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Schachtner defeats Jarchow in special election

Ready for spring

This recent cold snap and reduced daylight have many of us walking around like zombies.

It's like a living earworm, playing the lyrics from that old Christian carol: "In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan..."

But take heart, the sunsets will soon grow later, and we've entered the season where people gather, reflect and champion future economic success! And there's plenty to celebrate.

-- Last week, a dispatch from the St. Croix County Economic Development Corp. trumpeted that unemployment has risen to 4.9 percent -- the third lowest in Wisconsin behind just Dane (4.4 percent) and nearby Pierce (4.8 percent). The statewide average is 6.6 percent with Menomonie County is the highest (12.7 percent) followed by Iron, Bayfield, Vilas and Door counties (all 10.7 percent or higher). Considering that taxpayers are probably the predominant employers in Dane County, it's another indication we in western Wisconsin live charmed lives.

-- Two New Richmond area businesses -- one mature with a global foundation and another, fledgling but showing great promise -- have been tabbed to receive recognition next month as members of the St. Croix Economic Development Corp. assemble at R & D Catering for their annual banquet.

Chosen as St. Croix County's Small Business of the Year is NDT Solutions, a 13-year-old enterprise that operates from a former hanger at the New Richmond Airport and lists the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Boeing and Cirrus as some of the customers who turn to NDT for specialized inspection technologies.

Large Business of the Year is Knowles Avenue's familiar Bosch Packaging, a worldwide name in the design and manufacturing of specialized packaging machinery. Machines built in New Richmond are installed across North and Central America to package foods and candies, pharmaceutical, medical and other products.

A quick check of Bosch's website showed at least five current job openings at the New Richmond plant. A scan of NDT's website didn't display "Help Wanted" but did describe six upcoming and very sophisticated class offerings to be held at the local firm, each likely to host specialists from around the globe.

-- On Wednesday evening, New Richmond Area Chamber members were to gather at R & D Catering to honor small and large businesses of the year and acknowledge the efforts of lots of passionate volunteers.

-- Talk has turned to the spring construction start of the new St. Croix River Crossing south of Houlton.

Once the ice road is gone, contracted divers will appear and begin moving endangered mussels from the work area. Soon work barges will return, and project will be underway. In two short years, St. Croix County's spacious four-lanes-to-nowhere will be linked to Highway 36 and beyond.

As the carol, written by poet Christina Rossetti in the late 1800s continues, "Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow."

But even now, even here in Wisconsin, we know that soon the soil will thaw, the ice will melt, the snow will stop, and the progress that slows in the dead of winter will take off again in spring.

As we in St. Croix County celebrate past accomplishments, we are also poised for a new season of progress.