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Twelve Strays of Christmas seeking open hearts, homes
  • Updated

The volunteers at the Community Cat Rescue and Adoption Center at 23 E. Bracklin St., Rice Lake, are hoping for “furr-ever” homes during its 12 Strays of Christmas promotion that began on the opening weekend of the deer hunt season at Cedar Mall.

Their booth, just outside the Second Chance Resale store and clustered among many vendor booths, featured photos of 12 stray cats on a poster board, paw-shaped stockings, baked goods, collectibles and a variety of items donated by center volunteers and supporters.

Rescue and Adoption Center volunteer Diane Buxton remarked, “Connie Swant, who was in charge of the sale at the mall, came up with the 12 Strays of Christmas and is very clever. It’s too soon to tell how many adoptions may result from the event. We were pleased with the result of the sale. Every dollar counts, and it all goes to our kitties. We offered half off to children who were buying presents for their immediate family.”

Swant explained the how 12 featured strays were chosen.

“We chose the cats that were there the longest,” she said. “It was time for them to find their furr-ever homes, so I made the board. I think two were adopted so far.”

She added, “We had a great weekend, worked hard, but had a blast. I’m so proud to be working with such a great group of volunteers. Helping each other, isn’t that what it’s all about?”

Buxton said Swant did not tell the whole story. “This woman is generous; she gave away 10 door prizes at our booth, most items were handmade by her, plus gave discounts on items to seniors and children who shopped our booth during the three-day sale. A lot of things we didn’t sell were donated to Here to the Rescue — an organization that rescues dogs and cats — and Second Chance Resale.”

Seeking open hearts and homes

“We have to make room at our center to be able to take in more kitties from the cold,” Buxton said. “We’re offering a Thanksgiving/Christmas special that will run from Nov. 27 through Dec. 8 on the following: cats over one year, $25; kittens under one year, $50. Both are suggested donations. All cats and kittens are neutered or spayed and up-to-date on their shots.”

She said adoptions are down this year — at 225 so far in 2021 compared to 307 in 2020 —so she hopes this extra end-of-the-year effort to find permanent homes for many of the center’s current residents.

“The two that have been at the Adoption Center the longest are:

• Cecil, an adult male, 3 years old, at center for two years, nine months, and;

• Nakita Rose, an adult female, 7 years old, at the center for 2½ years.

Buxton described Cecil as “a big, lovable cat who had all his teeth pulled, with the exception of his canines and front teeth, but does fine with pate food.”

She called Nakita Rose “large and very friendly, who has chosen to live in the kitchen and as a result gets a lot of attention and extra food.”

The public is invited to shop for a furry friend to add to their hearts and homes on Mondays from 3-6 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m.

For more information, or to make an appointment outside of regular hours, call Kari Harrison, president, at 715-271-3581.

Buxton reminds those seeking charitable causes for their year-end giving that the Community Cat Rescue and Adoption Center is a 501(3)c that is dependent on donations to keep its doors open.

Rice Lake man charged with fleeing officer
  • Updated

A Rice Lake man has been charged with felony fleeing an officer after he fled a Cumberland officer at high speeds and drove his vehicle into a lake, according to the police.

Ruben Juarez Jr., 18, was charged with the felony as well as operating while intoxicated, first offense, on Monday in Barron County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint:

Cumberland police Officer Melissa Damrell responded to a complaint of an intoxicated person at a gas station at approximately 3:35 a.m. on Nov. 24. He was parked at the pumps and offering shots of alcohol to other patrons.

Damrell identified the subject as Juarez and reported earlier that night a friend had requested a welfare check on him as he had been drinking and was possibly suicidal.

Damrell saw a case of Twisted Tea on the passenger floorboard and asked Juarez if he had been drinking, and he said no. She said she smelled the odor of intoxicants coming from the vehicle, and the defendant’s eyes were glassy and red.

Juarez told Damrell he would not go to jail because he would go to prison, and that he would wrap his car around a tree or drive into the lake before that happened.

As Deputy Chris Welker of the Barron County Sheriff’s Department approached the station, Damrell radioed to park behind Juarez’s vehicle, but as soon as she touched her radio, Juarez left the station at a high rate of speed.

Juarez drove across Elm Street without regard to traffic, went into the hospital driveway into the parking lot, crossed the grass behind the church and turned onto Eighth Avenue. He did not stop at a stop sign, turned right on Elm Street, veered into the opposite lane intentionally hitting the curb and lodged his vehicle into Library Lake. He had nearly missed two trees and an electric pole during the pursuit on Elm, Damrell reported, and reached speeds of approximately 70 mph.

Most of the front of the vehicle was submerged. Juarez said he wanted the officers to shoot him but eventually admitted he had no gun and showed his hands.

After a half hour, Barron County Chris Fitzgerald, who arrived on the scene along with a number of other officers, persuaded Juarez to try to get to shore. The defendant sunk to just below his collarbone before returning to the vehicle because the water was too deep. Fitzgerald persuaded him to let the Fire Department assist.

A preliminary breath test on Juarez yielded a result of 0.13.

If convicted of attempting to flee an officer, Juarez faces a fine up to $10,000, imprisonment up to 3½ years, or both.

He signed a $5,000 signature bond and will appear in court on Dec. 15 for an adjourned initial appearance.

Free COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic set for Dec. 15 in Barron County
  • Updated

Barron County Public Health will be offering a free COVID-19 vaccine booster dose clinic on Dec. 15 from 1-6 p.m. and reported that 218 new cases were recorded over the previous week Monday’s report.

No appointment is needed for the booster clinic, and people ages 18 and older are welcome.

The walk-in clinic will be held at the Barron County Government Center at 335 East Monroe Ave., Barron. Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson will be available. Participants should bring their CDC vaccination card; Public Health staff can help people obtain a new one if the original is lost.

Curbside service is available for people who have difficulty with mobility or walking into the clinic. Park near the doors and call 715-418-1748, and a nurse will come out to the vehicle.

Everyone ages 18 and older can get now get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if it’s been at least six months since the last dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or at least two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

People can choose which vaccine to get as a booster dose, no matter which vaccine was administered first. Mixing brands is OK.

Public Health also offers walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone 12 years and older and booster doses for people 18 years and older on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and from 1-4 p.m. For children ages 5 to 11, schedule a vaccine appointment by visiting

While vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent severe COVID-19, everyone should continue to practice good public health behavior. This means wearing a mask indoors, avoiding large gatherings, staying home when you feel sick, and getting tested if you have symptoms or after a close contact.

The number of new cases from week to week are gradually declining again in Barron County. Public Health reported that 23,478 residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine, representing 52% of the population.

To find a vaccine site visit For more information on booster doses, visit


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