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Rory O'Driscoll, La Crosse Tribune 

Holmen's Tanner Schultz is thrown to the mat by Eau Claire North's Mason Phillips in a move that would end the match by technical violation during their 138-pound championship match Saturday during the Bi-State Classic at teh La Crosse Center.

Rare deluges feel commonplace

More than 7 inches of rain fell overnight July 20 and 21 in the Coulee Region, destroying and damaging hundreds of homes and triggering a federal disaster declaration. Downtown Arcadia was underwater, and a tornado ripped through McGregor, Iowa.

That was after three flash flooding events in 2016, including a September deluge that caused a train derailment and killed two people in Vernon County.

An F-1 twister touched down near Barre Mills on March 6, destroying at least two pole sheds and a large barn, and flattening two silos on Schomberg Road south of West Salem. It is the earliest documented tornado in La Crosse County and the first ever recorded in March.

As the region marked the 10-year anniversary in August of the great flood of 2007, emergency management officials told the Tribune they’ve changed their approach: Instead of worrying primarily about the slow-moving disaster of a rising Mississippi River, they’re also paying extra attention to the fast-moving disaster of torrential downpours that turn creeks into raging rivers, destroy roads, culverts and bridges, and send homes and other buildings off their foundations.

Rarely a dull moment: 2017 full of big issues, weather and crime

While President Donald Trump’s first year in office dominated the national conversation, the Coulee Region had plenty of news for people tired of Twitter wars and idols with feet of clay. 

In weather, there was an unprecedented March tornado, then flash-flooding in July. In the courts, there was Todd Kendhammer’s murder trial. On the the good news front, there was no shortage of people trying to fix the present and build for the future.

And, as always, there were plenty of interesting people doing important — and fun — things with their lives.

Building the future

Character Lives: A group of Coulee Region business leaders launched an academy to inject the Character Lives curriculum into 21 area high schools, along with training for 60 teachers and administrators, with plans to continue to expand the offering. The idea is to foster a servant leader-minded workforce that’s not only technically competent but also infused with adaptability and the communication, decision-making and problems-solving skills they’ll need.

Trane Park: A nonprofit committee launched a fundraiser to rebuild La Crosse’s underused Trane Park, turning it into a facility for people of all abilities and ages. The seven-acre, $5.9 million project, All Abilities Trane Park, would create zones designed to support children and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as provide safe experiences for others with disabilities.


Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Cheryl Hancock, executive director of the Coulee Council on Addictions, beams during the October ground breaking ceremony for the Coulee Recovery Center, rendered in background, on Ferry Street. Construction on the $2.9 million building is expected to be complete summer 2018.

  • Coulee Council on Addictions broke ground in November on a new facility, Coulee Recovery Center, in the 900 block of Ferry Street after after a series of tense debates over neighbors’ objections and emotional votes by the La Crosse Common Council. The facility will replace the organization’s cramped and deteriorating converted residence at West Avenue and Jackson Street.

Resort tax:

Hub on Sixth:

Kwik Trip:

  • Kwik Trip’s purchase of PDQ stores in Madison created a rising tide for other Coulee Region companies as well, lifting the boats of La Crosse Sign Group, Bakalars Sausage Co. and other vendors. Kwik Trip also secured $21 million in tax credits in an agreement with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., in support of a $309 million expansion of its La Crosse facilities, contingent on the 329 new jobs the project is expected to create.

South Avenue:

  • City officials explored alternative ways to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists trying to navigate the neighborhood near Gundersen Health System after the Wisconsin DOT says it would need to knock down dozens of homes and businesses in order to incorporate bike lanes when it rebuilds a one-mile stretch of South Avenue in 2022.


  • In a quest to become the world’s largest food company to get all its electricity from renewable sources, Organic Valley announced a major investment in solar electricity that could substantially increase Wisconsin’s solar capacity and reduce electric bills for rural consumers.

