The 2015 Taylor County Fair will be held Thursday, July 23rd through Sunday, July 26th in the Taylor County Fairgrounds on the corners of Highway 13 & 64 in Medford. The K99 Dairy Dessert Contest is Friday afternoon beginning at 1:00 in the multi purpose building. Grandstand entertainment includes K99 Radio & Nicolet National Bank presents Vic Ferrari on Thursday night at 7:00, NTPA Tractor Pulls Friday night at 7:30, Central Truck Pullers Truck Pulls Saturday night at 6:00 and Mini Rod Pulls Sunday afternoon at 3:00. The Market Animal Show & Sale is Friday night at 6:00, Dairy Judging is Saturday morning beginning at 9:00 with the Over the Hill Contest to follow, the Junior Amateur Talent Competition starts Sunday at noon. For more information, visit wi tayor county fair.com…
Members of the Taylor County Finance Committee got a sneak peek at a proposed children’s museum during their meeting on Tuesday, July 14th. Alli Rannum and Lesse Lukewich detailed their plans for the proposed children’s museum. They indicated that the museum would be a place for young families to bring their children and interact with peers utilizing interactive activities including a small bank, grocery store and sensory type activity stations. Outdoor gardens would teach children to care for plants with learning workshops on the environment. Ms. Rannum told the committee that the city pool sold 189 passes last year and their initial goal would be 200 memberships. Through fundraising events they hope to raise enough money to purchase a building in downtown Medford and green space for outdoor activities. The fundraising goal is $200,000.
Rollie Thums indicated he had driven numerous busloads of Rib Lake students to similar museums in Eagle River, Madison and Eau Claire. He said the children had so much fun it was difficult to get them to leave. He commended the group for their enthusiasm and said he supported giving our children an activity where they don’t use their thumbs, but use their brains.
Dave Krug questioned if the facility would amount to a daycare. Alli Rannum replied that parents must sign a form agreeing to not leave their children unattended. Mr. Lukewich indicated that daycare providers would be welcome to bring their youngsters for productive learning activities.
The finance committee voted unanimously to pledge $10,000 to the children’s museum venture with funds coming from power line funding. The measure will now require a 2/3 approval by the Taylor County Board at their August meeting.
Medford Apartment Building Destroyed By Fire 7/4/15
The shortage of rental housing in Medford became more pronounced with a major apartment fire on the 4th of July. Just before 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, a 911 call reported a structure fire at 810 Malibu Drive on Medford’s northeast side. The Medford police, Taylor County Deputies, and Firefighters from Medford and Stetsonville responded. Emergency personnel were able to confirm that everyone had made it out of the building and were accounted for.
The fire started on the east side of the structure near an air conditioner and quickly burned up 2 stories spreading to the rafters along the roof’s soffit. With the flames burning and contained between the shingles and the ceiling drywall, firefighters had a difficult time containing the blaze. The Medford ladder truck applied thousands of gallons of water with the majority of the roof system eventually collapsing. The nine apartment complex which is owned by Chuck Gelhaus is considered a total loss.
Many agencies responded to the scene. Displaced occupants received assistance from the Taylor County Emergency Management, Taylor County Human Services, and the Red Cross for temporary housing needs. The Taylor County Humane Society assisted families with housing for their family pets. Taylor County EMS assisted with medical issues related to the fire and heat. No major injuries were reported. Krugs’ Bus Service provided transportation for displaced citizens. Happy Joe’s Pizza and private citizens came forward with water and other items for responders.
The building’s owner Chuck Gelhaus told K99 that he was amazed at the professional response on a holiday weekend. He expressed relief that no one was hurt. And although the building’s occupants could recover some personal items on Sunday, many items were lost. Mr. Gelhaus indicated that anyone who wanted to help the fire victims could contact either the Red Cross or Human Services. Prior to construction on a replacement facility the long process of state approved plans must be completed. Mr. Gelhaus said that their goal is to have a new rental housing facility completed prior to winter.
