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Menomonie woman wins big on 'The Price Is Right'

You could say “The Price Is Right” has always been a pretty big part of Menomonie resident Bonnie Konsela’s life.

Just about every morning at 10 a.m. sharp, the retired school librarian flips the channel to CBS to tune in to the long-running television game show. If she does happen to miss the show, she’s sure to catch up online. And for decades, it was near the top of Konsela’s bucket list to hear the iconic line “Come on down” to participate in the show.

Now, Konsela can check that experience off the list — and is taking home more than $9,000 in prizes after competing in the episode that aired last Thursday.

“It was my 15 minutes of fame,” 63-year-old Konsela said, chuckling as she reflected on her experience on Jan. 8, the day she and her husband Ron Konsela attended the taping. “It meant so much to me to be able to do that and walk away with all these prizes.”

Though the episode was Bonnie’s first time competing on the show, it wasn’t her first experience at the show’s California set. About 18 years ago, the Konselas attended a show with a group of fellow Menomonie teachers, who all donned matching T-shirts that read “Wisconsin cheeseheads love Bob Barker.”

On that trip, a teacher from the group was called on stage, bringing along a note from a Menomonie fifth-grader to Barker, the show’s original host.

There was no note this time around, but the Konselas both sported that old shirt they’d saved, this time adding “and Drew Carey too” at the bottom in honor of the show’s current host. The couple came down as part of a nearly two-weeklong roadtrip that led them from Menomonie all the way to California.

Getting selected to be a contestant on the show isn’t easy, Bonnie said. Though the taping wasn’t until noon that day, the couple arrived at the studio early in the morning for interviews with show producers.

As the show’s producer and an intern walked past them, Bonnie said she jumped around and yelled, fully concentrated on doing anything it took to get on the show.

Luckily, she caught their attention. They stopped to read their shirts and asked her what she did for a living — or, as he put it, “What do you do when you’re sober?”

Bonnie told them she was a retired librarian from Wisconsin, but knew she had to add some more color to her response.

“I said, ‘Oh, I go find a bar,’” Bonnie recalled, laughing. “He just wants funny stuff. You have to think on your feet and you’ve got to be nutty and crazy, or they won’t even look at you.”

The producer walked away shortly after and Bonnie was disheartened. She didn’t think she’d been selected.

“I thought there was no way I was going to be on,” Bonnie said.

But then, amid the screaming and yelling that is commonplace on the set, Bonnie and Ron heard “Bonita” called out — Bonnie’s full name. Finally, they put it together that they had to mean her — how many others in the audience could possibly be named “Bonita”?

The moment was surreal — and nerve-wracking — Bonnie said.

“I just about peed my pants — it was so exciting,” Bonnie said through laughs. “I said, ‘Oh my God, I finally got on.’ And it was like I had put everything into getting on stage, so when I got there I didn’t even know what to do.”

After earning her chance to finally hop onstage, Bonnie decided to continue playing up her identity as a Wisconsinite. She greeted Carey with a brief polka dance.

“I just got to kind of polka with some lady from Wisconsin,” Carey said, chuckling as he read Bonnie’s shirt after the little dance.

Finally, Bonnie’s years of studying — she knows all 110 “Price Is Right” games — came in handy. Bonnie ultimately walked away with $1,000 in cash, a ping-pong table, 65-inch “top of the line” TV, a grill and a set of Burberry accessories.

“I was just so happy for (Bonnie) because I knew how much she wanted to get up on that stage,” Ron said, adding the prizes were nice but not everything to his wife. “I know she was just so thankful to be able to live out her dream of getting called down.”

Despite Bonnie’s excitement, she was sworn to total secrecy of what happened on the show until its air date, or she would be forced to forfeit her prizes.

“It’s stressful — you can’t say anything about it but you’re so excited,” Bonnie said of the agreement.

After two months of waiting and waiting, Bonnie finally got to watch the episode last week, surrounded by friends at a gathering.

“It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it,” Bonnie said. “Some people go to the show 20 times in their life and never make it on. This was my last hurrah.”

Group: Iraq is torturing children to coerce confessions

BEIRUT — Iraq and the Kurdish regional government have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State group, often using torture to coerce confessions, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

In a report, the New York-based group estimated that Iraqi and Kurdish authorities were holding approximately 1,500 children for alleged IS affiliation in detention at the end of 2018. It said the prosecutions are often based on dubious accusations and forced confessions obtained through torture.

The children are then sentenced to prison in hasty and unfair trials, HRW said.

“The approach that Iraq has adopted is one that completely fails to acknowledge what is commonly understood and reflected in international law, which is that children who were forcibly recruited are indeed victims, they should be treated as victims not as criminals,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Iraq declared victory against IS in December 2017 after three years of bloody battles that killed tens of thousands and left Iraqi cities in ruins.

The country is grappling with a massive legacy from the fight, which includes thousands of detainees, including children, who are being sentenced in rushed trials

The Associated Press interviewed two parents in northern Syria, near Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, whose children, aged 16 and 17, had been taken away from them by Iraqi security services in 2017. In both cases it took the parents months to locate their children and both boys said that they had been tortured during their detention.

