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Post Messenger Recorder PMR New Glarus Monticello Belleville News Publishing

By Sue Moen 

Helping the Families of Fallen Mineral Point Firefighters


January 13, 2022

Sue Moen

Puempel's Olde Tavern owner Chuck Bigler is donating the proceeds from cleaning the dollar bills off of half of the ceiling of the bar, approximately $1,500, to the families of the Mineral Point firefighters who lost their lives last week. Members of the New Glarus Fire Department helped in getting the money down from the ceiling.

On Thursday, January 6, 2022, the community of Mineral Point and its fire department suffered a devastating loss when two of their own, Captain Brian Busch, 43, and firefighter James Ludlum, 69, were killed while responding to a rollover crash on 18/151.

The Iowa County Sheriff's Office said the firefighters were driving north on the highway when, at about 12:30 a.m., they attempted to use an emergency crossover just west of the Highway 23 exit on the city's north side. That's when their fire truck, with its lights flashing, was struck by a northbound semi-tractor trailer. The fire truck, a tanker with 2,000 gallons of water on board, caught fire and the two firefighters died at the scene. The driver of the semi, James Morey, 80, Waukesha, was uninjured.

Since then, the outpouring of support for the families of the two firefighters, as well as for the local first responders, has been amazing. Fire Departments from around the area have taken shifts standing by and taking calls for the Mineral Point Fire Department. Restaurants and volunteers have stepped up to help feed the firefighters that are covering MPFD's calls. Mike Nevil (Chalet Landhaus/New Glarus Hotel) took food to Mineral Point earlier this week. Nevil said that he served around 35 to 40 firefighters. Nevil also said that, before he left, he was given two flag boxes made by Paul Klassy to give to the families. He added that they were very grateful for the gifts.

Chuck Bigler, who owns Puempel's Olde Tavern in New Glarus, enlisted the help of some firefighters from the New Glarus Fire Department to remove the dollar bills from half of the ceiling. Approximately $1,500 in bills of all denominations were scraped from the ceiling, and straightened to get ready to take to the bank. Bigler noted that the approximately $1,500 was harvested in less than an hour. "These guys are good at it." He also told of a visitor to the bar over the weekend, Rick Whittingham of Whittingham Meats of Chicago, who was visiting with friends, found out the plans for the money. Whittingham then gave bartender Harmony Brooks a $100 bill to put on the ceiling to add to the donation.

Sue Moen

There have been a number of fundraisers and raffles help to assist the families. In the first three days following the crash, members of their community raised roughly 50 thousand dollars to help support the two men's families, according to a report on WISC Channel 3. Two memorial accounts have been established at Farmers Savings Bank for the families of the two Mineral Point Firefighters. Donations can be made at any Farmers Savings Bank location.

A visitation for Ludlum was scheduled for January 11 from and January 12. A mass was held at Mary & Paul Catholic Church on January 12. A visitation for Busch is scheduled for January 13, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and January 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. A mass will be held at Mary & Paul Catholic Church at 11:00 a.m., on January 14. Both families requested that attendees wear a mask.


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