News

Wed
13
Jun

Emergency loans authorized for farmers’ snow losses

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering emergency loans for farmers in 52 counties, including Oconto County, to help with losses sustained in the mid-April blizzard.

The storm dropped up to 30 inches of snow April 13-15 over a large swath of the state, caving in barn roofs and forcing farmers to dispose of milk when trucks couldn’t get through, among other hardships.

“Wisconsin’s farmers are a key part of our state’s economy, our history and our future,” Gov. Scott Walker said, in announcing the availability of the USDA loans. “We are always listening to the needs of our farmers and look forward to working with them in the future to support our farming industry.”

Wed
13
Jun

Connecting to the future


Gov. Scott Walker, right, chats with Brazeau Town Chairman Ryan Wendt and Riverview Town Chairman Ann Hogan at a celebration Monday of new state grants to improve high-speed internet access in northern Oconto County. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

With a $600,000 state grant in hand, Bertram Communications hopes to make significant progress toward improving internet access to northern Oconto County by the end of the year.

Likewise, Nsight Telservices will soon begin laying a fiber optic network that brings high-speed broadband to the Oconto Falls Industrial Park, leveraging a $49,230 grant to complete the project.

The grants — part of the latest $7.6 million broadband allocation by the state Public Service Commission — were celebrated Monday in Oconto Falls at a gathering of state and local officials, including Gov. Scott Walker.

Bertram plans to construct five towers and lease space on two existing towers to boost internet speeds by five to 10 times current rates for nearly 4,000 customers in the northern part of the county.

Mark Dodge, the company’s director of business development, said being able to connect is a quality of life issue for businesses, families and tourists alike.

Wed
13
Jun

Grant expands St. Clare’s telemedicine capabilities


Colleen Koski, director of Patient Care Services at HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, consults with Dr. Jocko Zifferblatt, medical director of HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary’s Emergency Departments, during a demonstration of the Emergency Telemedicine technology at HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital. (Contributed photo)

MADISON – A second state grant that HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital has been awarded in as many years will allow medical and surgical patients and clinicians to consult in real time with specialists in Green Bay and elsewhere.

The $50,360 grant the Public Service Commission awarded earlier this month will be used to acquire a second “robot-like” device that provides St. Clare patients an audio/visual interaction with an off-site specialist. The patient’s condition can be jointly assessed and the specialist can collaborate with the patient’s physician on a treatment program, said David Lally, St. Clare’s director of business development.

After receiving a larger grant in 2016, St. Clare’s emergency department began using a portable device equipped with a high-resolution camera and monitor dedicated to telestroke and related patient care.

Wed
13
Jun

Gillett School Board to discuss survey results


Residents responding to a recent survey recommended the Gillett School Board hold a referendum to address district funding needs. This slide from the PowerPoint presentation breaks down the responses. (Illustration by School Perceptions)

Members of the Gillett School Board plan to further discuss recent survey results and a future plan based on survey information when they hold their regular June meeting Thursday evening.

The board meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the library of the Gillett Secondary School, 208 W. Main St.

The survey was sent out in April to the entire school district, and 396 people responded, or about 21 percent — considered a good response. Among major conclusions, a majority of respondents said they do not want to see cuts to programs and services in the district and agreed about the importance of educating the community on the need for an operating referendum and how the funds would be used.

Wed
13
Jun

A taste of farm living


Three large tents accommodate the Breakfast on the Farm serving lines and dozens of dining tables. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

Sunrise Dairy north of Suring was transformed into a small city Sunday as the 2018 Oconto County Breakfast on the Farm attracted close to 5,000 visitors looking for a taste of country cooking and living.

The third- and fourth-generation dairy operation has about 1,500 milk cows between the main location along state Highway 32 and a County Road M location, with about 1,500 head of young stock at other various farms.

The farm started in 1915 when Paul Tuschy bought 120 acres on the site. His daughter, Elenore, and her husband, Martin Hischke, purchased the business in 1959. The Hischkes’ sons, Dave and Dan, and Dave’s son, Luke, are part of the operation that has been known as Sunrise Dairy LLC since 2008.

