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Updated: 30 min 59 sec ago

Youth advisory board, disabilities committee to be revisited

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:54am
By: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

There will be discussion Wednesday by the Shawano Common Council about a new incarnation of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and a proposed expansion of the Senior Citizens Commission that would incorporate the city’s People with a Disability Committee.

The council put off a decision last month on a proposal to disband both the youth advisory board and disabilities committee.

Mayor Ed Whealon said there was lack of community interest in both boards, and he was having a hard time finding prospective members for those committees.

However, newly elected Alderman Jeff Easter, who is also buildings and grounds director for the Shawano School District, has taken charge of forming a group of students that would meet at the school to comprise the youth advisory board, according to Whealon.

In the past, the board used to meet at City Hall.

Whealon said the Senior Citizens Commission would be expanded to include some members of the existing disabilities committee so the concerns of that committee could still be addressed.

In both cases, any concerns or other issues brought up by those entities would be referred to other city committees, such as parks and recreation or public safety, to be addressed.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 127 S. Sawyer St.

State seeks comments on use of electric vehicles

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:53am

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is seeking input as it continues to investigate the use of electric vehicles. All interested parties, including Wisconsin municipal and investor-owned utilities and members of the public, are invited to submit comments.

“The state of Wisconsin needs to be ready to meet consumer and industry demands as it relates to the increased use of electric vehicles and related infrastructure needs,” said Rebecca Cameron Valcq, commission chair. “It is critical that the PSC hears from a broad range of stakeholders surrounding electric vehicle use and its growth in the marketplace.”

Comments can be sent via email to [email protected]. The comment period deadline is May 20.

In addition to seeking feedback on the matter, the PSC is considering in-person workshops and subsequent requests for comment to further facilitate discussions of electric vehicle policy and regulation in Wisconsin.

Barn leveled at Shawano-Oconto county line by fire

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:52am
Breaker box believed to be the causeBy: 

Leader Staff


Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski A lone calf is in a pen at Kuhn Farms, W13605 Deering Road, in the town of Underhill as fire ravages the barn behind it. The cause of the fire is believed to be from issues with a breaker box.

Nine rural fire departments battled a blaze that leveled a barn on the Oconto-Shawano county line Wednesday afternoon.

No one was injured in the barn fire at Kuhn Farms, W13605 Deering Road in the town of Underhill, although about three head of cattle, a sow and piglets perished in the fire, Underhill Fire Chief Mark Winkler said Thursday.

Heavy smoke from hay and straw stored in the barn hampered the effort, Winkler said.

“Anyone who’s familiar with hay knows how much smoke it gives out,” he said. “It really hampered our ability to get at the fire. There was just so much smoke.”

The call came in at 4:51 p.m., and crews stayed at the scene until about 10:15 p.m.

The farm had previous issues with a breaker box, and there was evidence the fire started there, Winkler said.

“The places where the building is most gone is where the power enters – that seems to be the most complete burn,” he said.

The effort included 14 trucks from nine departments, with 55 firefighters on the scene. In addition to Underhill, personnel responded from the town and city of Gillett, Oconto Falls, Cecil-Washington, Bonduel, Keshena, Green Valley-Morgan, and Lena. Gillett Area Ambulance also assisted, and Jenda Trucking came out with an excavator to help take down the building and move the smoldering hay.

The Underhill Fire Department was called back to the farm Thursday when a bale of hay rekindled and spread to the wall of a feed shed.

Public Record

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:50am

Shawano Police Department

May 1

Police logged 22 incidents, including the following:

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run in the 300 block of South Andrews Street.

Fraud — Police responded to a scam complaint in the 100 block of East Division Street.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem at Schurz and Hamlin streets.

Theft — Medication was reported stolen in the 700 block of South Main Street.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint in the 400 block of East Division Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 1

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Airport Drive in the town of Wescott.

Theft — Authorities responded to a property theft complaint on Holy Hill Road in the town of Green Valley.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on Webb Street in Wittenberg.

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Lemke Street in Cecil.

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Spaulding Street in Tigerton.

Clintonville Police Department

May 1

Police logged 13 incidents, including the following:

Accident — A two-vehicle property damage accident was reported on North Clinton Avenue.

Harassment — A harassment issue was reported at the high school.

Disturbance — Officers responded to a disturbance on West Street.

Theft — Theft of license plates was reported on South Main Street.

State discontinues Revolving Loan program

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:43am
Village of Wittenberg votes to buy their shareBy: 

Miriam Nelson [email protected]

The Wisconsin Department of Administration’s revolving loan fund program, which provided low-interest loans for business development, has ended, and Village of Wittenberg officials were forced to decide how to move forward.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Dick Beversdorf, longtime member of the Wittenberg Area Development Corporation, of a state-offered buyout option. The group met March 11 with Sharon Beversdorf, village trustee, to review which option would best serve the village and its businesses, ultimately deciding to endorse the buyout.

