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Updated: 58 min 6 sec ago

Menominee Indian schools honored for improved behavior

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 7:46pm

Keshena Primary School, Menominee Indian Middle School and Menominee Indian High School have each received a bronze award for behavior from the Wisconsin Response to Intervention Center, which assists schools’ ability to teach expectations and support positive behavior for all students.

The awards were administered through the Wisconsin Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Network, which is a research-based, schoolwide approach to improve school climate and create safer and more effective schools.

“This is great news and shows the hard work and dedication put in by teachers, students and staff is paying off,” said Wendell Waukau, superintendent of the Menominee Indian School District. “Receiving this recognition means our students understand what is expected of them, and that positive behavior is the norm and not an exception.”

“Having said that, it’s important for everyone to understand this is an ongoing process — not a one-time thing,” Wendell continued. “Behavior has a direct impact on academic success. And because we want all students to succeed, we’ll continue to focus on expecting positive behaviors in the future.”

Barker pleads no contest in infant death case

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 8:35pm
Sentencing set for Sept. 10By: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

A Shawano woman charged in the death of her 2-month-old child entered a plea of no contest Tuesday to two of the three felony counts against her.

Catherine R. Barker, 22, was found guilty as a result of her plea on charges of failing to report the death of the child and attempting to hide or bury the corpse.

A third count, of neglect resulting in the death of an infant, was dismissed as part of the plea agreement but can still be considered by the court at sentencing.

The infant, Brandon Barker, was her son. He was discovered by police during a welfare check Sept. 28, 2018.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 10.

Barker entered her no contest plea at what was intended to be a pre-trial conference Tuesday.

Barker was initially found not competent to stand trial in November and was ordered to be temporarily institutionalized to receive treatment and therapy that could make her mentally competent in the future.

She was subsequently ruled competent at a hearing on March 4.

According to the criminal complaint, Barker had sent text messages to two people, telling them the infant had died of suffocation from a blanket he had pulled up over his face and stating she planned to bury the child somewhere out in the country.

She also stated she planned to leave the area after burying the child, according to the complaint.

A pre-sentence investigation, expected to take about six weeks, will be done before Barker is sentenced.

The plea agreement does not set any limits on her possible sentence, and allows the state and defense to argue their recommendations.

Barker could face a maximum prison sentence of 12½ years and a $25,000 fine for attempting to hide or bury the corpse and 3½ years and a $10,000 fine for failing to report the death of the child.

She is being held on a $100,000 cash bond.

Public Record

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 8:34pm

Shawano Police Department

June 3

Police logged 31 incidents, including the following:

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

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported egged in the 1400 block of South Park Street.

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

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

June 3

Deputies logged 47 incidents, including the following:

Disturbances — Authorities responded to disturbances on Witt-Birn Town Line Road in the town of Wittenberg, Country Lane in the town of Washington, and at the North Star Casino, W12180 County Road A in Gresham. A 43-year-old Little Chute man was arrested for outstanding warrants at the casino. Authorities also arrested a 57-year-old Shawano woman for domestic violence-related disorderly conduct after a domestic disturbance on Hiawatha Court in the town of Wescott.

Trespass — Authorities responded to trespassing complaints on Webb Street in Wittenberg and state Highway 22 in the town of Washington.

Warrant — A 37-year-old Crandon woman was arrested on a probation and parole warrant on state Highway 117 in the town of Washington.

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported on Prouty Street in Wittenberg.

Theft — An attempted theft was reported on Cecil Street in Bonduel.

Shawano schools still ahead on open enrollment

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 8:33pm
257 coming from other districts; 208 leavingBy: 

Lee Pulaski [email protected]

The Shawano School District continues to bring more students into the district through the state’s open enrollment procedures than sees Shawano students leaving for other districts, but that gap is not by much.

The district expects to have 257 students open enrolling to Shawano from other districts once the new school year starts in September, according to Superintendent Gary Cumberland. The number of students within the district that are expected to enroll in other districts will be 208.

Statewide, parents were allowed to apply to other school districts between Feb. 1 and April 30.

Cumberland noted that a lot of the students in both of those figures are repeats, as the state does not require open enrollment students to apply annually.

Of the new ones coming in, there were 45 that applied, but the board had to reject six because they were special education students, and the board had set a zero increase for special education.

There are 33 new requests to attend outside the district, Cumberland said, but 28 of those students never attended Shawano public schools.

The Shawano School Board voted unanimously to approve the open enrollment numbers on Monday.

“They still have to decide whether to come here,” Cumberland said, noting that some families seeking to send their children to Shawano schools also apply to other districts and later decide which district to attend. “It’s hard to give you specific numbers until the school year gets started.”

In 2018, the district saw the open enrollment gap expand, but for several years prior, the gap had been getting smaller. Cumberland said the reasons families attend schools in districts outside where they live is because of parents commuting to work or certain schools having amenities that their home schools do not have.

“It’s easier for them because if they get sick, especially in the younger grades, they can get to them faster,” Cumberland said. “Many times, it’s a convenience.”

Mitchell sworn in to Clintonville council

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 8:22pm

Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

Edward “Rusty” Mitchell was sworn into office by Clintonville Clerk-Treasurer Peggy Johnson as the new District 5 alderman at a Common Council meeting May 30 at Clintonville City Hall. Mitchell will serve the last year of a term previously held by Maggie Tischauser, who moved out of the city and resigned her post.

