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.
The Medford Area School Board has announced the acceptance of the immediate resignation of longtime teacher and coach Ron Lien at the regular Medford School Board Meeting on Thursday, February 19th, 2015. Ron Lien taught business and technology classes at the Medford Area Senior High School for more than 30 years and was the boys varsity basketball coach and boys JV golf coach. Medford Area School District Superintendent Pat Sullivan shares more details with K99's Russ Gowey.......
A potentially deadly apartment fire was averted Saturday, January 24, 2015, on Medford’s Main Street. The Medford Area Fire Department was called just after 12 noon to the Riverview Apartments at 346 South Main for the report of smoke coming from an apartment. For the safety of the tenants, an evacuation was ordered and the 3 story building was emptied. A Krug Motorcoach was brought in and tenants of the building were temporarily taken to the Medford High School.
Mild temperatures in the mid 30’s made the transition for some of the disabled individuals more bearable. Medford firefighters applied positive pressure and entered Apartment 207 which is a second story room. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire which was in the area of a coffee table. No injuries were reported. The fire in the room was unable to spread because the apartment’s door was closed.
Aside from some smoke and water damage, the fire’s damage was limited to the second floor apartment. Cause of the fire is under investigation.
Assisting at the scene was the Medford Ambulance, Medford and Taylor County officers, and the Stetsonville Fire Department. Medford firefighters were on the scene at the Riverview Apartments for about 3 hours.
The sport of Curling has had a rich and varied history in Medford. From curling on the Medford Millpond to hosting premiere curling bonspiels, Medford Curling has created numerous memorable experiences and long lasting friendships. Winter is not so long and not so cold as long as there's ice, rocks, brooms and curling. January 23rd through the 25th, 2015, the Medford Curling Club will celebrate 100 years and everyone is invited to share in the Centennial Celebration! Recently curling enthusiasts Jeff Mueller and Elmer Balko shared some of the history of Medford Curling and previewed the weekend centennial events with K99's Russ Gowey....
It was a memorable 2014 college football season for the Wisconsin Badgers. A season that began in Houston with one coach and ended in Tampa with a different, all be it legendary, coach. A 1st place finish in the Big Ten West Division and a Outback Bowl victory. Former Medford Raiders high school football stand out and current Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman, Ben Hemer, experienced it all. Recently Ben Hemer stopped by the K99 Radio Studios in Medford and visited with K99's Patrick Porten. He shared his memories and experiences this past season and his expectations for the future.............
The Taylor County Board met Thursday, January 15. In a nutshell: the board said No to a $1 million referendum, Yes to refinancing, and No to a new finance director for human services.
They voted to refinance the county’s debt. The past debt of $3,385,000.00 will be added to $1 million for highway projects for a total bond amount of $4,385,000.00. The new interest rate of 1.947% will result in a savings of $203,000 in interest expense. The board approved the new bond.
Next, the board considered eliminating the referendum question which was seeking up to $1 million for county expenditures. Larry Brandl cautioned that the timing wasn’t right. With the anticipated state deficit, the county’s financial condition could get worse. Lester Lewis indicated some committees appear to be micro managing instead of giving the public the opportunity to express their opinion.
Scott Mildebrand felt the committees were moving forward and have found between 300 and $320,000 in potential budget savings.
Supervisor Thums agreed with Lewis indicating he favored listening to department heads for suggestions. He said a gentleman from the extension service had ideas on how savings could be realized, but he was never asked.
Chuck Zenner disagreed indicating that department heads had received emails asking for their attendance and input. The board voted to remove the $1 million referendum from the spring ballot with Lewis voting no.
The cost to stay in the county jail is going up. The board approved the Huber release rate of $30 for the first day and increasing from 16 to $18 per day thereafter. The daily per person rate of $30 for the first day in jail and increase from 10 to $12 per day thereafter. The cost for drug tests will be $10 per test.
