News

Wed
06
Mar

Man killed by Oconto city vehicle

Oconto authorities have released the name of a 70-year-old man who was struck and killed by a front-end loader.

Officials say Ernest Boucher was walking along Pecor Street behind City Hall around 2:40 p.m. Feb. 26 when he was struck by a city-owned loader with a snowblower attached.

Boucher was struck from behind and died at the scene.

Police Chief Mike Rehberg said the loader was not removing snow at the time but was heading back to the Street Department shop.

The Wisconsin State Patrol is investigating and reconstructing the accident, Rehberg said.

Wed
06
Mar

Spirit of Excellence: Pulaski High School recognized with state honor


Michelle McGrath, right, executive director for the Wisconsin Association of School Councils, hands the Spirit of Excellence Award trophy to Jack Walker, center, Pulaski High School student council president, and Macy Agen, PHS student council vice president, at the end of Monday’s awards ceremony at the school’s field house. Besides the trophy and a pair of banners, the school will be recognized at halftime at the April 7 Milwaukee Bucks game and other venues throughout the year. (Times Herald photo by Lee Pulaski)


The Pulaski High School marching band gets the crowd fired up Monday morning as the ceremony for the Spirit of Excellence Award begins. This is the first year that the school has applied for the award, which started 13 years ago. (Times Herald photo by Lee Pulaski)


Officer Adam Winkler with the Pulaski Police Department loads up a T-shirt gun to shoot shirts into the crowd Monday morning at the end of an awards ceremony for the Spirit of Excellence at Pulaski High School. (Times Herald photo by Lee Pulaski)

Pulaski High School has another reason to celebrate beyond the week-long community festival in the village of Pulaski.

The school received the coveted Spirit of Excellence Award on Monday, an award sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of School Councils, Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association, Milwaukee Bucks and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association.

Although Monday was the school’s celebration, the Red Raiders will be recognized throughout the year. Another awards ceremony is scheduled for halftime at the April 7 Bucks game, recognition at a WASC conference April 28, continuous recognition on Fox Sports Network and a promotional spot airing during the WIAA State Boys and Girls Basketball Tournaments.

Wed
06
Mar

Blue Bench celebrates grand opening


Chris Rusch opened the Blue Bench Boutique in downtown Oconto Falls at the beginning of February and marked her grand opening March 2. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)


Customers check out the grand opening deals Saturday at Blue Bench Boutique in Oconto Falls. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)


The silhouette of a stylish shopper adorns the front door of the Blue Bench Boutique in Oconto Falls. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The sun shone Saturday as the ribbon was cut for the grand opening of the Blue Bench Boutique in Oconto Falls.

Chris Rusch opened the store at 211 N. Main St. a month ago, offering affordable fine clothing and home decor.

After serving 30 years as bookkeeper at KW Rusch Inc. — owned by her husband, Kevin — Rusch started Blue Bench out of their home about two years ago to gauge interest in the business.

“I ran out of room and started looking for a nice place on Main Street,” she said as customers began to file in to check out the grand opening sales. “I hope it’ll encourage others to open downtown.”

The business grows out of Rusch’s love for clothing and good deals.

“I love boutiques, but not boutique prices,” she said. “I wanted to make it affordable so everyone can have the best clothes.”

Wed
06
Mar

Fire destroys Oconto home


Firefighters from Oconto and several other area departments battle fire and ice at 1018 Gale St. for about four hours Feb. 26. They were called back for three hours starting at 2:15 a.m. when the fire rekindled. (Photo courtesy of Oconto Fire and Rescue Department)

A family got out safely, but their house was a total loss after a Feb. 26 fire in the city of Oconto.

Deputy Fire Chief Josh Bostedt said the Oconto Fire and Rescue Department was dispatched at 7:06 p.m. to 1018 Gale St., in the City of Oconto for a report of a fully involved structure fire. This single-family residence is owned by Bert and Lynn Hollander.

The two-story home was fully engulfed with smoke and fire when firefighters arrived, Bostedt said.

“Due to the rapidly deteriorating structural integrity and the amount of fire load within the interior, fire personnel were unable to enter the structure,” he said. “The decision of a defensive fire attack was chosen, and crews were positioned on all sides of the structure to contain and extinguish the fire.”

Wed
27
Feb

Interim police chief named in Gillett


Jess Keplinger has been Gillett police chief since 2013. He's leaving to join the Oconto County Sheriff's Department. (Times Herald file photo)

The Gillett City Council moved Monday to appoint an interim police chief after the resignation of Jess Keplinger.

Keplinger submitted his two-week notice to Mayor James Beaton on Friday after accepting an offer to join the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department, Beaton said.

