A lot can happen in 365 days, and 2019 was no exception for Waterloo, Marshall and the surrounding towns. There were insights to the future for the communities through groundbreakings and changes of leadership; additionally, there were events that typically don’t impact the peaceful rural municipalities.
Here is a look at some of the major stories from 2019.
Marshall man found guilty of murder
Daniel L. Lieske, 60, of Marshall was found guilty of first-degree homicide in the death of Sun Prairie resident Jesse Faber.
The Marshall man claimed he shot Faber in self-defense during a Jan. 16, 2018 fight at his Medina home. One year after the Sun Prairie man’s death, a jury decided Lieske was guilty of the crime following two days of deliberation. He was sentenced in April to life in prison with parole possible after 20 years.
Lieske pleaded guilty at a Jan. 2 hearing in Dane County Circuit Court of hiding Faber’s body in a Rio storage shed.
Miechelle Goss, who helped move Faber’s body, was sentenced to 10 months in jail and ordered to spend a week in jail each year to coincide with the victim’s birthday and death.
Ground broken for new gym
Construction is underway for renovations at Waterloo High School, where a new gym and expanded commons are being built. The project was approved through a 2018 referendum. The gym will include three basketball courts and bleacher seating for more than 2,000.
The expanded community fitness center is expected to open soon and features new exercise equipment comparable to a commercial gym.
The guaranteed maximum price for the gym project was set at $16,633,000 in May but the project has decreased by approximately $219,000 since that time.
In addition to the work at the high school, renovations were set for the elementary school including the construction of a new restroom; the entire school building will also receive HVAC upgrades.
Popular musician hosts concert at Marshall farm
People flocked to the Statz Bros. Farm to see a performance by Luke Bryan as part of his annual Farm Tour. It didn’t take long for tickets to the Sept. 26 show to sell out.
The Statz Farm contributes to the state’s dairy industry by producing 350,000 pounds of milk per day and 105 million pounds per month. The operation has a total of roughly 4,300 Holstein and Jersey cows, which get milked three times each day.
The Statz’ received a check during the concert as compensation for the use of the family’s farmland.
City elects first female mayor
Two Waterloo City Council alders and a former alder sought the office of mayor. Jeni Quimby and Angie Stinnett were on the spring ballot, along with write in candidate, Dale van Holten, facing off for the top office in Waterloo. Quimby won the election with more than 400 votes. She succeeds Robert Thompson who had served in the position since 2007.
Quimby said her main focus as mayor will be team work between all city departments and outside agencies.
In September, she, along with Waterloo Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen, signed a letter asking state-level elected officials to take action against incidents of mass violence. Quimby decided to support the letter because it supports training and assistance to first responders.
Body of Cottage Grove man found in village
It was determined no foul play was involved in the death of a Cottage Grove man whose body was found Jan. 17, 2019 in a cornfield behind the 300 block of Fir Lane. Kurt Meyer had been reported missing seven days earlier.
The Marshall Police Department responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle at 9 a.m. on the day Meyer’s body was discovered. The officers were notified of a deceased subject while investigating the vehicle.
Though initially investigated as a homicide, it was determined Meyer died of natural causes.
Fire department leadership turned over
After two stints as chief of the Waterloo Fire Department, Vern Butzine resigned from the position. But, the new leader of the department was a familiar face; Wes Benisch has been with the department for 35 years and served as assistant chief for 15 years. He was appointed to the position Feb. 7.
The former chief first joined the department in 1980 and worked his way through the ranks. Butzine is still a member of the city’s fire department in the capacity of public information officer.
Like his predecessor, Benisch has held every officer’s position in the department.
Ag center moves forward
After nearly three years of fundraising, the E. Peck Animal Agriculture Learning Center moved forward with a late summer groundbreaking. Located behind Marshall High School, the facility will be used to give students – especially those taking agriculture classes, exposure to live animals.
According to Marshall agri-science teacher and FFA advisor Paula Bakken, many of her students have read about animals but never interacted with them.