Gas and wind:


Patrick Zielke:

Tribune file photo  

La Crosse mayor Pat Zielke is shown in this file photo overlooking La Crosse from his City Hall office. Zielke died Wednesday at 85. For more than three decades, Zielke served the city, first as a council member, then as council president, and finally for 22 years as La Crosse’s longest-serving mayor.

  • La Crosse’s longest-serving mayor died at 85 last spring. Zielke was dedicated to his constituents, regardless of status, and was instrumental in the revitalization of the downtown, as well as the development of Valley View Mall and the La Crosse Regional Airport.

Rocking to the end:

  • Rock music lost a lot of greats this year, both high-profile international stars and La Crosse area rock-and-roll pioneers and influential players. The death of Chuck Berry stirred memories of his Dec. 14, 1982, concert at the La Crosse Center. The music community mourned the passing of George McCune, Rudy Von Ruden of the Shy Guys and Scott Yonkovich of White Widow.


Country Boom:

Freedom Fest swan song:

Randy Erickson / Randy Erickson, La Crosse Tribune  

John Fogerty kicked off his Freedom Fest performance with a performance of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic "Travelin' Band."

The Posse:

  • The Cavalier Theater attracted some big crowds this year, with concerts by Dawes and Aaron Carter selling out, but the highest-profile show of the year was a concert by Insane Clown Posse. The venue had to scramble at the last minute to meet fire code thanks to protective coverings to limit damage from the copious amounts of Faygo pop sprayed at Insane Clown Posse shows.

Building on faith

O Little Town:

  • In an undertaking so monumental that English Lutheran Church does it only at four-year intervals, members of the La Crosse congregation spent six weeks converting the church into a miniature replica of the City of David for its Bethlehem Event. The realistic scenes include chickens, donkeys and sheep, and the church takes on a distinctly earthy smell.

People of faith:

  • Bethany St. Joseph Corp.’s annual Iverson Freking Ecumenical Awards again recognized the community efforts of people of faith. The recognition will go to Darryle Clott and Brad Sturm during an event next month.

Big issues


  • The La Crosse County Health Department was flooded with requests for well-water tests after sending notices to about 2,000 property owners warning their wells might be contaminated with nitrate and coliform bacteria. A Legislative Audit Bureau report on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources revealed that a concentrated animal feeding operation in the town of Holland had elevated levels of nitrate in monitoring well tests since 2005. The county health department is continuing an investigation to try to determine the source of widespread well contamination in areas of the towns of Onalaska and Holland.


mtighe / Mike Tighe, La Crosse Tribune  

“I try to make the world go around a little easier down here,” 57-year-old La Crosse native and Army veteran Wayne Kolkind said of his life in the former Tent City, north of Riverside Park.

  • The Coulee Region’s continuing efforts to curb homelessness reached several milestones in 2017, including reaching functional zero among veterans and chronically homeless individuals. Leading those efforts was the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness, in conjunction with the city’s Community Development and Housing Department, La Crosse County, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Couleecap, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse and numerous other public and private organizations and agencies. A significant part of the initiative was helping find apartments or other housing for individuals who had lived in Tent City in Riverside North. In October, the collaborative set its next goal: to get chronically homeless families into housing.


New hospital:


  • The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration announced the La Crosse-based order’s decision to transfer its control of two health systems and Viterbo University to lay leadership as the nuns focus on other ministries. The order remains committed to “praying for everyone, as we always have done, and collaborating with all of these new partners” to pursue social justice, said FSPA President Sister Karen Lueck.

Meteor Timber:

  • The Wisconsin DNR granted a Georgia timber investment company permission to fill more than 16 acres of pristine wetlands for a major frac sand processing plant in the Monroe County town of Millston after the current landowner threatened to clearcut the site if the permit wasn’t granted because he needed to sell the land in order to pay off fines for past wetland violations. Environmental groups sued and the DNR has agreed to hold a hearing next year to re-examine the permit process.

