News

Wed
15
Nov

'Remember': Speakers urge Falls students never to forget POW/MIA soldiers


A makeshift cage is lowered for an hour over volunteer Oconto Falls High School teacher Derek Erickson, to demonstrate the ordeal of prisoners of war. Erickson said he couldn’t feel his legs within 15 minutes: “I can’t even begin to fathom what it would be like to go through that all day, every day.” (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

A small table set for dinner, with a white tablecloth and a place setting for one, greeted students coming into the Oconto Falls High School auditorium for a Veterans Day assembly Friday.

As the morning went on, they learned the significance of the empty table from Rolling Thunder, an organization of veterans devoted to bringing home all of the U.S. military personnel still listed as missing in action or prisoners of war.

As members of the group reset the table piece by piece in the center of the stage, narrator and group chairman Gary Wagnitz explained each aspect of the setting. The white tablecloth denotes the purity of the soldier’s commitment, and the single dinner service “symbolizes the frailty of one against all his oppressors.”

After each piece, Wagnitz repeated Rolling Thunder’s theme: “Remember.”

Wed
15
Nov

Menominee plan to sue over Back Forty project

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has filed a 60-day notice of its intent to file a federal lawsuit to protect its namesake Menominee River from the effects of the proposed Back Forty Mine project.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Senate voted 19-14 Tuesday to pass a measure lifting the moratorium on sulfide mining in Wisconsin and send the bill to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

A news release from Earthjustice, the legal organization that is representing the Menominee tribe, said the purpose of the litigation would be “to ensure that the health of the Menominee River and portions of the Tribe’s ancestral homeland and sacred sites won’t be jeopardized by a large mine on the banks of the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border.”

Wed
15
Nov

Opioid suits are filed

The process of taking “Big Pharma” to court over the opioid crisis has begun. Twenty-eight counties, including Oconto, filed separate lawsuits in the Eastern District of Wisconsin federal court Nov. 7, alleging that pharmaceutical companies misrepresented the danger of addiction from opium-based prescription medicine.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages from Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and subsidiaries of the companies, Erin Dickinson of Crueger Dickinson law firm told reporters at a news conference in West Bend.

“These companies’ aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opioid painkillers as safe and effacacious for long-term use has led to a drug epidemic in both Wisconsin and around the nation,” Dickinson said.

Mike Reimer, director of Oconto County Department of Health and Human Services, attended the news conference along with Corporation Counsel Cheryl Mick.

Wed
15
Nov

Oconto County Sheriff's Department: Nov. 3-6

Nov. 6

Deputies responded to 46 incidents, including the following:

Theft — reported in public hunting land along County Road Y, Little River, 11:38 a.m.

Identity theft — reported in 3000 block of County Road S, Pensaukee, 3:18 p.m.

Nov. 5

Deputies responded to 44 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — reported in the 10000 block of West Rost Lake Road, Brazeau, 12:48 a.m.

Theft — reported in the 4000 block of County Road C, Chase, 1:51 a.m.

Disturbance — reported in the 900 block of Main Street, Oconto, 2:32 a.m.

Traffic crash — Hogsback Road south of LaFollett Road, Little River, Billy Jack Comins Jr., 17, Lena, swerved to avoid a deer, entered ditch, struck a culvert and landed in a field, no injuries, 5:12 a.m.

Theft — reported in the 800 block of East Groninger Street, Suring, 9:41 a.m.

Auto theft — reported in 5000 block Elm Lawn Road, Oconto Falls, 9:52 a.m.

Wed
15
Nov

NWTC gets national award for helping students graduate


Northeast Wisconsin Technical College president Jeffrey Rafn makes his annual report to the Oconto County Board.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has received several national awards, including one from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for its efforts to improve its students’ financial literacy and help them graduate.

“We aren’t in this business to win awards, but the awards certainly bring validation to us in terms that we’re doing the job that we need to be doing with our students,” said Jeffrey Rafn, NWTC president, in his annual report to the Oconto County Board on Thursday.

The recognition also helps pave the way to recruit students, letting them know they’d be attending an award-winning institution, Rafn said.

NWTC has worked hard to improve its graduation rate by providing tutors and other services. One example is an emergency fund that Rafn said could provide gas cards for students who temporarily can’t afford to get to class.

