News

Wed
04
Jul

Oconto County Circuit Court proceedings

Proceedings of June 29

A three-day jury trial was scheduled, beginning Oct. 17, for Thomas S. Benser, 50, Lena, who is charged with five counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, five counts of reckless endangerment, one count each of strangulation-suffocation, substantial battery, and failure to comply with an officer’s attempt to take him into custody, as well as misdemeanor disorderly conduct, in connection with a standoff at his home on March 10. A final pre-trial conference is scheduled for Oct. 5. Benser remains in the county jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bond.

Bob M. Schroeder, 47, Gillett, pleaded no contest to a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (fourth offense) in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred Feb. 21. Sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 13.

Proceedings of June 28

Wed
04
Jul

Weather patterns bring steamy heat, storms


With temperatures climbing into the mid 90s, many people found relief at East Side Beach in Oconto Falls on Friday, June 29. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

A severe thunderstorm knocked down trees and generated a tornado warning in northern Oconto County on Sunday afternoon, July 1.

More than 200 Wisconsin Public Service customers in Mountain lost power for a time after the storm rolled through around 1 p.m. Dozens of trees were snapped and uprooted along County Road W in the Crooked Lake area. Most of the affected WPS customers in Mountain had no power into the evening hours.

Marinette County was hit hardest in terms of power outages, with more than 2,400 losing electricity in the Crivitz area for several hours and another 1,800 in Wausaukee.

Wed
27
Jun

Work begins on 2019 county budget

The Oconto County Board has approved a budget guidance letter for supervisors and department heads as they begin work on their tax and spending plans for 2019.

The letter, approved at Thursday’s board meeting, sets a bottom line goal “to adopt a 2019 budget with a minimal increase in tax rate and levy that complies with any state-imposed rate/levy limits as well as fund(s) the essential services that the residents of Oconto County expect.”

The two-page document spells out principles similar to those that guided the 2018 county budget, said Kevin Hamann, administrative coordinator.

Submitted by Hamann and the Finance and Insurance Committee, the letter projects a 1.5 percent wage and salary increase for county employees, in addition to whatever compensation they gain by progressing a step on the county’s salary schedule.

Wed
27
Jun

Leadership Oconto County seeks members

Organizers of the new Leadership Oconto County initiative are encouraging local stakeholders to consider who could benefit from a class designed to train the county’s future leaders.

Oconto County Supervisor Diane Nichols, who is on the steering committee, urged her fellow board members to support the program.

“As supervisors, think of somebody who you think, with a little bit of help, might turn out to be a good leader,” Nichols said Thursday. “Pass this on to them, and tell them that you believe in them and what they can do for the future of Oconto County.”

Patterned after similar programs in surrounding counties, Leadership Oconto County is envisioned as a series of nine all-day sessions starting in September. Participants will learn about the county, study leadership principles and work to identify and address a local need.

Wed
27
Jun

Oconto County goes for more broadband money

On the heels of success in obtaining state broadband expansion grants for Oconto Falls and northern Oconto County, the County Board of Supervisors has pledged another $10,000 toward the next round of grants from the state Public Service Commission.

Bertram Communications in April earned the largest such grant awarded — $600,000 to reach underserved internet customers in the rural northern half of the county. Nsight Telservices received a $49,230 grant toward installation of a fiber optic network serving 33 businesses and organizations in the Oconto Falls Industrial Park. The companies will match the grants and then some in completing the projects.

The county board’s $10,000 pledge for those projects, and other contributions from affected towns and businesses, were credited with convincing the commission to fund the projects.

Wed
27
Jun

Lights and old track coming out at Memorial Field

The Panther Pride organization has received the go-ahead from the Oconto Falls City Council to move forward with plans to remove the lights and part of the old track from Memorial Field — again.

Panther Pride, which supports Oconto Falls student athletes and programs, has raised enough money to start working on those projects “so people can see that we are moving on,” Parks and Recreation Director Sheila Manns told the city council during its June 12 meeting.

