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Friess classmate donation of $100K nets Head Start a clothing nook, elevator
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Classmates of the late Foster Friess continue to spread his charity throughout the Rice Lake community, and Peggy Weber is no different. As she departs from her job as cook at CESA #11 Head Start, she is leaving behind a nook filled with free clothes for the kids, a tire swing, a new bike path — and an elevator.

Weber, who graduated from Rice Lake High School with Friess in 1958, received $100,000 from the well-known businessman and philanthropist to donate to a charity of her choice, and Head Start, which occupies a building on Orchard Beach Lane, is the lucky beneficiary.

The Rice Lake Head Start child development program serves about 70 children from ages 3 to 5 and about 25 pregnant women or parenting families with children ages birth to 3 via weekly home visits, said Cindy Cross, director of the Rice Lake Center.

The federally funded program serves families at or below poverty level and besides furnishing educational opportunities, provides health, dental, vision screening and three meals a day, all for free.

Head Start also partners with the schools on a 4-year-old kindergarten program, hiring teachers licensed by the state Department of Public Instruction.

“We do just a little bit of everything,” Cross said.

But more help is always needed and that’s where Weber’s contribution to Head Start will make a difference.

Weber, who recently retired from Head Start, knows full well the rigors of delivering meals to hungry children in their classrooms, where they eat family style, “passing the bowl and having conversations,” as Cross explained.

Because the kitchen is located in the basement, that means a lot of stair climbing for staff and so Weber wanted part of the $100,000 she donated to go toward the installation of an elevator.

Although the elevator is a big-ticket item and will save wear and tear on feet, knees and backs, Weber seemed most proud of a downstairs nook Head Start staff dubbed Peggy’s Closet.

Weber’s children helped to plan, build and install the shelves and racks in Peggy’s Closet, which is now filled with warm outer wear, underwear, socks, snow suits, boots, sweats and other items of clothes.

The idea for creating Peggy’s Closet came from staff who all too often saw their students wearing clothes that were woefully inadequate, especially in winter. A lot of the time teachers were buying the children clothes out of their own pockets, Cross said.

But with the addition of Peggy’s Closet to Head Start, that’s no longer necessary to keep kids properly attired if their parents can’t afford to.

“Now if they are need they can go to this closet,” Weber said.

Part of the donation also will go toward a tire swing in Foster Friess’ name in the playground and a new bike trail to replace the current uneven path.

Although Weber won’t be around the building full-time anymore, she does intend to substitute when needed and will see how Friess’ generosity benefits small children on the local level. And she will be reminded of how his charitable work left the world a better place.

“Foster was just an asset to the world,” Weber said. “Not just to Rice Lake, but to the world.”

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Protesters line Rice Lake street to decry vaccination mandates
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About 60 enthusiastic protesters line the Main Street Bridge at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday in downtown Rice Lake to demonstrate against mandating vaccinations. Several cars honked in approval.

Rice Lake joined the growing list of cities in Wisconsin witnessing protests against COVID-19 vaccination mandates Thursday.

About 60 hooting and hollering protesters of all ages lined both sides of the Main Street bridge at around 6:15 p.m. to wave signs and American flags at a number of honking cars signaling approval. Later, a smaller group that had moved south down Main Street to the intersection of Allen Street also were met with honks all around from passing vehicles.

Justine Bundgaard holds a “Freedom not Force” sign Thursday in downtown Rice Lake. She said the protests were about choice against vaccination mandates.

Justine Bundgaard heard about the protest through Facebook groups and enthusiastically shook a “Freedom Not Force” sign up for passing cars to see while she stood on the bridge.

“We’re here to let people know we stand for choice,” said Bundgaard, who is not a health care worker. “If your choice is to get a shot, that’s great. If your choice is not to, that’s your freedom — that’s your choice.

A protester dressed in scrubs who preferred not to be identified said it wasn’t right for health care providers to mandate vaccinations for their employees. The protesters stood for medical freedom, she said.

Another health care worker who did not want to be identified said if the employees are fired, patients will suffer and workers won’t be able to feed their families.

Some hospitals in Wisconsin started to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the emergence of the Delta variant drove up new cases throughout the state.

As a response earlier this month, health care workers in the state began holding protests, including one in Madison on Aug. 10 that drew several hundred people to the state Capitol.

Protesters against mandating COVID-19 vaccinations wave at cars at the intersection of Main and Allen streets in Rice Lake Thursday.

Robert Hendrick of Barronett, part of the group at the Allen Street intersection, said he wasn’t against the vaccine, but against an untested vaccine.

“We are not test subjects,” Hendrick said. “We’re losing our freedoms day by day, minute by minute.”

Woman leads deputy on high speed chase
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A 39-year-old woman from Minong has been charged with felony fleeing an officer after leading a Barron County Sheriff’s deputy on a high speed chase, later saying she wanted to do so “as she has never been in one and she thought it would be fun.”

Elizabeth A. Pulczynski was arrested Thursday and appeared in Barron County Circuit Court for a hearing on Monday. She has been released from jail on a $2,500 signature bond.

According to the criminal complaint:

Deputy Erik Sedani responded to a call from a town of Turtle Lake residence where a woman said Pulczynski had come to her house asking if she had any marijuana or methamphetamine.

The woman told Sedani that Pulczynski had left and believed her to be under the influence of drugs. Pulczynski’s vehicle then came down the driveway, and the deputy stopped in front of the pickup truck to contact the driver.

The vehicle drove around Sedani and his marked patrol car. He got into his vehicle and initiated his emergency lights in order to stop the Pulczynski.

The vehicle did not stop, and Sedani turned on the squad’s siren. He reported that the vehicle increased its speed on Eighth Avenue east of Fourth Street. The vehicle did not stop at the stop sign and continued west on Eighth Avenue, reaching speeds of 80 mph.

The pursuit continued for 4½ miles to the intersection of Polk Barron Street and Eighth Avenue.

Another deputy helped with the investigation and asked the defendant why she didn’t stop. She said she thought she was in trouble. Sedani asked the defendant why she drove around him in the driveway and took off, and she said, “she wanted a speed chase as she has never been in one and she thought it would be fun.”

When asked why she stopped when she did, the defendant said it was because she almost ran out of gas.

The defendant admitted to using marijuana that afternoon, and Sedan administered field sobriety tests. Pulczynski also was charge with operating while under the influence, first offense, which is a traffic forfeiture.

If convicted of felony fleeing an officer, Pulczynski faces a fine of up to $10,000, 3½ years in prison, or both.

Pulczynski next appears in Barron County Circuit Court for an adjourned initial appearance on Sept. 8.


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