Local woman headed to Miss Wisconsin pageant

Contributed Photo

Tess Merie Buege, left, is crowned Miss Green Bay Area 2017 as previous titleholder Courtney Jean Pelot, right, offers assistance during the yearly competition to decide who will represent the area at the Miss Wisconsin pageant.

An Oconto Falls High School graduate has been selected to represent the area as Miss Green Bay Area 2017.

Tess Merie Buege, 21, of rural Spruce, won the regional pageant title Jan. 21 after she bested seven other women for the title at the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay.

Buege, a 2012 Oconto Falls High School graduate, will now compete in the 2017 Miss Wisconsin pageant on June 17 in Oshkosh.

She will be the first woman from Oconto County to compete in the Miss Wisconsin pageant since Kristin Robbie Tielens competed four times between 1996 and 1999 but never won the state crown.

Tielens, an Oconto High School graduate and the daughter of Jess and Barbara (Veriha) Tielens, died in a 2011 motorcycle crash in Kenosha County at age 36.


County fair president dead at 56

The president of the Oconto County Fair Board is being remembered as an energetic civic leader who worked hard to maintain the county fair as a fun event for children and others.

Terry Nelson, who led the county fair board for the past 12 years, died unexpectedly Monday after suffering an apparent heart attack at the farm where he worked.

Nelson, 56, also was active in the Wisconsin State Association of Fair Boards and had served as a member of the Gillett City Council in his hometown.

“He did good things for the community,” Gillett Mayor William Pecha said. “He did his homework.”

Nelson will be remembered with a memorial service at 1 p.m. Feb. 11 inside the youth fair building at the county fairgrounds in Zippel Park in Gillett.


Police calls on the rise in Oconto Falls

The Oconto Falls Police Department is dealing with a rising number of calls for assistance, and the police chief believes the department soon could need more manpower.

According to statistics presented recently to Oconto Falls aldermen, the Police Department in 2016 responded to 2,168 incidents compared with 2,038 the previous year. That is an increase of 130 calls for assistance — more than two a week on average — or about 6 percent more on a yearly basis.

Over the past 15 years, the department has recorded a 35 percent increase in incidents.

Higher call volume has Police Chief Brad Olsen concerned about the department’s ability to manage growing demands for service.

“As call volumes go up, it’s going to be harder and harder to do really good, thorough investigations without excessive overtime,” he said.

With a budget of about $600,000 a year, the department is staffed by the chief, four full-time officers and four part-time officers.


Oconto County lands state business grant

Times Herald Photo by Scott Williams

Paul Ehrfurth, left, executive director of the Oconto County Economic Development Corp., enjoys a light moment with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch at the Entrepreneurship Pilot state grant announcement ceremony Jan. 24.

Entrepreneurs in Oconto County will soon receive professional help getting their ideas off the ground, under a $25,000 state grant to Oconto County Economic Development Corp.

The economic development group plans to match the grant and establish a $50,000 program for identifying and nurturing entrepreneurs who are eager to create new businesses in the county.

Paul Ehrfurth, executive director of the group, said he envisions cultivating a network of entrepreneurs and then working to create six to 10 new businesses before the end of the year.

Noting that Oconto County’s ability is limited in enticing existing businesses to move here, Ehrfurth said, “We need to find our own and build our own.”


Students enjoy Trump encounter

Contributed Photo

A group from Oconto Falls High School takes a breather Jan. 21 while visiting Washington, D.C., on the weekend of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The students included Mikayla Cassel, Ethan Cunningham, Landon Cunningham, Emily Greenwood, Odin Halversen, Travis Hurning, Jada Janiak, Ciara Jarvey, Macey Jarvey, Justan Konitzer, Rickaela Ludwig, Madeline Nielsen, Lindsey Schroeder, Dylan Senn, Kayla Sharbonneau, Jared VanHaren and Cliff Yuma.

Students from Oconto Falls High School were witnesses to history in the nation’s capital Jan. 20 when they attended the inauguration festivities for newly elected President Donald Trump.

Social studies teachers from the high school arranged the trip to Washington, D.C., and 17 students were able to attend and witness the moment when Trump took the oath of office as the nation’s 45th president.

