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Area nursing home workers sentenced for nude photos

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:44am

Two former Wisconsin nursing home workers have been sentenced after being accused of using cellphones to record and share images of unclothed elderly patients.

Twenty-three-year-old Michelle Bulger of Cecil and 20-year-old Ashley Schaumberg of Pulaski were sentenced in Brown County Court this month to reduced charges.

Press-Gazette Media reports both women pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of invasion of privacy through use of a surveillance device and disorderly conduct. Both were given two years probation. Bulger was sentenced additionally to six months in jail and Schaumberg to 30 days in jail.

The defendants worked as caregivers at Brookview Meadows, an assisted-living community in Howard.

An attorney for the facility says both workers were suspended when the allegations surfaced in November 2012, and fired after an internal investigation.

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Rural Health Initiative continues to fill valuable role

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:43am
By: 

The Associated Press


The Associated Press Nurse Dawn Dingeldein draws blood from farmer Jim Vomastic as his sister-in-law, Susan Vomastic, looks on. Dingeldein works for the Rural Health Initiative, a program based in Shawano that sends nurses to farms to provide basic preventive care, including blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checks.
The Associated Press Nurse Dawn Dingeldein checks farmer Jay Vomastic’s blood pressure in his home.

Wisconsin dairy farmer Kevin Ainsworth rushed to the emergency room in 1992, when he sliced off the tip of his finger. Other than a quick trip in 2010 when a test during a blood donation raised a false alarm about hepatitis C, that was his last visit to a doctor.

His father jokingly hassles him about needing a prostate exam now that he’s past 50, but Ainsworth shrugs that off. With a $5,000 deductible on his health insurance policy and a never-ending slate of chores, he’s not eager to spend time or money on medical care that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Ainsworth is a typical dairy farmer, more likely than most Americans to go without health insurance or buy his own policy. For years, he has received basic care from a unique community program that sends a nurse to farms to check farmers’ blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and screen them for health risks. Farmers with signs of serious problems are referred to a doctor or clinic.

Agriculture and health care advocacy groups had hoped the new federal health care law would improve farmers’ situation by allowing them to buy affordable policies that cover preventive care and have lower deductibles. No savings are to be had, say farmers who’ve been shopping for insurance and believe they’ll end up with plans similar to their current ones.

That’s why the Rural Health Initiative remains valuable.

“I would say most farmers, in general, if it’s not a lost limb or something crushed, they’re probably not going to go to the doctor. If you’ve got a virus, it’s going to wear off,” said Jay Vomastic, another dairy farmer who lives minutes from Ainsworth in Shawano County.

Most dairy farms in Shawano County are generations-old and small enough to be run by a family, perhaps with one or two workers. Farmers can easily spend eight hours or more on their feet, but increased mechanization has made them less active than previous generations. Add to that a diet traditionally heavy in milk, cheese and beef, which presents cholesterol and other risks.

The initiative started in 2004 after health care workers and residents realized many farmers received no medical care until they turned up in emergency rooms. The tight-knit community, where farmers are active in schools, local government and state politics, formed a focus group.

Thirty-six percent of U.S. dairy farmers and their families lacked insurance in 2011, compared to 9 percent of all farmers and about 16 percent of the general population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dairy farmers are less likely than crop farmers to hold off-farm jobs for insurance because their animals require constant care. Eighteen percent bought their own policies in 2011.

Insurance isn’t the only issue. Chores often begin at 4 a.m., making it hard to fast for a blood cholesterol test hours later at a doctor’s office or clinic. Traveling to the office and long waits are time lost from work.

In the end, farm wives helped the group realize health care needed to be delivered like agricultural services.

“The vet comes to the farm. The milk man picks up delivery at the farm. The feed comes to the farm. Why should we make them change that?” said Rhonda Strebel, the nurse who launched the program and now serves as its executive director.

Vomastic went to school with the nurse who came to his farm a few days after Thanksgiving. They joked about the three holiday meals he consumed and his fondness for Sun Drop, a locally made soda that many drink instead of coffee. A blood test showed the 39-year-old’s triglyceride level was higher than it should be.

“How many Sun Drops did you have yesterday?” Dawn Dingeldein asked.

“Enough,” Vomastic responded. Dingeldein laughed but recommended he watch his diet, particularly sugar, alcohol and butter.

“Three things that go good together,” Vomastic joked.

The local hospital system, ThedaCare, picks up about half of the $200,000 tab for Rural Health Initiative services in three counties. Community donations cover the rest. The program will expand to a fourth Wisconsin county next year.

Nationwide, preventive care programs aimed at farmers have cropped up in states such as Iowa, Nebraska and North Carolina through the nonprofit AgriSafe Network. In Johnson County, Iowa, a network clinic has a trailer that goes to events like farm bureau meetings and fairs to provide screenings and basic services, said Kelley Donham, a retired University of Iowa professor who helped found AgriSafe.

