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.


County records first report of West Nile virus

The Oconto County Health Department reports a dead blue jay found in Oconto County on July 31 tested positive for West Nile virus.

This is the first bird that tested positive for West Nile virus in Oconto County since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.

“The positive bird means that residents of Oconto County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Deb Konitzer, Oconto County Health Officer.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds.

“Oconto County residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” Konitzer said. “The West Nile virus seems to be here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”


Suring school taxes up 2%

School taxes are projected to rise 2 percent for residents in the Suring School District, based on the tax levy approved Aug. 19 at the district’s annual meeting.

The estimated tax rate of $7.31 per $1,000 of assessed value is up from the 2012-13 rate of $7.17, meaning those with properties valued at $100,000 will pay $731 in school taxes, an increase of $14 over last year.

In October, the state Department of Revenue will certify the 2013 School District equalized valuation, and the final rate will be determined. School administrators proposed a tax rate based on equalized value remaining steady; any changes in the equalized value will affect taxes.

About a dozen residents at the annual meeting approved a tax levy of $4,161,479 for operation and maintenance and $304,400 for debt service.


Oconto Falls Police Department

A 30-year-old Oconto Falls man was arrested for battery following a domestic disturbance Aug. 18 on South Maple Avenue.

An Aug. 18 report of a 2-year-old being touched inappropriately is under investigation on South Maple Avenue.

The bathrooms at West Side Beach, 400 Flatley Ave., were vandalized Aug. 19 and 21.

Happy Jacks, 203 Green Bay Ave., reported a burglary Aug. 20. An undisclosed amount of cash was missing. The back door showed signs of forced entry.

The Oconto County Commission on Aging bus struck a parked car Aug. 21 at 521 Caldwell Ave. The bus was reported shifted into park, but it rolled across the street and struck the car. Minor damage was reported to both vehicles.


Oconto County Sheriff's Department

At 4:47 p.m. Aug. 14, a car driven by man from Glendale left County Road W east of Sheep Ranch Road, town of Doty, and entered a ditch.

At 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18, a car driven by an Oconto man was westbound on County Road A at Little River Road in the town of Little River. He waved at a person at the Little River park and turned too soon to make a turn. His vehicle entered a ditch and struck a road sign. No injuries were reported to the driver or three passengers.

At 6:16 p.m. Aug. 21, an Oconto Falls woman was driving west on County Road CC in the town of Oconto Falls. Her vehicle hit gravel on the shoulder, causing it to enter a ditch and cornfield. The woman and her male passenger from Oconto Falls were not injured.


Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings from Aug. 23

An arraignment was scheduled Sept. 12 for Adam J. Charles, 43, Gillett. He was arrested Aug. 4 in the town of Spruce for driving while intoxicated and with blood alcohol content greater than the legal limit, each seventh, eighth or ninth offense, for obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct. His $7,500 cash bond continues.

Jimmy Alvis Loven, 53, Batesville, Ark., pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated, 10th offense, driving with blood alcohol content greater than the legal limit, 10th offense, and disorderly conduct. He was arrested July 14 in the town of Oconto Falls. His pretrial conference is Sept. 27, and a $7,500 cash bond continues.

Proceedings from Aug. 21


OF school tax rate climbs 3.77 percent

Taxpayers in the Oconto Falls School District will pay more to support education this year, and school officials say state lawmakers are to blame.

State aid to the school district was reduced by $328,000, or 3 percent, for the 2013-14 school year. To offset the loss, the budget presented at Monday’s annual meeting included an additional $289,000, a 5 percent levy increase, in the general fund.

“Essentially … we’ve got less support from the state. We’re making that up by going back to the property taxpayers,” School Superintendent Dave Polashek said.

School Board member Ken Harter said funding is not the only challenge facing the schools.

“Some of the policy decisions the state government has taken in recent years are also an issue,” he said. He encouraged parents to contact their state officials to share their concerns about education.

“We need to have more parents involved,” he said.


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