In October the board approved hiring a financial manager to oversee the human services $8 million budget. Supervisor Thums asked why the board was initially told that the position would pay for itself and now that has changed. Chuck Zenner stressed the board should be proactive and hire the finance manager. Accountant Larry Brandl indicated he started working at human services and when he was moved to the courthouse, many of the compliance duties followed him. He said as compliance requirements increase, he’s falling behind. Human services director Amber Fallos told the board that the position has been requested for years. She felt the reporting on the department’s $8 million annual budget isn’t being done accurately.
Supervisor Breneman said if we want the grant money, we need to jump through the hoops. Supervisor Mildebrand said he disagreed with the position saying there is some restructuring that could be done to shift job duties. Breneman challenged: do you realize the caseloads these people have? They’re already multi tasking!
County Clerk Bruce Strama suggested accountant Larry Brandl could delegate more duties under the scrutiny of the finance department.
Lester Lewis reminded the board he had made the motion for the position. With the retention of grant funds it was possible the position would be self funding. He said they’ve been talking about the position since 2002 and now is the time to hire.
Supervisor Krug questioned the timing of this issue considering the financial constraints the county is under. He said, we’ve got a long ways to go and with the advent of Family Care, Taylor County is one of 8 remaining counties in the state not enrolled in Family Care. Family Care could mean the elimination of 2/3 of the case workers.
Bob Lee indicated he was in favor of deleting the position based on the fact the county doesn’t have the money.
Supervisor Bizer cautioned that the county gets paid 7% of $2 million to administer a state funded program. The county is in jeopardy of losing that $140,000 if the proper reports aren’t submitted.
Tim Hanson questioned, Why now, why wasn’t this done 10 years ago?
Lester Lewis replied, we tried, now we have a study and an auditor which both say we need this position now!
Mr. Thums said, let’s ask the department head, Larry, do we need a financial manager or not?
Brandl told the group he’s putting in between 60 and 70 hours per week, something needs to be done!
A roll call vote was taken on eliminating the as of yet unfilled financial manager position at human services. The vote to eliminate the position passed by a 10 yes and 7 no vote with Lemke, Zenner, Bizer, Thums, Lewis, Breneman and Metz voting no.
In other county business the board was unanimous in approving an increase in the classification and compensation step plan for 2015 which will result in an increase of ½%.
They approved a resolution proclaiming the week of April 19-25 as Sweeten your week with maple syrup in Taylor County.
The final item of business was the approval of the 2015 County Forest annual work plan.
The Taylor County budget cutting meeting took on a “we’ll do it later” theme on Thursday. The combined Personnel and Finance committee meeting started with chairman Chuck Zenner expressing the opinion that the committee was moving too fast. He said the goal to have a list of $500,000 in 2016 budget cuts before January 15th is “insane”.
Scott Mildebrand indicated he understood that with proposed budgetary cuts, the county could lessen the impact. "If we don’t make cuts we could be $915,000 short in 2016".
Tim Hanson said that 2015’s budget is done, and we have 10 months to get 2016 done.
Lester Lewis said the reason he proposed a referendum was so the county wouldn’t have to cut services. He said if we wait until October, then we’re cutting services. Lewis said that every year since he’s been on the board they’ve spent money out of the reserve fund.
Dave Krug indicated he thought Thursday’s meeting was an idea search, with committee members to make recommendations for budget cuts, like tossing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks. Then, through the media the committee would get feedback on what the public thinks.
Chuck Zenner said again that January 15th was too soon.
Lewis challenged, "when are you proposing we pose the referendum"?
Zenner indicated he didn’t have a date.
Krug said he agreed it was too hasty. He called it a very delicate process involving people’s livelihood. "At some point we may have to challenge the state, we can’t go on like this".
Lester Lewis made a motion to recommend that the county board postpone the referendum asking for up to $1 million until the April 2016 ballot. The measure to postpone the referendum passed by a 4 yes 3 no votes. At that point Supervisor Lewis stood up and left the meeting, indicating he had better ways to spend his time.
