Medford Fire Department Has a Busy Tuesday
A stubborn fire kept the Medford Area Fire Department busy on Tuesday, January 19th. Employees of the millwork division of Weathershield noticed that the sprinkler system had been triggered in the sawdust collection system about 9:30 Tuesday morning. Firefighters from the Medford Area Fire Department focused on the sawdust silo located outside the south end of the milwork division on Whelen Avenue in Medford. After about three hours, it was determined there were no more hot spots in the silo.
When the sawdust collection system was reactivated, smoke began billowing from the silo again. Medford firefighters returned to the scene once again durng the noon hour. The sawdust silo's filter system was removed to allow firefighters to access the caked on sawdust.
No injuries were reported. There was some damage to the silo's filter system. Also responding to the scene were the Medford ambulance and Medford police. Medford firefighters were on the scene until about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.
ONE VEHICLE CRASH NORTH OF MEDFORD
Monday, January 11, 2016
One person was seriously injured in a one vehicle crash north of Medford Monday morning, January 11th. Preliminary reports indicate that a southbound pickup crossed the centerline of Highway 13 veered across the highway, clipped off a mailbox and telephone pedestal, coming to rest after striking a large spruce tree on the east side of the road just south of Jolly Avenue at N3898 highway 13. Taylor County officers, the Medford ambulance and Medford area fire department responded. The driver of the pickup was trapped in the back seat of the pickup in subzero temperatures. Medford firefighters used the jaws of life to pull the roof off of the truck and free the injured driver from the back seat. The male driver was taken by Medford ambulance to Aspirus Medford hospital and then transferred by Aspirus helicopter. The crash is being investigated by the Taylor County Sheriff’s department.
County Board Has Busy Meeting 12-22-15
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday. County board chairman Jim Metz recently moved out of District 4 to just north of the city. Mr. Metz handed the gavel over to Chuck Zenner who will assume the position of chairman until the April reorganization meeting. Attorney Ken Schmiege told the board that 2 supervisor positions were open, one due to Mr. Metz moving and the second was due to Jason Julian resigning from the board. Schmiege told the board that county code addressed vacancies on the board but didn’t indicate a timetable. He suggested that at a future meeting the board could amend the county code and establish a timeline for filling vacant supervisor seats.
Chairman Zenner told the board that traditionally the chairman isn’t a member of committees. He asked the board for direction as to whether he should maintain his committee membership and chairman status or not. Supervisors Breneman and Dave Lemke felt the positions should be filled by other board members. Ultimately the board voted unanimously to have chairman Zenner maintain his status on committees.
The board approved the 2 new members and Judge Ann Knox-Bauer administered the oath of office to Michael Bub and Catherine Lemke.
Two 4-H members were recognized for achieving the highest award in 4-H Youth Development. The county board approved a resolution recognizing the efforts of Laura Bolstad and Douglas Schumacher for receiving the Wisconsin Key Award.
A presentation of a ceremonial check donation was given to 3 members of the Huey’s Hideaway board. The $10,000 donation will help equip the new children’s museum in Medford with construction slated to begin in early 2016.
Supervisor Tim Hanson congratulated Patti Krug and the staff of the county health department for achieving a Level 2 designation by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The board was informed that the Taylor County Health Department and the Taylor County Drug Opposition Partners are the recipient of a grant in the amount of $600,000 over the next 5 years. Funds from the grant are earmarked for attempting to reduce underage drinking and drug use.
The county board voted unanimously to withdraw from the Local Government Property Insurance Fund. The county’s 2016 premiums were projected to increase 35%, nearly $24,000. Other companies quoted premiums which were much lower.
The vote was unanimous in favor of a resolution which supported application for coordinated services team initiative as required by state law.
Recent attempts to locate a “super dairy” in Taylor County prompted interest in the county’s minimal water supply. A scientific study indicated that the average water well production is 9.2 gallons per minute. This is among the lowest output of drinking water in the state. Taylor County’s 9.2 gallons per minute pales in contrast to Portage County which averaged 56 gallons per minute. The board voted unanimously for a resolution supporting enhanced groundwater protections for Taylor County in any future legislation regarding groundwater. Some proposed legislation would designate certain areas of the state as “sensitive resources areas”.
