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Blight district anger surprises some officials

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:47pm
Some areas were already designated blightedBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

The level of public hostility toward a proposed redevelopment district aimed at addressing blighted conditions in Shawano has taken some city staff and the Redevelopment Authority by surprise.

More than a dozen property owners showed up at a Common Council meeting Wednesday to object to the proposed boundaries of the district and what some claimed was the lack of due process for property owners wishing to dispute the “blighted” designation.

“I think that’s part of the problem in our community and in our country today,” Bruce Milavitz said. “We give up our rights unknowingly to the government without any due process, and they just keep getting eroded.”

Realtor Terry Hilgenberg said the public was disappointed with the process, which was viewed rightly or wrongly as unfair.

“Perception is reality for people,” he said.

Concerns were also raised about the powers of eminent domain, the lowering of property values associated with being in a blighted district and the effect on struggling business owners.

“This is a mean-spirited anti-business policy,” Marlin Noffke said.

Most of the properties in the proposed RDA district are already in Tax Incremental Finance Districts 4 and 6 along Main and Green Bay streets, which were designated as blight elimination districts when those TIF’s were created.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said the RDA felt the easiest route would be to “cookie cutter” those areas and properties already in blight elimination TIF districts into the RDA redevelopment district.

He said the RDA didn’t expect controversy over the new district because of those previous designations, which didn’t create this kind of public outcry when they were created.

“They thought, ‘It’s not going to be a big deal,’” he said. “Everybody’s been here already. They’ve been down this road.”

Vierbacher consultant Quasan Shaw told the council Wednesday that denying the RDA boundary map wouldn’t remove the blight designations already established under TIF district 4 and 6.

“Those blight determinations are still in place, with or without this redevelopment district,” he said.

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Bellin to break ground on new Pulaski clinic

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:43pm

Bellin Health will hold a groundbreaking event from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday to celebrate construction of its new Pulaski clinic.

Bellin Health Pulaski is expected to open in December at 723 S. Wisconsin St. The 9,000-square-foot new facility will replace Bellin’s current Pulaski location at 331 W. Green Bay St.

The clinic will continue to offer family practice services for newborns through geriatric-age patients; drug testing, DOT physicals and more. The new clinic location will bring the additions of onsite lab and X-ray services, as well as physical therapy.

Bellin Health COO Chris Woleske will offer remarks during the July 21 event, as will Kimberly Buettner, clinic manager of Bellin Health Pulaski, and clinic providers Dr. Genadi Maltinski and nurse practitioner Carla Wech.

“Construction of this new, state-of-the-art facility underscores Bellin’s commitment to high-quality health care throughout Northeast Wisconsin and Upper Michigan,” said George Kerwin, Bellin Health president and CEO. “Residents of Pulaski and the surrounding area will benefit from the clinic’s forward-thinking design and expanded services, as well as the continued excellent care of its providers and staff.”

The new building has the same basic design as Bellin Health Oconto Falls, which opened its new clinic in 2015; and Bellin Health Algoma, construction for which was completed the year prior. Providers at both facilities have praised their efficiency for patient care and workflow, as well as aesthetics.

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Bellin to break ground on new Pulaski clinic

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:43pm

Bellin Health will hold a groundbreaking event from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday to celebrate construction of its new Pulaski clinic.

Bellin Health Pulaski is expected to open in December at 723 S. Wisconsin St. The 9,000-square-foot new facility will replace Bellin’s current Pulaski location at 331 W. Green Bay St.

The clinic will continue to offer family practice services for newborns through geriatric-age patients; drug testing, DOT physicals and more. The new clinic location will bring the additions of onsite lab and X-ray services, as well as physical therapy.

Bellin Health COO Chris Woleske will offer remarks during the July 21 event, as will Kimberly Buettner, clinic manager of Bellin Health Pulaski, and clinic providers Dr. Genadi Maltinski and nurse practitioner Carla Wech.

“Construction of this new, state-of-the-art facility underscores Bellin’s commitment to high-quality health care throughout Northeast Wisconsin and Upper Michigan,” said George Kerwin, Bellin Health president and CEO. “Residents of Pulaski and the surrounding area will benefit from the clinic’s forward-thinking design and expanded services, as well as the continued excellent care of its providers and staff.”

The new building has the same basic design as Bellin Health Oconto Falls, which opened its new clinic in 2015; and Bellin Health Algoma, construction for which was completed the year prior. Providers at both facilities have praised their efficiency for patient care and workflow, as well as aesthetics.

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Dollar General opening in Marion

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:42pm

Dollar General will celebrate the opening of its new location at 213 Industrial Drive in Marion at 8 a.m. July 23 with free prizes and special deals.

