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Blue Jean Nation founder visiting county

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:19pm
McCabe considering run for governor
MIKE MCCABE

Mike McCabe, the founder of a nonpartisan group, Blue Jean Nation, will visit Shawano County next week.

McCabe will speak at the historic rail depot in Eland at 5:30 p.m. and at the Shawano Civic Center at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. A potluck at 5 p.m. will precede the Civic Center presentation.

McCabe is the author of “Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics.”

Blue Jean Nation promotes itself as “working to promote the transformation of democratic institutions that are failing America.” The organization says that political professionals from both major parties have a grip on U.S. democracy, and that party establishments need to allow ordinary people to have more power in government.

McCabe is considering running for governor in 2018 but is unsure whether he would run as a Democrat or independent.

McCabe, 56, was the founding member and leader of the political watchdog group the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign from 2000 to 2015. He lobbied the Legislature on campaign finance and ethics issues. He left the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign two years ago to create Blue Jean Nation.

Public Record

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:17pm

Shawano Police Department

May 11

Police logged 30 incidents, including the following:

Fire — Authorities responded to a fire at Aarrowcast, 2900 E. Richmond St., after a lava spill caught fire in the building. The building was evacuated and authorities were on scene for about an hour. No injuries were reported.

Burglary — A burglary was reported at the Super 8 Motel, 211 Waukechon St.

Theft — A laptop was reported stolen from a vehicle in the 1100 block of South Franklin Street.

Theft — A bike was reported stolen in the 100 block of West Lieg Avenue.

Warrant — A 53-year-old man was arrested on a warrant at Sawyer and Main streets.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 11

Deputies logged 45 incidents, including the following:

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

Warrant — A 26-year-old Shawano woman was arrested on a warrant on Plum Lane in the town of Richmond.

Warrant — A 21-year-old Wittenberg man was taken into custody on a probation and parole warrant on Westgor Avenue in Wittenberg.

Warrant — A 32-year-old Gillett man was arrested on a warrant on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott.

Fire — Authorities responded to a vehicle fire on Hofa Park Drive in the town of Maple Grove.

Warrant — A 25-year-old Clintonville man was arrested on a warrant and cited for operating without a license and speeding on County Road M in the town of Belle Plaine.

Warrant — A 55-year-old male passenger in a vehicle was arrested on a warrant and the driver, a 48-year-old Eland man, was cited for operating after revocation on Front Street in Wittenberg.

Warrant — A 53-year-old Keshena man was arrested on a warrant and cited for operating after revocation on Sawyer Street in the city of Shawano.

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department

May 11

Police logged three incidents, including the following:

Child Abuse — A child abuse complaint was under investigation.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance on River Road in Bowler.

Clintonville Police Department

May 11

Police logged 10 incidents, including the following:

Accident — Police responded to an accident at Main and Seventh streets.

Accident — Police responded to an accident at Main and First streets.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on North Main Street.

Trespass — Police responded to a trespassing complaint on Primrose Circle.

3 more charged in massive burglary operation

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 7:37am
Large cache of guns among items seizedBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

Three teens have been charged with being party to a string of Shawano County burglaries that appear to be connected to a massive burglary operation busted in November.

Four people were arrested and charged in November in what authorities have called the largest burglary operation seen in the county. Those cases are pending.

Charges against the three new defendants were recently filed.

Dennis J. Thiex II, 17, of Wittenberg, is accused of seven burglaries, most of which allegedly took place in July and August.

Thiex is charged with seven counts of burglary, including alleged break-ins to storage sheds, garages and trailer homes in the villages of Mattoon and Bowler, and in the town of Hutchins, according to the criminal complaint. He also faces two felony counts of theft because of the value and type of items allegedly stolen, including guns, and five misdemeanor counts of theft.

Antonio V. Depaoli, 19, of Clintonville, is accused of being party to three of those break-ins. He faces three felony counts of burglary and three misdemeanor counts of theft.

Logan J. McGeshick-Savola, 17, of Bowler, is charged with two felony counts of burglary and two misdemeanor counts of theft.

Each of the burglary counts carries a maximum possible penalty of 12½ years in prison and $25,000 fine. Felony theft carries a maximum carries a possible six years in prison and $10,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint, a witness observed a vehicle at the time of an Aug. 11 burglary in Mattoon that belonged to the Thiex family.

The complaint states Thiex admitted to authorities his involvement in “about 10 burglaries,” and implicated Depaoli and McGeshick-Savola in some of those crimes.

More than 300 items listed as stolen in burglaries and thefts since July 1 — including a cache of 60 guns — were seized on Nov. 21 when authorities executed search warrants in Mattoon and town of Birnamwood, according to the criminal complaints.

Additional stolen items were recovered a week later with the execution of a second search warrant at the same Birnamwood property belonging to Keith W. Bernarde, 61.

Bernarde was arrested in November on felony charges of receiving stolen property, maintaining a drug trafficking place and possession with intent to deliver marijuana.

Lorenzo M. Thiex, 20, of Mattoon, was also arrested in November and is facing 11 felony counts of burglary, five counts of felony theft and 16 misdemeanor counts, including theft and criminal damage to property.

Bernarde is Thiex’s uncle, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities described Bernarde as the “fence” in the burglary operation, either buying goods from Thiex or exchanging them for drugs.

Two others were also arrested in November.

Ayesha M. Dodge, 20, of Mattoon, was charged with one count of burglary and a felony count of theft.

