Drug Charges for Crandon Woman Involved in Horse, Wolf-Dog Seizure
Published on 03/24/2017 under News The owner of a Crandon home where wolf-dog hybrids and horses were seized last week, is now facing drug charges from a separate incident. The Sheriff's Office accuse 52 year old Patricia Kirker of assisting in an attempt to smuggle prescription drugs into the Forest County Jail. The alleged incidents happened on March 8. As a result she is facing five felonies. The complaint says that Kirker provided an inmate on work release with approximately 20 prescription pills to bring back into the jail. She'll be in court again on the drug charges March 29. Last Friday more than 40 animals were seized from Kirker's Crandon property in an investigation into animal cruelty. No charges have been filed from that incident at this time.
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Tomahawk Police Report; Alert Resident Avoids Scam
Published on 03/24/2017 under News An alert local man was able to avoid a recent scam attempt. According to the Tomahawk Police report, the Tripoli man received a letter that appeared to be from the US Department of Treasury. The authentic looking document stated that the man owed money. The man became suspicious as he did not think he had any debts. In this particular scam, the letter head actually listed the proper address of the Department of Treasury. It also had a fake number that directed the potential victim to the scammer. The officers worked with the man to verify it was a scam and also directed him to the proper federal agencies for reporting. Tomahawk Police Report An individual walking on the Hiawatha trail reported graffiti near the trestle, which was confirmed. Officers are investigating. Officers provided assistance to the Everest Metro Police in their investigation of a hit and run involving a car registered to a Tomahawk woman. Officers on Wednesday were to the waters near SARA Park for a dog that had fallen into the water. By the time the officer arrived on the scene, the owner was able to get the dog out safely. The pet was brought to a local vet for a check up and appeared to be recovering. There was one reported deer strike, which occurred on Highway 51 near the Wisconsin River Bridge.
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DNR Starting Catch and Release Record Book
Published on 03/24/2017 under News When the 2017 fishing season opens in a few weeks, anglers will be able to land a record fish while letting that fish live to fight another day. This spring, the DNR is rolling out a "catch-and-release" record book. The new program is part of a larger effort to promote quality fishing and encourage the careful release of trophy-size fish. The DNR noted that similar efforts have found success in other states and among some national record-keeping organizations. When the program is rolled out in May, it will, of course, have several rules. The fish will be verified by photographic evidence. The clear, color and sideview photos must include one with the fish lying along a ruler or measuring device and a second with the fish and the angler. A DNR fisheries biologist will then identify the species and verify the length from the photos. (additional rules are available on the DNR website) Justine Hasz, DNR fisheries bureau director says, "What we've seen with musky populations in areas where there is a strong catch and release ethic is that the fish are reaching larger sizes and providing more anglers with the experience of a lifetime. Since it can take 10 years or more for walleye to reach trophy size and 15 years or more for musky, our new catch and release record option means Wisconsin's legendary fish will create even more memories." The new live release record book will exist along side the current, standard record book.
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Jury Convicts Lincoln County Man of Sexual Assault Charges
Published on 03/24/2017 under News We have additional details on the conviction earlier this week of a Lincoln County man accused of sexual assault. As we told you yesterday, 57 year old Gary Ver Kilen was found guilty on 6 of 9 charges. The verdict came after approximately 5 hours of jury deliberation Wednesday afternoon. He was found guilty of 2 counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of stalking and two counts of child enticement with sexual contact. He was acquitted of three other child enticement charges. Investigators said Ver Kilen targeted girls ranging in age from 9 to 16 years old at several locations including his home and a local business. The three day trial began Monday. Ver Kilen did not testify. A sentencing date was not immediately set.
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Travelling Group Performing Laura Ingalls Wilder at Nicolet
Published on 03/24/2017 under News Nicolet College will be turning to the unsettled prairie frontiers of the late 1800's this weekend. The Nicolet Theater is welcoming the ArtsPower National Touring Theater for a presentation of the musical Laura Ingalls Wilder. In song and dance, the musical will tell the story of young Laura and her family as they journey west in the frontier days. Nicolet theater director Jim Nuttall says that the performance is geared for elementary aged children. He also praised the ArtsPower performers saying that "they do such an amazing job bringing literature and history to life for children." The touring group was founded in 1985 and has performed before an estimated 12 million people since that time. Their northwoods performance is scheduled for 11am tomorrow at the Nicolet Theatre.