Under the buyout, the village will return the $76,000 it has on hand for the fund program, according to Traci Matsche, Wittenberg treasurer/clerk. An additional $180,000 in business loans will also need to be repaid — money that is currently in the streets, sidewalks and public property account. Once this $256,000 is given back to the state, Wittenberg would be eligible to reclaim those funds for an approved municipal project, such as the road improvements needed on Webb Street. The funds would need to be allocated within two years.

Village officials agreed with the development corporation, and the village board voted March 19 to move forward with the buyout and aim to recoup some of those funds for the Webb Street project.

At a village board meeting April 16, project engineers from Martenson and Eisele Inc., of Menasha, said they have been working closely with the state and fully expect approval to use the reclaimed revolving loan fund for the Webb Street project. In the event the state denies the application, the village would have about six months to find a qualified project or forfeit the money.

Matsche said the state should make its determination by July.

A grant application for $491,000 to fix Webb Street was denied last year, Matsche said, partly because required surveys about income levels did not get into the hands of all the affected residents. This year, Martenson and Eisele worked with village officials on the grant to complete the survey process and make sure all information was entered correctly on the application.

Matsche said she feels confident this year’s grant will be approved for $328,000, or two-thirds of the project cost.

Of the $491,000 needed for the Webb Street project, Wittenberg’s contribution is one-third, or $163,000. This is the amount the village is seeking to recoup from the revolving loan program closeout. If the project is approved but goes over budget, the village would still have access to the full amount of $256,000 being returned to the state.

The revolving loan fund program, in which Wittenberg has been participating since 1997, was a way for Wisconsin to support expansion of local businesses by granting federal funds. Those funds were repaid as low-interest loans to local municipalities, which were then able to re-loan or “revolve” the funds to spur even more economic growth.

Several Wittenberg businesses – including True Value Hardware, Hanke’s Sentry, Nueske’s, ICM, and Top Brass – have participated in the program.

Also during the April 16 meeting, representatives from Martenson and Eisele answered questions about the Webb Street project during a public hearing. They said that no residents will be displaced during the project, and that the cost of removing existing trees along the street is factored in to the budget. These will be replaced by smaller trees that will not grow tall enough to interfere with the telephone and electrical lines.

Additionally, residents who live in the construction zone will be supplied with estimated costs if they wish to update their sewer lines during the project.

Local writers take the stage at UntitledTown

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:42am
By: 

Carol Ryczek [email protected]

Shawano’s history, personal reflections and an uncertain, fictional future were shared last week when members of the Shawano Area Writers were featured as a panel at UntitledTown, a writers’ convention in Green Bay on April 27.

UntitledTown, now in its third year, brings authors and hopeful writers together to celebrate writing and publishing.

SAW President Terry Misfeldt said SAW presented a proposal to the event organizers and were selected to give a 90 minute sampling of written pieces from the group’s 40-, 45- and 50-year anniversary publications.

A panel of five SAW member read essays, memoirs, poetry and fiction, selected by, but not necessarily written by, the presenter.

“The volunteers read what they wanted to read. I picked something a little lighthearted. It might have been something we had written or just something we knew people would enjoy hearing,” Misfeldt said.

Others selected items written by longtime SAW members or others they wanted to honor.

Lee Pulaski read a piece by oldest founding SAW member, Marcie Lietzke. Pulaski also participated on a panel exploring the need for diversity in publishing earlier in the day. He is the treasurer of SAW.

Also on the panel were John Mutter Jr., Dennis Vickers and Irma Timmons

The opportunity to present at UntitledTown is important for several reasons, Misfeldt said.

“First, there is the recognition for what wh do and what we have done,” he said. “Then, it is informative. There are a lot of helpful workshops. And, it lets us hobnob with other writers. Writing can be a rather lonely occupation at times.”

He said the group hopes to participate again next year.

SAW publishes an anthology every five years, Misfeldt said, and is ready to make plans for its 55th anniversary edition in 2021. The 50th anniversary compilation is available from SAW members or on Amazon, he noted. The books contain member-written pieces and SAW members determine what is worthy of being published, he said.

Members meet monthly to share what they have written, critique each other’s work, and polish writing skills. The group also sponsors a scholarship contest for young writers.

SAW meetings are open to all writers for an annual $5 membership fee.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: The Shawano Area Writers monthly meeting

WHEN: 10 a.m. Third Thursday of each month

WHERE: Shawano County Library, 128 S. Sawyer St., Shawano

FYI: Open to all writers; $5 annual membership fee.

