The Wilmot Union High School academic decathlon team won its fifth consecutive state title on March 9. From left: Kylie Henderson, Marcus Wolff, Levi Keen, Emily Heckel (co-holding trophy), Austin Adam, Ambriel Siggeman (co-holding trophy), Maija Pearson, Tanis Rossow, Zach O’Brien (Submitted/The Report).

6. Rare lightning strike at Country Thunder
Country Thunder in Twin Lakes, known for its country music and underage drinking citations, garnered national exposure for another reason in July.

That’s when an Illinois woman was struck by lightning on the Miller campground during the music festival.
Brittney N. Prehn, of Woodstock, was walking alone on the Miller campground on July 20 when she was struck by a bolt of lightning while talking on her cell phone.

Authorities said the lightning strike traveled through her body and exited through her right foot.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, on July 22, told The Report the lightning strike even caused damage to a nearby truck.

“It actually short circuited a truck that was right next to the girl that was struck,” Beth said.
The lightning sent terrified campers seeking shelter.

“I heard a big pop. (It) woke us because we were sound asleep,” said James Buss, of Chicago on July 22. “We were scared a little bit and we ended up sleeping in the car for a little bit for safety.”

As for Brittney Prehn, her mother, Lisa Anderson Prehn, told The Report in September her daughter’s recovery has been nothing short of a miracle.

“The doctors told me she is a walking miracle,” Lisa said at a benefit in Woodstock last September. “She is a fighter.”

“They all say it is a miracle – they don’t understand how I am alive, and it is a blessing.” Brittney said.

Brittney, who lost some of her hearing as a result, uses her younger sisters as inspiration during her recovery.

“The thing that keeps me going is my sisters, I want my sisters to see that no matter what life throws at them that they can do it,” Brittney said at the September benefit. “I push every day.”

About 300 people are struck by lightning annually, according to the National Weather Service, which indicated 30 of the 300 cases result in death.

7. Double homicide suspect pleads not guilty
Nathan Kivi, of Trevor, is still awaiting trial on charges of shooting brothers Richard and Kenneth Samuel II dead outside a Village of a Twin Lakes tavern on Nov. 24, 2017.

Kivi, whose next appearance is set for March, pleaded not guilty to both counts at a Feb. 1 arraignment.
Shortly after his plea, Kivi, who was on probation and bond when he allegedly committed the double shooting, had his parole revoked and was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.

Since his plea and sentence, online court records show Kivi’s defense attorneys and prosecutors have filed multiple motions.

The double shooting happened in the parking lot of the Beach Bar on Lake Avenue in Twin Lakes.

Kivi allegedly told investigators he was drunk when the shooting happened about 2 a.m.

“A drunk idiot in the bar started stuff and (Kivi’s friend) got lippy,” he allegedly told a Twin Lakes police detective after his arrest.

“Get me drunk and it’s ugly,” Kivi allegedly said later in the interview.

With Kivi already angry, according to the complaint, the argument moved outside, where someone threw a beer bottle that struck and broke the back window of his pickup truck.

Kivi, in response, allegedly shot the two brothers and fled in his truck.

After investigators learned Kivi fled, a detective obtained the number of his cellphone, which eventually was tracked heading north on Interstate 94 near Tomah in Monroe County.

Upon his arrest by authorities, Kivi allegedly admitted to committing the shooting, telling troopers they “had the right person, that he did it and he would cooperate,” the complaint contends.

8. Five Star expands in Twin Lakes
Five Star Fabricating, Inc., a top manufacturer of windows used by racecars in the United States, announced in early 2018 it planned to expand operations in the Town of Randall.

The company, which had employed 165 people at the current facility, looked to reach 200 when the company opens its new building across the street from the main office on 89th Street.

The new 10,000-square-foot facility that broke ground earlier this year will meet the company’s growing space needs and accommodate new production.

“We need more space,” said Sales and Marketing Manager Corey Schultz.

“We have probably added 20 (employees) this year, we have doubled our employee count within the last five years, so I am hoping the trend keeps going.”

Five Star Racing Bodies, a division of the fabricating company, anticipates having the new building fully operational by March.

Nationally, Five Star serves as the sole contractor for windows used by NASCAR drivers.

“If you watch any NASCAR race, any car, every car has a component made by Five Star,” he said. “Whether it is windows, whether it is body components. Some of the cars have all of our body components.”

“Every car in NASCAR has at least some part that we make here in Twin Lakes,” Schultz added.

The company produces between 400 to 1,000 parts daily.

9. American Girl ceases operations
After 21 years, American Girl – the maker of historically themed dolls – closed its Wilmot facility as part of the company’s plan to consolidate operations, the company said in a statement last April.

The closure affected 135 regular full- and part-time employees at the distribution and call center on Fox River Road in the Town of Randall.

“American Girl has been facing headwinds for the past several quarters,” the statement, dated April 19, 2018, said. “While difficult, the decision to consolidate operations is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.”

The distribution center closed last June, with most of the operations relocated to the DeForest and Middleton facilities.

The call center, meanwhile, will stay open through the first quarter of 2019.

Julie Parks, of American Girl, said the closure of the call center after 2018 will help satisfy customer demands.

“In order to ensure we are equipped to handle our busiest holiday season, the decision was made to keep the call center open through first quarter 2019,” she said. “At that time, we will begin moving some of the call center operations to Middleton.”

The facility, which opened in 1997, has 69 full-time employees and 39 part-time employees. The rest are occasional or seasonal employees.

“The company is committed to treating all affected employees fairly and with utmost dignity and respect, including offering outplacement services and other transition assistance to eligible employees,” the company statement said.

10. Wilmot decathletes snag fifth title in a row
Courtesy of a collective effort by nine students, the Wilmot Union High School academic decathlon team picked up its fifth consecutive state title last March.

The decathletes, who finished first in regional competition in Jan. 2018, finished 597 points ahead of second place Watertown at the March 9 state contest held in the Wisconsin Dells.

“It was their overall strength as decathletes, effectiveness in all 10 events, that led them to victory as a team,” said coach Don Serkowski.

The 2018 theme was Africa.

Overall, the team collected 21 medals and won six of 10 categories, which tied the school record.
The winning categories were literature, economics, social science, science, music and art.
Other competitive categories are essay, interview, speech and math.

According to District Administrator Dan Kopp, who lauded the team’s success, the fifth straight title is indicative of the school’s dedication toward its students.

“We are very proud of our AcaDec kids and coaches,” he said. “This is another example of the great things going on here at Wilmot.”

While the decathletes won six of 10 categories, they also captured the Super Quiz relay competition consisting of five questions per team member, defeating second place Waterford by four questions.

The decathletes were Kylie Henderson, Marcus Wolff, Levi Keen, Emily Heckel, Austin Adam, Ambriel Siggeman, Maija Pearson, Tanis Rossow and Zach O’Brien.

 
 

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