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Updated: 24 min 10 sec ago

Plan Commission reviews TIF district proposal

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 7:42am
By: 

[email protected]

A proposal to create a new tax increment finance (TIF) district aimed at spurring development along East Green Bay Street went before the Shawano Plan Commission on Tuesday.

The plan will next go to a public hearing before the commission, tentatively scheduled for June 4.

The map of the proposed district is still being finalized. As currently envisioned, it would stretch from mid-block between Sawyer and Andrews streets east to roughly midway between Airport Drive and Rusch Road.

It would encompass more than 100 properties, but would zig-zag around those properties that are sufficiently developed, including a major detour around the Shawano County Fairgrounds.

The goal is to include properties that need improvement or assistance toward making improvements, City Administrator Brian Knapp said.

Knapp said it would be similar to the TIF district set up for Main Street and would be aimed at assisting properties that are “under-utilized or in potential need of development or re-development.”

TIF districts are areas where municipalities invest in infrastructure, such as sewer and water, to attract development where it might not otherwise occur, or to make improvements, such as eliminating blight.

Whatever increase in tax revenue that results from development in those districts goes to paying back the debt the municipality incurred from making improvements to the district.

“We’re trying to improve the economic value of those properties to the city and the community,” Knapp said.

Other taxing entities — including Shawano County, the Shawano School District and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College — would have to approve of the plan, because they would not share in any additional revenue from new development in the district until the improvements are paid off.

A Joint Review Board made up of those entities will get a look at the proposal before the public hearing. The board will then have final say on the matter after the plan has gone back to the Plan Commission and the Shawano Common Council for approval.

Shawano has four active TIF districts: Raasch Industrial Park; a residential area targeted for blight elimination from Main Street east to Lincoln street and Zingler Avenue south to Pearl Avenue; a downtown TIF district running from the Main Street bridge south to Sunset Avenue; and the Bay Lakes Industrial Park.

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Hwy. 156 resurfacing work begins April 21

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 7:39am

Work on approximately .75 miles of state Highway 156 between Robley Road and Lessor Navarino Road in Shawano County is scheduled to begin on April 21.

RC Excavating Inc., of Suamico, is the prime contractor for the $897,000 project. Crews will remove the existing roadway and replace it with a wider pavement surface to provide a safer surface for bike and pedestrian traffic. Additional improvements include installing new storm sewer, street lighting, pavement markings, and curb and gutter.

Construction is scheduled for completion by mid-July.

During construction, Highway 156 will be closed to through traffic and detoured via state Highway 187, County Road F and state Highway 47. Access to businesses and residences will be maintained throughout the duration of the project.

Eighty percent of the project will be paid for with federal transportation funds; the remaining 20 percent will be paid with state transportation funds.

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Court News

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 7:38am

Reckless endangerment

An Appleton man is facing two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety after allegedly holding a loaded firearm to the heads of two people during incidents in the town of Almon on Friday.

Nicholas J. Loberger, 23, could face a maximum 12 1/2 years in prison and $25,000 fine on each count if found guilty. He is also charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

The incidents allegedly happened at Bonnie’s Place Bar and Rachel’s Bar, according to the criminal complaint.

Loberger posted a $1,500 cash bond Tuesday and is due back in court for an adjourned initial appearance on Monday.

Felony OWI

A Tigerton man has been charged with a felony count of operating while intoxicated for his alleged fourth offense within the last five years.

Joseph A. Derus, 30, was arrested in the village of Wittenberg on March 29 after Shawano County sheriff’s deputies responded to a complaint of a reckless driver on U.S. Highway 45.

He could face a maximum six years in prison and $10,000 fine if convicted. He also faces a misdemeanor count of operating while revoked.

Derus is free on a $2,000 signature bond and is due back in court for a preliminary hearing April 29.

Child abuse

A rural Shawano man has been charged with a felony count of physical abuse of a child-intentionally causing bodily harm after allegedly beating the child with a leather belt.

Boun Thao Vue, 33, could face a maximum six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilty. He also faces a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

The beating allegedly happened in the town of Wescott on March 27. According to the criminal complaint, a Shawano Community Middle School teacher reported the injuries to Shawano County Social Services because of their severity.

Thao Vue was released on a $2,000 signature bond and is due back in court for an adjourned initial appearance on Monday.

Battery by prisoner

A Shawano County Jail inmate is facing a felony charge of battery by prisoners after allegedly punching another inmate in the face during an altercation last month.

Robert G. Wallace, 24, could face a maximum six years in prison and $10,000 fine if found guilty of intentionally causing bodily harm to the other inmate. He also faces a misdemeanor count of bail jumping.

Wallace is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the charge Monday.

Burglary

A Green Bay teen is facing a felony charge of burglary for an alleged break-in to a residence in the town of Angelica in October.

Derek M. Baeten, 17, could face a maximum 12 1/2 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

Baeten is accused breaking into the residence on Oct. 1 and stealing clothing, currency and electronics, according to the criminal complaint. The State Crime Lab ultimately identified his fingerprints from the scene.

Baeten is also charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and theft. He is due in Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court for an initial appearance Monday.

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Public Record

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 7:36am

Shawano Police Department

April 8

Police logged 18 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A dog was reported stolen in the 700 block of South Hamlin Street.