Wed
15
Nov

Oconto County Circuit Court Proceedings

Proceedings of Nov. 9

A Nov. 13 preliminary hearing was scheduled for Mark A. Gerow, 55, Mountain, who was charged with three counts of theft of movable property, altering a vehicle ID number, maintaining a drug trafficking place and possession of narcotic drugs, after a search warrant was executed at his home Oct. 19.

Preliminary hearings were scheduled for Dec. 4 for Paul F. Cleereman, 21, and Georgena D. Vladik, 29, Lakewood, who are each charged with two counts of theft of movable property and one count of bail jumping, after a search warrant was executed at their home Oct. 19.

Bond was set at $5,000 cash for David L. Francart, 53, Coleman, who is charged with theft in a business setting. The balance of his initial appearance was scheduled for Dec. 14.

Wed
08
Nov

Gillett gears up for Christmas in the Park


A wide variety of family friendly activities happens inside the Expo Hall at Zippel Park during Gillett’s annual Christmas in the Park celebration. (Contributed photo)

The Gillett City Council on Thursday approved a fireworks permit for the Christmas in the Park celebration at Zippel Park, which is scheduled for Dec. 2.

The annual event, sponsored by the Gillett Business Association, expands across the street this year, with a craft and vendor fair planned from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church (“The Clock Church”), 101 W. Main St.

More than 35 vendors are signed up to date to offer holiday craft items and a variety of products including Paparazzi Jewelry, Jamberry Nails, It Works, Pink Zebra, LuLaRoe clothing, Younique, Java Mama, LipSense, Wild Tree, Pampered Chef, Color Street Nails, Scentsy, Beggin Bits, doTerra oils, Thirty-One bags and Tupperware.

The association plans to celebrate the magic of Christmas with horse-drawn sleigh/wagon rides through Zippel Park. A variety of family friendly activities are planned from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. inside the Expo Hall at the park

Wed
08
Nov

Oconto teacher Tania Wusterbarth recognized as influential educator


Tania Wusterbarth holds the certificate and letter from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville proclaiming her a winner of the School of Education’s Influential Educator Award. (Contributed photo)

A special education teacher at Oconto High School is being honored by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Tania Wusterbarth, a special education teacher at Oconto High School, has been selected to receive an Influential Educator Award through UW-Platteville’s School of Education.

Teachers are nominated by one or more collegiate-level students who feel a particular educator has been an influence upon them and who is largely responsible for their decision to pursue a career in education. Criteria considered for he award includes an individual’s dedication to teaching, enthusiasm for his/her career, and one’s caring, respectful relationships with his/or students.

Wed
08
Nov

Valerie Fricke honored as All-Star Mentor


Val Fricke stands out as a trainer and mentor of her Nicolet Plastics co-workers, company officials said.

An employee of Nicolet Plastics in Mountain was honored as an All-Star Mentor during the sixth annual Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance “Excellence in Manufacturing” event Oct. 25 in Green Bay.

The event at the KI Convention Center showcased top talent from local manufacturing companies.

Valerie Fricke, an employee of Nicolet Plastics for 16 years, started in production on third shift, moved into a team leader role and, recently, “found her calling” as a process technician level 1, said Lisa Pichotta, human resources manager at Nicolet Plastics, who nominated Fricke for the award.

“As a process tech, Val also has the opportunity to train others. She plays an active role in not only training our many summer interns, but also making them feel welcome,” Pichotta said. “She takes the time to welcome and support all new employees including myself, even though that is not her official responsibility. She simply likes to help others.”

Wed
08
Nov

Mixed verdict in assault trial

A town of Brazeau man was found guilty Friday of four felonies, including reckless endangerment and maintaining a drug trafficking place, but not guilty of sexual assault or human trafficking, after a weeklong trial in Oconto County Circuit Court.

The 12-person jury heard five days of testimony in the case against Duane C. Patz, 52, before finding him guilty of four of nine charges that arose out of an incident at his home Feb. 7, 2016.

Patz was found guilty of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, strangulation and suffocation, manufacturing/delivering cocaine, and maintaining a drug trafficking place, all felonies.

The jury found him not guilty of human trafficking, second-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated person, and false imprisonment, all felonies, as well as misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct.

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