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DNR waives recreation fees June 1-2

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 10:31pm

To help kick off summer and encourage family recreation, Wisconsin is offering free outdoor activities to residents and visitors June 1-2.

During this weekend, entry into the DNR’s 64 state parks, forests and recreation areas is free. Also, the state is waiving its fishing license requirements for the weekend and offering free fishing clinics around the state and loans of free fishing equipment.

All state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived for ATV/UTV riders. Nonresident ATV/UTV owners do not need a trail pass on these days, either. All other rules and regulations still apply, and safety education certification is required for all UTV and ATV operators who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.

For information, visit travelwisconsin.com.

New Chinese tariffs’ impact on local farming still uncertain

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 9:19pm
Alfalfa winter kill creates more immediate problemBy: 

David Wilhelms Leader Correspondent

The impact of new tariffs on northeastern Wisconsin farmers is still unknown.

U.S. stock markets fell sharply Monday in a first response to the doubling of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods over the weekend.

“Due to the economic struggle throughout the agriculture industry, it is really difficult to point to one issue such as tariffs causing farmers to put off projects or change plans,” Kimberly Kassube, Shawano County University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture educator, said on Monday.

“The cause of low prices and rising costs of inputs is multifaceted and has been a problem for several years now, even before the tariffs that came into effect in 2018. The tariffs, however, added to the economic issues farmers are facing. It is hard to say what exactly will happen with the new tariffs taking place on June 1 but it certainly won’t help the current situation. As the new tariffs take effect, I would tell farmers as they face problems, reach out, Extension is here to help.”

Kassube is fielding very few inquiries about the dairy situation and surviving the tariffs,

“Most of the questions I am getting in right now center around the price of hay,” Kassube said. There was significant winter kill of alfalfa in the county this year, making already low forage inventories even lower. Many producers are looking for quality forage to buy as well as some alternative forages to grow this season to make up the low inventories.”

The American Soybean Association (ASA) weighed in on Monday with this statement: “While we support the Administration’s overall goals in these negotiations, ASA cannot support continuing and escalating the use of tariffs to achieve them. We call on the Administration to conclude an agreement focused on significantly reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China, including restoring and increasing our agricultural exports and eliminating China’s 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans.”

Robert Cropp, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, reported in his April 2019 Dairy Situation & Outlook, “In summary, milk prices are shaping up to be much improved over the low milk prices in 2018.” The May Class I (fluid milk) price is $16.42, up 66 cents from last month and up $1.98 from a year ago.

Cropp expects steady increases in cheese prices while fluid (beverage) milk sales will continue to decline but said exports will be a significant factor.

President Donald Trump increased tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports as of June 1. The Chinese Finance Ministry on Monday announced tariff hikes of 5% to 25%. They apply to $60 billion of U.S. goods covering 5,140 products such as batteries, spinach and coffee as of June 1. China responded to continuing U.S. allegations of technology theft and pressure on companies to turn over trade secrets.

The president tweeted Friday morning that U.S. farmers would benefit from the U.S. possibly buying $15 billion in goods to provide foreign humanitarian assistance. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also tweeted Friday that the president directed the agency to “work on a plan quickly.” U.S. farm income this year is projected to be $69.4 billion, about 45% below a 2013 high.

The federal government already provides up to $10 billion in direct assistance to soybean, corn, pork, dairy and other producers to offset impacts from trade disputes with China, Mexico, Canada and other countries. It also spends about $1.2 billion to purchase food for schools, food pantries and other programs.

China is the fourth-largest export market for U.S. agriculture, buying $9.3 billion in U.S. agricultural products last year. Complicating the situation is a pandemic of African swine fever sweeping through China’s herd and cutting demand for whey and whey by-products along with soybeans.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) reports, “Chinese imports of dairy goods is up 13% in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2018. But they’ve been buying from everywhere but the U.S,” noting U.S. companies sold record volumes of cheese to South Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East/North Africa and Central America in March.

“Since the tariffs when into effect in July 2018, U.S. dairy volume to China has fallen 43%, factoring in March’s dismal results,” the USDEC report states.

The Associated Press’ Damian J. Trouse reported, “U.S. stocks extended the market’s slide into a second week as investors seek shelter from an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. The world’s two largest economies had seemed on track to resolve the ongoing trade dispute that was cutting into consumers’ wallets and corporate balance sheets.”

A sticking point is U.S. insistence on an enforcement mechanism to ensure Beijing lives up to its commitments. American officials say China has repeatedly broken past promises.

FYI

What exactly are tariffs?

Tariffs are a tax on imports. They are typically charged as a percentage of the transaction price that a buyer pays a foreign seller. They are not payments from one government to another, according to CNBC.com. They are sometimes called duties or levies. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents collect tariffs at 328 ports of entry across the country. The funds they collect go to the U.S. Treasury.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Pathways plans donation of grant money for future project

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 9:16pm
Group gathering input on improving bike paths, walkwaysBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Shawano Pathways plans to make a $12,000 donation to the city from grant money it has obtained to help fund an as yet undetermined project that will improve biking paths and walkways.

Shawano is among 10 communities across the country to receive assistance from the Safe Routes National Partnership to develop an action plan for improving biking and walking to local parks, green spaces and on trails.

Shawano Pathways was selected by the Safe Routes to School National Partners to join Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities, which includes a $12,000 grant and technical assistance focused on improving safe and equitable local park access.

“It fits very well with the Pathways goals,” Pathways President Nancy Brown-Koeller said during a presentation to the Shawano Common Council last week.

“The grant requires community input and coalition with the parks department and police department,” Koeller said.

“We all have a different niche in the community and we’re all using it to set our own objectives,” she said.

“The purpose is to do a small project fairly soon,” Koeller said. “We don’t know what that is. We’re going to let the input tell us. But the bigger part of the grant is to develop an action plan for something bigger. That requires working with our coalition partners, with the city and with the county.”

