar. Klinkhammer was told she needed to file an application for a beer garden and the board seemed receptive to the idea.
The Board also approved a change order for the UV disinfection building at the wastewater treatment plant for additional paving and a sidewalk that adds $4,572 to the cost. The board also discussed a water leak at the plant that is being investigated to determine responsibility. Also, the board approved a pay request for $106,889 for street projects which included a $3,969 change order.
Engineer Stoffel told the board that plans were to pour the curb and gutter for the Curtis Street project as well as at the Baldwin EMS building on Thursday. He noted that Curtis Street held up “very well” in the earlier rain storm that day.
The Board approved a temporary liquor license and operators’ licenses and Mill Pond Park reservation for Bol’s Lanes for a fast pitch tournament.
The Board heard from Jeff Schneider about runoff from the holding pond behind a townhome he owns in Creekview Meadows. He said the runoff caused damage to a retaining wall behind the townhome. Attorney Gary Bakke of the Bakke, Norman SC law firm, told the board that the first question for them is whether dealing with the runoff problem is a legal obligation of the village and the second question is whether as a political consideration the board may still want to deal with the problem. No action was taken.
The Board also discussed the sanitary sewer back up into homes during the torrential rain of Tuesday, June 15 but no action was taken on that problem either.
The Board approved a grant application by Stoffel for the Main Street project. He noted the meeting that was held downtown to seek comments regarding the project and what amenities should be included. Trustee Claire Stein commended village staff for the meeting and presentation as well as the lunch served.

News from the Exchanges
Interesting items from
surrounding communities

THE SUN (OSCEOLA): A former Polk County Treasurer’s Office employee has been charged with embezzlement. Heather Culver, 33, of Webster, has been accused of stealing several hundred dollars worth of cash reserves, after Polk county Treasurer Amanda Nissen asked the sheriff’s office to initiate an investigation into the missing funds three months ago. Through the use of electronic surveillance equipment, the sheriff’s office has determined that Culver is believed to have taken small amounts of cash from a cash drawer sporadically over the course of several months. About $100 in small bills went missing between June 18 and July 2, the sheriff’s department alleged. Culver was charged and faces six misdemeanor counts of theft from a business setting, according to online court records. She was not taken into custody. Culver, who resigned recently, had been employed with the treasurer’s office for 16 months, working as a real property lister for the past eight months.

TRIBUNE PRESS REPORTER (GLENWOOD CITY): A Dunn County jury has found a Boyceville school board member charged with battery and disorderly conduct not guilty. Harry Joles was charged in connection with an incident that occurred at a Boyceville youth football event last September when he was accused of punching Drew Anderson, an assistant youth football coach and causing a disturbance by yelling obscenities. A 12-member jury of nine women and three men found Joles not guilty following a one-day trial in Dunn County Circuit Court on July 6. After hearing testimony for part of the morning and all afternoon, the jury went out to deliberate at about 6:30 p.m. and returned with the not guilty verdict at 7:15 p.m. Joles took the witness stand in his own defense, noting that he is a lifelong Boyceville resident of Boyceville, that his father and grandfather were also named Harry Joles and that he has been in the painting business for 47 years. “I was not arguing. I was debating…I was pleading because I did not want my son to get hurt,” Joles said. Joles testified that he pushed Anderson and that he clenches his teeth when he is angry. “I said, ‘Keep that f--er away from me.’ With clenched teeth I can’t say that loud,” he said. Jules said that he intended to get Anderson away from him, that he did not intent to cause bodily harm and that he never threw a punch at Anderson.

AMERY FREE PRESS: Big Butternut beach in Luck and Half Moon beach in Milltown have been closed by the Polk County Heath Department. High levels of Fecal Coliform Bacteria have been detected at those sites. Those beaches will be closed until two consecutive tests result in acceptable levels. The Polk County Health Department is currently testing the public beaches in Balsam Lake, Big Butternut, Half Moon and South Twin weekly. Bacteria levels that closed the two beaches are an indicator of human or animal waste contamination. Swimming in unsafe water may result in minor illnesses, such as eye, ear, nose and throat infections and the most common being gastroenteritis. Heavy rains can cause elevated bacteria counts.

NEW RICHMOND NEWS: What you don’t know can hurt you. Konnie Jerabeck knows this well. Wild parsnip, also known as cow parsnip, is a herbaceous plant whose sap, when exposed to UV rays, becomes an acid that burns the skin. “My daughter encountered it while playing by a river bank,” said Jerabeck, a Department of Agriculture Nursery Inspector. They were left with long water blisters on their backs. After the blisters disappeared, brown scars took their place and didn’t fully go away until two years later. Jerabeck is concerned that not enough people are aware of wild parsnip and its harmful effects. The parsnip is a Queen Anne’s lace look alike with yellow flowers instead of white. One flowerhead can hold up to 1,000 seeds, Jerabeck said. The danger isn’t in the outside of the flower; it’s the sap and the seeds that cause the blisters. It also doesn’t affect the skin right away. Blisters begin to appear about 24 hours after exposure to the sap and the sun. Once the blisters emerge, they cannot be spread like poison ivy. Removal of the weed is tricky. Be sure to wear protective clothing and try to work after dark to avoid the UV rays activating any sap you might get on you. The weed grows in undisclosed areas and needs sunlight to thrive. It also performs better in wet places, where it can grow up to five feet tall. Wild parsnip is fairly new to St. Croix County. To get a better idea of what it looks like, drive along 170th St. in the Town of Stanton and on Co. Rd. T the weed grows in the ditches along these roads.