Warrant — A 48-year-old man was taken into custody at the Probation and Parole offices, 1340 E. Green Bay St.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem in the 400 block of South Sawyer Street.

Warrant — A 34-year-old woman was taken into custody on a Probation and Parole warrant on Jaycee Court.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 1300 block of East Lieg Avenue.

Warrant — A male subject was taken into custody on a warrant at Memorial Park, 909 S. Lincoln St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 8

Deputies logged 41 incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Authorities investigated a juvenile alcohol complaint on Oak Avenue in Richmond.

Juvenile — Authorities logged five truancy complaints from the Bonduel School District.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Grand Avenue in Wittenberg.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Old Lake Road in Wescott.

Accidents — Authorities logged seven accidents, including five deer-related crashes.

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Former police chief returns to Shawano

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 7:36am
By: 

[email protected]


Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Mark Kohl was named the city’s new police chief by the Police and Fire Commission this week and will start his new job May 1.

The question for Mark Kohl, who will return to duty as Shawano police chief next month after a 12-year absence, isn’t why is he coming back.

“The question I kept asking myself is, ‘Why did I leave?’” Kohl said.

At the time, Kohl said, there were personal issues in his family that required him to move back to the Fox Valley. Kohl is originally from Appleton.

After leaving Shawano, he became an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College. Kohl is now a FVTC training coordinator in the Criminal Justice Department, an instructor in the eight-week command college and instructor of the leadership training programs.

“Many of the leadership at the Shawano Police Department have gone through the training programs,” Kohl said.

Kohl was Shawano police chief from January 2001 to August 2002. He was followed by Ed Whealon, who retired Friday.

“When my good friend Ed Whealon announced his retirement, I thought, ‘Will that opportunity still be there to go back and work with the great men and women of the Police Department and continue on with the things that we started back then 12 years ago?’” Kohl said. “It really set kind of a fire inside of me.

Kohl fondly recalls the two years he spent in Shawano, “in a community I respected, and they respected me,” he said.

Kohl first came to Shawano in 2001 at a difficult time for the department, which had gone through some upheaval during the three years since longtime chief Donald Thaves retired.

“I’ve never seen a department so low in morale,” Kohl said.

Turning the department around, he said, was mostly a matter of “getting the officers back to doing what they loved to be doing.”

As he returns, Kohl said, “I want to continue on with the successes that we initiated and continue on with the successes and achievements that Ed accomplished.”

Kohl has kept in contact with Whealon and other Shawano police officers while at FVTC, and they’ve kept him abreast of developments in the department.

“I like to hear when things go right because I can use that in my teaching as an instructor, to say, ‘this is what they’re doing in Shawano. These are the things that are working,’” Kohl said.

Though the past experience with the department and the updates on its progress means there won’t be too much of a learning curve when he takes over, Kohl said, “there’s always opportunities to learn more and always opportunities to get better.”

Kohl said his first order of business will be to renew and build on relationships with officers who were here when he left, and build new relationships with those who have come on board since.

“They’re great servants of their community,” he said.

Kohl said he hopes to rekindle a fire in them as well.

“Go back to the day they were hired and say, ‘yeah this is why I’m here. Let’s go out and win this together,’” he said.

Also important, he said, is building relationships with the community and city officials.

“All we’ve got to do now is prioritize,” Kohl said.

A top concern in the community, he said, is the influence of heroin, methamphetamine and abuse of prescription drugs.

Kohl said he would also like to expand on the citizens police academy and other efforts that would get the public back into the department and make it more transparent.

Kohl said he would like to see training programs for citizens to help them from being victimized by crime, and he said he plans to work with various groups such as the Tavern League and Shawano Downtown Business Association.

“I’m looking forward to working in a collaborative effort to reduce crime and make our quality of life better here,” he said.

Kohl was chosen by the Police and Fire Commission from a pool of 12 applicants, which included four candidates from within the Police Department and applicants from the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department, according to commission President Tony Zielinski.

“It was a very difficult decision,” he said. “The candidates were the best of the best.”

Ultimately, the decision came down to credentials, Zielinski said, noting Kohl’s extensive law enforcement background, his impressive record serving as chief here and his instructional experience.

“We’re very fortunate to have Mark back and I hope the community welcomes his with open arms,” Zielinski said.

The Shawano Common Council held a special meeting Monday, unanimously approving the commission’s choice and setting Kohl’s salary at $77,000.

“I worked with Mark Kohl for several months when I was first elected mayor in 2002,” said Mayor Lorna Marquardt. “He came into the department during a very difficult time and he was successful in rebuilding a strong and dedicated police force. There is no question in my mind that Mark Kohl will be a great department leader and one who will be visible and involved in the community.”

Kohl’s first day will be May 1.

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Man dies in accident cutting tree

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 7:33am
By: 

Leader Staff

A Leopolis man was killed Monday in a logging accident in the town of Grant, authorities said.

Jeffrey W. Sousek, 48, was struck by a tree in a wooded area off Leopolis Road in the town of Grant shortly before 3 p.m., according to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department.

Sousek was able to use his phone to call a neighbor for help. The neighbor called authorities and was able to free Sousek from under the tree and render aid.

Sheriff’s deputies, along with emergency responders from Marion Ambulance, Grant E.M.S., Grant Fire and Bowler Fire Department responded and provided emergency assistance despite some initial difficulty locating Sousek in the woods.

