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Public Record

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 7:12am

Shawano Police Department

July 19

Police logged 21 incidents, including the following:

OAR — A 30-year-old woman was cited for operating after revocation at Lieg Avenue and Waukechon Road.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident at Washington and Green Bay streets.

Theft — A bike was reported stolen in the 700 block of South Maiden Lane.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 19

Deputies logged 42 incidents, including the following:

OWL — A 52-year-old man was cited for operating without a license on state Highway 47 in the town of Lessor.

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

Trespass — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on Schenk Street in Bowler.

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Witt-Birn Townline Road in the town of Wittenberg.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Campfire Road in the town of Grant.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Third Street in the town of Herman.

Clintonville Police Department

July 19

Police logged 13 incidents, including the following:

Harassment — Harassment was reported on Lincoln Avenue.

Theft — A bicycle was reported stolen on Lincoln Avenue.

Bonduel principal could lose license

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 9:02pm
State probes Grayvold’s criminal historyBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


BRAD GRAYVOLD

State education officials are investigating whether Bonduel Elementary School Principal Brad Grayvold lied on his state license application to conceal a 2010 conviction for domestic violence.

Grayvold could lose his license and become ineligible to continue as principal if the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction determines that he falsified his application.

The Shawano Leader obtained a copy of the license application on which Grayvold answered “no” to whether he has ever been convicted of a crime, including one that was later expunged from his record.

Grayvold was found guilty in August 2010 of misdemeanor domestic violence after a physical altercation with a woman outside the school where he worked in Michigan. The conviction was expunged after Grayvold completed a year of probation, although it remains a matter of public record.

DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said the investigation launched Thursday would include both the domestic violence case and the question of whether Grayvold was truthful on his license application.

Depending what the investigation shows, McCarthy said, Grayvold could lose his license to work as a school district administrator in Wisconsin.

“That is always an option that the department has,” said McCarthy, who declined to discuss other options.

Bonduel School District Administrator Patrick Rau said in an email Thursday that Grayvold had a valid state license when the district hired him, and officials had not been notified why the state was investigating the license.

“Until we receive further information from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction,” Rau said, “we are not going to speculate on the reason for the status change.”

Grayvold, who was hired June 12 to become principal at Bonduel Elementary School, said he was unaware of the DPI investigation.

Grayvold said he believes he was truthful on his license application because, he said, the domestic violence case in 2010 was “dismissed” without any investigation or conviction, under a deal worked out with prosecutors and the judge.

“I’ve done what I needed to do,” he said. “We’re just being positive going forward. I’ve done a great job, and I continue to do it.”

Grayvold began his principal’s job in Bonduel effective July 1, overseeing about 300 students from kindergarten to fifth grade, with sixth-graders joining the school this year when classes resume Sept. 5.

McCarthy said he could not estimate how long the investigation into Grayvold’s license would take or whether it would be completed before the school year starts.

Grayvold, 50, a longtime school teacher and administrator in Michigan, was hired from a pool of 42 applicants to succeed Peggy Jones, who retired after 16 years as principal at Bonduel Elementary School. Grayvold previously had worked as a social studies teacher, football coach and elementary school principal in Norway, Michigan.

The Shawano Leader reported June 29 that Grayvold’s past involved reports of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. His conviction in 2010 stemmed from an altercation with a woman who had confronted him about having alcohol on his breath. At the time of his arrest, Grayvold told police he was an alcoholic.

Records show he was originally charged with a felony and was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Grayvold signed a disclosure to the Michigan Department of Education indicating that he had been convicted of a crime. His school superintendent at the time, Randall Van Gasse, also filed a notification to the state that Grayvold had pleaded guilty to domestic violence.

Grayvold served about six more years as principal of the elementary school in Norway before seeking out new opportunities in Wisconsin.

DPI records obtained by the Leader show that Grayvold received a license to become an administrator in Wisconsin effective Jan. 1 of this year. As part of the license application process, he completed a “conduct and competency” questionnaire regarding his background.

Grayvold answered “no” on two questions related to criminal history: whether he had ever been convicted “of any criminal or other offense” including cases that had been expunged, and whether he had ever participated in a prosecution agreement “to dispose of charges resulting from a criminal investigation,” again including cases later expunged.

Disclosing a prior conviction for domestic violence might not have prevented Grayvold from getting his license, but it could have made the process more complicated.

McCarthy said state officials in those situations typically seek out court records and request an explanation from the applicant to determine if the conviction constituted “immoral conduct.” State law covering school license applicants defines immoral conduct as behavior that is “contrary to commonly accepted moral or ethical standards and that endangers the health, safety, welfare or education of any pupil.”

According to the DPI website, state officials generally learn about potential incidents of immoral conduct from mandatory school district disclosures, from parent or other citizen complaints, or from the news media.

After publishing the June 29 report about Grayvold’s criminal history, the Leader obtained his Wisconsin license information and asked state officials about their review of the application. As part of that inquiry, the newspaper provided DPI with copies of public records of Grayvold’s criminal history in Michigan.

McCarthy said the state conducts a background check on every license applicant, but Grayvold’s background turned up no information about the domestic violence case in Michigan. Officials are unsure why the 2010 case went undetected, he said.

On the DPI website, Grayvold’s license status was changed Thursday from “valid” to “under investigation.” State officials were also working Thursday to notify Grayvold and Bonduel school administrators of the investigation.

McCarthy said he could not recall the last time the state investigated whether someone had falsified a license application.

“It’s not the usual reason that people go under investigation,” he said.

Deputies cleared in officer-involved shooting

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 7:11am
Suspect faces reckless endangerment chargeBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

A decision released to the media Wednesday clears two Shawano County sheriff’s deputies of any wrongdoing in the shooting of a Wittenberg man during a disturbance in the town of Almon in February.

Daniel W. Onesti, 53, survived the incident and faces felony counts of reckless endangerment and fleeing an officer.

