News

Wed
08
Mar

New hotel effort ready for next step


Times Herald Photo By Scott Williams

A for-sale sign is posted on the vacant lot being promoted for a new hotel development, adjacent to the Bellin Health clinic on the right, at 107 E. Highland Drive, Oconto Falls.

Efforts to lure a new hotel to Oconto County are turning toward financing options for a development that could result in a 50-room lodging facility to accommodate tourists and other visitors.

Oconto County Economic Development Corp. is spearheading the three-year-old push to entice a hotel developer to build on a site in Oconto Falls.

The county currently has only two lodging properties equipped with about 60 rooms combined, which has proven to be inadequate at times to serve crowds drawn to such local attractions as snowmobiling, boating and fishing.

With a consultant study citing enough tourism to warrant building another 50 hotel rooms, the economic development group is teaming with the city of Oconto Falls and the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce to attract a hotel builder to the area.

Wed
08
Mar

A family legacy of service


Contributed Photo

Ernest “Porky” Magnin, who joined the Oconto Falls Fire Department around the time he opened Magain Hardware in 1938, set an example for son Chub Magnin, grandsons Tim and Bart Magnin, and great-grandson Cole Magnin, who all followed in his footsteps.

At least one person named Magnin has been on the roster of the Oconto Falls Fire Department for close to 80 years, a legacy of service that is now in its fourth generation.

Ernest “Porky” Magnin (1893-1981), who joined the department around the time he opened Magnin Hardware of Oconto Falls in 1938, paved the way, and Porky’s son Chub (Orrie) Magnin (1924-2010) followed in his father’s footsteps. He worked at Magnin Hardware and served 33 years as a member of OFFD from 1947 to 1980. Chub served as captain and received the Firefighter of the Year Award in 1975.

Brothers Tim and Bart Magnin, sons of Chub and Marie Magnin, are the family’s third generation of OFFD members. The brothers have early memories helping their father wash firetrucks.

Tim joined the OFFD in 1985 and worked his way through the ranks as firefighter, training officer and captain. He was named chief in 1991. He also is director of Oconto County Emergency Management.

Wed
08
Mar

County board salaries could be realigned


Times Herald File Photo

Oconto County Board Chairman Lee Rymer, center, shown facing other supervisors at a recent board meeting, denies that he makes committee assignments to help anyone earn bigger paychecks.

The senior member of the Oconto County Board wants to reform the system for compensating board members because he believes some people are holding elected office only for the paychecks.

Supervisor Gerald Beekman is proposing that the county pay board members yearly salaries and reduce the amount that they receive for each board meeting and committee meeting they attend.

Beekman, who has served 40 years on the board, said some supervisors collect more than $5,000 a year by serving on multiple committees as appointed by Chairman Lee Rymer.

Rymer plays “favorites” and hands out multiple committee assignments to supervisors who are trying to pad their county paychecks, Beekman said.

“It boils right down to money,” he said. “It’s created a system of the favorites and the non-favorites. It’s a bad system.”

Wed
01
Mar

DNR ranger station making progress


Times Herald Photo by Scott Williams

The ranger station at 195 E. Highland Drive was built in the 1970s, and officials say it does not not even have enough room left for a warden supervisor to set up a desk.

Conservation could have a new home soon in Oconto County.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has purchased real estate in Oconto Falls and is moving forward with plans for a new ranger station where an expanded staff would oversee forestry operations throughout the region.

After years of discussion, officials hope to start construction this summer at 300 Hank Marks Drive on a facility that could cost nearly $2 million and would more than double the DNR’s footprint locally.

The state agency works with local fire departments and forestry departments to provide fire protection, wildlife management and other conservation services in Oconto County’s numerous wooded expanses, as well as those in surrounding areas.

Ryan Severson, the DNR’s area forestry supervisor, said the new ranger station, as proposed, would be more than twice the size of an existing DNR facility in Oconto Falls, and would house additional forestry and conservation staff.

Wed
01
Mar

A toast to Oconto’s lost brewery


Contributed Photo

A horse-drawn wagon carries costumed characters hoisting beer steins to promote Oconto Brewing Co., a local brewery that began in the 1850s and operated for a century under various owners.

It was the beer that made Oconto famous for about 100 years.