School district seeks public input

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:40am
Two meetings planned in ClintonvilleBy: 

Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

The Clintonville School District will be holding another in its series of community input sessions on May 13.

Representatives from Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction will on hand to gather insight from the local taxpayers regarding the future direction of the school district.

The open house will be held from 8-10:15 a.m. in the Clintonville High School Recreation Center Community Room, 330 Harriet St., Clintonville. The public is welcome to stop in at any time between those hours. Light refreshments will be served.

Residents are also invited to a Parent Teacher Organization parent input session between 3:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on the same day in the David Dyb, it is an opportunity for parents to stop for a few minutes prior to picking up their children from the Trucker U after-school program.

Dyb has been holding public input sessions and community nights in an attempt to solicit feedback from residents.

In April 2017, voters rejected a referendum to construct a new $24.9 million elementary school. The referendum called for razing the current Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School complex that includes the 1918 high school. The school has since been listed on the state and national Register of Historic Places, and any improvements would need to be approved through legal channels.

Dyb says it is his desire to gather as much public input as possible to bring forth options to the community.

For information, contact Dyb at [email protected].

Best Western Wittenberg recognized as a Champion Green award winner

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 12:39am
LED lighting part of hotel’s improvementsBy: 

Miriam Nelson [email protected]


PHOTO BY MIRIAM NELSON Sally Jo Stevens, left, general manager of the Best Western Wittenberg, shares the Green Champion Award in recognition of reducing the carbon footprint at the hotel with LeNee Resch, executive housekeeper.

The Best Western Wittenberg received the Champion Green Award at Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ District III Meeting held recently in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This award was presented in front of several hundred District III Best Western hoteliers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

Sally Jo Stevens, general manager of the Wittenberg hotel for the past six years, was on hand to accept the award.

The Champion Green Award is earned by properties that demonstrate a commitment to sustaining resources and reducing their carbon footprint. Champion Green Award recipients must comply with the American Hotel and Lodging Associtation’s Green guidelines and/or the Green Key programs in Canada, and receive a bronze, silver, gold or platinum rating in the TripAdvisor Green Leaders program. The hotels must also meet quality and service standards and other membership requirements to qualify for each award.

In the past two years, the Best Western Wittenberg has made more than $300,000 in improvements. According to Stevens, replacing outdoor lighting to LED was a big part of the greening of the Best Western.

“The Best Western Wittenberg has undergone an incredible transformation in the recent years to deliver elevated products, services and experiences that today’s travelers are looking for,” said Stevens. “The fantastic team of employees that I am so proud to work along side have made these awards possible.”

The Best Western Wittenberg was one of only 56 hotels out of more than 2,100 properties in the U.S. and Canada to receive this designation this year.

“I am pleased to congratulate the Best Western Wittenberg on receiving the 2019 Champion Green Award,” said Anthony Klok, Chairman of Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ Board of Directors. “Our iconic brand has undergone an incredible transformation in recent years to deliver elevated products, services and experiences that today’s travelers are looking for.”

In addition to the Champion Green award, Stevens said they were also awarded the Chairman’s Award which is the hotel chain’s highest honor for outstanding quality standards.

“This award requires that the property maintains cleanliness and maintenance inspection scores within the top five per cent of its more than 2,100 North American properties,” Stevens said.

She also noted that they needed to meet Best Western’s requirements for design and high customer service scores to qualify for the award.

Located at W17267 Red Oak Lane, the Best Western Wittenberg features 63 rooms and other amenities include an indoor pool, whirlpool hot tub, exercise facility, guest laundry and business center. The hotel also features a 3250 square feet conference center and meeting facility can accommodate up to 300 people.

All Best Western branded hotels are independently owned and operated. Best Western Wittenberg has been owned by Mike and Maya Panchal since March 2016.

County looks to charge city for municipal jail inmates

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 8:24pm
Proposed fees end agreement with city over gun range useBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Shawano County is proposing billing the city for housing municipal court inmates at the jail, ending an agreement that allowed the sheriff’s department to use the city’s gun range in lieu of payment.

“This has been a bad deal for the county for quite some time and it needed to be changed,” Sheriff Adam Bieber said.

The agreement had been forged between former Sheriff Randy Wright and then-police chief Ed Whealon and was adopted through a resolution by the County Board.

Bieber said Wright didn’t realize what it would cost to house those inmates.

According to jail records, it cost the county $28,200 to house those inmates during the first full year of the agreement in 2013, and hit a high of $48,250 in 2016.

The amount for 2018 was $28,700.

The agreement was terminated after the county informed the city earlier this year that it wanted to charge for housing municipal inmates.