Thu
07
Jun

Elected officials’ deputies get a pay raise

In the end, the long-delayed battle for pay raises for Oconto County’s deputy clerk, register of deeds and clerk of circuit courts turned out to be anti-climactic.

After postponing a vote twice in recent months, the county board listened to impassioned pleas May 24 from the elected officials who run those offices. Then, with almost no discussion, supervisors voted unanimously to approve the pay increases.

In January, the county board passed a resolution raising the deputy treasurer’s wage from $22.96 an hour to $24.09 to keep the person who holds that position from taking another job. A month later, the Personnel and Wages Committee presented a plan to give similar increases to the deputy clerk, register of deeds and clerk of circuit courts.

Supervisors voted 15-11 to delay a decision on the recommendation until their April meeting, arguing that the board would be getting a makeover in the April election and the new set of supervisors should have a say.

Thu
07
Jun

Assembly races set for fall

State Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz, will have a Democratic opponent this year for the first time since 2012.

Tim Comer of Niagara submitted nomination papers to challenge Mursau in the Nov. 6 election. Nomination papers with at least 200 valid signatures were due at the State Elections Commission office by 5 p.m. Friday.

Mursau is currently serving his seventh two-year term representing the 36th Assembly District — which includes much of northern Oconto County, including Gillett, Oconto Falls, Suring and Lena. He ran unopposed in 2014 and 2016.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, will be challenged by Democrat Ken Holdorf, also of Marinette. He has been in the Assembly since 2007 and is Assembly co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Nygren’s 89th Assembly District includes much of eastern Oconto County, including the city of Oconto and the towns of Abrams, Little River, Little Suamico, Oconto, Pensaukee and Stiles.

Thu
07
Jun

Libraries evolve as gathering spaces

Public libraries are continuing their metamorphoses from archives of books to community gathering centers – a theme that was repeated during the Oconto County Board’s regular monthly meeting May 24.

County Administrative Coordinator Kevin Hamann presented usage numbers reported to the state by the library branches in Gillett, Lakewood, Lena, Oconto, Oconto Falls and Suring.

“Overall, circulation is down 6 percent — those are the books and etc. — but library visits are up. The users of the public wireless are up, and the programs are up and the attendance at the programs,” Hamann said. “The library is not only now just for checking out books, but it’s kind of a community center.”

The anomaly was in Oconto Falls, which saw a surge in some unexpected areas — including a four-time increase in the number of young adults attending programs, from 124 in 2016 to 492 in 2017.

Thu
07
Jun

Oconto County Circuit Court Proceedings

Proceedings of May 29

John Osmon, 35, Oconto, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound over on charges of first-degree child sex assault, second-degree sexual assault of a child and repeated sexual assault of the same child in connection with incidents allegedly occurring in 2011 and 2017. In a separate case, he is charged with exposing himself to a child and exposing a child to harmful material in 2017. In a third complaint, he is charged with maintaining a drug trafficking place (second or subsequent offense), possession of THC with intent to deliver (second or subsequent offense), possession of THC (second or subsequent offense) and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, in connection with an alleged April 18 incident. A bail/bond hearing was scheduled for June 7; he is currently in the Oconto County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bond.

Thu
07
Jun

Building a better trap


Brock Bogacz, left, one of the architects behind a new bear trap for the DNR, uses a pulley to lift the door so the demonstration “bear,” junior Sam Brodhagen, can be released. The DNR has not had any new traps built in over 30 years, with wildlife biologist James Robaidek noting that some of the existing traps still say “Wisconsin Conservation Department.” (Times Herald photo by Lee Pulaski)

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources needed a new bear trap, something that could be transported around whenever someone in northeast Wisconsin called to complain about a furry visitor in a human-populated area.

The DNR turned to Pulaski High School to get that trap. The students who crafted the trap, sophomore Brock Bogacz and junior Chasten Fatla, presented the finished product Thursday to James Robaidek, a wildlife biologist out of the DNR’s Shawano office.

The trap is the first one that the DNR has had built in over 30 years, Robaidek said, and all the ones the DNR has are deployed all around the state. The DNR needed something that could be taken to locations where a bear has moved in and is not inclined to leave for one reason or another.

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