Mitchell was chosen over two other applicants. Alderman Jim Supanich, who said he reviewed all the applications, said all three were qualified and he applauded their willingness to volunteer time to help the city.

A heating contractor, Mitchell said he has been a Clintonville resident for more than 50 years. He said he had previously led many local and state service and nonprofit organizations. “Local government has always been of interest to me,” Mitchell said. “Previously, time was an element of concern, and now I have the time.”

Nurse to graduates: This is just the beginning

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 8:21pm
Bettin receives alumni award at Clintonville commencementBy: 

Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Grace Kirchner Clintonville High School Alumnus Honoris Award winner Tina Bettin, front row, left, sits next to Kelly Zeinert, high school principal. Also pictured, back row from left, are Larry Czarnecki, of the board of education; Ben Huber, board of education president; and Dr. David Dyb, superintendent of schools.

An honored nurse practitioner with a passion for advocacy and rural health care initiatives had words of encouragement for the Clintonville High School Class of 2019. Tina Bettin, a 1981 graduate of the district, made her remarks Sunday afternoon as she was honored with the Alumnus Honoris Award during the school’s 134th commencement exercises.

“Graduation is just the beginning of your journey,” Bettin told the graduates. “Follow your dreams. Be true to your values and sense of purpose. Education can never be taken from you.”

Born Tina Kempf, Bettin grew up in Clintonville. She finds it impossible to believe how much time has gone by since her own graduation. “It seems like yesterday that I was in school here,” Bettin said.

The award is given to outstanding Clintonville alumni who have gone on to distinguish themselves in honorable endeavors. For Bettin, who decided to pursue nursing after graduation, it was a matter of following in her mother’s footsteps. “My mother was an associate nurse,” Bettin recalled.

Bettin received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She worked at the Clintonville Community Hospital and the Clintonville Park and Rec Department during her schooling. Bettin later received her Doctor of Nursing Practice and became a certified family nurse practitioner in 2008.

Teaching and advocating for other nurses has long been a passion for Bettin, who was involved in state legislative efforts to give Advanced Practice Registered Nurses the ability to independently prescribe medications. She currently practices mainly at the ThedaCare center in Manawa and has been active in securing state and national grants through the Rural Health Advisory Network. Bettin lives in Marion with her husband, Chris.

A winner of numerous nursing awards and honors, Bettin told the graduates to “take nothing for granted.” She also credits her parents, Kendal and the late Gert Kempf, with encouraging her to always do her best, even in the face of adversity. “I remember when my kindergarten teacher told my mother she didn’t think I would graduate from high school.”

“I never thought I’d be a part of this,” Bettin added. “The Clintonville School District provided me with a good education.”

Bettin also passed along to the graduates the importance of a strong work ethic — one modeled by her father, who was a farmer and a welder. “Work hard and enjoy,” she advised. “Treat others with respect. Find a passion in life and feel an accomplishment.”

Solution sought to changing water levels

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:24pm
Waterway users, homeowners await comment deadline, discuss long-term water level solutionBy: 

David Wilhelms Leader Correspondent

Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Sturgeon watchers gather earlier this spring for the annual migration from the lower Wolf River and Lake Poygan and Lake Winnebago at Shawano Dam off the end of Richmond Street in Shawano. Shawano Area Waterways Management (SAWM) addressed the ongoing controversy over levels necessary to sustain the sturgeon fishery as well as other species while providing enough depth to avoid damage to boats at its June 1 meeting. The group of property owners on Shawano Lake is awaiting the end of a federal permit comment period for a permit on water levels controlled at Shawano Dam. The group will also participate with the state Department of Natural Resource and area fishing clubs on a three-year study that may provide some scientific clarity on critical water levels.

Fingers are crossed by those interested in levels on Shawano area waters as they wait for a federal regulator’s comment period to close June 7.

No comments means the Federal Energy Resource Commission (FERC) can move closer to approving at least one more year for the current water level compromise covering Shawano Lake, the Channel between the lake and the Wolf River and the river above Shawano Dam near the Shawano paper mil.

Comments registered on the permit application means a delay of at least six more weeks, according to Gary Defere, chair of the Shawano Area Waterways Management (SAWM).

FERC can grant a one-year temporary permit for Eagle Creek Renewable Energy (ECRE), Shawano Dam operators, at current water levels as it has for the past several years. More desirable from the SAWM standpoint is a three-year permit. This time period would allow for the completion of a study on the effects of water levels on the Wolf River below the dam.

The four-year-long controversy had its latest review at the SAWM annual meeting June 1 at the Main Event in Cecil. Defere estimated the cost to SAWM and its approximately 600 members at $70,000 since 2015, when a landowner on the channel filed a FERC complaint.

He added low water levels have cost “thousands of dollars” in damage to boats in recent years. “I’m restricted in my enjoyment of the water with these low levels. Sometimes I can’t even get the boat off the lift,” he observed.

Jeff Puissant, a SAWM board member and a lead in the organization’s response to the water level issue, said five inches is the “difference between safe navigation and boat damage and even injuries with low water levels.”

Five inches are what separates the level of water at the Shawano Dam from the winter level of 802.4 feet above mean sea level from 802.9 during the “off-ice months”. The summer period of May 15 to September 15 protects walleye spawning in the spring and hibernating animals such as frogs in the fall, Puissant told the group of about 100 people during the meeting. The level at the dam controls the level on the lake, the channel, and the pool above the dam through automated water holds and releases.

