Back to the Future

Gayle Gander, right, helps the stage crew make props for the upcoming play “Don’t Drink the Water.” Gander has directed plays at Oconto Falls for 20 years. (Photo by Eden Witt)

While pursuing a major in English education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Gayle Gander was encouraged by a classmate to take a theater education program to help assist his future teaching career.

That program led Gander to a lifelong passion of directing plays. This spring, Gander is celebrating 20 years of directing school plays at Oconto Falls High School.

To honor the milestone, the Drama Club has decided to restage the first production that Gander directed in Oconto Falls — Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink the Water,” which will be performed April 13-15. To add to the celebration, Gander will be joining his students in front of the curtain in the narrating role of Father Drobney.

This will be his second time appearing on stage since college, and the first time in his own production.


Mohr steps up to the plate

Nanette Mohr

It’s hard to go anywhere in the city of Gillett without bumping into Nanette Mohr.

She has been on the Gillett City Council and school board for most of the past 27 years or so. She does most of her shopping in town. She’s on the Community Development Authority and is president of the library board.

Since last Mother’s Day, she has held yet another title: acting mayor. Mohr was asked to step in while Mayor William Pecha worked to recover from a debilitating stroke.

What keeps her going?

“My heart is here,” said Mohr, who has lived in Gillett all of her 71 years. “I love to promote the city of Gillett. This is my home.”

When Pecha filed his declaration of noncandidacy for re-election just before Christmas, she decided to throw her hat into the ring and run for mayor in her own right.


Ed Janke announces candidacy for sheriff

Ed Janke

A week after Oconto County Sheriff Michael Jansen announced his retirement and endorsed Chief Deputy Ed Janke as his replacement, Janke made it official.

Janke announced his candidacy for the job in a video posted on social media March 6.

“My nearly 25 years of progressively responsible leadership and management experience has allowed me to gain the knowledge, skills and abilities that qualify me for the office of sheriff, as well as the experience to be a collaborative, approachable, community-focused and ethical leader,” Janke said.

Janke became chief deputy two years ago, returning to the county where he grew up after a long career in Brown County. Salutatorian of the Class of 1981, Janke worked part-time for law enforcement agencies in Oconto County while attending college. He was hired as a Brown County deputy sheriff in 1983.


Oconto County Circuit Court proceedings

Proceedings of March 9

Kyle M. Mikula, 21, Oconto Falls, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possession of THC, reduced from a felony charge, in connection with an incident that occurred Dec. 22. Judge Michael T. Judge imposed and stayed a six-month county jail term and placed Mikula on one year of probation, beginning with 20 days in jail commencing no later than March 19; he will have good time and Huber work-release privileges. While on probation, he must maintain absolute sobriety and complete any assessments deemed appropriate by the Department of Corrections.

Proceedings of March 8


Oconto County Sheriff's Department call logs: March 2-8

March 8

Deputies logged 42 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — reported in the 7000 block of Konitzer Road, Morgan, 5:27 p.m.

Burglary — reported in the 9000 block of Yatso Road, Maple Valley, 7:45 p.m.

Burglary — reported in the 12000 block of Clair Lane, Breed, 8:11 p.m.

Accidents — Deputies responded to three accidents, two of which involved deer.

Ambulance — Two ambulance calls were received.

March 7

Deputies logged 22 incidents, including the following:

Animal neglect — reported along County Road J, Little Suamico, 1:03 p.m.

Animal bite — reported in the 9000 block of Knapp Lane, Bagley, 4:52 p.m.

Accidents — Deputies responded to one accident.

Ambulance — Three ambulance calls were received.

March 6

Deputies logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — reported in the 7000 block of County Road S, Chase, 10:18 a.m.


Public meeting scheduled for next Hwy. 22 project

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Northeast Region announces a public involvement meeting to discuss proposed work on state Highway 22 from U.S. 141 to U.S. 41 in Oconto County, currently slated for 2020.

The meeting is scheduled from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Oconto Town Hall, 6120 Cream City Road. A brief presentation will take place at 5:15 p.m. followed by an open-house format.

The 6.7-mile proposed project includes resurfacing of the roadway and widening the paved shoulders in the project limits. One large box culvert will be extended, and one box culvert and several culvert pipes will be replaced. A detour of state Highway 22 will take place during culvert work. The project will also add rumble strips on the centerline and shoulders.


Shots fired at deputies, man in custody

Oconto County authorities have a man in custody after a 10-hour standoff Sunday afternoon and evening during which he allegedly fired several shots at officers.

The Sheriff's Office said deputies were called to a home at 5631 Benser Lane in the town of Lena at about 1:30 p.m. to check the welfare of an apparently suicidal man who was wanted for domestic-related crimes that had occurred earlier in the day.

According to a news release, the man was armed and barricaded in his home. Negotiations continued for several hours, during which time he fired several rifle rounds at the deputies, the release said.

The Brown County Emergency Response Unit and the Brown-Outagamie County Bomb Squad were called for their assistance. Benser Lane is a short, dead-end road off U.S. 141 between Lena and Coleman, so authorities shut down the highway between County M and County Road B.


Restrictions lifted on hospital visitors

Visitor restrictions have been lifted at Hospital Sisters Health System Eastern Wisconsin Division hospitals, including HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls. The restrictions had been issued Feb. 8 as a response to an increase of flu activity.

The hospitals had prohibited visitors under the age of 12 in inpatient areas, or visitors of any age with flu-like symptoms. They also encouraged families to limit the number of healthy visitors to only one or two per patient.

Influenza activity has significantly decreased, HSHS said. But the hospitals remain diligent about preventing the spread of flu, and remind the public that it is not too late to get a flu shot; washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to avoid the flu.


Home damaged by late-afternoon fire

A rural Oconto home was extensively damaged Feb. 27 in a fire that brought out crews from four fire departments, among other agencies.

Capt. Josh Bostedt of the Oconto Fire and Rescue Department said emergency personnel were dispatched about 4:20 p.m. to 4437 Molitor Road in the town of Oconto for a report of a structure full of smoke. When they arrived, they found the single-story frame home with smoke showing through the eaves on all sides.

Crews made entry to find thick smoke, high heat and an active fire just inside the door, Bostedt said. The fire was quickly knocked down, and a thermal imaging camera was used to search for fire extension in the walls and attic.

The Oconto Falls, Little River and Pensaukee fire departments were called in for manpower and assisted with hauling water. Pensaukee First Responders and the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department also assisted, and Wisconsin Public Service was called to disconnect the electricity.


Oconto County Circuit Court Proceedings

Proceedings of March 2

Philip Padilla, 32, Appleton, formerly of Ford City, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by three years of extended supervision, for child enticement for the purpose of sexual contact, in connection with an incident that occurred Aug. 12. Judge Michael T. Judge ordered that Padilla have no contact with minors or use of the internet without prior approval of a Department of Corrections agent. He must also complete a psychological examination and follow through with any and all recommendations. Related charges of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and bail jumping were dismissed on the prosecutor’s motion.

After a preliminary hearing, Andrew E. Steeno, 29, Gwinn, Michigan, was bound over on three counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred in March 2017. Arraignment was scheduled for March 8.


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