The officer-involved shooting aspect of the case was investigated by the state Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigations. The results were referred to Shawano-Menominee County District Attorney Greg Parker.

In a June 28 letter to Sheriff Adam Bieber provided to the Leader on Wednesday, Parker wrote that “there is no basis to conclude that Deputy Spencer Russ and Deputy Chase Mason committed any crime when they shot Daniel Onesti.”

Authorities responded on Feb. 17 to a report of a distraught individual who had allegedly made comments threatening violence.

A Shawano County dispatcher made contact with Onesti via cellphone. According to the criminal complaint, he said he had guns with him and would shoot the first cop he saw.

Parker’s conclusion highlighted Onesti’s two conversations with a sheriff’s dispatcher in which he threatened to shoot an officer and wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”

The Shawano County Special Response Team, including members of the Shawano Police Department and the Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department, were dispatched. An armored vehicle, from the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office, was also called to assist.

It was believed Onesti was in a pickup truck in a field near his residence.

A drone was used to locate the vehicle, which was spotted a short time later on County Road D headed back to his residence.

A short chase ensued, including a failed attempt to stop the vehicle with spike strips even though they shredded two of the vehicle’s tires, as Onesti returned to his property and began driving around several barn buildings and a silo.

Russ and Mason were in a patrol vehicle, one of several that were pursuing Onesti’s vehicle as it drove around the barnyard on the property, according to the report.

At one point, Onesti’s vehicle stopped and came back toward them in reverse. They pulled over and took position while waiting to see what he would do next, according to the report.

According to the criminal complaint, Onesti rammed a sheriff’s squad just prior to the shooting, pushing it back some 30 feet and injuring a deputy.

Russ and Mason heard that information over the radio and drew their duty pistols “as they recognized that this situation had become a deadly force situation,” according to Parker’s letter.

The deputies spotted the vehicle rounding a corner of a silage feed bag, “bouncing” over the terrain and not slowing.

The vehicle turned in their direction, and “floored it,” according to one of the deputy’s accounts, at which point the deputies opened fire and stopped firing when the truck came to a stop. About four or five shots were fired.

Onesti was hit in the shoulder and was still in his vehicle when he was taken into custody.

Parker, citing state statutes, concluded that the deputies “had an actual and reasonable belief that the use of force was necessary to protect themselves personally, to protect each other and to protect other officers that were in the immediate area from a significant threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

He wrote that deputies believed Onesti might have faced an additional threat to the public if he had escaped the scene.

Onesti could face a maximum 12½ years in prison and $25,000 fine if convicted of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and 3½ years and $10,000 if found guilty of using a vehicle to flee an officer.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment July 11. He is being held on a $10,000 cash bond and is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Oct. 26.

Parker declined to add any further comment.

“As there is an open criminal case, I cannot make any public comment other than what is contained within my decision,” he said.

Residents rip Bonduel political battles

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 7:10am
Tears flow during plea for harmonyBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Scott Williams Bonduel Village Trustee Margie Qualheim, standing, addresses the crowd Wednesday surrounded by other village board members and officials.
Leader Photo by Scott Williams Bonduel Village Board members gather, foreground, while residents and other spectators fill the Bonduel High School commons Wednesday for the village board meeting.

Bonduel residents urged village leaders to stop fighting among themselves Wednesday during an emotional exchange that followed weeks of political rancor in the normally peaceful village.

“How could this happen in our town?” resident Gina Shatters asked before a crowd of about 50 people gathered for a village board meeting at Bonduel High School.

Residents and elected officials alike broke into tears as they grappled to understand or explain circumstances that have led to the turmoil linked to the resignation of the community’s police chief and others.

One of the resignations was reversed Wednesday when Village Trustee Shawn Thorne announced that he would rescind his decision to step down and would continue to serve on the seven-member board.

Some in the crowd shouted “Resign” at other board members, and there was talk of attempting recall elections to remove some elected leaders.

Much of the criticism from residents and village officials was directed at three trustees — Joan Kamps, Mary Barney and Margie Qualheim — who have been accused collectively of creating an atmosphere of hostility and negativity in village government.

All three defended themselves, with Qualheim tearfully asserting that they have been subjected to a “witch hunt” because they question the status quo in the village. Referring to a national trend of more women in leadership positions, Qualheim said: “We finally have a say. Now that we finally have a say, I’m not going to stop asking questions.”

Village President Sharon Wussow broke into tears, too, as she turned toward Qualheim and said that Qualheim had called her a bully during their very first meeting at the village.

“I’m sorry — I cannot hold that in,” Wussow said. “You have not apologized to everybody that you disrespected.”

The exchange took place during a 90-minute public forum before the village board got down to more routine business at its regular meeting. The meeting was moved from village hall to the high school commons to accommodate the crowd of spectators.

Kamps and then Qualheim both left the meeting as the public forum was winding down.

It was the first regular board meeting since most people around town learned about the political upheaval that has developed within the village government.

Since the municipal elections in April, heightened tensions and sharp words have been exchanged among elected officials and village staff, involving such issues as committee appointments, a code of ethics and liquor license procedures.

After a pointed debate about how the village handles liquor license applicants, Police Chief Todd Chaney announced he was retiring following six years on the job. Deputy Village Clerk Katrina Schroeder then resigned after being questioned about how she handled a monetary donation that Kamps made to the village.

Thorne followed by announcing his resignation, which was scheduled to take effect Thursday before he changed his mind at Wednesday’s meeting.

Earlier this week, village board members agreed to forgo their usual $30-per-meeting stipends for special meetings that have been necessary to deal with fallout from the resignations. Some trustees felt the board should take responsibility for the political turmoil and should offer a gesture of apology to taxpayers by working for free.

Residents at Wednesday’s meeting scolded village officials for allowing personality differences to interfere with their duties as government officials.

“Please, please think about what you’re doing,” resident Kristy Hesse said. “We have faith in you. Do us proud.”

