Here’s some of the other top news stories of 2017 as selected by the staff of the Chippewa Herald:
Open for opportunity
The largest economic development project in the history of the Lake Wissota Business Park was announced in 2017, with the construction of the Mills Fleet Farm distribution center. The project carries a price tag of $71.7 million and will create 284 jobs using a $1.5 million loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The deal was completed in March when the Chippewa County Economic Development Committee unanimously approved selling a 70-acre parcel in the business park by HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital to the project’s developer, Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos., for $1. The Chippewa Falls City Council approved the agreement a day earlier.
The developer agreement was reached between Chippewa County, the city of Chippewa Falls, Mills Fleet Farm Group, Ryan Cos. and DHL Supply Chain of Germany, which is managing the distribution center’s employees.
Pascarella leaves; lawsuit settled
Chippewa County will be getting a new administrator in 2018 following a decision by Frank Pascarella not to renew his contract.
Pascarella had been the administrator since 2012. His most controversial move came in November 2014, when he decided to fire county Finance Director Dennis Hunt. Hunt then filed a lawsuit against Pascarella, Chippewa County and current and former county officials in July 2015.
That lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial, but was scrapped after Hunt and county settled in September. Hunt received $160,000 in the settlement.
The county’s Executive Committee is recommending Randy Scholz, Lincoln County’s administrative coordinator, succeed Pascarella. The full County Board will vote on the appointment in January.
Leinenkugel’s hits 150
Leinenkugel’s Brewery drank in praise by its customers and the community during the company’s 150th anniversary celebration in Chippewa Falls during August 2017.
The brewery held a weekend celebration at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls. It had entertainment by country musician Jerrod Niemann and the rock group Collective Soul.
Besides kind words from its fans, the brewery was praised by MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley. According to an article in the Milwaukee Business Journal, Hattersley said 9 out of 10 Shandy beers consumed in the U.S. were brewed by Leinenkugel’s, which is part of MillerCoors.
Part of shooting lawsuit ends
Most of the defendants in a lawsuit filed by the estate of a woman shot to death in 2016 in a Walmart in Lake Hallie were dismissed from the suit in December.
The suit against the village of Lake Hallie and the village’s police department had been brought by the estate of Melissa Abbott, who was shot by a village police officer after using a hatchet in the department store while visiting from the Northern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled.
The $2.3 million project to improve the Highway 124 bridge in downtown Chippewa Falls began in April and was supposed to wrap up in September.
But the Department of Transportation encountered what it called erosion problems on a pier on the northbound bridge. That bridge remains closed while the southbound bridge continues to share north and southbound traffic.
The DOT now says the bridge project will be done in 2018.
The county also shut down for good the historic Cobban Bridge, located between Jim Falls and Cornell, in August.
“The County Highway TT Bridge over the Chippewa River, known as the Cobban Bridge, will be closed effective immediately due to safety concerns with the bridge’s fracture critical steel components,” the Chippewa County Highway Department said.
The county plans to build a new bridge on the site of the now closed bridge.