From fun times to tragedy, Reedsburg had a full year in 2017. The Times-Press editorial staff picked out the biggest stories for 2017. The stories are chosen by what had the largest impact locally and generated the biggest following online.
10. Wine Bar opens in city
While there are plenty of bars to grab a drink in Reedsburg, one place decided to focus on the growing wine boom.
The Vault opened Aug. 3 at 170 E. Main St. This didn’t mean the venue gave up on the beer loving crowd. It offer 50 craft beers in addition to more than 60 wines.
As the building was once the former F&M Bank, the bar name is apt. Manager Adam Kaney plans to make a shop in the vault of The Vault.
9. Reedsburg man gets presidential portrait
Normally when you think of a presidential portrait, you picture the rows of paintings in the White House depicting past leaders of the USA. But for one Reedsburg man, a presidential portrait was a president painting him.
BJ Ganem was one of 90 veterans chosen to appear in a compilation by former President George W. Bush.
“Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors” was released this year and is available for purchase. An audio version narrated by Bush also is available.
Ganem said he was asked to send some pictures to Bush to use as inspiration for his paintings. Ganem noted he has met Bush in the past, including during his 2004 hospital stay when he lost his lower leg in Iraq.
In return, he received a deluxe edition of Bush’s book and prints of the paintings. Ganem said he hopes to display the prints later this year in Reedsburg.
8. Park receives a new name
A Reedsburg park was renamed for a longtime resident and beloved volunteer.
The former Willow Park, located on Willow Street just south of Plum Street, now bears the name Sorom Park in honor of Richard Sorom, who died of pancreatic cancer last year.
Family, friends, co-workers and city employees gathered July 11 to christen the park and remember Sorom during an emotional ceremony. The former educator participated in the city’s parks and recreation committee for more than 30 years, and also served as an alderman, according to his obituary.
7. Beer hours change
Under the new ordinance approved in June, merchants can no longer offer carry-out malt beverages between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., although taverns can sell until midnight. Stores previously could sell from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Although it’s a bit of an inconvenience for those who shop later, the ordinance has proven beneficial for anglers, said Carol Parkhurst, a clerk at Viking Express Mart. The convenience store sells live bait, so boaters can stop in for supplies before they hit the water.
Parkhurst said she’s heard only minor complaints from a few customers, most from out-of-town, but otherwise people don’t seem to notice the change.
6. RAMC expands
The medical center recently wrapped up phase one of its project to add additional parking spaces for the facilities 620 employees. The additional space to the Emergency and Urgent Care Center along with 19th Street and Ridgeview Drive are now open.
With Phase One complete, Phase Two of the expansion to build a Central Utility Plant has begun behind the hospital. Pohlmann said the utility plant will be the “heart of our facility as far as heat, cooling and hot water.” Pohlmann said with boilers from 1975 and cooling units from 1993 to 1996, the current components have reached their capacity.
The plant should be operating by May 2018. After completion of the Central Utility Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Van Meeteren said the facility will start working on components inside the medical center. The facility has plans to put in a new pharmacy, add a new laboratory and remodel in-patient rooms to private single patient rooms.
5. Cat becomes hero
On Feb. 4, the Shanahans were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a Reedsburg Police Department report. They were taken to Reedsburg Area Medical Center and treated with oxygen before returning to their Willow Street home.
The couple went to bed around 10 p.m. while their adult children showered and headed out for the evening. At around 1 a.m. Annette said she stumbled out of bed and dropped into a chair in the couple’s bedroom.
“I thought I was having a heart attack,” she said. “It was so painful.”
She felt weak and struggled to breathe.
A few minutes later one of the family cats, Gracie, started fussing and banging on the door. Annette said it’s odd behavior for Gracie, who normally keeps to herself and never begs to enter the bedroom.
Kevin said he heard the noise and decided to check on Gracie. He said he felt sick when he stood up and then noticed his wife in the chair. She was wide-eyed and staring into space, he said. Her body was rigid and her arms were wrapped tightly around her chest.