The group recently held three listening sessions, which drew about 30 people, according to Koeller.

Pathways has also conducted walking audits in some areas to determine where walking and biking are problematic.

One location cited by Koeller at last week’s council meeting is East Green Bay Street, where the sidewalk ends and forces people to cross ditches and cut through parking lots to get to their destination.

“There’s things we could be doing,” Koeller said. “We’re going to develop an action plan and we’ll come back and share that.”

Koeller said the end result will be a $12,000 donation to Shawano for something not yet determined.

After that, she said, there will be “a plan to do something bigger and better that the community wants.”

Shawano Pathways was selected by the Safe Routes to School National Partners to join Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities, which includes a $12,000 grant and technical assistance focused on improving safe and equitable local park access.

The data will also be used for Shawano Pathways’ strategic planning, and be shared with the city’s parks and recreation department and police department, the Shawano Common Council and Shawano County Board for their planning efforts.

With funding from The JPB Foundation, Safe Routes to Parks supports collaboration among community partners to ensure that children and adults can easily and safely walk, bike or roll to local parks and green spaces.

The JPB Foundation is a private foundation which directs its giving promoting opportunities for people in poverty, advancing medical research, and enabling a healthy environment.

Shawano will be among 10 communities across the country to receive training and coaching from the safe routes partnership to develop an action plan for improving active travel to local parks and green spaces and implement early actions from the plan.

Memorial Day parade route changed

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 9:11pm
By: 

Leader Staff

Shawano’s Memorial Day parade route this year has been changed due to the construction on East Fifth Street.

In previous years, the parade traveled from Huckleberry Harbor to Woodlawn Cemetery via Fifth Street.

This year, however, “it’s not going to be in any shape to have the parade there,” Police Chief Dan Mauel told the Shawano Common Council last week.

The May 27 parade will begin near the south fairgrounds gate at South Fairview Avenue and East Center Street.

Staging will be on the fairgrounds parking lot at the south gate.

The parade will begin at 9:20 a.m. and move north on Fairview, cross East Green Bay Street and continue along Fairview Way to Woodlawn Cemetery.

Motorists planning on travelling East Green Bay Street that morning are encouraged to use an alternate route as the Fairview Way intersection with Green Bay Street will be closed for a short time while the parade passes through.

Public Record

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 9:10pm

Shawano Police Department

May 12

Police logged 14 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A 51-year-old Neopit man was arrested for operating while intoxicated at Danks and Lafayette streets.

Drug Offense — Police investigated drug complaints in the 500 block of South Main Street at Hamlin and Maurer streets.

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 1000 block of South Bartlett Street.

May 11

Police logged 21 incidents, including the following:

Disturbances — A 52-year-old Shawano man arrested for disorderly conduct, battery/domestic and child abuse after a domestic disturbance in the 200 block of South Sawyer Street. Police also responded to a disturbance in the 100 block of South Andrews Street.

Theft — A phone was reported stolen in the 400 block of South Picnic Street. A TV was reported stolen in the 500 block of South Main Street.

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint at Prospect Circle and Lieg Avenue.

Vandalism — No trespassing signs were reported vandalized in the 900 block of East Maurer Street.

May 10

Police logged 26 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a verbal dispute at the Super 8 Motel, 211 Waukechon St.

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run at Goodwill Industries, 300 Lakeland Road.

Shoplifting — Walmart, 1244 E. Green Bay St., and Kwik Trip, 1241 E. Green Bay St., reported shoplifting incidents.

Disorderly — Police responded to an intoxicated person complaint in the 1300 block of East Lieg Avenue.

Harassment — Harassment on Facebook was reported in the 200 block of South Airport Drive.

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint in the 600 block of East Green Bay Street.

May 9

Police logged 48 incidents, including the following:

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

Truancy — Police logged 11 truancy complaints from the Shawano School District.

Assault — Police investigated an assault complaint in the 800 block of East Richmond Street.

Accident — Police responded to a three-vehicle property damage accident in the 1300 block of East Green Bay Street.

Auto Theft — A vehicle was reported stolen in the 1200 block of East Green Bay Street.

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

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 12

Deputies logged 33 incidents, including the following:

OWI — A 23-year-old man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on Express Way in Bonduel.

Fire — Authorities responded to a vehicle fire on state Highway 29 in the town of Waukechon.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on state Highway 47 in the town of Hartland.

Disturbance — A disturbance was reported on White Ridge Circle in the town of Angelica.

Trespassing — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on River Bend Circle in the town of Belle Plaine.

Theft — A property theft was reported on Sugar Bush Road in the town of Aniwa.

Assault — Authorities investigated an assault complaint on First Street in Bonduel.

May 11

Deputies logged 40 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A phone was reported stolen on Old Shawano Road in the town of Pella.

Disturbance — Disturbances were reported on Knoke Street in Gresham, State Street in Bonduel and Cecil Street in Bonduel.

OWI — A 43-year-old man was arrested for operating while intoxicated on Green Bay Street in Bonduel.

Vandalism — A mailbox was reported vandalized on Ranch Road in the town of Waukechon.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on State Street in Bonduel.

Drug Offense — Authorities investigated a drug complaint on Nabor Road in Cecil.

May 10

Deputies logged 37 incidents, including the following:

Disorderly — Authorities responded to disorderly conduct complaints at Wittenberg Elementary/Middle School, 300 Prouty St. in Wittenberg, and on Branch Lane in the town of Belle Plaine.

Threatening — Authorities responded to a threatening complaint on Maple Road in the town of Herman.

Trespass — Authorities responded to a trespassing complaint on Morgan Road in the town of Red Springs.

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

Accident — Authorities responded to an injury accident on state Highway 29 in the town of Herman.

May 9

Deputies logged 30 incidents, including the following:

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on County Road C in the town of Angelica.

Vandalism — Vandalism was reported at the Holy Family Cemetery on County Road M in the town of Wittenberg.

