It wasn't just another day at the beach last Wednesday for 18-year-old Maria Acosta, who kept her wits about her while rushing into the waters of Hayward City Beach to save a little boy, drifting away from shore on a floatable water mattress at 3 p.m.
Acosta, who was born and has lived in Hayward her entire life, is a student at Bemidji State University. She grew up on the LCO reservation and attended LCO School from K-12, graduating in June 2018.
She was at the Hayward Beach on Wednesday, June 26, with her 6-year-old brother, Anthony Little Wolf. She had just been in the water swimming and was sitting on her beach towel drying off at about 3 p.m.
"I knew the little boy was on a floatie. His mom was telling him not to go out, saying, 'You're gonna float out too far,'" Acosta said.
Moments later the little boy started screaming, "Mom, mom, help me," Acosta said, adding he was floating away from the beach area, to the right, where there's a dropoff in the water and lots of weeds.
The boy's mom had two other children with her — a baby and a little girl.
"I looked, trying to assess the situation," she said. "His mother was in the water up to her calves but she was fully dressed, so I ran into the water and swam to his floatie."
"I couldn't touch the bottom (of the lake) once I got to him. I'm not a very good swimmer, but I got behind the floatie and was pushing it," she said.
The boy — approximately 6 years old, Acosta estimated — was very frightened, and she talked to him while trying to push him back to shore.
"I kept telling him, 'You're gonna be OK.' He was sitting up trying to help me paddle. He said, 'What if a snapper bites me?' I said, 'No, he won't bite you. I'll let him bite me,'" Acosta said.
They reached the shore and Acosta helped him off and walked him to his mom, who was still standing in the water. His mother thanked Acosta and then said to her son, "What do you say?"
The little boy said, "Thank you for saving my life," and then he gave Acosta a hug, she said, adding that the mom
then packed up and left with her children. Acosta never got their names. She then returned to her beach towel and her little brother.
"My thighs started to cramp up and this very nice couple, who saw the whole thing, came over and gave me water," she said.
That couple was Bruce and Jo Ellyn Ackley from Colorado Springs, Colorado, who were visiting relatives here in Hay ward. Both Bruce and Jo Ellyn originally are from Hayward and both have been lifeguards.
Bruce was the eyewitness who stopped into the Record on Thursday and related the story of what they had witnessed at the Hayward City Beach. He said he wanted to try to give Maria credit for what she did.
"It was impressive, the fact that she went into action," Ackley said. "She just took off running past about 20 people. The boy was screaming frantically at the top of his lungs. I was going to go out myself, having been a former lifeguard, but she was in that water fast," Bruce said, adding he thought the boy was about 200 feet out in the water by the time Maria got to him.
Bruce and his wife are convinced Maria saved the little boy's life, and they reported the incident later to several national park rangers.
Acosta said, "I felt proud of myself but I hope anyone would do it as well."
The Cable-Hayward Area Arts Council (CHARAC), Seeley Lions Club, Sawmill Saloon and Mooselips Java Joint will host the 20th annual Namekagon Art & Music Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 6, on the Mooselips Festival Grounds in Seeley.
This summer family festival invites all ages to spend the day enjoying music and the arts at no charge. There
will be 28 vendors at the festival — jewelers, potters, woodworkers/carvers, furniture makers, toolmakers and purveyors of lotions, soaps and potions. There are metal sculptures, photography, fine art, letter art, wearable art, leatherworks and even authors selling their autographed books in the Author's Tent.
The music will be nonstop, beginning at 1011:15 a.m. with Sean and Ian Okamoto singing the hits. From 11:30 a.m-1 p.m., the Ross William Perry Band will take to the main stage with contemporary music, and from 2-5 p.m. The Tinglers will perform rockabilly and good old rock 'n roll.
A unique and popular element of the festival, The Mooselips Poetry Jam, begins at noon with three categories of competition: Adult, Juvenile and Songwriter. The top three poets in each category will win a prize, with $50 awarded to the winner of the adult category.
Those wishing to participate should register inside the Mooselips Java Joint and pick up their assigned words before noon. All writing must be done on site.
Participants will have one hour to craft a poem of any style or length. The only rule is that the poem must include the three assigned words.
At 1 p.m. the read-off begins in the Freight Station Theater. Three judges score the poems on quality and use of the three words, performance and audience response.
Category winners will be given an opportunity to read their winning poems on the Main Stage after the read-off.
Children and adults alike enjoy the CHARAC art tents. Children will have an opportunity to express themselves by painting rocks, which they can take home.
Adults can paint a wine glass or tie-dye a T-shirt (these are fee-based activities).
Food and beverages are available, with the Seeley Lions Club offering delicious food. A beverage garden on the grounds will satisfy thirsts and put festival-goers close to the music.
