News

Wed
05
Apr

Speaker, simulator drive home a message


Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm

Gillett High School students listen Monday as C.J. Rich of the Save a Life Tour talks about the hazards of drunken and distracted driving.

The Gillett High School student body fell silent Monday morning listening to a man cry on a video screen.

Reggis Shaw was 20 years old when — as he was texting back and forth with a friend while driving state Highway 30 near his hometown of Logan, Utah — he crossed the center line and sideswiped an oncoming car, which spun out of control and was T-boned by a pickup truck behind him.

Two men in the car were killed, and the driver of the pickup truck sustained career-ending injuries.

“All I could think about is the families of those two men,” Shaw said as he sobbed in the video, almost a decade later. “Knowing, every day, that you killed two people is one of the worst things you can live with.”

Wed
05
Apr

Suring grad named Fairest of the Fair


Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm

Lining up for photographer Karen Riegert-Blaser are, from left, Oconto County Fairest of the Fair 2016 Mikaela Reed, 2017 runner-up Kaitlyn Kramarczyk, Fairest of the Fair 2017 Victoria Hull, Junior Fairest 2017 Grace Seefeldt and Junior Fairest 2016 Kate Pytleski.

Victoria Hull, of Mountain, was named Oconto County Fairest of the Fair on Sunday during the annual competition at Gillett High School. Grace Seefeldt, of Lena, was chosen Junior Fairest of the Fair.

A Suring High School graduate, Hull is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, majoring in international business and teaching English as a second language. She is the daughter of Mike and Kathryn Hull.

Grace, a sixth-grader at Lena Middle School, is the daughter of Dale and Becky Seefeldt.

“I love the feeling of community and family that we received as exhibitors,” Hull said in her introduction. “Whether it’s your first year showing or your last like me, it’s easy to feel the love and welcome that you receive here at the Oconto County Fair.”

The other Senior Fairest of the Fair contestants were Kaitlin Kramarczyk, who was named runner-up, and Danielle Bursa. Other Junior Fairest contestants were Holly Brock, Delaney DeBauch and Macie Reed.

Wed
05
Apr

Falls officer honored for victim advocacy


Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm

Oconto Falls Police Department Officer Jamie Kuhn addresses the group Monday after receiving an Excellence in Advocacy Award during a ceremony at Hagemeister Park, a Green Bay restaurant.

Oconto Falls Police Officer Jamie Kuhn on Monday became the first Oconto County recipient of an Excellence in Advocacy Award from the Sexual Assault Center of Northeastern Wisconsin.

The award, given to people who go above and beyond the line of duty on behalf of victims and their families, was presented during a ceremony in Green Bay kicking off April Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a national observance.

“She is the kind of officer a victim wants to report to, because she cares so deeply and will go the extra mile to help a victim, and even extra extra miles to catch the person who hurt them,” said Susan Lockwood, director of the center and Willow Tree Cornerstone Child Advocacy Center, who presented the award. “Jamie has had some difficult cases but always perseveres in the interest of justice.”

Wed
29
Mar

Cat house owner seeks to avoid demolition

An Oconto Falls woman has filed a response to the city’s effort to raze her house and garage, two years after 32 cats were removed from the home and a year after legal proceedings began.

“I deny that I have failed to clean and remediate the building,” Roberta Olshesky wrote in a letter filed Friday in Oconto County Circuit Court. “I may have not hired a professional because I cannot afford to incur such a debt, but we have cleaned substantially and believe the house is not a danger to anyone.”

The 83-year-old woman said she was forced to borrow money to retain an attorney after the City Council moved to order the structures destroyed last spring, the retainer is now used up, and she can’t afford to continue with an attorney.

The response also includes a letter from a friend, Mary Jakopovich of Green Bay, who said more than 300 hours have gone into cleaning the house.

Wed
29
Mar

Light spring election turnout expected

Oconto County Clerk Kim Pytleski is preparing for about a 25 percent turnout of registered voters for the spring election Tuesday.

She bases that estimate on turnouts of 26 percent in 2015, 15 percent in 2014 and 27 percent in 2013, the last time a state superintendent of public instruction election was held. Last April was a presidential primary election, which always draws a much higher turnout than the typical spring ballot of school board, city, village, town and other nonpartisan offices.

Some municipalities in the county have contested races, and the Oconto Falls School District has a referendum question, and as a result the turnout “could scoot as high as that 30 percent mark,” Pytleski said.

All Oconto County voters will choose between State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who is running for a third four-year term, and challenger Lowell E. Holtz.