The Medford Area Senior High School was well represented at the 2015 Badger Boys and Girls State Program. Douglas Shumacher of Stetsonville and Jacob Geiger and Ty Wrage of Medford attended Badger Boys State June 13th through the 20th at Ripon College. Esther Lusenge of Medford attended Badger Girls State June 21st through the 26th at the UW-Oshkosh. To be selected, students must rank in the upper third of the junior class and exhibit qualities of leadership, character and an interest in government and leadership. Recently, these students stopped by the K99 Radio studios in Medford and shared their Badger State experience with K99's Patrick Porten.....
Plans are being announced for the 2015 K99 Dairy Dessert Contest at the Taylor County Fair. All dairy desserts must include 2 Real Dairy products to be eligible. This year’s winner of the contest will receive a select Haier 18 cubic foot top mount refrigerator courtesy of K & B Refrigeration. The event will be held in the Taylor County Municipal Building Friday July 24th at 1 PM. This year’s dairy dessert contest is sponsored by Marathon Cheese Corporation, K & B Refrigeration, Taylor County Farm Bureau, and K99 Radio. Entry deadline is Friday July 17th. For complete rules, check our website K99WIGM.com or stop by the K99 studios on highway 13 in Medford.
The Sheldon man who is guilty of killing one man and injuring another man while driving drunk is going to prison.
Judge Ann Knox-Bauer sentenced James Winchel to 16 years of prison time for driving drunk and killing Juan Salinas and injuring his brother in 2013. Prior to his sentencing on Friday in Taylor County Court wearing handcuffs and an orange jump suit Winchel turned and winked at his family members. District Attorney Kristi Tlusty asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence which would have amounted to 30 years imprisonment and 20 years extended supervision. D.A. Tlusty indicated that Wisconsin has a poor reputation for punishing drunk driving. She said that Winchel’s crime is multiplied by his 4 prior O.W.I. convictions.
In court on Friday, Salinas family members wept as the D.A. detailed the crash which severely broke the leg of Fernando Salinas and killed his brother Juan Salinas as they stood alongside a rural roadway in western Taylor County following a day of deer hunting. Juan’s body flew 130 feet after the collision. Ferando’s leg was so badly broken that it took exceptional care by doctors in Wausau to save the leg. Prior to sentencing on Friday, Fernando limped to the witness stand to tell the court how he and his only brother came for a fun weekend and it turned into a nightmare. He told the court he had endured 3 surgeries. He suffers nightmares and wakes up crying after losing his only brother. He also asked the judge to sentence Winchel to the maximum time so he couldn’t cause this to another family.
Juan Fernando’s widow Maria took the stand next. In front of her was a picture of the couple. She began to weep telling the court she lost the love of her life. She said she didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. She continued weeping saying she had no one to cook for, no one to mow lawn, or go camping with. She felt that Winchel showed no remorse and recalled how during the trial he looked behind him to smile at his children. The widow Maria sternly said “you have no idea how that made me feel”. She concluded by thanking D.A. Tlusty, her staff and the court.
Natalie Martinez read a statement from Juan’s son Daniel who characterized his late father as dependable, caring and always ready to help. He indicated his regret of taking his father for granted, thinking he would always be there.
Winchel’s defense attorney Noco asked the court to compare to comparable cases involving repeat drunk drivers killing someone. He said that his research showed that in cases over the past 2 years, prison sentences have ranged from 4 to 14 years. He told the court that he knew what it felt like to lose a family member, but that instead of life in prison, Winchel needed rehabilitation. The attorney told the court that if Winchel messed up after an abbreviated stay in prison, then he’d go back for the rest of his life.
Judge Knox-Bauer sentenced James Winchel to a total of 16 years of prison and an additional 18 years of extended supervision. The judge expressed her concern over Winchel’s 4 prior OWI convictions. It appeared to her that the state’s efforts to rehabilitate Winchel had failed and that it was just a matter of time before he killed someone. She said it’s fair to say that it’s been a living hell for the families of the victims. After Winchel’s prison term, his 18 years of extended supervision will include a 5 year revocation of driving privileges, must submit a DNA sample, must pay restitution, write an apology to the families, and take part in an OWI impact panel. Winchel is to begin his prison term at the Dodge correctional institute. He will be just under 60 years old when he is released.
