News

Tue
08
Jan

High school to host VEX Robotics Challenge


Competing robots pile yellow cones for points during the 2018 VEX Robotics Challenge at Oconto Falls High School. (Times Herald file photo)

Middle and high school students from across Wisconsin will descend upon Oconto Falls High School from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for the Northeast Wisconsin VEX Robotics Challenge.

More than 30 teams will come together for a nonstop, action-packed day where they will compete against each other with robots created from the VEX Robotics Design System. Participants will square off in this season’s game, “Turning Point,” developed by VEX Robotics Inc. and the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

The competition is being hosted by Team Green 4-H Robotics Club from Oconto County. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public. Team Green will have two teams in the competition.

Tue
08
Jan

Multiple items on school board agendas in Oconto Falls, Suring

The Oconto Falls School Board plans to meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the conference room at the District Office, 200 N. Farm Road. The board’s Curriculum Committee has scheduled a meeting at 5 p.m.

Agenda items include a closed session to discuss the status of an offer to purchase real estate and to discuss an employee’s request for a leave of absence. Other highlights:

• Under old business, the board will discuss the proposed Memo of Understanding regarding a veterans monument, which the board has determined must be agreed to before the project may move forward. The board may take action with regard to specific requirements for inclusion in the Memo of Understanding. The board will also consider approving the second reading of recommended changes to two district policies, with possible action.

Wed
02
Jan

Local band celebrates new year at local venue


Jamie Fontaine, right, and his bandmates, Joseph Weise (bass) and Colby Peters (drums) play during part of the Saving Abel concert in Gillett in September. (Photo by Sara Rahmer)

Jamie Fontaine & the Level rang in the new year with their community in an intimate setting, rocking the Midway Bar in Lena on Monday night, along with Dead Cedar.

2018 was a busy, innovative year for Fontaine’s band, which has been performing, recording and sharing stages with popular, national rock bands like Saving Abel, Saliva, Rick Monroe and Michael Alexander & Big Whiskey.

“Getting advice from some professionals, making those relationships, seeing them flourish … these people that you talk to have No. 1 hits on the radio. So for them to take time out of their day, for them to talk to me about my project is pretty humbling, because they obviously see something in me that my record company sees,” Fontaine said. “They support me in my endeavors, in my music and how I was able to learn from them.”

Wed
02
Jan

Pulaski presents veteran with honorary diploma


Pulaski Community School District Board of Education president Michael Voelker presented an honorary PHS diploma Dec. 19 to Stephen Kaster at the start of the board meeting. Kaster had attended PHS for six weeks in 1947 before he was pulled out of school to farm. When he turned 17, Kaster joined the U.S. Marines, eventually becoming a highly decorated officer. (Pulaski News photo)

Stephan Kaster has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Omaha. He has a chest full of military medals that include three good conduct medals earned as an enlisted soldier, and others received when he was an officer, among them a Purple Heart and an occupation medal for service in 1949 in North Africa, his favorite.

What he didn’t have was a high school diploma. That, however, was remedied Dec. 19 when the Pulaski Community Board of Education approved an honorary Pulaski High School diploma, which was conferred by Superintendent Bec Kurzynske and principal Jeremy Pach at the start of the School Board’s monthly business meeting.

“We are grateful for Mr. Kaster’s service to our country as a member of our armed forces, and we are humbled by the opportunity to present an honorary Pulaski High School diploma to him,” Kurzynske said. “Mr. Kaster’s service embodies our motto as a district, founded on tradition and pride, focused on excellence.”

Thu
27
Dec

Small business microloan fund replenished

The Oconto County Board voted unanimously to allocate $50,000 from its 2018 contingency fund to replenish the small business microloan program operated in conjunction with the Oconto County Economic Development Corp.

The program provides low-interest, three-year loans of $1,000 to $10,000 for start-up, newly established or growing small businesses.

Paul Ehrfurth, OCEDC executive director, told the board that the microloan program has filled a valuable niche for businesses that otherwise might not be able to obtain needed credit.

“I think a lot of these small startup businesses are not going to be in a position to create jobs immediately, and we don’t have a job creation requirement with the microloan program,” Ehrfurth said, “and a lot of the projects that these smaller startups have are smaller in terms of size and scope.”

