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Booms -- and the mystery behind them -- unsettle Wisconsin town

March 21, 2012|By Michael Muskal

With a population of about 4,600 people and located just east of the middle of Wisconsin, Clintonville is small enough and far enough away from anything else that it takes something really loud to shake up the town.

But that's literally what's been happening since Sunday night. Loud booming noises have shattered the air and rattled the ground in parts of the town, wrenching many residents out of their sleep. And no amount of investigation has determined the cause, city administrator Lisa Kuss said in a telephone interview.

“We’ve checked everywhere,” Kuss said. "We checked the dam, the landfill. We’ve consulted with the military. There is nothing going on. We’ve checked with local businesses and there’s nothing there. There’s no blasting. We’ve checked mining, quarries and pits. Nothing.”

The mystery booms began Sunday around 9 p.m. and ran to about 3 a.m.,  affecting mainly the northeast quadrant of the city, Kuss said. But the sound and vibrations were felt in many other parts of the city, sending people from their beds outdoors into the dark -- sometimes in their pajamas.

The city recorded about 100 telephone calls of inquiry beginning Sunday night; that jumped to 150 when the phenomenon repeated itself. When the booms began for the third time Wednesday morning, police received 30 more calls.

Unfortunately, officials didn’t have much to say to residents because the cause of the noises remains unknown. But authorities have scheduled a city meeting for Wednesday night to discuss the events.

Red Cross counselors will attend the community meeting to assist people in dealing with anxiety and sleep deprivation, Kuss said.

“The purpose of the meeting is to give an opportunity to hear from us about what we are doing,” Kuss said. “It is an opportunity to ask questions. Our community is frustrated.”

Kuss said that, because many people have felt the vibrations via their feet, she leans to the theory that the noises are caused by a seismic event underground.

But there is no evidence to support that theory, she said. In fact, there is no evidence to support any theory.

“We don’t believe it is a prank,” she said.

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Michael.muskal@latimes.com

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