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Updated: 13 min 57 sec ago

Village of Wittenberg passes refinancing program

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 9:15pm
Potential savings on interest is $10K to $15K per yearBy: 

Miriam Nelson [email protected]

The Wittenberg Village Baord voted May 21 to issue bonds not to exceed $3.48 million in an effort to save thousands of dollars each year in interest.

Maureen Holsen, an employee of Ehlers Inc. wo serves as the municipal adviser for the village, explained the process to board members.

The resolution authorizes Ehlers to move forward with a sale of sewer revenue bonds that would refund the village’s 2006 Rural Development loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of the $4.08 million original loan amount, $3.48 million remains to be paid back. The village commits to bonds that will be paid over the next 26 years by the sewer and water utility, which is the same time period as the Rural Development loan.

Holsen noted that banks generally do not extend loans of this type for 26 years.

Baird, a wealth management firm in Milwaukee, will handle the sale of the bonds June 26 using the parameters recommended by Ehlers and approved by the village board. Two of those parameters include meeting a minimum of $10,000 savings per year and maintaining certain interest rates.

According to Holsen, Baird was chosen for its strong reputation for handling this type of sale.

Trustee Sharon Beversdorf asked about the degree of risk for the board.

Holsen explained that this is the time of year when these kinds of sales take place, and “Baird has chosen the June 26 date when fewer meetings take place and there’s a better ability for the sale to be finalized.”

Into the plan is built a one-year cushion of principal and interest set aside for the village, should the water and sewer utility miss a payment. The village is not obligated to make that payment for the utility, but if it chooses not to pay that missed payment, it will affect the village board’s ability to lock into other programs.

All costs associated with the sale and refunding of the Rural Development loan are included.

Providing the sale goes through, the village will receive the proceeds of the sale by the end of July, and the loan to the Rural Development Corporation will be paid off in the beginning of August.

Masons give heart-shocking gift to school

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 9:13pm
Gresham receives 4 AEDs for lifesaving measuresBy: 

Lee Pulaski [email protected]


Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Members of the Shawano Masonic Lodge and staff members of Gresham Community School pose with the four new automated external defibrillators and a practice unit Monday in the school’s gymnasium. From left, front row, Kyla Heiman, Jeff Zobeck, Heidi Cerveny, Michelle Hoffman and Taylor Welcing; back row, Nick Curran, Karl Simonson, Ben Heninger, Tim Wild, Cheryl Boettcher, Ben Smith, Ben Dieck, Jim Herman and Newell Haffner.

The staff of Gresham Community School will be better prepared to enact lifesaving measures, if necessary, courtesy of four automated external defibrillators donated by the Shawano Masonic Lodge.

Staff members spent some of the day Monday learning about how to use the AEDs should the need for them arise. The AEDs will be placed at several points in the school so that a staff member can access it within two minutes of an emergency.

Jim Herman, a past Mason master representing the lodge, said that the idea came from one of its members, Gary Beier. The school had one AED in its possession, but it was more than a decade old, so the need was there.

“Shawano Lodge has seen firsthand the benefit of an AED unit when a Shawano high school student collapsed following a track practice and would have died had it not been for an AED we donated to the school,” Herman said during a brief ceremony Monday afternoon at the school.

The lodge gave the school a check for $3,778 from local Masons and the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation to reimburse the school for the recent purchase.

Due to the Masons’ donation of AEDs across Wisconsin, 37 lives have been saved. Herman noted that he has two grandchildren that currently attend school in Gresham.

“I realize this is a lot of responsibility,” Herman said to the staff. “I hope you never have to use them.”

Kyla Heiman, the school’s nurse, hopes that the AEDs will not need to be used, as well, but feels it’s better to have the tools there than be without if an emergency occurs. She noted that the old AED was needed at least once during a sporting event.

“It was before I came here, maybe 10 years ago,” Heiman said. “They did have a student that collapsed on the gym floor, and they did need to use it. That student was saved.”

Heiman had initially hoped for one or two new AEDs, so she was pleasantly surprised when the Masons came through with four.

“It’s wonderful,” Heiman said. “It’s beyond what I thought we would have.”

Three of them will be by entrance/exit doors, according to Heiman, with one on the second floor of the original 1935 portion of the building. The fourth AED will be relocated when the school demolishes the older portion of the school in 2020, and Heiman is expecting that more AEDs will need to be purchased once the expansion is complete in order to keep with the goal of an AED being no further than two minutes away.

Free summer meals planned in Pulaski

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 9:11pm

Stressing the importance of offering nutritious meals to children during the summer months, the Pulaski Community School District announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program.

The Summer Food Service Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, provides nutritious meals to children during the summer, when free and reduced-price school meals are typically unavailable.

Free meals will be made available to children 18 years of age and under. People over 18 years of age who are determined by a state or local public educational agency to be mentally or physically disabled and who also participate in a public or private non-profit school program during the regular school year may receive free meals as well.