Chairman Zenner asked the group for ideas on additional revenues for the county. Department heads indicated that they could charge more for permits, they reminded the committee that the funds would be coming from tax payers and that would only add several thousand dollars to the bottom line. Larry Wobeking indicated that 10 inmates from Marathon County would be housed in Taylor County’s jail bringing in an extra $400 per day.
Jim Metz asked if the sheriff’s department could share squad cars. Larry Wobeking responded that they currently have about 12 and would need to have at least 4 or 5. But he cautioned that instead of replacing 2 per year as they do now, they would need to replace 4 per year. He said it may cost more as they wouldn’t be able to lease the vehicles.
Supervisor Fuchs indicated he felt cuts could be made in the Extension Office, maybe with the exception of 4-H. He said that could save over $200,000.
Dave Krug said he saw a value on paying 40 cents on the dollar for research information from specialists. The state pays 60% of the extension department expenses. Mr. Krug felt perhaps 2 of the extension departments could be scrutinized.
Mr. Fuchs said that perhaps law enforcement could cut from 3 on each shift down to 2. And that the highway department could save fuel and miles by not doing full patrols each day. He said when it snows the drivers could be on-call and eliminate overtime pay.
Chuck Zenner felt that cuts could be made to the Westboro library, the humane society, the grazing specialist, the assistant position in the register of deeds office, and some of the fair board expenses.
Continuing on potential cuts, Jim Metz questioned Northwest Regional Planning, who’s incubator building in Medford which was designed for business start-ups, is now a glorified storage building.
Scott Mildebrand suggested closing the housing authority office and shifting it to Northwest Regional. He suggested cutting the support staff in the Veterans Service Office to ½ time, shave $20,000 from the airport budget, and $20,000 from the IT office, not replacing a half time retiree. He felt the conference training budget could be cut by 20%, and the highway department equipment replacement fund could be trimmed.
Tim Hanson suggested eliminating the Human Services department financial director for a savings of $100,000. He wanted highway department overtime eliminated by changing the schedule. Regarding the funding of the ambulance service he felt Aspirus could take a more active role.
Supervisor Krug questioned the $14,000 for the uniform address system. He also thought that county board pay should be capped for half day attendance.
Dave Bizer questioned the $5,000 given as startup money every year for the Taylor County Fair.
Mr. Zenner asked if any county property could be sold such as the Pirus shooting range?
Jim Metz concluded the meeting by asking all department heads to talk with board members about suggestions for efficiency.
The Taylor County Board will vote in December on whether or not to delay the proposed April referendum which is asking for up to $1 million in additional county budget funding.
How do you trim over a half million dollars from a county budget?
Very carefully! Monday morning County board chairman Jim Metz urged a joint meeting of the personnel and finance committees to be careful with what they do to county employees. Chairman Metz told the group he didn’t like the idea of chopping employees to make budget. As an opening statement to the meeting Mr. Metz continued: “While the state government is holding us to the wire, I’d encourage you guys to be careful”.
County accountant Larry Brandl indicated that the projected 2016 budget is $515,519 over the levy limit. He indicated a lot of counties are in the same situation. He also urged a degree of consideration and urged the committees to think this thing out while trying to overcome the half million dollar deficit.
Sheriff Bruce Daniels expressed optimism at increasing jail revenues. The Marathon County jail has a capacity of 250 inmates and currently has 367 inmates. Taylor County has a capacity of 88 and now has 37 inmates. Sheriff Daniels indicated the jail could take in 33 inmates from neighboring counties with each of them bringing in revenue of $45 per day.
Supervisor Lewis said he didn’t think continually borrowing money to operate was a good way to run county government. He felt one department which should be scrutinized was the extension.
Taylor County voters will be asked for up to an additional $1 million in a spring referendum. Supervisor Scott Mildebrand felt that voters wanted to see what services would be cut if the referendum fails.
Supervisor Tim Hanson didn’t feel it was realistic to think the committees could formulate a list of vulnerable programs before January 15th. Lewis disagreed saying the committee could come back with operational budget adjustment recommendations and leave the actual decision of how to meet those budgets to the department head.
