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Authorities release details on May fatality crashes

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 9:28am
Lack of seatbelts, alcohol called factorsBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Alcohol use and the lack of seat belts were factors in two fatal crashes in Shawano County last month that took the lives of three people, the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department said.

Detective Chris Gamm, who performed the accident reconstructions on the two crashes, revealed the details during an interview Tuesday with the Leader.

Release of the cause of the accidents had been awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

Two people were killed in a single-vehicle crash on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott on May 9.

Rocco Spinelli, 36, of Oconto, was driving northbound on County Road H/Lake Drive and Old Lake Lane when he lost control of the vehicle, causing it to enter the ditch and strike several trees.

Spinelli and his passenger — Jacob Thorne, 22, of Bonduel — passed away from the injuries they sustained in the crash.

“In that crash, it was determined that excessive speed and alcohol were factors,” Gamm said.

Gamm also said neither of them was wearing seat belts.

In the second crash, on May 15, Dr. Robert Fischer, 80, of Shawano, was killed in a two-vehicle, head-on crash on County Road D, just north of County Road DD, in the town of Pella.

Fischer had been northbound on County Road D, crossed the center line and collided with a southbound vehicle being operated by Michael Harbath, 63, of Clintonville.

Harbath and his passenger, along with a passenger in Fischer’s vehicle, were injured in the crash.

Gamm said the cause of that crash was “a medical condition and alcohol use.”

He said there was no way of knowing which was the primary factor.

“One complicates the other,” he said.

Gamm also said there was no seat belt use in Fischer’s vehicle. Harbath was also unbelted, he said.

“The crash involving Mr. Fischer was a survivable crash,” Gamm said. “The lack of seat belt use, in my opinion, was a major factor in that crash becoming a fatality.”

The crash occurred at speeds that were under the speed limit, Gamm said.

Gamm said that in his roughly 20 years with the department he has responded to more than 60 fatality crashes. He is now typically the department’s lead detective in crash reconstruction and investigation.

He estimated that the lack of seat belts played a role in 75 percent of those fatalities. More than 50 percent, he said, were alcohol-related.

Shawano County has seen three fatal crashes so far this year, resulting in four deaths, compared to five fatalities in 2015.

Those numbers are down significantly from the years when Gamm first started with the department, when it would not have been unusual to see as many as 20 fatalities in a year.

Gamm said the numbers have been reduced by aggressive enforcement of drunken driving laws and laws mandating seat belt use.

However, he added, “seat belt use in Wisconsin is still very low.”

Sheriff Adam Bieber said seat belt use is a takeaway from these crashes that authorities want to emphasize.

“It’s just proven to save lives, over and over,” he said.

He also acknowledged the role alcohol played in both crashes.

“We are constantly working on trying to educate the public on driving sober,” he said, adding that deputies made more OWI arrests in 2014 than the year before.

“People just have to educate themselves and provide rides for one another,” he said.

Ironically, according to Bieber, Thorne had tried to do that prior to the crash that took his life.

“That’s what that one kid was doing,” Bieber said. “He was calling around for a ride. He just happened to call a guy that was already intoxicated, though.”

Thorne was known to the Bonduel community as an accomplished athlete at Bonduel High School.

He was a member of the Bonduel Bears conference championship team as a senior and went on to play college basketball at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee. He was later an assistant coach for the Bonduel Bears junior varsity basketball team and a former coach for the seventh- and eighth-grade teams.

Fischer was a veterinarian in Shawano at the Shawano Veterinary Clinic for 56 years. As a veterinarian, he had the opportunity to care for President Ronald Reagan’s and President George Bush’s dogs, as well as many other exotic animals.

He was a member of the Shawano Masonic Inc. Fraternity and a Beja Shriner.

This year’s first fatal crash in Shawano County occurred in the city of Shawano on Feb. 1.

Cinda L. Engebretson, 61, of the town of Wescott, was southbound on Airport Road at Beauprey Road when she lost control and crossed the centerline, the Police Department said. She veered into the path of a tanker truck that was carrying road sand and was struck head-on.

She had worked for the Clintonville School District for 28 years.

Icy road conditions were blamed as a factor in that crash.

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Fish kill on lake raises questions

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 10:01pm
Some see possible link to herbicideBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Contributed Image The shaded areas on Shawano Lake indicate zones where herbicide was applied May 23-24 to eliminate invasive plants jeopardizing water quality.
Contributed Photo The state Department of Natural Resources took this picture of a dead fish on Shawano Lake while investigating the cause of a fish kill.

Conservation activists and state environmental officials disagree on whether a new fish kill on Shawano Lake can be linked to recent herbicide treatments targeting underwater plants.

A group called Wisconsin Bass Nation contends that a large number of fish started turning up dead in the lake after the state-funded herbicide treatments occurred from May 23-24.

Officials from the state Department of Natural Resources dispute that the large-scale chemical applications caused any ill effects on fish in the 6,000-acre lake.

One thing, however, is undisputed: Something has caused hundreds of fish to perish suddenly in the lake.

Wisconsin Bass Nation, a private group dedicated to sport fishing, says its members have reported finding significant numbers of dead fish since about a week after the herbicide applications.

Ryan Hoffmann, the group’s conservation director, said although there is no proven link, the timing of the fish kill suggests that it was somehow related to the chemical treatments.

