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Pedestrian Struck By Vehicle In Stetsonville

Pedestrian Struck By Vehicle In Stetsonville   8/30/18


  The Taylor County Sheriff’s Department has released details of a crash involving a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle in Stetsonville.  According to the crash report Wednesday August 22nd at 6:51 AM Laura Hayden of Stetsonville was jogging west on West Blackhawk Avenue when she was struck by a pickup truck being driven by Alexander Davis of Stetsonville.  The windshield wipers on the pickup were activated, but the windshield kept fogging up due to the weather conditions.  The driver’s visibility was also reduced due to the bright rising sunlight.  Alexander Davis indicated he did not see Laura Hayden jogging toward him.  The right front of the pickup struck the jogger.  The report indicated that the angle of the sun at the time of the crash created a significant glare and did reduce visibility.  Laura Hayden was taken by ambulance to Aspirus Medford Hospital.  Alexander Davis did not report any injuries. 



Taylor County Moves Toward ATV/UTV's Allowed On County Highways

Taylor County Moves Toward ATV/UTV’s Allowed On County Highways  8/23/18


  Following a lengthy discussion, the Taylor County Highway Committee voted to send a recommendation to the County Board to open all County highways to ATV’s and UTV’s.  This measure would not include state highways.  Much of the discussion centered on where the money would come from to pay for the required signage.  Since the use of ATV’s and UTV’s involves recreation and potential tourists, the committee felt that the county’s powerline impact fund should pay.  Initial estimates of signage costs range from $7,000 to $10,000. 

  The trend of allowing 4 wheelers on town and county highways is catching on.  Adjacent to Taylor County, nearly all roads are open to 4 wheelers in Price and Rusk County.  Interest in Chippewa County is growing.    The state D.O.T. has said no to 4 wheeler operation on state highways.  However cities and villages with speed limits below 35 miles per hour may allow operation of them if they so choose. 

  Will most of Taylor County’s roads be open to ATV’s and UTV’s?  That will be decided at Taylor County’s next county board meeting which is set for October 31st.



Novak Pleads Guilty To Medford Stabbing

Novak Pleads Guilty To Medford Stabbing      8/16/18


  The 25 year old man who is accused of being involved in a stabbing incident on Medford’s west side has agreed to a plea deal.  Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty had charged Derek Novak with 3 felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with the May 10th stabbing incident when Novak allegedly stabbed Stormy Weber following an argument. 

  The stabbing occurred on Highway Q west of Medford, with children and women in each of the men’s stopped vehicles during the incident.  D.A. Tlusty indicated that the defendant had agreed to a plea deal which would involve Novak pleading no contest to a felony count of use of a dangerous weapon, aggravated battery-intend bodily harm, along with a felony charge of 1st degree recklessly endangering safety use of a dangerous weapon. 

  Judge Ann Knox-Bauer accepted the plea and agreed to dismiss two other charges which will be read in at sentencing. 

  D.A. Tlusty indicated that as a method to avoid a trial, the prosecution would accept 2 guilty pleas and was asking for a punishment consisting of confinement of not more than 3 years and an additional 5 years of extended supervision. 

  The Judge accepted the plea deal and reminded the defendant of the serious nature of the charges which carry a maximum penalty of $35,000 in fines and 27 years in prison.  Judge Ann Knox-Bauer asked Novak if indeed he is 25 years old and has completed 10 years of school without a G.E.D. and Novak said yes.        The judge ordered a presentence investigation and set a sentencing date of October 25th for Derek Novak.  He is being held in the Taylor County Jail on $200,000 cash bond.



Rib Lake Fireworks Incident

Rib Lake Fireworks Incident  7/11/18


  We have some details of the incident Tuesday night, July 3rd, during a fireworks celebration over Rib Lake.  According to Rib Lake Fire Chief Russ Bullis, a fireworks mortar shell exploded prematurely shortly after leaving the mortar tube and severely burned Tim Olson, one of the certified pyrotechnics launching the fireworks off an island in Rib Lake.

  Tim was severely burned on his arms and legs and a little less on his face and ear.  He was rushed by boat from the island to a waiting ambulance and taken to the UW Burn Center in Madison.   Skins grafts were performed on Tuesday.

  Members of the team shooting off the fireworks are all trained and take many hours of classes before being allowed to be a pyrotechnic.  It was NOT a Rib Lake Fire Department event, however, some Rib Lake Firemen are some of those who are professionally trained.