Forrest L. Sparks, 21, of Gresham, also faces one count of burglary and misdemeanor theft, as well as misdemeanor criminal damage to property.

According to the criminal complaint, items recovered in the search warrants included guns, sporting equipment, tools, antiques, electronic appliances, and about two dozen car batteries allegedly stolen from vehicles at Mattoon Auto in July.

The search warrants and arrests came as a result of authorities’ investigation into a series of burglaries dating from July to October that included residences, businesses, garages, storage sheds and camper trailers in Bowler and Mattoon and the towns of Hutchins and Almon.

Dennis Thiex, Depaoli and McGeshick-Savola are all scheduled for initial court appearances on May 30.

Competency exam ordered for bank robbery suspect

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 7:36am
Appeals court overturned convictionBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

A competency exam was ordered this week for a Shawano man whose bank robbery conviction three years ago was overturned on appeal.

Darrin H. Church, 52, was sentenced in July 2014 to five years in prison and 10 years extended supervision.

Church had pleaded no contest to charges of using the threat of force to rob the CoVantage Credit Union at 911 E. Green Bay St. and attempting to rob Cash Tyme at 705 E. Green Bay St. in April 2013.

The District IV Court of Appeals reversed Church’s convictions on those charges, as well as bail jumping and other misdemeanors.

His case was scheduled for review in Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court on Wednesday, though Church was unable to appear in person because of a medical condition, according to court records. He is being held at Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun.

According to the Department of Corrections, Church’s condition is “deteriorating,” court records state.

Church’s attorney and the state agreed that Church should be evaluated for competency before a new trial takes place. The results of that exam are due by June 2.

A state appeals court in March reversed Church’s conviction because Circuit Judge William Kussel Jr. did not ask Church at the plea hearing if he knew he was entitled to a unanimous jury verdict.

The court returned the case to Kussel with instructions that the district attorney has to prove Church understood all the rights he was giving up prior to pleading no contest.

During a December 2015 appeals hearing in Shawano County Circuit Court, Church’s defense counsel argued that the court did not conduct a proper question-and-answer with the defendant with respect to his rights and the possible outcome for a jury trial, and that the sentence for time in prison was not calculated correctly.

Kussel denied the motion.

According to the appeals opinion:

During the plea hearing, Kussel noted that the defendant had checked the boxes on the plea questionnaire, including his right to a unanimous verdict. Kussel learned from Church’s attorney, Steven Weerts, that on or near the day of the hearing, he had discussed with Church the constitutional rights he was giving up by entering a plea.

Kussel then addressed Church that he was giving up his right to remain silent, right to proof beyond reasonable doubt and other rights a defendant has at trial.

Church said he understood what he was giving up. However, Kussel didn’t ask Church about the right to a unanimous verdict, and one omission was enough to invalidate the plea.

“(W)e conclude that the circuit court’s failure to engage in a personal colloquy with Church regarding jury unanimity was a plea colloquy defect,” the court said in its 10-page unsigned opinion.

The criminal complaint alleged that Church entered CoVantage Credit Union on April 8, 2013, and gave a teller a note demanding money. He left with more than $6,000 but was arrested a short time later and the money was recovered.

Just before the CoVantage robbery, Church had entered the nearby Cash Tyme Store, gave the teller a note and then told her it was a joke. He left with no funds.

Church had entered another bank earlier the same day but didn’t use the note he had written.

Church was initially found incompetent to stand trial, but that was reversed after a doctor concluded Church had been faking his incompetency.

Public Record

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 7:28am

Shawano Police Department

May 10

Police logged 24 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Andrews and Division streets.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem in the 200 block of Humphrey Circle.

Theft — An attempted theft from a vehicle was reported in the 1200 block of Valley Lane.

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

Warrant — A 49-year-old man was arrested on a warrant in the 100 block of South Union Street.

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 in the 800 block of East Richmond Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 10

Deputies logged 28 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A subject was arrested for operating while intoxicated on state Highway 22 in the town of Belle Plaine.

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

Suspicious — Authorities responded to a suspicious person complaint on Church Street in Bonduel.

Suspicious — Authorities responded to a suspicious person complaint on Warrington Avenue in Cecil.

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Webb Street in Wittenberg.

Assist — Deputies assisted Shawano police with a disturbance on Richmond Street in the city.

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Korth Road in the town of Washington after a driver’s air bag went off after the vehicle struck a deer.

Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department

May 10

Police logged six incidents, including the following:

Vandalism — Vandalism was reported on County Road G in Gresham.

Reckless Driving — Police responded to a reckless driving complaint on County Road A in the town of Bartelme.

Clintonville Police Department

May 10

Police logged 10 incidents, including the following:

Theft — Police responded to a theft complaint at Clintonville High School, 64 Green Tree Road.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint at Clintonville High School, 64 Green Tree Road.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at Clintonville High School, 64 Green Tree Road.

Theft — Police responded to a theft complaint on County Road I.

Drug Offense — A subject was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and a probation hold after a traffic stop on County Road I.

Campaign launched for Bonduel schools

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 7:15am
Political newcomers help form group for referendumBy: 

Scott Williams, swilliams@wolfrivermedia.com


Leader Photo by Scott Williams A Bonduel resident shows support for the school district Wednesday with a yard sign that could be joined by other signs soon in a campaign to pass a school referendum.

There will be a new entry this year in the Fourth of July parade in Bonduel: the Bonduel Area Action Committee.

The group is organizing to promote support for the Bonduel School District’s referendum Aug. 1 seeking an extra financial boost for the ailing school system.