“We are deeply concerned,” Hoffmann said. “There’s an awful lot of coincidence going on here.”

State DNR officials investigated the situation and confirmed that a fish kill had occurred on Shawano Lake, although they described it as a relatively small incident that appears unrelated to the herbicide.

Al Niebur, senior fisheries biologist for the state, said he counted 341 dead fish in a partial informal survey last weekend. Niebur said all indications point to an outbreak of bacterial infections that are commonplace on Wisconsin waterways in late May or early June.

Similar outbreaks on Shawano Lake have claimed as many as 1,000 fish at a time in recent years, Niebur said.

“It’s not unusual to get these kills out there,” he said. “In some ways, it’s natural.”

The herbicide applications carried out by private contractors were approved by the state to eliminate invasive plant species that were a threat to water quality on the lake. The operation was funded with a $200,000 state grant and another $200,000 collected by Shawano Area Waterways Management, a private group that includes lakefront property owners.

Gary DeFere, president of the waterways group, said fish mortality occurs naturally on the lake and has nothing to do with the new herbicide program supported by his group.

“We’ve done it very, very carefully,” DeFere said. “Everything has been done properly.”

Boats equipped with long hoses applied the herbicide by releasing the chemical deep underwater to kill unwanted plants growing down below. The treatments targeted weed-infested areas covering a total of 928 acres in numerous sectors of the lake.

Officials said the herbicide, known as DMA 4, was applied in concentrations far below any level that would represent a health risk to fish or other wildlife.

Hoffmann said his group is concerned that the widespread herbicide usage killed off large areas of plant life so quickly that it depleted oxygen levels in the water, causing the fill kill. The group has urged its members to avoid fishing the lake, to avoid putting any added stress on fish populations there.

“It’s a resource that we should all protect, that we should all want to protect,” he said. “We want to know what happened, so it doesn’t happen again.”

The DNR said it has never documented a fish kill caused by the sort of herbicide treatment carried out on Shawano Lake.

Others associated with the herbicide program agree that it likely has not harmed any fish.

Eddie Heath, an ecologist with Onterra LLC, consultants on the project, said closely monitored oxygen levels in the water have not dropped significantly since the invasive plants began to wither. Heath said he visited the lake Friday and saw no evidence of a fish kill.

Officials are still tracking the herbicide program’s effects, Heath added, although it seems to have been a success.

“Everything has gone exactly to plan,” he said.

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Weak tornado spotted in county Saturday

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 9:58pm
Sunday storm causes minor damageBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]


Contributed Photo A waterspout that the National Weather Service described as a “very weak” tornado was spotted around 7 p.m. Sunday on Loon Lake in the town of Wescott. The tornado had peak winds of about 40 mph and was nearly stationary, according to the weather service.

Officials have confirmed that a weak tornado developed over Loon Lake in the town of Wescott on Saturday, a day before another heavy storm front caused minor damage around Shawano County.

The National Weather Service said a waterspout was photographed on Loon Lake about 7 p.m.

The tornado was described as an EF-0, “very weak,” with winds of about 40 mph at its peak and was nearly stationary. There was no damage reported.

There were no severe weather warnings in place at the time.

“This is a good reminder of why everybody needs to be alert when there are outdoor activities during the summer, because these can pop up quickly,” said Natalie Easterday, Shawano County Emergency Management director.

A number of storms rumbled through the area over the weekend, but it was a fast-moving front that blew through Shawano County on Sunday evening that left behind the biggest mess.

The storm toppled trees, snapped utility lines and even forced road closures, according to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department.

Reports of weather damage started coming in around 5:20 p.m. with trees blocking roadways or down on power lines in the towns of Wescott, Seneca, Navarino, Bartelme, Waukechon, Grant, Eland, Lessor and Belle Plaine, as well as the village of Gresham.

Power lines downed by the storm also closed Tower and Welhaven roads in the towns of Fairbanks and Lessor.

Shawano police also reported trees down and blocking roadways at Bartlett and Pine streets, Randall and Sawyer streets and Richmond Street and Lakeland Drive.

Severe weather warnings had been issued Sunday.

Easterday said there was no significant damage in Shawano County.

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Former Clintonville mayor passes away

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 9:52pm
Johnson led city for 9 yearsBy: 

Grace Kirchner, Leader Correspondent

Former Clintonville Mayor Gilbert Johnson died at his home on Monday. He was 85.

Johnson served as an alderman and then mayor from 1989 to 1998.

Johnson served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War and then was in the Reserves. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and taught ninth-grade algebra in the Clintonville School District for 34 years. He also owned and operated Johnson’s Lawn Service for many years.

He was a member of the Clintonville American Legion Post 63 and served two terms as commander.

Johnson enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, and sharing his love of the outdoors with his entire family.

He is survived by his wife, Jan; two daughters, Jill and Amy, and their families; and two sons, Mike and Jeff, and their families.

A celebration of Johnson’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Christus Lutheran Church in Clintonville. Military honors will be conducted by American Legion Post 63, VFW Post 664 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 63. Friends may call at the church on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the time of the service.

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Public Record

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 9:51pm

Shawano Police Department

June 6

Police logged 22 incidents, including the following:

Fraud — Police investigated a fraud complaint at Bank Mutual, 835 E. Green Bay St.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident at Main Street and Wescott Avenue.