Groups including Sturgeon for Tomorrow and Walleyes for Tomorrow have expressed concern for spawning habitat, especially for walleyed pike, downstream of Shawano Dam due to fluctuating level changes, and prompted the study proposal.

As reported in last Friday’s Leader, the DNR has asked SAWM to participate with the DNR and two fishing clubs in a study aimed at determining the impact.

The study will require water level gauges to be placed in key rocky and marshy spawning areas in Shawano Lake and below the Shawano dam, possibly as far downstream as Fremont and Lake Poygan.

The gauges would be monitored for up to three years to determine whether there has been any impact on walleye and sturgeon egg and larval success. After that time, the DNR said, discussions over water levels could be re-opened if it’s determined those levels are impacting spawning.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will conduct the analysis and “until we get these questions answered, we won’t get a permanent permit,” leaving SAWM and other interested groups hoping ECRE can get a temporary permit every year. Puissant added.

The lack of an overall plan for water levels could spur a change in floodplain mapping, putting more people into the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) designation with accompanying costly insurance premiums, Puissant warned.

Puissant expressed the hope that FERC defers to the expertise and advocacy for the study from the DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and approves the longer permit.

Public Record

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:22pm

Shawano Police Department

June 2

Police logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 55-year-old Shawano man was arrested for domestic violence-related disorderly conduct and strangulation, and a 31-year-old Shawano man arrested for domestic violence-related disorderly conduct and bail jumping after a domestic disturbance in the 200 block of South Hamlin Street.

Theft — Items were reported stolen from a vehicle in the 200 block of South Bartlett Street and prescription medication was reported stolen in the 400 block of East Division Street.

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

June 1

Police logged 28 incidents, including the following:

Disturbances — A 41-year-old Shawano man was arrested for disorderly conduct/domestic and bail jumping after a disturbance in the 200 block of South Union Street. A 26-year-old Shawano man arrested for disorderly conduct/domestic after a disturbance in the 400 block of South Bartlett Street. Police also responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at Memorial Park, 901 S. Lincoln St.

OWI — A 35-year-old Shawano man was arrested for operating while intoxicated after police responded to a fight in progress at the Gathering, 2600 E. Richmond St.

Disorderly — A 35-year-old Shawano woman arrested for battery to a peace officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in the 100 block of East Elizabeth Street. Police also responded to disorderly conduct complaints in the 400 block of South Union Street and 100 block of South Main Street.

Accident — Police responded to a property damage accident in the 1000 block of East Green Bay Street.

Vandalism — Vandalism was reported at the Ski Sharks boat landing, 211 N. Riverside Drive.

Shoplifting — People’s Express, 1206 E. Green Bay St., reported a shoplifting incident.

May 31

Police logged 24 incidents, including the following:

Threatening — Police responded to a threatening complaint in the 100 block of North Airport Drive.

Theft — Prescription drugs were reported stolen in the 1400 block of East Green Bay Street.

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint in the 700 block of South Main Street.

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

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

May 30

Police logged 32 incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem at Sacred Heart Catholic School, 124 E. Center St.

Truancy — Police logged two truancy complaints from Shawano Community Middle School, 1050 S. Union St.

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

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported in the 500 block of West Richmond Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

June 2

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Fire — Authorities responded to a vehicle fire on Northwestern Avenue in the town of Angelica.

Disturbances — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Maple Street in Birnamwood and a 57-year-old Shawano woman was arrested for disorderly conduct after domestic disturbance on Hiawatha Court in the town of Wescott.

Trespass — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Warrant — A 67-year-old Manitowoc man was arrested on a warrant on Old Lake Road in the town of Wescott.

June 1

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responding to a report of a fight in progress on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott arrested a 21-year-old Shawano man on a probation and parole warrant.

Warrant — A 51-year-old Shawano woman was arrested on a warrant and charged with bail jumping and possession of drug paraphernalia at the North Star Casino, W12180 County Road A in the town of Bartelme.

OWI — A 22-year-old De Pere man was arrested for operating while intoxicated after a minor accident on County Road MMM in the town of Richmond.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on River Bend Road in the town of Belle Plaine.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on Alberts Lane in the town of Waukechon.

Burglary — An attempted burglary was reported on state Highway 29 in the town of Seneca.

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem at Pond Park, 401 S. Mill St. in Wittenberg.

Accidents — Authorities responded to injury accidents on Main Laney Drive in the town of Maple Grove and County Road K in the town of Waukechon.

May 31

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Fire — Authorities responded to a vehicle fire on Cheese Factory Road in the town of Washington.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Nauman Road in the town of Green Valley.

OAR — A 26-year-old Keshena man was cited for operating after revocation on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott and a 30-year-old Gresham man was cited for OAR, also on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

May 30

Deputies logged 38 incidents, including the following:

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

Vandalism — Vandalism was reported on River Bank Road in the town of Pella.

Theft — Authorities responded to a property theft complaint on North Shore Drive in the town of Wescott.

Clintonville Police Department

June 2

Police logged nine incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance on South Main Street.

June 1

Police logged 16 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A family situation was reported on Seventh Street.

May 31

Police logged six incidents, including the following:

OAR — A citation for operating after revocation was issued on North 12th Street.

OWI — A 24-year-old Clintonville man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on North Main Street.

May 30

Police logged six incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported on West Green Tree Road and on North Main Street.