Additionally, the first 50 adult shoppers at the store will receive a $10 Dollar General gift card, and the first 200 shoppers will receive a Dollar General tote bag, among other giveaways.

“Dollar General is committed to delivering a pleasant shopping experience that includes a convenient location, a wide assortment of merchandise and great prices on quality products,” said Dan Nieser, Dollar General’s senior vice president of real estate and store development. “We hope our Marion customers will enjoy shopping at Dollar General’s new location.”

Dollar General stores provide a selection of national name brands and private brands of food, housewares, seasonal items, cleaning supplies, basic apparel and health/beauty products.

Traditional Dollar General stores employ approximately six to 10 people.

Dollar General, based in Tennessee, gets involved in communities it serves, especially literacy and education efforts. At the cash register of every Dollar General store, customers interested in learning how to read, speak English or get their General Education Diploma can pick up a brochure with a postage-paid reply card that can be mailed in for a referral to a local organization that offers free literacy services.

Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $120 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping nearly more than 7.1 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education.

Dollar General Corporation has 12,719 stores in 43 states, making it one of the larger discount retailers in the U.S.

For information, visit www.dollargeneral.com.

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SMU files for electric rate increase

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:39pm
More costs shift to meter chargeBy: 

Kevin Murphy, Leader Correspondent

Shawano Municipal Utilities is seeking a 1.94 percent rate increase, or about $1.30 per month, for average residential customers, according to Brian Knapp, SMU’s general manager.

SMU’s mean average residential electric customers using about 612 kilowatt hours monthly currently pay $67.18 in energy and meter charges. The increase will result in a $68.48 monthly bill for those customers, Knapp said.

The typical single-family residential customer, using 1,000 kwh, will pay $114, up from $112 monthly, including taxes and fees.

Actual costs will depend on individual customer usage and how the PSC determines the cost of service should be applied to each customer group, including residential, commercial, industrial and public authority customer classes.

Instead of requesting a specific customer charge, SMU asked the PSC to set it based on the cost to serve the various customer categories.

The utility’s last rate increase went into on Aug. 1, 2014, Knapp said.

The utility has fallen short of the 6 percent rate of return on its infrastructure the PSC authorized in setting rates in 2014, Knapp said, and earned only a 2 percent return during the most recent monthly report.

The rate application seeks a 5.5 percent of return, a percentage the PSC recently has been granting municipally-owned utilities.

The new rate should increase utility annual revenue by $429,607 to $22.6 million. With expenses estimated at $21.84 million, SMU should have a $756,337 annual net income, according to Knapp.

SMU requested that the new rates become effective Jan. 1 and be reflected on bills that will be mailed in February.

PSC staff will review the application, recommend a revenue amount and set a public hearing in Shawano before finalizing new rates.

SMU is following the industry practice of shifting more of the cost of maintaining wires, poles and other fixed assets from the energy charge to the meter charge, Knapp said.

Typical residential customers currently pay a $6.56 monthly meter, or customer, charge.

“The PSC staff … told us that they’ve taken a (measured approach), gradually increasing the fixed meter charge over the next several rate adjustments based on a cost of service analysis,” Knapp said.

SMU’s annual revenues have decreased from $24.1 million in 2012 to an estimated $22.17 million this year, according to the rate application.

Meanwhile, total expenses also have decreased from $22.31 million in 2012 to an estimated $20.44 million this year.

One of the leading expense categories has been administrative and general salaries, which went from $167,374 in 2012 to an estimated $236,300 this year, according to the application. Employee benefits and pensions followed a similar pattern, from $221,957 in 2012 to an estimated $257,850 this year.

Knapp said a key factor explaining the variations was the sale in 2014 of SMU’s retail fiber operations. General salaries and benefit expenses have decreased since 2012, but the electric department now pays the bill for all of the utility employees; prior to the sale, some of them were allocated to the fiber operations.

SMU’s workforce was reduced from 17 to 15 through layoffs and retirements.

Another IT specialist will be hired this year, bringing the number of full-time employees to 16, Knapp said.

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Foundation finds new home for FWD Museum

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:37pm
New site will have much more spaceBy: 

Grace Kirchner, Leader Correspondent

Since it was built in the late 1890s, the Zachow­ Besserdich Machine Shop on East 11th Street has been an important Clintonville landmark. Now 120 years later, it houses the Four Wheel Drive Museum.

That is about to change. The museum is getting a new home.

The FWD Foundation, dedicated to preserving the history of the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co., has purchased the former Topp ­Steward factory, 325 15th St., for use as a museum. The building was formerly home to Atlas Conveyor, Nordberg, Rexnord and more recently Badger Transport.

The purchase was announced by Mark Thomas and Marcia Olen, granddaughter of Walter Olen, the first president of FWD.