Arrest — A 21-year-old woman was taken into custody at the probation and parole offices, 1340 E. Green Bay St.

Suspicious — Police responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint at Lincoln and Elizabeth streets.

Suspicious — Police responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint at the Skateboard Park, 107 E. Elizabeth St.

June 5

Police logged 28 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a report of a disturbance at Shawano Inn and Suites, 1330 E. Green Bay St.

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

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run at Kwik Trip, 1241 E. Green Bay St.

Theft — A dog was reported stolen in the 200 block of Teddington Lane.

Disturbance — Police responded to a report of a disturbance at Sharona’s bar, 111 S. Washington St.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident at Airport Drive and Richmond Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 100 block of South Smalley Street.

June 4

Police logged 21 incidents, including the following:

Hit and Run — A vehicle struck a stop light at Green Bay Street and Airport Drive and fled the scene.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint in the 700 block of West Fifth Street.

Theft — Video games were reported stolen in the 500 block of West Second Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 100 block of South Lafayette Street.

Fireworks — Police responded to a fireworks complaint at Richmond and Union streets.

Theft — Items were reported stolen from a residence in the 100 block of South Smalley Street.

June 3

Police logged 35 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 47-year-old man was arrested for bail jumping after police responded to a disturbance in the 1300 block of South Lincoln Street.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident at Lafayette and Oshkosh streets.

Threatening — Police responded to a threatening complaint at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, 100 County Road B.

Suspicious — Police responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint at the Skateboard Park, 107 E. Elizabeth St.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Memorial Park, 909 S. Lincoln St.

Theft — A bike was reported stolen at the Shawano Park and Recreation Center, 220 E. Division St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

June 6

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

Burglary — Authorities investigated a reported burglary on state Highway 29 in the town of Morris.

OAR — A 31-year-old woman was cited for operating after revocation on state Highway 29 in Bonduel.

Warrant — A 25-year-old man was taken into custody on a Brown County warrant on North Airport Drive in the town of Wescott.

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

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Hemlock Road in the town of Wittenberg.

June 5

Deputies logged 66 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Springbrook Road in the town of Washington.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Park Avenue in the town of Waukechon.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Webb Street in Wittenberg.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Elm Street in Bowler.

Disturbance — A 28-year-old man was arrested on a warrant after authorities responded to a disturbance on Basswood Road in the town of Richmond.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Wellhaven Road in the town of Lessor.

OWI — A 20-year-old Bonduel man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on Cecil Street in Bonduel.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on East Green Bay Street in Bonduel.

Accidents — Authorities responded to an injury accident on state Highway 29 in the town of Maple Grove and logged seven deer-related crashes.

June 4

Deputies logged 51 incidents, including the following:

Assault — Authorities investigated an assault complaint on Hemlock Road in the town of Wittenberg.

Suspicious — Authorities responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint on Cedar Street in Eland.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a report of a fight in progress on Webb Street in Wittenberg.

Threatening — Authorities investigated a threatening complaint on Old Lake Road in the town of Wescott.

Accidents — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Nauman Road in the town of Green Valley and logged four deer-related crashes, as well as a vehicle versus cow.

June 3

Deputies logged 38 incidents, including the following:

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

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Elm Grove Road in the town of Pella.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Prouty Street in Wittenberg.

Trespass — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on Hill Road in the town of Lessor.

Disturbance — A 32-year-old Wittenberg man was arrested for battery and disorderly conduct after a domestic disturbance on Webb Street in Wittenberg.

Disturbance — A 23-year-old Birnamwood woman was arrested for intimidation, disorderly conduct and bail jumping after a disturbance on Highway 45 in the town of Aniwa.

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

Clintonville Police Department

June 6

Police logged 11 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A theft was reported on North Clinton Avenue.

Accident — A property damage accident was reported on South Main Street.

Theft — A retail theft was reported on South Main Street.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on North Clinton Avenue.

June 5

Police logged nine incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A family matter was resolved on South Clinton Avenue.

Disorderly — A warning was issued for disorderly conduct on Seventh Street.

June 3

Police logged 12 incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — Damage to property was reported on North Main Street.

Theft — A theft was reported on North Main Street.

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Gresham schedules power outage June 14

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 11:12pm

Gresham Municipal Utilities has scheduled an electric utility outage from 2:30-5:30 a.m. June 14.

The outage is required for maintenance of the Zoglman Street substation. GMU will attempt to do the work without affecting electric customers, but if safety concerns arise during the maintenance, it may be required to de-energize some or all of its customers, according to a statement issued by Art Bahr, utility manager.

“We realize this temporary service interruption may cause some inconvenience, and we appreciate your understanding as we work to increase system reliability for the future,” Bahr stated.

The power may be off for the whole period or may be turned off more than once. The planned outage might not begin exactly at the stated start time, and some conditions could cause this planned outage to be postponed, Bahr noted.

Unsafe weather conditions or an unforeseen emergency could force GMU to cancel the work at the last minute without notifying customers.

For information, call Gresham Municipal Utilities at 715-787-3244.

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Cowles announces re-election campaign

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 11:11pm

State Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, this week announced his re-election campaign is underway.