The deputy sheriff’s and sergeants bargaining agreement for 2016-17 was adopted.
The former Perkinstown Jail is one step closer to being moved to the fairgrounds in Medford. The board approved allocating $5,500 in Powerline Impact fees to partially fund the move.
The next issue received the most debate. It involved the purchase of the Harold Miller property adjacent to the Taylor County Fairgrounds. Supervisor Bob Lee indicated the tax assessment of the property was about $56,000. He disagreed with paying nearly 3 times that amount, $165,000. Dave Lemke said the land could provide good use for the fairgrounds and highway department. He said the land could be developed into a campgrounds. He called it a one time opportunity. Supervisor Ewan said he was told that the land has been for sale for 20 years. He told the board that Medford’s Mayor Mike Wellner said the city is not interested in the parcel. Ewan said that the 24 acre parcel has 6 or 7 usable acres with the balance being wetlands. Supervisor Breneman said that taxpayers don’t think Taylor County should be buying more land. Supervisor McKovsky repeatedly told the board that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Supervisor Mildebrand indicated that the proposed land purchase would utilize funds from the county cash reserves. He said the county’s auditor’s have expressed the opinion that the county’s reserves are low. He felt that since the purchase is recreational, funding should come from powerline impact fees. Supervisor Dave Krug questioned how much personnel would be needed to maintain a 27 unit RV Park. Jeff Ludwig said since the land was so close to their office, no additional personnel would be needed. Krug said he liked the idea of a campground but was concerned about the cost of developing it. Supervisor Tim Hanson said he had a hard time justifying a purchase which would be used 3 or 4 days per year. The proposal to purchase 24.3 acres from Harold Miller near the fairgrounds for $165,000 failed by a 5 yes and 12 no votes. Voting in favor of the purchase were Albrecht, Gebauer, Lemke, McKovsky and Zenner.
The Jump River Park and Campground is scheduled for improvements with the projected cost of $37,690.00. The county board approved $10,000 in powerline impact fees for improvements to the Jump River campground and playground.
The board gave unanimous approval to including the UW Extension in the county conditions of employment code. Taylor County now has an official Finance Department. Larry Brandl will be the department head and will answer to the finance committee.
The final business of the day had to do with purchasing I Pads for the county board. Lester Lewis projected the effort would cost $20,000 per year. He expressed his concern about costs. Supervisor Dave Krug indicated that he’s a member of the ADRC which has used electronic tablets for the past 2 years. However most of the board members have turned their tablets back in. Krug blamed the lack of training for member hesitancy in using electronic tablets. County Clerk cautioned the board by saying if the board wasn’t going to use the tablets, then don’t purchase them. County Attorney Ken Schmiege cautioned the group that if the board members could communicate with all other members, that could be a violation of the open meetings law. The board voted to table the issue until the county board’s April reorganization meeting.
That was some of the business at the Tuesday Taylor County Board meeting.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office and the Medford Police Department have been made aware of an individual impersonating an officer, both within the City of Medford and again in Taylor County. Both incidents involved a dark colored vehicle with red and blue grill lights stopping another motorist. In both incidents, the individual approached the stopped vehicle and verbally identified himself as an officer. He is described as a white male in his 30s, about 6 feet in height, with dark hair and some facial hair. He was wearing plain clothes and identified himself as a detective in the first incident. In the second incident, he was wearing uniform style clothing with no badge or markings. Both incidents appear to be random and authorities do not have anything to indicate this indivdual is targeting specific ages or genders, In both cases, the suspect told the driver why he stopped them and then left after minor conversation.
In both cases, this was a dark colored, unmarked car with simple grill lighting. It should be noted that both the Taylor County Sheriff's Office and the Medford Police Department have unmarked squad cars. These unmarked squad cars are equipped with more emergency lighting than two simple grill lights.
