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J. Scott Applewhite 

FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, reads an opening statement as he testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Cohen says he's cooperating with federal prosecutors in New York and hopes to receive a so-called Rule 35 motion from prosecutors that would reduce the time he is to spend in prison. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)


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Former Chippewa County Board chairman dies weeks after resigning

Former Chippewa County Board chairman Larry Willkom has died, just weeks after he resigned from the board after 36 years of service.

Willkom, 77, of the town of Lafayette, served as county board chairman from 2010 to 2012. He died Feb. 20. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. March 7 at Pederson-Volker Funeral Chapel, with funeral services at 11 a.m. March 8 at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Chippewa Falls.

ROD STETZER, The Herald  

Willkom

Evelyn Maloney of Chippewa Falls served alongside Willkom on the board for several years, and she remembers Willkom as someone who was devoted to his work.

“He was a gentleman,” Maloney said. “I enjoyed working with him. We didn’t always agree, but we always got along. He was a very conscientious person — he served the way he wanted to.”

Marilyn Holte of Chippewa Falls said she joined the board the same year as Willkom, and they served together for 30 years before she retired.

“He had strong convictions about many things, but he was a listener,” Holte said. “We didn’t vote the same on many issues, but there was respect. We served on a lot of committees together, and we learned from each other.”

Willkom represented District 9 on the board, covering the town of Hallie and most of the town of Lafayette. Colleagues recalled he would frequently vote against spending measures, from the annual budget to a measure that created the $10 wheel tax.

Along with serving on the county board, he also served on the Chippewa Valley Technical College Board, the Lafayette town board, and the Chippewa Falls School Board.

Willkom was born in Boyd in 1941, graduated from McDonell Central High School in 1959, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from UW-Eau Claire. He worked for the Chippewa County Human Services Department. He retired in 1998.

Over his career on the board, Willkom was a frequent visitor to the courthouse, interacting with staff and learning about upcoming issues.

His seat on the county board hasn’t been filled yet; the board is slated to review candidates and possibly approve a finalist at its meeting next month. That candidate would serve out the final 13 months of Willkom’s term, through April 2020.


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Monitoring continues for chronic wasting disease in Chippewa Valley

Area conservationists continue to discuss how to move forward after finding more deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

In April 2018, a deer testing positive for CWD was found in the Town of Brunswick in Eau Claire County, triggering a feeding and baiting ban and the issuing of special surveillance permits in that area which were active from last September to March 1, 2019.

Since that time, two wild deer also tested positive for CWD in western Eau Claire County, in the towns of Brunswick and Drammen, during fall surveillance efforts conducted by the DNR with hunters and landowners

The positive tests renew Eau Claire County’s existing three-year baiting and feeding ban, and renew the two-year baiting and feeding bans for Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin and Trempealeau counties.

Both CWD-positive deer were mature bucks harvested during the 2018 gun deer season and were tested as part of the surveillance efforts last year.

During that time DNR officials had increased efforts to make CWD testing convenient in the area, including kiosks and working with local businesses to provide testing opportunities.

Despite that, they fell short on their goals.

In the wider surveillance area, which includes parts of six counties, they tested 238 deer, short of their goal of 310.

In the more focused area around the location of the original deer, they fell short of their goal of 70 deer and tested 61.

Bill Hogseth, wildlife biologist for the DNR, said that because officials found multiple other deer which tested positive, despite not reaching their testing goals, they can safely assume that there are more in the area.

“For me the takeaway is that we have some prevalence in the area,” Hogseth said. “We’re talking about more than just a handful of deer ... and we can safely assume the disease has been here a while.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Chippewa Valley CWD Advisory Team, Hogseth said that going forward the DNR will be continuing to work with landowners and hunters to step up monitoring and testing.

In all, Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin and Trempealeau counties tested 1,663 deer last year. They also tested a number of car-killed deer and deer that were called in as sick.

CWD attacks the brains of deer. Infected animals grow thin, act strangely and eventually die. It was discovered in Wisconsin near Mount Horeb in 2002.

Going forward, the DNR is expected to continue working the Chippewa Valley CWD Advisory Team as well as each of the county’s Deer Advisory Councils as they set recommendations for permit numbers this spring.

They’re expected to continue surveillance efforts, including locations at kiosks and cooperating businesses to increase the number of tests.

Hogseth said that in 2018 they had tried to make lots of locations to “make it as convenient as possible” to test deer.

“We put a lot of effort into that and it went pretty well,” Hogseth said.

Aside from just increasing locations, both the DNR and county groups are expected to continue education efforts to increase participation in testing.

CWD attacks the brains of deer. Infected animals grow thin, act strangely and eventually die. It was discovered in Wisconsin near Mount Horeb in 2002.

International
AP
Trump's 'walk" reveals limits of his diplomatic style

HANOI, Vietnam — President Donald Trump framed the breakdown of his nuclear summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as wisely knowing when “to walk.” But the stunning collapse revealed the limits of his unique brand of personal diplomacy and raised concerns about future efforts to disarm a global threat.