Chuck Zenner suggested straight percentage cuts to all departments. Mr. Lewis felt the smaller departments couldn’t do that, and said he felt only the bigger departments could make significant cuts.
Supervisor Fuchs said he felt only 3 or 4 departments could be looked at for budget adjustments. He said the board tries to make cuts every year at budget time and it’s difficult. He asked the group: “who do we cut?”
Once again the Extension was brought up and Land Conservation was brought into question.Lewis said that many counties have combined their Land Conservation, Zoning and Forestry departments. But, he said I don’t know if it would save any money.
Supervisor Dave Krug said this committee was influenced by political pressure recently when they voted to hire a full time Veterans Service Officer. He said, if you talk about cutting Extension, you haven’t seen anything yet.
The issue of how to possibly trim a half million dollars from the 2016 Taylor County Budget will be dealt with next at a joint personnel and finance committee meeting on Thursday.
The Landua Jensen American Legion Post #147 in Medford is conducting a drive to raise funds to help with the cost of constructing an expansion to the Veteran's Memorial Wall at the Flag Field. The current wall has been filled and the American Legion continues to get requests for stones to honor the veterans from our area. The project is hoping to expand the Legacy Wall to accommodate an additional 288 stones at a cost estimated at $31,681.00. Medford Flag Field Project Chairman, Roger Emmerich, recently stopped by the K99 Radio Studios in Medford and shared with K99's Russ Gowey some of the history of the Legacy Wall and the goals and hopes the American Legion Post #147 has for it's future......................
WKEB/WIGM Radio, Taylor Electric Cooperative, along with Touchstone Energy and members of area cooperatives are once again sponsoring the Christmas Wish Program. Contributors to the Christmas Wish have undertaken a mission to bring holiday cheer into the lives of those around us. Christmas Wish requests will be accepted until December 12, 2014. Send your wish request for someone who needs some holiday cheer to: WKEB/WIGM Radio, P.O. Box 59, Medford, Wisconsin 54451, phone 715-748-2566, fax 715-748-2752 or visit the K99 Radio web site...k99wigm.com. K99's Russ Gowey recently chatted with Taylor Electric Cooperative President and CEO, Mike Schaefer about this season's Christmas Wish Program....
The former Medford High School student who is facing a felony Bomb Scare charge was in Taylor County Court on Tuesday. Jacob Gouza, appeared with his attorney Daniel Cveykus. District Attorney Kristi Tlusty requested that bond be continued at $3,000 with the conditions that Jacob Gouza use no social media and not enter any property owned by the Medford School District. Judge Ann Knox-Bauer agreed and stipulated that Gouza would be allowed to continue attending the alternative school. The pretrial conference for Jacob Gouza was set for January 15th at 9:30.
Following Gouza’s appearance during a brief recess, court security officer Lisa Kaufmann asked a male subject to leave the courtroom as she smelled the odor of intoxicants. The individual took a sobriety test in the courthouse hallway. When Judge Knox-Bauer returned to the courtroom she was informed by D.A. Tlusty that the defendant, John Whetstone had blown a .12. The judge ordered him held in the county jail until he is legally sober. Whetstone had been scheduled to appear in court for possession drug paraphernalia.
With the cold snow blowing outside, the Taylor County Personnel committee meeting got a bit heated at times Wednesday. With the recent resignation of the county’s Veterans Service Officer, the committee approved Marie Albers as acting head of the office with a pay raise of $3 per hour.
About a dozen veterans were in attendance to show their support for the veterans service officer position. Dave Krug spoke indicating that as a veteran, he felt that while the job is important, the work load doesn’t justify a full time position. He said there was documented evidence which couldn’t be released now, which indicates we don’t need a full time veteran’s service officer. He told the group that Administrative Assistant Marie Albers does the bulk of the work.
Marie Albers was asked for her opinion and she indicated that a part time Veterans Service Officer possibly would be part time committed to our veterans. She said that in 2012 veterans assistance programs provided in excess of $3 million to vets in Taylor County.