Otto Zachow and William Besserdich developed the first effective design for transferring power to all four wheels of an automobile in the 11th Street building. With the help Clintonville attorney Walter A. Olen, the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company was founded in 1909.

“The museum on 11th street is wooden and oil soaked” said Mark Thomas, a former Clintonville resident who has been one of the people working with the foundation and museum. “We are concerned that a fire could destroy important history, but the building will stay and may be turned into the shop it once was.”

The 60,000-square-foot 15th Street building is constructed mainly of steel and concrete, and will provide more space for the museum as well as room for a library, research area, offices, gift shop and meeting room.

“The history of FWD is important to the world,” Thomas said. “The present museum is too small to adequately represent the history. There isn’t any thing newer than 1916 in that building and a lot of history has been made since 1916.”

Five trucks have been donated to the museum just over the past four years, and others are interested in lending vehicles to the facility. Thomas expects that within six months they will have at least 21 FWD trucks in the museum.

FWD Seagrave also recently entrusted the museum with a substantial quantity of patterns and documentation.

While the foundation continues to seek donations of historically significant vehicles, and print and paper material from the public, it will not need the entire 15th Street building for some time. Organizers said they are open to leasing up to a third of the space if they can find a suitable tenant.

The move will occur gradually, with no set timetable for completion.

The museum is also seeking volunteers to help continue making the museum a destination for visitors and an economic asset for the city. Organizers hope to develop a Friends of the Museum organization.

The museum is open by appointment. Call Bill Hupke at 715­-823-­2870 or Daryl Schroeder at 715-­823-­2241.

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Public Record

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:37pm

Shawano Police Department

July 13

Police logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Shoplifting — Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St., reported four shoplifting incidents.

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized in the City Hall parking lot, 127 S. Sawyer St.

Theft — Credit cards were reported stolen in the 700 block of South Main Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 13

Deputies logged 44 incidents, including the following:

Drug Offense — Authorities responded to a drug complaint at the Ho-Chunk Casino, N7198 U.S. Highway 45, in the town of Wittenberg.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Golden Sands Avenue in Cecil.

Suspicious — Authorities responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Elms Street in Bowler.

Accidents — Authorities logged two deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

July 13

Police logged four incidents, including the following:

Suspicious — Police responded to a suspicious incident on North Main Street.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on Morning Glory Drive.

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Public Record

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:53am

Shawano Police Department

July 12

Police logged 24 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A 31-year-old woman was arrested for operating while intoxicated at Airport Drive and Green Bay Street.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint in the 300 block of South Washington Street.

Theft — Medication was reported stolen in the 600 block of West Eagle Street.

Fraud — Police investigated a fraud complaint in the 600 block of North Smalley Street.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at the Shawano Recreation Center, 220 E. Division St.

Shoplifting — Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St., reported a shoplifter fled the store.

Accident — Police responded to a motorcycle accident in the 400 block of East Fifth Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 12

Deputies logged 43 incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Authorities investigated a juvenile alcohol complaint on Moh He Con Nuck Road in Bowler.

Trespass — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on County Road MMM in the town of Richmond.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on Willow Road in the town of Wittenberg.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Bon Street in Cecil.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a domestic disturbance on County Road K in the town of Waukechon.

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Council sends blight map back to RDA

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:49am
Public hearing on action plan canceledBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Resident John Baird III speaks in opposition to the Redevelopment Authority’s proposed blight district map at the Shawano Common Council meeting Wednesday at City Hall.

Shawano city officials Wednesday sent a proposed blight district map back to the Redevelopment Authority for an overhaul.

A public hearing on the RDA’s action plan scheduled for Thursday was canceled.

The Common Council’s vote followed public comment from more than a dozen residents blasting the inclusion of their properties in the district and criticizing the city for planning to vote on the map prior to a public hearing.

“As I see it, you’ve put the cart before the horse,” Bart Huntington said. “Tomorrow is the public comment period and you want to pass these resolutions before you give us a chance to give our comments.”

Deb Noffke called for the city to remove a number of properties from the RDA list that she said are not blighted but were included in the district to reach the 50 percent required to designate a blight district.

“This is a stretch and an overreach to try to attain the 50 percent you statutorily need in order to declare us a slum,” she said.

“My big question is, how do we get off of (the list),” John Mondus said. “Once you’re blighted, I don’t see any wording about how you get removed and are no longer a blighted piece of property.”

Several speakers said the designation would lower the value of their properties.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said the district’s boundaries needed to be set prior to the public hearing, which would have focused on the RDA’s plan of action for dealing with blighted properties within the district.

Alderwoman Sandy Steinke said some of the properties are clearly no longer blighted, though they might have been when property assessments were made last year.

“I think the plan needs to be revised or reviewed,” she said.

City Attorney Tim Schmid said setting the boundaries would not have addressed whether any particular property in the district is or isn’t blighted.