Rail fears:

  • The deluge of oil trains rolling through La Crosse three years ago has slowed to a trickle as the bulk of North Dakota’s oil production now moves through pipelines, helping the rail industry comply with new federal safety regulations. Rail safety and environmental advocates remain vigilant over ongoing threats from other hazardous materials on the rails.

Badger Coulee:

  • A La Crosse County judge temporarily halted construction of a 7-mile stretch of a controversial high-voltage power line through northern La Crosse County after dismissing a lawsuit brought by the town of Holland, but he reversed his decision before causing any major delays to the $580 million project. The town’s efforts to block the line — or at least contest regulators’ decision to place it across the road from another high-voltage line — are now before the Wisconsin court of appeals.

Trouble at the VA:

Quarry regulations:

  • Wisconsin lawmakers approved a budget with 11th-hour provisions stripping local governments of the right to regulate quarries, which some fear could be expanded to take away town and county control over the frac sand mines. Gov. Scott Walker used a line-item veto to remove the language, saying he didn’t like the way it was introduced.

Police face danger

La Crosse:

  • Two La Crosse police officers fatally shot an armed carjacker on La Crosse’s South Side in August after he led police on a high-speed chase with an infant inside the stolen car. Roger Burzinski, 54, of Green Bay, stole the truck from Houska Park after confronting a woman at gunpoint. She was able remove her 3-year-old daughter from the backseat before Burzinski sped off with her 1-year-old daughter still in the back seat. After crashing, Burzinski refused orders from two officers to leave the car and was shot four times when he pointed a gun at one officer. The child was unharmed. District Attorney Tim Gruenke ruled the officers acted in self-defense and were justified in using deadly force.

Houston County:

  • Houston County prosecutors charged Wyatt Helfrich, 19, of La Crosse and William Wallraff, 19, of Holmen with attempted homicide after the men fired at La Crescent police officers early July 31 during a traffic stop. Helfrich fired first from the driver’s seat before his passenger fired during a 100-mph chase through Hokah. Their car struck spike strips and drove into a ditch on Hwy. 44. Police arrested the men as they fled into a cornfield.

Life sentences

Bryce Anderson

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune  

Bryce Anderson, convicted in the 2015 death of his girlfriend, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

  • La Crosse County Circuit Judge Elliott Levine in April sentenced Bryce Anderson to life in prison but made him eligible to apply for release after 35 years in the 2015 death of Kristen Johnson. Anderson struck Johnson, 28, with a hammer, fracturing her skull and face, cinched a belt around her neck, and cut her neck with a box cutter, nearly decapitating her at the couple’s duplex in Holmen while their two young sons were home.

Haron Joyner:

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune  

Haron Joyner was sentenced to life in prison for the death of his wife, Jessica.

  • La Crosse County Circuit Judge Scott Horne in March sentenced Haron Joyner to life in prison with release eligibility in 40 years in the March 7, 2016, stabbing wife of his wife, Jessica. Late the night before, Jessica used her cellphone to record a video of Joyner approaching her in the kitchen of the family’s apartment at 1320 S. Fifth Ave. while five children younger than 12 looked on before he swung a folding knife into his wife’s temple, arm and neck. She escaped to a neighbor’s apartment but died about an hour later. A jury found him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide after just 25 minutes of deliberations.



  • Authenticom, a La Crosse-based data integrator in the automotive industry, took on the two big players in the industry. In May, president and CEO Steve Cottrell filed an antitrust suit in federal court accusing them of intentionally trying to drive his company out of business. Although Authenticom has won a few skirmishes in the continuing battle, the financial toll forced layoffs in August and more are set for February.

AllEnergy v. Trempealeau County:

  • A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against a proposed Trempealeau County frac sand operation, finding that counties have the right to regulate conditional uses. A La Crosse County judge later dismisses AllEnergy’s lawsuit against the county claiming it suffered $3.5 million per month in damages as a result of being denied a permit.

