Oconto County Sheriff's Department: Dec. 14-21

Dec. 21

Deputies responded to 36 incidents, including the following:

Harassment — reported in the 4000 block of County Road A, Little River, 8:59 a.m.

Property damage — reported in the 5000 block of Oak Orchard Road, Abrams, 10:02 a.m.

Harassment — reported in the 7000 block of Red Bank Road, How, 3:56 p.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. Highway 41 and Woodview Road, Little River, 10:14 p.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. Highway 41 north of South Range Line, Oconto, 10:49 p.m.

Dec. 20

Deputies responded to 32 incidents, including the following:

Property damage — reported in the 5000 block of Valley Haven Court, Little Suamico, 9:15 a.m.

Traffic crash — South Chase Road and Bluegrass Lane, Chase, 9:21 a.m.

K-9 deployment — 600 block of East Main Street, Suring, 10:06 a.m.

Traffic crash with injuries — State Highway 22 and County Road P, Gillett, 4:22 p.m.


Lee Rymer steps down as Oconto County Board chair

Supervisor Lee Rymer is congratulated by newly appointed Interim County Board Chairman Paul Bednarik moments after the board approved Rymer’s request to be relieved of his duties as chairman after 19 years and eight months. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

Oconto County Board Chairman Lee Rymer stepped down from his post Thursday and confirmed he won’t be running for re-election to the board in the spring.

The announcement, and approval of a resolution appointing Vice Chairman Paul Bednarik as interim chairman through the last four months of this term, capped an emotional County Board meeting that began with a salute to its longest-serving supervisor, Gerald Beekman. He resigned from the board just a few months before his 40th anniversary in office.

Rymer, who has represented a part of the city of Oconto Falls on the County Board since 1986, has been chairman since 1998 — following the example of his father, Morris Rymer.


Longtime county psychiatrist calls it a career

Oconto County Board Chairman Lee Rymer congratulates Dr. Norma Picio-Cruz on her retirement after four decades as county psychiatrist. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

Dr. Norma Picio-Cruz, who has served as Oconto County psychiatrist for 40 years, is retiring at the end of the month.

The County Board recognized Cruz for her service during its December meeting on Thursday.

“Psychiatrists are scarce in Wisconsin, and Dr. Cruz has truly served Oconto County as a commitment of her faith and calling to a life of care for people,” Health and Human Services Director Michael Reimer told the board during a salute to the longtime service provider.

Cruz has been a mentor and consultant for the many medical professionals in the county and established a medical network of psychiatric treatment and general practitioner support, Reimer said.

“She has patiently endured the challenges of treating people in a rural area with few resources and has served as the lone psychiatrist in the county all of these years,” he said. “Indeed, Oconto County will not be able to replace her with a comparably credentialed provider.”


Seven northern towns agree on added police services

The Oconto County Sheriff’s Department will provide additional police services to seven northern Oconto County towns under an agreement approved Thursday by the County Board.

Sheriff Mike Jansen said he has been in discussions this year with the towns about hiring a second recreation patrol officer to supplement the work of Officer Troy Sherman who, for about 15 years, has been enforcing snowmobile, ATV and other regulations on the trails in the northern part of the county.

“One of the reasons is the state doesn’t have a DNR warden in the northern part of the county, hasn’t had one in the last couple of years, and probably is not going to have one for another year,” Jansen told the board. “Their staffing not only here but statewide is short.”


Manufacturer sues county over jail dispute

The general contractor for Oconto County’s new Law Enforcement Center alleged in a federal lawsuit that the county unlawfully withheld funds for work the contractor had not agreed to do.

The suit filed Nov. 1 alleged:

• The contract Fabcor Inc., of Minster, Ohio, doing business as JAILS, signed in January 2016 to expand the LEC excluded the installation of certain security door frames. That work was to be done by another contractor. By June 2016, Fabcor and the county were in a dispute over which contractor should install the door frames.

• The dispute was submitted to the project construction manager, who initially decided that Fabcor was responsible for installing the frames. However, the manager resigned and instructed Fabcor that they would not be responsible for the frame installation or be charged the cost for another contractor to install them.


Lions Club honored as Friend of Education

Sam Powell, left, president of the Oconto Falls Lions Club, accepts the Friend of Education award on behalf of the club from Ron Leja, president of the Oconto Falls School Board, during the board’s Dec. 11 meeting. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Oconto Falls Lions Club is the recipient of this year’s Friend of Education Award from the Oconto Falls School District.

The Lions were recognized for various efforts on behalf of local young people, most notably the vision screenings the club offers kindergarten students year after year.

Marcie Waeghe, the Oconto Falls Elementary School teacher who nominated the club, noted: the Lions’ Punt, Pass and Kick competition initiated in 2016; its donation of funds for the ST Paper Stadium project; scholarships provided to multiple graduates every year; and numerous Eagle Scout projects.

“Along with providing financial support to student groups competing in extracurricular competitions, they have donated thousands of dollars to the Adopt a Family and Holiday Hope programs,” Waeghe’s nomination stated.

Club President Sam Powell accepted a plaque from School Board President Ron Leja.


Oconto County pledges $10k toward improved broadband service

Paul Ehrfurth of the Oconto County Economic Development Corp., center, describes the state broadband expansion grant program with internet provider representatives Michael O’Malley, left, and Mark Dodge. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Oconto County Board has pledged $10,000 toward an effort officials hope will secure a state grant to improve broadband access in the county.

If the attempt to get a Wisconsin Broadband Expansion Grant succeeds, the plan is to improve high-speed internet in the northern part of the county and through the Oconto Falls Industrial Park. That improvement will come through a partnership among the county, the Oconto County Economic Development Corp., and two internet providers.

Paul Ehrfurth, OCEDC executive director, told the board the state has recognized the importance of broadband to local economies, especially in the rural north. As a result, $7.5 million in grants is being made available now, with another $7 million expected in June.

Even with growing amounts of funding available, the demand has made it hard to obtain a grant, he said.


Oconto County Circuit Court Proceedings

Proceedings of Dec. 14

Katie E. Johnson, 29, Oconto Falls, waived her right to preliminary hearing and was bound over on three felony counts of identity theft, felony bail jumping and three misdemeanor counts of theft, in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred July 1 and for failing to appear in court Nov. 12. Prosecutors also filed new charges of driving or operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent and bail jumping in connection with an alleged Nov. 24 incident. Arraignment was scheduled for Jan. 11 after Judge Jay N. Conley set a cash bond of $10,000.

Zachary James Lipp, 25, Oconto Falls, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty to possession of narcotic drugs and three related misdemeanor charges in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred Oct. 17. A pre-trial conference was scheduled for Jan. 11.


Oconto County Sheriff's Department: Dec. 8-13

Dec. 13

Deputies responded to 49 incidents, including the following:

Traffic crash — County Road B and County Road M, Spruce, 7:40 a.m.

Traffic crash — County Road S north of Snyder Lane, Pensaukee, Laura B. Liegeois, 16, Little Suamico, lost control on snow-covered road and struck a tree, possible injury but not transported, 7:40 a.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. 41-141 and Oak Orchard Road, Abrams, 7:48 a.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. 141 southbound south of County Road E, Abrams, 11:26 a.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. 41-141 north of Brown Road, Little Suamico, 12:30 p.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. 41-141 north of Brown Road, Little Suamico, Tammy M. Flanigan, 48, Clintonville, lost control on snow-covered road, entered median and struck an exit sign post, no injuries, 12:43 p.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. 41-141 northbound south of Abrams split, 12:58 p.m.

Traffic crash — U.S. 41-141 north of Brown Road, Little Suamico, 1:29 p.m.


Kingdom Come Food Pantry expands space

Frank Schmechel of the Facilities Support Committee at Kingdom Come Food Pantry is among more than 100 volunteers who give their time and energy to the pantry that serves area families. (Contributed photo)

Thanks to a major donation from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation, an expansion project is underway at the Kingdom Come Food Pantry in Oconto Falls.

The project will enlarge the client registration and waiting areas at the pantry on North Locust Street. The current area is crowded and doesn’t offer much in the way of comfort or privacy for the families the organization serves, said Cathy Dugan of the pantry’s publicity committee.

The expansion is expected to be completed by the end of December, and the pantry remains open during the construction, she said.

The nonprofit pantry was started in 2005, and the space was originally designed with a goal of serving 50 families a week in mind. The growing need has reached the point where about 250 families (725 people) now receive weekly assistance.

The current space seats about 20 people, so many clients are forced to stand while they are waiting for services.


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