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ELLSWORTH -- A jury heard testimony for five days but deliberated for under 15 minutes before deciding a doctor was not negligent in his treatment of a University of Wisconsin-River Falls student who died of bacterial meningitis. Erik Spindler, 20, a business administration major from Stillwater, Minn., died Nov. 11, 2002, at River Falls Area Hospital. His family later filed a malpractice suit against Dr.
ELLSWORTH -- Paul Barkla, who has served on the Pierce County Board since April 2004, was elected its chairman when the board met to reorganize Tuesday morning. Barkla, 73, River Falls, has worked for several labor unions as a researcher, written training manuals, and been an educator and business agent. He also has been active with various health, environmental and political organizations and worked as a legislative assistant for two U.S.
As the Wisconsin Legislature heads into the last week of the two-year session, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf said she will focus on bills that promote the use of ethanol in automobile fuel. "We're not going away," Harsdorf, R-River Falls, said last week during a swing through Pierce County.
ELLSWORTH -- As he chaired one of the last meetings of his term Friday, Pierce County Board Chairman Ron Anderson complained that two Highway Department superintendents are routinely taking county vehicles home. "Even the Highway Department, I think, doesn't have the authority to add fringe benefits," said Anderson, as he chaired the Finance and Personnel Committee meeting.
ELLSWORTH -- Pierce County should accept a grant to implement wireless 911 and proceed with the project, the Finance and Personnel Committee has agreed, but the county also should lobby the Legislature to extend funding for future costs. The Public Service Commission announced last November that Pierce County will get $224,335 for 911 upgrades that will enable emergency service dispatchers to locate callers using cell phones. Nine phone companies were awarded $47 million in grants, and 68 counties were awarded a total of $29 million.
Delays in providing services for disabled and elderly people are inhumane and uneconomical, claim two Pierce County Board members seeking extra money to reduce waiting lists for long-term support services. Supervisors Rich Purdy, River Falls Township, and Scott Mulhern, River Falls, are offering an amendment to the proposed county budget, adding $106,000 for direct services to disabled children, disabled adults and persons identified as "frail elderly." The County Board could vote on the budget Nov. 29.
ELLSWORTH -- The Pierce County will replace its elected coroner with a medical examiner hired by the board. Coroner Sue Dzubay, a registered nurse with death investigation training, initiated the change, pointing out that a person would need no medical background to be elected coroner.
Former Pierce County Board member Bill Schroeder has claimed responsibility for placing a help-wanted ad that sparked an investigation by law enforcement. An article in this week's Beldenville shopper written by Milt Helmer, former owner of The Shopper/Free Press and now identified as a freelance writer quoted Schroeder as saying he ran the ad to generate interest in elected county offices. The 4-by-5-inch ad, which appeared in the June 6 issue of The Shopper, said the county has part-time jobs available with a starting salary of $47,234 and a package value, with fringe
ELLSWORTH -- The Pierce County Board voted Tuesday to take the first step toward taking more control over its own procedures. Board members agreed to adopt "self-organizing status" but stopped short of making any changes in the way the board actually operates. The proposed ordinance would have also set up staggered terms, but it was amended during the meeting to delete that provision. Although separate action would be needed, the new status could allow the board to do any of these things: Set County Board member pay on other than a per-meeting basis.
ELLWORTH -- Both the chairman and the vice chairman of the Pierce County Board have filed formal declarations stating they will not seek re-election in spring of 2004. Chairman Dick Truax, who represents a Prescott district, and Vice Chairman Bill Schroeder, who represents the town of Diamond Bluff and part of the town of Trenton, have notified the county clerk that they will not seek to retain their seats. Longtime River Falls Supervisor Seth Speerstra also has declared he will not be a candidate.