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Republicans lose key senate seat
Democratic candidate Patty Schachtner emerged victorious in Tuesday’s Special Election and will soon fill the vacated 10th Senate District seat long held by Republican Sheila Harsdorf. Governor Scott Walker recently appointed Senator Harsdorf as the Secretary of the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, creating the open seat, which Balsam Lake/Apple River Republican candidate Adam Jarchow was determined to fill.
Parts of Polk, Burnett, Dunn, Pierce and St. Croix, Counties make up the 10th Senate District and unofficial tallies showed Jarchow carrying Polk and Burnett Counties – 3,133 to 2,833 in Polk and 722 over 500 in Burnett, but Schachtner got the rest. In St Croix County, the tally was close at 6,156 to 4,918, but Schachtner had a resounding victory in Pierce County with 1,238 over 459. She also carried Dunn County by a wide margin with 1,464 votes to Jarchow’s 675.
Cumulatively, Schachtner won this race with 12,241 votes, compared to 9,907 for Adam Jarchow [and 273 for Libertarian Brian Corriea].
Jarchow posted his concession on social media at 9:22 p.m. Tuesday night:
“We fell short tonight. Congratulations to Patty Schachtner on her victory. I look forward to working with her as our new State Senator.”
Schachtner is 57 years-old and the St. Croix County Medical Examiner. She also sits on the Somerset School Board member. Her campaign focused on access to mental health care and treatment for addiction, both of which cost the state a tremendous amount of money.
Jarchow, at 39, has represented the 28th Assembly District for three years.
Schachtner attributed her win in part because the race with Jarchow had “turned nasty.”
“It wasn’t nice,” she reportedly said of the campaign literature. “It was mean,” indicating voters were sick and tired of negativity.
But this wasn’t just a race between two candidates. It has already been called “a massive swing” in a district Harsdorf, as a Republican, has held easily since the turn of the century . In fact, in 2016, Harsdorf was re-elected with over 63 percent of the vote.
Jarchow provided the following statement to the County Ledger Press on Wednesday morning
“Congratulations to Senator-elect Schachtner on her victory tonight. It was a hard-fought campaign and she prevailed. I look forward to working with Patty in Madison and continuing to deliver results for the people of Northwestern Wisconsin. I also commend Brian Corriea for throwing his hat in the ring - running for public office isn’t easy. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who supported my campaign and volunteered their time, effort, and money.
January 18, 2018
CLIMB Theatre presents “Resiliency”
By Lynda Berg Olds
CLIMB Theatre, out of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., is a non-profit educational touring theatre company that travels to schools all over the Midwest to perform plays and teach classes on a wide range of subjects designed to urge students not just to take action in their communities, but to self advocate for their own mental health.
Last week was Mental Health Week at Luck School and the CLIMB troupe brought their Red Company, which is not just a theatre performance, but also a teaching one. One could say they brought their “A Game” to Luck.
The Ledger Press was able to attend the session designed for the high school students, grades nine through 12. Their “Resiliency” performance engaged the students and really got them thinking about positive coping skills when life throws lemons their way, such as divorce, doing poorly in school, money troubles, etc. The Red Company, comprised of Bridget Schwefel and Zack Robb, played various roles [mostly of students, but also of parents and teachers], which demonstrated some of the trials, tribulations and tests that often face teenagers.
Music played a large part in the program, setting the mood. Schwefel and Robb clearly have their fingers on the heartbeat of what is hip for this up and coming generation. – And it was loud, which the students also could relate to.
Actor/educator Schwefel noted “CLIMB” is an acronym for “Creative Learning Ideas for the Mind and Body.”
“We talk to students every day about some pretty challenging topics,” began Schwefel, introducing the “Resiliency” topic. “What do you think of you think of the word resiliency?” she asked the students.
“Strong,” said one. “Being able to bounce back,” said another.
“At CLIMB, we say that resiliency is being able to acknowledge a challenging situation and find positive ways to keep moving forward – much like bouncing back.”
Schwefel’s character is named “Kai.” The students were asked to pay attention to what happens in Kai’s day – and how she decides to deal with, which is what they’d be talking about later.
Super loud music plays and Kai has headphones on. It is before school and her dad has to scream at her to get her attention to let her know the bus is coming. She’s late. A classmate she jokes around with grabs her art book. Kai is a talented artist and was fully expecting to get first place in a school contest. The classmate gives her a hard time, says all her sketches are female, so therefore she must be gay. He offers his “services” if she wants to find out for sure if she is “batting for the right team.”
The music pounds. The bell rings and Kai slips into the class.
“You’re cutting it a bit close there aren’t you?”
“Sorry Mr. Giller.”
Giller passes out test results and the class has done poorly. Kai got a D-. She asks Giller if she can do some extra credit to bring her grades up. He says she must apply herself and study more. Giller says he doesn’t give extra credit – which Kai knows but tries anyways. She says she studied [Newton’s Law] for hours, but doesn’t take tests well.
Giller tries sending her to a counselor [in room 124] who can help her come up with a plan.
“Because you think I’m stupid?”
“It’s pretty normal to have a plan, lots of students have plans.”
“Room 142 right?”
“It’s room 124.”
It appears Kai may be dyslexic.
Loud music, mostly dark, plays between classes.
Kai is visibly frustrated and talks a bit with a buddy.
“This day has turned into the most upside-down, sky is falling, nothing is going to go well sort of day where there is no joy, no laughter, no sunshine, no rainbows and no unicorns.”
“Well I’m glad to see you’re not blowing it out of proportion or anything.”
