LATEST TAYLOR COUNTY FORESTRY & RECREATION COMMITTEE MEETING Oct 7, 2016
The Taylor County Forestry & Recreation Committee met on Friday, October 7th. Joe Desris addressed the committee. He indicated that his mother may be interested in selling a parcel which is adjacent to a larger parcel in the northwest corner of the village of Rib Lake. He offered to sell the portion on the west side of Niemitz Road which is about 19 acres for $25,000. The parcel has 2 small stands of pine growing on it. Scott Lindow asked if county forest could be located within a village? It was also unknown if Knowles-Nelson matching funds would be available to purchase land within the village limits. Mr. Desris told the committee that access to the county forest could be enhanced for recreation or logging with the land purchase. The committee decided to get more information before making a decision on purchasing the parcel.
The Pirus Road shooting range will be undergoing major improvements. Brian Bucki from the Taylor County Sportsman’s Club told the committee that a grant from the Pittman Roberts fund will pay for 75% of the project. Money in the fund is derived from D.N.R. fines. The Forestry Committee has agreed to add $5,000 to the project and the sportsman’s club will pitch in $23,000. Total cost of improvements is estimated to be just under $73,000. Mike Riggle indicated that the state grant fund also receives revenues from gun sales taxes; and that during the Obama administration there has been a spike in gun sales. Mr. Riggle indicated the shooting range makes Taylor County more safe with fewer people sighting in guns in populated areas. Mr. Bucki reminded the committee that when the shooting range was developed in 2000 the sportsman’s club agreed to pay for development and the county would pay for maintenance. For the past 16 years the sportsman’s club has paid for maintenance and now they want the county to begin paying for maintenance as was originally agreed to. The committee agreed.
The committee reviewed Niemitz Road which meanders from the northwest corner of Rib Lake into the parcel which was recently purchased by the county. Rib Lake officials indicated they will be replacing some failing culverts with 2 new 48 inch culverts. Because the road slices through private remote land the village has considered it a forest road, with minimal improvements over the past 30 years. The committee agreed to chip in $1,500 from the forestry carryover account to help the Village of Rib Lake to pay for the culverts and pit run.
The Forestry Committee reviewed the timber sales projects which are active in Taylor County. One contract under scrutiny involves an aspen cutting which has been peeled but has not been bunched. The trees have laid in the forest through the summer and new undergrowth has begun to cover the logs. The county’s foresters expressed their concern that if the logs aren’t removed soon, snow may make it difficult to locate the logs and subsequent damage by smashing down of the young regeneration may do irreparable damage to the young trees. While the contract indicates that the logger has until the end of February to remove the trees committee member Mike Bub expressed his concern saying: “It’s like watching a train wreck”.
The Pine Line Trail will be getting a facelift. Taylor County has received a grant to pay for 80% of new trail surface. The project is expected to start on the Pine Line at Allman Street in Medford and cover 5 ½ miles to near the Pot Belly in Whittlesey. The grant dollar amount is $125,839, and the county’s portion is $25,167. The material will either be granite or crushed gravel. However, a recent D.N.R. email indicated that the project may not proceed between May 20th and September 19th on large portions of the trail, so that no Wood Turtles would be put in harm’s way.
In other county forest business it was noted that the Fawn Avenue project is completed. The committee was told that while installing a new culvert it was felt that 20 square feet of rip rap would minimize erosion. However the process of applying for the rip rap permit cost $690, for permission to install 20 square feet of rip rap.
The Miller Dam inspection was completed. The inspection indicated that some vegetation must be removed, but otherwise miller dam is in good structural shape.
The committee was told that an audit was performed on the Perkinstown trail system to determine if the trails were suitable for the side by side UTV’s. Before the trails can qualify for UTV use several of the curves in the trail would need to be widened.
The forestry committee approved the Taylor County Forestry And Recreation Department 2015 accomplishment report. We’ll take a detailed look at the report on a later K99 News report.