Shawano honors class of 2019

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:21pm
Music, four co-valedictorians send class off “The Hawk Way”By: 

Carol Ryczek [email protected]

Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Surrounded by school administrators and board members, Lindsey Roloff, one of four valedictorians for the Shawano Community High School class of 2019, receives her diploma folder from Shawano School District board member Mart Grams at the school’s graduation ceremony on Friday.

Although they were charged with the challenge to make their experiences “beyond Insta-worthy,” it was evident that phones, cameras, and photo-postings were going to make social media a busy place after Shawano Community High School’s graduation ceremony on Friday.

Lindsey Roloff, one of four co-valedictorians, reminded her classmates that their high school experience could be found in their search from self-worth.

“The term today is ‘Insta-worth,’” Roloff said. “Is what we are doing worthy of Instagram?”

The answer is yes, but so much more, she said. She said she hoped the individuals around her would be “happy and confident in the person you a have become.” Self worth, she said, was ultimately of more value than Insta-worth.

They may not have all ended up on Instagram, but family members and friends were busy taking pictures of the graduates, the Native American honor singers, senior vocal chorus, symphony orchestra and band at the ceremony at the SCHS gym.

The ceremony honored 137 graduates and three visiting students who received foreign scholar awards. Not at the ceremony, but celebrating with her class was Tori DePerry, who wore her cap and gown at the state high school track and field championship in La Crosse on Friday.

Co-valedictorian Alice Hoffmann said she valued the people they were able to meet in Shawano’s small town environment. The value of those connections was echoed by Karson Rades, a co-valedictorian, who acknowledged that it was time to explore, but “real quality friendships would prevail.”

Co-valedictorian Karelyn Malliet reminded the class to create their own path. “We struggle to live up to our own expectations,” she said, “plus the expectations of everyone else. Everyone expects something different of us.”

District Superintendent Gary Cumberland drove those points home, using a learner’s permit and key as metaphors for the direction the students would be traveling.

High school, he said, provided a “learner’s permit for the rest of your life.” Like a learner’s permit, it only offers the beginning of a lifetime of experiences.

The key, he added, is “something you crafted for yourself for the past 12 years.” Once a door is opened with that key, he said, “you craft another key to open the next doors.”

He said he knew that he would see the members of the class in the future, ‘Making a difference the Hawk way.”

Business theft case deferred in plea agreement

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:18pm
Beechys given 15 years to pay money backBy: 

Warren Bluhm [email protected]

Prosecutors have made a deferred judgment agreement with a Marion couple accused of theft in a business setting in connection with a 2015 auction, avoiding a trial that had been set to begin May 29.

Leroy and Mary Beechy, who own and operate Beechy’s Dairy Cattle Auctions LLC auctioneers, were accused of using much of the proceeds of a farm auction for their personal and business use that were supposed to go to Nerfarms and farm owner James L. Nerenhausen Jr.

During an appearance before Oconto County Judge Jay N. Conley, the Beechys pleaded no contest to felony charges of theft in a business setting and misdemeanor charges of issuing a worthless check and theft by false representation. Under the agreement, Conley suspended the felony case for up to 15 years and scheduled sentencing on the misdemeanor counts for June 27.

The main condition of the agreement is that the couple pay restitution to Nerenhausen of $375,234, beginning with a $100,000 payment no later than the date of sentencing and continuing at a minimum of $1,500 monthly after that.

Once they finish paying off that debt, the state agrees to ask for dismissal of the felony charge. If they violate the terms of the agreement, the case goes back to the judge for sentencing, with a possible maximum of 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

According to court records, Nerenhausen hired Beechy’s to conduct the auction, which took place Nov. 11-12, 2015. The sale grossed $655,775 with a net of $590,725 to Nerfarms after costs and commissions were subtracted. Beechy’s issued a check for $577,234 on Dec. 17, 2015.

However, the check was returned for insufficient funds, and Nerenhausen demanded full restitution. He was paid $100,000 on Feb. 9, 2016, and another $102,000 a month later, leaving a balance of $388,725 at the time.

On April 7, 2016, Nerfarms filed suit for the unpaid balance, and Conley issued a default judgment in July 2016 ordering Beechy’s to pay the remaining amount.

With the full outstanding balance still unpaid, prosecutors filed the criminal charges against Leroy Beechy on June 1, 2017, and Mary Beechy was charged Oct. 10, 2018. Since that time the Beechys have made further payments to bring the balance down to the amount in the deferred judgment agreement.

Summer tourism off to strong start

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 1:31pm
It all depends on the weatherBy: 

David Wilhelms Leader Correspondent

Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Swimmers took advantage of sunny skies and warm temperatures at Shawano Lake County Park over the Memorial Day weekend. The park will see steady use by sunbathers, swimmers and boaters this season.

Will the Memorial Day weekend’s sunny weather and tourist numbers hold up for the rest of summer 2019?

“Hopefully, we’re off to a good start,” Patti Peterson said of the traditional kickoff to summer and its economic impact. The Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce’s tourism manager said she didn’t have any definitive numbers but “anywhere I went this weekend, there were lots of people. I know the motels were full.”

She cited the “drifter car” races at the US Air Motorsports facility east of Shawano and the flea market at the county fairgrounds opening for several days were contributors to the crowds. Even on the Tuesday following the holiday, Peterson said the chamber office was busy with visitors and that was unusual. She added the consensus from the Tuesday meeting of the Tourism Council board of directors was that “everyone talked about being busy.”

