The DeForest Windsor area continued to thrive in 2018. There were new businesses opened and awards given out. Local artists had their work featured in a county-wide campaign. Student athletes made appearances at state competitions. Voter turnout in the area was high, as residents visited the polls multiple times throughout the year.
Projects that were in the works, such as DeForest’s athletic complex and the long-awaited Innovation Drive bridge, are now moving forward. Local officials gained feedback from the public at events such as the DeForest Area School District’s Framework for Our Future conference and an open house in Windsor where residents were encouraged to provide feedback on design concepts for constructing a new municipal campus.
DeForest was also in the spotlight due to the controversy surrounding a YouTube video in which former police chief Daniel Furseth could be heard mocking a group of African-American men. Ultimately Furseth and the village board signed off on a severance package for the former chief after two investigations were completed.
So before getting too far into 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the top local stories of 2018.
• Kwik Trip off of Highway V in DeForest held a grand opening event and ribbon cutting on Jan. 4.
• Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brant Foltman was temporarily assigned to Windsor as a fill-in for Deputy Hayley Collins.
• CrossFit DeForest opened off of Columbia Avenue in mid-January.
• After five weeks of renovations, Lake Windsor Country Club unveiled its new Pinnacle Room.
• DeForest Area School Board President Jan Berg received an award from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards for 20 years of service.
• U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin visited the Wisconsin Laborers Apprenticeship and Training Center in DeForest. Baldwin received a tour of the facility, chatted with students and gave press interviews during the visit.
• Norski senior 152-pound wrestler Austin Rauls claimed a Badger Conference Tournament title and went on to qualify for the WIAA state tournament.
• Voters headed to the polls for the first time in 2018 during a primary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Area turnout was elevated, according to local clerks. Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet and Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock advanced to the general election in April.
• Monica Escher opened Private Eyes Lash Studio in DeForest.
• Ben Ramminger led the DeForest boys swim team to an 11th-place finish at the WIAA Division 2 state meet after medaling in two individual events. He was fourth in the 100 backstroke and fifth in the 500 freestyle. Teammate Jacob Burgener was eighth in the 100 butterfly and 12th in the 50 freestyle.
• Gander Outdoors, located at 6199 East Metro Dr., DeForest, opened on March 10.
• The DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Restaurant Week. Ten area eateries had lunch and dinner specials throughout the week.
• Approximately 450 DeForest Area School District students participated in a walkout on March 14. The local students joined thousands across the nation in efforts to honor those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, as well as put the spotlight on topics like gun control and school safety.
• The DeForest Village Board voted to purchase wetland mitigation credits as one of the last steps necessary for the long-awaited Innovation Drive bridge. At the time, officials estimated the majority of construction would be completed in 2019.
• The Sun Prairie girls hockey co-op, which includes athletes from DeForest, was the state runner-up. The Cougars lost 3-1 to Eau Claire in the championship game after a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Fond du Lac in the semifinals.
• Many area incumbents secured their seats on local boards after voters headed to the polls on April 5. Rebecca Dallet, a former Milwaukee Circuit Court judge, was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
• The DeForest Area School Board formed a community advisory committee to explore facility needs throughout the district.
• The Windsor Village Board approved the Cortland Park development, which will consist of 11 duplexes located near Pederson Crossing and Reardon Road.
• Yahara Elementary School Teacher Kate Dabetic received NBC 15’s Crystal Apple Award.
• The DeForest Area Community and Senior Center presented four new awards to volunteers Sandi Newell, Jerry Brokish, Dick Laufenberg and Bob Shutz.
• The DeForest Area High School forensics team took second place at the Wisconsin Forensics Coaches’ Association Tournament and earned the Excellence in Speech Award at the Wisconsin High School Forensics Association State Festival.
• The DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Community Expo at GRB Academy.
• Officials gathered at the Active Arts facility groundbreaking ceremony. The project moved Midwest Professional Karate and Jump Around Gymnastics to a new location off of River Road.
• The Windsor Village Board voted to establish an advisory committee after a proposed parking ordinance proved to be more controversial than expected. More than 60 people gathered at the village’s municipal building during a May meeting with the ordinance on the agenda.
• The DeForest prep softball team captured its fifth straight Badger North Conference title. The Norskies finished 13-1 in conference play to win the crown by two games.
• Mousehouse Cheesehaus in Windsor welcomed customers into the store’s new space after a lengthy interior remodel was completed. The business also celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 11.
