Whispering Pines tree takes state honors

Contributed Photo

Chris Duffy, left, and Dave Vander Velden, of Whispering Pines Tree Farm, Oconto, exhibited the grand champion Christmas tree in a contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association. They shared the title with Tom Happersett of Happ’s Homegrown Christmas Trees, Neshkoro.

A tree grown in Oconto County was selected as a state winner in a contest organized by the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association at its summer convention.

Dave and Mary Vander Velden of Whispering Pines Tree Farm, Oconto, and Tom Happersett of Happ’s Homegrown Christmas Trees, Neshkoro, were the co-champions in the annual event. Members in attendance voted for the best tree in each of five classes and for an overall grand champion.

Whispering Pines has won the championship for thee of the past four years.

The winners will present a tree to Gov. Scott Walker to be displayed in the state Capitol in December. The growers are also eligible to enter the National Christmas Tree Association contest, which will be held in August 2014. The winner of the national contest will present a tree to the first lady in the White House.


Oconto County Sheriff's Department

At 1:30 a.m. Aug. 28, a car driven by a Green Bay woman swerved to avoid striking a deer on County Road W east of Bear Paw Road, town of Mountain, entered a ditch and struck a small tree. The driver was not injured. Her car sustained moderate damage.

At 6:16 p.m. Aug. 21, an Oconto Falls woman was westbound on a curve on County Road CC in the town of Oconto Falls when her vehicle traveled onto the gravel shoulder, entered a ditch and came to rest in a cornfield. She was not injured. Her vehicle sustained moderate damage.

At 7:45 a.m. Aug. 23, an Oconto woman was driving from a field to cross County Road J in the town of Oconto to enter a driveway when she collided with a westbound auto driven by an Oconto man. Both vehicles sustained moderate damage. No injuries were reported.


Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings from Aug. 28

Mary A. Holzberger, 53, Lena, entered not guilty pleas to theft of movable property, theft from a business setting and fraudulent writings, which allegedly occurred between Aug. 24, 2007, and Sept. 4, 2008, in the town of Lena. A teleconference and status conference are Dec. 5. A $5,000 signature bond continues.


Proceedings from Aug. 27

A status conference is Sept. 6 for Katrina M. Huempfner, 25, Green Bay. She is accused of possession of a controlled substance, second violation, and possessing drug paraphernalia. She was arrested Jan. 6, 2013, in the town of Pensaukee. A $200 cash bond continues.

Robert S. Brostrom, 76, Abrams, made an initial appearance on two charges of driving while intoxicated, fifth or sixth offense. He was arrested Aug. 14 and again Aug. 25, both in the town of Abrams. His appearance will continue Sept. 12, and a $5,000 cash bond was set.


Proceedings from Aug. 26


Gillett hires superintendent from Shawano

Photo by Anne Renel

Miles Winkler, Gillett School Board president, shakes hands with Todd Carlson, superintendent of the Shawano School District, after Carlson was named superintendent of the Gillett School District at Thursday’s School Board meeting. Carlson’s resignation was scheduled to be addressed Tuesday by the Shawano School Board.

Two top administrators of the Shawano School District have been hired in Gillett.

On Thursday, the Gillett School Board approved the administrative contracts of Gillett native Todd Carlson, Shawano superintendent for the past six years, and Steve Linssen, associate principal of Shawano Community High School.

Carlson was hired as superintendent to replace Kyle Ransom, who resigned in June.

Linssen was hired as secondary school principal to replace Jeremy Pach, who resigned in August. Linssen previously worked as a student teacher in Gillett.

The Shawano School Board on Tuesday released both men from their contracts with that district.

Miles Winkler, president of the Gillett School Board, said the board was looking for someone with experience to lead the district.

“To have him come in here with his experience, knowledge, demeanor — he has the whole package,” Winkler said.


Courthouse neighborhood reconsidered as possible jail site

It was just what they wanted. The price was right, location ideal. It was the perfect size for a small family.

Betty Bickel said the home she purchased with her boyfriend in December was just right. In February, they moved into the brown and tan brick, one-story home on Jefferson Street in Oconto.

Now, seven months later, Bickel said she is ready to sell.

A county committee has renewed its interest in building a law enforcement center next to the courthouse and has asked 14 property owners, including Bickel, if they are willing to sell their homes to make room for it.