“What you’re being asked to do now is approve the boundaries,” he said. “The public hearing will address what the plan should be, what properties should be addressed, how they should be handled. You’d have a plan presented and the public hearing would be for, is the plan a good plan? Is it not a good plan? Should the plan be modified?”

Despite repeated attempts to clarify the issue from Schmid, Knapp and RDA Chair Amanda Sheppard, the council voted 5-1 to send the map back to the RDA to have its boundaries reconsidered.

Alderman Woody Davis cast the sole no vote.

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New high school project postponed

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:46am
Fundraising slow for Wolf River LutheranBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Scott Williams A sign with the Wolf River Lutheran name stands in an otherwise vacant field where school administrators now say they hope to start construction next spring.
Contributed Photo A rendering of the proposed new Wolf River Lutheran High School shows the facility that officials say will include classrooms, a gymnasium, a mezzanine and more for the private school’s students and staff.

Eight months after holding groundbreaking ceremonies, administrators at Wolf River Lutheran High School say they lack the funds needed to build a new school near Shawano.

The ceremonies held last November were intended to spur financial donations, officials say, but the project remains hundreds of thousands of dollars short of its goal.

Students and teachers will not be moved into the new facility in the upcoming school year as indicated at the time of the groundbreaking.

“We thought the money would come in better,” school board member Karen Baker said. “It just didn’t materialize.”

Administrators now hope to raise more money and build the private school next year on River Bend Road south of Shawano, near the Boarders Inn and Suites hotel.

Parents of current Wolf River Lutheran students are voicing support for the ongoing building effort.

Amy Rottier said her son, who is approaching his sophomore year, looks forward to spending his last two years of high school in the new facility, under the current construction schedule.

“Whenever it comes, he’s excited to be there,” Rottier said.

Wolf River Lutheran, which holds classes in a former elementary school in Cecil, has been in various stages of discussion and planning for more than 20 years.

Supporters purchased land in 1999 along River Bend Road in the town of Belle Plaine, and donations started coming in for a building effort initially estimated at $1.3 million. With a current price tag of $2 million, officials say donations have not continued as vigorously as they had hoped.

Dennis Genke, the school board’s president, said officials have raised pledges of $1.2 million, with about $700,000 of that available as cash in the bank.

Green Bay-based Bayland Buildings Inc. has signed on as the prospective builder of what has been proposed as an estimated 25,000-square-foot high school with six classrooms, a gymnasium, commons, office space and mezzanine.

Genke said the groundbreaking ceremonies were held Nov. 15 because school administrators felt that donors might come forward in greater numbers if they saw signs of activity on the project. Looking back, Genke said he recognizes that such a risky strategy could “raise some eyebrows.”

“The builders were ready to go,” he said. “Finances were a little bit short.”

Brandishing shovels and hard hats at the construction site, Wolf River Lutheran representatives were joined by church leaders and other supporters in announcing that the project was ready to move forward. Participants talked about possibly having the school ready for students during the 2016-17 school year.

Eight months after the ceremonies, however, the site remains a vacant field. A sign emblazoned with the Wolf River Lutheran stands alone, surrounded by overgrown grass and weeds.

Belle Plaine Town Chairman Alvin Bartz said the project seemed “iffy” at the time of the groundbreaking. But the town chairman said he would prefer that school officials take more time to raise money rather than incur debt and risk future financial troubles.

“I’m glad that they’re waiting until they can swing it,” he said.

Genke said officials plan to launch construction next spring and they hope to have pledges totalling $1.5 million to $1.7 million by that time.

Wolf River Lutheran enrollment has nearly doubled in the past two years, with about 40 students expected for the upcoming school year. That would just about max out the space available in the current building; in fact, a temporary portable classroom might be added to handle overflow.

Genke said the growing enrollment makes the new high school facility more important than ever.

“It’s more of a necessity than a luxury,” he said.

FYI

To make a donation or get more information about Wolf River Lutheran High School, go to wrlhs.org.

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Public Record

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 7:45am

Shawano Police Department

July 11

Police logged 28 incidents, including the following:

Burglary — Police investigated a report of a burglary at MT Trailer, 830 S. Lincoln St.

Theft — Money was reported stolen at Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St.

Shoplifting — Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St., reported a shoplifting incident.

Shoplifting — The Consign Shop, 124 S. Main St., reported a shoplifting incident.

Theft — A license plate was reported stolen in the 1000 block of East Fifth Street.

Shoplifting — Charlie’s County Market, 521 S. Main St., reported a shoplifting incident.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 11

Deputies logged 37 incidents, including the following:

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

Fraud — Authorities investigated a mail scam on North Shore Drive in the town of Belle Plaine.