Sousek succumbed to his injuries at 4:14 p.m., the Sheriff’s Department said.

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Vision 2017 grants aid Papa Murphy’s renovation

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 7:28am

Contributed Photo Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza recently received $7,500 in grant money through the Vision 2017 program. Pictured are, from left, Nancy Smith, Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce executive director; Bart Mattson, Papa Murphy’s owner; and Dennis Heling, Shawano County Economic Progress Inc. chief economic development officer.

Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza in Shawano recently received two Shawano Country Vision 2017 matching grants.

Interior improvement and façade improvement grants totaling $7,500 were awarded to Papa Murphy’s to help cover renovation costs at its new location, 1063 E. Green Bay St., Shawano.

Business owner Bart Mattson said the improvements will create 15 to 20 new jobs. Shawano Country Vision 2017 matching grant funds were used toward the complete renovation of an existing building, including siding, signs, parking lot, flooring, lighting, plumbing, electrical needs, security system and a cooler.

“Receiving these grants was extremely important to us,” Mattson said. “As with most projects you always run into expenses that you weren’t planning on. The grants gave me a little breathing room and allowed me to complete the remodeling properly.”

Dennis Heling, chief economic development officer for Shawano County Economic Progress Inc., said the project will benefit the community and workforce.

“The jobs Bart has created with his new business are vital to our community, not just for the adult workforce, but for those just starting out,” Heling said. “The part-time jobs provide an opportunity for high school students to get a start in the business world, not only learning and applying important concepts but also guiding and reinforcing responsible behavior.”

The building previously housed Kwik Trip, which moved to 1241 E. Green Bay St. several years ago.

Shawano Country Vision 2017 is a five-year economic development plan. The plan’s goal is to create jobs by implementing specific action steps in areas such as community development, tourism/retail development, and business expansion, attraction and recruitment.

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Public Record

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 7:27am

Shawano Police Department

April 7

Police logged 29 incidents, including the following:

Warrant — A male subject was taken into custody on a warrant at Lincoln and Fifth streets.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem at Shawano Community Middle School, 1050 S. Union St.

Shoplifting — A 33-year-old woman was cited for shoplifting at Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St.

Vandalism — Walgreen’s, 401 E. Green Bay St. reported a vandalism incident.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 500 block of South Main St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 7

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — A mailbox was reported vandalized on Lessor-Navarino Road in Navarino.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an Internet scam complaint on Nichols Drive in Angelica.

Burglary — Authorities investigated a burglary on Main Street in Gresham.

Warrant — A 45-year-old woman was taken into custody on a warrant on Arrowhead Court in Wescott.

Accidents — Authorities logged three accidents, including two deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

April 7

Police logged 12 incidents, including the following:

Suspicious — Suspicious incident checked on West Morning Glory Drive.

Theft — Theft of medication reported on Fifth Street.

Suspicious — Suspicious incident reported on Waupaca Street.

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Public Record

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 8:16am

Shawano Police Department

April 6

Police logged 14 incidents, including the following:

OAS — An 18-year-old female was cited for operating after suspension at Lincoln and Stevens streets.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem in the 500 block of South Lafayette Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 800 block of East Richmond Street.

April 5

Police logged 23 incidents, including the following:

Suspicious — Police responded to a suspicious person complaint at Andrews and Randall streets.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint in the 200 block of West Lieg Avenue.

Trespass — Police responded to a trespassing complaint in the 1200 block of East Green Bay Street.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem in the 100 block of East Division Street.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint in the 500 block of South Sawyer Street.

Fraud — Police investigated a fraud complaint at the Launching Pad, 221 N. Airport Drive.

April 4

Police logged 17 incidents, including the following:

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen in the 300 block of North Franklin Street.

Theft — Money was reported stolen in the 200 block of Mountain Bay Trail Drive.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 6

Deputies logged 27 incidents, including the following:

Trespass — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on Park Avenue in Wescott.

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized on River Bend Road in Belle Plaine.

Accidents — Authorities logged three deer-related crashes.

April 5

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 26-year-old man Bonduel was arrested on a charge of batter after a domestic disturbance on Cecil Street in Bonduel.

Weapon Offense — A 23-year-old Appleton man was arrested for reckless endangerment and operating a firearm while intoxicated after a disturbance on County Road Q in Almon.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Maple Street in Birnamwood.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Warrington Avenue in Cecil.

Assault — Authorities investigated an assault on Forest Street in Birnamwood.

Fire — Authorities responded to a report of a fire behind a barn on Green Valley Road in Angelica.

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run on Main Street in Gresham.

Accidents — Authorities logged four accidents, including three deer-related crashes.

April 4

Deputies logged 40 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a domestic disturbance on Forest Street in Birnamwood.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on Sportsmans Drive in Aniwa.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on County Road A in Bowler.

Shoplifting — Authorities responded to a shoplifting complaint at Kwik Trip, 102 Express Way in Bonduel.

OAR — A 22-year-old man was cited for operating after revocation on state Highway 47-55 in Wescott.

Fleeing — A 40-year-old Keshena man was arrested for fleeing an officer and possession of marijuana on County Road VV in Red Springs.

Accidents — Authorities logged five accidents.