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Four Dead in Rothschild Shooting Incidents
Published on 03/23/2017 under News Four people are dead after several related shooting incidents in the Wausau Metro area yesterday afternoon. That incident began in the noon hour at Marathon Savings Bank in Rothschild. Police were initially requested for a domestic situation. They arrived on the scene to find two individuals with gunshot wounds. Investigators believe the suspect then headed to a law firm where a second shooting incident occurred. A third incident happened at a nearby apartment complex. Last evening Everest Metro Police Chief Wally Sparks said they now have a suspect in custody. The individual's name was not released. They also confirmed four deaths and that one of the victims was an Everest Police Officer. During the incidents, several nearby schools and hospital were on lock down. Officials do not believe there is any further threat to the public. No further details were provided yesterday, additional information is expected at a news conference later today.
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Prosecution Rests in Stephanie Low Homicide Trial
Published on 03/23/2017 under News Yesterday, the prosecution rested its case in a Wausau area homicide trial. Thirty seven year old Kristopher Torgerson is facing several charges including 1st degree intentional homicide in the 2010 death of Stephanie Low. Her body was recovered from a shallow grave in Forest County in 2014. Torgerson's trial began last week in Marathon County Court. In all, the prosecution called more than 35 witnesses to testify. The defense is expected to present their case when the trial resumes today. The jury trial was initially scheduled for 3 weeks.
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Merrill Fire Department Gets New Brush Truck
Published on 03/23/2017 under News With wild land fire season right around the corner, the Merrill Fire Department is better prepared. Earlier this month, the agency added a new brush truck to their fleet. The truck was purchased earlier this year and outfitted for fire response at an Indiana specialist. The truck carries a 350 gallon water tank as well as a foam system for smothering fighters. It also features new technology such ground nozzles and front end nozzle controlled by a joy stick. The new vehicle replaces and upgrades some of the features of their previous brush truck. The department anticipates at 20-25 year life for the vehicle.
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Crandon Woman Sentenced for Role in Drug Ring
Published on 03/23/2017 under News Three northern Wisconsin individuals have now been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a drug trafficking ring in Forest County. This week the US Attorney's Office of Eastern Wisconsin announced that 40 year old Diana Alvarado of Crandon was sentenced to 30 months of prison and 5 years of extended supervision. She was arrested following a mulch-jurisdictional investigation into methamphetamine and prescription drug sales in Forest County in late 2015 and early 2016. Alvarado is facing similar charges in Forest County Court and will proceed with that case next month. Back in February, in related cases, 43 year old Tony Quintana of Wausau received 10 years in federal prison, while 39 year old Karen Quintana received a two year sentence.
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Avoid Spring Pruning of Oak Trees to Lessen Oak Wilt Spread
Published on 03/23/2017 under News The DNR is recommending residents hold off on pruning oak trees this spring to help prevent the spread of oak wilt. According to the news release, the DNR says that spring and early summer pruning make oak trees vulnerable to the fatal fungal disease. The spores are carried by beetles which can land on exposed tree tissue. That's why they suggest avoiding cutting oak trees between April and July. Forest Health Specialist Paul Cigan says that just 15 minutes is enough time for a tree to be infected. Oak Wilt has been confirmed in 61 of the state's 72 counties. Don Kissinger, an urban forester in the DNR's Wausau office noted that, in addition to the possibility of oak wilt, spring is also a time when tree are budding and leaves are growing, which leaves the tree's food reserves low. He says, in general, the best time to prune trees is actually in the winter.
