News

Tue
20
Aug

Ranger station, office proposed

Smokey Bear will stick to the main drag in Oconto Falls, but the ranger station he represents will move a few blocks away.

That’s the vision proposed by representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who want to purchase land in the Oconto Falls industrial park to upgrade and enlarge the ranger station.

The Oconto Falls City Council last week approved the DNR’s offer of $15,960 to purchase a 4.56-acre parcel on Hank Marks Drive, next to Luiser Well Drilling.

“It was my goal to find a spot close to the present one. People know where we’re at,” said Tim Mella, one of three DNR representatives to attend the meeting Aug. 13.

He said the current station’s 1-acre lot is not large enough to accommodate the new building, and attempts to purchase additional land adjacent to it were unsuccessful.

Tue
13
Aug

Humvees roll into Gillett

The Delta and Charlie companies of the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion completed a three-day training exercise, Operation Tiger, last week in Gillett. The operation earned its name because of the school mascot.

The soldiers conducted assessments of the local community from their base at the Oconto County Fairgrounds at Zippel Park. Their Humvees were parked in one, neat row outside the Expo building.

Inside, whiteboards were placed against the back wall, listing details of their missions. Computers and communication equipment filled several tables where soldiers entered data from their missions.

Gillett provided an ideal environment for the soldiers’ annual training, said Sgt. Patrick Leon, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the civil-military operations center.

“It’s a smaller community like many of the communities we would go to overseas,” he said.

Tue
13
Aug

Solutions slow to come for Suring apartments

The Suring Non-Profit Housing Corporation met on Thursday to discuss its ownership of the deteriorating Pioneer Villa apartments, 415 N. Mill St.

The corporation for months has looked for funding to make major repairs to the building’s roof and to address other structural issues.

It has also considered changing the management firm overseeing the property or selling the complex, where residents have complained about a leaky roof, cockroach infestation and overall building deterioration.

Manager Ken DePouw, of Housing Management Services, of Oconto, said it is a constant struggle to maintain financial viability for upkeep because it is a government-funded property.

Village officials have threatened to condemn the building if substandard living conditions are not corrected.

Tue
13
Aug

Policy change sought for county sick leave

The county’s sick leave policy should be modified to allow the payout of nearly $26,000 to the former corporation counsel, a committee decided Aug. 7.

The Law Enforcement/Judiciary Committee unanimously agreed to create a new policy for employees who are eligible to retire but instead resign after at least 30 years of county employment.

At issue is a $25,944 payout to Robert Mraz, a half-time corporation counsel and half-time assistant district attorney (ADA) working in Oconto County for 32 years.

In July, he accepted a full-time ADA position funded by the state. In accepting his new position, he lost his accrued sick leave for the corporation counsel position; sick leave is to be paid out only after retirement or death.

Tue
13
Aug

Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings from Aug. 8

A preliminary hearing is set Sept. 16 for Daniel J. Vandenack, 53, Fond du Lac. He is accused of being party to burglaries between May 26, 2012, and May 28, 2012, at Commando Paint Ball, at Helmle Construction on June 9, 2012, New Visions, all town of Abrams, between June 17 and 18, 2012, of Jo Jo’s Diner, and Firelite Ice Service, town of Stiles, between June 1 and June 22, 2012. A $1,000 cash bond was set, and he is to have no contact with any of the businesses.

A pretrial conference will take place Sept. 12 for Jason M. Sutrick, 33, Oconto Falls. He is charged with causing substantial battery intending to cause bodily harm and disorderly conduct on April 18 in Gillett. He entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment. A $1,000 cash bond was posted.

Tue
13
Aug

Oconto County Sheriff’s Department

A burglary was reported Aug. 5 at Tom Mary Trail, town of Little Suamico. Taken from a locked construction equipment truck parked on the roadway were a miter saw, generator, air compressor, stapler gun, six 100-foot extension cords and six air hoses.

At 4:07 p.m. July 23, a car driven by a male from Pound failed to negotiate a curve on Goatsville Road in the town of Lena, struck a road sign and entered a ditch. The driver was not injured. His auto sustained severe damage.

Tue
13
Aug

Lure of county fair endures over time

Anyone growing up in rural areas likely has memories of attending a local county fair. Whether as an exhibitor, vendor or attendee, almost all of us have been to the fair.

In Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, you have to read nearly a quarter-page worth of definitions of the word “fair” until you find sub-sub-definition 5.2a: “a competitive exhibition (as of farm products) usually with accompanying entertainment and amusements.”

The definition may fit as an overall, simplistic view of area county fairs, but a closer look reveals a lot more. Open class entrants are really entering as competitors with their crafts, artwork, produce or livestock and being judged against other exhibitors’ entries. They can gain bragging rights, but also can see new types of techniques, cultivars, species or breeds that they may be able to utilize to strengthen their own production systems.

Tue
13
Aug

A run for the money

The committee in pursuit of a new law enforcement center will take a fresh approach to the issue next month, delaying the issues of location and design and instead asking supervisors to back a plan to start billing taxpayers for the $25 million project.

The Law Enforcement/Judiciary Committee hopes to muster the 24 votes needed, reckoning the 75 percent supermajority support for funding will indicate sufficient backing for the overall project.

“You skip all the other processes and go right to that 75 percent vote,” Administrative Coordinator Kevin Hamann said.

“I would favor that 100 percent. You put people on the spot,” committee member Paul Bednarik said.

Hamann suggested the tactic as a way to move ahead with the project, which has stalled over uncertainties regarding the proposed site and whether to hold a referendum to gain voter acceptance.

Tue
13
Aug

St. Anthony’s overhaul impresses guests

Small groups wandered through the newly rebuilt St. Anthony School on Saturday, expressing their delight in the transformation.

“Beautiful! Gorgeous!” said Carol Marquardt, a Grace Lutheran Church member interested in the remodeling project.

Grace Lutheran, in Oconto Falls, opened its doors to St. Anthony’s students after the school was damaged by an arson fire in February 2011. That generosity allowed the school to continue with classes after only a brief interruption.

“We were glad to help the school. I was very proud that we helped,” Marquardt said.

The remodeling work also impressed those closely associated with the school.

“I think some people are going to realize how much the school means to everyone involved,” said Trisha Blaser, a 2002 St. Anthony graduate who attended the open house with her family.

Tue
13
Aug

Suring man found guilty of arson

A Suring man pleaded no contest and was found guilty of arson in Oconto County Court on Monday, just one of several charges that stem from an arson spree from 2009-2012 that has landed him in three court systems.

Judge Jay Conley accepted Drew Christensen’s plea agreement and found him guilty of two counts of arson. Christensen set fire to a trailer home belonging to Michael Borchradt, Kristine Trojan and Kenneth Trojan in August 2011 and a garage belonging to Dennis Lasky in January 2012, both in the town of Bagley.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 18, just days after Christensen, 28, is scheduled to be sentenced for other arson charges in federal court and Marinette County Circuit Court. In the Oconto County case, Christensen faces maximum sentences of 40 years in prison and $100,000 fines on each count.

Attorney Tricia Nell said her client takes responsibility for the crimes and will prepare letters of apology to be sent to the victims.

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