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Shawano selects new police chief

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 2:47pm
By: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Former Shawano Police Chief Mark Kohl will return to the position on May 1.

Kohl was chosen by the Police and Fire Commission after a closed session Monday from among 12 applicants to replace Ed Whealon, who retired Friday.

Mayor Lorna Marquardt was expected to call an emergency meeting of the Common Council to confirm Kohl’s appointment.

Kohl is an instructor of the Criminal Justice Specialized Leadership training program and homeland security chairman at Fox Valley Technical College.

The salary, which will be set by the Common Council, is expected to be $77,000.

Kohl was Shawano police chief from January 2001 to August 2002 before leaving to take the job at FVTC.

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New city park and rec director takes over

Sat, 04/05/2014 - 12:53am
By: 

[email protected]


Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Matt Hendricks, the city’s new park and rec director, poses at the pool at the Shawano Recreation Center on Friday. Hendricks started his new job on Tuesday.

Shawano’s new Park and Recreation Department director, Matt Hendricks, who started this week, was intrigued by the length of time his predecessor, Judy Judd, had been on the job.

He saw a newspaper article about how Judd, Police Chief Ed Whealon, who retired Friday, and Public Works Director Rick Stautz, who retired last year, had all been in Shawano for more than 30 years.

He thought there must be something about Shawano that kept them here.

“There must be something in the culture that makes people want to stay and build a career out of it,” he said.

That was one of the things that attracted him when he saw the opening for Judd’s job.

Hendricks was park and recreation director for the village of Marshall in Dane County, where he was responsible for 145 acres of parkland and 35 recreation programs. He held that position since April 2009.

Shawano’s park and recreation system, which includes a cemetery, provided a new challenge.

“The rec center with the pool, the park land, the cemetery was unique and different,” he said.

Hendricks brings a kind of Zen philosophy to recreation; a place where visitors can forget themselves and be a part of their surroundings.

“If you can pair someone’s abilities and passions with the right level of challenge, they’re going to be in a sense of flow,” he said. “One of the roles of parks and recreation is to provide places or avenues for people to find that. For some folks that may be the pool, for others it may be watching the sturgeon run. Providing those facilities and providing those avenues is of great importance.”

Hendricks said the city’s park system was a credit to Judd, the Park and Recreation Commission and the city.

“It seems to be a very healthy system in place,” he said. “A system where a lot of time and energy and resources have been placed over the years. I’m very impressed by it and excited to be a part of it.”

Hendricks said he has been impressed with the community partnerships, such as the farmers market that will be utilizing Franklin Park this summer.

“It strikes me as a prideful community, with all these different organizations and clubs that support public projects,” he said.

“It seems like a very holistic community,” Hendricks said. “It feels like folks here are connected and have relationships. They kind of truly know their neighbor. That’s something I want our family to be a part of.”

Hendricks, who grew up in Menomonie and went to school in La Crosse, has a home that he and his wife, Emily, their three children and the family dog will be able to move into next month.

In the meantime, Hendricks is mostly getting acquainted with the new job, staff and city organizations.

“We’re very excited to be here,” he said.

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Whealon bids farewell to Shawano Police Department

Sat, 04/05/2014 - 12:50am
By: 

[email protected]

Shawano Police Chief Ed Whealon, who retired Friday after more than 34 years with the department and 12 years as chief, could just as easily have been retiring as a game warden if he hadn’t been nudged in a different direction.

“We had a career day in high school, and I thought being a game warden would be kind of neat,” Whealon said.

That’s why when Whealon, who is originally from Fond du Lac, was being recruited as a football player by a number of colleges, he chose the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, which had a program that could guide him into what he thought was his chosen career. It also happened to have a reputation as a top criminal justice college.

The turning point for Whealon was a job at Kettle Moraine State Forest, where his boss was Wally Ketter.

“One day, Wally comes up to me and says, ‘Ed, you don’t want to be a game warden. You like investigating stuff too much. The game warden stuff can get pretty boring,’” Whealon said.

After getting his law enforcement credentials in 1975, Whealon started looking for a job.

He tested and interviewed with the Monroe Police Department, Rock County Sheriff’s Department and the Shawano Police Department.

“Whoever calls first is where I’m going to go,” Whealon said he decided.

The next day he got a call from Shawano Police Chief Don Thaves.

“He offered me the job and I took it,” Whealon said.

As it happened, the Monroe Police Department and Rock County also made job offers, but they called too late.

When Whealon started in Shawano, he wasn’t expecting it to be permanent.

“I really had no intention of staying,” he said. “I thought, you know, it’s a stepping stone.”

After getting married, his wife, Diana, was not immediately thrilled with Shawano.

Whealon recalled driving with her one night before the city was as developed as it is now.

“A bear comes walking out right in front of us and I had to slam on the brakes as this bear walks through,” he said. “Then I go down the street and a bunch of deer run through. She looks at me and says, ‘Why’d you drag me here? This is like the zoo.’”

As it happened, Diana, who graduated from Platteville with a degree in animal and agricultural science, was hired at 21st Century Genetics in Shawano and the couple bought a house here.

“Chiefs love cops with a mortgage,” Whealon said.

Whealon soon found that the stepping stone was his destination.

“I enjoyed my job, enjoyed the people I was working with,” he said. “She enjoyed her job.”

When the Fond du Lac Police Department called to offer him a job, he turned it down.

