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Date: June 16, 1988
Source: Stillwater, MN Evening Gazette, June 16, 1988

UFOs: Fact or fiction?

(excerpt from long article...)

Not since the Steven Spielberg movies Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. were released has so much attention been given to the possibility of extraterrestrials and UFOs.

But some Elmwood, Wis., residents have decided to go on record with their reports of UFOs.

It's estimated that over the last two decades, the townspeople have seen anywhere from 30 to 50 strange-looking objects in the sky, and they've decided to speak out about it. Through the years, a series of "flaps" have taken place within Pierce County, and reports have continued to filter through, from Plum City and Ellsworth in the south to Elmwood and Spring Valley to the north.

When you enter the village of Elmwood, it looks like any other small rural town you might run across in the midwest - a few blocks of business district with a sprinkling of hole-in-the-wall taverns. It won't take long to find your way around in Elmwood.

Hob Wilson says he has lived there since 1914. His only time away from Elmwood came during 44 months of active duty Army life during World War I. He says that he was glad to come back home. When you drive into Elmwood on Wisconsin Highway 128 from the west, you'll recognize Hob's place - it's the one across the street from the biggest gas station in town and a stone's throw from the grocery store on the corner.

Proud of his garden and his ability to grow some of the largest turnips this side of the border, Hob spends much of his time weeding and planting these days. Today, he's picked a fresh bunch of rhubarb and cleans it in the water bucket kept out front.

He says the town hasn't grown much at all over the years. But he's noticed a lot more activity in town since news was released about the UFO sightings and how the town may be the site for a proposed UFO landing strip. He talks about Elmwood's UFO Days held last year and says he shudders to think about how much traffic will come in this year.

From underneath his worn straw hat and the big oak tree in his front yard, Hob recalls all of the comings and goings last year. He estimates that about 4,000 people showed up for the event, which kept him busy picking up hamburger wrappers and pop cans for days.

There have been a lot of out-of-town visitors showing up lately, too. A few weeks ago, three men dressed in business suits approached him while he was cleaning those huge turnips, and one introduced himself as Dan Rather from CBS News. Hob says the crew, which arrived by helicopter, spent about three days taping and talking to Elmwood residents. He admits that it caused a bit of a stir in town.

Other than a handful of media people who stop in town to chat with locals, Hob says he hasn't seen so much excitement since his own UFO sighting in about 1972-74.

"Nobody paid much attention to UFOs back then," said Hob of the sightings. "They'd think you're crazy if you talked about something like that. But it's not that way anymore. I think more and more people are coming out about it."

According to Hob, he, too, has a UFO story to tell. He says he used to work at the nearby Spring Valley dam. When it was first built, it was Hob who greased the machinery and kept things running. He saw two UFOs in the same night and says he was less than 200 feet away from them.

"Nobody paid much attention to those sightings back then," said Hob. "I didn't want to call in about it, so I more or less kept it to myself."

Hob says he expects the worst during UFO Days this year, so many people are interested in the UFO sightings. He's heard that rooms are already filled up in neighboring towns like Menomonie.

"It gives you an eerie feeling when you see something like that," says Hob as he continues to rinse and clean a handful of rhubarb. "There's something going on out there ... and more people are willing to talk about it."



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