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Hayward's historic Musky Fest celebrates legacy of 'The Big Fish'

The Hayward Lakes area's largest community-based annual celebration, the Musky Festival, takes place Friday through Sunday, June 21-23, with a variety of family-oriented events that include a fishing contest, live music, the crowning of a Musky queen, carnival, car show, arts and crafts vendors and a grand parade to culminate the celebration.

With a theme of "Meet Me at the Lake," the Musky Festival is presented by Adventure RV and Hayward Power Sports and is organized by the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce.

The festival has its roots in a celebration of a world-record 60-1/4-inch 67-1/2-pound muskellunge caught by outdoor writer Cal Johnson on a chub-finished Pike-O-Reno lure on July 24, 1949, on Moccasin Bar of Lac Courte Oreilles.

A party was held to celebrate the catch, with 7,000 people attending. That October, local bar owner Louis Spray topped that record, as he had promised, by catching a 69-pound 11-ounce 'lunge from the Chippewa Flowage.

The first true Musky Festival was held in 1950, promoted by a group of local resorters and businessmen, and drew

many more thousands of people.

The event has evolved in variety over the years, although the theme has remained the same. This writer can recall that when he first resided in Hayward in 1983, the festival included a pow wow and lumberjack contest on the American Legion Cabin lawn, the site today of the Veterans Community Center.

Likewise, the Hayward Lions fishing contest also has changed with the times. For years, fish entered in the contest were laid on ice at the Lions booth downtown for public viewing, including muskies, northerns, huge bass and walleyes, panfish and trout. Today's contest is strictly catch-and-release and includes a fish photo contest.

Some new aspects of this year's festival include a new site for Saturday's car show, located this year at the municipal lot on Dakota Avenue next to the Hayward fire station; and free evening entertainment Friday and Saturday at the main stage on Main Street.

The Stipes Carnival returns to the square-block lot on West Fifth Street owned by St. Joseph Catholic Church.

"We're really excited this year. We have over 120 craft vendors," said Brianna McKenzie, event and development director for the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce. "We have booths all the way down Third Street to Kansas Avenue this year."

The Hayward Chamber presents local musicians for daytime entertainment, including Sean and Ian Okamoto. The daytime entertainment is sponsored by Johnson Financial Group.

Larry's Drifters will perform in a new evening time slot from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, with the Musky Queen being crowned during intermission at 7 p.m.

On Saturday evening visitors can enjoy former American Idol contestant and Rice Lake native Steve Beguhn and his band starting at 8:30 p.m. Evening entertainment is sponsored by Don Johnson's Hayward Motors.

Sunday's grand parade (1 p.m.) will include approximately 40 different entities — some with multiple units, McKenzie said. The parade is sponsored by Hayward Community Credit Union. The always-popular Marty's Goldenaires drum and bugle corps is sponsored by Angler's Bar & Grill.

Visitors can enjoy a June Dairy Month breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sawyer County Fairgrounds, presented by the Sawyer County Farm Bureau.

At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, the Musky 5K/10K Run Walk presented by Hidden Bay Graphics and Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Water's Edge, will begin at the corner of Third and Main streets. Early registration is available online and at the Chamber office.

For a complete schedule of events, see pages 6-7C and page 12C.


County supervisors view second-courtroom study

Sawyer County Board members and department heads on June 12 got their first look at a feasibility study for adding a second large courtroom and court staff to the county courthouse, along with a potential new assembly room to replace the existing room.

The county contracted with Venture Architects of Milwaukee to perform the study. Venture interviewed county department heads and presented options to accommodate future county needs, including a second judicial branch.

The state Legislature is expected to decide by July 1 whether to fund a second judge for Sawyer County, which would be in place by 2021. The state would pay for the second judge, but the county will have to pay for support staff and office needs. The Legislature has approved a second assistant district attorney for the county.

Venture Architects principal John Cain told the

county's security and facilities committee that Venture used Supreme Court rules as guidelines. The recommended new room sizes would be similar to existing room sizes: a 1,630-square-foot courtroom, 290-square-foot judge's chamber and a 400-square-foot jury deliberation room — larger than the current 300-square-foot jury room.

New court staff would include a deputy clerk and court reporter. There would be additional attorney-client consultation rooms and space for a court security person or bailiff.

The new courtroom would be added to the northeast corner of the courthouse and would take up part of the existing parking lot adjacent to Kansas Avenue. Also, a vehicle sallyport would be constructed between the two courtrooms, allowing prisoners to be transported securely from the jail to court rather than being escorted on foot across Fifth Street.

Existing space would be converted for programming provided by the criminal justice coordinator, such as inmate diversion classes, multipurpose testing to include urine testing for drugs, a handicap bathroom, conference room, secure storage space and a waiting/seating area.

