News

Wed
20
Feb

Woodland Village Gillett to close


Most residents of the Woodland Village Nursing Center in Gillett are moving to the company’s Suring location, with some choosing to go to Oconto. All staff members have been offered jobs at the other centers. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Woodland Village Nursing Center in Gillett is being closed in a consolidation of services, the company confirmed this week.

Most of the approximately 20 residents of the 35-bed center will be transferred to Woodland Village Suring, with some choosing to go to Oconto, board member Mark Charlton said Monday. The Gillett staff members have been offered positions at the other Woodland Village facilities.

“We are going through a well-outlined legal process for closure of the Gillett facility, which will in turn allow us to focus our ongoing efforts to maintain care excellence at our five-star facilities in Oconto, Suring and Our Home Health Service,” Charlton said in a news release and follow-up interview. “Our administrator in Gillett is also the administrator in Suring, so we are maintaining excellent continuity with our residents.”

The move should be completed within 60 days, he said.

Wed
20
Feb

Grammy-nominated Rick Monroe to play in Oconto Falls


Rick Monroe has recorded four full-length albums and three EPs. He also has several charted singles and will perform with Scott Wilson at S&S Hometown Bar & Restaurant on Friday, Feb. 22. (Contributed photo)

Country music artist Rick Monroe and Scott Wilson of the rock band Saving Abel are performing an acoustic show at S&S Hometown Bar and Restaurant in Oconto Falls on Friday.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the show, and they are available at the venue, 211 S. Maple Ave., or www.StryckerRecords.com. Doors will open for the concert at 8 p.m.

Eleven-time Grammy-nominated Monroe is collaborating with Mississippi rocker Wilson for a series of acoustic shows in small Midwest venues for the Legacy of the Bright Minds Tour. The last time Wilson performed in Oconto Falls was at Happy Jacks to a sold-out crowd.

For this concert, special guest Tim Pszanka, originally from Sobieski, will kick off the music, and local band Jamie Fontaine & the Level will close out the night. Monroe and Wilson are friends who have worked together before, despite their different musical backgrounds.

Wed
20
Feb

West De Pere principal named Pulaski superintendent finalist


Jason Lau has been declared the "sole finalist" for the job of Pulaski Community School District superintendent. (West De Pere School District photo)

A principal in West De Pere is on track to become the next superintendent of the Pulaski Community School District.

The district announced Thursday that the Pulaski School Board has named Jason Lau the “sole finalist” for the position of district superintendent. Current district administrator Bec Kurzynske plans to leave at the end of the school year to become director of education and government practice for M3 Insurance.

Lau has spent the past nine years as principal of Westwood Elementary School in the West De Pere School District. He first joined the district in 2002 as director of student services. Prior to West De Pere, he served as school psychologist for Kohler Public Schools as well as Clarke Street School of the Milwaukee Public School District. Lau earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Norbert College and a master’s degree in school psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Wed
20
Feb

State awards OCEDC $40,000 matching grant

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announced last week that the Oconto County Economic Development Corp. will receive $40,000 “to help develop or expand innovative programs aimed at advancing the climate for entrepreneurship.”

The matching grant — one of nine around the state totaling $500,000 — is being awarded as part of WEDC’s Entrepreneurship Support Program, which is now in its third year. The grants are designed to help fund activities that promote entrepreneurship or deliver education, training and other resources to assist new and aspiring business owners. More than 400 entrepreneurs are expected to receive services through a wide variety of initiatives.

“I’m not aware of any other communities that have received three consecutive awards from this grant program,” said Paul Ehrfurth, executive director of the OCEDC, on Friday.

Tue
12
Feb

Snow makeup days to extend school year


Oconto Falls Superintendent Dean Hess, right, explains the administration’s recommendation for snow makeup days while school board vice president Jan Stranz and president Ron Leja look on. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

As much as students may enjoy having an unexpected winter break, snow days at some point will start to infringe on summer.

Tuesday was the eighth day this season that classes were canceled in the Oconto Falls School District, and the school board took action Monday night to extend the school year further into June.

The 2018-19 academic year was originally scheduled to end with an early-release day Friday, June 7, but the board added a net total of three days to the calendar.

June 7 was expanded to a full day of classes, and the board added a full day on Monday, June 10, with that last, early-release day of school moved to Tuesday, June 11.