Thu
27
Dec

Oconto County Board offers budget advice to new governor

When Gov.-elect Tony Evers starts work on the 2019-21 biennial budget to submit to the state Legislature, he’ll be armed with at least two suggestions from the Oconto County Board.

Supervisors unanimously passed resolutions last week asking the state to increase funding to child protective services (CPS) and restore the original purpose of a surcharge added to consumers’ phone bills for emergency dispatch centers.

The board passed a resolution crafted by the Wisconsin Counties Association asking the state to increase the Children and Family Aids allocation by $30 million to “cover a greater share of out-of-home care costs and increase staffing levels based on the caseload standards developed by the Wisconsin County Human Services Association so Wisconsin’s CPS system can meet its obligations.”

Wed
26
Dec

Monster snowstorm tops 2018 stories


Two volunteers help clear a path to Atrium Post Acute Care in Oconto Falls after an April snowstorm dropped more than two feet of snow on the area. (Photo by Greg Thomson)

When you get 2 1/2 feet of snow in 48 hours, you really don’t have to think hard when it’s time to pick the top story of the year.

The April 13-15 snowstorm that brought Northeast Wisconsin to a standstill was the Oconto County Times Herald’s pick for the No. 1 news story of 2018.

Here’s a look at the stories that made headlines during the year that rolls to an end this week:

1. Record snowfall

Southern and eastern Oconto County bore the brunt of the storm, which dropped more snow than Oconto County had seen since a two-day snowstorm in 1888. Oconto registered a final total of 25 inches, and a site in Stiles measured 32 inches.

County officials issued an emergency declaration even before the first snowflakes started falling. That speeded up the process of asking for state or federal assistance, and it also allowed for snowplow drivers to work for longer periods, within reason, Emergency Management Director Tim Magnin said.

Wed
26
Dec

County mulls $1 million in community projects


The New Beginnings Retail Shop at 230 Van Buren St. in Oconto Falls is considered too small and in an inconspicuous location, county officials say. Buying an existing building in a more visible spot is one of the projects Oconto County is considering under changes to the state and federal Community Development Block Grant program. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

Oconto County officials have unveiled three potential projects for dollars that will be available after the state-funded business revolving fund loan (RLF) program is closed, county officials said Thursday.

Administrative Coordinator Kevin Hamann reminded the County Board that the state Department of Administration is closing the revolving funds after concerns were raised by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Under a new program called CDBG-CLOSE, communities that buy out all outstanding loans may apply for up to three projects totaling the amount of their RLF Closeout Account. In Oconto County’s case, that amounts to about $1 million.

Hamann said over the last three months he’s been talking with the Oconto County Economic Development Corp., the state, and the county Finance Committee, to determine eligible projects.

The ones that made the cut:

Wed
26
Dec

Oconto Falls earns Bronze Wisconsin Healthy Communities designation


Gail Yatso, president of the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, and Kathy Henne, RN, of St. Clare Memorial Hospital receive the Bronze Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay this fall. Only 31 communities in the state have been given designations. (Contributed photo)

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has recognized Oconto Falls for its work to improve local health with a bronze Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation.

Oconto Falls is one of only 13 communities throughout the state to receive the bronze level designation.

The designation, funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, is designed to celebrate and encourage achievements in health improvement in Wisconsin, and to serve as a guide for communities to expand and enhance their health improvement efforts.

Through the collaborative efforts of the Oconto Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, Oconto Falls School District and Oconto County Public Health, programs such as the Oconto Falls Area Trail System, the annual health and safety fair, the Donate a Healthy Plate Toolkit, and Stepping On improve the health and well-being of all.

Wed
19
Dec

Dog park fundraiser hits $10k

An Oconto Falls Girl Scout’s effort to raise $25,000 to establish a dog park in the city has reached the $10,000 mark.
“She has a lot of aspirations for Christmas presents and trees for the pups,” City Administrator Vicki Roberts told the City Council during its Dec. 11 meeting. “So things are looking good in that area.”
The council in July gave its blessing to Emily Gonnering’s campaign to create a dog park on city-owned green space along South Maple Avenue, just southwest of the bridge near downtown.
For information, visit the Oconto Falls Dog Park page on Facebook.

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