“The city banned us from using (the gun range) when we notified them we had to start charging,” Bieber said. “The city was notified early this year that we were planning on ending that agreement and that’s when we were notified that we were then kicked out of the city gun range.”

Bieber said there had been talk about ending the agreement for some time.

“The jail is not fully funded by the County Board,” he said. “We have to rent out beds to make budget. We were having issues renting out bed space because our jail was very full.”

Bieber said he wanted to make sure the county was being treated fairly and that the agreement struck by Wright and Whealon wasn’t a fair trade-off.

“When I made that decision it, the city said, ‘Well, you can no longer use our city firearm range.’”

Even though the fees have not yet been implemented, the sheriff’s department will begin using a private shooting range, the Shawano Gun Club in Wescott, for its training starting in June at a cost of $1,000 a year.

City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said the agreement covering housing municipal inmates and the gun range had gone out of date with the decision to charge the city for housing the inmates.

“When we were informed that we were now going to be charged for the overnight stays, our position was that that agreement is no longer active and then we were informed they were already looking for another place, anyway.” Sheppard said.

The fees were originally expected to go into effect last month, but, according to Bieber, the city expressed concerns about the impact on its 2019 budget, which did not account for those fees, and the implementation date was pushed back to Jan. 1 of next year.

Sheppard said the city was willing to reciprocate by extending use of the gun range until the start of next year.

“They had pushed this until the first of the year and our response was we would do the same with the range and if there’s anything to be worked out later potentially we could go back to using the range as a shared facility,” he said.

Sheppard said the decision regarding the gun range was not “reactionary” and he disagreed with Bieber’s description of the county being “banned” from its use.

“That’s how the arrangement was set up,” he said. “I would say it was just part of the arrangement. Our hope on our end was that ultimately there could be a new agreement that could satisfy both parties’ needs.”

Sheppard said the city was approached several months ago about the proposed new fee.

The city appeared at the public safety meeting last month to request a delay.

“Obviously we didn’t anticipate that for this year,” Sheppard said. “We have to get on a future agenda to discuss the overall impact of that to the city and the merits of it in general.”

Minutes from last month’s public safety meeting show that the committee determined a closed session discussion should be held before any further meetings with the city.

That discussion was held Wednesday, after which Bieber was given authority to continue negotiating with the city.

Sheppard said the Common Council hasn’t addressed the jail fees issue and couldn’t speak to what the city’s position is on the jail fees.

However, he said, in addition to the impact on the budget, “there’s some concern about how that’s going to impact how we do our municipal court. We certainly have concerns about it.”

Sheppard said the city and the county share a lot of services.

“We would think that there could be a way to come up with some arrangement, some agreement that would help both of us in this instance without having to necessarily pay additional fees to continue doing it the way we’re doing it,” Sheppard said. “But we don’t know that. We’re in the process of negotiating.”

Sheppard said the city has had some good dialogue with the public safety committee and the sheriff’s office on the issue.

“We’re thankful that they’ve delayed the implementation for some time so we can continue to discuss it now and through budget season so we can see how that’s going to impact the city,” he said.

Sheppard said these kinds of fees are something other counties have implemented as a means of increasing revenue and funding services.

“It’s something that a lot of counties are starting to look at,” he said.

State statutes allow for counties to charge other entities, including tribes and municipalities, for use of the county jail to incarcerate their prisoners, as well as for their medical costs.

The fees would apply only to inmates incarcerated for municipal violations, not anyone arrested in the city for state or federal crimes.

According to Police Chief Dan Mauel, people are not sent to jail for a municipal citation by itself.

However, if the person does not pay the fine imposed by the municipal court, the judge can sign a warrant, or an arrest and commitment order, after which the person then can be arrested and lodged in county jail.

The time spent in jail would depend on the amount owed.

Bieber said it is costing taxpayers money to house those inmates and the city still isn’t getting its municipal fines paid.

“The city has other options than locking them up,” he said. “If they want to continue to give their judge the option of locking people up, we want them to take on the responsibility and actually pay for those beds.”

Bieber says the city has other options for collecting unpaid fines, including using tax collection procedures.

“What’s happening is, if somebody doesn’t pay a speeding fine or a seatbelt fine, the judge will sentence them to jail for three, four, five days and it’s costing the costing the county $50 a day to house that person, plus medical costs,” Bieber said. “So now the city’s out their money and they’re not getting paid their fine, and then the taxpayers are paying for that person to sit in jail for a non-criminal offense.”

The municipal court is a joint effort between Shawano and Bonduel. However. Bieber said, the impact on Bonduel is minimal.