“I’ve never thought about straying anyplace else,” Whealon said.

Things were quite a bit different when Whealon started with the Shawano Police Department.

“We didn’t have a field training program back then,” he said. “It was, ‘Here’s your ticket book, here’s your gun, here’s the keys to the squad car. Go out there, be a cop and don’t kill anyone.’”

Whealon spent his first two weeks riding along with the sergeant because the city’s insurance wouldn’t cover him until he had been an officer for at least 14 days.

“I had a really good bunch of guys that I started working with,” Whealon said. “I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by pretty good people.”

Whealon’s tenure also saw the introduction and growth of technology, which brought enormous changes.

When he started, Whealon said, “everything was kept on paper. Everything went onto a 3x5 card.”

A clerical employee would file those cards in a huge bank of filing cabinets that officers searched through anytime they needed to look something up — everything from criminal complaints to descriptions of stolen property.

Reports were all done by hand or with a typewriter.

When computerization finally arrived, it paled in comparison to what’s available today.

The first computer the department had held one megabyte of storage and was considered so huge officers thought they’d never fill it up.

It was full in about eight months.

Today each of the department’s squads are outfitted with computerized systems that can return detailed information on a driver an officer has pulled over with a swipe of his driver’s license.

“I was fortunate to see and be part of a huge transition,” Whealon said.

Whealon will be taking many memories with him — not all of them good.

“Unfortunately in this job you see so much stuff that’s gut-wrenching,” he said. “You see people do things to other people that you wouldn’t do to your dog. You see people in (domestic) situations and you beg them to get out of it. You see kids that are abused, kids that are sexually abused.

“And when you think when you’ve seen it all, you see something else and you say, ‘I can’t believe that. I can’t believe somebody would do that.’ If you’re doing this long enough, nothing is going to surprise you and you’re always ready, but you’re always shocked when it does happen.”

On the flip side, “there are times when you can make a difference in someone’s life,” Whealon said.

“There was a family we knew, they were as poor as church mice,” he said.

It was Christmas and, “we knew they weren’t going to get anything,” he said. “We’d pool some money to go to Country Store and buy a big bag of groceries, buy some presents for the kids.”

That effort eventually led to the department’s Christmas Crusade, which delivers gifts to children who might not otherwise receive any.

The Shawano County Sheriff’s Department also partnered in the effort, which has grown to include students from Shawano Community Middle School, staff members from Theda Care Clinic and Shawano Medical Center, Sweet Adelines, and Woodland Chapter of the Wisconsin Deer Hunters Inc.

Whealon’s career, although centered in Shawano, has gone beyond the city. He has also served as president of the Wisconsin Police Chiefs Association, where he is also on the Legislative Committee, and the North Central Chiefs of Police Association.

“They always say you’re just going to know when it’s time,” he said.

And he began to feel it was time last fall, as he grappled with the budget.

“You think, ‘how much more fight have you got, how much more effective are you going to be?’” he said. “Maybe it’s time.”

Whealon said he has been lucky to have the support of the mayor and the city council, and a staff of great officers.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said.

“The chief of police might be the head of the department but it’s the officers that make the department hum and makes the department look good,” he said. “It’s the officers out there on a daily basis doing their work, face-to-face with the community. They’re the ambassadors of the community.”

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Public Record

Sat, 04/05/2014 - 12:40am

Shawano Police Department

April 3

Police logged 28 incidents, including the following:

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint on Mountain Bay Trail Drive.

Theft — A wood pallet was reported stolen at Tractor Supply, 1313 Green Bay St.

Theft — A purse was reported stolen at Shawano Medical Center, 309 N. Bartlett St.

Disturbance — A report of a disturbance in the 500 block of South Franklin Street was determined to be unfounded.

Theft — Jewelry was reported stolen in the 1100 block of Waukechon Street.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at Lincoln and Green Bay streets.

Suspicious — Police responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint at Charlie’s County Market, 521 S. Main St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 3

Deputies logged 38 incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Potch Ha Chee Road in Birnamwood.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Nabor Road in the town of Washington.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on County Road U in the town of Herman.

Theft — Money was reported stolen from a residence on Cozy Oaks Circle in Wescott.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Bartelt Street in Gresham.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Lake View Drive in Aniwa.

Clintonville Police Department

April 3

Disturbance — Police responded to a verbal dispute on South Main Street.

Disturbance — A male subject was arrested for domestic abuse and disorderly conduct after an incident on South Main Street.

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SIST building, lot placed in receivership

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:32am
By: 

[email protected]

A downtown Shawano property and a vacant lot owned by the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SIST) have been put into receivership and will be sold to help pay off the debts of one of SIST’s subsidiaries, according to court documents.

A federal court last week granted a motion for the appointment of a receiver to take possession of the building at 153 S. Main St. and a vacant lot on Mills Street.

The court order issued March 25 by District Court Judge William Griesbach gives the receiver the options of renting, leasing or marketing the properties to prospective buyers.

The court named Shawano Realtor Terry Hilgenberg as receiver.

The ruling is tied to a lawsuit filed in 2006 against SIST, its subsidiary Midwest Amusement Parks, LLC, USA International Raceway and Kal Gronvall over a debt involving go-karts at the raceway in Wescott.

