You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
featured top story
Warm welcome: Mills Fleet Farm distribution center to accelerate business, hiring through 2018

The $69 million Mills Fleet Farm distribution center in Chippewa Falls sent off a fleet of trucks Monday – the first few of many trucks departing the Lake Wissota Business Park to deliver product to 37 Fleet Farm stores across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota.

The facility, just over 1.1 million square feet, saw a wrap on construction in December and began receiving goods in January.

Before the farewell, Fleet Farm’s chief supply chain officer Rich Tannenbaum spoke to a crowd of approximately 40 employees and community leaders, who toured the building Monday.

“When we began this project one year ago, we knew we had set a very ambitious target to have this facility up and running just one year later,” Tannenbaum said. “But for the incredible partnership with the county, economic development and the city of Chippewa Falls, we have done it.”

The center – which Tannenbaum called Fleet Farm’s “flagship operation” – will provide 325 jobs once the facility is fully operational. Just over 100 employees already work at the Chippewa Falls facility, Tannenbaum said; he expects that number to grow each month throughout 2018.

Employees – who work through DHL Supply Chain of Germany – must be paid hourly wages of at least $15.60 per hour; the company must hire at least 239 full-time employees by Sept. 1, a deal with the city said.

Both Tannenbaum and Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman commented on the speed of the project. Construction began in March 2017, Tannenbaum said, and finished just nine months later in December.

“One of the satisfactions of being an elected official … is seeing a project come together,” Hoffman said, addressing the crowd Monday afternoon. “To have this come together so quickly really is amazing.”

The roughly 72-acre site was chosen with expansion in mind, Tannenbaum said. The building is able to expand an additional 200,000 square feet to the east.

The facility garnered statewide attention in 2017. Gov. Scott Walker’s office listed the facility as the state’s ninth largest economic development project in 2017. That top ten list also included Foxconn Technology Group and a Kwik Trip expansion in La Crosse.

Under the deal, the city of Chippewa Falls will provide $10 million in tax increment financing to the project: $7.3 million in a grant, $1.29 million for the land purchase and the remainder in sewer, water, and stormwater extensions.

Both the city and the greater Chippewa Valley are excited with the distribution’s center “size and scope,” Hoffman told the crowd Monday.

“We intend to be a strong, local, active community partner for many years to come,” Tannenbaum added.

Recording memories: Chippewa Falls authors begin work on parks book, ask for public help

Recording connections between town history and memories is something Jim Schuh, Donna Bourget and Anne Keller are familiar with.

Upon releasing their first book, “That’s All for Now from Engel’s Little House on the Wheaton Prairie,” comprised of newsletters from Chippewa County Historical Society board member Arley R. Engel in 2015, the three Chippewa Falls history enthusiasts and friends, began work in July 2016 to release a book about Lake Wissota and its dam for the 100th anniversary.

“We had such a good time with the Lake Wissota book, and it’s actually be really successful,” said Schuh, who has been a board member with the historical society for 21 years. “We sold a lot of them, and people, I’ve not heard one bad comment. Everyone’s just so happy with the amount of information and how interesting it is.”

And the town wanted more.

“So people asked us what we were going to be doing next,” said Keller, a founding member of the genealogical society, now housed in the Chippewa Area History Center.

For their next book, the group is working on a picture and story history of Irvine Park — and other Chippewa Falls parks as well — as another fundraiser for a new Chippewa Area History Center, titled “Irvine Park: The Bear Facts.” Just like the $35,000 from the co-authors’ “Lake Wissota: The Dam Story,” profits from their new book on the parks will also go toward a new Chippewa Area History Center building.

With the new book, they are hoping for a similar strong reaction to local history.

“People say you should have done this 20 years ago, but we did it now,” Bourget, active in the genealogical society and the historical society, said about the Lake Wissota book. “Twenty years from now it will be here.”

While the three co-authors have been digging through files and archives at the history center since they began work on the book in late October 2017, they are asking the community for help in finding action photos of families, kids and individuals using Chippewa Falls parks.

Anyone with photos will have the opportunity to share their stories and photos with the co-authors at a Chippewa Falls Public Library event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7. The event will feature a slideshow of the historic postcard collection and more recent photos of the park.

The co-authors are asking anyone with local park photos and stories either connect with them at the event or reach out to them with information. Specifically, Bourget and Schuh said, the group is looking for action photos — such as skating or swimming.