After tensions flared visibly among board members and both Qualheim and Wussow broke down crying, resident Cheri Weier stepped forward and urged officials to find a way of working together.

“Right now,” Weier said, “this is a not a good face for our community.”

Shawano man sentenced for assaulting teen girls

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 7:07am
Wilber gets 10-year prison sentenceBy: 

Kevin Murphy, Leader Correspondent

A Shawano man was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting two teenage girls on the Menominee Indian Reservation.

In sentencing William Wilber IV, U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach said Wilber had a history of preying on underage girls.

Wilber, 35, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of having sex with a minor. The charges involved a 14-year-old girl in May 2015 at Legend Lake property owned by his family. A second count involved a 15-year-old girl in July 2015 also at the Legend Lake property.

Wilber was detained in January after one of the girls filed a complaint with the Menominee Tribal Police Department.

A third charge of sexual assault of a minor was dismissed, and the U.S. Attorney agreed to recommend concurrent 10-year sentences on the two remaining charges in exchange for Wilber’s guilty pleas.

Wilber’s attorney, Tom Phillip, argued for a sentence of five years or less, writing the court that it was sufficient deterrence and gave Wilber enough time to treat his alcohol problem.

“Wilber needs alcohol treatment, badly. He appears to be the kind of person who drinks until he is both physically and morally insensible,” Phillip wrote in his filing. “In the rest of his life, he doesn’t seem to be predatory or dangerous or violent. … (W)hen he drinks, he seems to lose all inhibitions. A sober William Wilber would not do any of the things that a drunk William Wilber does. A sober William Wilber isn’t a problem, but a drunk William Wilber is.”

Griesbach said that Wilber used alcohol as a tool to overcome the resistance of the juvenile victims and to rationalize his behavior.

Griesbach noted the impact Wilber’s actions had on the victims, as well as his son, who was present during some of the assaults.

In a pre-sentence interview with a court official, Wilber said he considers himself an alcoholic and the abuse of alcohol played a significant part in the crimes he committed. Alcohol has “devastated my life” and “turned me into a person I don’t like,” he said, according to Phillip.

Griesbach ordered 10 years supervision after Wilber is released from prison.

Menominee Tribal Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case with assistance from the Willow Tree Cornerstone Child Advocacy Center in Green Bay. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Maier.

Public Record

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 7:00am

Shawano Police Department

July 18

Police logged 22 incidents, including the following:

Fraud — Police investigated an internet fraud complaint in the 100 block of Humphrey Circle.

Arrest — A 25-year-old man was taken into custody at the probation and parole offices, 1340 E. Green Bay St.

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

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint in the 600 block of East Lieg Avenue.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 700 block of South Maiden Lane.

Disturbance — Police responded to a report of a fight in progress in the 500 block of Prospect Circle.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 18

Deputies logged 38 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on Kersten Lake Road in the town of Fairbanks.

Suspicious — A suspicious vehicle was reported on Frailing Road in the town of Wescott.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Bartelt Street in Gresham.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint at state Highway 29 and Cecil Street in Bonduel.

Accidents — Authorities responded to two injury accidents on state Highway 22 in the town of Washington and logged three deer-related crashes.

Clintonville Police Department

July 18

Police logged 12 incidents, including the following:

Theft — Retail theft was reported on South Main Street.

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported on North Clinton Avenue.

Hit and Run — A property damage hit-and-run was reported on North 12th Street.

Bonduel trustees seek damage control

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 7:07am
Board declines pay to mend imageBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Scott Williams Gathered inside Bonduel Village Hall on Monday are, from left, Village Trustees Dick Sibert and Mary Barney, Village Clerk Willa Rusch, Village President Sharon Wussow, and Trustees Margie Qualheim, Luka Zischka and Joan Kamps.

Embroiled in political strife, Bonduel Village Board members are taking the symbolic step of not paying themselves for meetings necessary to manage the upheaval.

The action approved Monday by a divided board will save taxpayers about $600 in payments as members cope with the departures of the police chief and other village officials.

Trustee Luka Zischka proposed the suspension of board compensation protocol, citing the unusual circumstances in which staff resignations have been blamed on the village board’s dysfunction.

“I’m embarrassed that I’m going to get paid,” Zischka said.

He proposed that board members forgo their usual $30-per-meeting stipend for board meetings to deal with the recent resignations of Police Chief Todd Chaney, Deputy Village Clerk Katrina Schroeder and Village Trustee Shawn Thorne. All three cited turmoil within the village board as a reason for their stepping down.

Zischka’s proposal was narrowly approved, with support from Trustees Margie Qualheim and Mary Barney and opposition from Village President Sharon Wussow and Trustee Dick Sibert. Trustee Joan Kamps abstained on the vote, and Thorne was absent.

Wussow agreed that the spate of resignations was unfortunate, but she added, “Not all of us were the reason.”

Qualheim, Barney and Kamps have been at the center of much criticism surrounding the sudden onset of political tensions within the village government since the current board was seated following the April municipal elections.

While the outgoing deputy village clerk mentioned those three trustees by name, the police chief and Thorne cited three unidentified trustees in describing an atmosphere of hostility and negativity on the village board. The resignations all came within the past month.

Qualheim, the newest village trustee, said in an interview that she has been the target of a hostile environment, not the perpetrator. Qualheim said her fellow board members — except for Barney and Kamps — have treated her like an outsider whose questions and suggestions are not welcome.

Even at her very first meeting, Qualheim said, she was scolded for sitting in the wrong seat.

“There was control in the atmosphere,” she said. “They just would shut me down.”

In recent weeks, village board members have exchanged sharp words while discussing a variety of issues, including the village’s code of ethics, committee appointments and liquor license procedures. Chaney announced his retirement after a pointed debate about how his department screened liquor license applicants, and Schroeder resigned after being questioned about how she handled a monetary donation Kamps made to the village.

Thorne followed by announcing his midterm resignation, effective Thursday, which he blamed on “name calling and personal attacks” from three trustees he later identified as Qualheim, Barney and Kamps.

