News

Wed
16
May

Pickleball gets a boost


Alice Emerick, foreground, prepares to return a volley Sunday in a game of pickleball at Pleasantview Park in Oconto Falls. Looking on are her playing partner, Dennis O’Neill, and opponents Kristy Knutson and her husband, Mark Emerick. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

Mark and Alice Emerick arrived at Pleasantview Park in Oconto Falls at 3:45 p.m. Sunday; it was their turn to set up the pickleball nets for the 4 o’clock crowd.

Asked whether anyone would come out to play on Mother’s Day, Mark Emerick chuckled.

“Some of the people you’re about to meet would come play on Christmas morning if they had a chance,” he said.

Sure enough, within a half-hour about a dozen people were taking turns on the converted basketball court playing pickleball — a paddle sport, played with a plastic ball resembling a wiffle ball, that combines elements of tennis, ping pong and volleyball.

The Oconto Falls City Council last week gave its blessings to a plan to use private dollars to refinish the court, which has its share of nicks and cracks, with three permanent pickleball courts painted into the new surface.

The basketball nets would remain in place, and the fenced-in area could be used as a basketball court anytime.

Wed
16
May

Wolf River Media completes restructuring

With a renewed focused on community affairs and local journalism, Wolf River Media LLC, the parent organization of the Oconto County Times Herald, Super Shopper and octimesherald.com, will now operate as NEW Media Inc.

This announcement marks the completion of a capital restructuring, which included Wolf River Media’s exit from the commercial print business and divestiture of its real estate holdings to focus exclusively on its newspaper, shopper and website businesses.

NEW Media Inc. is based in Shawano and located at 1464 E. Green Bay St. on the city’s east side. NEW Media also operates and manages the Wittenberg Enterprise & Birnamwood News, Your Community Shopper and The Shawano Leader, along with their respective websites.

Wed
16
May

Red geraniums needed for Falls memorial stone

Members of the American Legion Auxiliary Eick-Sankey Unit 302 plan to plant red geraniums around the memorial stone starting at 1 p.m. May 24 at the Oconto Falls Woodlawn Cemetery; rain date is Friday, May 25.

Anyone wishing to donate geraniums to honor or memorialize a loved one may bring them to 199 Highland Drive, Oconto Falls, no later than May 23. They can also be brought to the cemetery that Thursday. Include a note saying who is donating the geranium and who is being honored or memorialized. Please make sure they are red, as this makes for a more uniform and beautiful effect around the stone.

Red geraniums may be purchased from the Oconto Falls High School greenhouse to help the horticulture and agriculture class fundraiser. Sale hours are 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through May 24.

Wed
16
May

Oconto Falls police sergeant retires to part-time


Oconto Falls Police Sgt. Corey Rank, second from left, is congratulated for his service to the city by Mayor Brad Rice, left, City Administrator Vicki Roberts and Police Chief Brad Olsen. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Oconto Falls City Council and City Administrator Vicki Roberts paid tribute to police Sgt. Corey Rank at their May 8 meeting.

Rank, who has been a member of the Oconto Falls Police Department for 23 of his 25 years in law enforcement, is retiring from full-time employment.

“Your passion for this community is outstanding,” Roberts told him. “Your ingenuity and dedication to the city of Oconto Falls speak volumes, and I thank you for that.”

Roberts said she is pleased that Rank plans to remain on the force as a part-time officer.

Police Chief Brad Olsen said part-time Officer Garrett Baeten has been offered the full-time position and will start full time May 30.

The city’s Personnel Committee will meet before the regular June 12 meeting to discuss promoting one of the department’s full-timers to the vacant sergeant position.

Wed
16
May

Girl Scout proposes dog park in Oconto Falls

An Oconto Falls Girl Scout appeared before the city council on May 8 seeking approval to build a dog park for her Gold Award project.

Emily Gonnering, a junior at Oconto Falls High School and a member of Troop 4312, has been scouting for 10 years and has already earned Bronze and Silver awards.