Cowles turned in all required forms and collected over 800 signatures nominating him to run for another term in the Senate.

“First off, I want to thank all of my campaign staff and volunteers for helping to gather signatures for nomination,” Cowles said in a statement released to the media. “The response was overwhelming and I look forward to running a strong campaign to win in November.

“Last session we were able to accomplish many big initiatives that made this state a better place to live, raise a family, and start and grow a business. Over the next four years, I want to continue this momentum and work to solve several issues affecting Wisconsin.”

Cowles said maintaining a balanced budget, holding the line on taxes, protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources, keeping kids first and helping Wisconsin’s veterans are also major priorities for him in the next four years.

“I want to continue to lead on some of the most challenging issues facing Wisconsin,” he said. “As Audit Committee co-chair, attacking waste, fraud and abuse has always been a top priority for me. Open and transparent government is always the best policy and keeping government programs accountable will continue to be at the top of my list. I also want to continue with the momentum and create an even greater environment for jobs and employment.”

The 2nd District is composed of parts of Shawano, Outagamie and Brown counties.

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Public Record

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 10:48pm

Shawano Police Department

June 2

Police logged 32 incidents, including the following:

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

OAR — A 37-year-old man was cited for operating after revocation at Richmond and Waukechon streets.

Juvenile — Police responded to a complaint of a juvenile firing a squirt gun at vehicles at Birch Hill Lane and Evergreen Street.

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

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem in the 300 block of South Andrews Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 500 block of West Second Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

June 2

Deputies logged 46 incidents, including the following:

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on State Street in Bonduel.

Vandalism — Mailboxes were reported vandalized on Lemke Street in Cecil.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at Bowler School, 500 S. Almon St., Bowler.

Theft — A boat motor was reported stolen on Azalea Drive in the town of Wescott.

Burglary — Authorities investigated a report of a burglary on Elm Grove Road in the town of Pella.

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run on Grand Avenue in Wittenberg.

Accidents — Authorities logged six deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

June 2

Police logged 16 incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — A disorderly conduct incident was reported at Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School, 105 S. Clinton Ave.

Harassment — A harassment incident was reported on East 12th Street.

Harassment — A harassment issue was reported on East Morning Glory Drive.

Disturbance — Officer assisted with a property dispute on East Second Street.

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Shawano gets its own Summerfest

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:42am
Downtown event formerly known as Jumpin’ June JamboreeBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Contributed Photo The band Nitehawk has been signed to perform its rock and country music from 6-9 p.m. June 11 during the inaugural Shawano Summerfest & Car Show in downtown Shawano.

The summer festival season in Shawano is getting a makeover in 2016, with an expanded event offering extended hours under the new name Shawano Summerfest & Car Show.

Formerly known as Jumpin’ June Jamboree, the event scheduled for June 11 will include new attractions topped off by live music continuing until 9 p.m. on Main Street in the heart of downtown.

Jumpin’ June Jamboree previously ended at 4 p.m.

Andy Lorge, lead singer of the band Nitehawk, said Shawano is ready for a bigger festival, and he and his bandmates look forward to performing under the stars for music fans at the inaugural Shawano Summerfest.

Nitehawk, which also features guitarist Ricky Oh, has been signed to perform its mix of rock and country music from 6-9 p.m.

“I think it’ll draw a lot of people,” Lorge said. “Shawano’s a nice, big town.”

The all-day festival taking place on a closed-down Main Street will include other musical performances, a karaoke contest, a car show, craft vendors, children’s games, beer and food vendors, and a bicycle give-away for children.

The event will take place along several city blocks centered on Main and Division streets.

Marisa Rycroft, coordinator for the Business Improvement District, which is organizing the festival, said extending the hours to 9 p.m. is intended to create a bigger event that will showcase downtown Shawano to a bigger audience in a new atmosphere.

Some businesses will be staying open late, Rycroft said, adding that she hopes the live music will appeal to festivalgoers of all ages.

“It’s really a kickoff to our downtown summer,” she said.

Jumpin’ June Jamboree began 12 years ago as a health care-oriented festival, but its original theme had faded in recent years.

Shawano city officials have added their support to the Shawano Summerfest concept, cheering the introduction of the community’s first nighttime music festival in recent memory.

Police Chief Mark Kohl said he has seen similar festivals succeed in other communities, and he hopes the event becomes a yearly attraction for Shawano residents, vacationers and other visitors.

“I think it’s something that’s going to be worthwhile,” Kohl said. “I’m 100 percent supportive.”

Rycroft said planners began discussing possible changes in the festival earlier this year. Some discussions had touched on relocating the event to Franklin Park, but organizers decided to keep it on Main Street.

Another new feature is the karaoke contest scheduled for 4:30 p.m., with prizes for top competitors.

Other elements of Jumpin’ June Jamboree will be returning to ensure that family members of all ages have plenty to enjoy at the festival.

If weather allows, dozens of classic show cars will line the streets throughout the day. Meanwhile, 40 children will be going home with new bicycles, thanks to a free raffle sponsored by local businesses.

The nonprofit group Bridge the Gap for Autism will be presenting children’s activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., including face painting, a bounce house and an assortment of carnival-style games.

Bridge the Gap also is organizing a 5K walk-run that kicks off with registration at 7 a.m. at nearby Franklin Park.

