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Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune 

Onalaska High School's Lydia Schultz (3) reacts after scoring the winning run in the eighth inning against Aquinas on Tuesday at Pammel Creek Park. Onalaska defeated Aquinas 4-2.

Spring planting season finally underway

Wisconsin farmers saw nearly as much opportunity to get into their fields in the first week of May as they did in all of April, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But the weather in western and southern Wisconsin wasn’t as cooperative as it was in much of the rest of the state, with La Crosse reporting 2.7 inches of rain that slowed spring tillage and planting. In Monroe County, UW-Extension agricultural agent Bill Halfman reported 3.5 to 6 inches of rain, while Vernon County reported similar rainfail.

Farmers in some areas have a lot of catching up to do after the coldest and snowiest April on record in large swaths of the state. In fact, the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition Report listed only 4.2 days suitable for field work all of last month. So farmers stalled by bad weather this spring were working well into the night late last week, over the weekend and early this week.

Corn planting was 15 percent complete statewide, most in the south and least in the north. That is one day ahead of last year but four days behind the five-year average. That figure was 27 percent in the southwest district but only 7 percent in the west central.

Spring tillage was 30 percent complete, two days behind last year and five days behind the five-year average.

Soybeans were five percent planted, three days ahead of last year and one day behind the five-year average.

Oats were 29 percent planted, eight days behind last year and nine days behind average. Eight percent of oats have emerged, 11 days behind last year and eight days behind the average.

Winter wheat was 73 percent good to excellent, up 16 points from the week before.

Soil moisture was plentiful, with topsoil moisture at 96 percent adequate to surplus and subsoil moisture at 93 percent adequate to surplus.

In the north, a Sawyer County report said: “Winter has turned to summer this past week, with very pleasant temperatures and sunshine, and lots of field activities are happening simultaneously.”

In the south, a Winnebago County report said: “Rain early in the week greened up the winter wheat, but a surplus of rain has since drowned out many fields.”

“There still are no lilacs blooming, so spring is not here yet,” the report said.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Wisconsin Crop Progress and Condition Report listed only 4.2 days suitable for field work all of last month. So farmers stalled by bad weather this spring were working well into the night late last week, over the weekend and early this week.

Dad recalls passion of Tomah trooper who died in line of duty

Recalling his son’s character and potential, Stan Borostowski of Sparta remains grief-stricken over the death of his only son in the line of duty as a Wisconsin state trooper just over a year ago, but he also mourns it as a loss for the general public.

Tony Borostowski of Tomah, whose name will be unveiled Friday at the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial near the state Capitol in Madison for personnel killed on the job, died at the age of 34 on April 11, 2017.

Tony Borostowski

Borostowski apparently was pursuing a traffic violator at more than 100 mph at about 4:30 a.m. when and his patrol vehicle careened out of control on a rain-slickened Interstate 90/94 near Wisconsin Dells, went into a ditch and crashed into a tree.

Borostowski had survived three tours of duty as a health care specialist and combat medic in Kuwait and Afghanistan as a member of the Army National Guard. He used the G.I. Bill to obtain a technical degree in criminal justice.

Tony, who attained the Army rank of sergeant, had become became so skilled as a combat medic that the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy tapped him to train fellow troopers — even before he had passed his probation period, Stan said.

“Tony was extremely dedicated to and passionate about being a medic,” Stan said. “Those things make you even more sad. Tony would have trained other troopers for 30 years.

“I think of all the people surviving accidents where the state troopers Tony would have trained would be on the scene,” he said.

Asked about the irony of surviving war conditions but dying on a civilian highway, Stan said, “I guess it’s just a case of the way things happen — three tours and then you come back and are killed.”

Stan credits the Rev. Mark Clements, pastor of Living Word Christian Church in La Crosse, with helping him and his wife endure the pain of losing Tony.

Clements, who notified the Borostowskis of their son’s death in person in his role as a law enforcement chaplain, said, “I’ll never forget that — their only son.”

The couple were Clements’ guests last week at the Greater La Crosse Area Mayoral Prayer Breakfast in La Crosse, where he introduced them by saying, “This couple has put me on my knees many times since I met them. I began praying before I walked up the sidewalk.”

The couple has found solace in Clements’ ministry. “Pastor Clements has been with us since he gave us the news. He’s taken care of us and helped make this more bearable,” Stan said.

Representatives of all levels of other law enforcement agencies also have helped the couple cope with their grief, Stan said, adding, “The law enforcement family is incredible. The State Patrol has been wonderful. You have to imagine how that makes us feel.”

After participating in the ceremony honoring their son and two other troopers, Stan and his wife, Cindy, will fly to Washington, D.C., where Tony’s name also will be unveiled on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on Saturday.

Three events Saturday will include the arrival of thousands of bicyclists from across the country, all timed to arrive around noon. Memorials to honor fallen officers will continue through Tuesday, when survivors and their families will be guests at the White house, Stan said.

The Borostowskis, who moved to Sparta about a year ago to be closer to Tony, raised him in Oak Creek, near Milwaukee. The elder Borostowski worked in corrections for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department before retiring, and the couple became snowbirds, alternating between Florida winters and Wisconsin for the other seasons.

Stan expressed admiration for those who serve in the armed forces and on the front lines of law enforcement.

“Their courage is incredible,” he said. “I don’t know how they do it. People would ask me why I didn’t go into law enforcement, and I would tell them in corrections, every day, I know the good guys from the bad. Those dressed in orange, look out for.”

Officers plunge into the unknown daily, he said.

“Every day, when a state trooper pulls someone over, they don’t know what that might lead to” — a routine stop or a perilous confrontation with an armed person, he said.

“It’s just a shame that the few who make mistakes are the ones portrayed in the media instead of the ones who risk their lives,” Stan said. “I’m just so happy that Tony is such a good example.”