News

Wed
18
Dec

Jail planning moves ahead, despite critics

Oconto County officials hope to smooth over the concerns of a citizen’s group in Oconto that objects to the construction of a law enforcement center in the heart of the city.

The Oconto County Board of Supervisors voted in September to build the center in a downtown residential area north of the courthouse and reaffirmed the vote in October, despite objections from Oconto Mayer Victoria Bostedt and former Mayor Don Nerenhausen.

Members of a citizen’s group, which included Nerenhausen, met Dec. 2 with Oconto’s Planning Commission, which is chaired by Bostedt, to discuss their opposition to the law enforcement center’s city-center location, saying other sites are better suited than the residential area the county has chosen.

Wed
18
Dec

Sale of Pioneer Villa put on hold

The future of a low-income housing unit in the village of Suring remains uncertain, even after months of efforts to find a remedy to substandard living arrangements.

The Suring Non-Profit Housing Corporation owns Pioneer Villa Apartments at 415 N. Mill St., Suring, where residents have endured a leaky roof, cockroach infestation and overall building deterioration in recent years.

Speaking at the Suring Village Board meeting Dec. 10, Gerald Gehling, president of the housing board, said Astar Capital Management Inc. of Madison is interested in purchasing Pioneer Villa and Manor Drive Apartments, another low income housing unit in Suring.

The properties operate under two different government programs, which is causing difficulties, Gehling said. He won’t know more about the potential sale until after the first of the year, he added.

Emotions ran high after Gehling’s report.

Wed
18
Dec

Ceremony marks end of energy-saving projects


Contributed Photo

School officials hold a ribbon cutting ceremony in the boiler room of Oconto Falls Elementary School on Dec. 9 to recognize the energy savings projects completed in partnership with Ameresco. From left are Ken Harter, School Board member; Kent Wolf, Ameresco business development manager; James Spang, board member; Ron Leja, board president; Candie Lehto, director of instruction; Bec Kurzynske, board member; Jan Stranz, board member; and Superintendent Dave Polashek.

The boiler room of Oconto Falls Elementary School may seem like an unusual place for a ribbon cutting, but the symbolism was perfect because the upgraded heating system was getting a good workout on Dec. 9, due to the frosty temperatures outdoors.

The heating system at that building, along with the heating systems in several other district buildings, received major upgrades as part of an energy-savings project coordinated by Ameresco. The firm has been working with the Oconto Falls School District for two years to implement energy efficiency projects. Ameresco guaranteed that the $2.7 million capital outlay would be offset by energy savings over the next two decades.

In exchange for its service, Ameresco received a 7 percent management fee, or $189,000.

Wed
18
Dec

Revised conference schedule adopted for Falls schools

The school calendar approved by the Oconto Falls School Board for 2014-15 includes a revised schedule for parent-teacher conferences and one less day for face-to-face instruction.

The board on Dec. 9 looked at two proposals for the school calendar and chose a fall schedule that expands parent-teacher conferences to allow for additional parent access. Fall parent-teacher conferences are scheduled after school on Oct. 27 and 28 and from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 30. A vacation day is scheduled Oct. 31.

For the 2013-14 school year, students were released early on Oct. 17, and parent-teacher conferences were held in the afternoon and evening. Oct. 25 was a vacation day.

The 2014-15 calendar includes 179 face-to-face days between teachers and students and one day for parent-teacher conferences. The district has 180 face-to-face days scheduled for the current school year, but state regulations allow for 179 for the upcoming school year.

Wed
18
Dec

Oconto County Sheriff’s Department

At 10:03 a.m. Dec. 14, a car driven by an Oconto man sustained minor damage after leaving U.S. 141 north of U.S. 41 in the town of Abrams. The vehicle struck a guard rail, then entered the ditch and sustained minor damage.

At 1:45 p.m. Dec. 14, a female from Lena was southbound on U.S. 141 south of County Road A in the town of Lena when her vehicle skidded on the snow-covered roadway, entered a ditch and struck a highway fence. Minor damage was reported to her auto. She was not injured.

At 9:31 a.m. Dec. 14, an Abrams woman was driving south on U.S. 41-141 in the town of Abrams, south of County Road D, when she lost control of her vehicle and struck a road sign then entered a ditch. No injuries were reported, and minor damage was reported to her vehicle.