Lesley LaLuzerne, president of Bridge the Gap, said she was thrilled to learn that her group would play a role in Shawano Summerfest. It is not only an opportunity to raise funds for the group but also to increase awareness of its services for families of children with autism.

“We’re definitely really excited,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great community event.”

FYI

The scheduled main stage lineup at Summerfest:

9:30 a.m.: Shuffles Dance Studio

10:30 a.m.: Shawano Community Middle School orchestra

11:30 a.m.: Joel Kroenke & Friends

12:30 p.m.: Joel Kroenke & Friends

1:30 p.m.: Roger Kellogg

2:30 p.m.: Igneous Mass

4:30 p.m. Karaoke Contest

6 p.m.: Nitehawk

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City forces inspections of 2 SIST properties

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:37am
Reports expected next weekBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Tim Ryan This property at 214 S. Main St. was one of two properties owned by the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology inspected this week under a court order for possible health and safety violations.

Two vacant Main Street properties owned by the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology were inspected by health and safety officials this week in what could be a prelude to having the properties demolished if necessary.

The inspections Tuesday were the result of building inspection warrants filed in Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court.

Shawano Building Inspector Brian Bunke said there was initially an agreement with SIST and an appointment for voluntary inspections set up in late April, but SIST backed out.

He said SIST maintained he was not qualified to conduct the inspections.

Bunke said he was to be only a city observer and that a structural engineer and health, fire and safety experts were to conduct the actual inspection.

The city subsequently applied to the court for building inspection warrants for the properties at 143 S. Main St. and 214 S. Main St.

Bunke said he has not yet received the inspection reports from the agencies involved, but is expecting those by early next week.

The inspections were spurred by citizen concerns about the condition of the buildings, Bunke said.

“We had a gentleman come in who looked in the front window of 214 (S. Main St.) and saw a dead pigeon with its head eaten off,” Bunke said.

A passerby also reported seeing standing water inside the building at 143 S. Main St.

Bunke said the inspections at both locations showed damage due to water.

Bunke said that once the inspection results come in he will meet with city officials to talk about the next possible course of action.

“If the damage is so great that it can’t be repaired, they may have to be razed,” he said.

That would mean damage worth more than 50 percent of the property value.

Bunke said that could also take a court order if it goes that route. He said the Redevelopment Authority could step in to handle those proceedings.

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City considering downtown property purchases

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:36am
Mayor owns one of the sitesBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Shawano officials are considering the purchase of several downtown properties for potential future development, including one owned by Mayor Jeanne Cronce and her husband.

The properties in the 200 block of South Main Street lie between the vacant Crescent Pitcher Show at 220 S. Main St. and a vacant lot already owned by the city adjacent to St. James Day Care.

They include a vacant retail property at 224 and 226 S. Main St., and residential properties at 228 and 232 S. Main St.

According to City Administrator Brian Knapp, the city received an offer to purchase the property at 232 S. Main St. from Dennis and Jeanne Cronce in November, prior to any filings in the spring election race for mayor.

The city subsequently received an offer to purchase the vacant retail building and residence just to the north of that.

The city’s industrial and commercial development commission recently recommended purchase of the Cronce property for $58,000 and the adjacent retail space and residence for $62,000. The prices were arrived at by an independent appraisal, according to the city.

The money would come from the Tax Incremental Finance district the city established for Main Street and which runs from the Main Street bridge south to Sunset Avenue.

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

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

However, TIF revenue can also be used for administrative costs and other TIF-related expenses, as well as incentives and other tools for promoting development.

The Shawano Plan Commission also recommended approval of the purchases at its meeting Wednesday. The Shawano Common Council will take it up next week.

Assistant City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said that, in addition to development possibilities, the property purchases could open up future use of the former Crescent Pitcher Show.

“There’s been interest (in the theater), but the drawback is availability of parking space,” he said. “This could help move that development along.”

Sheppard said the vacant retail space, built shortly after World War II, is still structurally sound, but the two residential properties are in disrepair “and probably need to go.”

Dennis Heling, chief economic development officer for Shawano County Economic Development Inc., also told the commission Wednesday that the two homes don’t fit in along Shawano’s downtown Main Street.

“It’s the wrong place for residential,” he said.

“I think the future would be really bright if this was acquired,” Heling said.

Knapp said the properties, if purchased, could be turned over to the city’s Redevelopment Authority for marketing and management.

“They would take responsibility and help decide what is appropriate,” he said.

The plan commission voted unanimously to recommend purchasing the properties. However, Cronce abstained on the vote regarding her property.

The vacant lot next to the St. James playground, meanwhile, could be leased to St. James for temporary use until the city has a development offer for the property.

A lease agreement for that lot will also go to the Common Council next week that would allow St. James to use the property at no cost. It would make the day care responsible for maintaining the property.

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Area businesses invited to join wage and benefit study

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:33am

The Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce is participating in the 2016-2017 Northeast Wisconsin Chambers Coalition Wage and Benefit Study.

Area businesses are invited to participate, as participation from throughout northeast Wisconsin will make the survey a more valuable tool, according to chamber officials.

Participants can receive access to the 2016-2017 wage and benefit data and reports at a greatly reduced rate. The results will provide useful benchmarking information for comparing salaries.