The current criminal justice coordinator, Diane McNamer, spends 40 percent of her time at the jail and 60 percent at the courthouse. A Venture staff member said her office is "inadequate in size" and does not provide privacy or space for any inmate programs. There is no toilet or sink for clients and they have to wait outside in the corridor.

The master plan includes a new secure entrance and waiting area/lobby for the public court, next to the parking lot off Kansas Avenue. A new assembly/county board meeting room would be constructed next to the secure entrance, (east of the courtrooms).

The existing office spaces for clerk of court and child support staff would not be expanded. However, the small courtroom could be expanded into two adjacent rooms that are vacant now. They could be used for a waiting area for persons using the court.

Venture also recommended a design allowing clerk of court staff to go to and from courtrooms without having to use a public hallway.

The district attorney's area would need space for a second assistant district attorney and legal secretary. Office sizes now are deemed "inadequate" by Venture staff.

Easy accessibility into the DA's offices "is a problem. Space is needed for victims to be protected from the public, for the defendant's family and the defendant," Cain said. "There is a need to maintain easy egress from the office in case of emergency."

Cain said a "three-way separation" is desired: the judge and staff would enter the courthouse one way, the public another way, and prisoners a third way. In some respects, that is the case now with the present courtroom, he said. The master plan calls for a sallyport/garage between the two large courtrooms.

Another option would be to move the veterans service office into the courthouse.

"The way the present courthouse is laid out is awkward," Cain said.

Venture representatives did not present the potential costs of the courthouse expansion concept at their meetings with county officials last week. They said they will present estimates at the next meeting. They also presented diagrams of justice facilities in Ashland, Barron and Polk counties for comparison.

Cain said many counties including Sawyer have jails that are not in the same building as the courts. Other counties such as Barron have consolidated services into a justice center.

Cain also said:

• The assembly room is too small for many public meetings and often it results in a lot of noise in the narrow hallway outside the room;

• The Health and Human Services Department needs additional space;

• The county forestry department could move out of the courthouse to make room for other departments;

• There is no secure parking for the judge and staff;

• The current number of parking spots around the courthouse is not a problem. There is a parking lot and on-street parking;

• There are few staff break rooms.


School board hires new football coach
Chris Berghammer has coached in Cumberland, Clayton

The Hayward School Board voted Monday to hire Chris Berghammer as the new Hayward-LCO Hurricanes head football coach.

Berghammer also has been hired as a fifth grade teacher by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School Board, starting this fall.

Berghammer has served as an assistant coach for the Cumberland Beavers football team the past two years. Prior to that, he served as head coach for the Clayton Bears football team for 13 years.

A native of Clayton, Berghammer attended college at Silver Lake and at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

"Chris has the knowledge of the game of football and has willingness to help student athletes off the field as well," said Hayward athletic director and former football coach Billy O'Brien.

The Heart O' North Football Conference this fall will have 10 teams, including Cameron and St. Croix Falls for the first time. Practices begin Aug. 6 and the first games are Aug. 23.

In other actions Monday, the board accepted a check for $42,660 from Ben Popp representing the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) in appreciation for the Birkie's use of the high school facilities during Birkebeiner Week this past February. Popp noted that since 2016, the ABSF has donated $182,000 to the school district.

Hayward Center for Individualized Learning (HACIL) executive director Crystal Hexum presented the charter school's annual report to the board. HACIL is unique in that it is not only virtual, but students come to the facility in the Retreat Home Furniture building two days a week for enrichment classes, Hexum said.

This past year HACIL had 70 students residing in the Hayward school district and 154 students coming from outside the district. There were 130 students in the enrichment classes, coming from as far as Superior and Menomonie.

Hexum added that HACIL has more than 11 students on its waiting list to enroll.

There are 30 virtual charter schools in Wisconsin but Hexum said HACIL is unique in its enrichment classes and tailored curriculum.

Supt. Craig Olson noted that the school district offices have moved to the middle school until further notice due to asbestos remediation and HVAC work at the intermediate school.

The "Canes Camp" summer school is going very well for its three-week session, with 198 kids enrolled, Olson said. "The kids are having an absolute ball."

Olson noted that All Needs Repairs and Thomas Flavin recently hosted a pancake breakfast fundraiser for the intermediate school outdoor classroom and raised $522.

Other action

In other action Monday, the board:

• Accepted the resignations of special education paraprofessional Liane Coyne, assistant high school cross-country coach Teri Gedart, head girls golf coach Tali Johnson and occupational therapist Amanda Block.

• Approved the transfer of Shila Gillis from her current position as middle school English teacher to English teacher at the high school.