Fatal Crash in Taylor County
On Wednesday, September 21st at 10:55 A.M., the Taylor County Sheriff's Office received a report of a one vehicle accident with injuries on County Highway A, just east of Larson Drive in the township of Holway. Taylor County deputies, along with the Stetsonville Fire Department, Stetsonville First Responders, Taylor County Coroner and Medford Ambulance were dispatched.
Upon arrival at the scene, deputies found a deceased male partially ejected from the vehicle; no other occupants were located. The deceased driver of the vehicle was found to be 61 year old Ronald S. Konieczny of Owen, Wisconsin.
The preliminary investigation into the accident indicates the vehicle operated by Konieczny was westbound on County A when he crossed over into the opposite lane of traffic and into the south ditch. The vehicle continued to travel in the south ditch and collided with a driveway embankment causing the vehicle to overturn coming to rest on it's roof, partially ejecting Konieczny from the vehicle.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
ABBOTSFORD, Wis. (WSAW) -- Three suspected thieves are on the loose after a robbery Sunday night in Abbotsford. All three are described as "armed and dangerous" by police.
The three people, wearing masks and gloves, stole an unidentified amount of money from Holiday gas station at the intersection of E. Spruce Street and 4th Street, according to Colby-Abbotsford Police Chief Jason Bauer.
The robbery was reported around 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Police at the scene early Monday morning say the robbers were inside the store for roughly three minutes. While there had been several customers throughout the evening, Bauer says no other customers were inside the store at the time of the robbery and no injuries were reported.
The robbers, including at least one man and a woman, shot the glass out of the gas station's door, believing themselves to be locked in, according to Chief Bauer.
All three fled the scene in a black, four-door vehicle, possibly with black-painted rims, heading east on Business 29 toward Wisconsin Highway 29. Anyone with information should contact Colby-Abbotsford Police at 715-223-2313 or 715-223-4944.
TAYLOR COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- One person is dead after a crash Sunday morning in Taylor County.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office got a report of a one-car crash around 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning in the Town of McKinley in Taylor County. The department says a BMW SUV was traveling southbound on State Highway 73 just north of County Highway V when the vehicle entered the west ditch. The SUV then hit an embankment and went airborne.
According to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Sarah Scollay, 27, the passenger of the vehicle, was ejected. She was transported to the Aspirus-Wausau Hospital by Medevac Air where she was pronounced dead. The driver of the vehicle, John Cihler, 28 of Neillsville, was transported to Aspirus-Medford by Taylor County authorities where he was arrested on a charge of operating after suspension. He was then released from the Taylor County Jail.
Cihler told authorities he was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, but he said Scollay was not.
The crash is still under investigation by the Taylor County Sheriff's Office and the Taylor County Medical Examiner's Officessisting the Taylor County Sheriff's Office on-the-scene were the Rusk County Sheriff's Office, Jump River Fire Department, Sheldon Ambulance Service, Jump River First Responders, Gilman Ambulance, and Medevac Air.
9/2/16 Pirates Cove Destroyed By Fire
The Gilman community bowling alley was severely damage by a fire on Thursday afternoon, September 1. The Gilman Fire Department was first on the scene to the fire which started in the lower level of the bowling alley. Neighboring fire departments responded to assist in preventing the fire from spreading to other buildings in Gilman’s commercial district. A Medford fireman was injured on the fire department’s ladder truck. He was taken by ambulance for treatment of a hand injury. The emergency room staff at Aspirus Medford Hospital was successful in removing a safety pin which was became impaled in the Medford Fireman’s middle finger. The Gilman bowling alley which is known as the Pirate’s Cove was severely damaged, but firefighters were able to contain the spread of the fire. The cause of the fire at the Pirate’s Cove Gilman bowling alley is under investigation.
Heavy Rains Cause Flooding 8/11/16
Rainfall in excess of 5 inches has caused flooding in the Medford area today (Thursday, August 11). Large sections of Medford’s Riverwalk were under water with the base of one of the light poles submerged in nearly a foot of water. The Black River threatened to flood the curling club with the river nearly 2 feet higher than normal. The city’s well on East Perkins was inaccessible as the driveway was under water from the swells of Correction Creek.