The seven-member village board has since scheduled several meetings to begin reviewing applicants for police chief and to make plans for filling the other vacancies.

In his proposal to waive village trustee stipends, Zischka cited three meetings where board members were scheduled to consider the resignations. Without mentioning any specific trustee, he said taxpayers should not have to pay for board members to spend time repairing damage done by the board itself.

Zischka acknowledged that turning down pay would not solve the underlying issues, but he said it might help the village’s tarnished public image.

“Our PR for the village is at an all-time low,” he said. “This would be a good-faith effort to try to fix something that is broken.”

FYI

The Bonduel Village Board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday has been moved to the Bonduel High School commons, 400 W. Green Bay St., in anticipation of a large crowd wanting to discuss local politics.

SMU seeking another electric rate increase

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 7:05am
Last increase went into effect in JanuaryBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Only six months after the last increase went into effect, Shawano Municipal Utilities is asking the state Public Service Commission for another hike in electric utility rates.

“We have a need for a rate adjustment,” City Administrator and SMU General Manager Brian Knapp said.

SMU filed with the PSC on June 30 seeking a 1.7 percent increase.

“We hope it can be effective as quickly as possible,” Knapp said.

Knapp said SMU has fallen short of revenue expected since the new rates went into effect, largely due to changes in behavior by large industrial customers.

Some of those customers, he said, have shifted more of their production to off-peak hours to take advantage of lower overnight rates between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

“We need to make some adjustments in order to return to profitability,” Knapp said.

The PSC has responded with some follow-up questions for SMU.

“It will be a little while yet, a month or so, before they can tell us what their analysis of our rate increase should be,” Knapp said.

The utility’s request is based on what it hopes its rate of return will be. The actual rates are set by the PSC.

SMU applied to the last year year for a rate increase that would deliver a 5.5 percent of return.

That request was the result of the utility falling short of the 6 percent rate of return the PSC authorized in 2014.

The rate increase that went into effect at the beginning of this year increased monthly bills by an average about 1.94 percent.

Knapp said the new increase, if approved, will likely be geared more toward industrial customers, but it’s possible commercial and residential users could also see another increase.

Shawano man charged with 11 counts of child porn possession

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 7:04am
Suspect allegedly had cache of snuff videosBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

A Shawano man charged with 11 felony counts of possessing child pornography also had a cache of so-called snuff videos depicting women being murdered, according to the criminal complaint, though none of the charges filed against him are related to those videos.

Gerald R. Hoffman, 39, could face a maximum 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for each of the child porn counts if found guilty.

Shawano police, acting on a cyber tip from the Department of Justice Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, executed a search warrant at Hoffman’s residence on July 4. They were assisted by Shawano County sheriff’s detectives.

According to the complaint, a forensic analysis of computer equipment seized revealed images of prepubescent female engaged in sexual activity.

The analysis also found another folder that, according to the complaint, included “video and still image files that appeared to be extremely graphic videos and images of persons being killed and mutilated, including having their heads cut off, numerous images of persons hanging (rope or other items around the person’s neck), in some instances persons being hung/suspended by various body parts including the genitals.”

According to the complaint, Hoffman told authorities he had gotten the files from “a Russian guy” he had made contact with on a fetish website.

Snuff videos have been an underground phenomenon for at least 50 years, going back to the days when they were traded on 8mm film. There has often been debate about whether the murders depicted were real.

Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Gordon Kowaleski said this was the first time he has ever run across such videos during an investigation.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he said.

Kowaleski said it wasn’t clear if any of the videos depicted actual killings.

“Some are fake; some I don’t know,” he said.

A $50,000 signature bond was set in Hoffman’s case. He is due back in court Monday for an adjourned initial appearance.

Kowaleski said possession of the snuff videos is not illegal. If the origin of the videos can be determined, the matter will be referred back to that jurisdiction for further investigation, he said.

Public Record

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 1:19pm

Shawano Police Department

July 17

Police logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Fraud — Police investigated a fraud complaint at Charlie’s County Market, 521 S. Main St.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident in the 100 block of County Road B.

Theft — A phone was reported stolen in the 1400 block of East Green Bay Street.

Vandalism — Benches were reported vandalized at Sturgeon Park, 811 S. Water St.

July 16

Police logged 22 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A 22-year-old man was arrested for operating while intoxicated at Andrews and Richmond streets.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint in the 300 block of North Franklin Street.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint in the 200 block of South Sawyer Street.

Shoplifting — Dunham’s, 1211 E. Green Bay St., reported a shoplifting incident.

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run at state highways 29 and 22.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 600 block of South River Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Picnic and River streets.

July 15

Police logged 30 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 200 block of Prairie Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Main and Oshkosh streets.

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

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 200 block of West Richmond Street.

Warrant — A 20-year-old man was arrested on a warrant at Richmond and Prospect streets.

Burglary — A garage was reported broken into in the 400 block of Humphrey Circle.

OAR — A 32-year-old man was cited for operating after revocation at Main and Presbyterian streets.

July 14

Police logged 27 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A weed eater and edger were reported missing from a garage in the 300 block of Prospect Circle.

Warrant — A 26-year-old man was arrested on a warrant at Huckleberry Harbor, 200 N. Sawyer St.

Accident — Police responded to an injury accident in the 200 block of North Airport Drive.

Warrant — A 23-year-old man was arrested on a warrant at Main and Oshkosh streets.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance at Smalley and Green Bay streets.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 17

Deputies logged 48 incidents, including the following:

Theft — Authorities responded to a property theft complaint on County Road J in the town of Fairbanks.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on County Road T in the town of Waukechon.

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

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Hemlock Street in the town of Wittenberg.

Accidents — Authorities responded to injury accidents on Old 47 Road in the town of Hartland, Grand Avenue in Wittenberg and Blueberry Road in the town of Herman.

July 16

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

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

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Forest Street in Birnamwood.