• Approved a technology integration specialist position for the elementary campus. "We made the commitment to provide one to one (technology) support for K-12," Olson said. Also the specialist will "lead the charge for digital citizenship" to fight cyber bullying, he said.

• Renewed the board's membership in the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) for annual dues of $5,549. Olson said WASB provides educational support, legal advice and professional development.

• Renewed the high school's and HACIL's membership in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) at no cost to the district.

• Approved the annual Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) report for students in grades K-3, presented by K-5 assistant principal Wade Reier. The program, previously known as the state grant supported SAGE program, caps class sizes at 18 students in those grades and focuses on mathematics and English language arts (ELA).

Reier said, "We're making nice smooth gains" in math achievement, and "huge gains" in second grade. But language arts "are a big concern." One initiative to improve that is bringing the 4K program into the primary school, he said.

Olson said it's not just a primary school situation, as "ELA is an issue K-12, but we are seeing great gains in math."

The full AGR report may be viewed on the school district's website under "Board Docs."


Meet the Grand Marshal, Musky Queen
Ray Moeller known for years of service to community

A Hayward native, born and raised here and now living on Lake Hayward, is this year's Grand Marshal of the annual Musky Festival.

Ray Moeller, 85, has been a driving force in the enrichment, benefit and progress of Hayward for many years, though he is not one to talk about it. He is the son of Johanna and Peter Moeller of Hayward, where he was a contractor and she a homemaker. They raised three sons; Ray is the only surviving son.

After high school graduation here in Hayward, Ray joined the Air Force in 1952, serving as a ground radio operator on Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean, 850 miles southwest of Hawaii. He later crosstrained with the Air Force statistical services, where he learned how to wire control panels, a job, he said, that led to a 32-year career with U.S. Steel Corporation beginning in Duluth at the Data Processing Center of Oliver Mining Company of U.S. Steel from 1959 to 1969 and ending as a supervisor in personnel before his retirement in 1989.

Ray and his wife Marty then returned to Hayward, where he sold real estate before retiring again four years later.

Then his real job started: volunteering.

Ray said both he and Marty wanted to get involved in the Hayward community. He started by joining the board for the Lake Association for Grindstone Lake, where they built their home, holding various positions on that board. They also legally adopted a granddaughter, Katie, raising her in Hayward, where she still resides and is a mother herself.

One of Ray's key leadership positions has been with the Hayward Lions Club. He joined in 1990 and hasn't missed a beat — or an event for an organization that, on average, raises an estimated $40,000 a year and turns it all back into the community.

Ray volunteers for all its events, including the Pre Birkie, which he has worked since its beginnings in 1990; the Memorial Day Lions Pancake Breakfast; the Musky Fest; the Bike Rodeo for the Town of Hayward; Horse Spirit; Fat Tire Race; the American Birkebeiner; Lumberjack World Championship; and the Deer Hide Project, which collects deer hides to sell to fur buyers and donates the proceeds to the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt, Wisconsin.

The construction and site of the new Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library has been largely steered and piloted by Moeller, who is quick to credit others. He joined the library board in 1995 and has been off and on that board ever since, adhering to its bylaws requiring term limits.

"I joined and just wanted to be on the board, not an officer, but I was asked to be vice president, then took over as treasurer when our treasurer was killed in a car accident; and then I was president of the Hayward Library Foundation," Ray said.

After the library received a major donation from the estate of a local couple, the library board thought they should remodel the Carnegie Library on Main Street, Ray said. They thought they could put an addition on and make it accessible, including installing an elevator, but soon realized those costs would be close to what it would take to build a new library.

"We formed a steering committee from the community that did a feasibility study and they concluded it made more sense to build a new structure," Ray explained.

It was Ray who found the land that is now home to the library that began construction in 2005 and opened to the public in May 2007

"I drove out there and looked at that little pond and thought this would be a great place for the library," said Ray, adding that the price for the 16-acre parcel was $375,000 but they got it for $300,000 after the owner said he would donate the $75,000 by reducing the price.

Then 911 happened in September 2001 and the board thought it would bring an immediate halt to a building campaign. But after receiving advice from a fundraising group to forge ahead, that's exactly what they did, and with the help of many community leaders and businesses members, along with personal donations from the community, the new library was built.

In 2013 Ray and Marty moved off Grindstone Lake and onto Lake Hayward, where he is now on the board of that association.

He was also on the Adult Committee for the Boy Scouts for a few years.

When asked if he was surprised to be named Musky Fest's Grand Marshal, Ray said, "I never expected it. I'm kinda riding off into the sunset now. If they had done this back when I was doing some of the other things ...

"One of the reasons you do this (volunteering) is because of the people you meet. I was in personnel work. I loved it. I love people. If you didn't volunteer you'd miss so much. It's what it's all about," said the 2019 Grand Marshal, Ray Moeller.


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