News

Wed
17
Jul

Discovery of underground tanks delays Gillett work

The development of Gillett’s new campground, already slowed by the weather, experienced another delay recently when the excavator uncovered two, 300-gallon underground tanks at the site.

Although the tanks were empty, the Department of Natural Resources took samples of the soil nearby. Pending results of the soil samples, the worst-case scenario would be removing any contaminated soil and replacing it with new soil, said Rick Raatz, chairman of the ad hoc campground committee.

Since the only underground construction involves electrical and plumbing trenching, Raatz was hopeful that soil replacement would not be required.

Gillett’s Community Development Authority is developing the 20-site Nicolet Trail Campground on Washington Street to cater to ATV enthusiasts and others who use the Nicolet State Trail.

Wed
17
Jul

Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings from July 12

John F. Benser, 48, Pound, pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated, eighth offense. He was arrested March 11 in the town of Brazeau. A presentence investigation was ordered, with sentencing set for Sept. 4. His $10,000 cash bond continues, and he is not to drive without a valid license and have no alcohol.

Matthew R. Pearson, 20, Sobieski, pleaded not guilty to charges of being party to burglary and party to theft, which allegedly took place Sept. 6, 2012, in the town of Abrams. A status conference will be held Sept. 12, and his $1,000 cash bond continues.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 9 for Camrin C. Baierl, 22, Crivitz. He entered no contest pleas to being party to burglary Nov. 1, 2012, in the town of Lakewood, and of burglary, which took place Dec. 5, 2012, in the town of Riverview. Cash bonds of $5,000 and $3,500 continue.

Proceedings from July 11

Wed
17
Jul

Gillett looks to contract out for garbage service

By the end of 2013, the city of Gillett plans to dump its costly garbage-collection service in favor of a private contractor.

Nanette Mohr, chairwoman of the Public Works Committee, said two companies have submitted bids to take over, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The committee will review the bids and present its recommendation to the City Council in the coming months.

Under the city’s present system, residents purchase stickers for $1.50 each and place these on their bags. With a switch to a private firm, residents will place a covered, wheeled tote at the curb. Stickers will no longer be used, so Mohr advised individuals use all their stickers in 2013.

Mohr said the city will try to negotiate fees comparable to 2013 costs — $78 per household for 52 stickers (one for each week).

The city will not change its recycling program, since that service is under contract to Oconto County through Dec. 31, 2015. It will also continue its commercial pickup service.

Wed
17
Jul

Salt shed project put on hold

The city of Gillett needs a place to store its salt this winter, following the collapse of a partnership with the town of Gillett to build a new shed.

The city tore down its salt shed because of inadequate size, poor condition and location. The shed was located on the site of Nicolet Trail Campground, now under development by the Community Development Authority. The city and the town of Gillett used this shed to store salt.

When the town and city held a joint meeting Thursday to sign a new agreement to build a salt shed, discussions came to an abrupt halt.

Andrew Schaal, Town of Gillett chairman, said the town was not ready to enter into an agreement with the city for the upcoming winter.

Wed
17
Jul

Farm bill still a long way from becoming law

Thursday marked the House passage of the Farm Bill. Wait a minute, actually it only passed the agricultural portion of the Farm Bill, which is the smaller part of it. House leadership was badly embarrassed last month when it failed to pass the Farm Bill due primarily to last minute amendments affecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which forms the largest fiscal portion of that legislation.

The Farm Bill (which should really be called the Food Bill now) has historically been a bipartisan effort, and the agricultural committees really do normally try to accomplish that, no matter how partisan other issues have been leading up to a new Farm Bill. However, last month’s defeat was clearly a partisan issue.

Wed
17
Jul

Jail referendum language dropped

The push to build a law enforcement center in the town of Little River cleared another hurdle last week, as the Oconto City Council approved an amendment to its annexation agreement that drops the reference to a referendum.

The Little River Town Board will discuss the amendment today.

The original annexation agreement, which gives the city right-of-way access to the proposed center’s site, required the passage of a referendum before Little River received $8,000 from the city. The money is compensation for the town’s anticipated loss of state transportation aid on the section of road leading to the center.

County officials requested the referendum language be removed from the annexation agreement.

According to the city’s attorney, without the amendment, the city would not be bound to pay the town and could annex the road anyway, if a referendum for the project passes.

Wed
17
Jul

Rates increase for city-provided electricity

Typical residential electrical customers of Oconto Falls Municipal Utilities will pay $2.42 more on their monthly electrical bills under a rate order issued July 10 by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Residential customers currently paying $75.86 monthly for 604 kilowatt hours of power will pay $78.28 for the same amount of power, said Lisa Christensen, the utilities’ executive administrative assistant. The new rates took effect Saturday.

The current $7 monthly meter charge remains unchanged.

Rates for the utility’s general service, small power and large power customer classes will increase by 3.1, 1.7 and 1 percent, respectively, according to the rate order.

Bills reflecting the new rates will be mailed in September, Christensen said.

The utility can pass any increases in the cost of power it buys, called the power cost adjustment clause (PCAC), to its customers.

Thu
11
Jul

Spruce owes Chicago attorney for records expenses

The town of Spruce will have to pay legal costs to a Chicago attorney looking into the operation of the Holt Park campground, located on Kelly Lake’s west shore.

The District III Court of Appeals last week overturned a ruling by Oconto County Circuit Judge Jay Conley that the town had provided enough of the town records requested by attorney James Webster, who has a summer residence on Kelly Lake, and that he was not entitled to reimbursement for legal fees incurred in a court filing.

The appeals court ordered Conley to grant Webster access to the town’s financial ledger and to determine how much he should be reimbursed for filing a write of mandamus. Attorneys for Webster and the town will submit recommendations regarding how much to reimburse Webster to Conley before he makes his ruling.

Webster has expressed concerns about the town operating a 48-trailer campground on land the Holt Lumber Company had deeded to town residents in 1923 for use as a park.

Thu
11
Jul

Panel proposes dropping referendum requirement

Although some community leaders want a referendum on a proposed new Oconto County law enforcement center, the city of Oconto and town of Little River are fine-tuning an annexation deal for the site that may eliminate the referendum requirement.

Under the agreement reached between the town and city, Little River will grant Oconto right-of-way on a section of Superior Road to the proposed site and provide emergency services and utilities for the facility. In return, Oconto will pay the town $8,000 to offset state transportation aid the town would lose.

According to Town Chairman Tom Des Jarlais, Little River receives approximately $2,200 in state aid per mile for that section of Superior Road annually. According to the agreement, the $8,000 payment is contingent upon the passage of a referendum for the law enforcement center to be built.

Thu
11
Jul

Rebirth proposed at ex-Oconto hospital

A proposal to develop an apartment or office complex at the boarded-up hospital building in Oconto was greeted with enthusiasm last week by city leaders.

Representatives of Smet Construction Services, of Green Bay, met with the city’s Industrial Development Commission on Thursday to unveil their plans for the facility, which closed about 10 years ago.

According to a proposal submitted by Smet’s Memorial Gardens Redevelopment of Wisconsin, the original hospital building will be renovated into offices or apartments. The building additions would be demolished and the land incorporated into the project. Located at the corner of First Street and Collins Avenue, the two-story building is approximately 12,000 square feet.

“I love that building and it needs to be utilized,” Mayor Victoria Bostedt said.

“We are supportive of that as well,” said Kevin Hamann, administrative coordinator for Oconto County.

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