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La Crosse couple named Riverfest commodore, first mate

Bill and Tari LaRue

Bill and Tari LaRue were named La Crosse’s 2019 Riverfest commodore and first mate Wednesday.

The couple — active volunteers who have dedicated themselves to serving their community — will reign over La Crosse’s Riverfest, July 3-6, at Riverside Park.

The La Crescent natives are members of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and volunteer for Meals on Wheels America.

Tari serves on the church council, taught Sunday school and served as Sunday school superintendent.

Bill is an active member of La Crosse Ducks Unlimited, an organization committed to wetland conservation, and has served as a board member for the La Crosse Children’s Museum.

Bill said he was surprised by the nomination because the former commodores tricked him into thinking they wanted to meet with him about a high school program and then sprung the news on him

“To say it’s an honor is an understatement,” Bill said. “Both Tari and I are excited beyond belief.”

The former DJ was part of a Blues Brothers Act that performed at Major League Baseball games, NBA basketball games and Riverfest.

Bill also had a show called “Puttin on the Lips” that he performed for the Chicago Bulls and NHL hockey during the 1990s until the 2000s. He toured for about 270 days out of the year in the last year before retiring.

He told his partner he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two children.

The LaRues have been married for 30 years and have four children.

And while he’s still passionate about music, Bill has a newfound passion: working with teenagers.

The former president of Rotary Club East was a high school hockey coach but is now an advisor for the Interact Club for high schoolers.

The senior account executive at the Locknet division of EO Johnson has been on six mission trips with high school students to help underprivileged people by building homes all over the country, he said.

Bill said working with an impressionable age group will help make a difference in their future decisions and is an opportunity to teach them the importance of giving back.

“Riverfest [has been] part of what my wife and kids and everybody [has] done over the years,” Bill said.

Buttons for Riverfest will be $7 in advance and $10 at the gate.

From Tribune files: La Crosse Riverfest through the years
From Tribune files: La Crosse Riverfest through the years

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Matt Boe with Parchers Painting and Home Improvement paints the window trims Tuesday afternoon on the second floor of the Hixon House. The company is in the process of a full exterior paint job of the historic landmark.

Two injured in Allamakee County crash

WAUKON, Iowa — Two people were injured in a two-vehicle-crash in Allamakee County on Tuesday evening.

The Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office identified the drivers as Terry Lee Johnson, 59, of Waukon, and Lois Marie Fossum, 75, of Waterville. Deputies said the crash was reported about 6:10 p.m. at the intersection of Strawberry Road and Elon Drive.

Deputies said Johnson was westbound on Elon Drive and crossed the center line and struck the eastbound vehicle of Fossum. Both drivers were transported to Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon; Johnson was later transported to Gundersen Health Care in La Crosse by air ambulance.

Assisting at the scene were the Iowa State Patrol, Veterans Memorial Hospital ambulance service and the Waukon Fire Department.

La Crosse man, 19, accused of strangling and suffocating girlfriend

A La Crosse man faces multiple domestic-abuse charges Wednesday accusing him of strangling and suffocating his girlfriend.


Noah J. Betz, 19, of La Crosse was charged with strangulation and suffocation, felony intimidation of a victim, misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct, all with a domestic-abuse enhancer, according to the criminal complaint.

Charges also include possession of THC and misdemeanor bail jumping, according to the police report.

According to the complaint:

On May 9, an anonymous caller to La Crosse police reported people yelling and threatening each other on the 1300 block of South Fifth Avenue.

Police said the victim told them she and Betz broke up, and that Betz had left the apartment, but returned about 1 a.m.

She told police Betz strangled her multiple times, impeding her breathing and causing her to gag, and dragged her to the floor, hurting her head and back.

The victim fought back by striking Betz in the head, pulling his hair and squirming around, which led to Betz slapping her, according to the complaint.

The attack lasted about one minute and the victim was able to scream once Betz removed his hands from around her neck.

She said screaming for help prevented Betz from attacking her again.

Betz slapped the phone out of her hand when she tried calling 911 — just as police knocked on the door.

Betz said, “Don’t send me to jail” and “I am sorry; don’t open the door.”

Betz jumped out the window as the victim opened the door for the police, and she received several missed calls from a phone number she believes to be related to Betz while speaking with police. Betz was later apprehended.

The victim said that she feared for her life, and that Betz could have killed her and had threatened to kill her in the past.

Police found Betz at the intersection of Caledonia Street and Wall Street.

Betz said the victim accused him of doing meth, pushed him, and scratched his face and neck. He said he pushed her away, she fell on the floor and then he left.

Betz denied putting his hands around her neck and ran because he doesn’t like police.

Police reported seeing scratches on his neck and upper lip.

Betz told police he had marijuana in his underwear when he was taken to jail, and police discovered he had a bond condition of not committing any crimes.

La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in May
La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in May