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Marc Wehrs / Tribune file photo 

A crew from the Wisconsin Conservation Corps clears brush at a site on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service property in this photo from the late 1990s.

Complaint: Sparta man trafficked 500 pounds of pot

An arrest warrant issued Tuesday accuses a Sparta man free on bond in an earlier drug case of trafficking 500 pounds of marijuana from Colorado to Wisconsin over three years.


Corydon Drake, 38, is wanted in La Crosse County for conspiracy to commit delivery of THC greater than 10,000 grams.

The case against him unfolded in 2016, when Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police intercepted a package containing four pounds of marijuana that was shipped from a UPS store in Oregon to a house on North Mill Street in West Salem, according to the complaint filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Video from the store showed a person matching Drake’s description mailing the package, and Amy Kneesel told police Drake paid her in marijuana in exchange for allowing him to ship the drug to her home in West Salem.

A man who started working for Drake last year told investigators that Drake threatened to kill him when someone stole $43,890 worth of marijuana from his basement in late September, the complaint stated.

That man said Drake transports marijuana in an enclosed cargo trailer to Wisconsin from Colorado, where he owns three homes and runs marijuana-growing operations. He said he received hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Drake in the first four months of 2017 and deposited money from buyers into Drake’s bank account, according to the complaint. On one occasion, he delivered $30,000 in drug profits to Drake in Colorado.

On Nov. 6, Drake ordered the man to meet Cazzie Marnach, 38, of Onalaska to pick up Drake’s drug profits. Under police surveillance, Marnach gave the man $38,422.

Investigators followed the man to Drake’s house in Brighton, Colo., the next day. Under surveillance of DEA agents, the man delivered the cash to Drake, according to the complaint.

The man estimated Drake moved 500 pounds of marijuana to Wisconsin, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors charged Drake in April with conspiracy to deliver more than 1,000 grams of THC after he shipped marijuana to the house in West Salem. Kneesel is on a diversion agreement for three drug charges.

Drake has been free on a signature bond since April 20.

Authorities arrested Marnach on Tuesday.


La Crosse firefighters battle flames, extreme cold at South Side home

Two La Crosse residences sustained damage in separate fires Tuesday.

A caller reported smoke coming from 2614 Jackson St. just after 9 a.m., and crews arrived within three minutes to find smoke and flames coming from the roof, said Assistant Chief Craig Snyder.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune 

La Crosse firefighters spray water on a hot spot while fighting a blaze at 2614 Jackson St.

Firefighters entered the older home, which was unoccupied at the time, and discovered the fire was spreading inside the walls and attic. Crews then retreated and attempted to douse the blaze from above.

“When that fire gets in the walls it moves around at will,” Snyder said.

Firefighters later re-entered the home to extinguish the blaze. The building sustained heavy smoke and fire damage, and the second story was open to the street as firefighters continued spraying water onto the charred frame after noon Tuesday.

Up to 30 firefighters were on scene, with crews using a city bus to warm up in sub-zero temperatures. The water supply did not freeze, but water dumped onto the fire quickly froze creating a fall hazard.

“Cold is always a hindrance,” Snyder said.

With firefighters still on the scene at 12:40 p.m., the fire department responded to another fire at 700 Market St., where they found smoke and fire in a first-floor apartment. Two residents had exited the building when firefighters arrived, and the other 11 units were unoccupied, said Capt. Greg Temp.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire but were on the scene for about two hours. The building sustained moderate smoke and fire damage, according to the fire department.

Investigators were looking into the cause of both fires Tuesday afternoon.

From Tribune files: Fires damage La Crosse area buildings

From Tribune files: Fires damage La Crosse area buildings

Evan Siqgle 

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson looks on inside the war room during the 2016 NFL Football draft at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., on Thursday, April 28, 2016. (Evan Siegle/The Green Bay Press-Gazette via AP) NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT

La Crosse County spring election slates set

It’s officially a three-way contest to fill a vacancy in the La Crosse County treasurer’s office with the passing of Tuesday’s filing election.

Shawn Handland, elected treasurer in November 2016, resigned in August, and three candidates are running for the office.

Amy Twitchell, who currently works in the treasurer’s office, is running as a Democrat, as is Chadwick Hawkins, who is the clerk/treasurer for the town of Campbell. Twitchell and Hawkins will face off in a Feb. 20 primary, with the winner running in the April election against Pamela Hollnagel, a Republican who has worked for 25 years in the county’s zoning, planning and land information office.

The full 29-member county board is up for re-election every two years, and all but one incumbent — Kathie Tyser — is running for another term. Candidates in all but five races will be uncontested.

It looked for a while like there would be six races, with La Crosse Common Council member Gary Padesky filing initial papers to run against 7th District incumbent Sharon Hampson, who is vice chair of the county board. Padesky said, however, he decided he would wait two years to run for county board and then would not run for re-election to the city council when his term is up in 2021.

Meanwhile, Gerald Every, a former La Crosse council member who was elected last spring to the Onalaska Common Council, is running against incumbent Monica Kruse in District 15. Every, who has run unsuccessfully for La Crosse mayor, also served on the La Crosse School Board from 1977 to 1982.

Incumbent Ray Ebert, a Hamilton Town Board member, faces a challenge from West Salem Village Board member Kevin Hennessey in District 25.

Ebert’s colleague on the Hamilton Town Board, Kevin Hoyer, is running against incumbent Leon Pfaff in District 24.

Incumbent Dan Ferries in District 16 faces a challenge from Connor Nagy, a 2015 Onalaska High School graduate majoring in political science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

And in District 18, electoral newcomer Sue Christopherson, a former employee of the county’s Health and Human Services Department, is running against incumbent Laurence Berg.

The sole candidate who filed in Tyser’s District 28 has is new to elective office but comes from a family of public servants. Onalaska Middle School band teacher Karen Keil-Arellano is running for the county board on which both her parents — Janice and Robert — served.