Warrant — A 29-year-old woman was taken into custody on an Outagamie County warrant in the 700 block of South Main Street in Shawano.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on County Road Y in Belle Plaine.

Accidents — Authorities logged one deer-related crash and a squad versus raccoon.

Clintonville Police Department

July 10

Police logged 16 incidents, including the following:

Citation — A citation was issued for open intoxicants on South Main Street.

Disorderly — Officers responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on West 14th Street.

Disorderly — A disorderly conduct and harassment complaint in Bucholtz Park was reported and warnings issued.

Theft — Juvenile court referral completed for retail theft on West Madison Street.

Disorderly — Juvenile warned for disorderly conduct on Flora Way.

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Court News

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 7:43am

Strangulation

A Pulaski woman waived her preliminary hearing Monday and entered a plea of not guilty to a felony charge of strangulation and suffocation.

Emily J. Kueper, 40, was arrested July 6 after a domestic disturbance in the town of Angelica during which she allegedly choked another woman.

Kueper could face a maximum six years in prison and $10,000 fine if found guilty. She is also charged with misdemeanor counts of domestic abuse-related battery and disorderly conduct.

Kueper is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Aug. 19.

Felony OWI

A Shawano man is facing a felony charge of sixth-offense drunken driving after being pulled over in the city of Shawano on July 5.

Burton C. Arthur, 47, could face a maximum six years in prison and $10,000 fine if found guilty of operating while intoxicated.

Arthur was pulled over by a state trooper for a loud muffler and incorrect license tag display, according to the criminal complaint.

According to the complaint, Arthur has three previous OWI convictions in Shawano County, one in Brown County and one in the state of Washington.

He is due in court for a preliminary hearing Friday.

Battery to law enforcement officer

A Keshena woman is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Friday on a felony charge of battery to a law enforcement officer.

Mylia W. Olson, 18, is accused of striking and spitting at a sheriff’s deputy while being arrested after a domestic disturbance at Richmond Town Park on July 3.

Olson could face a maximum six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. She is also charged with misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer and resisting an officer.

She was ordered held on a $500 cash bond.

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Cone with a Cop being held today

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 7:42am

Shawano police are trading coffee for ice cream Wednesday for their latest community outreach effort.

The regular Coffee with a Cop events that have been held around town, giving the public a chance to interact and chat with officers, becomes Cone with a Cop on Wednesday.

The event at Dairy Queen, 1005 E. Green Bay St., will be held from 2-4 p.m.

Visitors will have a choice between a free, small ice cream cone or a Dilly Bar provided by Dairy Queen while they get an opportunity to talk with and get to know local officers.

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Neopit woman sentenced in OWI case

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 7:42am
Passenger died in crashBy: 

Kevin Murphy, Leader Correspondent

A Neopit woman who caused the death of a passenger and serious injuries to another by driving drunk and crashing into a tree in August was sentenced Monday in federal court to nine years in prison.

District Judge William Griesbach sentenced Ashley E. Kitchenakow, 27, to six years for involuntary manslaughter and three years for reckless endangerment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Roach asked for a 10-year sentence but called the nine-year term “fair” and “in the ballpark.”

“(Kitchenakow) created a disregard for human life by getting behind the wheel of the car after she had been drinking,” Roach said.

She also had two prior OWI convictions in tribal court, Roach noted.

The Aug. 28 accident took the life of Shiann Anderson, 28, who was found by Menominee Tribal Police at the crash scene at N3440 state Highway 47. She was pinned under the dashboard and unresponsive, and died shortly after authorities arrived.

Shawano County Medical Examiner Pat Roberts indicated Anderson suffered a broken neck and severe brain trauma.

Kitchenakow admitted to drinking before the accident, and told law enforcement that she drank from a bottle of vodka and smoked marijuana on the day of the accident.

A male passenger in the car said he was not drinking that evening but Kitchenakow and others were.

Kitchenakow was “really drunk” as she drove to an area of the Menominee Indian Reservation known as White City, said the man, whose injuries left him partially paralyzed.

Kitchenakow was swerving all over the road and driving between 30 and 50 mph, according to the man. He said Kitchenakow passed a semi-truck and encountered a vehicle headed in their direction when she lost control of the vehicle, struck the curb and then a tree.

Tribal police identified Kitchenakow from the crashed vehicle’s license plate and located her at her Riverview Road home within hours of the crash. She was arrested and transported to Shawano Medical Center, where her blood tested .154 blood-alcohol concentration, nearly twice the prohibited limit.

Kitchenakow’s attorney, Henry Schultz, of Crandon, sought a three-year sentence, saying she has sought alcohol abuse treatment, maintained employment and showed remorse for the accident.

However, Griesbach concluded Kitchenakow’s actions warranted a longer sentence given the loss of life and serious injury she caused.

