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Tech upgrade for Klein Hall: Eau Claire motorcycle club gifts veterans with iPads

Veterans at Chippewa Falls’ Klein Hall will now be able to complete job searches and communicate with their friends and family a little more easily – thanks to the donation of four iPads from a local motorcycle club and the owners of a Lake Wissota bar.

“You guys can use them for networking, job searching … whatever you want to use them for,” Michael Hanke told a group of veterans at Klein Hall Wednesday. Hanke is director of the Wisconsin Veterans Housing and Recovery Program, which is hosted at Klein Hall, on the grounds of the Northern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled.

Also in appearance were Klein Hall’s resident therapy canine, a young golden retriever named Shadow, and five members of the Eau Claire chapter of the Road Dogs Motorcycle Club – some of them veterans themselves. The club’s vice president, Greg “Sarge” Hughes, said Hanke had told him the veterans at Klein Hall could use technology to access the internet more privately. “The computer lab is nice, but not very private,” Hughes said.

The group raised the money over Labor Day and Memorial Day rides in 2017, said Jackie Greenhow, co-owner of Butch and Jackie’s Bateman Tavern.

The Road Dogs and Greenhow initially bought gift cards and gave them to the Klein Hall veterans – but ended up with enough money left over to purchase four iPads.

“There’s a lot of great apps out there if you’re looking for apartment searches, job searches or resume techniques. They’re a very useful tool,” Hanke said.

The program will use a check-out system for the iPads, Hanke said.


Sen. Terry Moulton reads "Pete the Cat: Snow Daze" by James Dean to kids at Marshfield Clinic Chippewa Falls Center Wednesday afternoon, fielding stories about snow days and sledding from the eager listeners. According to a press release, Moulton was visiting the clinic in support of Reach Out and Read, which fosters literacy in young children, beginning at their 6-month checkup. The clinic, who participates in the program, handed out goodies to the children, including a jump rope and Band-aids.

Big-time experience: Students work at Super Bowl keeping fans, players safe

MENOMONIE — University of Wisconsin-Stout students provided security at Super Bowl 52 held Feb. 4 in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

They even had a chance to spend the last two minutes of the nail-biting end of the game on the field as fans waited to the last play to see the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New England Patriots.

Patrick Lytle, a junior majoring in real estate and property management; Garrett Grabowsky, a senior computer engineering major; Anthony Liotta, a senior in packaging; William Hibbard, a senior technology education major; Ryan VandenBoomen, a junior applied mathematics and computer science major; and Sam Welter, a senior in computer engineering, all were hired to work security through O’Brien Services in Holmen.

They found out about the opportunity three days before the deadline in mid-December. They were able to get the necessary fingerprints at the Menomonie Police Department, which helped them make the deadline. The training included seven hours of online instruction and five hours of in-person education in Onalaska.

Part of their job was running a metal detector for attendees entering the stadium. They also provided security throughout the Super Bowl weekend.

“Everyone was very, very excited and high energy,” said Lytle, 20, whose hometown is Madison. “It’s an insane experience.”

“You could just feel the energy, especially when the confetti was shooting down,” said Liotta, 21, of Appleton. “It was pretty awe-inspiring.”

There were Vikings and Packers fans amongst the crowd, Lytle said. “A lot of the Vikings fans seemed to be rooting for Philadelphia,” Lytle said.

The metal detectors were set to the highest level and would easily go off for many items, including the filters on cigarettes, Lytle said.

“I think by the time I was done there were seven or eight cartons of cigarettes that had to be thrown out because they couldn’t take them into the stadium,” Lytle said.

Fans were terrific, understanding the need for security with the crowd attending the Super Bowl.

“All of them were very friendly and understanding that we had a job to do,” said Grabowsky, whose hometown is Antigo. “I didn’t have a problem with anybody. It was nice hearing people say thank you. There were a lot of people appreciative of the safety we were giving them.”