Manns said she plans to coordinate with Street Superintendent Terry Magnin to remove a section of the track and start work on the long-planned additional ball diamond at the park, which once was the Oconto Falls High School football stadium until ST Paper Stadium was built near the school complex on North Farm Road.

“At minimum, we’d have an infield and a backstop so that the kids could at least practice here — that they didn’t have to bus the JV down to the Abrams Field to even practice,” Manns said.

Wed
27
Jun

Hansons are this year's Gillett Fourth of July grand marshals


For their years of service to community, business and church, Sandy and Jim Hanson have been named grand marshals of the 2018 Gillett Fourth of July Parade. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm

A couple who grew up in Gillett and returned four decades ago will ride as grand marshals of the community’s Fourth of July parade next Wednesday.

Jim and Sandy Hanson are “just fantastic people,” said Noel Nienstedt, of the Gillett Civic Club’s parade committee.

“Jim volunteers for everything,” Nienstedt said. “Whenever something needs to be done in Gillett, Jim raises his hand.”

“I try to do my part,” Jim Hanson said simply as he sat in the couple’s living room.

Sandy, his biggest cheerleader, said he was being modest. “Jim is very community-minded,” she said.

Jim Hanson was in the Gillett High School Class of 1960; Sandy Paholke was two years behind him in the Class of ’62. They married May 4, 1963 – they just celebrated their 55th anniversary – and moved to the Milwaukee area, where Jim worked construction for the next 15 years.

Wed
27
Jun

Lena gets $61K school safety grant


From left, Lena School District buildings and grounds director Jeff Hermersmann, state Attorney General Brad Schimel, and Lena Superintendent Ben Pytleski come together at a signing ceremony for the district’s school safety grant from the state Department of Justice. (Contributed photo)

The Lena School District is one of 14 schools and school districts that have been awarded the next round of grants through the Wisconsin Department of Justice School Safety Grant program. Combined, the 14 recipients will receive $1.78 million for building safety improvements, as well as training for faculty and staff.

The Lena grant is for $61,720. All five school districts in Oconto County applied for safety grants after Gov. Scott Walker announced the $100 million plan. He said it was developed after consulting with school officials and educators on what they need to improve safety in their buildings in the wake of school shootings around the country.

“We will be using the money to replace/upgrade our exterior doors and fortify the glass on our main entrance with shatter-proof film,” Lena Superintendent Ben Pytleski said.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said school officials and law enforcement share the responsibility in keeping kids safe.

Wed
27
Jun

Peterson’s Dairy honored for conserving energy


From left, Terry Laube, an energy adviser with Focus on Energy, nominated Peterson’s Dairy of Lena for an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award; Maria Redmond, director of the Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation, presents the award June 19 to dairy owner John Peterson; and state Rep. Jeff Mursau is on hand to congratulate Peterson. (Contributed photo)

Peterson’s Dairy LLC of Lena has received an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award for its efforts to reduce energy waste.

Working with Oconto Electric Cooperative and Focus on Energy’s energy advisers, Peterson’s Dairy made energy efficiency a priority when building its new facility in 2017. The dairy installed LED lights throughout the new facility, put energy-efficient drives on its milk and vacuum pumps and added energy-free livestock waterers.

As a result, the dairy expects to save more than $43,000 a year in reduced energy costs and will receive a total incentive of more than $28,000 through Focus on Energy’s Business Incentive Program.

Wed
27
Jun

New County Board supervisor appointed


Elizabeth Paape, left, is sworn in as a member of the Oconto County Board of Supervisors by Deputy County Clerk Kathy Goldschmidt. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

A Little Suamico woman has been appointed to fill the last 22 months of an unexpired term on the Oconto County Board.

Elizabeth Paape’s appointment was approved, and she was sworn in Thursday to serve District 4, which covers parts of the towns of Little Suamico and Chase.

Supervisor Chris Augustine resigned less than a month after being re-elected to a two-year term in April, after he received an unexpected promotion and increased responsibilities at his day job.

“I would just like to say I appreciate this opportunity, and I look forward to serving the members of Oconto County in this capacity,” Paape said after being sworn in by Deputy County Clerk Kathy Goldschmidt.

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