At this time, the Taylor County Sheriff's Department and Medford Police Department are simply informing our citizenry so they are aware and are asking them to report any information they may have related to an individual impersonating an officer. You may contact both the Taylor County Sheriff's Department and the Medford Police Department by calling 715-748-2200 or 1-800-343-2201.
If you are stopped by a suspicious vehicle, you should try to stop in a well-lit area. In rural settings, well-lit areas may be difficult to find, so you can stop in front of another house or even pull into a driveway to stop. If the officer is in plain clothes, ask for his identification and department number so you may call to verify his identification. These are simple requests that any officer should be willing to provide.
This is not a justification to avoid stopping for a law enforcement officer. Failure to stop for an officer is a crime. If you are suspicious during a traffic stop, dial 9-1-1 or the numbers listed above. A dispatcher will assist you in determining the validity of the traffic stop. Fully marked squad cars have not been an issue in these two cases.
12/17/15 County Board Changing
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors will have a new look in 2016.
In district 3 Roger Ewan has filed papers indicating he will not seek another term. In district 7 Dave Lemke has also filed non-candidacy papers. And county board chairman Jim Lemke has moved out of the city and now resides in District 5. That creates a vacancy in district 4 which Mike Bub has indicated he will file papers for. With Jim Metz now residing in district 5, Mr. Metz has filed papers to run and current district 5 supervisor Bob Lee took out papers which could create a contest between Jim Metz and Bob Lee.
In Medford all 4 incumbent aldermen and Mayor Mike Wellner have taken out nomination papers.
Individuals who are interested in running for city or county positions should contact either city clerk Ginny Brost or county clerk Bruce Strama. Nomination forms need to be completed by January 5th.
11/25/15 Officials Investigate "Clip & Run" Crash
The Medford Area Fire Department was called out just after 6:30 this morning, Wednesday, November 25th, to the report of a vehicle which had hit a power pole east of Medford on Highway 64. Upon receiving the call, the dispatch center also sent the Medford ambulance to the scene. Upon arrival, officials noted that a vehicle had struck a driveway entrance, went airborne and clipped off a power pole causing the power line to spark. However, the vehicle had left the scene. The investigation into the apparent hit and run crash is continuing.
TAYLOR COUNTY PERSONNEL COMMITTEE MEETING
The Taylor County Personnel Committee met Wednesday morning, November 18th. The committee approved the request to maintain a 40 hour per week administrative assistant position for the U.W. Extension offices. It was noted that future state budgets may require extension agents to cover several counties which will put more demands on the support staff. The measure now will be taken up by the county board. The Land Conservation Department was authorized to replace a conservation technician. Next, the joint personnel and finance committee met. They approved creating a finance department. It was noted that from a functional standpoint there will be no changes but now there will be a formal structure of the county finances. The committees approved job descriptions for the finance director and accountant with an amendment to include the language “review compliance reporting for human services department” for the finance director. That measure will now be acted on by the Taylor County Board.
LOCAL MAN DIES AS RESULT OF HOUSE FIRE
On November 17th, 2015 at 9:39 a.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a house fire at W2581 County Road M in the town of Greenwood Taylor County. Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies, RibLake Fire Dept., Medford Fire Dept., and Medford Ambulance were dispatched.
Upon Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies arrival, the house was fully engulfed in thick smoke. Deputies could hear a television on and could see a lamp on in what was believed to be the living room portion of the residence. Believing somebody may be in the residence deputies attempted to enter through the front door but were quickly overcome by dense smoke and zero visibility. Deputies also forced open the back door and attempted entry again but were overcome by the smoke once again. Deputies’ yells into the residence were met with no reply.
Once Medford and RibLake Fire Departments arrived on scene fire department personnel made entry into the residence and extricated one unresponsive male victim. The victim, identified as 77 year old Leroy H. Thieme was later pronounced dead at Medford Aspirus Hospital.
Cause of the fire has not yet been determined, investigation is pending
Taxes Going Down In Taylor County! 10/28/15
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 28th. They presented plaques of appreciation to Darlene Anderson and Nancy Daniels as they are retiring from county employment.