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Lincoln County Board Talks, Approves Non-Partisan Redistricting Recommendation
Published on 03/22/2017 under News Last night, the Lincoln County Board weighed in on state redistricting of political boundaries, supporting an effort urging legislators to utilizing non-partisan redistricting. The local effort was spearheaded by supervisor Hans Breitenmoser. He introduced the resolution at last night's meeting and read a prepared state that discussed how the issue is bi-partisan and minority parties from both parties regularly challenge redistricting from state to state. He also discussed the growing number of states turning to dedicated boards to draw boundaries including neighboring Iowa. It comes at a time when Wisconsin has spent millions of tax payer dollars on their 2011 redistricting. A panel of judges recently rejected the boundaries and the case could land in the US Supreme Court. One of the 11 plaintiffs in that lawsuit, Bill Whitford attended last night's Lincoln County meeting, using his allotted 5 minutes to discuss a variety of issues on the topic. In addition to Whitford, five other members of the public spoke in support of the resolution including members of the non-partisan League of Women's Voters of the Northwoods. During discussion, several members of the board expressed concern on whether a.) the resolution would make a difference and b.) whether it could truly be a non-partisan process. Those members supported the resolution non-the-less. The advisory resolution passed with an 18-4 vote. It'll now be sent to the Governor, the Legislature, Wisconsin municipal and counties associations and each Wisconsin county. Any actual changes must be made in Madison. Lincoln County Board March Recap The Lincoln County Board meeting began with service recognitions: 10 years at Pinecrest for Nicole Robl. An update on the Pinecrest Building Project followed. Kurt Burner of the Samuels Group lead a photo slide-show of the progress on the construction. He says the progress is going very well and they continue to target an October completion. Finance Director Dan Leydet says there are no new concerns with the budget, although he again mentioned the county's already low contingency fund. He also walked the board through the time line for the upcoming budget process. County Administrator Randy Scholz presented a written report, but highlighted a meeting with Clark County to discuss sharing IT Department resources. He noted that Clark County currently hires out the service, but would be interested in a partnership. Scholz had few details and said the talks were very preliminary. The board unanimously approved an extension of the UW-Extension agreement with the UW system. Department Head Deb Moellendorf briefly discussed the agreement and noted that they had 8,500 contacts through their services in 2016. Several housekeeping items were approved including a pair of jurisdictional transfers of roadways in city annexed areas. In Merrill, a half mile stretch of County Q was turned over to the city. In Tomahawk, it was an eighth mile stretch of County S entering town from South Park to Brief Street. The board passed an advisory referendum urging state legislators create a non-partisan board to form legislative boundaries. (see Lincoln County Board Talks, Approves Non-Partisan Redistricting Recommendation) A second advisory referendum sent to Madison supports legislation closing Big Box retailer's 'dark store loophole' in the state tax code. Finally the board approved a resolution for the county to recognize National Work Zone Awareness Week next month. Like last year, the board amended the resolution to name the week in honor of Marcus Wydeven, a Lincoln County Highway worker who lost his life in 2015.
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Northwoods Unemployment Estimates for January
Published on 03/22/2017 under News Northwoods counties mirrored the rest of the state in the January unemployment estimates released late last week. In that Department of Workforce Development report, nearly all counties saw their unemployment estimates rise from December to January. However, when looking at a year to year comparison, the rates were improved. Here in Lincoln County, the January 2017 rate was 5.2%. That's up from 4.3% in December, but down from 5.4% in January of last year. Oneida County's rate, at 5.6% was up slightly from December, but improved a full percentage point from last January. It was a similar story in Vilas County, at 6.2% in January of this year, a 1.4% improvement from last January. The overall state rate, which is not a direct comparison due to seasonable adjustments, was at 4.2%. It still followed that same statewide trend.
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Several Local School Districts Receive Robotics League Grants
Published on 03/22/2017 under News Several northwoods schools are among those sharing state grants to assist in funding student robotics programs. The Department of Public Instruction recently announced that 125 schools will share in a $250,000 match grant program. The program was created to cover fees, required kits and supplies for participating high school teams. The robotics leagues are seen as a way to increase student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum. Several local schools applied for, and received matching grants. That includes: Mercer, Medford, Phelps, Rhinelander and Wausau. Most of the awarded grants fell between $1,000 and $2,000. State Superintendent Tony Evers, in announcing the grants, noted that he recently observed an in-school robotics competition. He highlighted the excitement and engagement of the student participants, saying "it's an amazing sight to have kids charging ahead with their learning."
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Nicolet Bird Club Partners with DNR at Thunder Lake Wildlife Area
Published on 03/22/2017 under News The Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes has joined forces with Department of Natural Resources staff to manage Thunder Lake Wildlife Area in Oneida County through the Adopt a Wildlife Area program. That team up includes working together to enhance the area, while allowing participants hands-on conservation work. Club president Bill Lamon says, "From the outset, DNR staff have been very supportive of the (club's) creation and goal of making the Thunder Lake Wildlife Area a popular destination for birding and wildlife enthusiasts." He went on to says that partnership has included DNR presentations as well as counsel and direction to the club initiatives. To date several improvements are already completed including two birding and hiking trails with easy access to the Thunder Lake Marsh, other grounds improvements for bird and nature observers, and constructed a birding information kiosk at their improved parking area. The DNR says that future improvements are planned at Thunder Lake Wildlife Area "as this great partnership continues to grow."
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Recent Snow Melt Means Permits Needed for Controlled Burns
Published on 03/22/2017 under News Our alternating spring and winter weather pattern of recent weeks has again prompted the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office to remind residents of burning permit rules. Prior to our most recent snowfall, the grounds were clear and Sheriff reminded residents that a permit is need to burn when the snow is melted. In his report this week, he passed along that same message. The sheriff's office also requests that land owners alert dispatch about burns that may be visible in high traffic areas. Last week, more than 50 residents contacted the Sheriff's Office about controlled burns before the snow melt.
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