Known as “Bonduel Action” for short, the group has brought together parents, teachers and homeowners, some of whom have never been politically active before.

Although the referendum vote is still more than two months away, members of Bonduel Action already are working to assemble a campaign that they say could decide the school district’s future.

Nicole Onesti, a mother of three students, said she fears that families will leave the district in large numbers if continuing financial woes force painful budget cuts in personnel and programs within the K-12 school system.

Yard signs, brochures and other tools are under consideration to reach thousands of residents before the Aug. 1 referendum, Onesti said.

“We will do whatever we can,” she said. “If this doesn’t pass, the district is in serious trouble.”

The school district is asking voters to authorize a property tax increase of $900,000 annually for the next three years to fund ongoing operational costs in the schools.

With 800 students, the district operates on an annual budget of $12.4 million, which includes $4.3 million in property taxes. A growing budget deficit, however, has prompted discussion of potential spending cuts that include elementary school teachers, athletic programs and student lunches.

Voters in an April 4 referendum rejected an earlier proposal to boost property taxes by $1 million annually for the next three years. The measure failed by a 708-602 vote.

When school administrators began imposing budget cuts after the defeat, parents, teachers and others spoke out forcefully in favor of conducting another referendum to stave off the budget axe. There has been no sign yet of organized opposition to the Aug. 1 ballot measure, although boosters know that they face an uphill battle to turn a majority of voters in favor of giving the schools more money.

Bonduel Village Board member Shawn Thorne, another member of Bonduel Action, said he hopes the school district presents a more complete picture of its finances, as well as a forecast that looks further into the future than just three years. Without a plan for stability after the referendum, Thorne said, public support could be tough to come by.

“People want similar to what I want — some forward direction,” he said.

The referendum campaign group held its first organizational meeting last week, and another meeting is planned May 21. Volunteers hope to find ways of promoting support for the school district at area businesses, public events and on social media websites.

The group also is planning to decorate a float for the Fourth of July parade.

Parent Julie Felhofer said it is her first foray into the political arena, but she feels strongly about protecting the school district from budget cuts.

As a mother of two children, Felhofer said she has been impressed by the quality of schools available to her kids in Bonduel. Hearing administrators talk about cutting teachers and more after the April 4 referendum prodded her to get involved.

Felhofer is prepared to visit local businesses, distribute literature and answer questions to ensure that voters understand that another defeat on Aug. 1 could hurt the school system.

“Hopefully it’ll open people’s eyes,” she said.

Another group member, Angie Cornette, said she, too, is new to politics.

Cornette, who has three kids in the school district, was stunned to see the April 4 referendum defeated. She suspects voters either were apathetic or were misinformed about the seriousness of the school system’s financial crisis.

Cornette said she is ready to do her part this time to promote greater awareness of what is at stake.

“I always support the schools,” she said. “The kids deserve everything that we can give them.”

Bike the Barn Quilts returns Sept. 30

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 7:11am
5th annual event plans scenic routes for bikers, runners, walkers

Shawano Pathways’ fifth annual Bike the Barn Quilts Ride will take place Sept. 30.

The event features bikes rides ranging from 5 to 70 miles and a 5-kilometer run/walk. All events are designed to be recreational and family friendly. All skill levels are encouraged to participate.

The 40- and 70-mile rides begin at 8 a.m. All other rides start at 9 a.m. with five-minute intervals. The run/walk will begin at 9:30 a.m.

All bike rides start and end at Memorial Athletic Park, 909 S. Lincoln St., in downtown Shawano. Participants are encouraged to stay after returning to the park to enjoy vendors, mini-quilts and other sales items.

The $25 registration fee includes continental breakfast, participation incentive, lunch, maps, signed routes, food and water stations, support vehicles and music. There is also a registration rate for families.

Participants will also be able to purchase an exclusive Shawano Pathways bike jersey before and at the event. Additionally, this year’s raffle will feature a Cannondale Quick 8 bicycle donated by Tower Clock Eye Center, a “garage” barn quilt and bike jersey. Raffle tickets are available for purchase at any upcoming Shawano Pathways event as well as from Bike the Barn Quilts volunteers.

Each ride will feature many of the over 300 barn quilts in Shawano County. Depending on the bike ride chosen, participants will view three to 30 quilts. New this year is a 17-mile route that will take riders through farmland and along some of Shawano County’s waterways.

The 5K walk/run will be along the Mountain Bay Trail. Similar to the bike rides, the route will feature mini-quilts for runners and walkers to enjoy. The mini-quilts, which can be viewed at www.shawanopathways.org, will be available for auction before and after the event. Proceeds from the sales will go to support three local organizations: SAM25, The Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Shawano Pathways is working to give the community enhanced transportation choices by developing a network of on-street and off-street bicycle facilities. Bike the Barn Quilts, which encourages people to get out and enjoy the trails and outdoor recreational opportunities in Shawano County, is the organization’s premier event.

For information and registration, visit www.shawanopathways.org.

Green Bay Street detour starts Monday

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 7:10am
By: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

Motorists on East Green Bay Street might want to plan a little additional time for their travels starting Monday as they can expect to run into a detour to route them around the reconstruction of the Hamlin Street intersection.

Hamlin Street is undergoing a major reconstruction project from Fifth to Schurz streets; one of several major capital improvement projects slated for this year. It will include the full reconstruction of the intersection at Green Bay Street, including the replacement of underground utilities.