The board approved the 2016 highway department equipment schedule which will include purchasing 2 patrol trucks, a loader replacement and 2 new pickup trucks for a total outlay of $500,000.
The 2015 county bridge aids were approved with the county paying half of expenses for new township culverts and bridges with the total county share of 11 projects placed at $59,540.
The amended compensation schedules for the county medical examiner and corporate counsel were approved.
The next issue received the first “no” vote of the day. A resolution to increase the classification and compensation steps for the county’s non-represented employees would provide a 2% pay raise. Supervisor Lester Lewis blasted the resolution saying it could be used as a tool to get people to leave the unions. Lewis was the lone no vote and the measure passed providing the 2% pay raise. The county is in negotiations with their unionized employees and current law limits any pay raise to not exceed the C.P.I. The current consumer price index is at .73%.
The board approved 2 ordinances relating to conditions of employment.
They approved a reaffirmation of the workforce innovation and opportunity act.
Current state law requires new bridges to be equipped with bikeways and sidewalks unless it is determined that there is an absence of need. The board voted unanimously that the County O Black River bridge is absent of such a need.
The county’s forestry department annual work plan for 2016 was approved. Supervisor Rollie Thums expressed concern that revenues which were derived from timber sales on county land could be used for tax relief. Chuck Zenner explained that the land acquisition fund is being built back up to $500,000. The forestry department is self- sustaining with excess revenues available for county expenditures. The Taylor County Forest is comprised of 15,738 acres of timber.
The budget review committee which included Charles Zenner, Scott Mildbrand, Tim Hansen, Ray Soper, and David Krug presented the 2016 county budget. Committee Chairman Zenner commended the county departments which presented budgets with no increase. After several small amendments which included an additional $1,000 for the fair and $4,000 for bridge aids, the board adapted a budget which will see a tax rate of $8.23, which is 4 cents under 2015’s $8.27. As a benchmark, the county tax on a $100,000 property will be $4 less in 2016.
That was some of the business conducted by the Taylor County Board on Wednesday, October 28th.
Hot Truck at Medford Cooperative Gas Station 10/14/15
The Medford Area Fire Department was called to the Medford Cooperative Cenex Gas Station on Highway 13 in Medford during the noon hour today (Oct 14). A utility boom truck had pulled up to the diesel fuel pumps when the inner dual tire blew. Smoke began to billow from the wheel well. The truck owner was able to move the vehicle away from the fuel pumps. Medford firefighters applied water to the overheated brake drums as steam flowed from both wheel wells. The vehicle had been purchased from an electric coop by a construction firm. No injuries were reported. Other than the splintered tire and hot brakes, there was no significant damage to the truck.
10/5/15 Medford Shooter Gets Prison Time
A 20 year old Medford man identified by police as the shooter in an incident that prompted a lockdown at Medford High School stalling a high school football game on August 30, 2014 will be serving more jail time. Harrison Davis pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first degree recklessly endangering safety. Judge Ann Knox-Bauer sentenced Davis to 2 years and 6 months in a state prison, along with 2 years and 6 months extended supervision. He was also found guilty of bail jumping and sentenced to 9 months of jail time with the defendant to pay all sheriff and jail fees. Jail time to be concurrent with prison time. Three other charges were dismissed but read into the record. The court also ordered Davis to pay $1,963.
The incident began around 3 PM August 30, 2014 when a man called 911 to report that shots had been fired through his front door of a home near Holy Rosary School. The bullet reportedly traveled through the living room and into the kitchen but did not injure anyone. During the ensuing search for the suspect the football game at the high school was postponed for several hours with the field evacuated. Harrison Davis was arrested three hours later near the Chippewa and Taylor County line. Jail time for Davis can be served in any county of the state with no additional cost to Taylor County.
9/6/16 Farm Implement Crash lnjures Several People
A Saturday night, September 5th, crash involving a farm implement and a pickup sent several people to the hospital. Taylor County officers responded to a 911 call which reported that a pickup struck a trailer which was stopped in the roadway on County O, just west of County C. Also responding to the scene were the Medford Ambulance, Medevac, and Medford Area Fire Department. Preliminary reports indicate that a pickup truck which was pulling a gravity box was attempting to back the gravity box trailer into a farm driveway when a second pickup struck the farm pickup. Several people were taken from the scene by ambulances.