“The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn,” she told the council. “A few requirements for the project include that it benefits the community, and it is sustainable. I will fulfill these requirements by strategically placing this dog park in town so it is readily available for those of the city.”

The idea is to have a fenced-in area for dogs to run off-leash, not unlike similar parks in area communities like De Pere, Bellevue and Howard.

Wed
16
May

Tourism spending up, report indicates

Tourism spending in Oconto County rose by nearly 4 percent in 2017, according to statistics released Friday by the state Department of Tourism.

Visitors spent $87.1 million in the county in 2017, up from $83.9 million in 2016. The report also shows $122.2 million in total business sales related to tourism, a 3.58 percent increase from $117.9 million the year before.

Tourism-related businesses employed 903 people in 2017, up from 886 in 2016 — an increase just below 2 percent.

Statewide, tourism spending reached $20.6 billion in 2017, a $631 million boost from $20 billion in 2016. The report was released to kick off National Travel and Tourism Week, which runs May 6-12.

“Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry is booming,” said Gov. Scott Walker in a news release accompanying the report. “Our tourism industry continues to be crucial to our state and is consistently a top-performing sector of our economy.”

Tue
15
May

Two people die in town of Lena house fire

Two people died in a house fire in the town of Lena early Tuesday morning.

Oconto County Chief Deputy Ed Janke said that at approximately 3:25 a.m. the Lena Fire Department, Coleman Ambulance and Oconto County sheriff’s deputies responded to the structure fire in a manufactured home along Beschta Lane.

The home was engulfed in flames when Lena firefighters arrived on scene a few minutes later. It was believed that the two occupants were at home and had not escaped the fire.

Firefighters located a body immediately adjacent the structure and later found a body inside the structure. The victims were identified Wednesday as Dennis Fry, 47, and his wife, Karen Fry, 48.

Fire officials have ruled the fire suspicious and the investigation continues, Janke said.

Wed
09
May

Students get a look inside county government


Students invited to participate in American Legion County Youth Government Day gather in front of the new Law Enforcement Center for a group photo April 25. (Contributed photo)

About three dozen high school students invaded the Oconto County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center on April 25 as guests of local American Legion posts.

The occasion was the annual American Legion County Youth Government Day. The group met with elected officials, who provided insight on their roles and gave tours of their offices, and after a lunch prepared and served by the Legion Auxiliary, they took part in a mock trial.

According to the Wisconsin American Legion website, wilegion.org, Youth Government Day “is designed to teach students about the importance of their county government before they turn 18, so they have the information and confidence necessary to increase the voting numbers at the polls.”

Wed
09
May

School social worker appeals cut

An Oconto Falls School District social worker whose contract was not renewed for next year is appealing to the school board to reconsider.

The district’s superintendent says eliminating the part-time position was the best way to reduce overhead with the least negative impact.

The board voted to reduce two full-time equivalent positions, affecting four employees, at its April 9 meeting.

Sharon Stodola-Eslien was a longtime social worker with the Green Bay Area School District who was approached in 2014 by then-Superintendent Dave Polashek. She has since served the Oconto Falls district two workdays a week, generally a full day on Tuesdays and half-days on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“You would think, being a small district, many of the social, emotional, family and mental health issues wouldn’t exist or would be much less debilitating here than in an urban district,” Stodola-Eslien said. “Not the case. Wishful thinking.”

Wed
09
May

Gillett council meetings hit the internet

Monthly meetings of the Gillett City Council will be livestreamed, starting June 7.

Tourism and Marketing Commission Chairman Jake Steldt told the council Thursday that the meetings will be shown at the Gillett Community and Events page on Facebook. Steldt has also set up a Gillett Community channel on YouTube and a GillettCommunity.com website.

“We have an online group of about 50 to 60 people that are just waiting right now because they want to be able to watch, and they can’t come here for whatever reason. They’re working or something,” Steldt said.

He urged the council to become more active on the community and Ask City Council pages to take advantage of opportunities to interact with constituents and clear up misunderstandings.

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