For more information about the Poetry Jam, contact Kristine Lendved at email@example.com or (715) 798-4547.
She called it a "polar bear free" seminar on climate change.
Cathy Techtmann, Environmental Outreach State Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Extension Institute for Community Development from Iron County, said her talk on climate change would not discuss how a warming earth is impacting polar bears.
"Not because polar bears are not being affected by climate change," she said. "They are, but they are out of sight and out of mind for many of us."
Techtmann gave her presentation at the 21st annual Northwest Wisconsin Lakes Conference on June 21 at Hayward Middle School. It was titled "Do Culture and Science Agree that Climate Change is Affecting What We Value in Our Lakes –What can We do?"
Her focus was on "placed-based evidence" from the state and local perspective, premised on the belief that climate change is occurring and is revealed locally by extreme storm events, decreasing winter ice cover, poor fall wild rice harvests, "unprecedented" blue-green algae blooms, animal and plant species making appearances on the landscape earlier than decades ago and a growing season that has added an additional five to 20 days.
She cautioned against reading short-term weather trends as evidence for or against climate change and advocated for using longer models of data and local knowledge for creating a baseline for comparison.
Using quantitative data, she cited temperature data from 1950 to 2006 that show Wisconsin has become 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer and northwest Wisconsin has become even warmer, by 2 to 2.5 degrees.
The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Impact (WICI), she said, is projecting warmer winters, more rain and more extreme rain events of 2 inches or more.
She presented WICI's "low emission" carbon dioxide (CO-2, the greenhouse gas) modeling for the middle of the century that projects Sawyer County would have a temperature similar to that of the Wisconsin Dells; the "high emission" model projects a temperature similar to that of Madison.
She acknowledged some people are confused about the concept of a warmer Wisconsin, given that recent winters have experienced weeks of brutal cold related to polar vortex winds that swept down from the Artic. That cold air mass chilled the state greatly in 2014 and to lesser extents in 2015, 2016, and 2018-19, but she noted that at the same
time Alaska experienced some of its warmest years on record. Overall, the earth became hotter as the carbon in the air rose from 398.6 parts per million (PPM) in 2014 to 411 PPM in 2018.
Techtmann asked the audience to consider how climate change has been impacting the region in 10 areas:
1. Wild rice, highly vulnerable to flood waters and intense rains, had several record-low harvests.
2. Walleye fishing, vulnerable to rising temps, is a species being replaced by bass, which thrives in warmer water.
3. The prevalence of carp which, like bass, are more adaptable to warmer water.
4. The increased prevalence of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in warmer water.
5. The disappearance of brook trout, which require cold water, from 95% of their current waters by mid-century.
6. Whitetail deer increasing in numbers as warmer winters allow more to survive.
7. Snowshoe hares decreasing in numbers as snowless winters make the animals more vulnerable to prey.
8. Loons declining in numbers as temperatures increase and black flies prey upon chicks and rising lake levels threaten loon nests.
9. Ice fishermen have fewer days on the ice as temperatures rise.
10 Snowmobiling impacted by fewer snowy days and more days of rain during the winter.
Even the forest cover, she said, is expected to change. The U.S. Forest Services has predicted several species will have a noticeable decline, including balsam fir, black spruce, butternut, chokecherry, mountain maple, paper birch, quaking aspen, white spruce and yellow birch.
"As the forest changes that will impact other species," she said.
What to do?
One adaptation to climate change, she said, is replacing culverts with larger units to accommodate for intense weather events.
Those living around lakes, she said, can shift to floating docks that adapt to rising water levels.
"I would suggest to you that good lake stewardship actually builds resiliency to climate change," she said.
She encouraged reducing impervious surfaces for the purpose of capturing and diverting the flow of intense storm waters to reduce flooding, erosion and sedimentation.
She said lake associations will need to become even more aggressive to stop AIS as even warmer water makes it more accommodating for invasive species.
She encouraged using shoreline buffers, a zone of plant life near the water, to create habitat for species and to leach out nutrients as water flows to the lake.
"Be prepared," she said. "Variability is going to be the new norm. We can expect more change coming and we need to be more prepared for it."
Techtmann showed a slide from the Yale University Climate Communication Research that revealed from 2013-18 the number of people "alarmed" or "concerned" over climate change had increased and those "dismissive" or "doubtful" had decreased, revealing more people are accepting the concept of climate change.
Based on a Yale University interactive map, she said, 68% of Sawyer County residents believe climate change is real, one percentage point greater than the state percentage. But she noted only 30% to 33% of people talk about climate change.
She said the challenge is to speak to others respectfully about climate change. She encouraged the use of local stories to help people understand its impact.