“We are going to say yes, and we talked to other neighbors around, and they’re going to say yes, too,” she said.

In a survey mailed Aug. 28, the county questioned owners of property one block north of the courthouse if they would be willing to sell their homes at fair market price within the next year.


Hotel's potential hinges on investors

Oconto Falls is a prime location for a new hotel, according to an Oconto County market study completed earlier this year.

The study was commissioned by the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation to determine if the economy and lodging demand in the county could support a new hotel. It also analyzed the county to determine an area with the greatest potential for a successful hotel operation that could promote future economic growth countywide.

City Administrator Vicki Roberts said a hotel, like any new business, would be create taxable property and generate jobs.

“This is a big deal for the Falls,” said Paul Ehrfurth, OCEDC director, “but it won’t be something that happens without some work.”

The work he referred to is finding investors.

“I need you to help me identify people who can invest 50 to 100 grand or more in a hotel,” he told members of the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce at their August meeting.


Accidents claim two lives

Two people died in separate Oconto County accidents this week.

Speed is believed to be a factor in the death of 22-year-old man who died in a one-vehicle accident Saturday in Lena, according to the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department.

Brett Marquardt, 22, of Long Lake, was traveling southbound on Meyer Hill Lane when he reportedly lost control of his Buick LeSabre. He was ejected from the car, which hit a culvert and overturned. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is unknown if alcohol is a factor in the accident.

The accident is under investigation by the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department.

A Seymour motorcyclist died in a head-on collision with a van Sunday in the town of Riverview, according to the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department.

Paul Vande Hei, 46, was traveling eastbound on County Road W and drifted across the center line on a curvy, hilly stretch of road. He died en route to the hospital.


Little River pushes for jail referendum

Leaders in the town of Little River want residents to go to the polls before a $25 million law enforcement center is constructed in their town.

On Thursday, the Town Board rejected an amendment to its annexation agreement with Oconto that would have paved the way to build the center in the town.

“We had a long discussion on it, and we looked at a lot of the different issues pertaining to it,” Town Chairman Tom DesJarlais said, “but it all boiled down to people need to have some say on it.”

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.


Girl's quilt stolen from county fair display

Contributed Photo

A twin-sized quilt exhibited at the Oconto County Fair by Elizabeth Ciancio was reportedly stolen from the fairgrounds’ Expo Building on Friday. Ciancio received a blue ribbon for the quilt Thursday. This photo was taken at a Hintz 4-H meeting earlier this year when Ciancio told members how she made the quilt with her grandmother.

A blue-ribbon quilt stitched together by a Gillett girl and her grandmother was reported missing Friday from the exhibit building of the Oconto County Fair.

Hintz 4-H member Elizabeth Ciancio exhibited her quilt Thursday, then returned to the fairgrounds Friday afternoon with her family, only to find her quilt gone. Elizabeth has been quilting since she was 5 and has made several quilts, but this was the first she made for herself and the first to be exhibited at the Oconto County Fair.

Her mother, Sarah Ciancio, said Elizabeth was upset about the loss.

“After we had discovered it was stolen she said, ‘I will never put anything into the fair again,’ ” Sarah Ciancio said.


Nicolet Trail Campground opens in Gillett

Photo by RJ Reinhold

Members of the Community Development Authority on Aug. 19 unveil the sign in front of the new Nicolet Trail Campground in the city of Gillett: from left, Mayor Irene Drake and members of the CDA board, Marilyn Mueller, Nanette Mohr, Kerri Hicks, Tim Christensen, Tracy Ondik and Jess Keplinger. Rick Raatz is also on the CDA board.

Gillett’s new campground is officially open for guests. Nicolet Trail Campground hosted its first visitors during the week of the Oconto County Fair, Aug. 22-25.

The 20-site campground is located on Washington Street, across the street from the cattle barns of the Oconto County Fairgrounds at Zippel Park.

Gillett’s Community Development Authority developed the campground to cater to ATV enthusiasts and others who use the Nicolet State Trail.

Access to the trail is located nearby.

Mayor Irene Drake said the campground will be an asset to the city, bringing in visitors who will contribute to the local economy.

“We’re hoping it takes off,” she said. “People have expressed a need for someplace because of the ATV trail that goes up north.”

The campground is built for self-contained campers, not tents, and sites are designed to accommodate ATV trailers. Bathrooms are limited to portable units.


Subscribe to RSS - News