The Minnesota Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota recognized Hoffman Construction as the 2017 Best in Class for Outstanding Performance in Grading for the Hwy. 1 Eagles Nest project located near Ely, Minnesota.

“What a great recognition for a complicated, accelerated project in a very sensitive environmental area,” James Hoffman, president of Hoffman Construction Company, said.

The project consisted of five miles of relocation and reconstruction of Hwy. 1 in northern Minnesota. With more than 1 million cubic yards of excavation, Hoffman Construction had to work an accelerated schedule to complete the work in the 2017 construction season.

The project also consisted of 150,000 cubic yards of rock excavation, with some rock sulfide bearing. To protect from sulfide leaching, the plan consisted of using limestone to neutralize the potential acid generating (PAG) rock. Rock cuttings were tested during the drilling phase to determine the amount of limestone needed to neutralize the PAG rock. Pulverized limestone was mixed with the PAG rock excavation and land-filled within the road core utilizing engineered fills and geo synthetics.

Hoffman Construction Superintendent Tom Dobberthein along with Superintendent Steve Alexander, Project Engineer Will Knopik and Labor Superintendent Terry Klatt had their hands full accommodating local traffic on the reconstruct portion along with managing all of the drilling, blasting and crushing of the aggregates needed for the project. A combination of off-road trucks and on-road side dumps were used to complete the fills on the project.

Hoffman Construction said it is excited at the opportunities that the Minnesota DOT makes available to utilize Hoffman Construction’s fleet of scrapers, dozers and haul trucks and especially its biggest asset, the people required to complete complicated projects.

Hoffman Construction celebrated 100 years in the highway construction and site grading business in 2016.

Jordan Simonson / Jackson County Chronicle / December 18, 2017



“Ever since I was a little kid, watching “Adam 12” and “Emergency,” it was always my goal to be in law enforcement,” Dean Taylor, Black River Falls (BRF) Police officer shared.

Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UW-Platteville in 1988. “I graduated in December but started working that June as a part-time jailer, before I graduated,” Taylor shared.

Taylor worked one year as a jailer and five years as a road deputy for the Grant County Sheriff’s Department before coming to BRF July 17, 1994.

“There have been a lot of changes in law enforcement in general since then,” shared Taylor. “We didn’t have the equipment and the crime – drugs – and the lack of support for law enforcement.”

Taylor said he feels law enforcement officers have become “targets” because of media reports and the “public not hearing all the facts before jumping to conclusions.”

“We can’t release information until it’s investigated,” he explained. “Even if we did give everything out, people still talk and make their own decisions.”

Taylor said, “The most senior officer the department will have after I retire is two years on. It’s good to have fresher officers. Times have changed since I was in the academy. The training is different,” Taylor added, saying his academy training was 320 hours and training now is around 720 hours.

“So much has changed in law enforcement. When I started, you didn’t need a college degree, now you need at least 60 college credits or an associate’s degree to be in law enforcement.”


Taylor said he has worked with good chiefs and bad chiefs during his career in law enforcement. “There were five chiefs in BRF. The best chief I’ve had since being here, one who has been fair to all the officers and takes time to talk instead of jumping to conclusions,” Taylor added that is the department’s current Chief of Police, Kelly Bakken.

At the BRF Common Council meeting Nov. 15, when Taylor officially announced his retirement to the city leaders, Taylor commended the current chief, saying, “You made the best choice hiring Chief Bakken.”

“As of Dec. 22, I will be retiring as a police officer for the city of BRF. It’s been 23 years and a great journey,” Taylor shared at the Nov. 15 BRF Common Council meeting. “I want to thank you for the opportunity to work here. It’s time to move on.”

Officer Taylor’s announcement was met with applause, a standing ovation and several thank yous from city leaders.

“I have had the opportunity to work with him (Taylor) for many years. He’s done an excellent job and his presence will be missed,” commented 3rd Ward Alderperson John Ross.

Taylor said he will miss the camaraderie the most but not just within the department. “I had good working relationships with Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Everyone knows me by name now. I’ll miss helping people in need and treating people with courtesy. You treat people the way you want to be treated, no matter who they are. Many who I’ve arrested are friendly, still, towards me.”

Taylor said he and his wife Catherine are moving to the La Crosse area where he intends to spend time relaxing, walking the country roads near their new home and helping his son build a new home next year.

Taylor said the most memorable parts of being a BRF Police Officer was getting to meet the people in the BRF area, “in and outside of law enforcement.”

Just like on the old TV series “Adam 12,” Taylor said that he too had to rescue animals, and he learned a lot about adapting to different situations. “There was a woman who was in need of services. We were trying to get her to get some help, but she said she didn’t want to leave her spaceship. So I told her we could go to my spaceship, but we would have to take my transporter ship, which was my squad car, to get her there.”

Overall, Taylor commented that law enforcement was “everything I thought it would be.”