While the county’s highway department reported only minor shoulder damage to roads, some sections of town roads under water will need to be inspected to determine the extent of damage.
Both Medford golf courses are closed. Hole number 1 at Black River golf course is under water.
We invite you to share your pictures of the flooding on our Facebook page at 993wkeb. Pastor Bob Giese showed a picture of the flooding in downtown Ogema which covered Schoolhouse road.
Putting this rainfall in perspective, our 5 plus inches of rainfall is less than half of the total rainfall which caused nearly $35 million in damage to northern Wisconsin earlier this summer.
Two People Injured In Crash 8/9/16
A two vehicle crash Tuesday night, August 9th, sent two area people to the hospital.
Taylor County officers were called at 10:11 PM Tuesday night to the intersection of Highway 13 and County O south of Medford. The accident report indicates that Thomas Hobl of Medford was driving eastbound on County O traveling through the Highway 13 intersection when his vehicle collided with a pickup driven by Brian Dahl of Stetsonville.
The Dahl vehicle was westbound on County O making a left hand turn onto Highway 13 when the vehicles collided. The report indicated that Thomas Hobl and his passenger Trudy Hobl were taken by Ambulance. Brian Dahl did not report any injuries.
The Hobl Ford Van and the Dahl Chevy Pickup were severely damaged.
Taylor County Sheriff’s Officers responded to the scene along with the Medford Area Fire Department and Medford ambulances.
Taylor County Records 3rd Traffic Fatality of 2016 July 19, 2016
On Tuesday, July 19th at approximately noon, the Taylor County Sherriff's Office dispatch center was notified via cellular 9-1-1 that there was a one vehicle crash on County Road "C", just north of Bonde Avenue in the Town of Rib Lake. The initial caller reported that the single occupant of the vehicle was not responsive.
Emergency responders from the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Rib Lake Fire Department, Rib Lake Ambulance Service and Medevac responded to the scene.
The inital investigation indicates the 84 year old operator, Mary Becker of Rib Lake, was traveling north on County Road "C" when her vehicle drifted into the east ditch and struck a tree. The driver and lone occupant was not responsive upon the arrival of emergency responders and was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene by the Taylor County Medical Examiner's Office.
There is no indication that speed or alcohol are factors, at this time. The operator was using a safety belt and the vehicle air bags did deploy.
This is the third traffic fatality recorded in Taylor County in 2016.
Bicyclist Collides With Van 7/18/16
The normally quiet road near the Highway 13 Westboro wayside was the scene of a bicycle colliding with a van recently. Taylor County officers were called Thursday July 14th just after 11 A.M. with the report of a van and bicycle collision. The accident reports indicate that Marty Waller of Medford was driving a van southbound on Highway 13 when he came up behind a bicycle which was also southbound. The report indicated that 14 year old Daniel Lennartz of Westboro turned his bicycle to the left in front of the van striking the van in the passenger front. Daniel Lennartz was ejected from the bike and hit the windshield of the van, rolling off the vehicle and landed on the northeast turn lane of the Westboro wayside. Daniel Lennartz was seriously injured. The driver of the van was not injured. The investigating officer’s report indicated that the bicycle driver failed to yield the right of way with an improper turn.
STATE HIGHWAY 13 NEAR HIGH BRIDGE WISCONSIN
SOUTH OF ASHLAND
Storm Update – July 12, 2016 11:30 am
Heavy rain fell last night and continued this morning causing flash flooding. Counties impacted include Ashland, Bayfield, Sawyer, Washburn, Price, Iron, and Douglas. Several areas from Minong to Cable to northern Iron County received 8-12 inches of rain causing flash flooding. Strong winds caused downed trees and power lines during the storms. The National Weather Service expects dry weather in northern Wisconsin for the next day.