“Bonduel doesn’t really house many inmates,” he said. “I think they’ve had like one bed here.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Cost of housing municipal prisoners, according to Shawano County Jail records:

• 2012 – 59 beds = $2,950 (Partial year, October 2012 to December 2012)

• 2013 – 564 beds = $28,200

• 2014 – 366 beds = $18,300

• 2015 — 500 beds = $25,000

• 2016 — 965 beds = $48,250

• 2017 — 835 beds = $41,750

• 2018 — 574 beds = $28,700

U.S. appeals court upholds ruling against Stockbridge-Munsee

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 8:22pm
Court says tribe waited too long to sue over Ho Chunk gaming expansionBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing the Stockbridge-Munsee Community’s suit against the Ho-Chunk Nation’s gaming expansion in Wittenberg.

The Stockbridge-Munsee sued the Ho-Chunk and the state in April 2017 over the expansion of the Ho-Chunk’s ancillary gaming facility into a full-fledged casino.

The Ho-Chunk facility is about 20 miles away from the North Star Casino Resort, operated in Bowler by the Stockbridge-Munsee.

The suit alleged the expansion could cost the Stockbridge-Munsee $22 million per year.

A federal court ruling in October 2017 found that the Stockbridge-Munsee waited too long to file suit and should have sued in 2008 when the Ho-Chunk casino first opened.

The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld that ruling.

The tribe argued in its appeal that, as a sovereign federally recognized Indian tribe, the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claims against the Ho-Chunk and the state are not subject to Wisconsin statutes of limitations.

According to the tribe, the court’s ruling applied a Wisconsin contracts law six-year statute of limitations to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which contains no statute of limitations for such enforcement action by a state or a tribe.

In its ruling, the appeals court also noted that none of the rules in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act protects one tribe from competition by another.

“The Act does not say, for example, that a state must not allow more than one casino in a rural area such as Shawano County,” the court said in its ruling.

“If the (Ho-Chunk) Nation’s land was properly in trust before October 1988, and the State of Wisconsin authorized gaming there, then the (Stockbridge-Munsee) Community would just have to grin and bear it,” the court said.

The Stockbridge-Munsee’s Mohican North Star Casino Resort opened in 1992.

In 2003, the state amended a compact with the Ho-Chunk to allow it to open a casino in Shawano County as an ancillary facility. Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg opened in 2008.

in 2016, the Ho-Chunk announced a $150 million expansion of the Wittenberg casino, including a hotel, 200 more slot machines, 10 gaming tables, a restaurant and bar.

The Stockbridge-Munsee subsequently filed the lawsuit, arguing the Ho-Chunk’s compact allowed only an ancillary facility in Wittenberg — one where less than half the revenue comes from gambling — and the expansion would violate that agreement.

The Ho-Chunk gaming expansion opened in October 2017.

A message left with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community’s president’s office seeking comment was not returned by press time.

Eighth-graders spend an afternoon giving back

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 8:13pm
160+ kids give back to 10 locationsBy: 

Carol Ryczek [email protected]


Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Shawano Community Middle School eighth-graders Tucker Mils, left, and Will Bieber haul a bag of wet leaves up and out of a window well at Zion Lutheran Church in Shawano during Give Back to the Community Day. The students were part of a group that helped with annual landscaping at the church Friday. Zion coordinates a program that provides weekend meals for students.

Eighth-graders from Shawano Community Middle School swept, raked, even pulled down cobwebs in an afternoon of service last week.

Give Back to the Community Day saw well over 90 percent of the eighth-grade class — more than 160 students — helping out Friday at 10 locations throughout Shawano, SCMS Principal Stuart Russ said.

Students worked at the middle school, two elementary schools, Shawano Area Food Pantry and Resource Center, Shawano Area Matthew 25 homeless shelter, two nursing homes, Safe Haven Domestic Abuse Shelter, the Shawano County Humane Society and Zion Lutheran Church.

The work supports part of the school’s mission of “having kids actively engaged citizens who make a contribution to society,” Russ said. Working as a volunteer helps develop empathy and a sense of community, he added.

Some students had questions about the value of volunteering, he said.

“It was important for them to see that going out and providing a service is part of the engagement factor,” he said.

At the elementary schools, he said, seeing eighth-graders in the building “was a pretty big deal” to the younger kids, which helped the volunteers feel appreciated.

Russ said the feedback from the students and community organizations has been positive.

Russ Wise, a member of the Zion building and grounds committee, said the students made a considerable impact on the church’s landscaping project. They hauled 2 tons of mulch, raked leaves and cleaned the sidewalks during their 2½-hour shift.

The church was selected because they contribute “We Care” backpacks filled with ready-to-eat food for students to take home for the weekend. The program supports students at SCMS, Hillcrest Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic School, he said.

The project was the first of its kind, and one that Russ hopes will be repeated next year. School social worker Jodi Guenther and social work interns Cora Woldt and Summer Frosland were responsible for coordinating the project, Russ said. He added that the school staff supported the project by accompanying students to their volunteer locations.

