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An employee of the Bavarian Red Cross takes a smear test on a car driver at a corona test centre on the motorway 8 (A8) at the Hochfelln-Nord rest area, in Bergen, Germany, Sunday, Aug.9, 2020. In view of the recent increase in the number of corona infections, the Bavarian state government is warning against carelessness and is launching a test offensive. People returning from a trip can have themselves tested for the corona virus at various rest stops free of charge. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

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Crews begin removing controversial Hiawatha statue from Riverside Park after 60 years

Onlookers pooled around the north end of Riverside Park Monday morning as crews worked on removing the Hiawatha statue, after city officials unanimously voted for its removal because of its false narrative of Indigenous people.

La Crosse’s Indigenous community and its allies have called for the statue’s removal for decades — which was originally commissioned to draw more tourism to the area — saying it falsely depicted the tribes native to the area in a derogatory stereotype of a mix of tribes.

After the statue is lifted by crane onto a flatbed truck, the family of the statue’s artist will store it until it can be re-erected at its new home.

The city originally intended to temporarily store the statue, but because a new location has already been identified, the family will assume ownership as soon as the statue is hauled out of the park.

The family of artist Anthony Zimmerhakl and a third party, who are choosing to remain anonymous at this time, plan to situate the statue at a new, undisclosed location that is not within city limits, but is a “convenient drive” from La Crosse, officials said.

Crews began jackhammering at the concrete base of the 25-foot statue around 6:30 a.m. on Monday, but stopped work mid-day because of an issue with the steel beams keeping the statue upright.

Eventually a crane will be used to lift the statue onto the truck.

The concrete base will then be removed, and dirt and grass seed will then be laid over the spot it once sat towering, until a new use for the space is found.

The city hired an experienced contracting crew to remove the statue, officials said, and ratchet straps, security netting and other safety measures were in-place to keep the statue intact during the move.

“Nobody really knew what we were getting into until we started jackhammering away. Really, one of the positives is that the statue is staying intact,” said Jay Odegaard, city of La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

Officials said that though the city voted to remove the statue, it was dedicated to preserving it as a piece of artwork for the sculptor’s family.

“I think in the end,” Odegaard said, “there’s a lot of contentious feelings with this statue. And I think something that really needs some clarification, is that the city isn’t in the business in trying to determine what art is good or bad.”

In the conversations leading up to its removal, officials also indicated they hoped to replace the statue with something more representative of La Crosse’s Indigenous communities.

But given budget constraints and logistical restraints, like developing in flood plains that weren’t there when the Hiawatha statue was erected in the 1960s, it’s unclear what that replacement could be or when it can be expected.

“Will something go there? I don’t know,” Odegaard said. “The last thing I think we should try to do is jump into any kind of rush to replace it.”

The city’s Board of Park Commissioners will approve an art agreement form for the spot later this month, that will outline specific details that need to be answered before a replacement could be approved.

“When a lot of these statues and artwork are going into place, the hard questions sometimes aren’t answered,” Odegaard said, like utilities, maintenance and the artworks lifespan.

Regardless of what and when, Odegaard said that Indigenous communities will be included in the plans for new art overlooking where the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse Rivers meet.

Though not completely removed Monday, after it is hauled away, the Hiawatha statue will wait in storage, and is not expected to be re-erected until next year.

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Additional 23 COVID-19 cases confirmed in La Crosse County over weekend, 2 on Monday

La Crosse County now has 913 confirmed cases of COVID-19 after the area reported 25 new cases during the last three days.

On Saturday, 14 new cases were confirmed; nine new cases were reported on Sunday and an additional two on Monday. The county does not currently update its numbers during the weekend.

Four individuals have been hospitalized through the weekend and Monday. There remains just one death in the county related to the virus.

Among the 25 individuals newly infected in the last three days, two of them were in their teens or younger; six were in their 20s; eight were in their 30s; four were in their 40s; four were in their 50s and one individual was in their 60s.

There are currently 157 active cases of the disease in the area, as 83% of individuals have been considered recovered.

Last week, the area’s cases increased by 10%, with 92 new cases reported, and 6.9% of all tests last week were positive.