Disturbance — A disturbance was reported on Genesee Street in Wittenberg.

Clintonville Police Department

May 11

Police logged four incidents, including the following:

Theft — A theft was reported on South Main Street.

May 10

Police logged 17 incidents, including the following:

Theft — A theft was reported on West Green Tree Road.

Harassment — Harassment was reported on North Main Street.

Suspicious — A suspicious incident was reported on North Park Street.

Alderman’s vote on rec center stirs social media debate

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:29pm
Some question whether Easter should have abstainedBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Shawano Alderman Jeff Easter’s vote on the Common Council in favor of an agreement with the Shawano School District to pursue a joint recreational facility sparked a social media debate about whether he should have abstained as a school district employee.

Easter, who was elected to the council last month, is building and grounds director for the school district.

Easter said in an interview Thursday he did consider whether there would be any conflict in voting on the matter.

“I truly felt my interest and position (as alderman) is about the best interests of the city,” he said. “I didn’t think about anything else than that.”

Easter said there was no pressure from the school district regarding his vote and there was no benefit to him from voting either way.

“I don’t have anything to gain or lose from my employment with the school district in this matter, so I didn’t feel like there was any conflict there,” Easter said. “I don’t get fired if they don’t build this thing. I don’t get a bonus if they do. My life goes on. I’ve got plenty of work to do.”

Shawano resident Connie Magee disagreed with Easter casting a vote, posting on a local Facebook page that he should have recused himself.

”He should have excused himself from the vote because of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality,” Magee wrote.

Shawano County Supervisor Deb Noffke, who lives in the same city district Easter represents, noted she would have thought about any potential conflict before voting.

”I always figure, if I have to ask the question, is it OK to vote on this, I already know the answer, and it is no,” Noffke wrote on the Facebook page.

Not everyone on Facebook felt he should have recused himself, though.

”As a taxpayer and parent/spouse and active member of a recreation center I do believe he should have a vote,” Shawano resident Joan Young wrote. “Also he is standing up for others who have that same thought.”

Easter said no one from the city brought the issue up or asked him what he thought about it, and that it didn’t occur to him to discuss the matter with the city attorney.

“My mentality going in was to do my job as an alderman, to seek out what I thought was best for the city of Shawano and the people who live in it, and I voted accordingly,” he said.

Easter noted that both the city and the school district are tax-funded entities.

“In both positions, my thoughts are to do the best for my employer which is the taxpayer,” Easter said. “I didn’t see a conflict in that regard. The benefit I’m looking out for, whether I’m working for the school district or on the city council, is I’m looking out for the taxpayer, who is essentially paying me to do my job.”

Easter also received some criticism from community members who spoke at Monday’s school board meeting for seeming to appear as a school district spokesman in social media posts answering questions about the proposed project.

“I have a lot of information to share about what’s factual in this whole thing that’s being proposed,” Easter said. “I’ve been trying to make sure people understand the facts.”

Easter said he wants people to be able to make an informed decision.

“I don’t care which way they go with it,” he said. “Personally, do I think this thing would be nice? Yes. Personally, do I think it’s a heck of a lot of money? Absolutely. I don’t know how to overcome that.”

The facility has been projected to cost as much as $28 million, according to early estimates.

“The question is, are people comfortable with that number or not,” Easter said. “If they’re not, then we look at another way to proceed.”

The Common Council narrowly approved the agreement with the school district by a vote of 3-2, with one council member absent.

Easter was joined in his yes vote by council members Seth Mailahn and Lisa Hoffman.

Sandy Steinke and John Hoeffs voted against. Alderwoman Rhonda Strebel was not present for the meeting.

There is no law that governs whether Easter should have voted.

According to the Robert’s Rules of Order that guide governmental meetings, “No member should vote on a question in which he/she has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members.”

However, the rules also state that, “No member can be compelled to refrain from voting,” which would have left the decision entirely up to Easter.

Former Mayor Lorna Marquardt pointed out Robert’s Rules during the Facebook discussion, but noted most elected officials err on the side of caution.

”Most elected officials opt not to vote on issues that might give residents cause to question their impartiality or the possibility they may personally benefit from the decision,” Marquardt wrote.

Had Easter abstained, the vote would have been tied, requiring Mayor Ed Whealon to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Whealon said Thursday he doesn’t know how he would have voted.

However, Whealon noted, the agreement, which lays out the responsibilities for the city and the school district should the facility go forward, does not bind the city to the project.

He said the agreement only allows the city and the school district to continue exploring the possibility of a joint facility.

“There are still a lot of questions to be answered,” Whealon said.

The proposed joint-recreational and aquatic center would replace the city’s existing recreation center and expand facilities at SCHS.

It would be located adjacent to SCHS, on the north side of the building, and would include the school’s existing competition pool.

It would add a separate community pool area; a fitness area, including weights and cardiovascular equipment; a multi-purpose space; gymnasium; racquetball court; and indoor multi-purpose facility and walking track; as well as offices, bathrooms, lockers, storage and other amenities.

It would go to a district referendum next April if a survey planned for this fall shows sufficient interest.

STILL COUNTING ON LUCK

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:27pm
North Star celebrates its 27th anniversaryBy: 

Lee Pulaski [email protected]


Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski North Star Mohican Casino Resort general manager Michael Bonkadar, center, cuts into a cake for the resort’s 27th anniversary Thursday, flanked by some of his other management staff. From left, Terrance Miller, Tammy Wyrobeck, Kirsten Holland and Brian Denney.

The North Star Mohican Casino Resort celebrated another year of success Thursday afternoon with a party for its 27th anniversary.

The casino cooked up some burgers and brats for visitors to the casino, and musical entertainment keep couples dancing and patrons enthused as they enjoyed their meals, complete with anniversary cakes. Patrons got to spin wheels for prizes and received free T-shirts.

The spread was designed to support North Star’s claim of being the friendliest casino in the Midwest.