If anything, one of the takeaways from the planning process was that the students worked faster than anticipated, he said. They didn’t necessarily need all the time that was allocated.

“Kids were really productive when they were out there,” Russ said. “They just went to work.”

Bubba’s takes its BBQ on the road

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 8:11pm
Restaurant closes in downtown ShawanoBy: 

Leader Staff

Bubba’s Barbecue will still be available, but it will take a little searching to find.

Bubba’s closed its location on Main Street in Shawano but will continue to operate a food truck and provide catering services for large events.

“It’s partial retirement,” owner Brian Johnson said. “The majority of our business is catering, and we’ll continue in fairs, catering. That’s where the best part of our business is.”

Plans are already underway for the Shawano County Fair, plus five other fairs and concerts, he said. He said they will cater large events, for groups of 200-300 and a minimum of 75.

The decision to close the business is the result of a five-year plan, he said.

“We decided if we thought it was viable, we would expand,” Johnson said. Instead, walk-in business on Main Street didn’t take off the way the food truck and catering end of the business did.

Bubba’s will continue to sell smoked barbecue meals, including pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage with homemade side dishes.

“It’s been fun. We appreciate the customers we’ve had over the years. We’re opening a new chapter,” Johnson said.

Bubba’s can be found at Bubba’s Barbecue Co. Catering Services, 715-526-9099.

Public Record

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 8:09pm

Shawano Police Department

April 30

Police logged 24 incidents, including the following:

Truancy — Police logged two truancy complaints from Shawano Community High School, 220 County Road B.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident in the 1200 block of East Green Bay Street.

Suspicious — A suspicious person was reported in the parking lot of Quality Inn and Suites, 104 N. Airport Drive.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 30

Deputies logged 39 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Wood Avenue in Wittenberg.

Warrant — A 24-year-old woman was taken into custody on a warrant on state Highway 22 in the town of Green Valley.

Vandalism — A vandalism complaint was reported on Swamp Lane in the town of Seneca.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an internet scam complaint on Opperman Way in the town of Richmond.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Clintonville Police Department

April 30

Police logged seven incidents, including the following:

Harassment — Harassment was reported on North 12th Street.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Motor Street.

Fire destroys barn in town of Underhill

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 6:05pm

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski A lone calf is in a pen at the Kuhn Farm, W13605 Deering Road, in the town of Underhill as fire ravages the barn behind it. Fire departments from Bonduel, Cecil, Green Valley-Morgan, Gillett and Suring were called to the scene to battle the blaze. Further details were unavailable but will be added as the Leader learns more.

Anatomy of a drug investigation

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 7:34pm
How a confidential tip led to busting multi-drug conspiracy ringBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

In November 2017, authorities received a tip that a male subject living on Andrews Street in Shawano was involved in drug dealing.

What followed was a nearly year-and-a-half investigation by three law enforcement agencies that recently led to arrests and charges against eight people allegedly involved in a multi-drug dealing conspiracy that could net each of them a maximum 40 years in prison and $100,000 fine.

The source told authorities that the subject’s nickname was “Sport” and that he had been selling heroin in Shawano and Forest counties.

According to the source, “Sport” was also staying at “Mama’s” house on Center Street in the city with a girlfriend whose last name was Webster.

The source had purchased heroin from “Sport” for $40 per point, or 1/10th of a gram.

Shortly thereafter, an investigation was launched into Jaral R. McCollum, 39, also known as “Sport,” by Shawano police, the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department and the state Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigation.

Ongoing surveillance on McCollum revealed he was using two different vehicles for his drug activity, both registered to a Shawano woman who has not been charged in the case.

The woman had actually been the motivation for another tip authorities received in April 2018 by a witness wishing to remain anonymous who said the woman was addicted to drugs and getting drugs from “Sport.” The witness was trying to keep the woman off drugs and wanted to eliminate her source of supply.

The witness also identified several other people involved in the drug activity who have since been charged, including Andrea Hokenstad, 41, Craig A. Johnston, 43, and Georgia Johnson, 56, also known as “Mama G.”

In April 2018, authorities developed a confidential informant who knew McCollum and had previous drug dealings with him.

The informant conducted three controlled buys from McCollum in May and June, purchasing drugs that totaled just over 1.5 grams of crack cocaine and nearly five grams of methamphetamine.

In May 2018, authorities were granted a court order to for covert Global Positioning System (GPS) on the vehicles used by McCollum.

GPS tracking showed four trips to Milwaukee and back to Shawano in June.

On the fourth return trip, the vehicle was pulled over by authorities.