The total cost of the project is $78,342; students had raised $61,484 of the cost and in September the project received a $25,000 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant. The Marshall School Board voted in the spring to have the district cover the difference with the understanding that the borrowed funds will be paid back.
Couple faces drug charges
Waterloo residents Tony Watters and Tanya Barker were charged with drug crimes in October, stemming from incidents in March, April and May. The Jefferson County Drug Task Force along with the Waterloo Police Department conducted a search at 120 W. Madison St. Watters was arrested with more than 12 grams of methamphetamine in his possession. Evidence found in Watters’ home included drug paraphernalia, a digital scale with drug residue, a glass pipe and a BB gun in a Glock 19 case with powder residue.
Barker and Watters face charges of maintaining a drug trafficking place, possession of and intent to deliver methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Village begins farmers’ market in the park
Fresh produce and crafts were sold in Marshall Firemen’s Park after the village board OK’d a farmers’ market in mid-February. The Sunday market began May 26 and was expected to conclude Sept. 1. However, due to the popularity of the weekly event, it continued through Sept. 29.
Trustee Scott Michalek spearheaded the effort, saying he expected the first year to have 10 vendors and expand to 20 vendors by the third year. The market was slated for Sunday so it would not compete with the Saturday Dane County Farmers’ Market.
ATVs/UTVs allowed on city streets, property
People who drive ATVs and UTVs were given more access in Waterloo after the council agreed Feb. 21 to an ordinance allowing the operation of the vehicles on city streets and city-owned property.
While Alder Tim Thomas voted against the recreated ordinance, the other council members voted in favor. Several stated allowing ATVs and UTVs on the roads could help boost the city’s economy and boost Waterloo’s image.
Marshall and the Town of Medina also discussed the possibility of allowing the vehicles on their roads, but no decisions have been made. The towns of Portland and Waterloo already allow UTVs and ATVs to travel on town roads.
Lazers sold to Go Riteway
After 52 years, Marshall’s bus service is no longer operated by a member of the Lazers family. Steve Lazers, whose dad Bob Lazers started the transportation company in 1967, decided to retire and sold the company to Go Riteway Transportation.
Steve Lazers took over the company in 1995 where he served in numerous capacities such as purchasing buses, pricing out rentals, dispatching, mechanic and drive. Lazers had started working full-time for the company in the late 1980s.
He is thankful for all of the community support for the business.
Lange honored as EMT of the year
Tina Lange, a member of the Waterloo EMS, was recognized by the Wisconsin EMS Association as EMT of the Year. Lange joined the Waterloo Fire Department in 1995 and two years later became an EMT.
In her more than 20 years with the department, she has served as a CPR training instructor and EMS training officer. Lange was instrumental in making the fire department an American Heart Association training center for basic life support.
The EMT of the year said her family, including her parents Vern and Raynelle Butzine, and brothers, Chad and Jason Butzine have been very supportive of her work with the department.
Land purchased for Medina salt shed
More than 30-acres on Missouri Road in the Town of Medina was purchased as the site of a new salt shed. Cracks had formed in the cinder-block walls of the salt shed located on Highway 19 and the walls bow out more than an inch.
The town paid $285,000 for the property, which included three silos, several barns and a dilapidated home. It was determined a few of the existing buildings could be used to house salt. The town board chose to convert a hay storage shed into the new salt shed.
Former supper club re-opens as event center
After being vacant for more than five years, the former Pine Knoll Supper Club in the Town of Waterloo was re-opened as Rancho los Girasoles. Owner Juan Perez, who also owns La Rosita grocery store and La Rosita buffet in Monona, had been looking for a location to create an entertainment/events venue.
Numerous renovations and repairs were necessary to prepare Rancho los Girasoles to open. The kitchen remodel alone included upgrades to industrial-sized stoves and coolers and a new refrigeration system was installed. Recently, the venue asked the town board to consider allowing it to extend its hours of operation.