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Walker in hog heaven at visit to Doc’s

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 8:12am
Governor's ride around state promotes tourismBy: 

Lee Pulaski, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski During a stop at Doc’s Harley Davidson east of Bonduel, Gov. Scott Walker asks Kersten Heling, the daughter of owner Steve “Doc” Hopkins, about some of the latest additions to the facility. Walker and dozens of motorcyclists stopped at Doc’s as part of a two-day ride promoting tourism.
Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Dozens of motorcyclists pour into Doc’s Harley-Davidson, one of the stops on Gov. Scott Walker’s travels around the state to promote tourism, Saturday. Walker and company also stopped in Clintonville.

Gov. Scott Walker primarily took the scenic route during a two-day tour of the state, choosing a motorcycle as his mode of transportation as he promoted tourism in Wisconsin.

Among the stops on the first day, Saturday, were Doc’s Harley-Davidson and Timeline Saloon east of Bonduel and the Clintonville Senior Center. Walker rode into Doc’s with dozens of other motorcycles to grab some dinner before traveling to Rothschild.

“The weather’s been perfect today,” Walker said. “It feels good to get around the state, and our goal is to get to a lot of the winding roads that people don’t normally go on and show our riders a lot of the things Wisconsin has to offer.”

Walker noted a lot of people visit Wisconsin from around the country and around the world, and many of them hop on Harley-Davidsons.

Doc’s is one of the governor’s preferred places to visit when he travels around the state, he said; his last visit was in 2014.

“This is new this year,” Walker said as he indicated the Ferris wheel. “You never know what Doc is going to have new. It’s one of the unique things that makes Wisconsin special. We always like to see what new attractions he’s going to have.”

Walker noted that Doc Hopkins, the business owner, has gone from prepping barbecue on his own whenever the governor came to visit to opening a highly successful restaurant.

Walker credited Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett with helping him keep track of all the tourist attractions in the state. Klett had been the host for Discover Wisconsin for 18 years prior to becoming secretary.

“One of the things she has been an advocate for are JEM (Joint Effort Marketing) grants,” Walker said. “They help new projects get up and going and get the promotional attention they need to be successful.

“I’m pleased that, in the last five years since I’ve been governor, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in tourism, and that’s because we’ve invested more dollars in promotion, whether it be in advertising to support the market as a whole or through JEM grants.”

Although the governor was pushing tourism, his stop in Bonduel included words of support for the people of Dallas, Texas, where a gunman shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others earlier in the week. Walker told the Wisconsin State Patrol officers riding with him and several sheriffs during his stops to spread the word to their colleagues that he and the state have their back.

“It’s outrageous, and certainly my hope is that somehow this entire country can be unified against that kind of senseless violence,” Walker said. “I think it’s critically important we support those men and women who literally put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

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Public hearing Thursday focuses on RDA plan

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 8:08am
City: Session is not to discuss boundariesBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

City officials will hold a public hearing Thursday on the Redevelopment Authority’s action plan for dealing with properties in Shawano considered blighted.

There are 391 properties within the boundaries of the recently established RDA district. Just over half of them are considered blighted or in need of redevelopment.

The proposed RDA project plan, which still needs to go to the Common Council for approval, also identified 32 properties in 13 areas of the city as priorities. Most of those are centered in the downtown area, primarily along Main Street.

The public hearing at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 127 S. Sawyer St., will address the RDA project plan but not the boundaries of the district, City Administrator Brian Knapp said.

“The district has been established by the RDA,” Knapp said. “(The hearing) is not about whether a property is blighted and should be included. It’s about addressing the project plan.”

Knapp said he continues to get calls from property owners who have been notified they are within the RDA district sharing their questions and concerns.

Chief among those concerns is the RDA’s power to invoke eminent domain and take matters to court if necessary.

But officials say they are hoping for cooperation from owners to address areas of blight within the district and to either provide or direct them to resources available to help them make improvements to their properties.

According to the RDA project plan, the authority’s primary objectives are to “encourage economic development, promote historic preservation, and enhance quality of life for all residents and visitors.”

The plan would also “encourage property owners to remodel, restore or renovate structures in the Redevelopment District.”

The plan includes a list of resources and assistance the RDA can provide for property owners, largely through the city’s Tax Incremental Finance districts, such as a variety of federal, state and local home improvement and facade grants, low-interest loans and loans from the city’s and county’s revolving loan funds, brownfield grants for properties that could be environmentally contaminated, and additional financial assistance from the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Blighted conditions described in the RDA project plan include windows in poor condition, peeling paint, exposed wood, rusted metal, boarded-up storefronts and bricked up windows, broken awnings, cracked and crumbling facades, abandoned signage, and outdoor dumping of garbage and debris.