While officials were at the crash scene the Medford fire department was called to a fire alarm at Phillips Medisize Plastics. The Stetsonville Fire Department was called for backup. It turned out to be a false alarm.
9/3/15 M.A.S.H. VANDALIZED ON FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Early Wednesday morning, September 3rd, as Medford school officials arrived for work they discovered that the high school had been vandalized. Reports indicate that many doors and windows at the high school had been spray painted sometime Tuesday night. School officials began the task of cleaning up the mess before students arrived. According to district administrator Pat Sullivan, a number of Medford students have been identified as being involved. While most of the damage was cleaned up, on a number of doors the paint peeled off from the pressure of the power washers. So they will require additional attention. Some of the graffiti read: “Class of 2016”. District officials have indicated that the disciplinary process for the students involved has begun.
8/25/15 Construction Worker Injured
A utility worker was injured in a work-related accident Tuesday August 18th in the town of Greenwood. Reports indicate that a 911 call to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office reported that a vehicle had struck a rope which was being guided across the roadway by a construction worker, causing the worker to be entangled in the rope and injuring him. When a Taylor County officer arrived on the scene, an injured semi-conscious person was lying in the roadway on Lemke Creek Road, just north of County M. Other workers on the scene indicated that they had been guiding a piece of fiber optic cable underground in the ditch area of Lemke Creek Road about 500 feet north of M. A backhoe was pulling a high tensile rope which was attached to the fiber optic across County M. An eastbound vehicle struck the rope causing it to strike the victim’s legs, flipping him onto the pavement. The vehicle did not stop. One of the workers indicated he saw the victim get flipped into the air just after being struck by the rope. The Medford ambulance transported the victim to Aspirus Hospital in Medford. There were no construction signs or barriers posted on County M. It was possible that the vehicle’s driver who ran over the rope had no knowledge of what actually happened.
The case involving the disciplining of Medford Police Officer Rob Stieber continued Thursday, August 20th. Stieber is charged by Medford Police Chief Ken Coyer with conduct issues related to personal cell phone and computer usage while on duty.
Former Taylor County Officer Haydon Estano testified by phone from Brown County. Estano testified that he had observed other Medford police officers using their in-squad computers for viewing You-Tube, Sportscenter and watching movies while on duty. He called Stieber a “caring guy” while expressing fear that Stieber’s ex-girlfriend would follow through on her threats of violence toward Stieber.
Next Rob Stieber took the stand on his own behalf. His attorney Shawn Paul asked him why his ex-girlfriend left the series of threatening voice mails telling him to stay away. He replied that her best friend was trying to set her up with a trucker from Canada. When he was asked why he didn’t report her threatening voice mails he responded that he loved her and didn’t want anything to happen to her. Stieber testified that one time his ex-girlfriend took a kitchen knife and pointed it at him. He said that on March 6th his father helped him move most of his things out of his ex-girlfriend’s house. But they had agreed to meet later that night after work outside of Hemer’s. During their relationship, they would meet outside a number of Medford area businesses where he parked his patrol car after she was done working at the Medford hospital E.R. Chief Coyer called Stieber’s presence at Hemers a form of stalking while Stieber’s girlfriend worked at the hospital. Stieber said she actually wanted to go to the movies that next night. He said his one mistake was calling the trucker from Canada and telling him that he was still in a relationship.
Stieber expressed his surprise that 2 letters of reprimand which were to be removed from his personnel file were used in the charges against him. One instance of calling dispatch from his cell phone in 2011 was supposed to be removed 1 year later. A second infraction of failure to report a change of address was to be removed one month later. Stieber testified that during his 7 ½ years as a Medford Police officer he had received numerous “atta-boys” letters of commendations from superior officers. They included a life-saving certificate. He had the department’s most extra patrols and half of all traffic stops in 2014. Stieber said he thought those documents would be in his personnel file but they weren’t.
