News

Wed
31
Oct

OCEDC begins to prepare for transition

Transition is on the horizon for the Oconto County Economic Development Corp.

Paul Ehrfurth, executive director of the public-private sector partnership that works with businesses to move in or expand locally, told the county board Oct. 18 that Assistant Director Nancy Rhode plans to retire next year, and he plans to hang up his stirrups himself at the end of August 2020.

A transition committee of the OCEDC board of directors is already working on how to replace two of its three full-time employees.

“We both have a great deal of reverence for this organization,” Ehrfurth said. “We want to make sure that succession is done in the proper manner, and that we have good, capable staff members to come on board and continue this important work.”

In his monthly report to the board, Ehrfurth reviewed OCEDC’s work plan for 2019-20, which he said will be his last two-year plan as head of the organization.

Wed
31
Oct

2019 budgets take shape

The Oconto County Board gave final approval Thursday to the 2019 county budget, including a decrease in the property tax rate for county purposes.

The property tax levy of $20,059,211 will be supported by a mill rate of $5.122, a 3.3 percent drop from a year ago. The owner of a property valued at $100,000 can expect the property bill that comes in December will include about $512.20 for Oconto County government purposes, down from $529.70.

“I’m very happy with this budget. I think it complies with our budget guidance letter, it funds everything we need to fund and it uses very little of the fund balance,” said Kevin Hamann, the county’s administrative coordinator, as he walked supervisors through the $41.2 million spending plan for the coming year.

That’s an increase of more than $1.45 million over 2018, which Hamann said is paid for by new contracts and federal and state grants.

Grants amount to $8.43 million in revenues, he said.

Wed
31
Oct

Election Day looms Tuesday

After months of debate, discussion and ads touting and abusing the candidates, it’s the people’s turn.

Oconto County voters will go to the polls Tuesday to choose between candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, the House and state Assembly, as well as a local referendum.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Most of the attention has gone to the races for governor, where eight-year incumbent Scott Walker faces a challenge from Democrat Tony Evers; the U.S. Senate, where six-year incumbent Tammy Baldwin is challenged by Republican Leah Vulkmir; and the House of Representatives, where two-year incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is challenged by Democrat Beau Liegeois in the 8th Congressional District.

Oconto County is part of three Assembly Districts, although one (the 6th) represents only one ward — Pulaski’s Ward 5.

36th Assembly District

Tue
23
Oct

March of the Hobgoblins


Superheroes, monsters and other assorted characters get in line for their turn to cross the stage Monday as the costume parade begins during the 29th annual Halloween Party, which was put on by Oconto Falls High School music students. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The centerpiece of the 29th annual Halloween Party, staged Monday by Oconto Falls High School music students, is the parade of the costumes. Young people cross the stage in this year’s costumes after playing games with names like the Gravestone Throw, Search the Guts, Clown Toss and Ghost Bowling. Hundreds of kids and parents crowded into the school’s wrestling gym for the festivities.

Tue
23
Oct

Veterans memorial on school property gets preliminary approval

After several months of discussion, the Oconto Falls School Board gave preliminary approval Monday to the idea of building a veterans memorial on school district property up the hill from the Woodlawn Cemetery.

The vote sets in motion efforts to reach a memorandum of understanding with local veterans who propose building the monument on an approximately 100-by-100-foot space just south of the district office on North Farm Road. The land is currently green space.

“We have reached out to the public, and they’ve responded with nothing but positive in support for the veterans,” Bob Maloney, spokesman for the group, told the board.

The location overlooking the cemetery represents a change from the Central Avenue site that was planned in a fundraising campaign a few years ago. The group plans to use about $60,000 from that campaign and raise another $25,000 to $40,000 starting Tuesday morning, Maloney said.

Tue
23
Oct

County Board considers $41.2 million budget

The public has an opportunity to comment on a $41.2 million Oconto County budget for 2019 before supervisors consider approving it Thursday morning.

The budget public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in the third-floor county board room at the Oconto County Courthouse, 301 Washington St., Oconto. The board will convene its annual budget meeting after the hearing.

The budget increases expenditures by about $1.45 million or 3.7 percent over 2018, according to Kevin Hamann, the county’s administrative coordinator. If approved as presented, the budget would be supported by a property tax levy of about $20.06 million, a 1.1 percent increase.

Tue
23
Oct

Gillett debates school referendum

Gillett School District officials got an earful Sunday night from some local residents skeptical of their efforts to pass a $1.8 million referendum in two weeks.

Despite occasional emotion, the local schools found support during a town hall-style meeting in the Secondary School Commons, including from Mayor James Beaton who hosted the session.

District voters will be asked Nov. 6 for permission to let the school budget exceed state-imposed revenue limits by $600,000 in each of the next three years to maintain educational programs.

Several dozen people attended or watched on Facebook Live as Superintendent Todd Carlson went through a presentation he has given to various groups since the School Board approved the referendum question. He explained that Gillett’s school budget was comparatively low when state revenue caps were set in 1993 and, as a result, the gap between Gillett and more free-spending districts has grown during the past 25 years.

Tue
23
Oct

Oconto County Circuit Court proceedings

Proceedings of Oct. 12

Samuel R. Knorr, 42, Neenah, stood mute and not-guilty pleas were entered on his behalf to 11 felony counts of failure to support a child from 2014 to 2017. A pretrial conference was scheduled for Nov. 8.

Shawn T. Olson, 31, Oconto, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound over on charges of strangulation-suffocation and misdemeanor battery, criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct, in connection with a domestic incident that allegedly occurred Aug. 5. Arraignment was scheduled for Nov. 8.

Proceedings of Oct. 11

A Nov. 5 preliminary hearing was scheduled in the case of Kelly Nicole Crispin, 27, St. Paul, Minnesota, who is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle and second-degree reckless homicide in connection with the Sept. 29 crash that killed Cory Folts, 22, of Oconto Falls.

Wed
17
Oct

Arrr! Scares a-plenty in Gillett


Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum – This cheerful fellow greets visitors to “Halloween on the Black Pearl,” the Gillett Public Library’s annual Community Haunted House. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

An eerie pirate ship is taking shape inside the Gillett Public Library Community Center just in time for the Halloween season.

Tours of the Community Haunted House, “Halloween on the Black Pearl,” will be given from 6:30-8:30 p.m. the next two Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $3 for what has become the library’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Local craftsman David Bunker built the ship that visitors will enter as they come in. Library Director Kay Runkel said Bunker is one of more than two dozen volunteers who make the event possible.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” Runkel said Monday as she put finishing touches on the various rooms in the haunted house, which include the ship’s brig, Skull Island and other surprises.

This is the fifth year that the library has staged a haunted house, and close to 500 people came by last year, she said.

Wed
17
Oct

Ellingson recommended for corporation counsel


Beth Ellingson

The Oconto County Law Enforcement/Judiciary Committee is recommending that the County Board hire Beth Ellingson as the county’s new corporation counsel.

A resolution naming Ellingson is on the board’s agenda for its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the courthouse, 301 Washington St., Oconto.

Ellingson is an attorney with the Jonathan Olson & Associates legal firm of Green Bay. In addition to her private practice, she also serves as assistant corporation counsel for Marinette County.

The resolution indicates her first day on the job would be Dec. 3 at an annual salary of $94,433, which would be bumped to $97,344 effective Jan. 6.

Cheryl Mick, corporation counsel for the past five years, announced her retirement this summer, effective Jan. 4. Eight people applied for the position, and the committee interviewed three candidates Sept. 28.

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