“Our chamber is making this survey available to area businesses to help them in their efforts to attract and retain qualified employees,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce. “Their participation in this study will help them determine how their compensation levels and benefits stack up against other employers in the region.”

The coalition includes chambers of commerce based in Shawano, Oshkosh, Fox Cities, Green Bay, Fond du Lac and Waupaca.

Participation and data entry will continue through Aug. 19. For information, contact Smith at [email protected] or call 715-524-2139.

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Polashek suspends run for state Senate

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:32am
Retired administrator now supports Van StippenBy: 

Joan Koehne, [email protected]

It’s back to retirement for Dave Polashek.

The former Oconto Falls School superintendent suspended his campaign for state Senate District 12 on Wednesday and threw his support behind Bryan Van Stippen. Van Stippen, a Democrat from Deerbrook in Langlade County, will face state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, in the Nov. 8 election.

Tiffany has held the seat since 2012.

Polashek, who retired in July 2015, spent 37 years as a school superintendent, including 22 years in Oconto Falls. He announced his candidacy for Senate in November.

“When I entered the race I said I did so because I was convinced that the Northwoods and the state of Wisconsin cannot withstand four more years of Tom Tiffany,” Polashek said in a statement issued Wednesday. “In my six months of talking to residents as I traveled the district, I heard that time and time again.

“As it is, we may never recover from the damage he and his fellow Republicans have already inflicted on our beloved state: our public schools, environment, municipalities, public servants, and especially Wisconsin’s century-long reputation as a progressive state that values clean and open government.”

Polashek said the only benefit of remaining in the race and forcing a Democratic primary election would be to have two candidates on the campaign trail informing voters about Tiffany’s “reckless and dangerous record.”

“That positive had to be weighed against the possibility of an expensive primary that would divide our resources and our efforts,” he stated.

In withdrawing from the campaign, Polashek said knowing when to leave might be the smartest thing anyone can ever learn.

“And since I have been an educator my whole life, I am taking this advice to heart,” he said in his statement. “I throw my support behind Bryan Van Stippen and I urge my supporters to do the same.”

In announcing his candidacy for state Senate on May 19, Van Stippen suspended his candidacy for the 35th Assembly District in which he was running against Republican Mary Czaja, of Tomahawk. In a statement issued by his campaign, Van Stippen said he was glad to gain the support of Polashek and his followers.

“Dave is a good friend of mine, and I am sad to hear that he has suspended his campaign for the 12th Senate District,” Van Stippen said. “I have a lot of respect for Dave and his wealth of experience in education as an educator and superintendent in Oconto Falls. I hope to be able to work with him on education issues that our state is facing.”

Van Stippen said he wants to represent the people of the district, not special interests.

“Bringing back accountability to our state government and releasing the handcuffs that Senator Tiffany has put on local municipalities is what I want to do as your representative in the 12th Senate District,” he said.

The election for the four-year term will take place on Nov. 8.

The 12th Senate District encompasses all but the southeast edge of Oconto County and all or part of nine other counties to the north and west: Vilas, Oneida, Florence, Lincoln, Marinette, Langlade, Menominee, Shawano and Forest.

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Public Record

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:31am

Shawano Police Department

June 1

Police logged 29 incidents, including the following:

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident in the 100 block of South Main Street.

Theft — A bike was reported stolen in the 1000 block of South Sawyer Street.

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

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint at Sturgeon Park, 811 S. Water St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

June 1

Deputies logged 39 incidents, including the following:

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

Trespass — Authorities investigated a trespassing complaint on Wolf River Road in the town of Richmond.

Warrant — A 53-year-old man was taken into custody on a warrant on Camp 14 Road in the town of Bartelme.

OAR — A 36-year-old man was cited for operating after revocation on County Road R in the town of Washington.

Accidents — Authorities logged four deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

June 1

Police logged eight incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — Police responded to a property damage complaint on South Main Street.

Theft — A theft was reported at W.A. Olen Park.

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Deer crash danger increases in June

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 7:30am
By: 

Leader Staff

With their size, swiftness and unpredictability, deer are huge hazards for motorists. In June, they likely will be even more prevalent on Wisconsin roads, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Deer activity increases this time of year as does search for places to give birth and young deer separate from their mothers. With this increased activity, drivers may encounter more deer darting into the paths of their vehicles without warning.

Although motor vehicle collisions with deer peak in the fall months, June is one of the worst months for driver and passenger injuries due to deer crashes. In each of the last five years, June ranked as the worst or second worst month for motorists’ injuries from deer crashes, the DOT said.

“The best way to avoid crashes with deer is to slow down, put down your cell phone and eliminate all distractions while you drive. You also need to buckle up in case a crash can’t be avoided,” said David Pabst, director of the DOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.

“Motorcyclists must be especially careful because collisions with deer can be fatal to motorcycle operators and passengers,” Pabst said.

Last year in Wisconsin, two out of the five people killed in crashes with deer were motorcyclists.

Law enforcement agencies reported 19,961 deer vs. motor vehicle crashes last year.

Dane County had the most motor vehicle vs. deer crashes reported in 2015 with 977. Waukesha County had the second most with 818 followed by Washington County with 769.

In Door, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Shawano and Waupaca counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2015 involved deer. Deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind crashes with another vehicle or a fixed object).