“I was late for school so I missed the bus and so my dad was pissed off at me – and then when I got to school, I got to Earth Science and got a D- on my test – and then when I decided to ask Giller for extra credit…
“…Giller doesn’t give extra credit.”
“I know that, but I thought it doesn’t hurt to ask right? I mean it doesn’t physically hurt, but it hurt my ego when he implied that I am stupid and should seek counseling – and that creep Warren Flint…”
“…Ah, feel ya up Flint.”
“Right. He was all over me. And to top it all off – this is my lunch [nasty looking sandwich]. My dad forgot to put money in the account…so now I am stuck eating this moldy PB and J.”
“Was the lunch lady at least nice about it?”
“She made me put in my code like 17 times and the girls behind me were trying not to laugh…”
Kai’s day gets worse. She so needs and expects and wants to win this art contest/scholarship – and she is very talented. But, no – some kid who doesn’t need it wins – and Kai is pretty low.
She gets home to find her dad drinking. He’s lost his job. He feels terrible about everything – especially forgetting her lunch money. Oh. And mom is gone.
Dad goes to bed. The Crown Royal is sitting right there. Kai pours herself a little, then a little more. And as she takes the whole bottle and the scene fades to black, the song “So You Had a Bad Day,” by Daniel Powter plays. Loud.
['Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile, and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down, and you really don't mind
You had a bad day…]
Now it’s time for the class discussion and participation. How did Kai cope? What could she have done differently? What might be some more positive responses when everything goes wrong?
The Red Company Team throws a bunch of bouncy balls to kids all over in the risers of the big gym. On each one is some kind of hardship – from divorce to the car breaking down. Markers are tossed and caught by the kids and the balls are passed around as the students write a positive coping skill on the balls.
Then comes the conversation – and the luck kids have come up with super coping mechanisms to deal with some of the harsh things that life throws at them.
It’s been an eventful Mental Health Week in Luck, with stuff going on every day. It is beautiful outside and now the kids are going outside to play.
It’s a good day.
February 1, 2018
Virgil Hansen to be sentenced Monday
Virgil Hansen, 67, of Milltown, is finally going to be sentenced on Monday. He copped a plea last November to avoid a jury trial on seven felony charges involving sexual abuse of a child. To date he has remained free in spite of documented offenses going back to 2013. The charges were filed in November of 2015. The [then] 13 year-old boy was given cash for his silence – but the criminal complaint shows undeniable evidence of Hansen’s guilt, with pages and pages of often explicit text messages between Hansen and the boy.
Among the seven felony charges leveled against Hansen were repeated sexual assault of the same child, child sexual exploitation, enticement, trafficking and solicitation. Hansen, a longtime member of the Milltown Volunteer Fire Department, a former Unity School Bus Driver, The Town of Milltown Clerk, stands accused of torturing a boy for two years, starting when the boy was 13.
The boy told Polk County investigators Hansen would sexually assault and beat him while he was naked and tied up, would call him a “slave” and took pictures of him bound. The boy claimed the assaults happened more than 100 times – and Hansen bribed him with cash. The criminal complaint also said Hansen admitted to tying the boy up - several times - but denied sexually assaulting him. Hansen is even alleged to have tied the boy up in various buildings of his property, even upside down from the rafters.
Each and every time Hansen has appeared in court, legal machinations have prevented any real discussion of his crimes.
The Sentencing Hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 before Judge Scott Needham and Hansen could still get handed down a decade or more in prison time, with about the same potential for another decade of extended supervision, along with up to $45,000 in fines.
Many have noted that in most cases when a subject agrees to a felony plea deal, they are remanded into custody to await sentencing. Not so much with Hansen, who apparently is in no way considered a flight risk.
As a convicted felon, Hansen had to resign from his position as Town Clerk for Milltown, but that appears to be the only tangible consequences he had faced to date. He does however have to call in to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department on a weekly basis. The last time Hansen was in Needham’s courtroom, he was told by the judge that he had every expectation of Hansen to be present for his sentencing.
Perhaps it should be noted that the plea deal between the Polk County District Attorney’s office and Hansen’s attorney, Bruce Anderson, does save a pretty penny as a jury trial would no doubt have been lengthy and very expensive. Assistant District Attorney, James Rennicke was widely quoted when he stated, “I believe it’s a situation where neither side is totally happy with the result, which probably means that it’s a good plea agreement.”
January 25, 2018
“We don’t want to be Las Vegas”
By Lynda Berg Olds
At Monday night’s meeting of the Village of Balsam Lake, two Minit Mart representatives were present to plead their case for new, more modern signage – of the digital variety. The village’s new Zoning Administrator, Benjamin Campbell, was also in attendance. He provided an opinion of sorts, which basically said that even the current sign is not up to code. That is, it is too tall and doesn’t meet the five-foot minimum setback. Plus, the electronic sign would be considered “fluctuating,” which is also against the village ordinances.
Try as they might, the Minit Mart reps couldn’t get anywhere There was no concession on the part of the village for a sign that fluctuates – the biggest reason cited for this, is that particular corner is dangerous as it is. Trustees were afraid a moving digital message would distract drivers – again - on an already dangerous curve.
Most of the trustees weighed-in, agreeing it was too much of a distraction to have flashing lights so close to the road. In fact, Campbell said the current sign is in the Right of Way.
The reps asked, “So are you stating we cannot have a reader board?
Yes, that is what the trustees were saying – not even on the side of their building. Village President Geno D’Agostino said the sign could be lit, it just can’t be flashing. The Minit Mart reps were pretty much sent back to their proverbial drawing board.
Trustee Preble stated bluntly, “It doesn’t meet the requirements so we can’t help you. We don’t want to be Las Vegas. We are kind of a quaint little town.”
February 8, 2018