  A benefit for Tim Olson is being arranged.


Medford Stabber Charged With 3 Felonies

Medford Stabber Charged With 3 Felonies   6/13/18


  Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty has charged 25 year old Derek Novak with 3 felony charges following a stabbing incident on Medford’s west side on May 10th. 

  Derek Novak was charged with attempted 1st degree reckless homicide, aggravated battery-intend bodily harm, and 1st degree recklessly endangering safety, all felonies, and a 4th charge of use of a dangerous weapon, a misdemeanor.  The charges stem from an altercation in which Novak allegedly stabbed Stormy Webber on County Highway Q. 

  Derek Novak’s next court appearance will be his initial appearance June 19th at 1 PM.  In the meantime, Novak is being held in the Taylor County Jail on $200,000 cash bond.


New Owner Of Former Medford K-Mart Building?

New Owner Of Former Medford K-Mart Building?   6/5/18


  Many area residents are wondering what’s going to happen to the former Medford K-Mart building.  While that answer is still unclear, there has been some movement on the ownership of the Medford Plaza.
  The Medford Planning Commission met Monday night.  The primary purpose of the meeting was to approve a certified survey map of the Medford Plaza and a resulting proposed land division.  Chip Courtney, General Manager of the Medford Cooperative told the group that there are negotiations which could result in there being new owners of the former K-mart building by investors from Texas, and the possible subsequent sale of the current County Market building parcel.  Mr. Courtney indicated that the Medford Cooperative is in negotiations to purchase the building which houses County Market, Black River Spirits and the former Maurice’s parcel along with a portion of the adjacent parking area.  The Planning Commission approved the survey map. 

  Bob Christenson brought up concerns regarding zoning requirements.  Chip Courtney reviewed a Reciprocal Easement Agreement which addresses and assures a mutual share of ingress, egress and parking for both property owners which the Planning Commission approved.


Medford Firefighters Deal With 2 Barn Fires Amid Intense Heat

Medford Firefighters Deal With 2 Barn Fires Amid  Intense Heat   5/30/18


  One of the most intense workouts for a rural firefighter is dealing with a barn fire.  With temperatures near 90 degrees and intense humidity, Medford firefighters have dealt with their second barn fire in two days.
  Monday night, May 28, they were called to the Matt Bunkelman barn fire on Settlement Drive in the Town of Chelsesa.  Efforts from that fire were completed about 4 AM Tuesday.
  Then, just before noon on Tuesday, May 29,  Medford firefighters were called to the Rich Wirz home at 267 Allman Street for an electrical fire.  Several walls and ceilings were breached to get at the hotspots in the electrical system.  Preliminary estimates of damage to the Rich Wirz home were placed at $40,000.  Efforts at the electrical fire were completed at about 3:30 PM Tuesday.
  Less than 3 hours later at 6:19 PM Medford’s fire department was called to another barn fire, this one was at N3721 Castle Drive just west of Medford.  The barn is owned by Bruce Poehler.  When firefighters arrived the barn was fully engulfed in flames.  The Stetsonville Fire Department assisted with water tanker trucks and manpower.  The Bruce Poehler 36 by 80 foot barn was totally destroyed.  Cause of the fire was possibly power tools in the hay mow.


Memorial Day Fire Destroys Barn

Memorial Day Fire Destroys Barn     5/28/18


  Following a weekend with record breaking hot temperatures as the Memorial Day sun began to drop in the sky, the sounds of fire truck sirens could be heard in the Medford area.  Just before 7 o’clock Monday night, milking chores were underway on the Matt Bunkelman farm north of Medford located at N5653 Settlement Drive in the town of Chelsea.  As they were milking the strong smell of smoke filled the barn.  Running out of the barn flames were visible in the hay mow.  The Medford fire department was the first of the area fire departments on the scene and the barn was nearly fully burning when they arrived.  Several of the remaining cows were run out of the burning structure. 

  While the cause of the barn fire is undetermined it was noted that several lights in the hay mow had been knocked out the previous evening during storms with heavy lightning.  An end loader was brought in to assist in structure and hay removal.  The Matt Bunkelman barn was a T-shaped structure measuring about 100 by 190 feet.  Preliminary damage estimates were at least $500,000.  Medford firefighters were on the scene until just before 4 o’clock Tuesday morning.