Threatening — Authorities responded to a threatening complaint on Main Street in the town of Angelica.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Railroad Street in Bowler.

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run at state highways 29 and 22.

Theft — A purse was reported stolen from an unlocked vehicle on U.S. Highway 45 in the town of Wittenberg.

July 15

Deputies logged 50 incidents, including the following:

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run at the North Star Casino, W12180 County Road A, Gresham.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a reported fight in progress on Frontage Road in the town of Washington.

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run on Butternut Road in the town of Herman.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a disturbance on state Highway 22 in Cecil.

OWI — A 39-year-old man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on Trailer Court Road in Tigerton.

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott.

July 14

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — Authorities responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Oak Avenue in the town of Richmond.

Burglary — A burglary was reported on County Road D in the town of Seneca.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Gerbig Road in the town of Grant.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on First Street in Aniwa.

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Lake Drive in the town of Wescott.

Clintonville Police Department

July 17

Police logged 11 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A theft and forgery complaint was reported on South Main Street.

Theft — Retail theft was reported on South Main Street.

Burglary — A burglary was reported on Robert Street.

Theft — A theft was reported on Eighth Street.

July 17

Police logged 16 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Authorities responded to an unwanted intoxicated subject on West Madison Street.

Theft — A theft was reported on Sixth Street.

Disturbance — Domestic abuse was reported on West Morning Glory Drive.

Disturbance — Domestic abuse was reported on East 14th Street.

July 15

Police logged eight incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance on Modoc Street.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem on Harriet Street.

July 14

Police logged 11 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A theft was reported on West Madison Street.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on East 12th Street.

Domestic abuse shelter seeking additional space

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 7:19am
New program highlights high-risk casesBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

For most enterprises, the need to expand would be considered a good thing, but if the business provides services to victims of domestic violence, it could also be considered a sad commentary on society.

The Safe Haven Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Support Center in Shawano has been operating for some time at maximum capacity. It will soon kick off a fundraising campaign aimed at adding space to the shelter.

“For a community our size, we have a lot of need,” Executive Director Stacey Cicero said.

The shelter has five bedrooms, and none of them are ever empty, according to Cicero. In some cases, families have shared the bedrooms.

Last year, the shelter provided safe housing for 55 woman and 67 children, with an average length of stay of 27.3 days and 3,385 bed nights, according to information provided by Safe Haven.

Advocates answered 2,064 crisis calls and met with 514 victims.

Cicero said the increasing calls for help might be partly due to increased awareness that services are available.

“It’s not that domestic violence is getting worse, but people are finally reaching out for help,” she said.

The shelter has also seen an increase in high-risk domestic violence situations since the implementation in January of its Lethality Assessment Program.

City and county law enforcement routinely referred domestic abuse cases to the shelter, but in January they added a questionnaire that sought to assess just how dangerous the domestic situations might be, and whether they could end in homicide.

Safe Haven and local law enforcement joined together to apply for a grant to receive training in the program.

Cicero said the number of referrals to Safe Haven as a result of the lethality assessments has been “astounding.”

Through the end of June, 48 percent of domestic violence calls in the city have fallen into the high-risk category. In the county, 56 percent met that criteria.

Questions asked in the assessment include whether the alleged abuser owns a weapon, has ever choked the victim or abused their children.

Cicero said the questionnaire provides a much clearer picture of the domestic situation, allowing for another tool for counseling; provides a higher probability of gaining a restraining order; and can be used as evidence in prosecution.

The Safe Haven shelter is in its 15th year of operation, though outreach and counseling services have been provided going back 10 years before the shelter was established.

The shelter is looking to add three more bedrooms and additional office space, or about 2,000 square feet to its facility.

In addition to providing more space for clients, it will give the shelter more room for outreach and counseling.

The shelter has set a goal of raising $425,000, and will kick off its fundraising campaign Sept. 28 at The Gathering in Shawano.

Public Record

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 7:01am

Shawano Police Department

July 13

Police logged 28 incidents, including the following:

Accident — Police responded to a three-vehicle crash in the 1300 block of East Green Bay Street. According to the police report, the first vehicle, driven by a 67-year-old Shawano man, was stopped in traffic to make a left turn. The second vehicle, driven by a 74-year-old Shawano man, was stopped behind vehicle one. The third vehicle, driven by a 17-year-old Cecil male, ran into vehicle two, pushing that vehicle into vehicle one. The operator of vehicle two had minor injuries and was transported to ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. The 17-year-old was cited for inattentive driving.

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

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

OWL — A 35-year-old Keshena man was cited for operating without a driver’s license and failure to fasten seat belt at Main and Fourth streets.

Curfew — A juvenile was cited for curfew violation in the 800 block of East Richmond Street.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 13

Deputies logged 31 incidents, including the following:

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on North Street in Bonduel.

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

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on Quieta Court in the town of Angelica.

Vandalism — Authorities investigated a vandalism complaint on Mohawk Street in the town of Wittenberg.

Juvenile — Authorities responded to a juvenile problem on Chrissie Circle in the town of Washington.

Clintonville Police Department

July 13

Police logged 10 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — An officer responded to a report of a neighbor dispute on Second Street and warnings were issued to both parties.

Disorderly — Police responded to a disorderly conduct complaint on Flora Way.

Warrant — A 31-year-old Clintonville man was arrested on a Shawano County warrant.

Matsche Farms unveils new growth plan

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 8:15am
County OKs adding 5,000 more cowsBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Leader File Photo Cows feed at one of the barns at Matsche Farms Inc., located in the town of Almon, which is seeking state approval for a significant expansion.
Leader File Photo Matsche Farms Inc., a family-owned farm in Shawano County, could rank among the largest dairy farms in Northeastern Wisconsin with its newest expansion plan.

Two years after becoming perhaps Shawano County’s largest dairy farm, Matsche Farms Inc. is seeking regulatory approval for an expansion that would boost the agricultural operation to new heights.