The detour for those headed east — and vice versa for those coming the other way — will take drivers north to Fifth Street when they hit Lincoln Street and take them along Fifth Street to Fairview Avenue, which will take them back to Green Bay Street.

Local traffic between Lincoln Street and Fairview Avenue will still be open for those wanting to visit stores and businesses along East Green Bay Street, according to Eddie Sheppard, the city’s public works coordinator.

“But at Hamlin Street, you won’t be able to get through,” he said.

The closure could be in effect for up to 20 days, Sheppard said.

Dorner Inc. of Luxemburg was awarded the bid for this year’s street reconstruction projects in the amount of $2.18 million. The Hamlin Street project was budgeted at $282,000

Other major street reconstruction projects scheduled this year include Franklin Street, from First to Third streets; Franklin Street, from Oshkosh to Wescott streets; Division Street, from Hamlin Street to 500 feet east; Schurz Street, from Hamlin to 500 feet east; and storm sewer repairs on the north lane of East Green Bay Street, from Green Bay Court to Arlington Street.

Public Record

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 7:10am

Shawano Police Department

May 9

Police logged 32 incidents, including the following:

Warrant — A 37-year-old woman was arrested on a warrant in the 900 block of South Lutz Street.

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

Arrest — A 29-year-old man was taken into custody at the probation and parole offices, 1340 E. Green Bay St.

Theft — Police investigated a theft complaint in the 1400 block of Birch Hill Lane.

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

Theft — Police investigated a theft complaint in the 500 block of South Union Street.

Harassment — Harassment was reported in the 900 block of Olson Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 9

Deputies logged 33 incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Amber Lane in the town of Belle Plaine.

Theft — Gas was reported stolen from a vehicle on County Road CC in the town of Waukechon.

Fraud — A telephone scam complaint was reported on Robert Moore Drive in the town of Washington.

Fraud — Authorities investigated a fraud complaint on state Highway 32 in the town of Angelica.

Accidents — Authorities logged four accidents, including three deer-related crashes and a rear-end collision with one of the vehicles that struck a deer.

Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department

May 9

Police logged two incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A charge of disorderly conduct was referred against a 41-year-old Gresham man after a disturbance on County Road G in the town of Red Springs.

Clintonville Police Department

May 9

Police logged eight incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 28-year-old Clintonville man was arrested for substantial battery, resisting an officer, obstruction and possession of drug paraphernalia after a disturbance on Waupaca Street.

Theft — A theft was reported on Flora Way.

Salvaged house finds a family

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 11:14pm
Habitat repurposes former church parsonageBy: 

Scott Williams, swilliams@wolfrivermedia.com


Leader Photo by Scott Williams Homeowner Angie Wilber, right, wipes away tears during Saturday’s ceremony in her family’s new house, accompanied by her children, from left, Christine Wilber, 11, Vernon Doss, 16, and Richard Johnson, 17.
Leader Photo by Scott Williams The house at 807 S. Prospect St. in Shawano was donated by Zion Lutheran Church and was refurbished after being moved across town by Wolf River Habitat for Humanity.

People facing hard times often reach out for help by going to church.

For Angie Wilber and her family, the church is coming to them — in a most unusual way.

A house once used by the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Shawano has been relocated and transformed into Wilber’s new home through the efforts of Wolf River Habitat for Humanity.

Displaced from her previous home by foreclosure, Wilber was overcome with emotion Saturday at a ceremony dedicating the home at 807 S. Prospect St. to her and her family.

“It’s given us a chance to start a new chapter in our lives,” she said. “Thank you to everyone and anyone who helped in any way.”

For the folks at Wolf River Habitat for Humanity, the house represents a unique achievement, one that could change forever how the group works in the Shawano area.

The former church parsonage was the first property that the local Habitat for Humanity chapter has ever uprooted and moved to a new location. The move occurred in August 2015, and volunteers then worked nearly two years to restore the building so it could be reused.

Mark Flunker, executive director of Wolf River Habitat for Humanity, said demonstrating that a house can be relocated means that the group will be able to consider similar donations in the future. In fact, two more houses have been successfully relocated since the Zion Lutheran parsonage.

Although much effort and expense goes into such a salvage operation, Flunker said, it is still better than allowing a perfectly good house to be bulldozed and hauled away.

“That would’ve been kind of a waste,” he said.

Leaders at Zion Lutheran Church were unsure what to do with the former parsonage after the church’s pastor took up residence elsewhere. The house was rented periodically, but it also sat empty for a while adjacent to the church, 1254 S. Union St.

Bob Burdick, who was president of the church’s council at the time, suggested donating the 60-year-old parsonage to Habitat for Humanity, a group for whom Burdick had been a volunteer.

The former church parsonage became the 14th house built or rehabilitated by the local Habitat for Humanity chapter since the group started in 1978.

The donation occurred in 2016, although nobody was certain at the time whether the house could be successfully uprooted and moved. Burdick said it took a leap of faith by Habitat for Humanity officials to undertake transporting the house across town to the vacant lot on Prospect Street.

“They did question, ‘Well, do we really want to do this?’” he recalled.

After the building survived the move, crews began the lengthy job of restoration, while also searching for a family who could make the place a home.

Wilber, 39, had been struggling since a divorce and a downward spiral resulted in foreclosure on the Shawano home where she had lived for 10 years. She and her kids were then separated temporarily, and the family was forced to put one of their two family dogs in a kennel indefinitely.

Later living in an apartment, Wilber approached Habitat for Humanity and found that the former church parsonage on Prospect Street was a good fit for her. She qualified for Habitat’s no-interest mortgage, and she worked countless hours alongside volunteers getting the house ready to be occupied.