“We have one of the friendliest casinos here, as you can see,” said Michael Bonkadar, North Star’s general manager. “This is really just a way for us to give back to the community, having a great barbecue. We’ve done it for the last several years, and it’s been very, very popular.”

More than 200 people were enjoying the festivities just in the first hour of the celebration, with lines continuing to form.

Bonkadar has managed North Star for the last three years, and he believes a combination of things have come together to keep the business alive for so long.

“The community supports us, and so do our customers,” Bonkadar said. “Our friendly staff works here day in and day out, and they’ve done an amazing job for many, many years.”

Even with the disadvantage of not being along a state highway like Menominee Casino Resort and Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg, North Star has its faithful and loyal casino guests and hotel visitors.

“I’ve talked with a few customers, and some travel quite a bit to be here,” Bonkadar said. “They believe North Star is a premier property and destination that offers quality entertainment. We’re glad that they go out of their way to be here.”

The casino first opened its doors to the public on May 8, 1992. Today, the casino operates a 129-room hotel and over 1,200 slot machines, table games and Bingo. North Star also has a number of top name performers performing at its entertainment venue each year.

“It’s just been amazing. Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, we just had Cheap Trick,” Bonkadar said. “We have Charlie Pride coming, and the Mavericks. There’s just a lot of top entertainers, and the way I see, we’re just the capital of entertainment for this area of Wisconsin. How great it is that they come here.”

Bonkadar said that he and his staff look for new things to bring to North Star to continue to bring people through its doors, but he didn’t list any specifics on what was being planned for the future.

City approves new room tax split with chamber

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:20pm
Larger city share to be used for park events, promotionsBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

The city of Shawano will keep a larger share of room tax revenue to pay for administration, events and promotion at local parks after the Common Council approved a new room tax split Wednesday.

The city will retain 30 percent of room taxes collected in Shawano, while 68 percent will go to the Shawano Country Tourism Council for tourism-related projects.

Hotels and motels collecting the tax will get 2 percent.

The city in September announced plans to retain an additional $19,000 from the room tax to pay for tourism-related events, particularly at Franklin Park, such as concerts and movies.

The chamber initially balked at those plans, saying it would devastate its own tourism marketing efforts.

Since then, however, city and chamber officials came to an agreement that will set money aside for the city’s park events without impeding on the chamber’s tourism budget.

The new agreement ends the chamber’s Tourism Development Fund, which previously segregated about a third of the chamber’s room tax share to make tourism-related grants available.

“That is going away,” said chamber director Nancy Smith.

Most of that grant money ended up going to the city, anyway, she said.

“The city used to apply for those grants and they received most of them,” Smith said. “This is their way of receiving the money directly for their parks activities and promotions.”

The city has in the past typically retained 5 percent of the 4.5 percent room tax levied on visitors to Shawano’s hotels and motels. That money went into the city’s general fund, under a room tax ordinance adopted by the city in May 1989.

Last year, the city retained $4,209 out of the total $84,181 in room taxes collected from six hotels and motels in the city.

Shawano Country Tourism received $79,972 in room tax revenue, one-third — or $26,657 — was designated to the now-discontinued Tourism Development Fund. The amount that was available for tourism marketing efforts was $53,315.

Had the new split been in effect last year, the city would have retained $25,254, and $57,243 would have gone to Shawano County Tourism.

City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said he expects the money collected this year will be close to that.

“We don’t expect any major changes to that this year,” he said.

Potholes lie in wait for unwary drivers

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:18pm
By: 

David Wilhelms Leader Correspondent


Leader photo by David Wilhelms Dohn Dallmann, Shawano public works shop foreman, demonstrates why a hot, sunny day is essential to successfully patching a pothole, and why you won’t see crews filling these holes when the weather is rainy. The goal is to put the “cold mix” — the oily asphalt — into the pothole after it has been thoroughly cleaned and dried. To do otherwise, like on a day like Thursday, is to set the conditions for a “pop-out,” one of 40 designated types of potholes. The tools of the trade — tamper, coarse-bristled broom, and shovel. The water running through the pothole even when the “cold mix” is tamped completely, remains and will continue to create a pothole.

You thought there were only two kinds of potholes.

The ones you hit.

The ones you miss.

As it turns out, highway engineers have identified 40 different varieties of potholes or to be technical about it, “pavement failure” or “pavement distress.”

“That there are 40 different kinds threw me. I just knew they come in different sizes,” said Scott Kroening, Shawano public works director.

This winter’s brutal weather appears to have been particularly hard on area roads. That carries a cost for local drivers. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates the average pothole-related repair is $306. Todd Wegner, owner of Quality Auto Body, recalled a $5,000 repair bill for a car two years from hitting a pothole.

“The only kind of pothole I know of is ‘annoying,’” said Bruce Milavitz, owner and manager of the Shawano American Car Care. “What we see is the not-so-lighter-side of potholes,” adding his business repairs “a lot of bent, dented, and broken wheels at this time of year.

Milavitz noted that a single, very large pothole in Embarrass damaged eight vehicles in one day recently. One of the vehicles was towed to his facility to have two broken rims repaired.

Wegner noted his shop sees the gamut of pothole-caused problems, “bumper cover damage, tire and rim damage, and even as severe as suspension damage.”

Kroening, who has been in his position about a year after being the city’s engineer since 1989, said this past winter was bad but “Green Bay Street was horrible. We just couldn’t keep up with the number of potholes.”

The director explained that potholes have many causes and “the most traveled streets and the oldest streets get hit the most.” The strategy is to concentrate on those streets that have a chance of getting some additional life out of filling potholes, he said. Currently, city crews are out once or twice each week including responding to problems reported by other city workers, such as garbage collectors.

Fighting potholes has two fronts — coping with the ones that exist and preventing them.

Filling potholes

“The biggest thing is to get the pothole cleaned out and dry,” Kroening said. If you don’t get it clean and dry, it’ll pop right out again in a few days.” (“Pop-outs” are one of the 40 kinds of potholes defined by highway engineers.)

