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Chippewa County Courthouse exterior July 2017

This is the exterior of the Chippewa County Courthouse in a photo taken Thursday, July 6, 2017.

A January car accident that ended in the death of an 86-year-old near a Cadott bar has spurred county groups to consider changing parking rules near the building.

The Chippewa County board read an ordinance Tuesday about a no-parking zone on County Highway X near J & J’s Sports Bar and Grill.

The board is expected to vote on the ordinance at a later meeting.

Harry L. Walker of Cadott had parked his vehicle on the south shoulder of County Highway X near the bar in the town of Sigel Jan. 26, according to a January press release from the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office.

A driver struck Walker as the man was attempting to cross the highway on foot.

Walker later died of his injuries.

Walker’s dark clothing contributed to the accident, authorities said at the time.

Authorities do not believe the driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs.

But law enforcement officials are worried about more accidents.

Nighttime visibility and an overflow of parked vehicles make crossing the road dangerous, officials said at an April county Traffic Safety Commission meeting.

The driver who hit Walker said a westbound vehicle was cresting a hill toward the driver, and said the oncoming lights blinded him, said Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mitch Gibson at the April meeting.

“It’s a pretty busy bar almost every Saturday night. Since the fatal crash, there have been four documented cases where we’ve had to call the bar and tell them to move the vehicles off the road,” said Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Cody Johnson in April.

There is no street lighting on the highway outside the bar, Johnson said: “Visibility is an extreme issue here.”

Law enforcement officials are worried about summertime bar traffic picking up, Johnson also said.

Voting equipment gets go-ahead

The board voted Tuesday 13-1 to approve $400,000 in sales tax revenue to update the county’s voting machines.

Supervisor Chuck Hull voted against the resolution.

The machines are plugged into the wall and do not have internet access, county clerk Jackie Sadler told the board.

However, municipalities would have a “card” with which they could digitally transmit election results to the county, Sadler said.

“That would be the only thing that would be transmitted,” Sadler said, responding to a question from Hull, who asked about the new equipment’s resistance to election hacking or interference.

The state of Wisconsin will decertify the county’s equipment within five years. Sadler advocated for the county allocating money now, instead of waiting until a later date.

“I want to do this on our timeline,” she said, saying training 40 municipal clerks in 2020, before a presidential election, would strain department resources.

County supervisor James Mickelson was absent from the meeting.

In other county news:

  • The county is moving forward with a $6.3 million project to reconfigure its emergency radio system, county administrator Randy Scholz said. County officials are exploring new sites for radio equipment throughout the county.
  • The board approved the five-year Capital Improvement Plan Tuesday. The plan budgeted money for projects like a snowmobile bridge in the town of Edson, a handicap-accessible shelter at the Old Abe trailhead in Lake Wissota and a bathroom and shower facility at Pine Point County Park in Holcombe.

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Sarah Seifert can be reached at sarah.seifert@lee.net or follow her on Twitter @sxseifert.

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Chippewa Herald reporter

Sarah Seifert reports for the Chippewa Herald. Contact her with tips or story ideas at 715-738-1608 or at sarah.seifert@lee.net.

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