So far, 18,021 negative tests have been reported for La Crosse County. Overall, 4.8% of all tests have been positive for the area.

The La Crosse County Health Department also reported final numbers from the most recent National Guard Testing Site at Logan High School on Monday. A total of 399 tests were administered, and 17 were positive, 11 of those being La Crosse County residents.

Health officials had no updates on the individual who was possibly reinfected with COVID-19 last week and said that health-care partners are evaluating that case.

In Monroe County one new case was reported Monday — a man in his 40s.

Here are statewide updates on COVID-19 for Wisconsin:

  • 61,061 total cases (+507)
  • 5,031 ever hospitalized (+31)
  • 998 deaths (+0)
  • 50,662 recovered (83%)
  • 9,383 active cases (15.4%)
  • 1,001,402 total negative tests (+7,660)

Aug. 11 primary: Absentee ballots must be in by 8 p.m. to count, and what's on the ballot?

Wisconsin voters will cast ballots in the second pandemic-stricken election of 2020 on Tuesday, in the partisan primaries leading up to November.

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s on the ballot?

Several races will be on the ballot. Primaries for key Congressional, state Senate and Assembly races are included, as well as local races for clerk, treasurer, register of deeds and district attorney.

Though you do not need to be pre-registered for a specific party, voters will only be able to participate in one party’s primary. Any ballots that cast votes across parties may not be counted.

Here’s a comprehensive list of races and candidates.

Democratic primaries

Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District

  • Ron Kind (i), D-La Crosse
  • Mark Neumann, D-La Crosse

Wisconsin State Senate District 32

  • Jayne Swiggum, D-Gays Mills
  • Paul Michael Weber, D-La Crosse
  • Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska

Wisconsin State Assembly District 95

  • Jill Billings (i), D-La Crosse

La Crosse County District Attorney

  • Tim Gruenke (i), D-La Crosse

La Crosse County Clerk

  • Ginny Dankmeyer (i), D-Onalaska

La Crosse County Treasurer

  • Amy L. Twitchell (i), D-Holmen

Republican primaries

Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District

  • Derrick Van Orden, R-Hager City
  • Jessi Ebben, R-Eau Claire

Wisconsin State Senate District 32

  • Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse

Wisconsin State Assembly District 95

  • Jerome Gundersen, R-La Crosse

La Crosse County Register of Deeds

  • Cheryl A. McBride (i), R-La Crosse

Absentee ballots

Because of COVID-19, many voters are choosing to vote by mail this election.

But unlike April’s local elections, an extension has not been granted to allow for additional mailing times, and only ballots received by the clerk’s office or polling place by the time polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday will be counted.

If you have not mailed your ballot back in, the clerk’s office recommends physically delivering it to your polling place on Tuesday.

Still voting in person?

If you were unable to vote through the mail, all 13 of the city of La Crosse’s polling places will be open on Tuesday.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You will need an acceptable photo ID to vote in-person, and you can register same-day with a photo ID and proof of residence.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’s statewide mask mandate only requires poll workers and observers to wear masks inside polling places, but the Wisconsin Elections Commission recommends all voters wear a face covering while voting in-person.

Polling places can be found at by searching for your address. Here’s a list of La Crosse polling places:

District 1: Black River Beach Neighborhood Center

District 2: Harry J. Olson Senior Center

District 3: Myrick Park Center

  • Because of an event, voters should access by Hillview Avenue

District 4: English Lutheran Church

  • Because of construction, voters should enter back of building

District 5: UW-La Crosse Student Union

District 6: La Crosse Public Library

District 7: Hogan Administrative Center

District 8: Coulee Recovery Center

  • Because of construction, voters should enter at 9th and 10th Street entrance
  • District 9: Southside Neighborhood Center
  • District 10: South Community Library
  • District 11: Living Word Christian Church
  • District 12: Spence Elementary School
  • District 13: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

When can you expect results?

Though many ballots will be completed absentee, officials said they still expect results Tuesday evening like normal as polling places will be quieter and give workers more time to process ballots completed by-mail.

Follow along with election results through Tuesday evening at and in Thursday’s print edition of the La Crosse Tribune.