Jackson County sand:

  • Using an untested legal argument, two groups of Jackson County landowners sued to block a pair of proposed frac sand mining operations on the grounds that they would inevitably create a nuisance and infringe on their right to peaceful enjoyment of their land. One case is now before the court of appeals after a La Crosse County judge dismissed the claim. The man behind one of the mines says the delay is costing him millions of dollars.

Life in La Crosse

Big baby:

Contributed photo  

The La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners is considering where to put Wolfgang Auer’s "Hatched Baby."

  • La Crosse has a blue baby. The 9-foot-tall sculpture by Wolfgang Auer of Friedberg, Germany, last inspired wonderment in the citizens of Hamilton, Ohio, where it graced the Fitton Art Center. “Hatched Baby” is a giant fiberglass and resin baby painted blue and sitting in a white egg shell with just its head poking out. It stares open-mouthed into the distance, showing an improbable full set of perfect teeth. It’s in storage for now, awaiting an appropriate display space.

Jen the Baker:

  • Stoddard baker Jen Barney provided six weeks of community pride-inspiring appearances as a contestant in the Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship,” winning $50,000 for outlasting eight other bakers who had made the cut among 50,000 applicants nationwide.

Medal winners:

  • Lori Freit-Hammes of West Salem and Sue Karpinski of Trempealeau brought home a boatload of medals from the International Dragon Boat Federation’s World Championships in China.


  • Ophelia was rescued in the fall of 2016 from a hoarding situation in by the Coulee Region Humane Society. She was one of the pioneer dogs in the WAGS program, Working with Animals to Gain Socialization, a collaboration between CRHS and the Prairie du Chien Correctional Facility, where Ophelia learned obedience, recovered her health and gained trust with the help of a group of inmates, who found the experience just as healing for themselves.

New expression:

  • La Crosse native Steve New has one of the most recognizable homes in the city, decorated in and out with a theme of peace, love and happiness. The free spirit and staunch liberal takes pride in his unique property, which reflects his positive and adventurous outlook on life.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Cheryl Hancock, executive director of the Coulee Council on Addictions, beams during the October ground breaking ceremony for the Coulee Recovery Center, rendered in background, on Ferry Street. Construction on the $2.9 million building is expected to be complete summer 2018.

17 in ’17: The feuds that fueled Donald Trump’s first year

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has taunted world leaders, criticized football players and picked fights with members of his own party. After a year in office, one thing is indisputable with this unconventional president: He relishes the battle.

Trump’s adversaries span the globe and few sectors of society have been spared a Trump tirade. If he perceives a slight, he’s doesn’t turn the other cheek.

“I think it’s always OK when somebody says something about you that’s false, I think it’s always OK to counterpunch or to fight back,” Trump said.

Here are 17 of Trump’s biggest feuds of 2017:

1. Trump vs. Kim Jong Un

A beef over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has devolved into personal insults and existential threats. Trump has vowed to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea if “Rocket Man” Kim continues his nuclear pursuits. Kim sent people scrambling for dictionaries when he labeled Trump a “dotard” as well as a “gangster fond of playing with fire.”

2. Trump vs. journalists

Beyond Fox News, Trump harbors deep disdain for the mainstream media he accuses of peddling “fake news.” He puts a special focus on CNN. He tweeted a video edited to show him body slamming the network’s logo and accused it of representing “our Nation to the World very poorly.” The network’s reply: “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S. to the world. That’s yours.”

3. Trump vs. the NFL

Trump blasted the National Football League for not punishing players who engage in protests inspired by quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem. The league delivered a tepid response to Trump’s complaint, but New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton replied: “I’m disappointed in the comments that were made. I think we need a little bit more wisdom in that office.” Trump instructed Vice President Mike Pence to walk out of an Indianapolis Colts game after several players failed to stand during the national anthem.

