News

Tue
14
May

Oconto Falls 100th birthday taking shape


Downtown Oconto Falls is bustling in this postcard photo from about 100 years ago. The Hotel Saunders, built in 1917, is visible on the right edge of the picture. Main Street businesses from the left include a furniture store and undertaker, millinery, tin shop and the city livery. (Photo courtesy of Oconto Falls Community Library)

Centennial plans are starting to take shape in the city of Oconto Falls, and the first signs of a celebration are expected during the city’s annual Memorial Day weekend festival.

Oconto Falls was incorporated as a village in 1903, and officials petitioned for and received city status in 1919.

“We’re trying to spiff out some ideas on what to do,” City Council President Devin Wirtz said. “We’re open to suggestions.”

The council was planning to have an informal conversation at its April meeting but was caught off guard by the sudden illness and death of Alderperson Jay Kostreva, Wirtz said.

A 100th-anniversary banner is being created for the annual Memorial Day Celebration, to be displayed on grounds and pulled during the May 27 parade, he said.

Tue
07
May

Former coach charged with child sexual assault

A former assistant coach and substitute teacher with the Oconto Falls School District has been charged with having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student more than five years ago.

Brynn M. Larsen, 29, was arrested Friday on charges of repeated sexual assault of the same child, second-degree sexual assault and two counts of child enticement for sexual contact, in connection with the relationship with one of her volleyball players beginning in October 2013.

The criminal complaint filed in Oconto County Court indicates school and police officials questioned Larsen and the girl at the time after they were seen leaving a restaurant holding hands, and another teacher saw them holding hands and kissing at a mall.

In 2013, both called it a close friendship, with the girl having sleepovers at Larsen’s house and staying in the same bed, but Larsen described the girl as “my best friend” and both denied having any sexual contact.

Tue
07
May

Homicide charges filed in heroin death

Two people have been charged with first-degree reckless homicide in connection with the heroin-related death of an Oconto man in September.

Brian A. Blasing, 29, and Chasity M. Denny, 29, both of Oconto, also face charges of the manufacture and delivery in the death of Jeffrey Dean Pecha, 33, who died Sept. 12.

During brief court appearances May 1 in Oconto County Circuit Court, bail for the two defendants was set at $100,000 cash each with conditions of absolute sobriety and no contact. Blasing and Denny are each due back in court Thursday to review the charges and schedule preliminary hearings.

According to the criminal complaints, the pair are accused of selling Pecha the drugs that killed him. The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 52½ years in prison and $125,000 in fines.

Tue
07
May

Two men charged with threatening witness

A Mountain man was being held in lieu of $50,000 cash bail in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a preteen girl.

Meanwhile, two men were arrested after they allegedly broke into the home of a witness and threatened him.

Christopher C. Royce, 31, was arrested last month after the girl told her mother about the assault, which happened Nov. 23. According to the criminal complaint, Royce agreed to drive her home at the request of her parents, who were his friends, but instead he allegedly drove to a secluded area where the assault occurred.

He is due back in Oconto County Circuit Court on Thursday for the balance of his initial appearance.

Court documents indicate that April 12, two men wearing camouflage bandanas broke into a Townsend area home brandishing weapons and told the homeowner that he “needed to recant his statement regarding a sexual assault case against Christopher Royce.”

Tue
07
May

Barn leveled at Oconto-Shawano county line by fire


A lone calf is in a pen at Kuhn Farms, W13605 Deering Road, in the town of Underhill as fire ravages the barn behind it. The cause of the fire is believed to be from issues with a breaker box. (Times Herald photo by Lee Pulaski)

Nine rural fire departments battled a blaze that leveled a barn on the Oconto-Shawano county line May 1.

No one was injured in the barn fire at Kuhn Farms, W13605 Deering Road in the town of Underhill, although about three head of cattle, a sow and piglets perished in the fire, Underhill Fire Chief Mark Winkler said Thursday (May 2).

Heavy smoke from hay and straw stored in the barn hampered the effort, Winkler said.

“Anyone who’s familiar with hay knows how much smoke it gives out,” he said. “It really hampered our ability to get at the fire. There was just so much smoke.”

The call came in at 4:51 p.m., and crews stayed at the scene until about 10:15 p.m.

The farm had previous issues with a breaker box, and there was evidence the fire started there, Winkler said.

“The places where the building is most gone is where the power enters – that seems to be the most complete burn,” he said.