The racetrack was sold in a foreclosure sale last year, but a long-running legal dispute over payment for go-karts purchased by the track remained.

A jury trial in 2008 in U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Canadian company MMG Financial Corp. in a breach of contract suit against Gronvall, who worked for the racetrack at the time, SIST and two of its subsidiaries, Midwest Amusement Park and U.S. Acquisitions and Oil.

MMG Financial argued in court documents that both entities were wholly-owned subsidiaries of SIST, making SIST responsible for the debt.

The ruling awarded MMG Financial payment of a $190,000 debt.

According to court documents, Midwest owned the property but the racetrack was operated by U.S. Acquisitions and Oil.

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Sex sting sheds light on dark side of Internet

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:31am
By: 

[email protected]

Editor’s note: The Shawano Leader was allowed behind-the-scenes access to Shawano County’s participation in Operation Vanguard over the weekend. This is the last of three articles on the sting and related issues.

Arrests made last weekend in a wide-ranging Internet sex sting may have succeeded in foiling 19 alleged child predators, but it also leaves unanswered the question of how many others may still be out there.

Authorities from Shawano County and other northeast Wisconsin agencies posed online as 15-year-olds during Operation Vanguard. They posted ads seeking to make social contact and ended up being inundated with responses — some from parties looking to have sex.

Capt. Tom Tuma of the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department was in contact with some of the investigators during the operation and said it was frightening how busy they were as they tried to keep up with responses to the online ads.

“If this kind of thing is going on as frequently as it seems, people are putting themselves at an extremely elevated risk of danger,” Tuma said.

The operation spearheaded by the Brown County Sheriff’s Department resulted in the arrests of roughly six people for every day it was held — people who responded to ads placed by who they believed were children and made arrangements to meet them for sex.

“We’ll never know the true numbers. We’ll never know what’s really out there and how many times does something happen and it just goes unreported,” said Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Gordon Kowaleski, who said it’s unknown how many more arrests could have been made.

“Certainly there’s more people out there that we could chat with and end up with the same results,” he said. “How many? I don’t know.”

Also unknown is how many times these kind of Internet exchanges have taken place where the children were really children and not cops.

“That is the horrible part of this, and we’ll never know the answer to that,” Kowaleski said. “That’s just a huge unknown. And you have to put yourself in the place of the child. We pose as a 15-year-old, but does that mean there aren’t 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds out there that are responding or communicating with some of these individuals? We don’t know that.”

Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Chris Gamm, who also worked on Operation Vanguard, said one of the suspects arrested admitted to a sexual encounter with a juvenile.

“Brown County had an arrest over the weekend where the suspect did admit to the sexual assault of a 15-year-old,” he said.

In Shawano County, one of the more notorious cases of Internet contacts gone wrong was the case of a 13-year-old girl who developed an Internet relationship with an 18-year-old fugitive from a Texas juvenile facility who attempted to take her away to Vermont in 2011.

Xan Boyett had identified himself over the Internet as a 23-year-old man named Matt O’Conor. He was ultimately sentenced to four years in prison on a charge of attempted abduction.

“For our young people that may be engaged in this, they don’t know who they’re meeting, they don’t know who they’re getting in the car with,” Tuma said.

“I think that’s the key point here,” Kowaleski said. “You don’t know who’s on the other end on the computer.”

Growing up with interactive social media may have made this generation more technically savvy, but the downside is many of them are unaware of the dangers associated with it.

“For this generation, this technology is neutral,” Tuma said. “It is what it is. They grew up with it. Our generation didn’t. We recognize some of the dangers to them. They often don’t see the danger in it because it’s so commonplace.”

Kowaleski said that places a greater burden on parents to look out for them.

“We have to be more responsible,” he said. “We have to be more in tune with what our children are doing not only online but on the cell phone. We have to be more vigilant in seeing what our children are doing online and on the computer and any other electronic or digital device.”

Kowaleski said parents should do spot checks on their children’s phones and emails.

Gamm warned against “friending” people they’ve never met in social media such as Facebook and sharing personal information.

“Unless you physically know the warm body that you’re talking to, they don’t become your friend,” he said “If you don’t know them face to face, never personally met them, don’t friend them.”

Kowaleski said it harkens back to the old adage he remembers as a child, don’t talk to strangers.

“That’s never been truer than it is today,” he said.

ONLINE

The website netsmartz.org is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer online and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators and law enforcement, with resources such as videos, games, activity cards and presentations.

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Public Record

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:26am

Shawano Police Department

April 2

Police logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Property Damage — Police responded to a property damage complaint in the parking lot at Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St.

Accident — A driver was cited for failure to yield and another driver was cited for operating without insurance after a minor accident at Oshkosh and Smalley streets.

Fraud — An identity theft complaint was reported in the 300 block of Alpine Drive.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 2

Deputies logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 48-year-old Clintonville man was cited for disorderly conduct on Shady Lane in Belle Plaine.

Reckless Driving — Authorities responded to a reckless driving complaint on state Highway 22 in Belle Plaine.

Reckless Driving — Authorities responded to a reckless driving complaint on state Highway 47-55 in Wescott.

Accidents — Authorities logged three accidents, including two deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

April 2

Police logged four incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Officers responded to a verbal disturbance on 16th Street and a male and female were cited for disorderly conduct.