The vehicle was being driven by Desiree Webster, 21, of Suring, who has since been charged with conspiracy in the drug ring.

McCollum, who was in the passenger seat, was arrested for a probation violation.

Webster, who was suspected of hiding drugs on her person, was detained and strip-searched at Shawano County Jail where she was found to be concealing a package that contained 1.26 grams of marijuana, 36.67 grams of crack cocaine, 27.8 grams of synthetic marijuana, 14.72 grams of methamphetamine, 1.52 grams of Fentanyl and six Ecstasy pills.

Despite the arrests, the drug conspiracy investigation continued for months, including interviews with witnesses and those implicated in the drug ring that continued through December.

Through those interviews, investigators pieced together the scope of the drug ring that McCollum allegedly oversaw and the parts others are accused of playing in the conspiracy.

Authorities also analyzed communications found on a cellphone, iPhone and flip phone seized from McCollum during the June 2018 traffic stop.

According to the criminal complaint, those communications between McCollum and other parties accused in the conspiracy detail conversations about drug purchases, how those purchases would be facilitated, prices, the source of supply in Milwaukee and, in one case, new customers being brought in from Crandon.

Eight people have been charged in the conspiracy.

With the arrest last week of fugitive Kyle Collins, 30, of Shawano, allegedly a regular customer of McCollum’s who worked in cooperation with him to bring in new customers, all the defendants are in custody as their individual cases play out in court.

All are charged with multiple drug counts, including one or more counts of conspiracy to deliver drugs, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 40 years in prison if convicted, and a $100,000 fine.

Kakwitch appeal denied

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 7:32pm
Court upholds Gillett man’s OWI convictionBy: 

Kevin Murphy Leader Correspondent

A state appeals court Tuesday refused to overturn a Gillett man’s fourth OWI conviction because he couldn’t test wet spots on the pants he wore and the seat in the truck he drove prior to his arrest.

Elmer Kakwitch, 63, was convicted by a jury of OWI and resisting an officer. Shawano County Circuit Court Judge James Habeck sentenced Kakwitch in August 2017 to two years and eight months in prison.

On appeal, Kakwitch’s attorney contended that his client’s due process rights were violated because Shawano County Deputy Sheriff Eric Strike didn’t keep the alleged wet spot evidence of his offense. Since Kakwitch couldn’t independently test it, Habeck should not have allowed it as evidence at trial.

A defendant’s right to confront the prosecution’s witnesses and the evidence is protected by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the District III Court of Appeals opinion noted.

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that in order to comply with the 14th Amendment, police need to preserve and turn over to defendants evidence that could assist in their defense. The nation’s high court also determined that it is a violation of the 14th Amendment if police act in bad faith in failing to preserve evidence helpful to defendants.

Neither occurred in Kakwitch’s case, the District III Court concluded.

According to the opinion, Strike had testified that he didn’t feel the need to take Kakwitch’s pants into evidence for a non-injury OWI. Also, he believed the wet spot would evaporate and it was not standard procedure for the sheriff’s department to impound a vehicle under the circumstances of the case.

The truck belonged to Kakwitch’s employer and Kakwitch was free to have the seat bottom tested.

Kakwitch’s attorney, Susan Hagopian, contended that Strike and Deputy William Uelmen, who also responded to the OWI arrest, were negligent for not taking photos of her client’s pants or the driver’s seat.

However, Strike and Kakwitch can be heard on Uelman’s body camera discussing the wet spots.

Kakwitch denied being the driver of the truck but Strike concluded he could be due to the location of the wet spot on the truck seat and the seat of Kakwitch’s pants. Regardless, Strike had more indications that Kakwitch drove the truck other than the wet spots.

“Kakwitch also had the keys to the truck in his pocket; the truck belonged to his employer; and he had permission to drive the truck. Even without the wet spots, it is likely Kakwitch would have been charged as the driver of the vehicle based on the other evidence,” according to the 11-page unsigned opinion.

While Strike talked to Kakwitch, he noticed that Kakwitch’s speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and there was an odor of alcohol about him.

During the early hours of April 6, 2017, Strike was on patrol but topped while northbound on state Highway 29 when he saw two people standing next to a truck in the roadway.

When Strike pulled up behind the truck, the individuals walked away. Strike yelled, “Police, stop!” but the pair continued walking. The woman, later identified as Frances Sanapaw, separated from the man and turned east. The man finally stopped walking when Strike got in front of him.

Kakwitch didn’t show his driver’s license to Strike and refused to take the field sobriety tests.

Strike noticed the wet spots on Kakwitch and the driver’s seat. He couldn’t determine if it was urine or alcohol but he didn’t find any open alcohol containers in the truck. The truck’s passenger seat was dry.