“Cold mix” or asphalt put down without any heating is the most common response, especially during winter months.

“When the streets are really breaking down, we use ‘hot mix,’ the same material as used for paving,” he said. Some streets, such as Andrews Street on the south side of Shawano, are in very poor condition despite repairs and are on the city’s five-year plan for replacement.

Determining on the replacement of a street involves many factors including the needs of sewer and water service under the pavement, he added.

Kroening said the city occasionally gets requests from homeowners to repair their driveways.

“We can’t fix driveways, but we do try to accommodate people where the street meets their driveway,” he said.

There are few local sources for asphalt repairs, Kroening noted, with one possibility Northeast Asphalt in Green Bay.

Prevention

Building streets correctly is one way to put off pothole problems, Kroening said. While at the Fifth Street construction site, he noted “de-watering” the area and a proper gravel base for the replacement pavement were critical to reducing the presence of water. It is the freezing and thawing of water in the spaces between pavement layers or cracks in pavement that is a major contributor to potholes.

Kroening has crack filling and “micro-surfacing” as his two major weapons in preventing damage in existing pavement. Crack filling is the traditional method of pouring a liquid tar-like substance over cracks to prevent water from trickling in and filling voids.

His newest tool is “micro-surfacing,” requiring a special applicator to lay down a 3/8-inch layer of “asphalt emulsion and sand and water and aggregate over pavement. The treatment makes the surface a “little less brittle and “can add five to seven years of life” to a street.

FYI

Why are they called potholes?

Pottery makers in 15th and 16th century England, anxious for a cheap source of raw materials for making clay pots, would take advantage of the ruts that wagon and coach wheels gouged into roads. The potters dug into the deep ruts to reach clay deposits underneath. Teamsters driving wagons and coaches over those roads knew who and what caused these holes and referred to them as “potholes.”

— Information attributed to L. M. Boyd, trivia expert and syndicated columnist, from an American Public Works Association fact sheet

Tourism spending up in Shawano County last year

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:14pm
Data shows 2.3 percent increase locally, 4.9 percent statewideBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Visitors to Shawano County spent more in 2018 than they did the previous year, according to data released this week by the state Department of Tourism.

The level of spending by tourists statewide was also up from 2017, according to the findings, rising by 4.9 percent to $13.3 billion.

In Shawano County, visitors spent $68.5 million, a 2.3 percent increase from $67 million in 2017.

Menominee County also saw an increase, going from $2.7 million to $2.8 million, a change of 5.8 percent.

“Visitors are spending more and each visitor is spending more, which is a great thing,” Tourism Manager Patti Peterson said. “We feel like people are really taking advantage of all the things we have to offer as far as our outdoor activities and all of that.”

Some of the highlights possibly driving the increase, Peterson said, include increasing interest in Sundrop Daze and new events being offered by US Air Motorsports Raceway.

Also, Peterson said, bus tours being offered by the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce, such as a two-day motorcoach with an overnight stay, have been very popular.

The tourism spending increase in Shawano County last year is bit lower than was seen in 2017, when that spending rose by 3 percent.

However, Peterson said, “the big picture increase is still overall a good one with s 30 percent increase since 2011. That’s a pretty substantial number.”

The chamber and its tourism council hope to continue improving those numbers with a new branding campaign.

“We just launched our new web site,” Peterson said. “We have a new logo and tagline. We’re doing a lot more on social media than we had previously.”

That includes more of a presence, she said, om Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

The annual tourism numbers are compiled for the Department of Tourism by Tourism Economic, an Oxford Economics company.

The numbers also show that total business sales in Shawano County thanks to tourism rose by 3 percent in 2018, from $100 million to $103 million.

Wittenberg historical society votes to keep going

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:12pm
New board of directors in placeBy: 

Miriam Nelson [email protected]


Leader Photo by Miriam Nelson The Wittenberg Area Historical Society museum at 502 W. Summit Ave. in the village of Wittenberg will be open from 1:30-4 p.m. Sundays in June, July and August or by appointment.

About 15 people showed up the the annual meeting of the Wittenberg Area Historical Society at the Wittenberg Community Center on May 1 to show their support for the organization and its museum.

The society’s board of directors — Carla Strassburg, Roger and Donna Block, Verna Wendler and Rodney Best — wrote a letter to the editor of the Enterprise & News, a sister publication for the Shawano Leader, last month warning that without more community interest, the society might disband and close its museum at 502 W. Summit Ave.

The response at the May meeting, however, has calmed those fears.

“When we started this group, we had a lot of active members, but many of those have passed on,” said Best, one of the society’s charter members. “We’ve also lost many of our benefactors.”

Strassburg has been serving as president, treasurer and secretary for the past few years.

“We’re at the point where we need new, younger members to help carry on the work of maintaining the building, or donating enough to help pay for repairs,” she said.

The society receives about $600 a year in donations from members and the village of Wittenberg, Strassburg noted. Expenses run about $1,600 per year to cover the water and sewer, electric, gas, mowing and insurance.

Without an influx in donations via membership or fundraising appeals, the society would use up the last of their reserves within two years, Strassburg said.

The museum is only open on Sunday afternoons in the summer and by appointment. The board had voted to open only on the first Sundays of June, July and August this year, but now that there has been renewed interest in the organization, the museum will remain open every Sunday again this summer.

The building was built in 1904 and served as the St. Paul Lutheran Church school. A work day will be held from 1-4 p.m. May 16. Tasks will include general gardening, cleaning gutters, painting, dusting and reorganizing.

The society’s new board consists of Roger Wendler, Kristi Meredith, John Powers, Laura Magee and Miriam Nelson. Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School social studies teacher Kevin Wick will serve as liaison between the society and the high school.

FYI

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Wittenberg Area Historical Society may call Carla Strassburg at 715-881-0326. Donations may be sent to the Wittenberg Area Historical Society, c/o Carla Strassburg, N6396 Banner Road, Wittenberg, WI 54499.