One of the women said after her husband and son were arrested she didn’t see them for a year and a half. Then she received a phone call from a hospital telling her that her son was there being treated.

“My son told me: ‘mum, they took me to a room.’ And I said, ‘why? What did they do to you, my son?’ He said ‘mum, they took me inside and started beating me with hoses. I reached behind but couldn’t tell where the next blow was coming from, they were beating my head, my back, both of my feet,’” said the woman, who wished to remain identified for security concerns.

“Children accused of affiliation with IS are being detained, and often tortured and prosecuted, regardless of their actual level of involvement with the group,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for HRW. “This sweeping punitive approach is not justice, and will create lifelong negative consequences for many of these children.”

Maj. Gen. Saad Maan, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, denied the HRW accusations, saying authorities in Baghdad are holding around 500 IS women, and some of those have their children with them. He said the children are not being investigated and are being provided with medicine, food and clothes. “None of the children are under investigation,” he told AP in Baghdad.

The 52-page report, entitled “Everyone Must Confess’: Abuses against Children Suspected of ISIS Affiliation in Iraq,” criticized what it described as a deeply flawed screening process that often leads to detention and prosecution of children regardless of whether they have any involvement with IS, or the extent of that involvement.

It cites the case of a 17-year-old detainee, who said he worked at a restaurant in Mosul that served IS members, and believed that his name appeared on a “wanted” list because IS took his identification so he could be paid.

“What we see are extremely brief trials in the cases of these boys. Every single one of these trials proceeded solely on the basis of the confession that was produced by their interrogation, often with the use of torture,” Wille told the AP from New York.

“After the trial is done, usually in ... five-minute or a 10-minute period, they receive their sentence and they return to prison.”

Hansen's IGA negotiating to buy Gordy's EC store; seeks beer license

Hansen’s IGA is in negotiations to purchase the Gordy’s Market Inc. grocery store location at 1031 Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire.

Carrie Hansen of Hansen’s IGA said nothing has been signed at this point, so they are not ready to make any announcement.

“It’s still in the process,” she said. “We’re still looking at things. Because of licensing, we had to get on agendas.”

Specifically, Hansen’s IGA filed a request for a Class A intoxicating liquor and fermented malt beverage license on Feb. 21, according to Kim Steinmetz, Eau Claire business licensing specialist. That license request is not transferred from one business to another, and the request will be submitted to the City Council for review in the near future, she said.

Hansen’s IGA currently operates 11 grocery stores, including locations in Stanley, Neillsville, Mondovi and Black River Falls. The company also have six stores in the La Crosse area plus one in Washburn.

Jeff Schafer, Gordy’s Market president, was reached Wednesday but he declined to comment on the potential sale.

The auction of five Gordy’s Market locations was Wednesday in Milwaukee; results were not immediately available.

Nash Finch is suing GMI for $46.2 million, contending that Gordy’s Market “has no excess cash to get caught up on its delinquent balance,” and the grocery chain is on the verge of insolvency. Since the lawsuit was filed in December, the GMI location in Ladysmith has been sold.

Meanwhile, Gordy’s Market filed a counter-claim against Nash Finch, saying that the food distributor made it impossible for them to turn a profit.

Gordy’s Market and Nash Finch entered into a customer supply agreement in 2017, which “obligates GMI to purchase from Nash Finch on a continual basis, minimum amounts of inventory, and supplies,” the counterclaim states.

Gordy’s contends that Nash Finch wanted to do re-sets of all six stores, but that remodel would be too expensive for the grocery chain.

“GMI could not afford to operate profitably if it was required to conduct resets of the stores,” the counterclaim reads.

The stores in Ladysmith and downtown Chippewa Falls were re-set in November and December 2017. However, Nash Finch “unilaterally and over GMI’s objection performed resets of the remaining four stores.” Because of the costs of those remodels, it “had crippled an already cash-strapped GMI by adding $500,000 of costs not contemplated by GMI’s financial forecasts.”

The counterclaim also contends that Nash Finch didn’t supply a sufficient number of items in advertised sales, and GMI argues that Nash Finch set wholesale prices at “unreasonably high” levels. If GMI tried to sell an item to make a profit above what they paid for it from Nash Finch it “would render GMI’s retail sale prices uncompetitive in the marketplace.”

“Prices for certain essential goods, especially fresh meat products, were often as much as 25 percent higher than other wholesale suppliers,” the counterclaim reads.

GMI and Nash Finch will return to Chippewa County Court on Friday, where Judge James Isaacson will review and possibly approve the auction results, and he will consider any motions, such as this counterclaim.

Michael Polsky, the court-appointed receiver who is assisting in dividing up GMI’s assets, has set a deadline of April 24 for any creditors of GMI to enter claims with the court if they see to participate in any dividends.

In the Nash Finch lawsuit, the food distributor claims that GMI owes a total of $46.2 million — $43.2 million in a rebate-able incentive, a $1 million note, and $1.9 million in accounts receivable.

In 2017, there were 26 Gordy’s Market locations, but 20 of them were sold or closed by the end of that year.