In addition, a professional development day — where teachers report for training and other activities without the students present — was moved from Tuesday, May 28, to June 12, with the day after Memorial Day turning into a class day.

Tue
12
Feb

Guilty plea entered in fatal crash


Defense attorney Michael F. Hart, left, listens to the prosecutor’s argument after his client Guy N. Maras pleaded guilty to homicide by the intoxicated use of a motor vehicle. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The driver of the car in a horrific crash that claimed his friend’s life last summer has pleaded guilty in Oconto County Circuit Court.

Guy Maras, 54, of Naperville, Illinois, entered a guilty plea Feb. 5 to a charge of homicide by the intoxicated use of a motor vehicle. In a plea agreement, two other felony charges were dismissed but will be read into the record at sentencing, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. April 12.

“My understanding is that in exchange for Mr. Maras’ plea of guilty on count 1, now that counts 2 and 3 have been dismissed, the state will be recommending, at the time of sentencing, a sentence not to exceed that recommended by the PSI (presentence investigation) writer,” defense attorney Michael F. Hart told Oneida County Judge Patrick O’Melia, who was hearing the case.

Tue
12
Feb

Former teacher convicted of sexual assault of student

A former Suring High School teacher and coach pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to the sexual assault of a student by school staff and was immediately taken into custody pending sentencing.

Timothy D. Grimes, 24, climbed into the bed of a 17-year-old girl while staying with the girl’s family overnight between 10 and 20 times last April and May, performing sexual acts, according to the criminal complaint filed last summer in Oconto County Circuit Court.

Grimes was a history teacher and coach at Suring and was suspended after the charges emerged; the school board formally accepted his resignation last month.

He faced six felony charges and pleaded guilty to two of them. In a plea agreement, the other four counts were dismissed but will be read into the record during the sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 22.

Wed
06
Feb

Skilled workers invited to job fair at OFHS


About 350 students from 15 school districts and 100 members of the public attended the inaugural SkillsUSA Future Fair at Oconto Falls High School last year. (Times Herald file photo)

Oconto Falls High School officials are organizing their second annual SkillsUSA Future Fair, with more than 50 companies in attendance to introduce students and the public to trade and vocational employment opportunities in Northeast Wisconsin.

The school’s Technology Education Department has invited students from 15 school districts to attend the job fair Tuesday, which aims to tackle the widening skills gap that trade and manufacturing companies are facing with the retirement of many skilled workers.

“Our goal is to connect students and community members with manufacturing, construction, engineering, transportation and health service companies,” said John Bursa, tech ed teacher.

Some companies invited to the event plan to bring in equipment for demonstrations. Others will have samples of their products and representatives ready to talk to the students and parents — some even providing interviews on the spot, Bursa said.

Wed
06
Feb

Winter attacks with a vengeance


Afternoon temperatures registered by the Peshtigo National Bank sign in Oconto Falls barely topped minus-8 on Jan. 30, falling into the minus-20s on Thursday before a dramatic climb into the upper 30s Sunday. (Times Herald photos by Warren Bluhm)

Mother Nature made up for a relatively mild December and most of January by socking the area with a solid dose of winter over the last 10 days.

The barrage started with about 10 inches or more of snow that closed schools and caused numerous traffic accidents Jan. 28. One of the more serious crashes involved five vehicles along U.S. Highway 41-141 near the Oconto-Brown County line at 10 a.m. that Monday morning.

A southbound pickup truck that Oconto County sheriff’s deputies say was going too fast for conditions struck the back of a slow-moving semitrailer truck, starting a chain reaction that also damaged two sport utility vehicles and a car. None of the seven people inside the vehicles was injured, but the southbound lanes were closed for an hour and 40 minutes while officials worked to clear the scene.

In the aftermath of the storm, a record-breaking polar vortex swept in.

Wed
06
Feb

Private school voucher program opens

St. Anthony School in Oconto Falls is among 262 private nonsectarian and religious schools and school systems registered with the Department of Public Instruction to accept students for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program for the 2019-20 school year.

The open enrollment period for the program began Friday and continues through April 20.

St. Anthony School serves about 90 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Affiliated with St. Anthony & St. Patrick Catholic Parish, the school is open to students from all denominations.

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