WBSD board accepts bid package for secure entry improvements

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:10pm
$50K over estimated budget will be countered in next phaseBy: 

Miriam Nelson [email protected]

Bids for the first phase of projects approved by Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District voters in November as part of a $13.1 million referendum came in over budget.

The school board on April 29 approved bids totaling $284,608.50 — or $50,797.50 over the budget estimate — for improvements to entryways at the high school and two elementary/middle schools.

Matt MacGregor, project manager for Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction Inc., told the board he was confident the district could get back on budget in the next phase because the jobs are larger and companies will be more competitive with their bids.

Board member Chris Pietz cast the lone vote against approving the bids in the initial phase.

“I only voted no on this phase because I wanted to include bulletproof glass just at the windows where the staff buzz in visitors,” Pietz said.

The entryways’ glass windows and doors will be covered by security film. MacGregor said film does not stop bullets but prevents the glass from shattering, which prevents a shooter from entering the building.

Board member Laura Magee said she abstained from the vote because she was not able to attend the bid presentation.

Work at the two elementary/middle schools requires little demolition. Doors will be moved to create a larger vestibule area, and new entrances will be added. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning units will be moved, and additional security lighting will be provided.

The Birnamwood school will reuse the doors installed just two years ago. The doors at Wittenberg Elementary/Middle School are much older and will be replaced.

The high school work includes reconfiguring the offices and reception area. A new window will enable staff to see people coming into the vestibule.

Cabinets used to store student prescriptions at all three buildings will be fitted with keyed locks.

Construction will begin after school is out for the year and is expected to be completed by the start of the fall semester.

“We will be working with teachers and staff to make sure summer school is not impacted negatively,” Superintendent Garrett Rogowski said.

Bids were awarded to the following companies: masonry, Boldt Construction, Appleton, $6,090; rough carpentry, Boldt Construction, Appleton, $32,359; casework — supply, Showcase Commercial Interiors, Green Bay, $9,660; casework — install, Showcase Commercial Interiors, Green Bay, $985; doors and frames — supply, Tri City Glass and Door, Appleton, $15,560; doors and frames — install, Tri City Glass and Door, Appleton, $4,900; aluminum-framed storefronts, Omni Glass & Paint Inc., Oshkosh, $50,635; gypsum board assemblies, Appleton Acoustical Systems Inc., Appleton, $14,745; resilient flooring, L.P. Mooradian Co., Green Bay, $20,185; accoustical ceiling, Appleton Acoustical Systems Inc., Appleton, $6,550; painting and coating, Corcoran Glass & Paint Inc., Greenville, $7,944; heating venting and air conditioning, Tweet/Garot Mechanical Inc., Green Bay, $46,630; electrical, Krueger’s Sign & Electric, Clintonville, $34,992. Allowances for security and floor patching as well as a contingency fund account for the remainder of the $284,608.50 total.

Other maintenance work expected at the high school later this year will address roof and exterior door issues.

Future phases of the referendum projects include a new 7,800-square-foot building — primarily for agriculture classrooms — next to the high school, a two-story addition to Wittenberg Elementary-Middle School and two new classrooms at Birnamwood Elementary-Middle School.

Three 900-square-foot classrooms will be added at Wittenberg Elementary-Middle School and two 1,200-square-foot classrooms at Birnamwood. Both buildings will be reconfigured to provide more classroom space for the music program.

Because the interest rate obtained by the school district was lower than estimated before the referendum, the tax rate dropped from the projected $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed value to 90 cents. The owner of a $100,000 home will pay an additional$90 per year for the next 20 years to pay for the referendum improvements.

New online tool helps guide dairy farmers’ decisions

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:08pm

To help evaluate and analyze some of the unknowns of dairy farming, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a new web-based analysis tool. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the new Dairy Margin Coverage support tool was developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. It replaces the old Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Registration for this Farm Service Agency program opens June 17.

“With sign-up for the DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program,” Perdue said. “Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry.”

The tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest financial safety net. It allows farmers to simplify their coverage level selection by combining operation data and other key variables to calculate coverage needs based on price projections.

For information, access the tool at fsa.usda.gov/dmc-tool. For DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit fsa.usda.gov, or contact your local USDA service center.

Phenology training helps build become ‘citizen scientists’

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:07pm

For anyone interested in amateur-level science, training as a “citizen scientist” in the field of phenology is an option.

Phenology is the study of the life cycle, or phenol-phases, of plants or animals, and the College of Menominee Nation is offering a chance for community members to learn more.

Anyone can become an observer by participating in training on how to become a citizen scientist.

Phenology training will be held from 9 a.m. to noon May 11. The session takes place in the Trades Building at CMN, N172 State Highway 47-55, Keshena.

The opportunity is related to research being done by CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute under a USDA-NIFA grant for the study of when plant phenol-stages occur. CMN student interns are now observing selected plants and recording the data to determine if climate change is affecting the timing of the phenol-phases.

Some of the stages that are observed and recorded include plant emersion, full leaf out, flowering, fruiting, seeding and dormancy.

Rebecca Montgomery from the University of Minnesota will teach attendees how to observe selected plants, record data, and use the national database of Natures Notebook. Participants will also learn how you can select plants to observe. To learn more, see Natures Notebook go to https://www.usanpn.org/natures_notebook.

For information, email Rebecca Edler, sustainability coordinator at the CMN Sustainable Development Institute, at [email protected].

Pesticide fee holiday to continue in 2019

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 8:03pm

A fee holiday for pesticide and fertilizer licensees and farmers purchasing fertilizer will continue into 2020, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced.

The fee holiday means that for the second year in a row, fertilizer dealers will omit the ACCP surcharge from their customers’ bills. It is the third year that pesticide and fertilizer businesses, commercial pesticide applicators and pesticide manufacturers will not have to pay it as part of their license fees.