Other desired action photos include ball games at Casper Park, Murphy Park or Pound Park, children on playground equipment, pickleball players at Buchannan Park, bobsledding or tobogganing, ice skating and volunteers decorating the Christmas Village.

The group, Schuch said, is also looking for photos and information on some parks staff, such as John Mayer (1908-1917), Thomas Murphy (1917-1929), Charles Ermatinger 1930-1958 and Margaret Hurd Barker.

So far, from the handful of stories and photos the group has collected from sources outside of the history center, the trio has learned — among other things — about days of catching pollywogs by Frog Pond Trail and a land deed signed by Abraham Lincoln, which would later be donated by the Fattu family for 60 acres of the park.

The backgrounds of these stories show a significance for the three authors on continuing to get their community involved in a book about its park.

One was told to them by an older gentleman recounting stories of his youth, when he used to catch the pollywogs, hang a bucket in a tree and wait for them to turn into frogs, Bourget said. The Abraham Lincoln story, Schuh said, came from a couple on the east coast who had the original land grant.

“People are all part of the same community, so I would expect a really good response,” Keller said of the co-authors’ anticipation for the upcoming book.

“People really, I think, feel a really strong connection to Irvine Park,” Schuh added.

Keith Srakocic, Associated Press 

Wes Morosky, owner of Duke's Sport Shop. left, helps Ron Detka as he shops for a rifle Friday at his store in New Castle, Pa.

Opponents claim GPS monitoring violates civil rights; judges not so sure

U.S. courts have not yet reached a final conclusion on whether GPS monitoring violates the civil rights of offenders, who find the devices socially embarrassing, physically uncomfortable and intrusive.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that GPS constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. But the court declined to rule whether the search in dispute was “unreasonable” and therefore unconstitutional. It said such a determination can only be made considering the circumstances of the search and “the extent to which the search intrudes upon reasonable privacy expectations.”

“While GPS monitoring may pose an ‘inconvenience’ to these offenders,” said DOC spokesman Tristan Cook, “the state Legislature or DOC have determined that these tools enhance public safety and protect victims.”

A 2016 ruling on a Wisconsin case from the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allows the retroactive application of GPS monitoring to people who were sentenced before the state’s monitoring law was passed. In a case argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in February, offender DeAnthony Muldrow is asking to withdraw his guilty plea to sexual assault of a child under 16, saying he was not aware he would be subject to “onerous” lifetime GPS monitoring when he made that plea.

“There is a clear split in opinion as this is a relatively new area of the law,” according to the lawsuit. “Muldrow suggests that the more realistic view is that lifetime GPS is punitive considering the burden it places on those subject to it.”

Some experts, activists and groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argue that tracking offenders for life violates the rights of people who have fully served their sentences.

Researchers say Germany, for instance, has been very reluctant to use electronic monitoring because its corrections system is not overcrowded and the regular probation service works well without electronic monitoring. The Council of Europe, an international human rights organization, warns that electronic monitoring “is an intrusive measure which can violate basic human rights.”


Frieder Dünkel, a German researcher who studies electronic monitoring programs, said other programs in Europe employ the technology in a much more limited way than in the United States. Germany uses GPS monitoring on about 70 offenders in the entire country who are deemed a danger to the public.

“EM is only useful for a rather short period,” Dünkel said. “In Europe, we almost never use it for more than a couple months or a year, because it’s a really intrusive measure, into privacy, and so we would face a lot of compliance problems.”

In the 7th Circuit case, the three-judge panel reiterated that GPS monitoring is not punishment and can be justified on public protection grounds.

James Kilgore, a University of Illinois lecturer who spent about a year on electronic monitoring himself, does not see it that way.

“The biggest irony for me is that … more states are making it a felony to remove the device, felony escape,” Kilgore said. “And yet most of those states do not consider being on (electronic monitoring) with house arrest a form of incarceration. What are you escaping from if you’re not under arrest?”

Marc Renzema, founder of the Journal of Offender Monitoring, noted in a report that electronic monitoring “is now mainly about punishment on the cheap, not rehabilitation.” The journal focuses on monitoring technology and its use in enhancing public safety.

George Drake, president of Correct Tech LLC, an Albuquerque-based corrections technology consulting company, opposes lifetime tracking for practical reasons. As the numbers on tracking grows, resources to effectively track offenders typically do not.

“Also, there is usually no teeth for enforcing violations,” he said. “Therefore, they will likely be a low priority for an agency.”