News

Wed
27
Nov

Oconto County Sheriff’s Department

At 7 a.m. Nov. 16, a pickup truck driven by a Suring woman skidded on an icy spot on County Road A in the town of Maple Valley, entered a ditch and overturned. The vehicle sustained moderate damage, and the driver was transported to a medical facility for treatment of her injuries. She was ticketed for failure to have control of the vehicle.

At 2:28 p.m. Nov. 19, a car driven by a woman from Mountain swerved to avoid striking a deer on Star Lake Road in the town of Riverview. Her vehicle skidded into a ditch on the south side of the road and struck a tree. She was not injured. Her car was damaged severely.

Wed
27
Nov

Upgrades under way for White Potato Lake

The town of Brazeau Sanitary District No. 1 plans to prevent problems before they occur by replacing pumps at its six lift stations around White Potato Lake.

The $550,000 project is a once-a-generation event, said Tom Sadowske, the district’s secretary/treasurer.

“We hope to head this stuff off at the pass. This is all old equipment, and by doing them all now, it will save time and money,” he said.

The district operates the sanitary sewer for approximately 300 customers living along or near White Potato Lake. The lift stations have functioned well since their installation in 1977.

While there have been few customer complaints in recent years, repairs have become costly, and parts are nearly unavailable, Sadowske said. With the possibility of equipment breaking down, the district had to act, he said.

“The work has already begun,” he said.

Wed
27
Nov

Training exercises close to home


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

Oconto Falls firefighter Kurt Lietz attaches ropes to a practice dummy Thursday night in the Fire Department’s new training facility. After the ropes were secure, the dummy was pulled up to the second floor by firefighters. They were simulating the rescue of an unconscious victim from a basement to the first floor of a building.

With a shout of “1, 2, 3!” firefighters in Oconto Falls lifted first a mannequin and then a series of firefighters to safety Thursday night, rehearsing a technique that simulated a basement-to-first-floor rescue of an unconscious victim. Next, they practiced the window-exit rescue of an unconscious victim from a tight space.

Both exercises were completed at the Fire Department’s new training facility, located behind the fire station. After five years of planning, fundraising and construction, the facility is now open. The building provides a setting for ladder practice and rescue drills of all types.

“Being able to do this is unbelievable,” firefighter Kurt Lietz said of Thursday’s session.

The group used a hole between the first and second floors of the building to lower rescuers and raise victims by ropes.

“Who’s going to let us cut a hole in their floor so we can practice?” he said.

Wed
27
Nov

Falls tax levy remains steady

City officials in Oconto Falls managed to balance a 2014 budget that incorporates three street projects and a new police vehicle but results in only a slight increase in the tax levy.

The City Council on Nov. 19 adopted a budget that calls for $2 million in general fund expenditures, a 1.64 percent or $31,731 increase over last year.

The tax levy for 2014 is $964,146, an increase from last year of $4,146, a change of less than 1 percent.

“There is little waste in the city,” Finance Committee Chairman Marty Coopman said. “We have our budget trimmed down.”

The council presented and approved the budget with no other members of the community present.

A mill rate has not been calculated.

The 2013 levy limit set by the state for Oconto Falls was $982,570. However, the city approved the levy at $960,000, which resulted in a lower limit for 2014 of $964,146.

Wed
27
Nov

Sno-Riders to purchase land for storage facility

A snowmobile and ATV club interested in constructing a storage building in Gillett is negotiating a land trade with the City Council.

The Gillett Sno-Riders club plans to construct a long and narrow building to store its ATV and snowmobile trail equipment. Plans for the building will be finalized in the next few months, with construction ideally beginning in the spring, said Erik Lambrecht, who serves on the Gillett Sno-Riders board of directors.

“Our main intention is storage right now, but we’re hoping in the future that we can hold ATV and snowmobile safety courses out of there,” Lambrecht said.

He said club members want to have one facility to store equipment that is now scattered in the garages of several members. Instead of a plain, steel shed, Lambrecht said the building exterior will conform with the surrounding historic buildings and possibly incorporate a railroad theme.

