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SCC Tavern League makes donation to NRPD K-9 fund

Members of the St. Croix County Tavern League are pictured making a donation to the New Richmond Police Department K9 program in the form of a $500 check. Pictured are (from left) police chief Craig Yehlik, department lieutenant Veronica Koehler, SCCTL sergeant at arms Cutty Barrieault, Linda Soisakis, treasurer Tricia Dull, secretary Barb Kunz, Randy Calleja and Brent Norberg. This donation will be matched by the State Wisconsin Tavern League Foundation. Jordan Willi / Rivertown Multimedia

On Tuesday, April 11, the St. Croix County Tavern League made a $500 donation to the New Richmond Police Department K-9 Fund. This donation will be matched by the State Wisconsin Tavern League Foundation.

"The league likes to raise funds and give money to these kinds of community programs and have given to other organizations in New Richmond in the past," said SCCTL president Nathan Stork. "The Tavern League of Wisconsin is the strongest and largest in the United States. It is over 5,000 members strong. The St. Croix County Tavern League has 70 members itself."

The initial start-up costs for a K-9 program is $50,000 and the New Richmond Police Department's efforts to raise funds for a program in the City of New Richmond have been ongoing over the last several months. The initial start-up funds will be used for that training, for the dog, and for special equipment that must be purchased for the police squad car and other needs. Officer Katie Chevrier was selected as the local office's canine handler in February and the blue bar on the K-9 fundraiser sign outside of the New Richmond police station on South Knowles Avenue has been steadily rising.

The City of Hudson and the county sheriff's department both have K-9 programs already, and NR Police Chief Craig Yehlik feels that it is time for such a program in New Richmond.

"We really feel there's a need for it with the drug work we've done ... but there are so many uses for these dogs," Yehlik told the News in a previous interview about the program. "We want a multi-use dog ... We want a dog that can track kids and adults that walk away from a home. We can track people a lot faster when they walk away. We have the 'Project Lifesaver' program available, but all the equipment is in Hudson. So if we have someone walk away, whether it's an autistic child or somebody suffering from dementia, it could be 30 minutes for somebody to go down to Hudson and bring the equipment back here. That's a great tool, but when it's 20 below zero, do we have a half-hour? Or when it's 100 degrees ... sometimes time is of the essence."

Yehlik also said that having a dog would help expedite investigations of all types. In addition, a dog would assist the department with officer safety and public relations.

The department has reserved a spot with the St. Paul Police Department K-9 training program for March 2018 in hopes that the money will be raised by that time.

The department's core philosophy of building partnerships with the community and establishing community policing will be enhanced with the addition of a K-9, Yehlik said.

Burger night fundraiser

In addition to the SCCTL donation to the K-9 fund, Champs Sports Bar & Grill in New Richmond also raised funds through its Burger Night event, which was held on April 11.

"We sold 378 burgers at $12 each, with $6 of that money going toward the K-9 fund. That is a total of $2,322 for the NRPD K-9 fund," said Champs general manager Brent Norberg. "The night exceeded our expectations and was a huge success. We opened the doors for to-go orders and the line was out the door."

Norberg said the event was the busiest Burger Night the restaurant has seen, which made Norberg proud of the support the community has shown for the local police.

"It is great to see support like this for such a great cause," Norberg said.

To donate, send to the New Richmond Area Community Foundation, P.O. Box 96, New Richmond, WI 54017, and note "New Richmond K-9 Fund" in the memo.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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