“Really anything that sets the tone, so to speak, is good,” Peterson said. “But you really can’t gauge by one weekend’s activity.”

Chad Kary, owner of the Launching Pad in Shawano, noted this Memorial Day weekend was better for his business than 2018, “We actually had a very nice Friday, definitely up from last year. Saturday was about the same.”

Whether this means the strong weekend will translate into a profitable summer season, Kary said, “It’s absolutely weather-dependent. Anyone who has a cabin or cottage up here is going to come up anyway and, if it’s raining, they’ll find something to do, but good weather is absolutely a must for local people.”

He noted this spring’s prolonged rain and cold had put him about two weeks behind in setting up his outdoor bar and volleyball facility, “so that’s affected us.” The Memorial Day weekend has him feeling optimistic about the summer.

Kristina LeVan, state Department of Tourism senior communications specialist, echoed those observations.

“Our initial feedback was that traffic (levels) were good and that’s always great news,” LeVan said.

She noted gas prices are about the same as they were last year, encouraging travel. The Gas Buddy website put the state average cost of gas at $2.805 per gallon with Shawano County showing a slightly lower range of $2.73-$2.79. LeVan agreed that a strong Memorial Day is a “good, strong start to the season” but that it was hard to say if it’s a predictor.

Bev Hacker of Hacker Bait and Tackle on Shawano Lake’s north side, called the weekend “terrific. It started on Thursday and stayed that way through Monday.”

She said the store’s volume of business was about the same as 2018 “but Saturday was maybe a little busier than last year because of the perfect weather. People were just dying to get out on the water because it was the first really nice, hot day.”

The big sellers this weekend, Hacker noted, were crappie minnows. The crappies have been hitting since the ice went out, she said. Now the bluegills are starting to nest so that fishing should pick up, she said.

Unlike some of the other observers, Hacker said the Memorial Day weekend is a good forecaster for the coming summer, “Yes, it does predict a good season … all we need now is a little cooperation from the weather.”

Greg Seymour, sales general manager at American Marine & Motorsports in Shawano, agreed, “It was a good weekend with good traffic” in all of the dealership’s departments including parts and service.

He added, “The weather was a little bit of an issue” hurting boat rentals due to the rain. He thought their overall business was “up a little” over 2018, noting the Memorial Day weekend is the busiest of the season, especially for new boat deliveries and people getting their boats out of storage.


Menominee, Oconto, and Shawano Counties showed “Direct Visitor Spending” growth in 2018 with Menominee County (excluding the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin) growing at 5.3%, Oconto County growing at 2.5% and Shawano County at 2.3%. Tourism employment showed a small drop with a net loss of 11 jobs across all three counties. The three counties shared in a $21.6 billion state tourism industry in 2018, according to state statistics. Oconto County brought in $89.3 million, Shawano Country logged $68.5 million, and Menominee County brought in $2.3 million.

The three counties contributed a total of $16.5 million in state and local taxes last year.

DNR raises new concern over lake water levels

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 5:25am
Agency says fluctuating water levels could hurt spawningBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Leader File Photo As Memorial Day weekend approached in 2018, the water levels on Shawano waterways were below normal levels, causing concerns for boaters and other river and lake users.

State environmental officials have floated a new concern about fluctuating water levels on the Wolf River and Shawano Lake that could imperil a compromise reached last year over how much water should be retained at the Shawano dam, located just off Richmond Street in Shawano.

Based on boater safety concerns, an agreement was reached last year to maintain water levels at the dam during the summer at the volume they had been kept at for some 30 years.

It was agreed that water levels would be lowered during the fall and winter.

Now, however, the state Department of Natural Resources is raising concerns about what impact the changing water levels could have on fish spawning.

In a letter from the DNR to Shawano Area Waterways Management (SAWM), the agency wrote that DNR Fisheries staff has expressed concerns about what impact holding back water levels during the fall and winter months could have on the eggs and fry deposited in the grassy marches and rocky shorelines during the spring spawning season.

“While decreasing water levels happen naturally each year, the additional withdrawal of water from the river may have a negative impact on the success rate of the spawn,” the DNR wrote. “At this time, we do not have data to aid us in determining if an impact will be felt.”

The DNR has asked SAWM to participate with the DNR and two fishing clubs — Walleyes for Tomorrow and Sturgeon for Tomorrow — in a study aimed at determining the impact.

The study will require water level gauges to be placed in key rock and marsh spawning areas in Shawano Lake and below the Shawano dam, possibly as far downstream as Fremont and Lake Poygan.

The gauges would be monitored “over the next few years” to determine whether there has been any impact on walleye and sturgeon egg and larval success.

After that time, the DNR said, discussions over water levels could be re-opened if it’s determined those levels are impacting spawning.

The Shawano dam was mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in May of last year to reduce its target elevation from 802.9 feet mean sea level (msl) to 802.5 feet msl, resulting in a difference of more than 4 inches in the water level for the river, channel and lake.

The lower water levels resulted in multiple reports of damage to boats and near-injury while the new level was in effect.

A compromise was reached in June allowing the operator of the Shawano dam, Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, to return to a target elevation of 802.9 feet from May 25 to Sept. 15 each year.

The water level would then be lowered to 802.5 from September to May.

That agreement was not a permanent fix, however, and would have been subject to review even without the new spawning concerns.

The dam had been operating year-round at a target level of 802.9 feet for about 30 years before a single property owner complaint was filed in 2015.