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Winter storm warning issued

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 8:35am

Shawano and Menominee counties and Tribal Emergency Management are warning area residents that dangerous winter weather is expected to hit northeast Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday.

Rain, ice, and snow are expected to create dangerous conditions starting Thursday and continuing Friday.

The National Weather Service is expecting the storm to move into the area Thursday evening. This will continue into Friday morning, changing into snow late Friday morning into early afternoon. Ice accumulations between a tenth and three tenths of an inch are possible. Roads could become ice or snow covered and hazardous Thursday night. Snow covered roads will linger through Friday.

Stay tuned to local forecasts for the most current information.

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Behind the scenes of Operation Vanguard

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 8:00pm
Last of 19 arrests takes place in WescottBy: 

[email protected]


Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Gordon Kowaleski continues a text message exchange at his office with a suspect in a sting operation initiated earlier Saturday in Brown County as part of Operation Vanguard.

Editor’s note: The Shawano Leader was allowed behind-the-scenes access to Shawano County’s participation in Operation Vanguard. This is the second of three articles on the sting. On Friday, we will take a broader look at the dangers facing juveniles on the Internet.

It’s just after noon on Saturday as Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Gordon Kowaleski settles into a seat in front of two computer monitors in a meeting room at the Brown County Sheriff’s Department.

He is joining investigators from other northeast Wisconsin law enforcement agencies — all stationed at computers of their own — for day three of Operation Vanguard. The Internet sting operation is being spearheaded by Brown County authorities.

Shawano County Detective Chris Gamm and Deputy Jesse Sperberg were also part of the operation targeting potential child sex predators that had already led to a number of arrests during its first two days.

The investigators start by posting ads in the casual encounters section of Craigslist.

At 12:30 p.m., Kowaleski posts two ads, one ostensibly placed by a 15-year-old boy and the other by a 15-year-old girl.

“Lonely in Shawano — tired of winter, being stuck at home, looking for some fun. Must be clean, discreet and for real. Message me to get something going.”

It doesn’t take long for dozens of email responses to start coming in.

“I could have had 12 people working and we would not be able to work all these targets,” Kowaleski said.

Kowaleski responds to the emails as they come in, identifying himself as a female named Cathy. (The name Kowaleski actually used has been changed here to keep the profile confidential for future operations.)

Several exchanges are started, but most immediately cut off contact after Cathy tells them she’s 15. Some tell her she’s too young and shouldn’t be doing this. A few even tell her they’re calling the cops.

The original ad is flagged by one of those contacts and Craigslist takes it down, but it’s posted long enough to make contact with a man who is interested in hooking up.

At 1:09 p.m., Kowaleski begins exchanging texts with the man using a special computer program that simulates a cell phone. The program generates a real but unused phone number from the 715 area code.

The man tells Cathy he’s from Menasha and offers to come to her home. He asks her if she likes having sex, though in much more graphic words, and sends her a photo of his genitalia.

The man asks how old she is, and Cathy tells him she is 15 but turning 16 this summer.

This time, the exchange doesn’t end, and the sex talk continues.

“That’s all we’ve been talking about — everything he’s going to do to me or have me do to him,” Kowaleski said.

The man offers to come to her house and Cathy gives him directions to an address in the town of Wescott.

The meeting is arranged for 7 p.m.

Cathy says her mother will be gone by then to her bar tending job. She asks if he’s bringing anything to drink because “mom keeps the booze locked up, LOL.”

By this time, authorities using the man’s cell phone number have identified him as James J. Kettleson, 50, of Menasha.

At 4 p.m. an arrest team is assigned, which will include Gamm and others who are on duty that night — Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Rich Wright, Lt. Andy Thorpe, Deputy Annalise Sharpless and Stockbridge-Munsee Police Detective Adam Hoffman.

If the suspect tries to phone Cathy, Sharpless will take the call.

Shortly after 5 p.m., Kowaleski leaves for his office at the Sheriff’s Department in Shawano, where he continues the text messages.

At about 5:30 p.m., the man tells Cathy he is going in to take a shower and is leaving after that. He says it should take 50 minutes to get there.

At 6 p.m., Gamm arrives at the location and sets up surveillance.

“Sometimes they come early to scope the place out,” Kowaleski explains.

Gamm, Thorpe and Hoffman park their unmarked squads at locations where they can view the entire street and move quickly to bottle up the suspect if necessary. By this time, they know there is a silver 2004 Chevy Suburban registered in Kettleson’s name that he will probably be driving.

The goal is to take him into custody as soon as possible once he is out of the car.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Kowaleski passes off his end of the text exchange to Brown County Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Valley, who continues the conversation from Green Bay. Kowaleski, Wright and Sharpless arrive at the house and wait inside.

At 7 p.m., they’re still waiting.

“It shouldn’t take this long for him to get here,” Kowaleski says.

Kowaleski had a no-show the previous night.

“Whether he got scared off or thought he was playing games with me, which is the way it sounded toward the end, or for whatever reason, he was a no-show,” Kowaleski said. “Not everyone we text with shows up.”

At 7:20 p.m., Gamm spots a silver Chevy Suburban that turns down the street and reports that to Kowaleski.

Wright crouches by the front door in a position to grab the suspect when he walks in. He has been told by Cathy that the front door will be unlocked and he can let himself in.

