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For the third time in recent history, the Ellsworth Fire Department's service territory has been expanded. Effective this month, Maiden Rock has contracted for fire services. "This first time, we'll go for two years and see how it works," Chief Brent Langer said about the new renewable contract. He said Maiden Rock could no longer support its own fire department, which he found logical considering the high cost of maintaining such a unit today and the small size of the operation in this case.
ELLSWORTH -- Reductions or referendum or both. The Ellsworth School Board and an audience numbering toward 200 people heard proposed budget options Monday from Supt. Barry Cain, including these possibilities. Cain began with a list of budget reductions and enhancements under consideration. They might not be acted upon in their entirety, or at all, he emphasized. But he estimated the adjustments could approach $1 million if followed. "This would structurally change what the Ellsworth schools are," he said. A public forum on the budget options is scheduled for 7 p.m.
TOWN OF SALEM -- A group of 10 former members billing themselves as the Friends of Salem Church joined with other volunteers to restore a cemetery where Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church once stood. Other than mowing, the cemetery hadn't been upgraded since the vacant church was taken down in 1987.
ELLSWORTH -- The 4-year-old kindergarten program will go from four to five days a week next fall. Ellsworth School Board made that decision at a special meeting Monday. Board members also examined proposed districtwide budget adjustments. Much of the kindergarten discussion was about how children at that age would fare under a five-day schedule.
ELLSWORTH -- Father Tom Donaldson may be retiring after 22 years at St. Francis Parish, but he's not resigning from the priesthood. "I could never do that," Donaldson said, explaining that when he leaves here at month's end, he'll move to Arkansaw, Wis., to assist with St. Joseph's Parish and live in the rectory there. It seems like the right time to move on, he said. The condition of his legs prevents him from standing in one spot over long periods.
ELLSWORTH -- He's not yet done with school studies, but Jared Christiansen already is acting on his interest in public service. Moreover, the Ellsworth native is aiming high. He's declared his candidacy for governor. "I decided to seek office when Barack Obama in the last election said, 'Get involved in your communities,'" Christiansen said. The 18-year-old started out with the idea he'd run for the State Assembly.
ELLSWORTH -- Ellsworth School District's 2009-10 budget is set. The board certified the $7.69 million levy Monday. A mill rate of 8.70 (tax per $1,000 of valuation) was included. "The levy is basically the same as last year," Supt. Barry Cain said. Key pieces of information regarding state aids, student enrollment and grants weren't available when board saw the proposed budget in August. The district received that missing information Oct. 15, Cain said. The superintendent reminded the board that it approved tapping the district fund balance for a new middle school roof.
DIAMOND BLUFF -- Some dedicated volunteers have transformed a private serene spot along the Mississippi River into a public park. The new Sea Wing Park, across from the Diamond Bluff Town Hall, will be dedicated at 3 p.m. Thursday. Citizens have made $150,000 worth of improvements since the project began in 2003, according to Fred Ottem of the volunteer group.
It wasn't until almost a year after he left the military that Devin Feuerhelm joined the American Legion. Once Feuerhelm became a member, his involvement escalated rather quickly.
The next generation of plumbers in the Bigaouette family is establishing a rural business in Pierce County. Barry Bigaouette worked with his father, Ed, in plumbing most of his adult life. Now that his dad is ready to retire from his business in Stillwater, Minn., Bigaouette has set out on his own. His new Pierce Plumbing Inc. in Gilman Township got under way early this year. Plumbing as Bigaouette has known it has been in eight-plexes and four-plexes, besides single-family units, he said.