Lester Lewis asked Ms. Albers if the office staff was cut to 1.5 positions, who would be part time, the officer or assistant. Marie Albers replied the veterans deserve a full time officer advocate. But she didn’t think it was fair to ask her to cut her position.
Chuck Zenner indicated he felt the veterans office could operate with 1.5 positions, with Marie fulltime and the Officer half time, until Marie retires then the service officer would be full time and assistant half time.
Ray Soper expressed frustration indicating it’s wrong to base job descriptions on current staff capabilities. He said the first job of the officer is to be an advocate for veterans. Soper felt the county needs a full time veterans service officer.
Scott Mildebrand said eventually the office will be 1.5, best served by a full time V.S.O. and part time assistant.
Bob Lee told the committee it’s tough to get an advocate for injured veterans. He said, "when you’re strong and capable to march, they take good care of you, but when you’re injured, they don’t care so much". Mr. Lee continued, "this is not a position to cut, when you make a decision, consider who you’re affecting".
An Iraq veteran addressed the group indicating he spent 2 years in Iraq and has recently learned he has a heart condition. He said, "if you cut the position, where will I go"?
The committee voted unanimously to hire a full time Veterans Service Officer.
Viet Nam veteran Gary Henkel stood up after the vote and said, "you talk about finances. If you cut the veterans service officer here in Taylor County, how many veterans would move to a county with a full time Veterans Service officer"?
Next the committee considered replacing an administrative support position shared by the Forestry and Zoning departments. Scott Mildebrand suggested waiting until the January 15th county board meeting, telling the group it’s not business as usual.
Chuck Zenner said we keep saying we have budget constraints, but nothing changes, I support waiting.
Zoning Administrator Kyle Noonan said if the position wasn’t filled they couldn’t stay afloat and plumbers, electricians and homeowners would be put on hold.
The vote to fill the position failed by a 3 to 2 vote.
The Westboro man who fired near-fatal shots at a Taylor County deputy is headed to prison. Judge Ann Knox Bauer presided in Taylor County Court on Friday, October 31st with defendant Alexander Schneider dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit. Special agent David Forsythe testifed that he interviewed Schneider after his arrest. Schneider told the agent how he knew that Deputy Chad Kowalcyk couldn't see him when he pulled up a :22 caliber rifle and shot at the officer's head, then went back to a bedroom in his Town of Westboro home on September 8th, 2013 and waited for the fleeing officer to take another 3 shots as he approached his squad car. He admitted the officer was just doing his job and he shot him. During emergency surgery, a bullet, which entered the side of Officer Kowalcyk was removed from his colon. The chief surgeon indicated the bullet missed a major artery by 1 centimeter. Had the bullet severed the artery, Officer Kowalcyk would have died within minutes. A second bullet was found, believed to have been stopped by his bullet proof vest.
District Attorney Kristi Tlusty played an audio recording from Officer Kowalcyk's recorder which gave the sounds of the moments leading up to the shooting. Officer Kowalcyk knocks on the door, then pleads with Schneider to come out of his Westboro mobile home. Schneider yells through the closed door a barrage of profanities. After several minutes, Deputy Kowalcyk can be heard calling dispatch for back up, calmly voicing concern that Schneider may be suicidal. Then the officer tells Schneider to trust him. Moments later, shots ring out and the sound of a person running away is heard. After an interlude of running sounds, more shots are heard and Officer Kowalcyk's voice is heard radioing "shots fired, shots fired, I think I'm hit".
Next, Deputy Chad Kowalcyk took the stand. He told the court that he was responding to a restraining order violation on the day of the shooting. He said it was difficult to come to court because he's a pretty "humble guy". He began getting emotional when he said, "if you play this incident over again and again, 9 out of 10 times you'll have a dead officer." He told the court that one bullet grazed his face and the other one nearly killed him. His voice cracked as he told how it's difficult to explain to a 3 year old and his girlfriend why this happened and it's not going to happen again. He wakes up everyday and looks at the surgical scars. Officer Kowalcyk told the court that Schneider "did everything in his power to end my life." Kowalcyk concluded by saying "I'd be very disappointed if anything other than the maximum sentence was imposed". The judge asked him if he suffers from any physical problems as a result of his injuries. Kowalcyk called them minimal, but said his digestive system isn't the same and he has to watch what he eats.