4. Trump vs. the NBA

Trump’s gridiron grievances shifted to the hardwood when he lashed out Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry for criticizing him. Trump canceled the White House celebration visit for the NBA champion Warriors, which prompted Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James to refer to Trump as “U bum” in a tweet, adding: “Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

5. Trump vs. LaVar Ball

The president slapped at the father of LiAngelo Ball, one of three UCLA basketball players arrested on shoplifting charges in China, for not expressing gratitude for Trump’s aid in getting his son released from jail. Ball told CNN that Trump was inflating his role and added, “I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody.” Trump lashed out again, calling Ball a “poor man’s version of Don King,” as well as an “ungrateful fool.”

6. Trump vs. Sen. Bob Corker

An ugly October spat in which Trump referred to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as “Liddle Bob Corker” after the Tennessee Republican argued that Trump could trigger World War III. Corker also called the White House an adult day care center.”

7. Trump vs. Sen. John McCain

Disdain borne of a campaign in which Trump mocked McCain’s capture during the Vietnam War and McCain pulled his support after the emergence of that “Access Hollywood” tape that captured Trump boasting about sexual assault spilled into 2017, as McCain warned against “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”

8. Trump vs. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

After the New York Democrat called for him to resign over sexual assault allegations, Trump called Gillibrand, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential challenger, “a lightweight” who “would come to my office begging for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)” in a tweet that many deemed sexually suggestive. Gillibrand shot back, commenting on “the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office.”

9. Trump vs. Sen. Elizabeth Warren

In one of his longest feuds, Trump revels in calling Warren, another potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, “Pocahontas” because she once claimed Native American ancestry. Trump repeated the nickname at a White House event honoring Navajo “Code Talkers.”

10. Trump vs. Sen. Jeff Flake

Flake has been Trump’s most vocal GOP critic in Congress. The Arizona Republican, who announced that he won’t seek re-election, accused Trump of undermining world stability “by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters.” Trump’s response? “(Flake and Corker) dropped out of the Senate race (because) they had zero chance of being elected,” he tweeted.

11. Trump vs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The first senator to endorse Trump and a trusted campaign adviser, Sessions is on the outs for bowing out of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election. Trump called Sessions “very WEAK” on investigating what Trump says are crimes committed by his 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Though Sessions stayed low and sought to brush off the criticism, his former Senate colleagues were not amused.

12. Trump vs. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Another Cabinet member in the White House doghouse, Tillerson ran afoul of Trump after reportedly calling him a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting. Trump shrugged off the alleged remark as “fake news” but told Forbes magazine that if Tillerson did say it “I’ll guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests.”

13. Trump vs. Rep. John Lewis

The two have been at it since before Day One of the Trump administration. The Georgia Democrat didn’t attend Trump’s inauguration and said he doesn’t consider Trump a “legitimate” president. Trump responded by calling Lewis, a civil rights icon, “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

14. Trump vs. Sen. Lindsey Graham

Trump and Graham were competitors for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Their relationship hit a bump in August when Graham accused Trump of drawing a “moral equivalency” between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville. Trump called the senator “publicity seeking Lindsey Graham” in a tweet, and said the South Carolina Republican “just can’t forget his election trouncing.”

15. Trump vs. Meryl Streep

The Academy Award-winning actress railed against Trump in a Golden Globes award speech in January. “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose,” she told a star-studded audience. Trump called Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.”

16. Trump vs. Rep. Frederica Wilson

This spat escalated after the Miami Democrat accused Trump of being insensitive to a fallen soldier’s widow. Trump, backed by his chief of staff John Kelly, said Wilson had “totally fabricated” his remarks and blasted her on Twitter as “wacky” and a “disaster” for the Democratic Party.

17. Trump vs. Carmen Yulin Cruz

The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico criticized the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria, saying it was “killing us with the inefficiency and bureaucracy.” Trump retorted via Twitter the next day, saying Cruz had “been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump.” He panned her for “poor leadership ability” and accused her and others of “wanting everything to be done for them.”