Under state law, a municipality can designate a blight redevelopment district if at least 50 percent of the property within the proposed district is blighted, which means “a predominance of structures, buildings, or improvements that are dilapidated, deteriorated, obsolete, or conditions that are detrimental to public health and safety.”

Shawano’s RDA district roughly follows the contours of TIF districts already designated along Main Street from the Wolf River bridge on the north to Wescott Avenue on the south, and along Green Bay Street from Main Street on the west to Rusch Road on the east.

It slightly expands those TIF districts, however, to include some surrounding properties.

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Public Record

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 8:07am

Shawano Police Department

July 10

Police logged 27 incidents, including the following:

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle accident at Green Bay and Main streets. A 43-year-old Green Bay woman sustained a minor injury.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint in the 300 block of South Washington Street.

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

July 9

Police logged 21 incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized in the 200 block of East Center Street.

Fraud — Police investigated a fraud complaint in the 800 block of East Randall Street.

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized at Charlie’s County Market, 521 S. Main St.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident at Eberlein Park Drive and Green Bay Street.

July 8

Police logged 29 incidents, including the following:

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

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint in the 1400 block of East Green Bay Street.

Fraud — Police investigated a fraud complaint in the 400 block of North Bartlett Street.

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

Burglary — Police investigated a report of a burglary in the 800 block of East Richmond Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 10

Deputies logged 39 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Swan Acre Lane in the town of Washington.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Shawano Shores Circle in the town of Wescott.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Adams Street in Bonduel.

July 9

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

OAS — An 18-year-old Shawano male was cited for operating after suspension on Redwood Lane in the town of Belle Plaine.

OWI — A 32-year-old Wittenberg woman was arrested for operating while intoxicated on Witt-Birn Town Line Road in the town of Wittenberg.

July 8

Deputies logged 42 incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — A lawn was reported vandalized on state Highway 156 in the town of Lessor.

Theft — A credit card was reported stolen on Fourth Street in Mattoon.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Big Lake Road in the town of Red Springs.

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Little Road in the town of Red Springs.

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Old sawmill gone forever

Sat, 07/09/2016 - 7:38am
Site planned for automobile shopBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Photo by Curt Knoke Owner Irvin Kroenke, left, is shown with some of his employees inside the Kroenke Sawmill, which operated in the town of Richmond from the 1960s through the 1990s.

For decades, Kroenke Sawmill was the place builders went for lumber when assembling homes and other structures in the Shawano area.

The once-bustling industrial operation west of Shawano has been idle for years and soon could be redeveloped into a new type of business.

A prospective buyer has unveiled plans to transform the 11-acre property in the town of Richmond into a shop for repairing and selling automobiles.

While the redevelopment brings renewed activity to a dormant industrial location, it also signals the end of an era at the former site of the successful family-owned sawmill.

“Those days are gone,” said Christine Opperman, who bought the property from the Kroenke family with hopes of renewing the sawmill operation.

Instead, Opperman now plans to sell the site to Shannon Behnke, an entrepreneur who intends to conduct automobile repairs and sales there, while also living in an existing home on the property.

The Richmond Town Board on Monday will consider approving a permit to clear the way for redevelopment of the old sawmill site at W8819 Broadway Road.

Town Clerk Rick Stadelman said town planners have endorsed the proposal and officials are looking forward to seeing Behnke’s new business in operation.

“This is his vision, and we wish him well,” Stadelman said. “We hope he’s successful.”

Behnke could not be reached for comment, and details of his plans for transforming the site were not known.

Sawmill owner Irvin Kroenke opened for business in the early 1960s and found great success supplying lumber for the construction of homes and other structures in the surrounding area and beyond. Able to produce 30-foot-long timbers, the sawmill at the corner of Broadway and Beech Road supplied materials for a variety of structures.

Joel Kroenke said his father’s business even provided lumber for the restoration of Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, in the early 1990s.

“My dad had quite the legacy,” Joel Kroenke said.

Irvin Kroenke retired and sold the property around 2002 to Opperman, whose family owned Sorenson Lumber in Shawano. Irvin Kroenke died in 2013 at age 92.

Opperman’s son reopened the business as Red River Sawmill, but it closed after about one year.

Joel Kroenke, who still lives nearby, said he is pleased to hear that an entrepreneur has stepped forward with plans to renew the site. Kroenke said the building industry has changed too much for a place like the Kroenke Sawmill to ever flourish again.

“Things have their life span,” he said. “The days of hands-on craftsmanship and hard work are slipping away.”

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Love story’s final chapter

Sat, 07/09/2016 - 7:36am
Married 70 years, couple dies hours apartBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Contributed Photo Ruben and Betty Giese, shown on their wedding day in 1946, met at a school dance in Gresham and settled on a farm north of town.
Contributed Photo Ruben and Betty Giese celebrated their 70th anniversary in May and then passed away just hours apart in hospital beds side by side Thursday.

