News

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.

Wed
11
Dec

Drug penalties double in Gillett

Law breakers in Gillett will pay a higher price for their crimes after Jan. 1.

The City Council on Thursday agreed to double the fees for drug-related ordinances, increasing the municipal deposit from $250 to $500. With the addition of court costs, jail fees and crime lab charges, offenders will pay $691; the current charge is $366.

Police Chief Jess Keplinger said he is hopeful the increase will serve as a deterrent.

“Compared to other departments, (our fee) was low. It was time for an update,” he said.

Five of Gillett’s municipal violations are covered by the new fee: possession and use of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, administering dangerous or stupefying drug, abuser of hazardous substance, and possession, distribution or delivery of nitrous oxide.

The City Council unanimously approved the increase with no discussion.

Wed
11
Dec

Gillett Public Works pleased with salt shed

Gillett’s newly constructed salt shed provides a safer and easier method for the delivery of salt, according to Public Works Director Tim Christensen.

“It works just as planned,” Christensen said of the $43,000 storage facility constructed south of the fire station at 310 W. Park St.

The shed holds 45 tons of salt for the Street Department to use on icy streets and sidewalks.

“We’re going to be in good shape,” Christensen said.

Depositing salt in the new facility is safer and involves less labor than the old method, which required the roof to be lifted and propped up. Trucks can back into the new building and unload the salt easily.

“Dumping the salt in there, it’s just night and day difference,” Christensen said.

The 24- by 24-foot concrete shed is 20 feet tall and nearly completed. The electrical hookup for the garage door and trim above the door are yet to be finished.

Wed
11
Dec

Oconto County Sheriff’s Department

At 8:40 p.m. Dec. 6, a pickup truck driven by a Peshtigo woman swerved to avoid striking a deer while traveling north on County Road Y in the town of Little River. Her vehicle left the roadway and entered a ditch. She was cited for failure to notify authorities of the accident. Her pickup sustained moderate damage.

At 2:35 p.m. Dec. 5, a car driven by a woman from Mountain was eastbound on Paya Lake Road in the town of Riverview when it skidded on ice, traveled up an embankment and struck a snow bank. Moderate damage was reported to her vehicle.

At 5:15 p.m. Dec. 3, a car driven by a Pulaski man was attempting to stop and turn right onto Frontier Road from County Road S in the town of Little Suamico. His vehicle slid on ice and struck a car driven by a man from Green Bay that was stopped at the intersection. Minor damage was reported to both vehicles. No injuries resulted.

Wed
11
Dec

Applications accepted for conservation program

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting new applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Farm and forest landowners may apply by Jan. 17 for possible 2014 funding.

In 2013, 308 Wisconsin farmers and forestland owners enrolled in CSP, with an average payment of $5,408 per contract. Over $1.6 million in payments will be made to those farm families this year and over $8.3 million over the course of the five-year contract.

“For many farmers, CSP offers reward and recognition for the conservation they are already doing, plus a little extra incentive to try a few more or new practices,” said Jeff Maroszek, NRCS district conservationist for Marinette and Oconto counties.

Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forestland and tribal agricultural lands.

Thu
05
Dec

Trial begins in 1998 homicide case

A chance encounter almost 16 years ago led a Green Bay teen to cross paths with two men in Abrams, and the end result was murder. That’s what special prosecutor Vincent Biskupic told an Oconto County jury Wednesday in the intentional homicide trial of Peter Hanson, 52, of Oconto Falls.

In his opening statement, Biskupic said 19-year-old Chad McLean's death “can only be described as senseless,” claiming Hanson shot McLean in the head with a .22-caliber gun Hanson modified and showed off to neighbors before Feb. 22, 1998, when McLean was last seen alive.

Wed
04
Dec

Homicide trial begins for Oconto Falls man


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

Peter Hanson, followed by his attorney, Jeffrey Jazgar, enters an Oconto County courtroom Nov. 27 for a motions hearing. Opening arguments were scheduled to be presented Wednesday in the case against Hanson, accused of the homicide of Chad McLean 15 years ago.

A 12-person jury will decide if an Oconto Falls man, after a night of drinking, shot and killed a Green Bay teenager 15 years ago.

Peter J. Hanson, 52, of Oconto Falls, faces one count of intentional homicide — party to the crime, for the death of Chad McLean, 19, who died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head. McLean’s body was found on March 22, 1998, in the Pensaukee River in Abrams, one month after he was reported missing.

The charge of party to homicide means the individual either committed the crime or assisted someone else.

Special prosecutor Vince Biskupic, after Hanson’s initial appearance in April, said prosecuting a 15-year-old case has both challenges and advantages.

“Memories fade and you have to make sure you have witnesses who have their memories properly refreshed, but sometimes time yields better evidence and people feel more comfortable coming forward,” he said.

Wed
04
Dec

Gillett adopts 2014 tax levy with 4-2 vote

Although the proposed 2014 budget came under fire from two aldermen Nov. 25, the city of Gillett plans to use tax money to pay for a fourth full-time police officer whose employment was funded by a grant since 2011.

Aldermen Rick Raatz and Tod Anderson voted against the proposed $392,627 tax levy, which was approved 4-2. The levy is up 4 percent over last year.

The budget included total expenditures of $1.21 million, down .02 percent from last year. A tax rate for residents has not been determined, city officials said.

At a budget hearing attended by a dozen residents, several speakers accused the council of overspending for public works projects — including the 2012 purchase of a new snow plow — and poor planning, claiming the council should have developed a way to pay for the police officer long before the grant funding disappeared.

Wed
04
Dec

VIP program benefits offenders, taxpayers


Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

Joe LaFortune, shown in an Oconto County courtroom, is recruiting agents for the Volunteers in Probation program, which he directs.

A “double-benefit” is how Gerome Finn described Oconto County’s Volunteers in Probation program.

The program, an alternative to jail or state probation for first-time offenders of nonviolent, misdemeanor crimes, helps rehabilitate first-time offenders (benefit No. 1) at no expense to county taxpayers (benefit No. 2).

“The main thing is there is more of an individual, personal relationship between the agents and the clients where we can meet them and work with them,” said Finn, comparing VIP to state probation. “For that reason, and also financially, I think it is a great program.”

It’s a “great program” in need of more volunteers, said Joe LaFortune, VIP director who has worked with the program for 11 years.

VIP was established in 1997 by Larry Jeske, a circuit court judge, and modeled after an Outagamie County program begun in 1971.

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