Birchwood was another landing spot Saturday for American patriot Dana Bowman, a double amputee determined to inspire all to overcome their setbacks.
With artificial legs below the knee, Bowman jumped out of a helicopter at 5,000 feet and landed squarely on target in a field near Trinity Lutheran Church in Birchwood with a 200-foot flag trailing behind him.
After landing, he said, "I'm so proud to be an American. I'm so proud to be here and jump for this pastor and his church and bring the community together."
More than 100 people gathered to witness the jump, take hold of the massive flag and sing "God Bless the USA."
They raised $236 for Bowman's charity, HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation, by buying playing cards and setting them in the landing area. Where Bowman landed was the winning card, and that person won half the pot.
Bowman lost his legs in a parachuting accident in 1994 while a member of the U.S. Army's elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. During a training exercise, he collided with teammate Sgt. Jose Aguillon in mid-air at high speed. Aguillon was killed instantly, and Bowman's legs were severed at the knees. Bowman's
parachute opened on impact, and he was rushed to a hospital, where doctors were able to stop his bleeding.
Nine months later, Bowman became the first double amputee to re-enlist in the United States Army. After reenlistment, he became the U.S. Parachute Team's lead speaker and recruiting commander.
He strives to show physically challenged people can still work and excel in today's society and military. Bowman said he emphasizes that the words amputee and uselessness are not synonymous.
Bowman has given more than 400 speeches in the last few years and has been featured in numerous major magazines and television programs.
The Rusk Riders ATV Club and Trinity Lutheran organized Bowman's appearance.
HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation is dedicated to helping wounded veterans. For more information, visit haloforfreedom.org.
Firefighters and police responded to flames at the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Barron at around 7:30 a.m. Monday.
Barron resident Ronald Lundequam said he had heard about a mill fire on his police scanner and looked out the window of his home to see green tinted smoke coming from Jennie-O.
Firefighters used ladder trucks to supply constant streams of water to the green metal structure the flames were coming from. Two exhaust stacks coming from the structure appeared damaged.
The fire appeared to be under control by 8:45 a.m.
By 8:55 a.m. firefighters were using a saw to cut a square hole into the green metal structure to check for fire extension.
The scene was clear by 1:15 p.m., according to the Barron County Sheriff Department's Facebook page.
Barron-Maple Fire Chief Mike Romsos called the day a gamut of everything a firefighter trains for.
Romsos commended every department that responded and said everything went well and there were no firefighter injuries.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Jennie-O Turkey Store's parent company Hormel Foods issued the following statement to The Chronotype:
"We would like to thank the first responders who worked diligently to save the historic mill. We are thankful that there weren't any team members injured and that the fire is now out. Our hope is that the mill can be saved as it's been an important part of this community for many years. We are not sure what caused the fire and will be working with the local fire authorities on an investigation as soon as it is safe to do so."
Firefighters from Barron-Maple Grove, Rice Lake, Cumberland, Chetek and New Auburn responded to the scene. The Barron Police Department, Barron County Sheriff's Department and Mayo EMS were also on scene.
Hundreds gathered Saturday to celebrate Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary and an enduring love of nature it inspires.
It was a special occasion, as the new Richard Grand Recreation Hall was dedicated, with special guest Marcia Grand.
Marcia said of her late husband, "Richard always felt that it is our duty as people to protect and help those less fortunate than us. He was not only talking about human beings, he's talking about plants and animals. Things become vulnerable, whether a tree or a butterfly, and it's our job to help them, and that's what we have to do, and Hunt Hill teaches that."
The Grands visited the camp only once in 1982, but the experience left such an impression that they remained major supporters through the years.
Richard Grand was a leading figure in wrongful death and injury lawsuits, pushing payment for victims in the millions. Since graduating from the University of Arizona's law school in 1958, Grand won his clients a settlement or verdict of more than $1 million apiece in more than 100 cases, accord ing to his obituary. He died in San Francisco in 2013 of natural causes.
Marcia said that in 1982, after a series of high-stress, high-profile cases, Richard was feeling burned out and needed to get away.
Ardent Audubon Society supporters, the Grands intended to go to a camp in Maine, but
changed the destination to Hunt Hill at the suggestion of a friend.
Marcia said they kept a low-profile during the visit and relished taking part in canoe building and other camp activities.
"I feel like I've never really left," she said. "The spirit that first brought us here and kept us involved is still here. That spirit is a palpable thing. You can feel it when you walk around the grounds and talk to people."
Former director Storme Nelson spoke of the Grands' longtime support, from buying a new lawn tractor for the camp to purchasing more acreage for the sanctuary.
Nelson and many other speakers became emotional in expressing their appreciation for Hunt Hill and its mission.
"The mission we seek is intensely local," said Friends of Hunt Hill president Bill Stewart. "We seek to provide environmental education, for children especially, but also adults and families— anyone who wants to gain an appreciation for nature just as it is right here."
He added, "It's a beautiful spot, but I think it's overlooked. It's not the mountains or the sea shore—it's a bog. But it's a wonderful spot, and we appreciate our friends."
Wisconsin Sen. Janet Bewley said, "There's no skimping the surface. It's as if Hunt Hill takes you over and you become part of it in an organic way. And I think that is the nature of your success."
"There are so many things that this organization does and you do it in such a beautiful and unique and generous way," said Bewley. "You should be very excited and very proud not only for what you do for Hunt Hill, but what Hunt Hill does for others of all ages."
Besides the recreation hall, the Grand donation has also went toward an improved access road, paved path and new maintenance shed.
Hunt Hill director Nikki Janisin also recognized local residents Dave and Carolyn Cleveland for their $1 million contribution, which was matched dollar for dollar by 750 more donors to provide an operating endowment for the sanctuary.
Janisin's challenge to the audience to raise their hands if they had either purchased a membership, volunteered or attended a program, showed that Hunt Hill has had widespread support.
She said the next year will be spent evaluating what limitations are still present at Hunt Hill, and then in 2020 its strategic plan will be updated.
Saturday's celebration included numerous family-friendly activities, including wildlife demos, bounce houses, face painting, games and more.
Hunt Hill is open to the public year-round during daylight hours. The sanctuary is located at N2384 Hunt Hill Road, Sarona.