She will live there with her three children — aged 17, 16 and 11 — as well as both family dogs, including the one coming home from the kennel.

Now working a new job with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Wilber said she is grateful to have a new place that she and her family can call home.

“I feel like I owe a debt of gratitude,” she said. “I’m very humbled by that.”

Burdick attended Saturday’s dedication ceremony along with other Zion Lutheran Church members, and said he was excited to see the project completed.

After visiting the site many times and watching the restoration effort move forward, Burdick said the building has undergone such a dramatic transformation that he barely recognizes it as the former church pastor’s residence.

“What they have done to that house is just amazing,” he said. “Every time I go in there, I’m just in awe.”

Public Record

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 8:16pm

Shawano Police Department

May 7

Police logged 17 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 200 block of Teddington Lane.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 300 block of North Franklin Street.

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint in the 500 block of East Division Street.

May 6

Police logged 25 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A theft from a vehicle was reported in the 1000 block of South Franklin Street.

Vandalism — A vehicle was reported vandalized in the 100 block of South Main Street.

Juvenile — Police investigated a juvenile alcohol complaint in the 600 block of East Schurz Street.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle injury accident at Green Bay Street and Airport Road.

May 5

Police logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Theft — An attempted theft of a bike was reported in the 600 block of East Center Street.

Trespass — A male subject was warned for trespassing at Green Bay and Andrews streets.

Shoplifting — Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St., reported a female shoplifter in custody.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Richmond Court.

Theft — A bike was reported stolen in the 200 block of East Randall Street.

OWL — A 15-year-old male was cited for operating without a license at Washington Street and Lieg Avenue.

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run at Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St.

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

Fire — Police assisted at the scene of a basement fire at a residence in the 600 block of South Lincoln Street.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at Lincoln and Center streets.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 1100 block of South Lafayette Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 7

Deputies logged 28 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — A 25-year-old Tigerton man was arrested on a warrant after a disturbance on Primrose Lane in Tigerton.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Genesee Street in Wittenberg.

Theft — Dollar General, 309 N. Genesee St., Wittenberg, reported stolen credit cards had been used to purchase items.

Theft — A gun and a tackle box were reported stolen from a garage on Hillview Road in the town of Herman.

Disturbance — A charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm was referred against a 50-year-old Shawano man after a disturbance on state Highway 22 in the town of Belle Plaine.

May 6

Deputies logged 46 incidents, including the following:

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

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

Warrant — A 23-year-old man was arrested on a warrant on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a report of a fight in progress on Warrington Avenue in Cecil.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on Evergreen Road in the town of Belle Plaine.

May 5

Deputies logged 55 incidents, including the following:

OAR — A 48-year-old woman was cited for operating after revocation on Maple Leaf Road in the town of Belle Plaine.

Burglary — A cabin was reported broken into on Norrie Road in the town of Belle Plaine. Guns, TVs, microwaves and other items were reported stolen.

Warrant — A 39-year-old woman was taken into custody on a warrant on Potch Ha Chee Road in the town of Wittenberg.

OWI — A 43-year-old Greenville man was arrested for fifth-offense operating while intoxicated after authorities responded to a reckless driving complaint on County Road J in the town of Morris.

Accidents — Authorities logged four deer-related crashes.

Burglary — A break-in to a residence was reported on Country Lane in the town of Washington. Alcohol was reported missing.

Board denies Mattoon school referendum

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 11:09pm
Parents exploring other optionsBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

Supporters of a breakaway Mattoon school district had their hopes dashed again Thursday after an appeals board upheld a decision by Antigo school officials not to let the question go to a referendum.

“Parents in the Mattoon area are exploring other venues of education for their kids,” said one of the organizers of the effort who did not want to be quoted.

No one on the appeal boards board could be reached for comment Friday.

The Unified School District of Antigo board voted 8-1 Jan. 10 against the proposed referendum.

Supporters filed a petition in February seeking a ruling from the School District Boundary Appeal Board, a panel of school board members from around the state appointed by the state superintendent of public instruction.

The appeal board held two public hearings in Antigo, one on April 25 and another Thursday prior to going into closed session to reach a decision.

The board then voted 6-1 to uphold the Antigo board’s decision.

Efforts to create a Mattoon district, which would serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade, were spurred by the Antigo board’s decision last year to close Mattoon Elementary School.

Antigo school officials voted twice to close the elementary school.

Some parents say the school board’s first vote in April 2016 was taken without any public notice. The board held a special meeting in June to vote again and came down to the same 5-4 decision.

The village of Mattoon sought a court injunction in May 2016 to keep the school district from closing the Mattoon school, maintaining the village and parents of elementary school students in Mattoon were blindsided by the decision.

Two parents of Mattoon elementary students joined the village as plaintiffs in the complaint.

The complaint alleged the school board’s vote to close the Mattoon school was retribution for the lack of support for the school district’s failed referendum in April of last year.

The $25.9 million plan would have closed five of the district’s seven elementary schools, renovated the remaining two, and built a new, centralized school in Antigo.

The referendum failed by a vote of 3,787-2,615.

The civil complaint maintained that the school’s closure will make the village of Mattoon a less attractive place to live, leading to a decline in population, business presence and economic vitality.

A court order issuing a settlement and stipulation to dismiss the suit was issued on Aug. 4, after the Mattoon school had already been closed.