By Lori Jayne Carlson
Originally published in the November 22, 2017 issue of the Banner Journal


City of Black River Falls First Ward Alderperson Eric Erickson has resigned his position on the Common Council effective November 26, 2017.

The City of Black River Falls will be accepting letters from First Ward residents interested in serving as an Alderperson on the Common Council.  Letters of interest need to be submitted to the City Administrator no later than December 29, 2017.  All eligible applicants will be invited to address the Common Council on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at which meeting the Common Council may vote on appointing an applicant to fill the vacant position.

Letters of interest should be delivered in person or mailed to:

City of Black River Falls
101 South Second Street
Black River Falls, WI 54615
Attention: A. Brad Chown, City Administrator


Todd Waller, principal of Lee & Associates, the developer of the Walmart-anchored retail spaces in Black River Falls (BRF), said there are still vacant spaces available in the building located at 609 STH 54.

“There are two vacant spaces. They are 1,200 square feet each or 2,400 combined,” Waller commented. “We would love to get them filled.”

Prospective businesses would join the cell phone company Cell.Plus (a U.S. Cellular authorized agent) and Tricor Insurance Company, both who have already taken residence in the building. Papa Murphy’s Pizza has also been a confirmed business that will share space in the newly developed building.

Waller also confirmed O’Reilly Auto Parts will be coming to BRF. The auto-parts store will be located at 320 E Main Street in the previous Tricor Insurance location. Waller explained that O’Reilly Auto Parts is expected to be open sometime in the spring of 2018.

Originally published in the Nov. 15, 2017 edition of the Banner Journal

 By Lori Jayne Carlson


Tricor Insurance and Cell.Plus are now moved in at the mini-mall near Walmart in Black River Falls. Papa Murphy’s will be the third addition to the new development later this year.


Cell.Plus and Tricor Insurance have recently moved into their new location in the mini-mall near Walmart in Black River Falls, with a Papa Murphy’s to be the third business in the new development by the end of the year.

BRF Capital LLC/TDW Brokerage, LLC broke ground on the 7,000-square foot property at the beginning of the year with the hope of attracting four to five businesses to open up a storefront at the location.

So far for Cell.Plus, an authorized agent for U.S. Cellular, the move has been a good one.

“It is great to have more room. Traffic has actually been really steady,” Cell.Plus store manager Nancy Stevens said. “Even though we were in the old building for almost 20 years, some people didn’t know it had been there, so business has been great here.”

Stevens said that customers and employees will also be more comfortable in the new location.

“In our old location, we only had two desks, here we have five. It is a lot more comfortable not only for our workers, but for the customers having more places to sit,” Stevens said.

Cell.Plus was the first to move into the new property, officially opening the doors to their new location last week.

Tricor Insurance is expected to make the move Friday.

“We are excited about the move. We have good traffic along Hwy. 54 where we are right now, but I think it will be even better traffic when we move up to the new location,” Howard Gomer, Tricor Insurance health insurance agent in Black River Falls, said.

The idea of a new space is what excites those at Tricor Insurance.

“I think everybody is going to be excited to move into a new building. For us, it will be the opportunity to have a little bit smaller space, but still a new building,” Gomer said.

Jeff Olson, the owner of a Papa Murphy’s franchise in Sparta, confirmed Wednesday that he will be opening a Papa Murphy’s in the mini-mall, making it the third business in that location.

Olson hopes to start construction in the next week and has a target date of Dec. 29 to be open.

“I think it should go pretty smooth,” Olson said. “We are a family-run type of business even though it is a franchise.”

Black River Falls administrator Brad Chown is excited about the new development and its future, “We are hoping for them to be able to fill the space that is available.”

Job Opening

The City of Black River Falls is seeking a qualified individual for the position of full-time Street Department Laborer.  Applicants must be in good physical condition and pass a complete physical prior to hire.  Requirements include a clean driving record with Class B CDL Drivers License, including air brake endorsement.  A high school diploma or GED is necessary.  The successful applicant must be able to respond to duty within 30 minutes of being called.

Applications are available here or can be picked up from City Hall, and the deadline to apply is September 21, 2018 at 4:30 P.M.  The City of Black River Falls is an equal opportunity employer.


Todd Gomer
Street Superintendent
City of Black River Falls


It was made official Tuesday as the ribbon was cut at the new Kwik Trip in Black River Falls at the intersection of Hwy. A and Hwy. 54.

It feels like a long time to some, but on Tuesday it was made official as the new Kwik Trip on Hwy. A in Black River Falls held its official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Whether it was the excitement of a new store or just the need for groceries and gas there was a lot of foot traffic moving in and out of the new store.

The new store employs about 30-40 people in Jackson County.

“I wanted to thank Kwik Trip for breathing life into this side of town,” Black River Falls city administrator Brad Chown said.

The hope for city officials is that the new business will attract other businesses to that side of town.

Company officials stressed how important their work with the community is and made two donations at the ribbon cutting.