Wed
29
Mar

A big family for a year


Photo by Eden Witt

Nan and Chris Williams with their daughters and foreign exchange guest family, from left, Gwen Williams, Anna-Maria Oliveira Assuncao, Kristina Heimonen and Grace Williams.

Chris and Nan Williams, of Abrams, and their family are hosting two foreign exchange students until the end of the school year.

The couple’s older daughter, Grace, met the two girls, Kristina Heirmonen and Anna-Maria Oliveira Assuncao, at Oconto Falls High School and convinced her parents to take over for a previous host family who took in the overseas visitors for September and October.

“I always wanted to have a big family,” Nan Williams said. “When I found out about this opportunity, I thought it would be a good experience to have a big family that is not long term.”

Hosting two foreign exchange students has brought the family together, Chris Williams said.

“It’s really nice having a different perspective, and we do more things together. It has made our family closer,” he said.

The couple’s two children also say they have benefited from hosting the two foreign exchange students.

Wed
29
Mar

County Board talks salary, rules of order

The Oconto County Board spent a lot of time discussing its rules March 23, making an adjustment to how board members are compensated but declining to change the makeup of a standing committee or pass an ordinance that would require committee chairpersons to allow non-member county supervisors to speak.

Under the existing system, board members are paid on a per-diem basis for each meeting they attend. Longtime supervisor Ronald Beekman proposed that members should get a fixed salary and a reduced per diem.

The current rule only allows per diems. The law enforcement/judiciary committee recommended changing the language so that compensation “may be defined as per diems and/or salary.”

That was approved 23-6 without much discussion, but there was a longer conversation about another request that the committee declined to recommend, regarding the makeup of the personnel and wages committee.

Wed
29
Mar

Hunt raises funds for new K-9 officers


Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm

Marinette Police Officer Matt Borths and his partner, Riggs, bring a “perpetrator” into custody during a demonstration Saturday at the Karl Zeitler Memorial Hunt.

The Oconto County Sheriff’s Department will be able to hire a new K-9 officer this year with help from a family that is keeping the memory of their dog-loving husband and father very much alive.

For the fourth year, proceeds from the Karl Zeitler Memorial Hunt – held Saturday at Little Creek Lodge in Pensaukee – were used to fund a $13,500 donation to a local law enforcement agency for the purchase of a search and rescue dog.

“Karl was an avid dog lover,” Julie Zeitler said of her husband, who died suddenly in 2010. “The boys said we should do something to keep his memory alive.”

Karl Zeitler’s hunting dog CJ is still alive and was working with teams that did not bring their own dogs on Saturday, she said.

This is the fifth year of the hunt. The first event provided funds for the Pound Fire Department to purchase a utility vehicle, but then the family became aware that K-9 officers generally are not funded with public funds.

Wed
29
Mar

Kwik Trip cuts ribbon, gives to community


Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm

Bob Patterson of Kingdom Come Food Pantry, left, thanks Kwik Trip for a $1,000 donation at the new Stiles store’s grand opening. Look on are Bob Haines, district leader; Brad Brennenstahl, store leader; and Greg DeGroot, assistant district leader.

Corporate, regional and local leaders – and some of the staff – all introduced themselves to the public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 22 for Kwik Trip, the former Stiles Junction Food & Fuel store at 5908 Duame Road, Stiles Junction.

“I want to thank you for all the work you’ve done, and I want to thank you for all the work you’re going to do,” President and CEO Don Zietlow told the dozen or so team members who participated in the ceremony. “The only place you’re going to find my name in this store, or any store, is in the bathroom. If it’s not clean, my name’s there, my number’s there, you can call me. But you won’t have to worry about this crew.”

Zietlow talked about the unique features of Kwik Trip, like the huge banana-ripening facility in La Crosse – they sell about a million pounds of bananas a week at more than 500 stores – and the dairy where the company processes its own milk and makes its own ice cream.

Wed
22
Mar

Store’s name is its mission

New Beginnings Work and Training Center, a retail store located in Oconto Falls, does much more than sell merchandise.

The store is part of a Oconto County Health and Services program that also offers a training center for at-risk youth who are in the juvenile justice system, aging out of foster care or in special education programs. The employment and training skills program helps train them for the workforce.

“We provide training and employment to people that there isn’t employment for,” said Penny Helmle, one of two directors at New Beginnings with Mike Reimer.

Every year the program has an average of 15 to 20 participants, Reimer said. Once the program participants complete the training program, they are offered a paid job at the retail store.

“We tailor the job to their abilities,” Reimer said.

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