The family-owned farm near Birnamwood has unveiled plans for building its biggest barn yet — longer than five football fields — and adding 5,000 more cows to a herd currently estimated at 6,600.

Neighbors are voicing concern that Matsche Farms, located at N9035 River Road in the town of Almon, could become a threat to water quality and air quality in the area.

The expansion plan, however, has won approval from local and county officials, and now is headed to the state Department of Natural Resources for review.

Shawano County Supervisor Robert Krause joined other county officials Thursday in endorsing the plan, saying he is comfortable that the farm is operating safely. The county’s land conservation committee granted approval after conducting a public hearing and hearing from both supporters and opponents of the expansion.

“It’s tough being a large farm,” Krause said. “A lot of people will point a finger without doing their homework.”

State officials said the expansion, if completed, would rank Matsche Farms among the largest dairy farms in Northeastern Wisconsin, alongside Rosendale Dairy LLC in Fond du Lac County and Holsum Dairies LLC in Calumet County.

Farms with more than 1,000 animals — also known as “concentrated animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs — are regulated by the state. There are about 270 such operations throughout the state, including seven in Shawano County.

Two years ago, Matsche Farms was granted approval for an expansion that added about 4,000 cows to the herd and included construction of two new barns, a new milking parlor and a manure storage pit. Matsche Farms at the time was trailing Green Valley Dairy LLC near Pulaski as the largest farm in Shawano County.

The new plan for Matsche Farms calls for building another new barn more than 1,500 feet long, and adding another manure storage pit as well as a pond for runoff from stockpiles of animal feed. In bringing 5,000 more cows to the farm, officials want to consolidate animals currently housed at satellite operations.

Based on the government’s formula of calculating “animal units” — which varies slightly from actual animals — the farm would grow from a permitted maximum of 9,280 to 13,000 animal units. Farm officials said the actual number of cows would increase from 6,600 to 11,850.

The operation would generate about 80 million gallons of cow manure and wastewater annually, much of which would be used to fertilize thousands of acres of farmland throughout the region.

Members of the Almon Town Board added their endorsement to the plan earlier this month.

Town Chairman Jim Gutt said the Wisconsin dairy industry has evolved to include a growing number of large-scale farms. Gutt said he is pleased to see Matsche Farms doing well and growing, although he insisted that there is no particular prestige in having one of the region’s largest farms located in town.

“It’s just that it happened here,” he said. “It’s going to happen somewhere.”

State DNR officials have not announced a schedule for considering the Matsche Farms proposal. State officials are currently working with Matsche Farms to correct unrelated permit violations found in the farm’s handling of cow manure earlier this year.

Neighbors at Thursday’s county public hearing voiced concern about the recent permit violations, saying they fear that the farm expansion would pose heightened risks for water quality problems and other environmental issues.

“Think about Kewaunee, everybody,” neighbor Leslie Hill said, referring to Kewaunee County’s suspected water contamination linked to large farms operating as CAFOs.

Another neighbor, Doug Kriehn, said he is troubled by foul odors emanating from Matsche Farms. He said: “The stench has gotten horrible. I felt like I was going to vomit.”

Matsche Farms representatives offered assurances that they work hard to protect the environment and to comply with state regulations. Some neighbors spoke out in support of the farm expansion.

Neighbor Bart Schultz said he recently drilled a new well on property directly adjacent to Matsche Farms, and the drilling showed no sign of groundwater contamination.

Dairy farms are a major industry in Wisconsin, Schulz said, adding that he applauds Matsche Farms and others for adjusting to economic forces and keeping the industry alive.

“Big farms — I understand why they’re doing it,” he said. “I’m a hundred percent for it.”

City to consider request for urban beekeeping

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 8:14am
Other cities in state have bee ordinancesBy: 

Tim Ryan, [email protected]

Now that chickens have been welcomed into Shawano through a change in the ordinance that previously forbid backyard poultry, enthusiasts of another agricultural pastime are hoping the city will make a similar accommodation for bees.

Cameron Oliver, who moved to the city two years ago, told the Common Council on Wednesday that his family had purchased beekeeping equipment, as well as bees, “only to find out that there’s an ordinance against bees in the city of Shawano.”

Oliver said beekeeping would fall under the same agricultural land use as backyard chickens and that the city had set a precedent by allowing that use within city limits.

The council didn’t discuss the proposal, which was not an agenda item.

Mayor Jeanne Cronce said it would first be taken up by the plan commission.

Oliver also made his case to the plan commission at a meeting last month where he was joined by three other supporters of urban beekeeping.

The hobby has been growing in popularity in recent years.

Wisconsin cities that have adopted ordinances allowing urban beekeeping include Milwaukee, Madison, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Eau Claire.

The ordinances limit the size of hives and set fencing and other requirements.

The council also got an update Wednesday on how things are going with the new chicken ordinance approved in May.

Only one backyard chicken permit has been issued.

However, City Clerk Karla Duchac said the city also received a complaint from a woman “who has a neighbor with chickens running all over the place, and they do not have a license.”

She said the city will be looking into the complaint.

Public Record

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 8:11am

Shawano Police Department

July 12

Police logged 25 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A 34-year-old Green Bay woman was arrested for operating while intoxicated at state Highway 47-55 and Strauss Court.

Fraud — Police responded to a debit card fraud complaint in the 500 block of Prospect Circle.

Warrant — A 24-year-old Shawano man was taken into custody for a probation violation warrant and several felony warrants out of Green Bay in the 300 block of South Washington Street.

Noise — Police responded to a noise complaint at Third and Franklin streets.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 12

Deputies logged 36 incidents, including the following:

Hit and Run — Authorities investigated a property damage hit-and-run on state Highway 29 in the town of Maple Grove.

Vandalism — Authorities responded to a vandalism complaint on Sandy Drive in the town of Washington.

Fraud — Authorities investigated a fraud complaint on Wall Street in Bowler.