The ACCP surcharge goes into the Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program fund to help pay for the costs of cleaning up spills. The amount of the fee varies with the license type. The fee holiday will extend through June 2020 for fertilizer sales and through the 2019-20 license year for other licensees.

“This is timely news especially for our farmers, who are already struggling with cash flow in a tough marketplace,” said Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff.

The surcharge is based on the level of the ACCP fund on May 1 of each year. When the fund remains above $1.5 million, the department does not levy the surcharge.

The fee holiday is a result of an effort beginning in 2015 to more closely align the revenues and expenditures in the department’s Bureau of Agrichemical Management, because fees collected were exceeding the funding needed for cleanup projects. The department recommended changes after a series of meetings with representatives from farm organizations, and the pesticide and fertilizer industries.

The fee holiday first took effect in 2018. The law requires that DATCP examine the fund balance on May 1 each year to decide whether to continue the fee holiday.

When the surcharge is in effect, fertilizer and pesticide businesses pay it when they renew their licenses, and farmers pay it when they purchase fertilizer.

Teacher pay issue dogs school board

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 8:28pm
District says pay plan not sustainable without budget cutsBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

Shawano school district officials expecting to discuss the merits of a joint-recreational facility with the city were pulled into a debate over teacher pay issues during a sometimes contentious board meeting Monday.

Discontent over the district’s handling of the issue was set out in no uncertain terms at the outset of the public comment period when high school music teacher Jill Sousek, a 15-year veteran of the district, let it be known she was looking for employment elsewhere.

“I have looked for a different job,” she said. “I have two interviews coming up because I am looking at leaving the district.”

Sousek said she is not happy with the way teachers are being treated.

School district faculty was recently sent a survey seeking their input on possible changes to the district’s teacher pay plan that was implemented three years ago.

“I am not happy with the options that I have been given,” Sousek said. “It’s not acceptable. Your options are not acceptable.”

The pay plan is based on a standard annual increase and rewarding monetarily those teachers who participate in professional development activities, pursue further education, participate in activities involving students, building and committee work plus other items.

According to the school district, sustainability of the plan has always been a concern and it was due to be reviewed every few years.

That time has come, according to a statement put together by Superintendent Gary Cumberland and Business Manager Louise Fischer.

“The district has made it no secret the last few years we are losing students and subsequently, we have reduced or cut the budget to address the decreasing amount we can levy according to state statute,” they said.

The statement was sent to the Leader in response to criticisms of the district that have been posted on social media.

According to the statement, the district has been paying teacher salaries far above the initial expectation when the plan was implemented three years ago and is paying significantly more in teacher salaries than was paid before the plan was implemented.

“Together with declining enrollment the last three years and assuming less students in 2019-20, and other significant budget expense increases, the plan as it is, is not sustainable without making major reductions elsewhere in the general fund budget,” the statement said.

The survey sent to teachers asked for their input on what elements they value within the pay plan.

“Teachers are not getting a pay reduction on their teaching contract, however, there may be a cap on how much an individual can increase in one year,” the district statement said. “Currently, there is no cap.

The district also noted that starting July 1, the district is increasing starting teacher pay to $40,000 in order to be competitive in the labor market. Starting pay is reviewed every two years.

Sousek told the board Monday that finding a fix for the teacher pay plan is not the teachers’ responsibility.

“You have not budgeted the money that is needed for the pay increases that all of you have said, or most of you have said were going to happen,” Sousek said. “You don’t have the money budgeted. So whose fault is that?”

Sousek also questioned the timing, given that the survey was sent out while the district is contemplating an agreement with the city for a joint-recreation center that could cost as much as $28 million.

Substitute teacher Megan Pyatskowit also told the board it was bad timing for the survey to come out during National Teacher Appreciation Week.

“Pretty disappointing for the survey that just came out,” she said. “‘Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. Basically, how can we cut your pay?’”

Pyatskowit said the district needs to find a way to keep its veteran teachers.

“As a parent and as somebody who works in the district, that should be a priority,” she said. “Our teachers do not feel like they are really appreciated and really needed and compensated for what they’re doing.”

Board member Chuck Dallas said the timing of the survey while the recreation center was being discussed sent a mixed message to staff.

“We’re in declining enrollment, we’re having budget issues right now and we’re talking about a $28 million facility?” Dallas said. “We started out talking about expanding the weight room. Now we’re at this level. It’s the wrong message to send to the people that are working with the students on a regular basis.”

District officials are stressing that the teacher pay issue and the proposed recreation center are separate issues, with the funding for the center coming from debt service that cannot be used to cover district operations.

However, the district said in its statement, “Should declining enrollment continue, the district can turn to the taxpayer for a general fund (known as Fund 10) operations referendum to continue current programs and staffing.”

Board member Mart Grams said that while the teacher pay and recreation center issues were not related, they have created a perception problem for the district that, according to Grams, has exacerbated animosity between the district and its teachers.

“Those teachers cannot stand our guts,” Grams said. “They hate us with a passion.”

Grams said the district is perceived as not treating people very well.

“You don’t send out a survey to a teacher and tell them to tell me how to cut your pay,” he said. “We need to start treating those people like they matter.”

Grams also said the school board needs new members.

“We need a new board,” he said. “We need new people. We need to show the people who work for us we give a s—- about them. We don’t. We’ve never shown that to them.”

Cumberland said in an interview Tuesday that he did not agree with Grams’ characterization of the relationship between the district and its teachers.

“I don’t get that view when I’m out in the buildings,” Cumberland said. “I’m not sure what he’s referring to and I haven’t had a chance to follow up with him on an individual basis.”

Cumberland said he believed teachers are being treated well.

“We continue to try and find ways to do a better job,” Cumberland said. “Sometimes information or the communication isn’t as open as it should be so people understand what’s happening and why it’s happening.”

Cumberland also said he spoke with Sousek on Tuesday following her comments at Monday’s board meeting.