Breakfast will be served Monday through Friday at the Pulaski Community Middle School this summer from 7:40-8:15 a.m. Lunch will be provided from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Meals are provided to eligible children regardless of race, color, national origin, age, gender or disability and there will be no discrimination in the course of meal service.

“This program fills a void created when school lunches are not available,” said Caitlin Harrison, the district’s food services director. “Helping parents meet the nutritional needs of their children is the strength of this program.”

The World Is Changing

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 4:39pm
And we're changing with a new web site to better serve you

Watch for changes in the next month as we lay the groundwork for even better news, sports, information, and advertising when we replace shawanoleader.com with newmedia-wi.com. You'll get at least eight updates every 24 hours from the only source that focuses on northeastern Wisconsin including news from outlying areas including Wittenberg-Birnamwood and Oconto County in a format that's easy to navigate. Although shawanoleader.com has been available to you without charge since 1994, we can no longer provide its services for free. Access in the future will require a subscription from as little as $.99 for one day of access. Save even more when you combine a print subscription with an online subscription.

County considers sexting ordinance

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 7:52pm
Fines could be levied to juveniles sharing inappropriate materialBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Shawano County is considering an ordinance that would allow minors to be cited for exchanging inappropriate images on their cell phones or other devices, a practice known as “sexting.”

“Sexting is becoming more than common,” said Detective Sgt. Gordon Kowaleski, but the laws currently on the books don’t adequately address the practice when it occurs between minors.

“The statutes have not caught up with technology,” he said.

Kowaleski said his options are limited when it comes to penalizing youths who engage in sexting.

“If I have two 17-year-olds sending inappropriate images back and forth, I have two options,” he said. “I can refer them for possession and distribution of child pornography, which is three years mandatory in prison, or I can do nothing.”

Dealing with a 17-year-old is particularly tricky under the law, Kowaleski said.

“A 17-year-old is an adult if he commits a crime, but he’s a juvenile if something happens to him,” he said.

Kowaleski said there is currently no sufficient penalty for minors at 17 and younger for engaging in sexting.

“I can refer them to social services,” he said. “They’re yelled at, talked to, ‘don’t do this,’ and they’re right back to doing it again.”

Kowaleski said he wanted to see a financial penalty sufficient to discourage juveniles from the practice, and an alternative to what’s on the books in state statutes.

“We’re not going to put these kids in jail or prison,” he said.

Kowaleski said the ordinance would not apply to more serious examples of distributing inappropriate underage images.

“We’re not talking the child porn collectors,” he said. “The people who we truly take down. These are boyfriend-girlfriends. Somebody sent a picture out. They got caught.”

Kowaleski said the ordinance would be discretionary.

“Just because we have the ordinance, doesn’t mean we’re going to start issuing them like Chiclets to everybody,” he said. “But in the cases where they deserve a citation, they’re going to get one.”

The county’s public safety committee Wednesday unanimously recommended the proposed ordinance be sent to the County Board for approval.

The ordinance calls for a forfeiture of up to $500 plus court costs for a first offense, and up to $750 plus court costs for a second offense that occurs within 12 months of the first offense.

A third offense within 12 months of the second could bring a fine of as much as $1,000.

County, Bertram negotiate rural broadband deal

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 7:50pm
Talks center on key county towers in Gresham, LeopolisBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Getting broadband internet to underserved rural pockets of western Shawano County could hinge on getting an agreement between the county and internet service provider Bertram Communications and allowing Bertram to access two key communications towers owned by the county.

At this point, the ongoing negotiations are making progress, according to the county, but there is still no finalized deal.

“We had received an agreement that we did not feel was good for the county,” said Emergency Management Director James Davel. “We subsequently received another agreement much closer to what I feel is appropriate and safeguards the county on some things.”

Davel made his comments at a meeting Tuesday of the county’s public safety committee.

He said one of his main concerns was potential interference with the county’s 911 system, noting that the original proposal didn’t address what would happen if Bertram’s equipment caused 911 interference.

“In the new agreement, the equipment would come down,” Davel said.

Davel also said an assessment would have to be done to determine whether the Gresham tower can handle what the county already has installed plus the addition of Bertram’s equipment.

“In terms of access to the tower, we don’t really have any issues with that,” he said. “We just want to make sure it’s done properly and the county is positioned well as we go through the agreement.”

Davel said the only real sticking point that remains is whether Bertram should be charged a fee for access to the Gresham and Leopolis towers.

He said the corporation counsel is reviewing whether the county can provide that access without anything in return.

Davel said a fee or some kind of bartering exchange could be worked out.

“The county does want the broadband. I don’t think that’s an issue,” he said. “I just want to make sure it’s done right.”

Mark Dodge, Bertram’s director of business development, told the committee Bertram can offer a secondary path for services in the event the county’s communications failed.

“We’re in this to do things and to help,” he said.