Eyeing the history books and a much-needed political victory, Trump bet big on the two-day Vietnam summit only to be forced to explain away its sudden failure.

The president and North Korea gave conflicting explanations of what went wrong, though the result actually was a relief to some critics and even some Trump supporters who feared he might give too much away in pursuit of a deal.

Trump, the businessman who was elected in part on his boasts of deal-making prowess, said a proposed agreement was “ready to be signed.” But he said he refused to accept what he described as North Korean insistence that all U.S. sanctions be lifted without the North committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

“I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,” the president said. “We’re in position to do something very special.”

The North said it had demanded only partial relief from the punishing sanctions.

Trump had pushed for the summit, telling wary aides that his personal chemistry with North Korea’s young and reclusive leader outweighed any need for detailed, staff-level talks to iron out differences before either head of state set foot in Hanoi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who along with his special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, had been leading the preparatory effort, said staff work had achieved some results but that negotiators had intentionally left some of the most contentious issues unresolved.

“We were hoping we could take another big swing when the two leaders got together,” he told reporters as he flew from Vietnam to the Philippines after the summit collapsed. “We did. We made some progress. But we didn’t get as far as we would have hoped we would have gotten.”

Pompeo noted that “when you are dealing with a country that is of the nature of North Korea, it is often the case that only the most senior leaders have the capacity to make those important decisions.”

Echoing the refrain that “no deal is better than a bad deal” — often used during the Obama administration by critics of its Iran negotiations — there was relief in some quarters that the president had not impulsively agreed to concessions without much in return.

“Kudos to him for walking away from the table,” said Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think-tank that has been highly skeptical of Trump’s efforts with Kim Jong Un. “No deal is, in fact, better than a bad deal.”

And White House aides stressed that Trump stood strong. Some observers compared the situation to the 1987 Reykjavík summit between Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev, a meeting that ended without a nuclear weapons deal but laid the groundwork for a future agreement.

Longstanding U.S. policy insists that U.S. sanctions on North Korea will not be lifted until that country commits to, if not concludes, a complete, verifiable and irreversible end to its nuclear weapons program.

Trump, who did not consult with allies South Korea and Japan before breaking off the talks, declined to restate that goal Thursday, saying he wanted to retain flexibility with Kim.

But North Korea’s foreign minister said that Trump wasted an opportunity that “may not come again” and that the North’s position wouldn’t change even if there was another round of dialogue.

The failure in Hanoi laid bare a risk in Trump’s negotiating style: Preferring one-on-one meetings with his foreign counterparts, his administration doesn’t always do the staff-level advance work intended to make a summit more of a victory lap than a negotiation.

“The developments over the past 48 hours highlight in stark fashion the inherent weaknesses of President Trump’s preference for summit diplomacy — international media spectacles that have failed to achieve substantial progress on the key issues, especially denuclearization,” said Paul Haenle, the director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.

Unsurprisingly, former Obama administration officials agreed.

“At every step of the way, Trump has placed himself, rather than professionals, at the center of this process — and as a result, he’s been outmaneuvered every step of the way,” the National Security Action, a group of mainly Obama-era foreign policy practitioners, said in a statement.

Michael Fuchs, who worked on Asian issues as a State Department official under Obama, said there should be no more summits until the two sides are ready to announce a concrete agreement. “Let the real negotiators from both sides get to work,” he said. “Until then, no more reality TV summitry.”

Robert Gallucci, who negotiated with North Korea as a senior State Department official during the Clinton administration, said the unorthodox way in which the two North Korea summits were organized, may not have been a mistake given the unusual nature of the two leaders.

“It does have its downsides, and we just experienced the downside,” Gallucci said.


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Court filing: Gordy’s Market owes $65,000 in property taxes

Gordy’s Market Inc. grocery chain owes about $65,000 in property taxes to Chippewa County, according to a new court filing.

The treasurer’s department filed the document in Chippewa County Court, saying the grocery chain is delinquent in paying its 2018 taxes. The business owes $26,066 in property taxes at its location at 5154 178th St., adjacent to Lake Wissota. The grocer also owes $39,665 on taxes for its downtown Chippewa Falls location at 212 Bay St., with that money due July 31.

In another new court filing, receiver Michael Polsky and food distributor Nash Finch are seeking an independent investigator be appointed to examine any claims made by Gordy’s Market in its filings. Nash Finch filed a lawsuit in December, claiming the grocery chain owes them $46.2 million, and that GMI is on the verge of insolvency.

Polsky has set a deadline of April 24 for any creditors of GMI to enter claims with the court if they see to participate in any dividends. Multiple businesses have submitted their claims in recent days, as five Gordy’s Market Inc. grocery stores are slated to be auctioned off on Wednesday.

Chippewa County Judge James Isaacson will be asked to approve those sales at a hearing two days later, on Friday, March 8.

Who are Chippewa County's top 10 property taxpayers? Here's the list
Who are Chippewa County's top 10 property taxpayers? Here's the list