Wed
01
May

Oconto meth suspect pleads guilty

An Oconto man faces 10 years to life in prison after pleading guilty Friday in federal court to conspiring last summer with two other individuals to distribute up to a pound of methamphetamine.

Benjamin T. McNamara, 33, Kristine L. Olson, 32, both of Oconto, and Gregory M. Ives, 41, of Mound View, Minnesota, were indicted on methamphetamine distribution charges.

Olson pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge on April 19, and Ives is scheduled to plead guilty next month.

According to court documents:

Authorities learned of Olson’s methamphetamine trafficking in June when Oconto County Sherriff’s investigator Justen Ragen met with several confidential informants who said Olson was selling methamphetamine in Oconto County and surrounding areas.

One CI then made several controlled drug buys from Olson during the next few months.

Wed
01
May

Missing man's car located near Shadow Lake


Nicholas Hietpas and his dog, Samantha, were last seen April 1. His car was found two weeks later near Shadow Lake in Oconto County. (Photo courtesy Appleton Police Department)

Several searches have failed to turn up a sign of a missing Appleton man whose car was found April 18 in the town of Doty.

Nicholas Hietpas, 22, was last seen April 1. His vehicle, a black 2012 Ford Fusion, was located in the area of state Highway 64 and Shadow Lake Road.

The Oconto County Sheriff’s Office and Appleton Police Department said Hietpas may be wearing a black sweatshirt with green lettering, blue jeans, and brown work boots, and he may be accompanied by a white German shepherd named Samantha.

Anyone with any information regarding Hietpas or his whereabouts is urged to contact the Oconto County Sheriff’s Office at 920-834-6900.

Wed
01
May

Silver Society Club forming in Townsend

Families, friends and caregivers of individuals with dementia are invited to bring their loved ones to the first meeting of the Silver Society Club from 10-11:30 a.m. Monday at the Townsend Town Hall.

According to Oconto County Public Health Nurse Brittany Warrichaiet, the Silver Society Club is a uniquely structured social gathering that provides opportunities for individuals with dementia, along with their families, friends, and caregivers, to enjoy interactions with others in a setting free from awkwardness and stigma.

“It is a safe environment for individuals living with dementia to meet others experiencing the same challenges and to talk openly about issues,” Warrichaiet said. “For the caregivers, a community of support is established to help with the feelings of isolation, powerlessness, disorganization and stress.”

Participating in activities with other people is an important part of healthy aging, she said.

Wed
01
May

Young people see government in action


Students from the five high schools in Oconto County pack the gallery in Judge Michael T. Judge’s courtroom during the 49th annual Youth Government Day on April 24. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)


A soldier presents a carefully folded U.S. flag to Diana Hubbard in honor of her late husband, an Air Force veteran, as students participating in 2019 Youth Government Day bear witness outside the Oconto County Courthouse on April 24. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

Oconto County Judge Michael T. Judge considered the question about how bench warrants work.

Students from Gillett, Lena, Oconto, Oconto Falls and Suring were in the gallery and jury box of his courtroom Wednesday during the 49th annual Youth Government Day at the Oconto County Courthouse, an all-day event April 24 hosted by the county American Legion and Legion Auxiliary posts.

People who don’t come to traffic court, which the teenagers had just witnessed, are simply choosing not to contest a ticket. But for defendants charged with criminal offenses, court appearances are mandatory, Judge told them.

“If it’s something where you’re required to appear before the court it is not a small matter, it’s something the person has to make as a priority in their life,” he said. “If they don’t appear, they’re blowing me off. I don’t like that.”

Wed
01
May

Attorney appointed for 1976 murder suspect

The Lakewood man charged with the 1976 murders of a Green Bay couple is scheduled back in Marinette County Circuit Court on May 15 with two court-appointed attorneys.

Raymand L. Vannieuwenhoven, 82, was arrested March 14 after, authorities said, a test of his DNA matched evidence found on the body of Ellen Matheys, who was sexually assaulted and killed at the McClintock Park campground in July 1976. Her boyfriend, David Schuldes, was also shot and killed.

During an April 17 hearing, Judge James A. Morrison authorized the appointment of attorney Travis A. Crowell to represent the defendant as the case proceeds. Another attorney in Crowell’s office, Lee D. Schuchart, has also joined the defense team.

Morrison ordered that Crowell’s rate will be $150 per hour and that a mortgage to the county on Vannieuwenhoven’s property will be used to repay the fees at $1,000 per month.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - News