News

Thu
28
Sep

Oconto County employees to get pay raise

After considerable discussion, the Oconto County Board voted 22-7 Thursday to approve a general employees wage schedule for 2018 that increases the budget by about $490,000 next year.

The discussion came after two months of delay as supervisors sent it back to the personnel and wages committee for review.

Employees will get a 1.5 percent increase in wages and salaries, accounting for $199,000 of the package, along with any applicable “step” increase that takes them from one level of experience and progression to the next. The step increases for 2018 average 2.5 percent, or $291,000.

The board first wrangled over Supervisor Gary Frank’s motion to amend the resolution to spell out that the whole cost of the package is an average 3.7 percent increase.

“I think it’s disingenuous for us to pass a resolution saying we have a 1.5 percent increase in wages plus actual steps and not let the public know what those actual steps are,” Frank said.

Thu
28
Sep

Grant will enhance STEM learning at Lena


From left, Matthew Swanson and Patrick Baecker, present Lena High School teacher Todd Hansen with a $10,000 grant after he and the school were nominated by Amy Sobeck and Randy Sobeck. The presentation was held during halftime of the Sept. 15 football game. (Contributed photo)

Lena High School teacher Todd Hansen’s students are the beneficiaries of a $10,000 grant given to the school after being nominated by a local farmer.

The Randy and Amy Sobeck family recommended the school for the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant, which is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.

After being nominated by the Sobecks, Hansen filled out the application for the grant, which was presented during halftime of Lena’s football game Sept. 15.

“The application process is rigorous, but I am glad our school got the grant,” Hansen said. “I am excited to be able to use the money to spend on technology to help my students.”

Thu
28
Sep

Oconto hotel to join EconoLodge chain


The new owners of Riverview Inn & Suites are planning to join the EconoLodge chain. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The new owners of Riverview Inn & Suites in Oconto plan to close on a franchise agreement this week that will make the hotel part of the EconoLodge brand.

The Oconto County Board on Sept. 21 approved a loan that the business intends to apply toward acquiring the real estate and purchasing fixtures and equipment.

Avindkumar R. Patel and Sejalben A. Patel, doing business as Mataji2 LLC, already own lodging establishments in the Marinette area, said Paul Ehrfurth, executive director of the Oconto County Economic Development Corp.

“I’ve been real impressed with these gentlemen,” Ehrfurth told the county board. “They have substantially ramped up their occupancy already by utilizing online booking, services, which the previous owners really didn’t.”

The 47-room hotel at 600 Brazeau Ave. began life as a Ramada in the 1990s and has had the Riverview name for several years.

Thu
28
Sep

County Board chairman takes a tumble


The effects of Oconto County Board Chairman Lee Rymer’s fall on a sidewalk were visible Sept. 21. (Times Herald Photo by Warren Bluhm)

It looked worse than it really was, but Oconto County Board Chairman Lee Rymer was taking it easy Sept. 21 anyway.

His forehead, chin and hand were bruised and scabbed, and Rymer explained that he’d taken a tumble while departing a meeting in Sheboygan the previous week.

“I walked out and fell — I fell on the walk from the building,” he said.

Rymer said he used his hand to try to break his fall, but he planted his face on the cement, breaking his nose.

“That’s the first broken bone that I ever had in my life,” he told his colleagues.

The doctor says he’ll be OK, and the nose just needs some time to heel, he said.

Rymer turned the gavel over to board Vice Chairman Paul Bednarik to run the three-hour meeting, taking his place in Bednarik’s usual chair.

Bednarik had also pinch-hit for Rymer giving the official county welcome to the Oconto Fly-In on an hour’s notice Sept. 16, and the chairman thanked him for doing that.

Thu
28
Sep

Leak under St. Clare’s Hospital to be fixed

The Oconto Falls Utilities Commission held an emergency meeting Monday to approve repairs to an apparent water main leak under HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital.

Utilities manager Greg Kuhn said he asked for the special meeting because a contractor that could perform the job is in town and could deal with the matter after completing its current task. The work will likely be done starting Monday.

Rick Johnson, plant services manager for HSHS hospitals in Oconto Falls and Sheboygan, told the commission the leak in the underground pipe was discovered after an amount of water was discovered that was more than could be caused by a leaky roof.

The main problem is that the leak is under the area where the hospital’s emergency generator is located, Kuhn said.

Thu
28
Sep

Oconto County Sheriff's Department calls

Sept. 21

Deputies responded to 50 incidents, including the following:

Attempted fraud — reported in the 16000 block of Pine Tree Road, Townsend, 11:13 a.m.

Disturbance — reported in the 2000 block of County Road J, Little Suamico, 12:19 p.m.

Harassment — reported in the 400 block of West Main Street, Lena, 2:30 p.m.

Disturbance — reported in the 8000 block of Hall Road, Little River, 6:39 p.m.

Disturbance — reported in the 300 block of Pecor Street, Oconto, 6:40 p.m.

Sexual assault — reported at a redacted location in Oconto County, 6:47 p.m.

Traffic crash — vs. deer, County Road SS, Pensaukee, 7:05 p.m.

Sept. 20

Deputies responded to 48 incidents, including the following:

Traffic crash — vs. deer, Frog Pond Road and County Road S, Oconto, 7:29 a.m.

Theft — reported in the 6000 block of Flobengo Lane, Sobieski, 10:14 a.m.

Thu
28
Sep

Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings of Sept. 22

Philip Padilla, 32, Ford City, Pennsylvania, waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement for the purpose of sexual contact, in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred Aug. 12. Arraignment was scheduled for Oct. 12.

After a preliminary hearing, Judge Michael T. Judge ordered Daniel J. Newell, 56, Suring, bound over for trial on two counts of second-degree sexual assault, as well as one count each of possession with intent to deliver THC and maintaining a drug trafficking place, and misdemeanor charges of battery, disorderly conduct and possession of dug paraphernalia, in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred Aug. 11 and were reported Aug. 14. Arraignment was scheduled for Oct. 12.

Wed
13
Sep

Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceedings of Sept. 6

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 22 for Philip J. Padilla, 31, Ford City, Pennsylvania, who was arrested Aug. 12 and charged with child enticement for sexual contact and using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. Padilla is being held in lieu of $50,000 cash bond.

Brandon L. Hunter, 26, Oconto Falls, faces a Sept. 22 preliminary hearing on a felony charge of strangulation and suffocation, as well as misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct, in connection with an incident at his home Aug. 12.

Proceedings of Sept. 5

Wed
13
Sep

Oconto Falls linemen join Irma recovery effort


Contributed photo

Heading to Florida to help with the Hurricane Irma cleanup are Justin Beaman, left, and John Salscheider of the Oconto Falls Municipal Utility.

Two linemen and a truck from Oconto Falls left Friday morning for Florida, where Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc over the weekend.

Justin Beaman and John Salscheider were among 30 workers from communities that are part of Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin who responded to a call for people interested in helping out to restore power after the outages. Shawano also sent a crew of three.

“MEUW put out a feeler for anyone interested to go and lend a hand,” utility manager Greg Kuhn said.

The group was expecting to check in around the Kissimmee, Florida, area, but once they arrive they’ll be dispatched to wherever the need is, he said.

Wed
13
Sep

Mining bill receives public hearing

A bill to overturn the state’s moratorium on sulfide mining – which was only in draft form when the Oconto County Board voted to oppose it three weeks ago – was introduced Aug. 29 and has already received a public hearing.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, introduced the “Mining in America Bill” as Senate Bill 395 on Aug. 29, and he hosted a public hearing at Ladysmith High School on Sept. 7 under the auspices of the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry, which he chairs.

Tiffany surrendered the gavel long enough to testify in favor of the bill, saying that because of the moratorium, Wisconsin is exporting jobs and importing pollution in the form of contaminated air from mines overseas.

He also said northern Wisconsin is the most rapidly aging part of the state because young people are not staying or relocating here after graduation.

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