Marion teacher charged with child sex crimes

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 11:09pm
Teen alleges incidents occurred 4 years agoBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

A Marion School District teacher was charged in Waupaca County on Friday with sexual assault of a child and three counts of child enticement.

Timothy A. Gast, 43, of rural Shawano, became the subject of an investigation by Marion police and Shawano County sheriff’s detectives late last month.

Gast is a music teacher at the high school, as well as the golf coach. He has been placed on indefinite suspension by the Marion School District, according to a news release from the Marion Police Department.

Marion police were notified on April 24 by an 18-year-old student at the high school of inappropriate text messages she had received four years ago from a teacher. The student stated that text messages were received outside of school.

“Due to the fact the student lives outside of Marion’s city limits, the case was initially referred to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department for investigation as it was believed the violation occurred in their jurisdiction,” Chief Kevin Schultz said in the news release.

Marion police assisted Shawano County authorities in obtaining information and setting up an interview with the student.

On Wednesday, police received a written statement from the student that sexual contact was made by the teacher with the student four years ago when the student was 14 years old.

Police investigated the incident and subsequently arrested Gast.

“The Marion Police Department had the full cooperation and worked closely with the Marion School District during this investigation,” Schultz said. “The student came forward with the allegations after the Marion Police Department gave an internet safety presentation to students at the Marion Junior/Senior High School.”

Gast was ordered held on a $5,000 cash bond after an initial appearance in Waupaca County Circuit Court on Friday.

He is scheduled for an adjourned initial appearance on Tuesday.

Gast could face a maximum 40 years in prison and $100,000 fine if convicted of repeated sexual assault of a child, and 25 years and a $100,000 fine for each count of child enticement-sexual contact.

Public Record

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 9:57pm

Shawano Police Department

May 4

Police logged 18 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A 28-year-old Bonduel woman was arrested for operating while intoxicated in the 100 block of River Heights.

Harassment — Police responded to a harassment complaint in the 700 block of South Main Street.

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

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem at Prospect Circle and Valley Lane.

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint at Lincoln and Center streets.

Threatening — Police responded to a threatening complaint in the 300 block of Highview Avenue.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 4

Deputies logged 31 incidents, including the following:

OAR — A 47-year-old man was cited for operating after revocation on County Road OO in the town of Wittenberg.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint at Bonduel Middle/High School, 400 W. Green Bay St., Bonduel.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Theft — A mailbox was reported stolen on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Maple Street in Birnamwood.

Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department

May 4

Police logged five incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile tobacco complaint at Gresham Community School, 501 Schabow St., Gresham.

Theft — Police responded to a property theft complaint on River Road in Bowler.

Clintonville Police Department

May 4

Police logged eight incidents, including the following:

Burglary — Burglary, theft and damage to property was reported on Harriet Street.

Harassment — A harassment complaint was reported on Summer Street.

Homeless shelter will stay busy during off season

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 9:29pm
Resource days, open houses plannedBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

With winter over, the urgent need to provide the homeless with temporary shelter has passed, but their other needs have not changed with the weather.

That’s why the SAM’s House temporary shelter in Shawano will continue to keep busy through its off season.

Beginning Tuesday, the shelter will hold weekly Resource Days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering information on where the homeless can go for assistance and job resources, hygiene items, clothing or to take a shower. Services will be offered to those in need even if they haven’t been a previous guest of the shelter.

“We saw a real need,” said Jennifer Laude Bisterfeldt, executive director of SAM’s House.

She said many people in need stop by the shelter for assistance during its off season.

The shelter provides overnight housing from Nov. 1 through April 30.

In its second year of operation just ended, the shelter provided temporary housing to 75 unique guests, including 17 children, for 1,700 nights of stay.

That is nearly triple the 600 nights of stay during the shelter’s first year.

“We’ve been three times as busy,” Bisterfeldt said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s needed, but it’s good that we’re there.”

The shelter emphasized providing resources and instituted a Steps to Success program for its guests in its second year.

“We’ve helped people get back on their feet, get jobs and find housing,” Bisterfeldt said. “We’ll do whatever we can. That’s what we’re there for.”

Though the shelter draws visitors from several surrounding counties, most guests are local, Bisterfeldt said.

“A lot of them were born and raised here,” she said.

Bisterfeldt said many people don’t realize how prevalent the need is.

“It’s always a surprise that there are so many people in need of help,” she said.

In addition to the Resource Days, the shelter will also be holding monthly open houses from 4-6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

“Our doors will be open for tours, information and we will have volunteers available to answer questions about the organization,” Bisterfeldt said. “This will be an excellent opportunity for the community to learn about what we do and be able to see our facility.”

Groups are also invited to arrange private tours and information sessions.

“If people would like more information, let us know,” Bisterfeldt said. “We want to educate the community about the need.”

The shelter is also seeking additional volunteers.

SAM’s House, at 213 E. Green Bay St., was founded by Shawano Area Matthew 25.

The shelter can be reached at 715-851-7252.

History comes alive this summer

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 7:16am
Shawano group aims for bigger impactBy: 

Scott Williams, swilliams@wolfrivermedia.com


Leader Photo by Scott Williams Dressed in their docent attire, museum guides Priscilla King, left, and Judy Mohr are shown inside an 1871 house that is open to the public at Heritage Park.
Leader Photo by Scott Williams Located at county-owned Heritage Park in Shawano, the Shawano County Historical Society offers an entire complex of historical structures showcasing pioneer life in the region.

This could be a big summer for the Shawano County Historical Society.