Wed
27
Nov

Ready for emergencies

A new mobile command post is ready for emergency use in Oconto County.

A 34-foot recreational vehicle was purchased in February from a private party and remodeled extensively for emergency government use. The RV is powered by a generator, so it can be parked anywhere and be fully operational without relying on an electrical source.

The vehicle will provide a location for law enforcement and emergency personnel to convene in case of a severe emergency. It is equipped with heat and air conditioning.

Included in the renovations is the creation of a communications center with multiple stations, which replaced a back bedroom. A couch in the front of the unit can be converted to a bed to provide respite for officials working long hours.

Wed
20
Nov

Suring man gets 19 years in prison


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

District Attorney Ed Burke confers with Tricia Nell, attorney for Drew Christensen, seated at right, at a sentencing hearing Monday in Oconto County Circuit Court.

A former volunteer firefighter convicted of five counts of arson was sentenced last week in state and federal courts to a combined 15 years in prison followed by eight years extended supervision.

On Monday in Oconto County, a judge added four more years of prison and six more years of extended supervision for Drew Christensen, 29, of Suring, rejecting a joint recommendation that would have required no additional prison time and two additional years of supervision.

Christensen’s body shook with silent sobs and family members wiped away tears as Oconto County Circuit Court Judge Jay Conley announced the sentence for the arson of two Oconto County properties.

“There has to be some pound of flesh for what happened here, a punishment,” Conley said.

Wed
20
Nov

Local tree to brighten state Capitol


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

With their Christmas tree cut and loaded on a trailer, first lady Tonette Walker, right, and Gov. Scott Walker, left, talk with Dave Vander Velden, owner of Whispering Pines Tree Farm. For a second year in a row, the Walkers cut down a tree at Whispering Pines to display at the state Capitol. Tonette said she enjoyed their visit so much last year, she wanted to return.

The governor and first lady, for a second year in row, reveled in the magic of cutting down a Christmas tree at an Oconto County tree farm.

“Good to be back!” Gov. Scott Walker said at his Nov. 13 visit to Whispering Pines Tree Farm. The Walkers visited the farm to cut down a tree that will be displayed in the Governor’s Conference Room at the state Capitol. The governor uses the room for news conferences, bill signings, cabinet meetings and receptions.

Whispering Pines owners Dave and Mary Vander Velden earned the privilege of hosting the Walkers after exhibiting a champion tree in a state contest.

“This is an honor. It’s the third time we put a tree in the Capitol, and each time is just as great as the last time,” Dave Vander Velden said.

Wed
20
Nov

County pumps $5,000 into dive team

Oconto County and the town of Brazeau reached an agreement last week that names the Brazeau Dive Team as the water rescue service for the county and compensates the town $5,000 annually for the service.

The rescue service was in jeopardy of folding, as town officials struggled to justify the team’s $5,000 annual expense in an era of ever-tightening municipal budgets.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time, for months, trying to work something out with the county or to see what we were going to do with the dive team,” said Brazeau Town Chairman Ryan Wendt. “We went to the county, and they were open-minded about it.”

Wendt and a representatives from the dive team met with county officials in August. They asked the county to contract with the town because the dive team responded to calls outside its municipal boundaries but was funded solely by the town.

Wed
20
Nov

Pay plan adopted for county employees


Times Herald photo by Joan Koehne

Charlie Carlson tells county supervisors about a classification/compensation study performed by Carlson-Dettmann Consulting.

The Oconto County Board on Thursday adopted a compensation plan for its 250 employees that simplifies the system that evolved over several decades of collective bargaining.

With the passage of Act 10 in 2011, the bargaining rights of public sector unions were restricted, with the exception of protective service employees. Previously, the county bargained with separate employee unions and ended up with different outcomes.

The plan adopted by the County Board last week will be implemented in January 2014.

“What this will do is put everybody on one pay plan,” said Charlie Carlson, of the Madison-based Carlson-Dettmann Consulting.

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