He and Kowaleski discuss whether the squads should be called in as soon as he pulls into the driveway, but there are concerns it could end up in a foot chase.

The Suburban passes by the house, goes to the end of the street and turns around. It passes again, the suspect apparently uncertain which house he’s supposed to go to.

The man texts Cathy, asking her to come outside and wave him in.

Kowaleski, on the cell phone with Valley, tells him to text Kettleson. “Tell him I’m upstairs in the bathroom and the upstairs light is on.”

The vehicle passes the house again and continues circling the area for more than five minutes.

Finally, Kowaleski radios Gamm and Thorpe to take him in a traffic stop.

Moments later, Kettleson is in custody, surrendering without incident. His cell phone and a GPS unit are taken into evidence.

It is the last of 19 arrests made as part of Operation Vanguard.

On Monday, Kettleson is charged with using a computer to facilitate a sex crime, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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Internet sex stings a learning curve for investigators

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 7:56pm
By: 

[email protected]

Last fall, the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department initiated a program dubbed Operation Guardian Angel, which was modeled on similar statewide programs called Black Veil and Black Veil II.

It involved investigators posing as children on the Internet who were then contacted by parties looking to have sexual encounters. The suspects were arrested when they showed up for the rendezvous.

Guardian Angel resulted in two people being arrested for facilitating a child sex crime and one for prostitution. One juvenile was referred for distribution of child pornography.

Shawano County’s operation ran from October through January. Officials were planning one more weekend of Guardian Angel when they learned Brown County authorities were spearheading another Internet sting operation that would cast its net in a wider area of northeast Wisconsin.

Shawano County folded its last weekend of Guardian Angel into Brown County’s Operation Vanguard, said Shawano County Detective Sgt. Gordon Kowaleski, who was one of the investigators posing as a child during the three-day effort.

“One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done was to sit at the computer this weekend and pretend to be a 15-year-old,” Kowaleski said. “And I’ve got to ask other officers, ‘All right, what are they watching on TV? What (texting) symbols do they use; what abbreviations do they use?’”

Once investigators have a potential suspect on the line, their case against them will first hinge on proving the suspect used a computerized communication system to make contact.

“It could be a Smartphone or even a simple flip phone because even a simple flip phone will go over the public network, and that’s all computerized,” Kowaleski said. “In essence, any time you use a phone, it’s a computerized communication system.”

Next, authorities need to be able to prove the suspect knew — or believed — he was corresponding with a minor.

“Third, we have to prove he was using the computerized communication system to commit a child sex act,” Kowaleski said. “There has to be talk of sex, and they’re the ones that have to bring that up.”

All that remains is for the suspect to show up at the meeting place.

Shawano County officials were part of five of the 19 arrests made during Operation Vanguard; three of them in Shawano County, including one man who drove here from Shiocton in a snowstorm March 27.

Deputy Jesse Sperberg played the juvenile in that case, and it moved from text messaging to an arranged meeting fairly quickly.

“Before we knew it, he was on his way up here to meet what he thought was a 15-year-old girl,” Kowaleski said. “On Friday night, Sperberg had another one from the city of Shawano. He got a ride out from some friends and was arrested when he got here.”

During the county’s Guardian Angel operation, authorities also used a decoy—a Shawano police officer who played the part of a juvenile and met the suspect face-to-face before the arrest.

Kowaleski said a decoy wasn’t really necessary, however, given that the suspect only needs to show up at the rendezvous.

“As soon as he shows up, he’s completed the crime,” Kowaleski said.

“It’s all a living process,” he said. “You always look for the best or a better way to do things and it’s subject to change as you go on.”

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Neenah man charged with death of friend

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 7:50pm
Bonduel teen dies in crashBy: 

Joan Koehne, [email protected]

A Neenah man faces homicide charges after his friend was killed Saturday when the pickup truck they were in crashed into a tree.

Zachary J.E. Romnek, 19, was charged on Tuesday in Oconto County Circuit Court with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle for the death of Thorton Lee Gressler, 19, of Bonduel, a back-seat passenger. Gressler was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tests showed Romnek’s blood alcohol level to be 0.11 percent. Wisconsin’s legal limit is 0.08.

According to a criminal complaint, Romnek was standing on top of his Dodge Ram pickup when an Oconto County sheriff’s deputy arrived at 2:45 a.m. at County Road W in Riverview, south of Martha Lane. The vehicle was approximately 15 feet off the road, resting on its driver’s side in the south ditch against a large tree.

Romnek told deputies he had been drinking with friends at Diamond Dave’s in Crooked Lake and decided to travel to Pipeline, an area north of Crooked Lake where trucks drive off road. He said he was driving about 35 mph when he lost control on icy roads.

According to the criminal complaint, two passengers in the truck left the scene before authorities arrived. A mother of a female passenger said her daughter had been injured and went for treatment at a hospital. A male passenger contacted by the Sheriff’s Department told deputies he was sore but uninjured. He said they left the scene because they were “scared of getting in trouble for drinking,” according to the complaint.

Romnek was released from the Oconto County Jail on Tuesday after a $5,000 cash bond was met. He is scheduled for a continued initial appearance on April 10.

If convicted of the homicide charge, Romnek could be sentenced to 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. He was also charged with operating a motor vehicle while suspended-cause death, which carries a maximum sentence of six years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

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