Lytle said he met some of the Philadelphia Eagles’ players families and fans and found them sincere, just like Packers fans.

As a security team member, each of them received a red winter coat with the Super Bowl emblem on it, security credentials and a stocking cap, Lytle said. They were paid security workers.

Grabowsky, 22, manager at Kahootz tavern in Menomonie, worked security two years ago at two Vikings games. He used to be a bouncer, and Lytle works as a bouncer at the Abbey Pub and Grub in Menomonie. They enjoy security work and talking with people.

The group also worked security at the VIP party at the Minneapolis Convention Center Feb. 3 and at the Super Bowl Tailgate Party Feb. 4.

They met a few famous people. Liotta met Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots. VandenBoomen met former Vice President Joe Biden.

Lytle said the final two minutes of the game were phenomenal, as they made sure no one entered the field before the game finished.

“It’s like you are the coolest invisible man,” Lytle said. “I know nobody sees me because they are watching the game, but it was the coolest thing I have ever done in my life.”

One very important aspect of working security is to realize they are also performing customer service. Fans paid upward of $12,000 to go to the VIP party and $6,000 for Super Bowl tickets, Lytle said.

Lytle, Grabowsky and Liotta agreed they would work security at a Super Bowl game again. They have been invited back to the one in Atlanta in 2019 and Miami in 2020.

“I would definitely do it again,” Lytle said, noting it is a resume builder. “If I wanted, I could go into security and say I worked three Super Bowls.”

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New Richmond farm sanctuary a dream come true for rescued farm animals

NEW RICHMOND — Wally the pig was likely living in the moment when he jumped from a truck on its way to a slaughterhouse that was going 70 mph on Interstate 90 near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Miraculously, the 9-month-old, 250-pound swine survived last spring’s tumble and went unclaimed at a local humane society.

Frederick and George, a pair of sheep, were saved from a dilapidated farm near Colfax. There are ducks, dogs and chickens named after the cast of Seinfeld, while a curious flock of five turkey think they’re farm dogs, only their greetings include gobbles, chirps and the fanning of tails.

If animals dream, it’s unlikely Wally and the other residents of SoulSpace Farm Sanctuary could have envisioned anything better than their current digs. The safe haven, located on a historic farmstead in St. Croix County, is the ambitious effort of a former St. Paul, Minnesota, police officer and longtime vegan to rescue unwanted or abused farm animals.

Kara Breci’s mission, now in its third year, has quickly succeeded. She is out of space at her 11-acre farm and in 2017 turned down over 1,000 requests to take in animals. She’s hoping her project, however, will bring attention to the need of more farm sanctuaries and help others consider creating similar farms here in the Midwest where, despite the large agricultural presence, they are few and far between.

“My phone rings all day and I get e-mails constantly,” Breci, 41, said. “The first 100, 200, 500 times I said no was awful. But I know these guys are my priority and if I take too many animals in I’m not going to make it. And not only would I fail them, I would be a huge tax on other sanctuaries that would have to take in all my animals.”

Breci, who is on disability after being forced to retire from the police force in 2016 due to a bad back, brought in $35,000 in donations in 2017 to help feed and care for the animals, which also include peacocks, a miniature donkey, pot-bellied pig and two other farm pigs besides Wally. Over 80 volunteers, most of them from the Twin Cities, help care for the animals and there are plans for a visitors center, humane education classes and summer camps.

Last spring, a second-floor room of the 1867 farmhouse was converted to a bathroom and the attic to a bedroom, which Breci rents out to guests who are looking for a bed-and-breakfast-like experience, only one surrounded by farm animals.

The other farm sanctuaries in Wisconsin include Tiny Hooves Rescue, founded in 2015 near the Kenosha County community of Somers; Sol Criations in Endeavor; and Autumn Farm Sanctuary in Cedarburg, where the residents include goats, chickens, sheep, a few horses and goose named Lumpy Francis Lumphead.

