A unique piece of a community-created project has been stolen from Wegdahl Park. Last week, a custom-made log bench, worth around $1,000, weighing 200 pounds, was stolen from the park.
There were four benches at the park, one was stolen, and it appears someone attempted to steal another, as the stake that holds the benches down was pulled from the ground.
“It would have taken more than one person to load one. It took two of us to load them off of a low trailer,” said Ed Picht with the Montevideo Bushwackers. The Bushwackers, a club that promotes and creates the use of outdoor recreational activities in the area, helped put the benches in place with help from the community.
“Bill Pauling obtained a grant from the Knights of Columbus,” Picht said. “With the grant, the Montevideo Bushwackers, with the assistance of CURE, developed a ski trail on Dick Unger’s Land. The mouth starts and stops at Wegdahl Park.”
The $3,000 grant also helped with putting signs up for the rail, and with Chippewa County helping as well, they built a fire pit and purchased the logs for the benches.
“The logs are fallen ash trees from the state park, and the manager there located the logs for us. Doug’s Tree Trimming cut them for us, and Bill and I hauled them around. Luke Petersen, a chainsaw artist out of Dawson, donated a lot of his time and cut the benches for minimal cost,” Picht said.
It was last week that the benches were noticed missing, and tracks around the park and trails seem to indicate there may have been some sort of party at the time.
“It’s believed the people out there at the time may know something about it,” Picht said.
The Bushwackers sent out word of the theft to community members, and already there have been 10 responses promising around $100 total, as of Friday morning, to be given as a reward for any information leading to the return of the benches, and the arrest of whoever took them.
“They should be easy to identify if someone has seen them, they’re custom-built,” Picht said. “They’re one of a kind, I haven’t seen any like that before.
“Someone would have had to go through a lot of work to steal them. You couldn’t just pull up and throw it in the back of a truck. It was a community project, and a grant from the Knights of Columbus that we were able to stretch and multiply with a lot of help. When someone stole that bench, they stole it from the community.”
Page 2 of 2 - Anyone with information should contact the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office at (320) 269-2121.