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Panel backs development agreement with mystery firm

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 7:55am
Name being withheld until employees are toldBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

The identity of the mystery manufacturing firm planning to move into Shawano has been kept under wraps out of deference to the company’s current employees, who will be informed about the new Shawano facility at a company meeting later this month, according to the consulting firm that scouted the Shawano location.

The Shawano Plan Commission on Wednesday recommended approval of a development agreement with FLEX II LLC, a recently established subsidiary of the unnamed manufacturing firm.

The Shawano project previously went by the code name Dorothy II.

Keith Magee, vice president of engineering for J.M. Mullis Inc., the site-selection company that found the Shawano location, told the plan commission he is looking forward to being able to reveal the name of the manufacturer.

“You will greatly enjoy this company,” he said. “It will be a good corporate partner.”

Magee said the company wants to tell its employees about the Shawano facility at a company meeting later this month before a public announcement is made.

“They are very employee-minded,” he said. “They treat their employees like family.”

Magee said more than 100 locations were scouted before Shawano was settled on.

“This was definitely the cream of the crop,” he said.

The Shawano location will feature a new manufacturing facility and won’t replace anything the company already has running. Employees at the existing location won’t be affected.

Magee said the company is also excited about the opportunity to work with the school system and bring in high school students to be trained for jobs at the firm.

City Administrator Brian Knapp and Assistant City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said they recently toured the existing facility.

“It’s a very nice building, well-kept,” Knapp said. “A very nice facility and product that they’re producing. High quality. It will be a very good fit for Shawano.”

Sheppard said he found the existing facility a comfortable place to work.

“I think we can be excited about the jobs that are going to be here,” he said.

According to the proposed development agreement, which goes to the Common Council next week, FLEX II plans to develop “a light manufacturing, paper products related facility.”

The business would occupy 15 acres of city-owned property in an undeveloped area north of County Road B, east of Waukechon Street and west of Industrial Drive. The development agreement calls on the city to extend Engel Drive to the new facility.

FLEX II intends to construct an approximately 120,000-square-foot, $12 million manufacturing facility on the property and install approximately $24 million in related equipment, according to the development agreement.

FLEX II is acquiring the property from the city at no cost.

The city will also issue a 20-year $5.26 million municipal revenue obligation that will be paid off using the increase in property tax revenue expected to be generated by improvements to the existing property.

The company plans to begin construction next spring and occupy the facility in January 2018, with full production commencing by April 2018.

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Tigerton Class of 2016 says farewell

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 7:22am
By: 

Leah Lehman, Leader Correspondent


Photo by Leah Lehman Ashley Knaup, left, and Summer Kopitzke were among the Class of 2016 graduates participating in the commencement ceremony Friday at Tigerton High School.

Tigerton High School held its 107th commencement exercise Friday.

The band played the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” as the 22 graduates entered the gym. The program began with the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The band was directed by Andrew Schulz.

Class President Dexter Block gave the welcome. The valedictorian address was given by Ceara Lebo, and the salutatorian address was by Summer Kopitzke. The memories presentation was given by Cassie Russell.

Lori Rowe presented the Hall of Fame award in honor of the late Leif Erickson. He was a graduate of Tigerton High School who served as a doctor in the South Pacific during World War II. None of his family were able to be present for the ceremony.

Diplomas were handed out by Principal David Battenberg, Superintendent Wayne Johnson and School Board President Bonnie Levandoski.

The band played “Premiere Suit” as the recessional.

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Graduates told to follow their dreams, appreciate the moments

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 7:19am
CHS Class of 2016 honored SaturdayBy: 

Grace Kirchner, Leader Correspondent


Photo by Grace Kirchner Leading the processional grand march at the Clintonville High School commencement Saturday are, from left, salutatorian Claire Crocker, class President Emma Kumm and valedictorian Doniven Coenen.
Photo by Grace Kirchner Clintonville School District Superintendent Tom O’Toole, right, presents the Alumnus Honoris Award to Dr. Robert Meisel, second from right. Also shown are School Board President Jim Dins, left, and Principal Lance Bagstad. The alumnus award recipient receives an engraved silver bowl and his name is included on a plaque that remains in the high school.

“Follow your dreams no matter where it leads you,” Dr. Robert Meisel told Clintonville High School graduates Saturday at the school’s 131st commencement ceremony.

Meisel, recipient of the school’s Alumnus Honoris Award for 2016, also told the students: “Travel when you can. Expand your vision and culture. Do it while you are young. Be kind to people, not too quick to judge. Follow your heart, do the best you can be. Treat others as you want to be treated.”

Meisel was one of several speakers at the ceremony.

Valedictorian Doniven Coenen recounted how his brother’s suicide in 2015 affected him and his appreciation for moments in life.

“The moments become memory,” he told his classmates. “Value the moments from school and the importance of class assignments.

“The last six months shaped my perspective on life. Value the moments we have now, not just graduation but a new beginning. Take time to slow down. … Your family is proud of you. Take this moment to enjoy it.”

Salutatorian Claire Crocker reflected on how she remembers Principal Lance Bagstad telling the class during freshman orientation not to walk across the stage as seniors with missed opportunities.

“Don’t go into the world and miss opportunities,” she said. “Choose what is right, try. For every door that closes, two more open. Go boldly, confidently and do one decision at a time.”