Dodge said Bertram now has good coverage for rural broadband stretching from County Road MMM through Cecil, but the key is getting additional “vertical assets” in place.

“We find silos or towers or radio antennas or some other structure and put additional access points on there to fill it in,” he said. “But it’s a process.”

The project includes both the use of new towers and existing ones to provide broadband internet service. Broadband is defined as at least 25 megabytes per second download speed and 5 megabytes per second upload.

The rural broadband project comes at a cost of more than $680,000, with $274,000 coming from a state grant that Shawano County Economic Progress Inc. secured. Bertram is funding $367,511 toward the project’s infrastructure and $39,000 is coming from local townships, businesses and citizens, according to the grant application.

Dodge said the grant would cover an additional 2,644 households during the first phase of the project.

“You’ll never get 100 percent,” Dodge said, noting that topography, foliage and other obstacles play a part. “It’s just challenging, and I don’t care who’s going to try to do it.”

Davel told the committee he expected to bring a new agreement forward for approval next month.

Gresham breaks ground on school expansion

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 7:49pm
CTE facility, classrooms to be ready by early next yearBy: 

Lee Pulaski [email protected]


Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Gresham Community School flung the first shovels full of dirt on its new expansion May 31 with the help of, from left, Nick Curran, business manager; Ben Henninger, high school principal; Newell Haffner, superintendent; Austin Sperberg, freshman student council president; and Addison Boucher, sophomore student council president. Much of the work will take place during the summer and fall, with the classroom portion ready for occupancy in January or February.

Gresham Community School is about to get a whole lot bigger.

The school officially broke ground on the new $6.5 million expansion May 31 and is hoping to have much of it ready by January or February. New middle school and high school classrooms will be built, including a state-of-the-art career and technical education area where students will be able to utilize the tools they need early for future careers.

Most of the students gathered around a shady area near the groundbreaking site on the east site of the school, watching as school officials, students and community members joined Ayres and Associates, the architect for the expansion, and Kraus Anderson, the construction company hired to build it, to pick up some golden shovels and flip the first bits of dirt on a long anticipated project.

“It’s a great day to be a Wildcat,” said Newell Haffner, Gresham School District superintendent. “We get to start building on some new facilities. We get a new CTE space and classrooms, and it should be a great improvement to the education that we give here in Gresham.”

Once the main addition is built, the original portion of the school built in 1935 will be demolished in summer 2020, Haffner said. A newer wing will be built in its place to serve as the cafeteria and commons area, allowing the overcrowded gymnasium to just be a gym during the school day and not have to accommodate breakfast before school and lunch in the middle of the day. It would also serve as a recess area during cold weather and rainy days.

“On the original scope of the bid, that wasn’t in there, but we sent it out for bid just to see, and we’re able to fit it in,” Haffner said. “To me, that’s where we need it.”

Nick Curran, the district’s business manager, is also eager to see the expansion begin. His predecessor, Holly Burr, put in most of the work to prepare the 2018 referendum that is allowing the expansion, but he was glad to see that the work pay off when voters approved the referendum, the district’s second attempt after putting a more ambitious one to voters two years earlier that was rejected.

“There’s support in the community for what we’re about to take on,” Curran said. “This is significant for our school and, I think, significant for our community.”

Public Record

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 7:47pm

Shawano Police Department

June 4

Police logged 29 incidents, including the following:

OAR — A 23-year-old Keshena man was cited for operating after revocation at state Highway 47-55 and Old Lake Road.

Disturbance — A 49-year-old Shawano man was arrested for endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct after a disturbance in the 3100 block of East Richmond Street, and a 49-year-old Keshena man was arrested for an outstanding warrant.

Theft — Plants were reported stolen outside of Ollie’s Flowers, 129 N. Main St.

Warrant — A 43-year-old Neopit woman and a 19-year-old Shawano woman were arrested for outstanding warrants in the 800 block of East Green Bay Street.

Vandalism — Vandalism was reported at Memorial Park, 901 S. Lincoln St.

Harassment — Harassment was reported in the 300 block of South Sawyer Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

June 4

Deputies logged 43 incidents, including the following:

OAR — A 26-year-old Antigo man was cited for operating after revocation on County Road Z in the town of Aniwa.

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

Disturbance —A 35-year-old Wittenberg man and a 34-year-old Wittenberg woman were arrested on warrants after a disturbance on West Line Road in the town of Aniwa.

Drug Offense —A 25-year-old Gillett man and a 21-year-old Keshena woman were cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia on state Highway 22 in the town of Washington.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on Pine Road in the town of Birnamwood.

Trespass — Trespassing was reported on state Highway 47-55 in the town of Wescott.

Clintonville Police Department

June 4

Police logged 13 incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported at Clintonville High School, 64 W. Green Tree Road.

Hit and Run — A property damage hit-and-run was reported on South Main Street.

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
By: 

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.

BY THE NUMBERS

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.”

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