Dingeldein pulled her SUV into Ainsworth’s father’s driveway as Ainsworth and his brother were finishing morning chores on the 130-cow farm. She plays volleyball with Ainsworth’s wife, remembers his father’s service as a state assemblyman and knows his brother’s wife makes the calls on their health insurance.

Dingeldein drew blood, checked the brothers’ weight and body fat and collected a questionnaire that ThedaCare will analyze for signs of health problems, such as depression.

“You did much, much better this year,” Dingeldein told the 53-year-old Ainsworth after looking at his cholesterol results. “Do you know what you did?”

He didn’t. They brainstormed. He lost a few pounds, and the milk he drinks comes from the bottom of the farm’s tank, eliminating much of the fat that floats to the top.

His 73-year-old father, John Ainsworth, currently a Shawano County supervisor, said he was skeptical when the program started, but has been won over.

“I’ve heard a couple of stories of people who had some little things that weren’t quite right and didn’t know about it until she checked their blood sugar,” he said, “and then they got the care they needed.”

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Shawano drug unit expects busy year

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:39am
By: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Shawano police expect to become more aggressive in the coming year on the local front in the war on drugs as they put to use additional money set aside by the Common Council.

City officials approved an extra $25,000 per year to resurrect the Police Department’s drug unit, which had been hobbled by budget cuts since 2008.

“We were kind of out of the game for a while, and I think it’s going to take a little bit to get back in the game again,” Police Chief Ed Whealon said.

“Slowly but surely things are picking up,” he said. “As time goes on, I think the program will bear some fruit.”

In April, the Common Council unanimously supported taking $25,000 out of the city’s contingency fund for this year and dedicating it to the department’s drug unit. It became a regularly budgeted item starting with the 2014 budget.

Some of the money approved this year went to things such as special tactical vests, surveillance equipment and additional canine training.

“The canine will be a key component to the success of this program,” Whealon said.

In the meantime, officers have been “actively out there beating the bushes,” Whealon said, though the results might not always be obvious.

In some cases, such as when officers turn up people in possession of drugs at a traffic stop, there will be an attempt to “turn them,” Whealon said, in hopes of catching the dealer.

“There’s a myriad of different ways of doing this,” Whealon said. “Every avenue at their disposal, they’re trying. I’ve basically unleashed them and told then, whatever you’ve got to do, try it, as long as it’s legal and ethical. Give it a shot and see what happens.”

Before 2004, city police were part of a Multi-jurisdictional Enforcement Group that included Shawano and Menominee counties and Menominee Tribal Police.

When state funding for MEG units dried up, it was left to local departments to take up the slack. The Shawano Police Department established its own drug unit with several officers dedicated to drug investigations in addition to their regular duties.

Their efforts included stationing themselves outside local bars to watch for drug activity in the parking lots, which police say often resulted in two to three arrests per weekend, surveillance and sifting through the garbage of residences where drug activity was suspected.

The department’s drug unit initiated 53 search warrants in the city between 2004 and 2007. According to department statistics, police investigated 82 narcotic cases during those years, leading to 115 arrests and 240 charges, and seized 662 grams of marijuana, 866 grams of cocaine, 36 ecstasy pills and 44 marijuana plants, along with cash and vehicles.

The city started implementing belt-tightening measures in 2008. With health insurance, wages and other expenses increasing, the only option was cutting overtime, Whealon said. As a result, officers were unable to put in the extra time required for intensive drug investigations.

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SMU's turnover of Internet, cable to Cellcom under way

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:38am
By: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

The turnover of Shawano Municipal Utilities’ cable and high-speed Internet services to Cellcom is on track to be completed by Feb. 1, according to city and company officials.

In addition, SMU’s roughly 240 telephone customers will be notified around the first of the year that they will have 90 days to find another phone service provider.

“Everything is in place to turn our telephone service off on March 31,” said Brian Knapp, SMU general manager and city administrator.

Local wireless service provider Cellcom purchased the utility’s retail fiber optic system for $1.25 million. The deal was approved by the Common Council in October and closed on Dec. 2.

The sale did not include the utility’s phone service, in compliance with a Wisconsin Public Service Commission ruling that states the city can sell most of the utility’s assets without a referendum.

State law requires a public referendum when a municipality sells a “complete public utility plant,” but the referendum is not triggered if the utility is selling only some of its assets and retaining some, according to the PSC decision.

Customer response to the turnover has been mostly positive, according to Knapp.

“There’s been a little confusion, but by and large, people have been very happy,” he said.

Phone customers in particular will probably be happy to turn their service over to a different provider, Knapp said, given the issues that have plagued SMU service, including dropped calls and calls going straight to voicemail without the phone ringing.

Cable TV and Internet customers will see better offerings after the turnover as well, he said, including higher Internet connection speeds than SMU could offer and a couple of highly requested cable TV offerings that were not in SMU’s lineup. Those include the NFL Network and Fox Sports 1, formerly the Speed Channel.

Cellcom crews have been out since the sale closed doing the field work needed to complete the turnover; in some cases household by household.

“It’s very complex and very specific,” said Bridghid Riordan, director of public affairs. “We’re taking a really close look at every customer.”