Fresh off a new deal reaffirming its place at county-owned Heritage Park, the historical society is planning a series of special events and also introducing changes to make the attraction more appealing to visitors.

Officials say they are trying to raise the private group’s profile and attract bigger crowds to the compound of historic buildings on display at Heritage Park, 524 N. Franklin St., Shawano.

“We’re hoping to get the word out and let people know we are here,” said Jesse Borlen, curator of the society’s museum collections and displays.

Although the group has been located at Heritage Park for years, its exact status as a private guest in a public park was somewhat unclear until recently. A fire inside the compound’s one-room schoolhouse in October raised landlord-tenant questions that were resolved in a new agreement clarifying the historical society’s relationship to the park’s county government owners.

With repairs now under way at the schoolhouse and upgrades completed elsewhere on the property, society officials are anxious to broaden their reach in the community and become a destination of choice this summer.

A new series called “Summer at the Society” will entice visitors with special Saturday events once a month between May and September, featuring live music, food and living history presentations. The events will be based on a different theme each month, starting May 13 with Native American Day.

The historical society’s entire compound overlooking the Wolf River will be filled with Native American music, guest speakers and other features from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Similar themes in the following months will focus on the society’s popular rhubarb festival, railroads, school days and more.

Jeanette Berkovitz, co-director of archives for the group, said volunteers and other participants have come forward to offer help in making the summer series a memorable effort.

“People have really responded,” Berkovitz said. “I think it’s going to be great.”

The historical society has filled Heritage Park with historic structures re-creating Shawano’s pioneer days of the 19th century. In addition to the schoolhouse, the attraction includes a train depot, church, log cabin and other facilities restored and furnished to showcase the region’s early heritage.

Except for private tours, the attraction is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month and the second Saturday of every month. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children.

Officials are dispensing with formal tours for the general public and are retooling the presentation to allow more of an open campus where visitors can roam freely and explore each museum display at their leisure.

The tours lasted up to three hours and were not always the best way for visitors to enjoy the historical society, Berkovitz said.

“Now people can just go and see whatever they like for as long as they like,” she said.

Costumed guides, or “docents,” will continue to greet visitors, but rather than leading group tours, the guides will be stationed throughout the Heritage Park compound as hosts at the train depot, log cabin or other facilities.

Priscilla King, who is entering her third year as a docent, said the volunteer guides will remain an important part of the historical society under the new arrangement.

King agreed that the open campus style of presentation will be more relaxed and fun for visitors and volunteers alike.

“Sometimes to keep it going, you’ve got to change,” she said. “You’ve got to change with the times.”

AT A GLANCE

“Summer at the Society”

May 13: Native American Day

June 10: Everything Rhubarb

July 8: Railroad Day

Aug. 12: Dog Days

Sept. 9: School Days

Court News

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 7:09am

Computer sex crime

A Seymour man has been charged with using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime after allegedly setting up a sexual rendezvous with what he believed would be a 15-year-old girl.

Cody A. Valek, 25, could face a maximum possible penalty of 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted.

Valek responded to an online ad supposedly posted by a 15-year-old girl but actually placed by Shawano County sheriff’s detectives as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Valek exchanged emails with the detectives that became sexually graphic in spite of his believing he was in contact with a 15-year-old, according to the criminal complaint. The online exchanges continued from April 18-21, when Valek arranged a meeting.

He was arrested when he arrived.

Valek waived his preliminary court hearing Wednesday and entered a plea of not guilty. He has a pre-trial conference scheduled for May 17.

He was ordered held on a $5,000 cash bond.

Arson/reckless endangerment

A Plano, Texas, man is accused of setting fire to a residence he owned in the village of Tigerton to defraud the insurance company, and recklessly endangering the lives of firefighters who battled the blaze.

Gary L. Hargrove, 56, could face a maximum of 40 years in prison and $100,000 fine if convicted of arson with intent to defraud; 12½ years and $25,000 for first-degree reckless endangerment; and three years and $10,000 for making a fraudulent claim.

Authorities responded to the fire on Cedar Street in Tigerton on Oct. 21. No one was home at the time, and firefighters were able to knock the fire down fairly quickly.

According to the criminal complaint, an investigation by the state Division of Criminal Investigation showed the cause of the fire to be “incendiary.”

A bench warrant and summons were issued Thursday for Hargrove to appear in court on June 5.

Injury/OWI

A Neopit woman is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday on felony charges of being intoxicated at the time of an alleged drunken driving hit-and-run.

Manih F. Waupoose, 29, is facing felony counts of hit-and-run involving injury and reckless endangerment.

Waupoose allegedly fled on foot from the scene of a two-vehicle crash at Airport Road and Homewood Avenue in the town of Wescott on April 29, according to the criminal complaint.

She then allegedly entered a residence on Homewood Avenue without permission, and the homeowners contacted authorities who located Waupoose at the residence.

Waupoose could face a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if found guilty of second-degree recklessly endangering safety. She allegedly crossed the center line and narrowly missed another vehicle before striking the second car.

She also faces a possible maximum of nine months and $10,000 fine for hit-and-run causing injury.

She is also charged with misdemeanor counts of causing injury while operating under the influence, criminal trespass to a dwelling, resisting an officer and disorderly conduct.

She is being held on a $3,000 cash bond.

Public Record

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 7:08am

Shawano Police Department

May 3

Police logged 30 incidents, including the following:

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

Theft — Food was reported stolen from Kwik Trip, 1241 E. Green Bay St.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Lincoln Street and Lieg Avenue.