Luckily, the couple ended up being fine. Thanks to some help from their favorite furry friend.
4. Boys and Girls Club opens
The Boys & Girls Club of West Central Wisconsin recently expanded its operations in Sauk County, opening a new location in Reedsburg.
The group secured a former hardware store building for the new location on Vine Street in Reedsburg. Its executive director, Karen DeSanto, said more than $400,000 was raised in just more than a year to fund programming expenses, along with renovations to the site.
“The club is absolutely making a footprint in Sauk County as an area for young people to thrive,” she said. “We are addressing that by going to the county and asking them to write the clubs into their budget to secure regular, sustainable funding for the youth of Sauk County.”
The group continues to raise funds to add a better experience for local children.
3. $20 million produce storage facility announces Reedsburg plans
Reedsburg will be the home of a new $20 million produce storage, distribution and logistics warehouse.
The Reedsburg Industrial Commission and Common Council announced Sept. 13 that Sharratt Warehousing & Distribution LLC will construct and operate a 98,000 square-foot, temperature-controlled facility on 15 acres in Reedsburg’s south industrial park.
The warehouse will include freezer, cooler and dry storage environments for dairy, fruit and vegetable products produced within the state. It also will provide grading, transportation and services “focused on connecting the dairy, fruit, and vegetable producers in Wisconsin to their global partners.”
Reedsburg Industrial & Commercial Development Commission Chairman Don Lichte said the project is the result of several years of planning. He said Reedsburg officials pursued construction of the facility because of its expected benefits to the city and surrounding area.
2. Reedsburg passes referendum to build new school
Reedsburg School District’s referendum was approved Oct. 10, with over 70 percent of voters choosing yes for a variety of school improvements, the most significant being a new elementary school.
The $32 million referendum passed with an unofficial count of 1,660-703 in favor. District Administrator Tom Benson was enthusiastic about the result.
“We’re very, very excited, not only for a successful vote, but a significant percentage of the folks who voted are supportive of the plan we put out,” Benson said. “So we’re very, very pleased and appreciative of that.”
Most of the referendum funds will go toward construction of a new $24 million elementary school and transportation facility. As part of the plan, the school district would close South Elementary School.
The referendum includes more than $7.6 million for security improvements and building infrastructure improvements to six of the district’s facilities. Projects include installing new security systems, moving offices closer to building entryways and updates to heating, cooling, plumbing and other infrastructure needs.
1. Loganville shooting
A 14-year-old boy died Aug. 8 from a gunshot wound after authorities say his 10-year-old brother shot him with a rifle during a game of “cops and robbers” at their rural home.
In a press release, the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office said the brothers and another related 12-year-old boy were playing with what they believed to be an unloaded firearm that had the magazine removed. However, a round was still in the chamber when the 10-year-old pointed the weapon at his brother and pulled the trigger.
The bullet struck the boy in the chest.
“Resuscitation efforts were started immediately but were not successful,” the release stated. First responders were called to the scene at 10:34 a.m. The boy was pronounced dead by the Sauk County Coroner’s Office.
In a no prosecution letter received by the Sauk County Sherriff’s office Oct. 16, Sauk County District Attorney Kevin Calkins decided not to prosecute the 10-year-old for first-degree reckless homicide. Calkins said the “tragic accident” didn’t meet the statute of criminally reckless conduct because of the boy’s age and the fact the siblings had played in a similar manner prior to the incident.
“When you’re talking about a ten-year-old boy I’m not sure if you ever give them that mindset,” Calkins said. “Regardless, given the way guns were handled around the household and given what they had done in the past, it didn’t rise to that level.”
In an email, Calkins said he did not see a referral from the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department for a request for potential charges against the parents in the incident.
“If it had, I would have had questions about circumstances not covered by the reports,” Calkins said in the email. “In any event there wasn’t anything in the reports I received that would have justified criminal prosecution of a/the parent(s).”