Though in most cases it has not been necessary to go into customer homes, the company is looking at what equipment each customer has and determining whether any upgrades need to be made, she said.

Cellcom has said there would be no price increases for SMU customers during the transition period, and Riordan said there are no increases currently being planned beyond that.

“We want to keep our rates reasonable and competitive,” she said.

Customers will continue to contact SMU for billing, technical issues and installation during the transition period.

The utility had about 780 customers when the sale was closed, Knapp said. With many of those customers using more multiple telecom offerings, that totalled about 1,500 services, he said.

Shawano residents approved borrowing $4 million for the infrastructure needed to create a telecommunication utility in a 2006 referendum. The utility’s intention was to have customer revenue pay for the network and the service, including the repayment of the $4 million in borrowing.

Over the next two years, the utility shifted to a more ambitious and expensive business model, fell months behind in its promised roll-out of services, and ran into a number of glitches delaying digital cable service.

The utility’s telecom services have continually run deficits since going into operation.

SMU began looking for a sale, lease or partnership to relieve itself of the telecom services in 2011.

In addition to the original $4 million debt, a $1.5 million line of credit was taken out to cover operating costs. The utility has used $1.2 million of that line of credit, Knapp said, which will be covered by the sale to Cellcom.

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Court News

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:04pm

Ninth-offense OWI

A Mountain man is facing a felony charge for his alleged ninth drunken driving offense, after he was found asleep in his vehicle in the lane of traffic on state Highway 29 in Hartland last Friday.

Martin Cooper, 44, could face a maximum 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine if found guilty.

Shawano County sheriff’s deputies responding to a report of a vehicle parked in the traffic lane of Highway 29 near River Road found Cooper asleep in the vehicle, according to the criminal complaint. The complaint states Cooper believed he was in Mountain and was surprised to learn he was in Hartland.

According to court records, Cooper has four OWI convictions in Forest County, two in Oneida County, one in Brown County and one in Shawano County.

Cooper is being held on a $25,000 cash bond and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Dec. 30.

Felony theft, possession of meth

A Wausau woman waived her preliminary hearing Monday on felony charges of theft and possession of methamphetamine.

Beth A. Trolinger, 34, is scheduled for arraignment on Jan. 6. She could face a maximum possible penalty of 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for felony theft and for possession of meth. She is also charged with felony bail jumping, which carries a maximum six years and $10,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint, Trolinger left the Shawano Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St., on Dec. 17 with more than $1,000 in merchandise. When police located her, they also discovered two “rocks” of meth in her purse, the complaint alleges, along with prescription drugs.

Trolinger is also charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and bail jumping.

Felony OWI

A Merrill man is facing a felony charge of operating while intoxicated after his vehicle was apparently disabled by an interlock ignition device ordered installed after a previous drunken driving conviction.

Franklin A. Saal, 24, could face a maximum possible penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilty of fourth-offense OWI within the last five years. He is also charged with a felony count of bail jumping, which carries the same possible penalty.

Shawano County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a disabled vehicle in the town of Seneca on Dec. 12. The driver was identified as Saal, who told deputies his ignition device had locked up on him. He maintained he had not been drinking, but the devise displayed a blood-alcohol count of 0.03 percent, according to the criminal complaint.

Saal has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled for a pre-trial conference Feb. 4.

Strangulation

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Cecil man wanted in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident in the town of Washington.

Marvin H. Escobar-Arias, 33, is charged with a felony count of strangulation and suffocation that allegedly occurred during a domestic incident in the town on Dec. 13. He could face six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. He is also charged with a misdemeanor count of domestic abuse-related battery.

According to the criminal complaint, Shawano County sheriff’s deputies were called to a report of a domestic dispute in which a woman reported her ex-boyfriend had beaten her up and left the scene.

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Public Record

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:01pm

Shawano Police Department

Dec. 24

Police logged 14 incidents, including the following:

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

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

Accident — Police responded to a property damage accident at Airport and Engel drives.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

Dec. 24

Deputies logged 36 incidents, including the following:

Reckless Driving — Authorities responded to a reckless driving complaint on Highway 29 in Bonduel.

Suspicious — Authorities responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint on County Road MMM in Richmond.

Assault — Authorities investigated an assault on Fourth Street in Mattoon.

Disturbance — Authorities investigated a report of a domestic disturbance on Slab City Road in Hartland.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Broadway Road in Richmond.

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

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How well do you think the Packers will do this season?

Sat, 09/21/2013 - 7:23am
Super Bowl champs 0% (0 votes) NFC champs 0% (0 votes) North Division champs 0% (0 votes) Playoff wild card 100% (1 vote) Miss playoffs 0% (0 votes) Total votes: 1

How many points do you think RGIII and the Redskins will score on the Packers' defense?

Wed, 09/11/2013 - 8:20am
0-10 0% (0 votes) 11-20 0% (0 votes) 21-35 0% (0 votes) More than 35 100% (1 vote) Total votes: 1

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