OWI — A 62-year-old Green Bay man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on state Highway 29 in the town of Morris.

Accidents — Authorities responded to an injury accident on Highway 22 in the town of Green Valley and logged three deer-related crashes.

Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department

July 12

Police logged six incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem on Putnam Lane in Bowler.

Burglary — An attempted burglary was reported on Bartlelt Street in Gresham.

Clintonville Police Department

July 12

Police logged 11 incidents, including the following:

Noise — A warning for loud music was issued on East Morning Glory Drive.

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported on South Main Street.

Juvenile — Police responded to a juvenile problem on South Main Street.

Resignations heating up Bonduel politics

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 8:46am
Police chief leads exodusBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Leader Photo by Scott Williams Bonduel Village Hall, normally a place where village business is done peacefully, has become a hotbed of local political infighting in recent months.

Political turmoil has reached the normally peaceful community of Bonduel, leaving elected leaders fighting among themselves and village staff heading out the door.

Police Chief Todd Chaney and Deputy Village Clerk Katrina Schroeder both are stepping down from their jobs, and Village Trustee Shawn Thorne has followed them in vacating his elected position.

All three announced their departures by citing a contentious atmosphere that has developed among the seven elected members of the Bonduel Village Board.

Chaney, who has been police chief for six years, wrote in his June 21 retirement notice that unnamed members of the board had created “a hostile working environment.”

“This has become a travesty, and I choose not to expose myself to these circumstances,” he wrote.

The political upheaval began after a new board was elected in April and after an informal alliance seemed to emerge involving Trustees Joan Kamps, Mary Barney and Margie Qualheim.

Thorne, who has been a veteran of the board, said those three trustees have engaged in personal attacks and have disrupted the village’s normally congenial way of doing business.

Thorne said that although he has seen occasional disagreements before, he has never witnessed so much rancor among colleagues at the Village Hall.

“We have a mess going on here,” he said. “We need the community to step up and help us address this.”

Kamps, Barney and Qualheim were all unavailable for comment.

Qualheim attempted to assure her fellow village officials at a June 20 committee meeting that they should not be taken aback by efforts to scrutinize and improve how the village conducts business.

“Don’t take offense,” she said. “Just keep an open mind and listen.”

Audio recordings of the June 20 meeting and other recent village meetings provide a glimpse at the issues that have contributed to the air of political upheaval.

At a May 10 board meeting, a brief discussion about the village’s code of ethics led to a pointed exchange about personal conflicts of interest in which Village President Sharon Wussow exchanged words with Qualheim, the newest village trustee.

Then, during the June 20 meeting of the public safety committee, Kamps aired questions about the whereabouts of a $1,100 donation she made to the village. Kamps said she left the donation with Schroeder, and that the money later seemed unaccounted for.

The donation issue was quickly resolved, but Schroeder resigned her position as deputy clerk because she felt like her integrity had been called into question. In her July 5 resignation letter, Schroeder wrote that she blamed Kamps, Barney and Qualheim for creating an environment of negativity and hostility at the village.

“It is hard for me to even fathom that adults act in this nature,” she wrote. “It is truly a disgrace to what so many of us want for this village.”

Other issues of disagreement have involved the manner in which Wussow has filled committee appointments, village expenses for employees attending professional conferences, and the procedure for doing background checks on liquor license applicants.

At the same June 20 committee meeting, Kamps and Qualheim questioned the liquor license method and quizzed Chaney about some of his decisions recommending approval or denial of certain applicants. Wussow responded that she felt personally offended at any implication that the village was not following the law. She said she would arrange to have the village’s attorney present the next time trustees gather.

“Everybody has been on pins and needles,” Wussow said at the time. “How can a person not take it personal?”

Thorne submitted his resignation earlier this week, following about 10 years of service during multiple stints on the board. He is in the middle of his current two-year term, with his resignation scheduled to take effect July 20.

In his letter, Thorne noted the recent staff departures and pointed blame at the “disgraceful” conduct of three village trustees.

“I no longer wish to work with these board members,” he added, “as I believe they don’t understand the full ramifications of their actions, and they certainly don’t understand what it means to represent this village.”

Shawano dentist sells practice

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 8:44am
Zander served area nearly 40 yearsBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


DR. CASEY GABRHEL
Photo by Curt Knoke Dentist Jeff Zander retired last month after nearly 40 years of serving area residents.

Jeff Zander’s talent as a dentist could have taken him anywhere, but he set up practice in Shawano because he wanted to serve the community where he grew up.

Not only that, he particularly wanted to provide care for Shawano-area residents living on a tight budget.

Zander, who served thousands of patients and families starting in 1979, has retired after nearly 40 years in business at Wolf River Dental, 152 Woodlawn Drive.

Although his practice was quite successful, Zander looks back on his career with satisfaction at the impact he made on the community.

“I’ve made a lot of people healthy,” he said. “And that’s what’s important to me.”

Zander has turned over his practice to dentist Casey Gabrhel through a brokerage service called Stepping Stone Dental Partners, based in Madison.

Gabrhel, who graduated from dental school earlier this year and is following her father into the dental business, started seeing patients at Wolf River Dental as soon as Zander retired effective June 29.

Gabrehl said she was drawn to Shawano because Zander’s practice reminded me her of her father’s practice back in the Milwaukee area.

“It’s small and quaint, but still busy enough,” she said. “I love it. And the patients have been really great.”

Zander, 65, who graduated from Shawano High School in 1970, returned to Shawano after dental school at Marquette University and dedicated himself to serving patients in need. As one of the few dentists who accepted Medicaid recipients, he found himself attracting patients from as far away as Baraboo and Superior.

At the time of his retirement, Wolf River Dental was seeing about 25 patients a day and had 4,500 or more as active patients within the past year and a half.

Zander was proud to become known as a dentist who would advocate for low-income families.

“Somebody’s got to fill the need,” he said.