• The Mary Schultz Century 21 Affiliated real estate team cut the ribbon on its new office at 517 W. North St. in DeForest in early May.
• Two local residents, Julie Hustad of DeForest and Emmalee Pearson of Windsor, saw their work unveiled after the Bucky on Parade statues were placed around Dane County. Hustad completed two statues for the project – a Picasso-inspired Bucky and one created with Madison Gas and Electric’s Energy 2030 campaign in mind. Pearson’s Bucky, Grow, was inspired by a painting of poppies created by her grandmother.
• Throughout the month of May, a memorial exhibit honoring over 100 service members from Wisconsin traveled around the DeForest Windsor area. Bringing the “Remembering Our Fallen” display to local locations was a joint effort by the Olson-Grinde American Legion Post 348 and its Auxiliary.
• The DeForest Veterans Memorial Foundation, Inc., hosted its 12th annual Memorial Day ceremony in Veterans Memorial Park on May 28.
• Families and friends gathered to help send off DeForest Area High School’s Class of 2018 on June 2.
• Shoppers perused a wide variety of booths at the 14th annual Dragon Art Fair in early June.
• The DeForest Area Public Library and DeForest Police Department partnered together to begin the Read to an Officer program.
• The DeForest prep baseball team captured a WIAA Division 1 regional title and advanced to the sectional final where they lost 12-1 to Waunakee. It was the Norskies’ first appearance in a sectional final since 2001.
• News broke about former DeForest Police Department Chief Daniel Furseth being put on paid leave May 23. Furseth agreed to be placed on leave after a video surfaced in which Furseth could be heard mocking a group of African-American men outside of a Steak ‘N Shake restaurant. The village launched an independent investigation into the video shortly after Furseth was put on leave.
• Former DeForest Village Board Trustee Shirley Cunningham stepped down from the board after an out-of-state move prompted her departure.
• Windsor officials hosted an open house and workshop session where residents were encouraged to provide feedback on design concepts for constructing a new municipal campus.
• DeForest junior Sophee Mink was the runner-up in the high jump at the WIAA Division 1 state meet in La Crosse. She tied West bend East’s Annie Guerrero and Kimberly’s Emily Scott with a height of 5-feet, 6-inches. Based on criteria, Guerrero was awarded the state title, while Mink was second.
• Anytime Fitness staff hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony after the gym expanded its selection of workout equipment and completed a remodel.
• The DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Fourth of July Celebration in DeForest. The two-day event included music and food, as well as the Freedom Run and parade.
• Local first responders assisted in the immediate aftermath of the deadly natural gas explosion in downtown Sun Prairie on July 10. Multiple fundraising events to help were held in the DeForest Windsor area in the weeks after the explosion.
• Hundreds gathered in Fireman’s Park in DeForest for the first Brews and Bites event. The July 26 event was also the grand opening celebration for the park, which reopened earlier in the year after the first phase of renovations were completed.
• Arlene (Meinholz) Beardsley, a 1991 DeForest Area High School graduate, was an All-American in both basketball and track at UW-Eau Claire. Her athletic accomplishments helped her earn and indication into the Wisconsin Intercollege Athletic Conference (WIAC) Hall of Fame.
• The DeForest Area School District was awarded a $102,091 safety grant from the Wisconsin Department of Justice as a part of the department’s $100 million given to schools to strengthen facilities against outside threats or attacks.
• DeForest Village Board trustees appointed Paul Blount, a former board member, to take over for Shirley Cunningham, who stepped down in June.
• Voters headed to the polls again for the Aug. 14 primary. Tony Evers, now the governor-elect, defeated nine other Democratic candidates, allowing him to take on Scott Walker in the gubernatorial race.
• Former DeForest Police Department Chief Daniel Furseth and the DeForest Village Board signed off on a severance package for Furseth. The agreement came after two investigations into Furseth and the department were completed and the board filed a complaint with the village’s police commission. The complaint’s allegations included Furseth’s failure to address employee misconduct and his inappropriate use of social media both on department accounts and his own.
• Mollyann Emerson, the former co-owner and publisher of the DeForest Times-Tribune for 30 years, was honored at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation Memorial Pylon ceremony.
• The DeForest Area School District’s Community Advisory Committee came together for its first meeting on Aug. 22.