Class President Emma Kumm served as mistress of ceremonies, welcoming those in attendance and introducing the School Board.

The national anthem was sung by seniors Claire Crocker, Emily Klein, Emma Kumm and Alyson Young. “You’ll Be in My Heart” was sung by the CHS senior choir.

Bagstad presented the class; board members Lori Poppe and Tom Neely conferred the diplomas.

Superintendent Tom O’Toole presented the Alumnus Honoris Award to Meisel, who was born in Clintonville in 1947 and graduated from high school at the age of 16. He was the first in his family to attend college.

After talking to Dr. Lewis Thomas, a local optometrist, Meisel decided that would be his vocation. While a fourth-year student in his doctoral program, he was awarded a military scholarship and began his career in the United States Navy. His active duty assignments led him to San Diego, with stops in Okinawa and Camp Pendleton.

After leaving active duty, he joined the Naval Reserve and served with Marine Corps units. He retired as a captain with many honors, including the Clarence Gibbs Award, the highest honor given to a Reserve medical service corps officer.

Meisel co-founded a laser eye care center in San Diego and served as director and chairman of the board. He sold his interests in 2007.

His humanitarian efforts include serving the underprivileged of San Diego. He donates his time to the Lions Optometrist Vision Clinic and has helped give the gift of sight to thousands of people in places such as Haiti, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico and others.

Carl Bruggink nominated Meisel for the award.

“When I was in high school, I went out for football and baseball my freshman year but I only weighed 115 pounds,” Meisel said. “The next three years I was the statistician for Carl Bruggink, and we are still friends today. When I come back to Clintonville I often get together with Gib Johnson, Craig Akey, Bruggink and some of those.”

AT A GLANCE

Clintonville High School Class of 2016

Class Motto: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Class Flower: Gerbera Daisy.

Class Colors: Orange and black.

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Public Record

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 7:11am

Shawano Police Department

May 31

Police logged 24 incidents, including the following:

Fraud — Police responded to a scam complaint at Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St.

Theft — Jewelry was reported stolen in the 100 block of River Heights.

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

Theft — A watch was reported stolen in the 1200 block of South Evergreen Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 100 block of Sunset Avenue. A 24-year-old man who had left the scene was later arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of domestic violence-related disorderly conduct.

Vandalism — A portion of new sidewalk at Evergreen and Stevens streets was reported vandalized by children who scratched their initials into it.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint at Charlie’s County Market, 521 S. Main St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 31

Deputies logged 61 incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — Authorities responded to an intoxicated person complaint on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott.

Disturbance — A 23-year-old Bowler man was arrested on outstanding warrants obstruction after authorities responded to a disturbance on Elm Street in Bowler.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a dug complaint at the Ho-Chunk Casino, W7198 U.S. Highway 45, in the town of Wittenberg.

Disturbance — An inmate at the Shawano County Work Release Center, 1240 Engel Drive in Shawano, was transported back to county jail after a disturbance.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on Mielke Road in the town of Grant.

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

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Hemlock Road in the town of Wittenberg.

Accidents — Authorities logged seven deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

May 31

Police logged 14 incidents, including the following:

Fraud — A fraud incident was reported on South Main Street.

Theft — A theft was reported on Industrial Avenue.

Disorderly — A disorderly conduct incident was reported at Clintonville High School, 64 Green Tree Road.

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Pact with mystery company on city agenda

Wed, 06/01/2016 - 7:57am
Manufacturer plans ‘paper products related facility’By: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Dorothy is still not surrendering her real name, but the mystery project will be on the Shawano Plan Commission’s agenda Wednesday, in a development agreement that provides a new cover name and a little more detail on the as yet undisclosed manufacturer.

Project Dorothy was the code name previously attached to an unnamed manufacturing firm’s plan to move into Shawano in the near future, bringing with it 35 to 40 manufacturing jobs at first but working its way up to a force of about 120 within five years, according to city officials.

Officials have said they cannot divulge the name of the firm because of confidentiality agreements.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said he expects the company to be revealed by the end of June.

In the meantime, the plan commission will consider a development agreement between the city and a newly created subsidiary set up by its unnamed parent firm.

The new limited liability company, known as FLEX II, was registered with the state’s Department of Financial Institutions in April. Its registered agent is G&K Wisconsin Services, LLC, of Green Bay.

The registered agent for G&K Wisconsin Services is Nicholas Wahl, a Milwaukee attorney, according to DFI records.

According to the proposed development agreement, FLEX II plans to develop “a light manufacturing, paper products related facility.”

The business would occupy 15 acres of city-owned property in an undeveloped area north of County Road B, east of Waukechon Street and west of Industrial Drive. The development agreement calls on the city to extend Engle Drive to the new facility.

FLEX II intends to construct an approximately 120,000-square-foot, $12 million manufacturing facility on the property and install approximately $24 million in related equipment, according to the development agreement.

FLEX II is acquiring the property from the city at no cost.

The company plans to begin construction next spring and occupy the facility in January 2018, with full production commencing by April 2018.

THE NEXT STEP

WHAT: Shawano Plan Commission will discuss development agreement with unnamed manufacturer.

WHEN: 4:30 p.m Wednesday

WHERE: City Hall, 127 S. Sawyer St., Shawano

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