SAWM board member Jeff Puissant said a final resolution and final approval to leave the water at the higher level in the off-ice months is still at hand.

“I feel like we’re moving in that direction,” he said.

Puissant said there’s no way to know what the impact on spawning might be until the study is done.

“You just like to hope that it doesn’t further delay our coming to a permanent resolution,” he said. “I feel like if we can continue to work with the DNR and bring in the two fishing groups that we can collectively come to a solution. The sooner we can wrap this up and put it to rest the better.”

Puissant said the original solution that was proposed, to keep the water at the higher levels year-round, ran into DNR concerns about floodplain mapping and flooding issues.

“So, we said, ‘Hey, what if we just raise the level during the navigation season,’” Puissant said. “It was kind of a happy medium.”

Puissant also said that waiting to raise the water level until May 15 should keep the spawning season safe.

“In most cases, it gets us passed the spawn season, so that’s why I’m thinking it should be a non-event,” he said.

Now that the first fall and winter under the agreement during which water levels were kept lower has passed, it remains to be seen what was accomplished, according to Puissant.

“I don’t know that there was a specified goal that they were hoping to achieve,” he said. “We thought maybe drawing that down a little bit will reduce ice shove damage and other things, so maybe there would be some type of carry-through benefit that would apply, but that didn’t occur. We still saw the same level of ice shove and shoreline damage.”

SAWM will hold its annual meeting Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Main Event in Cecil, at which time the group will seek volunteers and discuss how it will participate in the spawning study.

After that, Puissant said, “we’ll sit down with the DNR and the two fishing clubs to define the scope of the project.”

Public Record

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 5:22am

Shawano Police Department

May 29

Police logged 27 incidents, including the following:

Assault — A sexual assault reported by Shawano County Human Services was under investigation.

Juvenile — Police responded to juvenile problems at Memorial Park, 901 S. Lincoln St.; Shawano Community High School, 220 County Road B; and at Fifth and Washburn streets.

Drug Offenses — A 19-year-old Green Bay man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, obstructing an officer and was cited for underage alcohol consumption after police responded to a suspicious person complaint in the 700 block of Waukechon Street. A 19-year-old Seymour woman was also cited for underage alcohol consumption. In a separate incident, a 39-year-old Shawano man was arrested for possession of a Schedule II narcotic, possession of a Schedule IV narcotic and possession of an illegally obtained prescription drug at Lincoln and Division streets.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 29

Deputies logged 44 incidents, including the following:

Bail Jumping — A 17-year-old Bowler woman was arrested for bail jumping and resisting arrest on Evergreen Road in the town of Almon.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Spaulding Street in Tigerton.

Vandalism — Vandalism was reported on Old Lake Road in the town of Wescott.

Trespass — Trespassing was reported on County Road M in the town of Richmond.

Shoplifting — A shoplifting incident was reported on Warrington Avenue in Cecil.

Fraud — Authorities investigated a fraud complaint on state Highway 29 in the town of Morris.

Threatening — A 46-year-old Shawano man was arrested on a probation and parole warrant and for battery/threat to a law enforcement officer on Elm Grove Road in the town of Pella.

Warrant — A 38-year-old Hatley man was arrested on a probation and parole warrant on State Road in Birnamwood.

Smalley Park gets second chance at grant

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:57am
$218,000 from DNR will put boat launch, fire pit back in plansBy: 

Carol Ryczek [email protected]

Smalley Park will be receiving a $218,000 grant, Shawano Park and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks announced at a Park and Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday.

Hendricks said the city had originally learned that it had come within 1/10 of a point of receiving the grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, but had been denied. He said one of the agencies that had been awarded the grant was unable to fulfill the requirements, and the grant money became available for Smalley Park projects.

“Some components like the canoe/kayak launch and fire pit are back on the table for discussion,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks shared the news to commission members as they reviewed current progress in city park progress. Hendricks noted that although work has begun at Smalley Park, recent rains have delayed some of the excavation work. Work is now being done in the area where the Ski Sharks, a Shawano water ski troupe, perform, he said.

He added that a storage and concessions building used by the Ski Sharks will remain in use for this year, as a permanent building will not be completed in time for the start of this year’s ski season. Additional projects that will be made possible by the grant money will be scheduled for construction next year, he said.

In reviewing the Smalley Park site, commission members noted the lack of geese at the park. Hendricks said that geese have been less of a problem, most likely due to heavy April snows for two consecutive years. That disrupted their usual patterns of behavior and made it less likely for the geese to return, he said.

He said he is studying ways to discourage any returning geese from making the park a permanent home. Effective tools are radio-controlled boats and drones, he said. Dogs and hikers who try to shoo them away just push them temporarily into the water and are not effective deterrents, he said.

Franklin Park

A bathroom across the street from Franklin Park will be built this year, Hendricks said, but will not be available for use until next year.

The bathroom will have a green space buffer and will be heated, though is not expected to be comfortable for year-round use, he said. Bids on the project are expected to be selected by mid-July with construction beginning in September.


Two projects involving both public education and feedback are now underway, Hendricks reported.

The first is an effort to provide information and collect opinions on the possibility of a city of Shawano-Shawano School District joint venture to create a recreation center next to Shawano Community High School.

Hendricks outlined a calendar including public information sessions in Shawano and the towns of Wescott, Richmond, Waukechon and Belle Plaine. He said there are also plans to attend club meetings and open houses at the high school and Shawano City Hall.