An arrest has been made in connection with the recent break-in of the Medford V.F.W. Reports indicate that one person is in custody in another jurisdiction following an apprehension at a recent unrelated break-in. While the investigation is underway in several neighboring counties, it is reported that the individual is a prime suspect in break-ins at a number of businesses. The Medford V.F.W. was reported to have been heavily damaged during the overnight break-in and burglary recently. Medford Police are working with law enforcement in neighboring counties in putting the details together. According to Medford police Chief Ken Coyer, details on the break-in are pending with district attorney Kristi Tlusty for charges in the V.F.W. break-in. Details on the suspect who is jailed at this time are forthcoming.
5/24/15 Fire Calls Paired Up
The Medford area fire department was called to a pair of fire calls Saturday, May 23. Just after 8 o’clock Saturday morning a fire alarm sounded at Maple Island at 333 South Wisconsin Avenue in Medford. It was discovered that a gas powered fogger was being used to apply pesticide. The resulting fog triggered the smoke alarm. There was no fire at Maple Island.
Saturday night at 11:35 Medford firefighters were called to a house fire at the Gerald Jani home located at N3308 Spring Drive in the town of Goodrich. Mr. Jani told firefighters that they were sitting by a campfire and noticed flames coming out of the kitchen window. When firefighters arrived the home was fully engulfed in flames. The Athens Fire Department assisted with water supply. Efforts were focused on protecting adjacent structures and cooling a fuel barrel which was near the home. No injuries were reported but the 25 by 40 foot home was a total loss. Medford firefighters were on the scene until 3:15 Sunday morning.
On Sunday, May 17th, 2015, around 7:24 A.M., a Medford Police Officer was dispatched to the report of damaged items in the Medford City Park. A light fixture was discovered broken in the small wooden covered bridge on the west side of the Riverwalk. A plastic memorial was also found broken on the west side of the Riverwalk. One of the city garbage cans was floating in the Black River. Two memorial benches and a large wooden planter were tipped over on the east side of the Riverwalk. If anyone has any information related to this vandalism incident, please call the Medford Police Department at (715) 748-1447. Citizens are also asked to call the Medford Police Department if they see anyone in the Medford City Park after 11:00 P.M. The park closes at 11:00 PM.
A "monster" has shown up on Clint Carbaugh's Facebook page. We've seen these kinds of things on You Tube, Facebook and the like before. They usually turn out to be a hoax, some kind of computer generated picture. But this "River Monster" was found by the Little Black River near Stan Carbaugh's home. Clint recently took some time to "share" his "River Monster" story with K99's Russ Gowey. We hope you "like" it. You'll also find pictures of Carbaugh's River Monster below........
Medford Police are investigating a burglary which occurred Sunday night or early Monday morning. The burglar pried open the back door to the Medford V.F.W. and took undisclosed items. Medford Police are seeking the assistance of anyone who may have seen someone in the area of the V.F.W. between the hours of 9 PM Sunday, May 3rd, and 7 AM Monday, May 4th. If you saw anyone walking or driving near the V.F.W. parking lot overnight Sunday night, please call the Medford Police Department.
Two incidents including a house fire and a deadly motorcycle crash occurred over the weekend in Taylor County.
Friday night, May 1st, just after 5 o’clock the Medford Area Fire Department was called to a mobile home fire at W8283 Center Avenue, northwest of Medford in the town of Hammel. Reports indicate that prior to firefighters arriving, a person entered the burning home and subsequently escaped through a window. The individual was taken for injury treatment. When firefighters arrived the flames were from under the floor up into the ceiling of the kitchen and bathroom. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. One pet dog died in the blaze, but firefighters removed a second dog from the structure which appeared frightened, but alive. The home owned by Jim Haynes sustained an estimated $20,000 damage. Cause of the blaze is undetermined at this time. Medford ambulance and Taylor County officers also responded.
Then, early Sunday, May 3rd, a deadly motorcycle crash was reported at 1:50 A.M. to the Taylor County Sheriff’s office. The initial caller reported that it appeared to him that the motorcycle struck a tree and the male driver of the motorcycle was not responding. Emergency personnel from the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, Medford Ambulance, MedEvac, and Medford Fire Department responded. The initial investigation indicates that Anthony Ostrowski, a 39 year old Tony, WI resident was travelling north on County Q approaching County M which is a “T” intersection. The motorcycle failed to stop at the stop sign, travelled north across County M into the ditch striking an intersection sign and marker sign, flipped over and came to rest. Ostrowski was the lone passenger on the motorcycle. Speed and alcohol are being considered as potential contributing factors in the crash.