2 people confess to cemetery vandalism

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 7:31pm

Two people have confessed to vandalizing grave sites at a cemetery in Bonduel earlier this month, according to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Sheriff Adam Bieber said that two suspects have provided the department with written confessions regarding the case.

No names were released.

The vandalism at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Bonduel was first reported April 16 and included multiple items that were damaged or destroyed.

Headstones were not damaged were reported but items placed around them were reported smashed and broken.

A shed and another building were also reported damaged.

The sheriff’s department said that any victims who have not yet reported vandalism can contact Deputy Chris Madle at [email protected] or go to the church office and fill out the necessary reports.

Don’t ‘myth out’ on tax refund

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 7:28pm

Now that the April tax-filing deadline has come and gone, many taxpayers are eager to get details about their tax refunds. When it comes to refunds, there are several common myths going around social media, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which provided this information on tax refunds.

Here are five common myths:

Myth 1: Getting a refund this year means there’s no need to adjust withholding for 2019

To help avoid an unexpected tax outcome next year, taxpayers should make changes now to prepare for next year. One way for a taxpayer to do this is to adjust their tax withholding with their employer. The IRS encourages people to do a paycheck checkup using the IRS withholding calculator to determine whether their employer is withholding the right amount.

This is especially important for anyone who got an unexpected result from filing their tax return this year. This could have happened because the taxpayer’s employer withheld too much or too little tax from the employee’s paycheck in 2018.

Myth 2: Calling the IRS or a tax professional will provide a better refund date

Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or with the IRS2Go mobile app.

Taxpayers without internet access can call the automated refund hotline at 800-829-1954. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available to IRS telephone assistors, so there is no need to call unless “Where’s My Refund?” says to do so.

Myth 3: Ordering a tax transcript is a ‘secret way’ to get a refund date

Doing so will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. “Where’s My Refund?” tells the taxpayer their tax return has been received and if the IRS has approved or sent the refund.

Myth 4: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ must be wrong because there’s no deposit date yet

Updates to “Where’s My Refund?” ‎on both IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app are made once each day. These updates are usually made overnight.

Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a refund may take longer. This means that in some cases, a taxpayer who filed later may receive their refund sooner than someone who filed earlier in the season. The IRS contacts a taxpayer by mail when it needs more information to process his or her tax return.

Taxpayers should also remember to consider the time it takes for the banks to post the refund to the taxpayer’s account. Taxpayers waiting for a refund in the mail should plan for the time it takes a check to arrive.

Myth 5: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ must be wrong because a refund amount is less than expected

There are several factors that could cause a tax refund to be larger or smaller than expected. Situations that could decrease a refund include:

• The taxpayer made math errors or mistakes

• The taxpayer owes federal taxes for a prior year

• The taxpayer owes state taxes, child support, student loans or other delinquent federal nontax obligations

• The IRS holds a portion of the refund while it reviews an item claimed on the return

The IRS will mail the taxpayer a letter of explanation if these adjustments are made. Some taxpayers may also receive a letter from the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service if their refund was reduced to offset certain financial obligations.

DNR fears poisoning of pets and wildlife in northern Wisconsin

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 7:27pm

The Wis. Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service are seeking the public’s help in solving several cases involving the poisoning deaths of domestic dogs and wildlife since December.

Dog deaths have occurred in Bayfield, Marinette and Florence County; however, it is unknown if other counties could be involved. In addition to the unfortunate poisoning of these family pets, investigators also found dead coyotes, weasels, raccoons and one wolf that they suspect also were poisoned. Lab tests are underway to confirm the cause of death in these wildlife cases.

The deaths occurred on public properties in these counties managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Goodman Timber Company.

Investigators say the poison was found on the ground in rural areas and subsequently was ingested by the dogs. Each dog died in less than 30 minutes after ingestion. People walking their pets are recommended to keep them on leashes to restrict their movements off roadways and into possible contact with any possible poison.

Anyone with information or a tip, no matter how insignificant it may seem, should contact the WDNR Violation Hotline. Confidentially report by calling or texting: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847- 9367. Report online: https://dnrx.wisconsin.gov/rav/.

The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay report information to conservation wardens.

Public Record

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 7:26pm

Shawano Police Department

April 29

Police logged 21 incidents, including the following:

Disturbances — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 800 block of South Prospect Street, a disturbance in the 300 block of East Maurer Street and a disorderly person at Shawano Community Middle School, 1050 S. Union St.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem at Memorial Park, 901 S. Lincoln St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

April 29

Deputies logged 31 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A disturbance was reported in the 300 block of North Main Street in Shawano.

Theft — Ho-Chunk Casino, N7198 U.S. Highway 45 in the town of Wittenberg, reported an attempted theft after discovering a dollar bill taped to a fishing line.

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