Both Friends Sharing Food and the Boys and Girls Club of Black River Falls received $1,000 donations from Kwik Trip during the event.

Jon Warmke of Friends Sharing Food said, “Not only does this help our food pantries, but also our relationship with Rescue Foods.”

“This is definitely going to help us continue to do what we do every day,” Diane Moen-Ross, center director for the Boys and Girls Club, said.

County chairman Ray Ransom also commented how important it is to have new business coming into the county.

“This is truly a family-owned company and an employee-based company, you can see it when you walk in the door,” Ransom said.

The location just off Interstate 94 at the intersection of Hwy. 54 and Hwy. A will make the Kwik Trip one of the first things people see when they come into Black River Falls from that side of town.

“What a great thing to see when you come into the city,” Chown said.

Stephen Knoll / Jackson County Chronicle


Hansen’s IGA opens with shelves stocked

Kathy Mason of Black River Falls was excited to shop at the new Hansen’s IGA in Black River Falls Wednesday as she checked out their selection in the frozen aisle.

After months of speculation and anticipation, Hansen’s IGA opened Wednesday in Black River Falls on Hwy. A, attracting customers excited about the new grocery store.

Hansen’s IGA purchased the store Sept. 25 at a Milwaukee auction of Gordy’s Market properties after Gordy’s Market sold many of their properties earlier this year due to financial problems.

Kari Hansen, special projects coordinator for Hansen’s IGA, said everyone that comes to a Hansen’s IGA should expect high-quality produce, a great selection from the entire store, great staff and a high-quality meat department.

“We have our own smokehouse (meats) that we make at our Bangor location and distribute to all of our locations. We have won awards on our bratwursts and some of our other sausages. We also have a signature double-smoked ham from that smokehouse,” Hansen said.

Kathy Mason of Black River Falls who was taking in the new store agreed, “I like their selection of meat and I have bought Hansen’s meat in West Salem and I’ve been very happy with it.”

Leo and Rosemary Hansen opened their first grocery store location in 1968 in Bangor. Sons Greg and Nick Hansen, in addition to Greg’s wife Kari, are now involved in the day-to-day operations of Hansen’s IGA.

“The three of us are in the stores all of the time and are involved in the day-to-day aspects of things,” Hansen said adding that Leo and Rosemary Hansen are trying to retire, but do come by and help sometimes. “Leo and Rosemary were here yesterday helping us get stocked and things.”

The entire family and employees have been working on restocking the shelves in Black River Falls since Sunday when the store closed down to facilitate the changeover. Hansen’s IGA plans to leave the layout the same, but will be analyzing the needs of the area which may alter the size of some departments.

“It is a great town and the staff that is here, we’ve been excited to have them be a part of the team. It is just a great town to be involved with,” Hansen said.

Karen Iverson also stopped in on Wednesday to scope out the new store and was impressed with how clean it was. “I am very happy that somebody came in here,” Iverson said. “I’m just happy that it is IGA because I did like John’s.”

John’s IGA was a grocery store that was in downtown Black River Falls several years ago next to the Black River.

Mason was also impressed with the selection the new store had, “I think it is wonderful. I am happy to have a good grocery store in town.”

Hansen said that they are currently working on restocking the shelves and will be making signage changes over the next few months in anticipation of a grand opening after the first of the year.

The Black River Falls store is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week with senior discounts available in the store on Wednesdays.

Jordan Simonson jordan.simonson@lee.netJackson County Chronicle


Amanda Gunn, BRACC Executive Director


Robert Crampes, President of The Black River Area Chamber of Commerce (BRACC), has announced that Amanda Gunn has been hired as the new Executive Director.  She succeeds Chris Hardie who resigned on September 1st to accept a position with the 7 Rivers Alliance.

Gunn has been the BRACC’s Office Manager the past eight years and says she is very excited about the opportunities and responsibilities that lie ahead for her.  “I am looking forward to promoting tourism in our area and working more in-depth with BRACC members,” she said.  “The chamber helps play a vital role in our community and I am honored to have been offered this position.  Jackson County is such a great place to live and work.  It’s a privilege to be able to serve in this capacity.”

Gunn was raised in Black River Falls and graduated from Black River Falls High School.  She holds an Associate Degree in Marketing from Chippewa Valley Technical College. She grew up in the house where she now lives with her husband Tyler, son Jack, mother Mary O’Brien and two mini dachshunds.  The house has been in her family since the early 1900s.  “My son is the 5th generation in my family to live in this house,” she said.  “My roots go way back.”

She says she looks forward to meeting and hearing from BRACC members and can be reached at 715-284-4658 or at amandagunn@blackrivercountry.net.



National Drug Take Back Day

If you’re looking to get rid of old prescription drugs and over the counter medications, you can take them to the National Drug Take Back Day on October 28th at the Jackson County Recycling Center from 8am-2pm.