People who were near Medford’s Main Street Wednesday morning, April 29, found out first hand why you call the fire department when there’s a gas leak. PSI drilling from Chippewa Falls was using an auger truck to take soil samples in an alley behind Handel Automotive when their auger ruptured a WE energies natural gas line. The 3 man crew quickly ran from the scene, leaving the drilling engine running. The Medford area fire department responded and neighboring buildings were evacuated. As the wind direction shifted a loud explosion and 30 foot high flame erupted. A pickup truck and the auger truck were involved in the fire. Two adjacent garages were damaged but the efforts of the fire department prevented the fire from spreading. The explosion and ball of flames melted an overhead power line. Power was out temporarily to a large area including the courthouse. Several downtown businesses were without power until the gas line could be repaired. No serious injuries were reported.
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, April 21st. The board approved the appointment of Jason Julian and James Gebauer to fill 2 county board vacancies. In a presentation of plaques to former supervisors, “Foxy” Dennis Fuchs gave an emotional farewell. Foxy said he had one piece of advice especially for the two new members: “Keep your ears, eyes and mind open, and make your decision that way”. The board gave a standing ovation to Mr. Fuchs. Several retiring county employees were presented plaques. The family of the late Joe Sweda accepted a plaque in observance of his 34 years as a county board member. The long list of committees which Sweda served on included one called the Dance Hall Committee. Marie Albers accepted a plaque of appreciation for the 3 times in recent years that she continued to operate the Veterans Office in the absence of a Veterans Service Officer.
Supervisor Lester Lewis told the board he introduced an ordinance which was designed to spread the power of the county to more people. Currently, he said the county seems to be run by a select group of 4 or 5 people. The ordinance read: “No committee shall be so made up as to constitute a quorum of any other committee except for elected committees.” Lewis said: this works in other counties, it would make for more diversity on the committees. Chuck Zenner objected stating that the county has 5 – 3 member committees, saying he didn’t see how they could implement this. Supervisor Sue Breneman felt there should be some kind of change; indicating there are 4 or 5 people from near Medford who control the committees. Chairman Jim Metz responded there was a time when the board was run by western Taylor County with control by Mr. Sweda and Beadles. Tim Hanson said he took offense to the accusation that he may make decisions which would affect his district. Hanson said he votes for the well being of the county. As the roll call vote made it’s way around the room, with all members voting no except for Bob Lee, the vote got to author Lester Lewis who responded “I’m Present”. County Clerk Strama told the group that the ordinance was defeated by a 15 no vote, 1 yes vote and 1 “I’m present” vote.
Another emotional issue was the purchase of 77 acres of land to add to the county forest. Supervisor Breneman questioned the purchase indicating the Rib Lake school district would be the loser. She asked about the several potential building sites on the shores of Kennedy Lake which is part of the parcel. Chamber director Sue Emmerich felt that the county could gain tourism dollars from use of new cross country ski trails on the property. Dave Lemke said the trails are perfect for not only skiing but also logging. About 44 acres of the parcel are ready to be logged. The parcel has 1600 feet of frontage on Kennedy Lake, ¾ mile of cross country ski trails, and 2 miles of other mowed trails.
Bob Lee said he didn’t think the county needed the new land and that land is for private ownership.
Lester Lewis said maybe the county could sell some of their other land. And as far as development goes, you’re not going to get any development there anytime soon. Lewis continued: Rib Lake isn’t going to grow anytime soon. Supervisor Mildebrand questioned if it was proper to take money out of budgets, and asked if the board could approve the purchase contingent upon the Knowles Stewardship being reinstated into the state budget. Zenner quickly said "No". Former county forester Brad Ruesch gave some background into the land acquisition fund. Originally, counties borrowed money from the state interest free to purchase county forest. The loans were paid back from timber sales. The current half million dollar Taylor County land acquisition fund was built up from timber sales over the past 20 years.