The group also was in Washington to observe the Women’s March that followed on Jan. 21, when hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied to show disapproval for Trump.

Students said the trip was a memorable learning experience.

“Not every person gets the opportunity to witness the changing of power at a presidential inauguration,” Jared Van Haren said. “This historic event was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Other highlights of the four-day visit included touring many memorials and historic sites.


Oconto County Circuit Court

Proceeding from Jan. 26

A bail bond hearing was held for Renee L. Reinboldt, 39, of Manitowoc, who pleaded not guilty to being party to the crimes of possession of a narcotic drug, possession with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor bail jumping, and possession of and/or illegally obtaining a prescription, all allegedly occurring Jan. 1 in the town of Abrams. The court amended her bond to $3,500 cash and set a pretrial hearing for March 7.

An initial appearance was held for Brandon J. Bero, 23, of Oconto, who was charged with being party to the crimes of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia in the town of Abrams on Dec. 5. The court set a $1,500 cash bond. A continued initial appearance is scheduled on Feb. 9.

Proceedings from Jan. 25


School leaders set path in ‘Destination’ approach

The Oconto Falls School District has capsulized the district’s 10-year trajectory based on priorities created at a three-day Destination Education conference.

About 60 people met at the conference last fall to identify issues and trends in education and society, and to form a consensus about what’s best for the future of the Oconto Falls district.

Participants prioritized the school district’s five key interests, and the district’s administrative team is working to put them into action.

“We’re already starting to realize some of the things brought to us,” School Superintendent Dean Hess said.

As an example, Hess described developing partnerships with businesses, including the manufacturing industry. Hess recently met to discuss student hands-on training opportunities with Jim Golembeski of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.


Oconto County Sheriff’s Department

Jan. 25

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Animal – Authorities responded to a report of a dog with no collar running around the neighborhood on Pit Lane, Mountain.

Fraud – Authorities investigated a report of a suspicious phone call seeking credit card information on Lake View Court, Pound.

Traffic – Authorities responded to a stop sign partially falling down at Geano Beach Road and Cross Road, Abrams.

Suspicious – Authorities investigated an unknown vehicle in an area where nobody should be around the end of a dirt road off state Highway 32/64, Mountain.

Jan. 24

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

Welfare Check – Authorities responded to a caller concerned about his wife having issues with her phone on County Road I, Lena.

Assist – Authorities investigated a theft and/or counterfeit money complaint on County Road S, Sobieski.


Falls voter accused of election fraud

An Oconto Falls man is facing election fraud charges after investigators say he voted in the Nov. 8 presidential election despite being a convicted felon on probation.

Michael Noffke, 24, who was convicted of felony theft last year, could face a prison sentence of 3 1/2 years and a fine of $10,000 if found guilty of violating a state election law, also a felony.

Oconto County District Attorney Edward Burke said it is only the second such case locally in recent memory — and Noffke could become the first one prosecuted.

A similar case ended up with dropped charges, Burke said, after it became clear that local election officials were uncertain whether the suspect had actually gone inside a voting booth and cast a ballot.

“There’s no way to track that — you know, who voted,” Burke said.


CWD discussion brings passionate response

Times Herald photo by Joan Koehne

Members of the Oconto County Deer Advisory Council meet with David Halfmann, second from left, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, to review the DNR’s 15-year chronic wasting disease response plan. Council members voted on a set of 2017 CWD response plan recommendations. Council members attending the meeting were, from left, Mark Winkler, Wade Jeske, Ken Dolata and Greg Sekela.

The impact of chronic wasting disease hit home for Oconto County hunters this fall when deer baiting and feeding were outlawed before the gun deer season. Detection of the disease at a Gillett deer farm introduced a new threat to the health of the wild deer herd in Oconto County, and changed years of long-standing baiting practices for hunters.

Discussions about CWD sparked strong emotions last week when a group gathered to learn about the disease and to help chart a course on how to respond over the next 15 years.

About 35 people gathered Jan. 17 at the Gillett Community Center to review the state Department of Natural Resources’ 15-year chronic wasting disease response plan. The plan is being developed by a committee sponsored by the DNR, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.


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