“There was some misunderstanding when that survey came out,” he said. “She didn’t have a lot of the facts. She understands it now and she gave me a lot of good answers.”

Cumberland said he hopes the matter has been clarified and that Sousek will stay with the district.

Sousek could not be reached for further comment Tuesday afternoon.

Man arrested after claiming lost backpack with meth inside

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 8:27pm
By: 

Leader Staff

A 31-year-old Shawano man was arrested Monday when he turned up at the Shawano police station to claim a lost backpack, which happened to contain 1.9 grams of methamphetamine, according to the police department.

The incident started as a suspicious item complaint reported by the Shawano County Library, 128 S. Sawyer St., around 3:30 p.m.

The library reported that a backpack had been sitting unattended at the library for more than an hour.

Police recovered the backpack and took it across the street to the police station, where the meth was discovered along with some personal items in the backpack.

About three hours later, the owner came to the police station looking for his backpack, and he was subsequently arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a probation violation.

Optimists honor Officers of the Year

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 8:26pm
By: 

Leader Staff


Contributed photo From left, Shawano County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Strike, Shawano Police Officer Michelle Kamba and DNR Warden Clark Delzer display their plaques after being honored May 1 as Officers of the Year by the Shawano Optimists Club.

The Shawano Optimist Club recognized three law enforcement professionals at its Respect for Law event May 1.

Each year, the club recognizes local officers for outstanding service to the community.

This year’s honors went to Shawano Police Officer Michelle Kamba, Shawano County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Strike and DNR Warden Clark Delzer.

“Michelle was selected by our management team for her community engagement efforts, specifically for her work with the first annual National Night Out,” Police Chief Dan Mauel said in a Facebook post.

“Michelle brought this idea forward and was instrumental in planning a very successful event that we know will continue for years to come,” Mauel said. “Michelle is also the Franklin Park Neighborhood Watch liaison officer. Michelle’s commitment to our community and her willingness to work with our community members, especially our children, is commendable.”

Sheriff Adam Bieber said in a Facebook post that Strike has been with the department for 10 years and is an active member in his community.

“He is a volunteer firefighter, EMT, coaches basketball and softball, is a Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, and the leader of our Honor Guard,” Bieber said. “Join with me in thanking Eric for his outstanding service to our citizens and his gift of time.”

Delzer was recognized for his efforts in saving two men whose snowmobiles went through the ice on Shawano Lake in February.

School board approves agreement with ThedaCare

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 8:24pm
Therapist will see students at Olga Brener, middle schoolBy: 

Tim Ryan [email protected]

The Shawano School Board approved a memorandum of understanding Monday with ThedaCare for mental health services to be provided at two of the district’s schools.

“The reason why we’re partnering with ThedaCare is to eliminate any barriers that any of our students might have if they are in need of any clinical counseling,” Director of Pupil Services Kim Klister said.

The agreement allows a ThedaCare therapist to work on-site in the district for eight hours per week, starting with Olga Brener Intermediate School and Shawano Community Middle School for two afternoons per week.

The therapist will see eight to 10 students each week, Klister said.

Klister said there is a need for this service at all of the district’s schools and could be expanded to Hillcrest Primary School and the Shawano Community High School in the future.

“But we needed to start somewhere and we wanted to start small,” Klister said. “There’s definitely the numbers at those two schools to keep the therapist quite busy at first, and then possibly adding on another therapist if need be.”

There is no cost to the school district.

“This is something we have worked very closely with ThedaCare on for the last semester in regards to having someone on-site and hopefully removing any barriers for students that are looking for therapy but cannot get to ThedaCare hospital for that,” Klister said.

The program will involve students already in the ThedaCare program who currently have to travel to the medical center for their therapy.

New patients could be added, but that would be something worked out between parents and ThedaCare.

Klister said having a therapist on site would cut down on absenteeism.

“What we find is when a student has to leave to attend therapy, many times they don’t return that day,” she said.

The program would also make it easier for parents who might have to leave work to take their children to the medical center for therapy.

Public Record

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 8:23pm

Shawano Police Department

May 6

Police logged 37 incidents, including the following:

Disturbances — A 39-year-old Shawano woman was arrested for bail jumping after a disturbance in the 1000 block of South Franklin Street. A 38-year-old Shawano man was arrested for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and five counts of bail jumping after a disturbance in the 100 block of Prairie Street. Police also responded to another disturbance in the 1000 block of South Franklin Street and a disturbance at Lafayette and Third streets.

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

Threatening — Police responded to a threatening complaint in the 1000 block of South Sawyer Street.

Theft — A TV was reported stolen in the 1000 block of South River Street.

Drug Offenses —A 31-year-old Shawano man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and a probation violation in the 100 block of South Sawyer Street. A 15-year-old Shawano boy was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia at Hamlin and Green Bay streets.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

May 6

Deputies logged 39 incidents, including the following:

Fleeing — A 22-year-old Keshena woman was arrested for fleeing an officer and cited for operating after suspension and failure to stop at a stop sign on Balsam Lane in the town of Wescott.

Theft — A lawn mower and trampoline were reported stolen on Ho-Chunk Road in the town of Wittenberg.

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

Disturbances —A 62-year-old Wittenberg man was arrested for domestic violence-related disorderly conduct and pointing a firearm at another person after a domestic disturbance on Ellms Street in Wittenberg. A 36-year-old Shawano man was taken into custody for a probation and parole violation after a disturbance on Postl Court in the town of Wescott.

Fraud — Authorities investigated an identity theft complaint on Maple Avenue in the town of Wescott.

Clintonville Police Department

May 6

Police logged 11 incidents, including the following:

Juvenile — Officer assisted Shawano County Sheriff’s Department with a juvenile runaway complaint on Flora Way.

Disorderly — Disorderly conduct was reported on West Green Tree Road and South Clinton Avenue.

Disturbance — Officers responded to a disturbance on Lincoln Avenue.

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