An area fire department is trying to celebrate its 100th anniversary of service this weekend, even as it continues to deal with an unspeakable tragedy.
One of the Argyle Fire Department’s most shocking cases came just last year, as Armin Wand was convicted of starting a fire that killed his three sons and unborn child and severely injured his wife and young daughter.
People from Argyle say that even though the Wand case will always to closely tied to their community’s history, it’s OK to celebrate the fire department’s milestone.
And it’s time to move forward.
"I'm never going to celebrate another 100 year anniversary, I’m sure,” remarked Dave Soper, first assistant with the Argyle Adams Community Fire Department. “So, yeah, it's a good step. 100 years is something to celebrate, and that's what this is: a celebration."
The Saturday celebration at Argyle Legion Community Park for the area’s approximately 850 residents included the always-popular “fire fighter challenges,” face painting, and children’s activities.
Soper says the memory of the three Wand children who lost their lives will always be with them.
"Whenever we talk about the Wand trial, whenever we talk about the Wand situation, that circumstance, is it going to be emotional, absolutely,” said Soper. “Is it going to bring up bad memories? Without a doubt. But we know the more time that passes, the easier it will be to deal with."
On Saturday, the community fire department also showcased some of their new and old equipment, as well as pictures from emergencies that they responded to in the past.
Longtime Argyle residents say it takes a special person to be a fire fighter, so they wanted to show their support for those that many consider to be an important part of their lives.
"We're all just one big family here,” said Argyle resident Lori Ploessi. “That's how it's always been, and I love living here."
"Everyone here is family, whether we're related or not,” agreed resident Sheila Miller. “You are family and everybody helps each other through the good and the bad."
Soper recognizes that the Argyle community is strong and close and that they didn't want a tragedy to overshadow Saturday’s celebration.
"A lot of communities have bad events that are a part of their history, but it's the good events like this that overshadow the bad ones,” surmised Soper.
Last month Jeremy Wand was convicted of helping his brother Armin start that deadly fire last fall.
But he now wants to withdraw his guilty plea, with his lawyer questioning the credibility of Sharon Wand, Armin’s wife.
Sharon Wand has some pending misdemeanors in Iowa County.
If Jeremy Wand’s pleas are not withdrawn, he faces multiple concurrent sentences without recommendation for release.
Jeremy Wand is scheduled to be back in court next month.