The council voted 6-0 to make Officer Kevin Schneider the interim police chief.

“Kevin is the more senior law officer. He’s obviously the most natural choice to be interim chief,” Beaton said. “What I talked with Jess about was I would like he and Kevin to work very closely over the next couple of weeks so that Kevin can get a handle on the administrative component of that job.”

Schneider did a good job of filling in recently when Keplinger took family leave after the birth of his child, Alderperson Nanette Mohr said.

Keplinger has been police chief in Gillett since May 2013, when he was hired after serving as Lena police chief.

Wed
27
Feb

Superintendent: Gillett school year still OK

The Gillett School District’s decision to maintain a slightly longer school day after last April’s record snowstorm is paying dividends.

Superintendent Todd Carlson told the Gillett School Board on Thursday that despite seven snow days this year, the district is still within state requirements for annual student instruction hours.

“I cannot remember two years in a row – and even one year – that we have used so many inclement weather days,” Carlson said, reflecting on more than three decades as an educator. This is the second consecutive year that as many as seven days were lost to snow and ice.

He reminded the board that while the state once required 180 days of class, that was changed four or five years ago to measure class time by a certain number of minutes over the course of the year.

Wed
27
Feb

Seven-towns deputy agreement extended

Seven towns in northern Oconto County will be getting a new deputy, and the County Board on Thursday approved extending the agreement between the towns and the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department for two more years through 2022.

Sheriff Todd Skarban told the board that Deputy Ben Schindel has requested a return to the night shift. He will be succeed by Deputy Jim Plotkin.

The agreement provides a full-time deputy dedicated to providing additional police protection to the towns of Brazeau, Breed, Doty, Lakewood, Mountain, Riverview and Townsend. Schindel and now Plotkin have supplemented the regular patrol officers serving the entire county, as well as Recreation Deputy Todd Sherman. He is responsible for enforcing any laws pertaining to county forestry ordinances and the safe operation of recreational vehicles, including ATVs, snowmobiles and watercraft.

Wed
27
Feb

Atrium Oconto Falls facility is ‘going strong’

The administrator of Atrium Post Acute Care in Oconto Falls said the local facility is not affected by a recent announcement that four Atrium centers in Wisconsin will be closed.

“We’re not closing at all. We’re going strong,” Kathy Reindl said Monday after receiving a number of inquiries from concerned families.

The receiver for financially troubled Atrium Health and Senior Living said earlier this month that Atrium Post Acute Care centers in Appleton, Weston, Chilton and Neenah would be closed.

Reindl emphasized that the Oconto Falls facility is carrying on business as usual during the receivership.

Atrium announced in September that a consensual agreement had been reached with its lender to have a receiver appointed for 32 Wisconsin-based facilities and one Michigan-based facility so that the company can continue to maintain normal business operations until new operators can be identified and positioned to take over the facilities.

Wed
27
Feb

Pulaski superintendent finalist changes his mind

It’s back to the drawing board for the Pulaski Community School District after its superintendent finalist decided not to take the job.

The school board unanimously voted Feb. 20 to offer the position of district superintendent to finalist Jason Lau and begin contract negotiations. Lau has been principal of Westwood Elementary School in the West De Pere School District for nine years.

The district announced late Thursday afternoon that it was advised by Lau that he is no longer interested in the position.

Since December, the board has been undertaking a search for a replacement for current superintendent Rebecca Kurzynske, who is leaving June 30. Lau was selected after the board and two advisory committees interviewed six candidates earlier this month.

“The board will continue its superintendent search process in order to ensure the position is filled by a well-qualified candidate,” the announcement said.

Wed
27
Feb

Disaster proclamations help in snowstorms


An Oconto County crew removes piles of snow along Erie Avenue in Oconto on Thursday. This has been an unusually snowy month, with three snow emergencies declared since Jan. 28. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The use of disaster proclamations has helped Oconto County crews stay ahead of severe winter weather.

Officials told the County Board on Thursday that federal regulations regarding rest breaks for truck drivers have changed the way counties may deal with routine snowstorms.

Highway Commissioner Pat Scanlan said a disaster proclamation gives the county some flexibility.

“In the past, we’d just go out and attack the snow and stay out as long as we had to. Shut it down for two, three hours, (then) bring ’em back in,” Scanlan said. “We can no longer do that. Federal motor carriers’ guidelines dictate that a 16-hour shift, a maximum of 14 hours behind the wheel, has to be followed up with eight consecutive hours off duty. If we have a proclamation for a snow emergency, those restrictions are lifted and we’re able to do business as we see fit.”

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