The first farm sanctuary in the state is also the largest. Heartland Farm Sanctuary, on Mid Town Road just west of University Ridge Golf Course near Verona, had contributions and revenue in 2016 of $440,452 and in 2017 drew more than 2,600 visitors. Dana Barre opened the farm in 2010 with just a few animals but it now has nearly 100 residents, summer programs, public tours and over 100 volunteers, and on May 18 will have a fundraising gala at The Edgewater hotel.

“We all try to stay connected so we can help the greatest number of animals,” said Jen Korz, Heartland’s executive director, who has networked with all of the farm sanctuaries in the state. “As big as we are we get calls weekly and have to turn people (offering animals) away. We’re at capacity. Somebody needs to open a pot-bellied pig sanctuary, there’s just so many of them.”

For Breci, SoulSpace began in 2015 at a convergence of her life. She had just purchased the farm property, was diagnosed with a bad back, going through a divorce and on a whim decided to acquire three sheep headed to the butcher. One of the sheep, Frederick, had been cut out of its dead mother, survived and was being raised in a trailer with a litter of puppies, who chewed off one of his ears.

A short time later, Breci, a vegetarian since her childhood days and now a vegan, saw Gene Baur, who is credited with with starting the farm sanctuary movement in New York in 1986, speak in the Twin Cities. The speech inspired Breci to action by going to conferences and seminars on animal care.

“It wasn’t my background so I needed a lot of help,” said Breci. “I just started educating myself on how to do this and found out real quick that 95 percent of sanctuaries fail within the first year because they get too big too fast.”

Her sanctuary includes two primary living spaces. One pen consists of a coop for chickens, ducks and a potbellied pig and a small barn for the donkey, peacock or whoever else decides to wander in from the outside enclosure. Another pen and shed is for Wally and two other pigs. The five turkeys have the run of the farm and fly in and out of the main enclosure, while it’s not uncommon for LuLu, a chicken, to wander into Breci’s farmhouse.

LuLu came from a backyard chicken coop in Minneapolis after her partner died, while other chickens and roosters came from a second grade hatching project in Minneapolis, which is no longer in operation.

“I tried to introduce (Lulu) to the flock and they weren’t having it and she wasn’t having it. It was just too stressful on her,” Breci said. “She’s happy in here so we usually have a little diaper on her. She just wants to hang out. She can be an indoor chicken if she wants.”

Breci grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, graduated from Mankato State University and worked for a time as a police officer in Colorado. In 2005, she joined the St. Paul Police Department, where she worked on patrol and spent four years working narcotics on the vice squad. Now she runs a farm sanctuary where in November a Thanksgiving event to celebrate and nurture the turkeys on the farm drew 100 people who helped provide pumpkin pie and salads to the gobblers.

“This isn’t something I had actually planned out for my life,” Breci said of her career switch.

But the star of the farm is Wally, who gained international fame when last March he used his snout to push up an unsecured gate, jumped out of the back of a trailer and not only survived the fall but being narrowly avoided being struck by two cars. He wandered into a ditch where he was later picked up by the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society.

“This pig knew exactly what he was doing,” Lynde Miller, who was driving behind the truck, told the Argus Leader, a newspaper based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “I was just in awe of this.”

This spring SoulSpace will hold a “jumpaversary” to celebrate Wally’s heroic leap of faith, but there is concern. Most pigs are turned to chops, ham and bacon within a year of their birth. Since Wally has found refuge, he’ll likely live for another 10 to 12 years and has a pretty good shot at reaching 700 pounds. Breci gets donations of old produce about five times a week from a local grocery store but Wally’s appetite will likely require additional grains and feed. She compares Wally to Duke, her 9-year-old goldendoodle.

“I’ve loved animals my whole life and I don’t see any difference between Wally and Duke,” Breci said. “I’m not going to put Duke on my dinner plate and I wouldn’t dream of putting Wally on my dinner plate. The personalities of these animals are astounding. Every single one of them.”