The Oconto Brewery, which operated on Superior Avenue from the 1850s to the 1960s, churned out so much cold and refreshing brew that Oconto, at times, was shipping beer south to folks in Milwaukee.

In Oconto, the locals would trek across town and quench their thirsts after work. Those fortunate enough to have jobs inside the Oconto Brewing Co. could similarly enjoy a few cold ones using personalized copper mugs engraved with their names.

Thomas Bourassa, 85, remembers the brewery as a bustling place where he often stopped to watch Oconto Beer roll off the assembly lines. Although the operation ceased in the mid-1960s, many people around town have fond memories of the brewery, Bourassa said.

“There’s still quite a lot of us who remember,” he said. “It’s Oconto history — it was a good history.”

Wed
01
Mar

State to detour Highway 22 shoppers


Times Herald Photo By Scott Williams

Jack Pardy, center, line superintendent for Oconto Electric Cooperative, examines state Highway 22 construction plans Monday with Barb Hardy, right, project leader for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Business owners along state Highway 22 in Oconto County are bracing for the impact of a road construction project that some fear will leave them cut off from customers this spring and summer.

State highway officials plan to detour motorists away from Highway 22 while crews rebuild and upgrade a four-mile stretch between Oconto Falls and U.S. 141.

State officials are offering assurances that they will maintain local access on the road — for residents and business owners — and that they will try to minimize disruption during a construction period that could continue until September.

Some local merchants, however, are concerned that customers will see the detour signs and just keep on going.

“It just kind of scares me,” said Stephanie Wirhanowicz, owner of the Steel Moose Bar & Grill, who joined others Monday at a public meeting to discuss the highway project at Oconto Falls City Hall.

Wed
01
Mar

Race set for Suring village president

Newcomer Dan Newell will challenge Suring Village President Jay Tousey in the April 4 general election to determine who leads the village for the next two years.

Voters in the Feb. 21 primary selected Tousey and Newell to advance to the general election, leaving Jeff Whiting, a former village president, out of the running.

According to unofficial results, Tousey finished with 61 votes in the primary, followed by Newell with 33 votes and Whiting with 12 votes.

Tousey, who as been village president for 25 years, won his current term two years ago by defeating Whiting, 108-52.

Newell, a Suring resident for six years, is a political newcomer who emphasizes his business experience and his desire to improve education for local children.

The winner of the April 4 election will get a two-year term presiding over the village’s $600,000-a-year budget and the Village Board’s monthly meetings.

The Oconto County village has about 500 residents.

Wed
01
Mar

Missing Suring girl found safe

The Oconto County Sheriff’s Office has located a teenage girl who was missing from the Suring area for a week.

Tessa Tock, 16, was found safe Friday after the sheriff’s office had announced a search was under way, officials said in a news release.

Tock had been last seen at her residence Feb. 17.

No details were released about where or how she was located.

Wed
01
Mar

Suring business teacher retiring after 34 years

The Suring School District is saying goodbye to one of its longest serving faculty members.

Tamara Steffeck, who has been a teacher in the district for 34 years, has announced plans to retire at the end of the school year.

As a teacher of business and information technology at both the high school and middle school level, she has helped Suring students move from learning to type to understanding computers and computer applications.

Steffeck also has taught general business, business law, personal finance and accounting, and she has served as the senior class adviser.

Suring School Board members voted with regrets at their Feb. 8 meeting to accept Steffeck’s resignation.

In other business, the board approved the resignation of Kristin Delzer as middle/high school social studies teacher, and approved the appointments of Monica Wagner as high school assistant track coach and Timothy Grimes as middle/high school social studies teacher.

Wed
01
Mar

Superintendent seeks to avoid ‘drastic cuts’

Oconto Falls School Superintendent Dean Hess has released the following statement to the community regarding the school district’s $11.5 million referendum on the ballot April 4:

Dear Community Members,

On April 4, residents of the Oconto Falls School District will vote in a referendum concerning the district’s finances. The purpose of this letter is to provide you with some information about this referendum and to answer your questions.

In order to explain why the board is proceeding with a referendum, it is first necessary to explain the way schools are funded in Wisconsin. First, the amount of money a school district receives is restricted by a revenue limit, also known as a revenue cap. Every district has its own revenue limit, which changes every two years according to the state budget. In the Oconto Falls School District, revenue limits dictate the majority of operational spending.

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