Looking back on 2017 top stories run gamut from crash and controversy to cows and crime news chippewa.com electricity of the heart

Cullen Osburn, 27, was charged on Jan. 12 with felony murder and aggravated battery in an altercation involving Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, a UW-Stout student, that took place outside a pizza restaurant in downtown Menomonie in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, 2016. Alnahdi died in an Eau Claire hospital the following day as a result of traumatic brain injuries.

Arrested during a traffic stop in St. Paul, Osburn was incarcerated at the Hennepin County Jail on a $2 million bond. After initially refusing to be extradited, he arrived at the Dunn County Jail in early February and pleaded not guilty at a hearing in late March.

Pollock said a female witness heading eastbound on Main Street passed between Alnahdi and an unknown white male on sidewalk in front of Topper’s Pizza around 2 a.m. on Oct. 30. She stopped and turned around when she heard yelling behind her, stating that she saw Alnahdi put his hands up in the air in a gesture that indicated he did not want to have any problems, then saw the unknown man hit Alnahdi once and believed he tried to hit Alnahdi a second time.

Deonte L. Hughes, Osburn’s brother, testified he was inside Topper’s Pizza with his sister, Mariah Hughes, and two male friends waiting for their order. Wondering where Osburn was, Hughes said he looked out the window saw Osburn outside being grabbed by the collar by Alnahdi and the two men engaged in an altercation.

Completed in midsummer, a comprehensive study of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) ordered by the Dunn County Board of Supervisors can trace its origins to a September 2016 hearing held by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the Rock Creek town hall.

More than 200 concerned citizens attended, most of them to urge the agency to deny a nutrient (manure) management plan permit that would allow the proposed expansion — to more than 7,200 animals — of Cranberry Creek Dairy in southern Dunn County.

The following month, the county Board approved a six-month moratorium on the licensing or expansion by more than 20 percent of large-scale livestock facilities to allow time to study the many facets of the issue. The group appointed included members of county departments, UW Extension, and interested county residents and property owners — at least three of whom are engaged in farming that involves livestock production.

Cranberry Creek’s second attempt at convincing the DNR to reissue the permit was again denied in early May, but the owners were given an opportunity to explain the reasons why irregularities in its current permit have not been met. After nearly a year, the agency conditionally approved the permits needed for the dairy’s expansion.

The following week, the county board received the long-awaited 40-page report compiled by the 24-member Livestock Operations Study Group. The study outlines the impacts that CAFOs have on the county’s resources — specifically its groundwater, surface water, and air quality — and come up with recommendations about their siting and operations.

Chief among them is the adoption of both a countywide livestock operations and a livestock licensing ordinance to protect public health, safety and general welfare as well as to prevent pollution and preserve quality of life and of the environment. Acquitted

Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf told the jury that despite Nelson’s contentions, the case has nothing to do with self defense. But it does, she said, “have everything to do with vigilante justice, a type of justice … that cannot be tolerated in our society.” Wrong side of the road

On July 13, reports came in about a black 2004 Mitsubishi Diamante being driven the wrong way on I-94. Witnesses said a driver in the westbound lane lost control of his car and headed across the median into the eastbound lanes, up the Knapp hill. Three minutes later, there was a head-on crash with a 2015 Kia Soul on the shoulder of the interstate.

The three Minnesota, identified as Jeremy A. Berchem, Bryan Rudell, and driver Adam Kendhammer, died in the fiery crash. The wrong way driver was identified as Serghei Kundilovski, 36, of Orangevale, Calif. Injured in the collision, the wrong way driver was transported to an area hospital where he was placed under guard after being charged with three counts each of first degree reckless homicide, knowingly operating while revoked and causing death, and homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle.

A crash scene investigation showed curved tire marks in the eastbound lanes that suggest the Mitsubishi made an abrupt move to the shoulder of the road just before hitting the Kia. Two canned air duster containers were found, one near the front driver’s side tire outside Kundilovski’s vehicle and a second on the front passenger floorboard. A blood sample revealed that 0.022 of ethanol and 1,1 of difluoroethane — both of which are found in aerosol sprays and gas duster products — were present. Difluoroethane is used as a refrigerant and as a propellant for an aerosol spray.

In custody in Dunn County Jail on a $300,000 bond, Kundilovski pleaded guilty on Nov. 30 — a little more than a week before a trial was set to begin — to three charges of homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle as part of a plea agreement. Read into the record and dismissed were three counts each of first degree reckless homicide and knowingly operating while revoked as well as a traffic citation for nonregistration of a vehicle. His driver’s license was revoked in June 2017 after Kundilovski was convicted of operating while intoxicated in Sauk County.

Stirring up controversy was the Menomonie Middle School’s book unit I Am Malala, the award-winning true story by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb about a young Muslim teenager from Pakistan who was shot in the head for her efforts to promote education for girls. Due to the diverse content of the book, the middle school unit included a Muslim speaker who came to the school to educate the eighth grade class on the background of the culture to further understand the world in which Malala lives in.

While most of the 15 people who addressed the board were in support of educating their children on diversity and other cultures, others expressed concern about how the ELA curriculum was presenting the unit material, such as the eight weeks spent and that there was not a balance of representation of other cultures and religions.

Administration and school board members shared the district’s policy of teaching religion in schools and provided community members with the opportunity to voice their opinions. Superintendent Joe Zydowsky explained that the district had received some formal complaints in response to a speaker from the Islamic Resource Group who spoke to students for approximately 40 minutes about the Muslim culture and Islamic religion. Concerns were also related to curriculum imbalance, parental access to curriculum, and opt-out procedures.

In a subsequent School Crossings Zydowsky noted, “The complaints heard by the school board were not about the book I Am Malala, or whether or not we should be teaching about diversity in our schools. The complaints were centered on whether or not religion should be taught in school — and whether or not an outside speaker was allowed to violate the Establishment Clause by endorsing a particular religion. … The board determined that the school district did not break the law.”