“Our goal is to provide factual information, not to persuade,” Hendricks said.

The proposal calls for a warm water pool, running track, gym, fitness area, and racketball court attached to the existing pool area at Shawano Community High School. Both the school district and Shawano Common Council have agreed to study the idea, though neither has made a commitment to the project itself.

“We will do a survey,” Hendricks said. “If the community doesn’t want it, it won’t happen.”

Plans are to present information in June and July, conduct the survey in August and September, and if the survey points to community support, place the item on a future ballot as a school referendum.

Efforts to gather community input on current Shawano parks is also underway, he said.

Hendricks and Trish Nau, principal recreation planner for the East Central Regional Planning Commission, outlined an update of a five-year park plan that is now getting started. The plan begins with community surveys.

The project is an important part of the planning process, Hendricks said.

“I would say that 85 percent of the five year plan from before are now completed,” he said.

Plan commission OKs Stubborn Brothers Brewery mural

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:56am
The question of whether the mural was a sign settledBy: 

Carol Ryczek [email protected]

Contributed photo A mural on the side of the Stubborn Brothers Brewery, now under construction in downtown Shawano, was approved by the Shawano Plan Commission on Wednesday.

A mural is not necessarily a sign.

That distinction, made at the Shawano Plan Commission on Wednesday, will allow the Stubborn Brothers to proceed with a mural on the side of its new brewhouse and restaurant at 220 S. Main St., Shawano. Final approval by the Shawano Common Council is required.

The plan commission recommended approval of a mural on the south face of the brewery’s two story building. The design includes both the letters “SBB” and the words “Stubborn Brothers Brewery.”

Aaron Gellings, a co-owner of the brewery, said that the mural would be painted directly on the building with the intent of having it fade, creating a “historical” feel to the building and the display.

City administrator Eddie Sheppard noted that if it were a sign, it would not meet the current city sign code, but murals are not addressed in that ordinance.

“The word ‘mural’ is not in the code, so it is allowed,’” he said. “We don’t restrict murals.” The planning commission’s role, he said, is to determine whether or not the item was a mural.

Commission member Robyn Shingler read a portion of the sign code that stated it did not apply to “works of art which in no way identify a product including wall murals.”

Mayor Ed Whealon asked for clarification that the message and artwork would be painted directly on the side of the building, and not on a materials that will be attached to the building. Gellings said that the design called for it to be painted on the building itself.

Commission member Terry Hilgenberg made the motion to define the installation as a mural and therefore not subject to the city’s signage ordinance and therefore allowed.

Sheppard noted that the commission may choose to review the sign ordinance in the future to clarify the language.

Hilgenberg added that, in the future, he would like to review specific city ordinances that affect plan commission decisions. For example, he said, he feels that churches should be allowed to locate in vacated strip mall units without needing a conditional use permit.

In other business, the commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit for a 150 foot tower by U.S. Cellular at 818 E. Center St., Shawano. The tower, which meets Federal Aviation Administration standards, will not be lit and will be topped by a 10-foot lightning rod.

Paul Reinhardt, with U.S. Cellular, said the tower will help expand service from Marathon County to Green Bay. The Center Street tower would serve the Shawano area. It will be sited on a 50-square foot area surrounded by a fence with three strands of barbed wire, he said.

Brian Bunke, city zoning administrator, said the location in an industrial area was ideal for this type of installation.

Hilgenberg and commission member Randy Bohm abstained from the U.S. Cellular vote.

Problems at Pond Park are accelerating

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 7:23pm
More police presence or removing the basketball courts are optionsBy: 

Miriam Nelson, [email protected]

A group of area residents complaining about noise and foul language at the Pond Park basketball court brought their concerns to the Wittenberg Village Board meeting May 20.

Randy and Jackie Berndt, who two weeks ago asked the village to investigate forming its own police department, attended the meeting with a half dozen of their neighbors.

Randy Berndt complained that youngsters are playing basketball long after the court’s closing time, playing loud music and using obscene language. The basketball court closes at 9 p.m., curfew is at 10 p.m., and the park closes at 11 p.m.

The number of children causing the trouble varies, but there have been as many as 16 there at night, according to Berndt. He noted that it’s mostly fourth- through seventh-graders.

“I’ve been there seven years and it has escalated, ” Berndt said.

Berndt teaches in the school district and knows most of the children, he said. On several occasions, he has talked with them, and when they don’t leave, he calls the police. The Shawano County Sheriff’s Department cannot ticket the kids because there are no fines connected with the appropriate village ordinances.

Trustee Dave Timm said Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District Superintendent Garrett Rogowski told him the kids were welcome to use the high school’s outdoor courts, which are well-lit and have security cameras.

The security cameras at Pond Park don’t reach the basketball courts, and there is no safe place to install one, Village President William Switalla he said.

Berndt would like a new court built in Washington Park, away from any residential area. Trustee Paul Yaeger said he would explore the cost of building a court but cautioned that it’s unclear how soon the village could fit it into the budget.

Meanwhile, Switalla will ask the sheriff’s department to increase patrols in Pond Park between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., and the village board will start the process of assessing fines to the ordinances. If the problem persists, the basketball court will be removed, even if a new one is not built in Washington Park, trustees warned.

The village pays $75 per hour for 40 hours per month, about $36,000 per year, for patrol service from the sheriff’s department. There is a office and computer at the community center for the officers.

