From the inaugural farmers market to the Taste of Wisconsin Dells staple, The Wisconsin Dells editorial staff picked out the ten stories that had the most significant impact on 2017, locally.
10. Man died after falling from Mt. Olympus balcony
Witnesses said they saw the man fall from a pillar near a third-floor balcony after climbing over the balcony railing and attempting to jump across a stairwell opening between two pillars. The male subject successfully landed on the pillar, but in the process lost his balance and fell approximately forty feet onto a concrete slab, according to the news release.
The man was taken first to St. Clare Hospital and then by Medivac to the UW Trauma Center in Madison, according to a news release. Lake Delton police were informed of the man’s death at 6:35 a.m.
9. Four survive fall through Mirror Lake ice
Three adults and one child fell through the ice of Mirror Lake near the town of Delton in January. The four made it to solid ice and moved toward shore by the time emergency crews arrived, according to the Lake Delton Fire Department.
A man and his 10-year-old daughter fell through the ice first approximately 400 feet from shore, Lake Delton Fire Chief Darren Jorgenson said. A couple fishing nearby, Jaime Herrera and his fiancée Sabrina Lord, rushed over to help and both ended up in the water as well.
Fast action and clear thinking from 9-year-old Maleki Lee, who along with 5-year-old brother Hunter Hotlen was fishing with Herrera and Lord, enabled emergency responders to get to the scene quickly, Jorgenson said.
8. Inaugural farmers market
Honey, chocolates, jellies, jams, sheep cheeses, flowers and vegetables were among the products sold by local vendors at the inaugural Farmers’ Market on May 14 in downtown Wisconsin Dells. The farmers market was open Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 200 La Crosse Street near the Wisconsin Dells Train Depot.
“We are a small market, building on a wonderful variety of farmers and growers,” said vendor Lisa Nelson. “Everyone indicated they had a good day of sales. Many of the local folks came out to support the market. That is what we need to make it grow successfully.”
7. Downtown Dells continued renovations
Two new murals face northeast (toward the river) to greet those making their way through town. One, by local artist and business owner Corena Ricks, at the street-side wall next to Showboat Saloon, and the other, by Ho-Chunk artist Christopher Sweet, at the Chalet building’s northeast stairwell in the 700 block.
Each mural represents a slice of the Dells, with Sweet’s mural dedicated to the bald eagles who inhabits the area in and around the Wisconsin River, and Ricks’ mural introduced a whimsical, stylized river and riverboat motif that played on the city’s river town influences.
6. Anonymous donor paid off students’ lunchroom debt
A donor gave more than $2,200 to the district’s food services department in order to pay off all of the debts owed to the department for student meals, according to District Food Services Director Greg Heller.
The donation cleared debts for approximately 100 district families, which means approximately 120 students began the year with no debt on their food service accounts.
5. Todd and Shari Nelson donated 80 acres to school district
The Dells’ home-grown, entrepreneurial couple offered 80 acres of Dells farmland to the Wisconsin Dells School District for use in building a new high school, with the potential for more donated land serving future needed facilities.
The land is located on the site of Brew Farm off U.S. Highway 12, northwest of the downtown Dells and across the highway from the Nelson-owned and Kalahari-affiliated Trappers Turn Golf Club.
4. Free overnight parking
The city’s Parking Board voted Sept. 11 to recommend an update to the city’s parking code to allow overnight parking in city lots. The temporary change allowed vehicles to be left downtown overnight, citation-free as long as the vehicle was gone by 10 a.m. the next day.
With the trial period ending Oct. 2, the discussion among board members and meeting attendees quickly became not whether to continue the practice but how to accommodate snow removal necessities in the winter time when left-behind vehicles might prevent snow removal. A “parking lots-only” rule was the result.
3. Taste of Wisconsin Dells eliminated day and tent
The 12th edition of the annual Dells-area restaurant sampling event took place on Oak Street downtown in June. Newcomers included El Asador Mexican Restaurant, Harold’s Chicken and Shrimp, Maurer’s Market and River Dawg. Great Harvest Bread, Monk’s Bar and Grill, San Antonio Mexican Restaurant, the Frozen Bear and Tug’s Kitchen rounded out the participants.
The big tent used every year for the event retired after it took a pounding from a severe thunderstorm in 2016.
2. Kilbourn City Live doubled attendance
Organizers estimated almost 10,000 stepped onto the festival grounds at the intersection of Broadway and La Crosse Street downtown to hear music, eat, drink and browse more than 50 vendors. Cracker and Smash Mouth co-headlined.
“We had a great crowd,” co-organizer Joe Leute said. “With Cracker, it was packed and people were singing along.”
1. State trooper killed in accident
State trooper Anthony J. Borostowski lost control of his patrol car and was killed on the morning of April 11 on I-90/94 near Wisconsin Dells, Sauk County Sheriff Chip Meister said. Borostowski was a member of the Wisconsin State Patrol since 2014. Gov. Scott Walker ordered statewide flags flown at half staff “as a mark of respect.”
“He was a true public servant, he didn’t just serve the people of Wisconsin with our agency,” Wisconsin State Patrol Lt. Col. Steven Krueger said. “I can tell you one thing, this young man made a difference.”