City Attorney Wilson cross examined Stieber. He asked if Stieber recalled phoning dispatch in 2011 to ask if he needed to respond to a report of an unruly inmate at the Jail. Stieber said he couldn’t recall. Wilson asked Stieber about adhering to an 8 point improvement plan. Stieber said that was three years ago and that the chief said he would remove it from the file after 1 year. Regarding Stieber calling his girlfriend during a breakup, Stieber said it was a one time thing on a relationship that went sour. Stieber said his only bad decision was calling Ned the trucker after he was off duty. He said while he was parked outside Hemers, he was waiting for her, she was coming to him.
Commissioner Brian Hedlund asked Stieber about a recorded interview with the Chief and Stieber regarding his alleged misconduct. Hedlund asked Stieber why he showed remorse? Stieber responded he was scared. He said it was like a bombshell. He said I never should have called Ned. “I was sorry and wanted to get back to work”.
Commissioner Jim Elliot asked if Stieber had any prior knowledge about the topic of the meeting. Stieber said, no, I thought it was about cell phone use.
Stieber testified that his ex-girlfriend had brought home various patient records from the hospital. When he was asked why he didn’t report her violent threats or alleged violations of HIPPA laws he said he was “blinded by love”. He said on the day before he moved out she had given him her work schedule so they could coordinate time off together.
Thursday afternoon Sargent Craig Amundson of the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department took the stand. Amundson said he is Stieber’s brother-in-law. Amundson said he calculated 65 days of computer usage by the Medford Police Department. His report showed the top 10 web sites visited by most of the employees. He refuted the chiefs assumption of stalking by Stieber, indicating you couldn’t see the hospital’s ER from Hemer’s. He said that the chief alleged Stieber used the computer for 144 minutes searching for the Canadian trucker when in fact it was closer to 44 minutes.
The last witness to take the stand was Chief Coyer. Attorney Shawn Paul questioned why Stieber wasn’t provided a written notice of charges prior to his administrative meeting. She grilled Coyer for changing his timelines as the case progressed.
Commissioner Russ Jablonsky asked Coyer if the Police & Fire Commission had met on March 5th, the day before Stieber moved out & called the trucker, what would you say to Stieber?
Coyer responded that in February he, Officer Carey and assistant Sara Serano had detected a decline in Stieber’s performance. He said Stieber missed an unlocked jewelry store door and finding a reported stolen car.
Commissioner Jim Metz asked about Stieber’s girlfriend's threats toward Stieber. Was any action taken toward her? Coyer said she denied those.
Commissioner Jim Elliot asked Coyer if he had changed his attitude toward Stieber’s girlfriend. Coyer responded that they were like nitroglycerin on a bumpy road.
The 4 commissioners concluded Thursday by deciding in closed session how they will accept the closing summaries by both sides. Currently Chief Coyer has placed Officer Stieber on paid administrative leave. The commission must decide whether to do nothing, to discipline Stieber possibly with non-paid time off and then reinstate his position, or to terminate his employment. If the 4 commissioners should end up in a 2 to 2 tie vote, Stieber would assume his employment immediately.
The Medford Police and Fire Commission is scheduled to meet again on September 2nd at Medford City Hall.
Fire Damages Krug’s Towing & Repair 8/18/15
A Monday night fire caused damaged to a Medford area business. At 9:40 Monday night a 911 call reported that a logging truck was on fire in the work shop at Krug’s Towing & Repair located northwest of Medford at N3470 CTH Q. The business is owned by Brian and Jeanne Krug of Medford. Two employees of the business discovered the burning semi-tractor as they drove up to the building. No one was working in the building at the time. Medford firefighters were able to extinguish the burning truck which is reported to be owned by a logger from Arkansas, WI. Due to an extension of the fire, firefighters had to peel away a portion of the steel ceiling in the work shop to extinguish some burning rafters. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Preliminary damage estimates are $300,000. Brian Krug told K99 that the towing and repair businesses are continuing to operate. The phone numbers will not change. Until the building can be repaired, the businesses will operate out of the Krug Bus Garage on Medford’s West Side.