There were 33 people that were trapped on Michigan Island in Lake Superior off Saxon Harbor in Iron County. As of 10:30 a.m., 20 people had been rescued. The rest are being rescued now. There were no injuries. Also at Saxon Harbor 85 boats were damaged or destroyed.
Numerous roads and highways are damaged and closed. State and county engineers are evaluating bridges and roads. Below are the major road closures:
• Ashland County: U.S. Highway 2 at Sum Road, U.S. Highway 2 at Denomie Creek, and WIS 13 at Silver Creek and Trout Brook
• Bayfield County: WIS 137 at Whipperfurth Road, U.S Highway 63 at Twentymile Creek
• Iron County: WIS 122 at U.S Highway 2
• Washburn County: Portions of WIS 77 and U.S. Highway 53 north of Palmer Drive
The National Weather Service – Twin Cities – is looking at possible tornado damage that may have occurred early this morning. Officials are reporting downed trees in Ellsworth and north of Chippewa Falls with a home with roof damage.
There is a chance of thunderstorms today. For Wednesday, severe thunderstorms are expected between noon and 6 p.m. for south of I-90. The National Weather Service says the storm could produce large hail, damaging winds and threat of isolated tornadoes.
The State Emergency Operations Center is elevated to Level 3 with Wisconsin Emergency Management, WI National Guard, WI Department of Transportation, WI State Patrol, WI Department of Administration, WI Department of Natural Resources, and WI Department of Health Services. WEM Regional offices are on scene working with county emergency management agencies.
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4th of July Scarred By Trauma, Loss & Death
The 4th of July weekend is typically enjoyed with outdoor events among family and friends. Taylor County’s 4th of July was scarred with trauma, loss and death. Medford native Tommy Gengler died suddenly while enjoying a fishing trip to South Dakota. During his 63 years he made many friends and was well known for his ability to make effective fishing lures.
The Wesle family on Stetson Avenue lost their dairy barn in a fire on Saturday. While the family and a neighbor were able to get the cows out of the burning barn, firefighters were unable to save the barn. The cows are now in a neighbor’s barn.
The danger of fireworks was illustrated by a serious hand injury suffered by a Medford area teenager. While lighting fireworks, one of them exploded severely injuring the young man’s hand resulting in the possible loss of a finger.
Tragedy turned deadly Monday night when a motorcycle and a deer collided on County M. 61 year old Robert Dassow Jr. died as the result of the crash. His wife is hospitalized.
With the conclusion of the 4th of July weekend, these families are dealing with the challenges of rebuilding, healing and grieving.
Train-Pickup Crash And No Injuries!!
With so much trauma and drama in today’s world, the guardian angels won a big victory on Tuesday when a Canadian National train and a pickup collided in western Taylor County with no injuries reported!
The Taylor County dispatch center was told of a crash at 2 PM Tuesday, June 14, on 11th Avenue in the town of Maplehurst, southeast of Lublin.
A pickup truck pulling a gravity box filled with lime was northbound on 11th avenue when it approached the train tracks at 11th avenue. The pickup driver, Matthew Shirk of Thorp told Taylor County officers that he had been looking east to check the crossing and did not see the train coming from the west at 55 m.p.h. until he heard the train whistle.
The pickup driver attempted to brake just prior to the collision but was unable to stop and the train literally tore the front end of the pickup off as the pickup slid into the rolling train. From the impact the pickup and the trailer loaded with lime slid into an adjacent ditch.
Following the crash, the driver of the pickup, Matthew Shirk and 5 passengers in his pickup truck all escaped uninjured. The engineer of the train was also reported to be uninjured.
Missing Person Identified
The investigation into a missing person from Price County and human remains found in Taylor County is continuing. What is known at this time is the name of a missing person, and that human remains found at the scene of a fire are not identified. Price County Sheriff Brian Schmidt has confirmed that Judy Davis age 53 of Kennan was last seen at her Town of Georgetown home on April 29th. She was reported missing on May 3rd. Several hours later a Taylor County deputy located a burned out mobile home with human remains in the Town of Westboro just off of County D in a heavily wooded area of northern Taylor County. The vehicle which she was last seen driving was found near the burned out mobile home. Taylor County Sheriff Bruce Daniels indicated that the human remains have not been identified at this time. Agencies assisting in the investigation include the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, Crime Lab Scene Response Unit and Wisconsin State Patrol.
