News

Wed
19
Feb

Bostedt, Hayes advance in mayoral election

First-term incumbent Victoria Bostedt and Ron Hayes, Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce president, will face off for mayor of Oconto in the April 1 election. Bostedt received 400 votes, while Hayes tallied 362, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary election. Alderman Ron Daul was eliminated from the race, earning only 72 votes.

In the nine-person race for alderman, Tony Daul was eliminated and eight others advanced. Daul received 200 votes.

Incumbents were the favorites; Lauren Resch earned 552 votes, Roger Reed, 446, and Al Schreiber, 417.

Next in line were John Wittkopf, 314 votes, Jodette Bostedt, 292, OraLee Martin, 263, Darrell Anderson, 258, and Shelley Rosenfeldt, 247.

Four positions are open on the Oconto City Council.

Wed
19
Feb

Count uncovers 1 unsheltered person

One person was found homeless in Oconto County on Jan. 29, the only person in a five-county area living outside a shelter, according to the results of a biannual homelessness count.

Forty-five others were residing in domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters, according to Amanda Anderson, community access director for NEWCAP, which coordinated the count for Oconto, Marinette, Menominee, Shawano and Florence counties.

The highest homelessness numbers were reported in Menominee County, with 27 individuals in shelters, followed by Shawano County with 12 and Marinette County with six. No individuals were found to be homeless in Florence County.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counts be conducted on the last Wednesday in January and July, and the results are used to evaluate the scope of local homelessness, engage in program development and assist in determining future funding for the community.

Wed
19
Feb

An explosion of speed and sound


Photo by Mark Mortell

Josh Simpson, of Otisville, Mich., makes a fast start Friday at the World Series of Ice Drags. For a third year in a row, the Oconto Falls Sno-Jokers club hosted the races at the West Side Beach in Oconto Falls.

The scream of the engines could be heard across town, but you had to get up close to truly appreciate the speed of the sleds as they whizzed past in a blur of color and sound.

“They’re a little crazy out there,” said Christina Bekkela, of Stiles, who spent her Valentine’s Day watching the races with her fiance, Neal Rebman. The couple rode their snowmobiles to the World Series of Ice Drags and watched the races from the bleacher area Friday and Saturday at the West Side Beach in Oconto Falls.

“We’re winter sports enthusiasts,” Rebman said. “We love snowmobiling, and we love going fast.”

“That might be a little fast for us,” Bekkela said, watching the action. “We’ll have a little competition between us and friends, but never something like this.”

Wed
19
Feb

Icing forces plane to make emergency landing

Icing caused a small plane headed for Menominee, Mich., to make an emergency landing Thursday afternoon at the Oconto airport.

The pilot of the twin-engine Beechcraft reported the emergency at 3:30 p.m. to air traffic controllers at Austin Straubel Airport in Green Bay.

Due to rainy and snowy conditions, the pilot had difficulty locating the runway at the Oconto-J. Douglas Bake Municipal Airport, according to Oconto Fire Chief Jack Mlnarik. The Oconto County Highway Department plowed the runway minutes before the plane landed.

The plane came down hard on its landing gear, breaking the gear and causing the plane to skid off the runway on its belly. The Fire Department applied foam to the aircraft’s engines to prevent a fire.

Wed
19
Feb

Gillett, Suring closer to spring sports co-op

The Suring School Board is set to approve a sports co-op agreement with the Gillett School District that would allow Suring students to play high school baseball and softball for the first time. Where the games will be played is still under consideration, according to Suring Superintendent Robert Ray.

The Suring School District has no softball or baseball facilities, so Suring officials propose the use of nearby parks in the town of How or Breed or the village of Suring, in order to play games in the Suring area. The fields are being measured and evaluated to assure they comply with Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association regulations, and discussions have begun with town and village officials.

Gillett athletes compete at the Orby Jones Family Sports Complex, which has baseball and softball fields. Gillett Superintendent Todd Carlson said the School Board is aware of the request to host games in the Suring area and is open to discuss site options.

Wed
19
Feb

Revised comp time plan adopted

The Oconto Falls City Council on Feb. 11 voted to increase the number of compensatory hours available to city employees. With a unanimous vote, the council increased the limit from 40 to 80.

City Administrator Vicki Roberts requested the change, citing the extra hours employees are dedicating to snow removal and frozen water lines this winter.

Roberts could not provide an estimate of the number of extra hours needed for winter work this year, saying only, “It’s been a lot.”

According to federal statute, the city may give employees one and one-half hours of time off for every hour of overtime rather than pay the overtime rate. Roberts said the city would benefit financially by using compensatory time, and employees would have more vacation time.

Employees can choose which option they prefer and have no time limit in which to use the hours. The amount of time an employee can accrue cannot exceed 80 hours.

Wed
19
Feb

Outdated fire gear to be donated

The Oconto Falls City Council recently voted unanimously to allow the Oconto Falls Fire Department to dispose of old and outdated fire gear.

City Administrator Vicki Roberts said the city is not allowed to sell the equipment but may donate the items. The equipment that can’t be used for fire fighting might be usable by ambulance services or other agencies for traffic control.

Fire Chief Tim Magnin was concerned that residents might think throwing away the equipment was wasteful, but he said the gear has expiration dates for recommended length of use, and some items, such as firefighters’ jackets and pants, are outdated and damaged.

The Oconto Falls Fire Department will keep some gear on hand for use by recruits interested in joining the department. Once a recruit has made a commitment to the force, the department will purchase new gear, Magnin said.

For the remainder, Magnin will seek out interested parties before disposing of it.

Wed
19
Feb

School Board studies technology expansion

The Oconto Falls School Board is poised to triple the number of students who will have daily use of a school-provided laptop computer.

Board members spoke Feb. 10 in favor of expanding the program after Washington Middle School teachers told of the successful roll-out of one-to-one technology for the seventh-grade class this school year.

“I love what’s happening already, and this is the first year,” School Board member Jan Stranz said. She recommended the district be aggressive in its approach to the program, arguing that students have become accustomed to using technology as a learning tool.

“There’s no turning back, as far as I’m concerned,” she said. Printed textbooks are too static, she added.

Director of Instruction Candie Lehto said textbooks now have an online component, featuring video clips, online worksheets and the most recent information available in the field.

Wed
19
Feb

Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings from Feb. 13

Samantha L. Smith, 18, Oconto, entered not guilty pleas to three charges of felony bail jumping and to disorderly conduct, which allegedly occurred Sept. 3, Oct. 12, and Dec. 6. Her pretrial conference is April 10, and a $10,000 cash bond continues.

A preliminary hearing is March 14 for Johnny Reed, 33, Oconto. He is accused of being party to a robbery Nov. 30 in Oconto. His $10,000 cash bond continues.

Keith A. Manecke, 51, Gillett, pleaded not guilty to strangulation and suffocation and disorderly conduct, which allegedly took place Dec. 30 in the town of Underhill. His pretrial conference is March 13, and his $500 cash bond continues.

A preliminary hearing is March 19 for Kandice M. King, 30, Suring. She is accused of possession of narcotic drugs and possessing an illegally obtained prescription on Dec. 13 in Gillett. Her $2,000 signature bond continues.

Wed
19
Feb

Oconto County Sheriff’s Department

At 6:45 p.m. Feb. 8, a car driven by a man from Little Suamico was eastbound on Konitzer Road, town of Oconto Falls. His vehicle was meeting a westbound auto, and he moved too far to the right. His vehicle entered a ditch and overturned. He was not injured, and no contact was made with the unidentified vehicle.

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