Over the course of their marriage, Ruben and Betty Giese had stayed by each other’s side through good times and bad for 70 years.

So neither was going to leave the other alone at this moment.

The Gresham husband and wife passed away side by side, just hours apart Thursday, in what family members say was a final act of love and devotion.

“They didn’t want to be apart,” their daughter, Linda Clemins, said. “They wanted to go together.”

Both dealing with health issues, Ruben and Betty Giese were residents for the past two years at the Atrium Evergreen nursing home of Shawano.

Although they lived in separate rooms at the facility, they were virtually inseparable day after day. And when Betty’s health deteriorated and then Ruben began to decline, too, nurses put the couple in beds side by side.

Surrounded by family, Betty died shortly after 12 a.m., and Ruben joined her just eight hours later. She was 88; he was 90.

Debbie Buss, activity director at the Atrium Evergreen center, said she has heard stories about married couples passing away at nearly the same time. But she has never witnessed something so extraordinary in 40 years of work in the health care business.

“It was touching,” she said. “We’re all happy they went together. That’s just a nice love story.”

The story began in 1945 when Ruben and Betty, both teenagers, met at a school dance in Gresham. They were married the following year and soon settled on a farm north of town.

They raised six children together and managed to make ends meet through hard work on the farm, along with Ruben’s salary as a hardware store employee. The couple enjoyed eating at restaurants, entertaining friends and traveling together to farm bureau conventions.

Family members recall house parties where neighbors and friends would gather to play cards and drink Sun Drop soda or beer.

There were tough times, too, including when the family barn burned down on two separate occasions during the 1970s. Through it all, Ruben kept a sense of humor, frequently telling one of the children, “Go ask your mother if she still loves me.”

“He wanted to hear it all the time,” said their daughter, Shelly Bruch.

As the years passed and the family grew, Ruben and Betty became grandparents, great-grandparents and even great-great-grandparents.

Both enjoyed relatively good health until Betty suffered a heart attack in 2014. During her hospitalization, Ruben began to exhibit worsening symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, family members said.

Before long, both were residents at the Atrium Evergreen center, where they played bingo, attended other activities and enjoyed meals together.

“They always did everything together,” Buss said.

Their son, Rick Giese, recalled that when his mother’s health worsened in recent days, his father sent signals that he had no plans to continue without her. Ruben stopped eating and seemed to will himself to be prepared to follow her when the time came.

“You could just tell — he knew,” Rick Giese said. “It’s just a connection they had.”

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Libertarian Senate candidate to visit Shawano

Sat, 07/09/2016 - 7:33am
He could benefit from major party turmoilBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]


PHIL ANDERSON

Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Phil Anderson will be in Shawano on Sunday as part of a weekend campaign tour of Northeast Wisconsin.

Anderson will have a booth at the flea market at the Shawano County fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to noon.

The Libertarian Party is expecting to enjoy greater success this year than in past election cycles, largely due to dissatisfaction with the traditional choices at the top of the ticket.

Anderson, who is also state chairman for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, said voters are looking for an alternative to presumptive Democratic and Republican candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“You have one that is clearly incompetent or corrupt, but is still supported by the Democratic Party, which shows an absence of principal,” Anderson said.

“The other has struck a nerve with the public but is an unreliable person in terms of his positions,” he said. “He also has an erratic personality and is unsuited for government.”

Anderson said both are also in favor of “big government,” which the Libertarian Party opposes.

Anderson will go up against incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold in the November election. Feingold is looking to take back the seat he lost to Johnson six years ago.

The last Libertarian candidate for that seat won just 1 or 2 percent of the vote, but political divisions and voter dissatisfaction with the traditional parties should improve the odds for Libertarians, Anderson said.

Anderson ran as a Libertarian candidate for the state Assembly in 2014 and garnered 18.6 percent of the vote.

He said he is running for the U.S. Senate to “get the federal government back under the control of the people.”

That includes getting the U.S. out of foreign interventions and keeping the government out of the personal lives of its citizens.

“People in our country want to live their own lives,” Anderson said. “They want to be able to support themselves, they want their privacy, and they want the opportunity to succeed.”

Anderson’s visit comes at the end of a week of horrific violence that captured national attention, including two high-profile police shootings and the deaths of five Dallas police officers.

Anderson said he was “deeply saddened” by this week’s events and said there were several things that contributed the the violence.

Among them, he said, was a failed war on drugs that has “disproportionately incarcerated and harassed blacks”; identity politics that have pandered to certain groups of people by creating government programs geared to them; and increasingly militarized law enforcement that has heightened a sense of intimidation and fostered an adversarial relationship with the public.

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