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On Dec. 6, Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service Director Jessi Willenbring was working a 24-hour shift. Working extra or long hours have become frequent for Willenbring as the eight-municipality ambulance service has seen dwindling volunteers over the last three years. "I do this job and I do a lot of time outside my salary time sort of volunteering my time here," Willenbring said. "I want to be able to volunteer at my church, I want to sell popcorn for my boy's boy scouts ... but you just run out of hours in your day."
A 26-year-old Bay City man was charged on Oct. 15 with alleged child abuse of a baby after taking care of the child by himself for the first time. Ryan Reynolds allegedly caused several bruises to a 10-month-old baby, including on the child's head, cheek and sternum. Reynolds told a Pierce County Sheriff's Office investigator and county human services worker that the child's injuries occurred in mundane situations where issues had arisen, like incorrectly taking the child out of his truck and incorrectly feeding the child with a bottle, according to a criminal complaint.
Prescott's Dallas Eggers remembers relying on a handful of spots for a drink of water when he was a kid playing in the mid-'60s. There was the baseball diamond, the cemetery and what was then known as Tourist Park, now Freedom Park, which was only three blocks from his house. "That was our playground," Eggers said, now president of the Prescott chapter of the Pierce County Historical Association.
Pierce County's "Shop With a Cop" program is back for its fourth year, set to give children in need a ride with law enforcement officials and a roughly $100 shopping spree at Shopko. The annual program is set for 4-8 p.m. at Ellsworth Elementary School. Fifty kids will be paired with an officer to do various activities at the school together, and later will ride with officers to go on a short shopping spree for Christmas gifts for family and themselves.
Pierce County jailers are getting protections back, a move that Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove hopes will help the county retain employees. At a Dec. 3 Pierce County Finance and Personnel Committee meeting, the committee brought protections back. The protected status gives collective bargaining rights and other benefits like an earlier retirement to nine of the county's 15 jailers, and any newly hired jailers in the future.
A 90-day trade battle truce between the United States and China has given some relief to Pierce County Information Services, the county government provider of technology services.
In October, Pierce County brought on its first-ever dementia care specialist, mirroring a state effort to combat a growing dementia problem. Elmwood area resident Amy Luther is one of 24 dementia care specialists throughout the state which covers 34 of Wisconsin's 72 counties; three of the specialists are based in tribal areas. The state-funded positions are part of an increased focus by the state to address a growing dementia issue.
A 65-year-old Hager City woman rolled her vehicle after coming into contact with a semitrailer truck on Nov. 27, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. Lynda Phillips was driving south near N3941 State Highway 35 in Diamond Bluff Township and John Bach, 72, Bay City, drove his semitrailer truck onto the highway. The two vehicles collided, Phillips' vehicle went into the ditch and rolled, according to a press release.
When Marilyn Graw owned the Hager City-based Harbor Bar, she would keep the business open on the holidays. She wanted people with nowhere to go, to have somewhere to go. "She always kept the business open. Not because of greed, but because she knew that you couldn't even buy gas on a Christmas or a Thanksgiving," said Brad Smith, 59, Graw's son and now-owner of Harbor Bar. For about the last 10 years Smith has been honoring his mother's memory with free Thanksgiving dinners every year. And for roughly the last five years, he has put on a free Christmas dinner as well.
Mirroring national enthusiasm, Pierce County voter turnout in 2018 had a sizable growth from the last midterm election in 2014. In Pierce, there were 17,614 voters, not including absentee voters, compared to 14,743 four years ago. Nationally, voter turnout for a midterm was at historic rates, with roughly 49 percent of eligible voters participating and over 116 million votes cast, according to data from the United States Election Project.