Harassment — Harassment was reported at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, 100 County Road B.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 400 block of West First Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 3

Deputies logged 37 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen on state Highway 22 in Cecil.

Truancy — Authorities logged four truancy complaints from Bonduel Middle/High School, 400 W. Green Bay St., Bonduel.

OAR — A 41-year-old woman was cited for operating after revocation on state Highway 117 in the town of Hartland.

Threatening — Authorities responded to a threatening complaint on Town Hall Drive in the town of Angelica.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Old D Road in the town of Aniwa.

Disturbance — A 40-year-old Hatley woman was arrested on a warrant and a charge of physical abuse of a child after a disturbance on Maple Street in Birnamwood.

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run on U.S. Highway 45 in Tigerton.

Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department

May 3

Police logged five incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance on Maple Street in Birnamwood.

Truancy — Police logged three truancy complaints from Bowler School, 500 S. Almon St..

Clintonville Police Department

May 3

Police logged eight incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a fight on Petunia Street. Parties did not want to file charges.

Harassment — A warning for harassment was issued at Clintonville High School, 64 Green Tree Road.

Accident — Officers responded for a two-vehicle property damage accident on Green Tree Road.

Accident — A semi driver was cited for truck route violation after damaging a traffic signal pole on Main Street at 12th Street.

Optimist Club recognizes Officers of the Year

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 7:21am
Wright, Sorlie awarded plaquesBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com


Contributed Photo Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Richard Wright and Shawano Police Officer Keith Sorlie display their Officer of the Year plaques flanked by Sheriff Adam Bieber, interim Police Chief Dan Mauel, and Optimist Club President Gail Moesch.

Two of the city’s and county’s finest were honored Wednesday as Officers of the Year at the Shawano Optimist Club’s annual celebration of National Respect for Law Enforcement Week.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Richard Wright and Shawano Police Officer Keith Sorlie were awarded plaques at the event, held at the American Legion Post 117 clubhouse.

It was the second plaque for Sorlie, who picked up his first three years ago when he was a Shawano County sheriff’s detective, often working alongside Wright, before Sorlie left the county to join the Shawano Police Department.

Sorlie was selected for this year’s award by former Police Chief Mark Kohl before he retired in April.

“Keith has a strong background in drug investigations, and is an instructor in unified tactics, such as firearms and defensive tactics,” Kohl said in comments posted on the Optimist Club’s website.

“Keith’s leadership and experience in drug investigations and training have been excellent. His tenacious work ethic and knowledge have set a great example for other officers on the department,” Kohl said. “We’re proud of Keith’s accomplishments since joining the police department. His upbeat personality and camaraderie with his fellow officers is second to none.”

Sorlie began his law enforcement career in November 1991 as an inspector, then trooper with the Wisconsin State Patrol. He then went on to the sheriff’s department and joined the Shawano Police Department in December 2015.

“The Shawano Police Department congratulates Shawano Police Officer Keith Sorlie and Shawano County Detective Rich Wright for their recognition as Shawano Optimists Officers of the Year,” interim Police Chief Dan Mauel said. “The recognition is well-deserved.”

In comments also posted to the Optimist’s website, Sheriff Adam Bieber said he was pleased to announce his selection of Wright.

Wright has been with the sheriff’s office full-time since 1990.

“During those years he has demonstrated a level of dedication and perseverance that is an example to all,” Bieber said. “Rich does nothing half-way, which is evident in his commitment to each investigation he takes on. This is clearly demonstrated by the number of ‘cold cases’ he has been able to examine and bring to closure.”

Wright is also a member of the Shawano County Special Response Team and provides oversight of the equipment used in recreational patrols.

“Rich’s contributions to the community do not end when he checks off duty,” Bieber said. “Rich has coached youth basketball and softball for years. He is active both within his church and committed to community outreach.”

Backyard chicken proposal gets leg up from plan commission

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 7:19am
Ordinance would overturn city ban on urban poultryBy: 

Tim Ryan, tryan@wolfrivermedia.com

A proposed ordinance allowing backyard chickens within city limits flew through the Shawano Plan Commission without resistance Wednesday and now goes to the Shawano Common Council.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the ordinance, after some discussions of its workings and the addition of language mandated by the state that requires city chicken-owners to register the with Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The vote comes three years after the Common Council voted 4-2 against the same proposed ordinance, even after an 8-1 recommendation by the commission.

Several seats on the commission and the council have changed hands since 2014, along with the mayor’s office, now held by Jeanne Cronce, leaving open the possibility for a different outcome this time around. The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

The ordinance would overturn the city’s ban on urban poultry and adopt a new ordinance allowing up to four chickens, but no roosters, on a single-family detached dwelling.

The ordinance as drafted in 2014 would require chicken owners to get a permit from the city and approval in writing from their neighbors.

Sanitary enclosures would be required that would have to be kept clean, ventilated and predator-proof.

The proposed ordinance also sets down regulations for the size and location of chicken coops and requires feed to be kept in rodent- and predator-proof containers.

Permits would be good for one year and could be revoked by the Common Council on the recommendation of the city clerk or building inspector.

Scott Krueger, a dietitian and Shawano resident, first brought the chicken proposal to the plan commission in May 2014.

After re-introducing it at a plan commission meeting last month, Krueger said he was optimistic the ordinance could be passed this time.

“I think there are a lot of people in the community that are in favor of this, and I think people have brought that to the council’s attention,” he said. “I think this should be seen as something the community wants and not just one or two people.”

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