Dam Repairs Approved
The Chequamegon Flowage Miller Dam will be receiving some required repairs before winter. The Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee discussed the repairs which had been documented by the D.N.R. Jack Schmieser talked to the committee about the extent of repairs and how he would approach the project. He indicated much of the procedure would be the same process as is used at Hoover Dam. The repairs upstream would be done from a boat. The repairs which have been identified by the D.N.R. include the dam gate and abutment walls. To repair cracks in the dam, which were not identified by the DNR, would drive the estimated cost over $30,000. The committee voted to proceed with the required repairs to Miller Dam which Jack Schmeiser estimated would not exceed $10,000.
In other business the committee was told that logging in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest may be on the rise with the initiation of the Good Neighbor proposal. Currently the U.S. Forest Service is cutting about 60% of the timber which they are authorized to harvest. The federal agency justifies this inactivity due to budget cuts. The Good Neighbor Initiative would divert some of the timber management to the state and county levels with expenses reimbursed by the logging proceeds. The committee expressed guarded optimism that the program may increase the volume of timber harvest in the federal forest.
The four person City of Medford Police and Fire Commission is normally a low-key position. Now they are faced with the decision of whether to allow a Medford Police officer to lose his job. Commission members in attendance included Jim Elliott, Russ Jablonsky, Brian Hedlund and chairman Jim Metz.
Officer Rob Stieber has been charged by Medford Police Chief Ken Coyer with violating I.T. rules, personal cell phone standards and personal conduct including failure to report his change of residence address.
Testimony on Thursday, August 6th by Chief Coyer gave details of Officer Stieber's alleged used of his personal cell phone while on duty and incidents of inappropriate record keeping. Coyer said a resident was concerned about a 2 year old child who was in a meth house. Coyer said Stieber didn't report the child's situation to human services, which put the child in peril.
The city's attorney alleged that Stieber patrolled outside the hospital where his girlfriend worked to monitor her as they were in the process of breaking up. Attorney Wilson charged that Stieber spent about an hour while he was on duty googling another man whom the attorney said Stieber's girlfriend had met online. Attorney Paul pointed out that the Marathon County Sheriff's Department found no evidence of stalking. In regard to using a computer for personal use, attorney Paul said every officer except for officer Schroeder had used a computer for personal use while on duty.
Primary testimony on Friday, August 7th, centered on Rob Stieber's ex-girlfriend Lori Thomson. She testified that they never had a normal relationship and estimated that they broke up and made up 4 or 5 times over 4 years. She said one day she came home from work and all of his things were in her home. He had been living with his grandparents. Thomson complained that Stieber would rip up her lawn with his vehicle during disagreements. She called his dad to move his things out of her home. While Thomson was at work, Stieber and his father moved his items out of the house. Thomson said that Stieber took several items which he had given her including a lamp, a bike wheel, waffle iron and, when she looked outside, there was a pile of sunflowers because he took the bird feeder.
One area of contention was when Stieber searched Thomson's caller id and found the phone number of a Canadian man with whom she had conversed. Stieber called the man the following morning at 4:00, 5:00 and 7:00 A.M., telling him that he was her boyfriend.
Thomson reported that Stieber's mom had called her at 1:00 A.M., sounding intoxicated, scolding Thomson for jeopardizing her son's job.
Thomson testified that she thought Stieber would change, but now she just wants him to leave her alone. She lamented that she lost more in this relationship than she did in her divorce.
Shawn Paul cross examined Thomson, grilling her on being investigated for violating Aspirus polices by taking home written patient records.
Stieber told a Marathon County detective that Thomsom had left numerous profanity laced voice mails on his phone. The boisterous voice mails were played for the commission with Thomson shouting, "I wil ruin your job!"
The four member commission must decide whether Rob Stieber can keep his job as a Medford Police patrolman. He is on paid administrative leave facing charges of misconduct. Following two days of testimony, the Police and Fire Commission will have a time out next week with their next meeting scheduled for Monday, August 17th at Medford City Hall beginning at 9:00 A.M.