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At Ellsworth High School, a Jan. 12 murder mystery dinner fundraiser for the school will have an appropriately nefarious plot — a killer class reunion. At 7 p.m., the Ellsworth School Foundation is hosting a murder mystery dinner that will feature attendee participation, cash bribes and a play focused on a mysterious murder of a former alumni. Proceeds for the fundraiser are being used to help replace the drama department's outdated wireless microphones.
While New Year's Eve is known for people's drinking, that didn't translate to a spike in OWI's or other crime this year in Pierce County. In fact, county police officials said it was abnormally low. "It was kind of weird," said Prescott Police Chief Eric Michaels. "I'd like to say that people are getting smarter, they're controlling themselves and their alcohol intake. I don't know if that's the reason though."
Ellsworth's Cheese Curd Festival has a new, larger site in hopes to better tackle demand after last year's festival drew an unexpectedly large attendance. At Monday's Ellsworth Village Board meeting, board members approved a roughly three-block setting for the festival that spans from East End Park to Broadway Street in Ellsworth's East End. It almost triples the available space for the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce's festival, which last year was confined to East End Park and vendor space on Crosscut Avenue.
On Dec. 6, Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service Director Jessi Willenbring was working a 24-hour shift. Working extra or long hours have become frequent for Willenbring as the eight-municipality ambulance service has seen dwindling volunteers over the last three years. "I do this job and I do a lot of time outside my salary time sort of volunteering my time here," Willenbring said. "I want to be able to volunteer at my church, I want to sell popcorn for my boy's boy scouts ... but you just run out of hours in your day."
A 26-year-old Bay City man was charged on Oct. 15 with alleged child abuse of a baby after taking care of the child by himself for the first time. Ryan Reynolds allegedly caused several bruises to a 10-month-old baby, including on the child's head, cheek and sternum. Reynolds told a Pierce County Sheriff's Office investigator and county human services worker that the child's injuries occurred in mundane situations where issues had arisen, like incorrectly taking the child out of his truck and incorrectly feeding the child with a bottle, according to a criminal complaint.
A 65-year-old Hager City woman rolled her vehicle after coming into contact with a semitrailer truck on Nov. 27, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. Lynda Phillips was driving south near N3941 State Highway 35 in Diamond Bluff Township and John Bach, 72, Bay City, drove his semitrailer truck onto the highway. The two vehicles collided, Phillips' vehicle went into the ditch and rolled, according to a press release.
When Marilyn Graw owned the Hager City-based Harbor Bar, she would keep the business open on the holidays. She wanted people with nowhere to go, to have somewhere to go. "She always kept the business open. Not because of greed, but because she knew that you couldn't even buy gas on a Christmas or a Thanksgiving," said Brad Smith, 59, Graw's son and now-owner of Harbor Bar. For about the last 10 years Smith has been honoring his mother's memory with free Thanksgiving dinners every year. And for roughly the last five years, he has put on a free Christmas dinner as well.
Mirroring national enthusiasm, Pierce County voter turnout in 2018 had a sizable growth from the last midterm election in 2014. In Pierce, there were 17,614 voters, not including absentee voters, compared to 14,743 four years ago. Nationally, voter turnout for a midterm was at historic rates, with roughly 49 percent of eligible voters participating and over 116 million votes cast, according to data from the United States Election Project.
An Ellsworth community improvement program from last month focused on potential business, housing and recreation solutions, according to preliminary findings.
The Pierce County Board of Supervisors approved a roughly $19 million net county levy, with a roughly .6 percent increase in the overall county levy, at its Nov. 13 meeting. The budget includes several new positions, froze library reimbursement funding at 80 percent for two years and a standard pay raise for employees. The board also approved a new bargaining agreement with protected sheriff's office employees and approved the new, non-interim administrative coordinator.