With his wife, Holly, Zander also has been an active supporter of education who volunteers at Shawano Community High School and the Shawano County Historical Society. He plans to spend retirement continuing to teach and remaining active in the community.

Public Record

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 8:37am

Shawano Police Department

July 11

Police logged 27 incidents, including the following:

Fireworks — Police responded to a fireworks complaint at Sturgeon Park, 811 S. Water St.

Disorderly — Police responded to a lewd and lascivious behavior complaint in the 100 block of South Sawyer Street.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 700 block of South Lincoln Street.

OAR — A 44-year-old man was cited for operating after revocation and taken into custody on a warrant at Main Street and Northridge Drive.

Accident — Police responded to a property damage accident after a vehicle struck the People’s Express South building at 716 S. Main St.

Fraud — Police responded to a debit card fraud complaint at Charlie’s County Market, 521 S. Main St.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 300 block of Pearl Avenue.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

July 11

Deputies logged 34 incidents, including the following:

Suspicious — Authorities responded to a suspicious vehicle complaint on Lakeview Way in the town of Washington.

Vandalism — An outside light was reported vandalized at the Wittenberg Public Library, 302 S. Cherry St., Wittenberg.

Disturbance — Authorities responded to a domestic disturbance on First Street in Bonduel.

Theft — A trailer was reported stolen on Belle Plaine Avenue in the town of Belle Plaine.

Harassment — Authorities responded to a harassment complaint on Cherry Street in Wittenberg.

Disturbance — Authorities assisted Shawano police with a domestic disturbance on Pearl Avenue.

4-year-old killed in fireworks mishap

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 7:50am
Explosion reported Monday nightBy: 

Leader Staff

A 4-year-old girl was killed late Monday by an explosion of homemade fireworks in the city of Clintonville, according to police.

Alyssa Chmielewski died after sustaining severe injuries to the neck and upper thoracic area. An autopsy was being performed Tuesday afternoon.

Police were called to reports of an explosion around 10:30 p.m. At the same time, an ambulance was called to a residence on Hughes Street in the area of the reports.

Police arrived at the scene of the ambulance call and learned that a 4-year-old girl had been injured by the the explosion.

According to police, the victim’s father, a 42-year-old Clintonville man, had configured an array of sparkler type fireworks in a metal tube.

After lighting the configuration, it exploded, injuring the girl and causing her death.

Clintonville Police Chief James Beggs said a determination would be made whether charges should be filed in the case once the autopsy results were in and all other evidence and statements had been gathered.

Beggs said the department has been in contact with the district attorney regarding the incident.

Information regarding so-called sparkler bombs of the type the Clintonville man was apparently trying to create can be found on the internet and in various YouTube videos, all of which warn of the dangers of packing multiple sparklers into a single device.

Town blames county for road damage

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 7:50am
Traffic detoured during tavern fireBy: 

Scott Williams, [email protected]


Leader File Photo Several area fire departments sent crews to help battle the March 28 blaze at the Knotty Pines Bar & Grill, located near U.S. 45 and County Road N.

Shawano County officials are refusing a request from the town of Birnamwood to help repair a road that town officials say was damaged when county sheriff’s deputies detoured traffic away from a building fire.

Town officials say the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department was wrong to detour traffic onto Western Avenue while firefighters battled a blaze March 28 at the Knotty Pines Bar & Grill.

With estimates ranging from $76,000 to more than $100,000 to repair the road’s damaged surface, the town’s attorney has asked the county to contribute to the cost, or perhaps pay the whole thing.

County officials have turned down the town’s request, asserting that the county enjoys immunity from any such claim that sheriff’s deputies mishandled an emergency situation.

“The bottom line is that Shawano County does not intend to offer any financial assistance,” county Corporation Counsel Tony Kordus wrote in a letter to the town.

The situation developed on the afternoon of March 28 after fire broke out inside the Knotty Pines Bar & Grill, located near the corner of U.S. 45 and County Road N. The Birnamwood Fire Department and Wittenberg Fire Department fought to save the structure, joined by crews from many other surrounding departments.

Firefighters were on the scene for several hours, and traffic from U.S. 45 was diverted onto nearby Western Avenue, a town road that local officials say was not built for highway traffic.

In a June 20 letter to the county, town attorney Lee Turonie wrote that firefighters did not think detouring traffic was necessary, but that county highway employees erected barricades and forced traffic onto Western Avenue without coordinating with the town.

“While the sheriff’s department has the ability to detour traffic, it made some very poor decisions,” Turonie wrote.

The town provided estimates from road contractors showing that repairing the damaged road would cost $76,000 to restore its previous condition or $128,000 to fortify it against future possible detours. The attorney wrote that a county contribution of $50,000 “would be of great assistance.”

In response, Kordus wrote that the county denies any liability for damage to Western Avenue. He cited legal precedents in which courts gave municipalities immunity for the manner in which police officers directed traffic during weather emergencies and in construction zones.

“These are the types of cases that will control the outcome of any litigation in this case,” Kordus wrote, “and they are abundant and directly on point.”

He concluded: “If the town desires to file an action against Shawano County, that is its prerogative.”

If town officials want to pursue the matter further, the procedure typically involves filing a claim for damages with the county. If the county denies the claim, the town then would have to decide whether to take the county to court in a civil lawsuit.

Town Chairman Peter Stewart declined to discuss the situation, saying that town officials were waiting to hear more from the county.

The county board’s administrative and insurance committee is scheduled to discuss the issue Wednesday behind closed doors.

In his June 20 letter, the town’s attorney suggested that the county could be held responsible for the entire cost of repairing the road. Because signs were displayed showing weight limits for traffic on Western Avenue, the county could be found negligent for detouring traffic there anyway, Turonie wrote.

Even after the detours began, he added, there is evidence that county employees continued diverting traffic despite reports of damage occurring to the road’s surface.

Citing another legal precedent, Turonie wrote: “There is no immunity, and there is no cap on damages where the county has failed to abate a nuisance.”

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