Tax Deed Land Sale Held
Many people are attracted to auctions with the chance of landing a deal. The Taylor County Courthouse was the site of a tax deed land sale on Tuesday, May 10th. The third floor board room was nearly filled to capacity with 28 people present. A total of 6 parcels were listed for sale because of delinquent property taxes. Parcel 1 involved a house on Second Street in Chelsea with a minimum bid of $10,000 and as supervisor Lester Lewis asked for an opening bid, there were no bids. The second parcel was a 39.66 acre woods in the town of Jump River. Mr. Lewis indicated the parcel was land locked. Two individuals began bidding at $5,000 increasing in $500 increments. The bidding stopped at $17,500 with Dennis Sova the high bidder.
The third parcel was a narrow 5 acre parcel in the town of Maplehurst. The bidding between 2 individuals started at $2,000 and ended with the high bid of $7,000 placed by Jim Bauer.
Parcel number 4 was in the town of Westboro, 4.44 acres on County D, known as the former Augies Palace. Two individuals sent sealed bids but they were quickly topped by 4 different bidders at the auction with the top bid of $7,500 being placed by Bob Vanluven.
The fifth parcel was in the Village of Lublin on Railroad Street, with a minimum bid of $100. A sealed bid from a land trust was announced by Lester Lewis at $231. One bidder who was in attendance topped the sealed bid of $231 with a $250 bid and that’s what the Lublin parcel sold for. High bidder was Dan Ustanowski.
Parcel six which is at 749 South Whelen Avenue was purchased by the city of Medford prior to the sale. The parcel is adjacent to the city sewage department.
Lester Lewis again asked for a bid on the house in Chelsea but no one offered the $10,000 minimum bid.
4/8/16 Facelift For Ice Age Trail
In 2015, the Ice Age Trail Alliance upgraded 5.8 miles of signage within the Taylor County Forest while scouting options to reopen a section of trail in the Gus Johnson Lake area.
Plans for 2016 include 2 mobile skills projects in Taylor County: May 18th thru the 22nd a base camp will be set at Wood Lake County Park. Plans are to work with the Rib Lake and Medford school districts, and New Vision Wilderness to bring youth out on the trail for a day of services and learning. The focus area will be west of County C, but not in county forest.
The second effort will be July 26-31st within the county forest. Base camp again will be at Wood Lake County Park. It is anticipated this will involve 100 to 125 volunteers from New Vision Wilderness and around the state. Work will include constructing ¼ mile reroute north of Gus Johnson Lake to work around an area inundated by beaver.
A bridge over Wood Creek will be replaced with a 24 foot clear span bridge. From County C to Bear Avenue, ½ mile of tread with rock walls and landings will be completed, along with a 49 foot and 100 foot boardwalk and a 16 foot simple bridge. Along Highway 102 at the former Walbeck property a 6 car parking lot will be established. Within Wood Lake Park, the boardwalks will be upgraded to meet current standards.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s volunteer chapter in Taylor County is continuing their effort to maintain and improve the Ice Age Trail.
Van Der Geest Dairy Machine Shed Burns 4/6/16
A fire Wednesday afternoon, April 6, destroyed a machine shed on the Van Der Geest dairy farm between Wausau and Merrill. The fire which started in the machine shop at about 3:30 Wednesday afternoon was discovered by a worker who tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. Reports indicate that while the machine shop was destroyed, no people or animals were injured. Firefighters had some anxious moments as the fire raged near a 500 gallon diesel fuel tank. The dairy farm milks about 3,000 Holstein dairy cattle. Preliminary estimates of damage are placed at $400,000.