Rollie Thums stood up to express his opposition to the purchase. Thums said that Taylor County has 17,536 acres of county forest, or 489 40 acre blocks. Thums said “we beat the snot our of our department budgets!” He asked who is going to maintain the trails on the parcel. He reminded the board that last year the town of Rib Lake approached the county board to ask that they take over the Harper Lake beach and the board said no, they couldn’t afford to take care of it. Thums continued that the county has some 40’s that no one walks on and he’d be in favor of selling those and use that money for the new purchase. Thums concluded by asking, "who’s making our taxes high? We are!"
Bob Ruesch addressed the board indicating we have a wonderful county forest, but it is lacking in lake access. He said they were not only buying forest land, but guaranteeing access to the other adjacent county forest. While the parcel generates $2,243 in annual property tax, the Rib Lake school budget is in excess of 4 million dollars.
The vote to purchase the 77.2 acres for $199,900 passed by an 11 yes and 6 no votes.
At the close of the meeting Dave Lemke told the group that he is concerned about the federal forest service closing the Kathryn Lake campground. He has been in contact with the Park Falls office and is working to set up a meeting at the Grover Town Hall to address possible opportunities to keep the Kathryn Lake Park open. He said the conservation group has spent a lot of time and money in the park and it would be a shame to have it locked by the federal agency.
Forestry & Recreation Committee Approve Land Purchase
April 14, 2015
The Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee met Tuesday morning, April 14, and gave preliminary approval to purchase 77.2 acres of land in the Town of Rib Lake with County Forest Land Acquisition Funds. The parcel adjoins county owned land on the north and west side with access to Kennedy Lake which is just out of the northwest border of the village of Rib Lake. Mature timber accounts for about 44 acres of the parcel. The current property taxes on the parcel is $2,243.00 per year.
After a unanimous decision to recommend the land purchase, the committee approved an application for Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funding, if the program is placed back in the proposed state budget. Purchase of the land will now require approval of the Taylor County Board. The selling price of the 77.2 acres is $199,900.00.
Taylor County is losing a pair of campgrounds due to federal budget cuts. The forest service has announced that the campgrounds at Kathryn Lake and North Twin Lakes will be closing as part of federal budget cuts.
Turnout for Wisconsin spring election tops 18 percent
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Fewer than two out of every 10 possible voters in Wisconsin cast ballots in a state Supreme Court race.
Unofficial results from Tuesday's election show that just over 18 percent of the state's voting-age population participated. That is with 99 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning.
State elections officials had predicted 20 percent turnout.
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley defeated challenger Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley by 16 points. Voters also approved a constitutional amendment to give justices on the court the authority to choose the chief justice, rather than go to the most senior member.
That amendment passed by a 6-point margin. It likely will mean long-time Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson will be replaced.
Dorchester Village President,
Wayne Rau 127
Deb Koncel 18
Dorchester Village Trustee (3)
Mathew Derrico 105
Randy Cook Sr 103
Warren Oscar Underwood 111
Deb Koncel 35
Thomas Nelson 223
Patrick Pfeffer 72
For Complete election results visit the Taylor County Webpage
Eleven Fire Departments Assist At Main Street Fire
An early morning main street fire in Thorp prompted a call for assistance from 11 surrounding fire departments Monday morning, March 23rd.
The Abbotsford fire department was called out at 5:34 A.M. Monday for mutual aid at the Sun-Up Saloon on Main Street in Thorp. Abbotsford firefighters joined departments from Thorp, Owen-Withee Curtiss, Gilman, Colby, Dorchester, Lublin, Chippewa, Greenwood, Stanley, and Cadott. The residents of upper level apartments were able to escape without injury. The Sun-Up Saloon was totally destroyed.
Firefighters focused their energies on preventing the blaze from spreading to adjacent main street buildings and were successful. No injuries were reported.
The Abbotsford fire department returned to the hall at 10 Monday morning, March 23rd.
The Medford Area Senior High School was the scene of a bomb scare on October 1st, 2014. After the school was evacuated, student Jacob Gouza admitted to posting 3 messages on the internet site Yik Yak, with 2 of the messages making a reference to a bomb in his locker. Later that afternoon, Gouza told law officers that the bomb scare was a joke.