Medford Vandalism

Medford Vandalism  5/23/18


  Medford area residents were upset this week by a string of vandalism which occurred at the Veteran's Memorial Flag Field and the Frances L. Simek Memorial Library in Medford.  The damage occurred between 9:30 P.M. on Friday, May 18th and 9:00 A.M. on Saturday, May 19th.  Windows were broken at the Frances L. Simek Memorial Library.  Several lights were broken at the Veteran's Memorial Flag Field.  Graffiti was located on several pieces of playground equipment in the Medford City Park.  Items were thrown into the Mill Pond and memorial benches were over turned as well.  A small trailer was stolen from the Water's Edge BP gas station parking lot.

  Medford Police Chief Brian Carey has informed K99 Radio that 2 male juveniles are being referred to officials for appropriate charges in the vandalism incidents.

  The small trailer with a Framer's Market sign is still missing.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the trailer is asked to contact Medford Police.


Stetsonville Water Rate Proposal Makes Waves

Stetsonville Water Rate Proposal Makes Waves    5/22/18


  The residents of Stetsonville will be taking part in a financial “catch up” with their water rates slated to increase over 50%.  A public hearing on the rate increase was held Tuesday, May 22nd, involving Michael Newmark, an official of the Public Service Commission and nearly 20 Stetsonville residents.  Village Clerk Shawn Sullivan told the group that the 7 year old water system has a debt of $2.19 million and has major concerns trying to make debt payments of $84,000 per year with revenues of just $150,000.          Since going online, the total water usage was considerably lower than originally projected.  At the hearing it was noted that the village has experienced just one increase in rates of 3% over the past 7 years.  Some neighboring communities have experienced increases of 3% annually, and one had an increase of 134%.  It was noted that the total cost of the Stetsonville water system was high is due to the fact that it was so new and not 80 years old.
  The hearing was conducted via a speaker phone.  Resident Josh Brandner told the PSC that it isn’t fair to get slammed with an increase of 56% raising his bill from $60 to $100 per month.  He expressed his concern for retired individuals living on fixed incomes.  He questioned how the initial usage rate was calculated.
  Trina Duellman testified that with the projected average monthly increase that no one’s going to want to live here.  She called the 56% rate hike “crazy”.
  Donna Dowden asked the PSC official to answer the questions which had been posted on the website by 12 residents.  She was told by the PSC, that’s not how we do it.  Ms. Dowden indicated that 7 years ago the village needed a water system because about half of the resident’s wells were contaminated with gas in the water.  She said that while she agreed on the need for a new system, she didn’t sign up for a 50% increase 7 years later.
  Larry Kloth testified that he is a former public works director and that if he had proposed a 56% rate increase they would have replaced him.  He asked for incremental increases and wondered why his water bill would be higher than the bill at his Arizona winter home.
  Shawn Sullivan told the group that the village had requested a 4% rate of return but was told that the states “floor” is a 4.9% return.
  Alan Whetstone testified that he may have the biggest family in town and indicated his concern with paying a monthly water bill in the $230 range.
  Nicole Buechel questioned the lack of public notice and said she feared that the magnitude of the rate increase will deter people from wanting to live here.
  Stetsonville’s water system has 234 users.  The extent of the rate increase is in the hands of the Public Service Commission.  Once they make a determination the village will have 90 days to implement the updated rate structure.  Several of the residents expressed concerns about the fact that the entire rate structure decision was in the hands of Madison bureaucrats. 

  The next meeting of the Stetsonville Village Board is set for June 11th at 5:30 in the library.


Pretrial Set For Jake Wendt

Pretrial Set For Jake Wendt   5/15/18


  The Medford man who held police at bay with a loaded handgun in January was in court on Tuesday May 15th.  31 year old Jake Wendt was in court with his attorney Wright Laufenberg.  According to court documents, Wendt fired eight shots from a pistol into the ceiling and walls in a home on Allman Street and held police at bay for five hours before surrendering peacefully as the result of phone negotiations with officers. 

  As a result of the incident Jake Wendt faces 8 felony charges and a host of misdemeanor charges.    Wendt’s attorney told Judge Ann Knox Bauer that his client wished to waive his right to a preliminary hearing and proceed to trial.  Wendt entered a plea of not guilty to all charges. 

  District Attorney Kristi Tlusty requested June 6th as the date for a Pre-trial hearing.  Jake Wendt is being held in the Taylor County Jail on $30,000 cash bond.



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