Wed
18
Dec

Groundbreaking held at CMH


Contributed photo

A groundbreaking ceremony at Community Memorial Hospital is officiated by, from left, Rich Otradovec, Brian Charlier, Dr. Ashok Rai, Christy Kaempfer, Dan DeGroot and Tom Bayer. Standing in the background is Todd Duame of Duame Sand & Gravel.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Dec. 9 for a two-story medical office building that will expand health care services on the Community Memorial Hospital campus.

The 28,000-square-foot facility will offer specialty medical services such as orthopedic and podiatry care, urology, oncology and pain management. The target completion date for the building is August.

Officiating the groundbreaking ceremony were Christy Kaempfer, chair of the CMH board of directors; Dr. Ashok Rai, Prevea president, CEO and CMH board member; Brian Charlier, Prevea senior vice president and chief operating officer; Rich Otradovec, of RODAC Development & Construction; Tom Bayer, Hospital Sisters Health Systems senior vice president regional development and CMH board of directors; and Dan DeGroot, CMH CEO.

Wed
11
Dec

Hanson found guilty of McLean’s homicide


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

Carol Neilson, right, shares a tearful hug after the jury reached a guilty verdict in the homicide trial of Peter Hanson. The jury of nine women and three men found Hanson guilty of the 1998 murder of Neilson’s son, Chad McLean, after a night of beer drinking in Abrams.

The family of Chad McLean pumped their fists into the air in celebration as the judge announced that Peter Hanson was guilty of the murder of McLean almost 16 years ago. They hugged each other and wiped away tears after the verdict was read Wednesday.

They had waited a long time for this day.

For nine years after McLean’s body was discovered in the Pensaukee River in Abrams, the family put up posters, handed out fliers and even purchased a billboard in the pursuit of the killer.

“We’re happy with the verdict,” one family member said when approached by the Times Herald.

Hanson, 52, covered his face with his hands as Judge Michael Judge read the verdict.

A jury of nine women and three men, after deliberating for almost five hours, found Hanson guilty of the intentional homicide of McLean.

Wed
11
Dec

Campground cleanup costs lower than estimates

Environmental cleanup at Gillett’s new campground will cost less than expected, it was announced Thursday.

The city will be responsible for a $2,500 deductible, which will be placed as a lien on the Washington Street property where Nicolet Trail Campground opened this summer. Earlier estimates were $7,500 to $10,000.

“That was very good news,” Mayor Irene Drake said.

The city will receive state funds for the project, required by the Department of Natural Resources. METCO, a La Crosse engineering firm, was selected to oversee the work, which is scheduled to begin within a few weeks and conclude before the opening of the campground in the spring.

The environmental cleanup became necessary when underground storage tanks were discovered this summer when the campground was developed. The city purchased the property in the spring of 2012 from Westerfield Oil.

The 20-site Nicolet Trail Campground caters to ATV riders who use the Nicolet State Trail.

Wed
11
Dec

Gillett Fire purchases new gear for crew


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

Gillett Fire Chief Tom Wolfgram pulls his new turnout gear from his locker at the city of Gillett fire station. The department purchased 20 sets of the jacket and pants, using a gift from the estate of Ann Horick.

The city of Gillett Fire Department has received $30,000 worth of protective gear for firefighters.

Twenty new sets of trousers and jackets, also known as turnout gear, arrived at the end of November. Each set costs about $1,600.

A $19,000 gift from the Ann Horick estate was put toward the purchase, along with Fire Department funds. The civic-minded Horick, who passed away in June 2012, left her estate to various recipients in the Gillett community, including the school district, fire and police departments, and the ambulance service.

Fire Chief Tom Wolfgram said the department’s turnout gear was 10 years old and in need of replacement. Most of the old gear will be discarded, but some will remain in use.

Wed
11
Dec

Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings from Dec. 5

Dustin T. Sonnenburg, Gresham, pleaded no contest to possession of a controlled substance. He was arrested June 21, 2012, in Gillett. He was placed in the Oconto County Volunteers In Probation program for a year, ordered to pay $253 court costs, attend alcohol and other drug abuse assessment, and receive any treatment or counseling ordered.

A pretrial conference is scheduled Feb. 13 for Yvahn L. Shaw, 26, Oconto. She is charged with endangering the safety of another by use of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct on Nov. 12 in Oconto. Her $200 cash bond continues.

An initial appearance will continue Jan. 9 for Keith A. Smet, 26, Oconto, who faces charges of repeated sexual assault of a child, which allegedly took place between June 1 and Sept. 30 in Oconto. His bond is set at $50,000, and he is to have no contact with the alleged victim or any minor females.

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