In Taylor County Court on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Taylor County D.A. Kristi Tlusty offered a plea deal and Gouza was found guilty due to no contest pleas to 3 counts including: disorderly conduct, unlawful use of a commputerized communication system and obstructing an officer.
Judge Anne Knox Bauer imposed a withheld sentence of probation for 1 year, jail for 60 days with Huber privileges, a letter of apology to the victim and Gouza must obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. Restitution and court costs totaling $4,360.37 were imposed.
Life of an Athlete, a FREE Parent & Community Presentation, featuring Olympic and Navy Seal Trainer, John Underwood, will be held on Monday, March 9th beginning at 7:00 P.M. in the Red White Theatre of the Medford Area Senior High School. As a community member, he'll discuss your responsibility in supporting the youth of our community. You'll leave with clear ideas on how you can help improve youth performance through understanding how the adolescent brain responds to nutrition, sleep, training and the avoidance of alcohol and drugs. To reserve a seat, visit taylorcountydop.weebly.com or contact the Taylor County Drug Oppostiion Partners at 715-748-1410. John Underwood and local athletic stand outs including former NFL player Owen Schmitt, Paul Henrichs, Steve Guden, former UW Oshkosh Volleyball Coach Marty Petersen and others share their experiences with K99's Russ Gowey....
Sheldon Man Guilty Of Killing Hunter 2/26/15
It took a Taylor County jury one hour of deliberation to declare James Winchel of Sheldon guilty of 6 felony charges Thursday night. The charges stem from a November 29, 2013 crash in western Taylor County that claimed the life of Juan Salinas as he stood on a rural roadway following a day of deer hunting. Injured in the same crash was Fernando Salinas, who was transferred to the Wausau hospital with a broken right leg.
State trooper Eric Hanson, who specializes in crash scene reconstruction utilized 2 methods to determine Winchel’s speed at the time of impact. One of them: The “throw distance” of the pedestrian, showed that the victim was thrown 138 feet after being struck by Winchel’s car. Hanson said, for a moment after impact, the struck body moves at the speed of the striking vehicle. Trooper Hanson estimated the vehicles speed to be between 43 and 52 miles per hour at the moment of impact. Hanson went into detail regarding the 3 phases of twilight as the prosecution worked to show that there was ample light to see the hunters in the roadway at the time of collision.
As a result of the crash, Winchel received a head injury as Juan Salinas’s rifle flew through the windshield and struck Winchel in the head. James Winchel was transported by helicopter to Luther Hospital in Eau Claire. A blood draw at the hospital indicated that Winchel’s blood alcohol level was .196. In Wisconsin, after a driver is convicted of their 2nd OWI, the legal blood alcohol limit drops from .08 to .02. James Winchel was facing his 5th OWI. D.A. Kristi Tlusty told the jury that Winchel’s .196 equated to nearly 10 times his legal limit of .02. The day after the crash Officer Nick Synol was told he could talk with Winchel as he was transferred out of intensive care. In a signed statement, Winchel indicated he saw the hunters after cresting a hill on Countyline Road. Winchel told Synol he was intoxicated after stopping at the Curve Inn bar and consuming 5 or 6 tap beers. Winchel said the beer had an impact on the crash.
Trooper Hanson estimated that Winchel had 10 seconds to react after seeing the hunters in the roadway. In closing statements to the jury, D.A. Kristi Tlusty asked the jury to close their eyes to illustrate the duration of 10 seconds. The courtroom fell silent until a computer “beeped” at the end of 10 seconds. Tlusty told the jury, that was how long Mr. Winchel had to either slow down, hit the brakes, or take the ditch, and he did nothing. D.A. Tlusty also used a graphic display to convince the jury that each of the elements required for guilty verdicts had been proved by her.
In closing statements Winchel’s defense attorney told the jury that alcohol wasn’t a factor in the crash, and that this was a case of “misplaced blame”. He pleaded that this accident would have happened anyway.
The jury didn’t agree and after listening to 2 full days of testimony from hunters who witnessed the fatal crash and officials involved in the investigation, took just one hour to deliver 6 guilty verdicts on every felony charge. The charges included homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, OWI causing injury, and OWI-5th offense. Judge Ann Knox Bauer will determine the fate of James Winchel following a pre-sentencing investigation.