• DeForest Area School Board Ambassador Terri Treinen resigned from the board due to a conflict of interest. Treinen was hired by the district to perform costume and makeup work for the DeForest Area High School theater.
• Yahara Elementary School Program Teacher Connie Skelton was awarded the Olson-Grinde American Legion Post 348’s Educator of the Year award.
• The annual Yahara Riverfest in DeForest drew large crowds to Conservancy Commons Park on Sept. 8.
• The DeForest Village Board voted to approve construction contracts for the athletic complex, a project years in the making. Work began shortly after on the site located just south of Innovation Drive.
• American Shaman, which offers CBD products, opened in DeForest.
• Roland Manthe, a 1953 DeForest High School graduate, was inducted into the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame.
• For the second straight year, the DeForest girls tennis team captured the Badger Conference Tournament title. The tournament win helped the Norskies earn their second straight Badger North overall crown.
• DeForest Area High School Homecoming activities were held Sept. 17-22.
• Windsor officials established a new public works director role after two senior employees announced their retirements. At the time, Village Administrator Tina Butteris said she hoped to fill the opening by 2019.
• Crowds turned out for the third annual WindsorFest at Fireman’s Park in Windsor on Sept. 29.
• Fleet Farm in DeForest opened its doors after much anticipation.
• The DeForest Area School Board appointed Keri Brunelle to fill the board’s vacancy. There were four candidates vying for the spot, which was available after Terri Treinen resigned.
• Windsor Village Board trustees approved the plans for a Summit Credit Union to be built in the Windsor Crossing area.
• New Life Physical Therapy in DeForest closed after opening in late 2017. According to Matt Vanderkooi, the founder and CEO of New Life, an issue with insurance providers caused the sudden closure.
• Kobussen Buses celebrated the opening of its new facility off of Cake Parkway with a grand opening event.
• Heritage Credit Union announced its plans to build a headquarters facility in DeForest off of Liuna Way.
• The sister duo of Cecile and Samantha Fuchs represented the DeForest girls tennis team at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament. It was the third time competing at state for Cecile Fuchs, while it was the second trip for Samantha.
• Community members gathered for the DeForest Area School District’s third Framework for Our Future conference.
• School district officials canceled classes for DeForest Area Middle School’s seventh and eighth graders after mold was found in one of the school’s wings.
• Area businesses received awards from the 2018 Best of DeForest Windsor contest.
• The DeForest Village Board authorized $25,000 for the DeForest Police Commission to hire GovHR USA to work with the commission during the search for a new police chief.
• Voters headed to the polls for the last time in 2018. Many Democratic candidates gained the majority of local support. Statewide, voters elected State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers to take over the governor’s seat.
• The Poppy Seed, a coffee and home boutique, opened on East Holum Street in DeForest.
• The DeForest Village Board passed its 2019 budget, which included an average $58 increase on tax bills.
• Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials gave a presentation in DeForest about the upcoming Highway 19 expansion between River Road and Interstate 39/90/94, which is scheduled to begin in 2020.
• The Windsor Village Board passed its 2019 budget, which included an approximate 2.18 percent tax decrease.
• Tony Armstrong of Midwest Professional Karate and Ben O’Neill of Jump Around Gymnastics cut the ribbon on their new facility off of River Road.
• The DeForest Area School District received a 76.1 score on its Department of Public Instruction report card. The score fell into the four-star, “exceeds expectation” range.
• The DeForest girls swim team placed 41st at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. Camryn Hargraves finished 15th in the 50 freestyle and 19th in the 100 freestyle, while teammate Haley Willis was 21st in the 200 individual medley.
• The area’s annual Winterfest drew families to multiple events around the communities on Dec. 1.
• A brief email sent out on Dec. 3 announced a change of leadership at the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce. Former executive director Caryn Reinthaler said she was forced to resign from her post in November; Ben O’Neill, the outgoing chamber president, said Reinthaler stepped down “willingly.” Heike Compe is now serving as the entity’s executive director.
• Greywolf Partners, Inc., broke ground near the Bear Tree Farms subdivision for what will be The Legacy of DeForest, an assisted living and memory care facility.
• The new Kwik Trip in Windsor hosted a grand opening event and ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 11.
• DeForest Area School Board members reviewed possible referendum projects and results from a community survey. The board encouraged district administration to draft resolutions for referendum question options to be included on April ballots.
• Sam Blahnik, DeForest’s community development director, said goodbye to the village after four and a half years in the role.