Traci Matsche, village clerk/treasurer, said Chief Deputy George Lenzner indicated he would be willing to discuss options for increased police presence with the village.

Lenzner told Matsche it would cost approximately $150,000 to $200,000 per year, which would include salary and benefits, to assigned a dedicated officer from the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department to Wittenberg.

To start a village police department would cost about $300,000 the first year, which includes buying a cruiser and equipment, and about $200,000 per year after that. The biggest expense would be installing a digital storage unit and evidence locker on-site, Lenzner said.

“By having our own police officer, that person would be responsible for all the processing and court appearance time, which would cut into patrol time, which is what we want more of,” Yaeger said.

Switalla noted the village would also have the additional headache of dealing with personnel issues.

Public Record

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 7:22pm

Shawano Police Department

May 28

Police logged 30 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 14-year-old Shawano girl was arrested for battery and resisting arrest after a disturbance at Franklin and Second streets.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen in the 200 block of East Maurer Street.

OAR — A 55-year-old Suring man was cited for operating after revocation and arrested for outstanding warrants at County Road B and Prospect Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 28

Deputies logged 37 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Deputies assisted Shawano police with a disturbance at Franklin and Second streets.

Threatening — Authorities investigated a threatening complaints at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School, 400 W. Grand Ave. in Wittenberg, and on Church Street in Tigerton.

Burglary — A burglary was reported on Hofa Park Drive in the town of Maple Grove.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on Freeborn Street in Cecil.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Grand Avenue in Wittenberg.

Clintonville Police Department

May 28

Police logged seven incidents, including the following:

Harassment — A harassment issue was reported at the Clintonville High School, 64 W. Green Tree Road.

Warrant — A search warrant was executed on North 12th Street. A 30-year-old man and a 33-year-old man were subsequently taken into custody on warrants.

County, internet provider address broadband concerns

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:19am
Proposed agreement requests use of county towers in Gresham, LeopolisBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Shawano County officials held a meeting with Bertram Communications on Tuesday to address concerns raised at a County Board meeting last week about unresolved details in the company’s plans to bring broadband service to rural areas of the county.

Emergency Management Director James Davel told the County Board he had concerns about Bertram’s proposed use of the county’s communications towers in Gresham and Leopolis.

Those concerns were raised a month after Bertram’s business development director, Mark Dodge, appeared before the County Board and said those services would be ready to go in two weeks.

“We’ve relayed to (Dodge) throughout the process that if your communication equipment hinders 911, it’s a no-go from the start,” Davel said.

The Gresham communications tower is the county’s main tower for 911 service, Davel said.

Davel said there were also concerns that Bertram’s equipment could exceed load limits at the site.

Davel also said the previously proposed contract did not specify any payment to the county for use of the Leopolis and Gresham towers, but offered free internet service to the county in lieu of payment.

“The county doesn’t need free internet at Gresham or Leopolis,” Davel said.

“We all want broadband for the rural community, but not at the expense of the county,” he said. “The county should get a fair deal in this process.”

County Administrative Coordinator Brent Miller said Tuesday’s meeting addressed the concerns raised by Davel last week and that contracts for use of the Leopolis and Gresham towers would be brought to the public safety committee on June 5.

“We have a different contract than what was originally given to us,” Miller said. “It’s a lot more in-depth and detailed.”

Bertram Communications, of Random Lake, is partnering with Shawano County Economics Progress, Inc. to serve the rural areas in the county with high-speed internet.

The project is totaling over $680,000, with $274,000 coming from a state grant that Shawano County Economic Progress Inc. secured.

Bertram has already installed equipment to serve some portions of the county, including equipment located on silos and other structures. The county has not been involved in those other, third-party agreements.

3 arrested in fatal explosion in Marion

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:17am
44-year-old Illinois resident killedBy: 

Leader Staff

Three people have been arrested for negligent homicide after an explosive device in Marion killed a 44-year-old Illinois resident Sunday.

Waupaca County authorities were called to a report of an explosion at E6300 County Road S in Marion just before 9 p.m.

The caller reported that a piece of metal struck the Illinois resident, who was later pronounced dead at the scene by the medical examiner.

According to the sheriff’s department, individuals ignited a homemade explosive device that did not ignite properly. The metal tubing failed, causing the metal to explode and shrapnel hit the victim.

The sheriff’s department would not clarify exactly what kind of explosive device was involved and said no further information would be provided Tuesday afternoon.

A 38-year-old New London man and a 43-year-old Clintonville man were taken into custody Monday. A third person, a 60-year-old Marion man, was arrested Tuesday. Charges have been referred for homicide by negligent handling of dangerous weapons, explosives, or fire, according to the department’s news release.

No names have been released.

Charges had not yet been filed as of Tuesday afternoon.

The sheriff’s department said the case is still under investigation.

Public Record

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:15am

Shawano Police Department

May 27

Police logged 12 incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized at Lieg Avenue and Evergreen Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St.

Accident — Police responded to a property damage accident in the 200 block of South Washington Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 27

Deputies logged 41 incidents, including the following:

Theft — Tools were reported stolen on Hunting Road in the town of Grant.

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized on Edwards Street in the town of Herman.

Burglary — A burglary was reported on Hillview Road in the town of Herman.

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

OWI — A 51-year-old man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on state Highway 47 in the town of Lessor.

Clintonville Police Department

May 27

Police logged 11 incidents, including the following:

Suspicious — A suspicious incident was reported on Anne Street.

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported on Auto Street.