D.A. Kristi Tlusty asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of 40 years and 20 years of extended supervision. She told the court, Schneider lacks remorse and shows no interest in rehabilitation. She said "this wasn't an accident". The D.A. continued saying "the impact is always present, now every time family members hear a siren, they wonder if their loved one will be shot".
Defense attorney Vorhees told the court that Schneider had expressed a high degree of hopelessness and helplessness in his life. He said it scares Schneider a lot that he's wasted his life. He had a chaotic childhood and never knew his father.
Defendent Schneider addressed the court beginning with an apology to the court, indicating he had a hard time understanding everything which had occurred. He said he didn't like who he was. He apologized to the individuals he hurt or was illegally involved with. He said when he heard the recording of Officer Kowalcyk asking for backup fearing Schneder's suicide, he heard honest concern in the officer's voice. He said he only found out yesterday that the officer has a 3 year old son. Schneider continued saying, "I've never had a relationship with a father, I can't imagine his son losing his father".
Judge Knox-Bauer expressed her concern about how Schneider had hidden a sawed off shotgun in the abandoned house next door to use on either himself or law enforcement. She said it was "by the grace of God that Deputy Kowalcyk is here". She compared law enforcement jobs to soldiers. She spoke of the impact of being shot, that horror will never be forgotten by him, his son, his significant other, his colleagues and community. The judge expressed her disgust with the fact that after his arrest, Schneider assaulted another inmate and a jailer while in jail. She said that at age 29, Schneider was beyond adolescence, when young people make mistakes. In stern words, Judge Knox Bauer told Schneider that "others have had crappy upbringings, but others don't have sex with a minor, shoot at an officer or beat up people in jail". The judge called Schneider a very dangerous individual with a high risk to re-offend. She felt he didn't fully appreciate all that these people will go through because of him.
The judge imposed the maximum sentence of 60 years, which includes 40 years of prison and 20 years of extended supervision, if eligible. A cash bond of $5,300 was applied to restitution and court costs. The judge indicated they need to "protect our community and send a message, suicide by cop is not acceptable".
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday morning (Oct 29). They presented a plaque to retiree Jean Nuernberger for her 33 years of service with human services and the circuit court.
Recently, Bobbi Damrau of N.T.C. asked the county board members of the education committee if they had specific goals. Roger Ewan indicated the committee supported NTC’s efforts with the Literacy Council and a program for people over age 18 becoming eligible to receive a diploma. Sue Breneman indicated she resides in the Chippewa Valley Tech district but was a member of the NTC education committee. Rollie Thums proposed trimming membership from 3 to 1 county board member. He felt there was a disconnect between the county board and NTC. Sheriff Bruce Daniels expressed his support for NTC programs indicating that he recently received a grant for his leadership staff to attend employee development classes with college credits at no cost to the county. The county’s conservation department utilizes NTC’s nutrient management programs. Mr Thums indicated that none of the county board committee members were aware of the programs and questioned the need for paying 3 committee members to attend bi-monthly NTC meetings. Sue Breneman called it a waste of taxpayer money. The board voted to refer the county’s membership on the NTC education committee to the committee on rules for their recommendation.
Should the county board meet at designated times, or when there is a need to meet? Supervisor Sue Breneman told the board that many people in her district are surprised there aren’t set meetings. She requested that the board meet on designated dates either monthly or bi-monthly. She indicated the county board is the only government body in the county which doesn’t meet on designated dates. Lester Lewis responded that Taylor County has transitioned to a committee run system. He felt it is a more efficient way to get things done on a county level to meet on an “as needed” basis. Chuck Zenner agreed that the committees run the county. But, he said, if you’re not on a “major” committee, you’re out of the loop. Sue Breneman felt that more county board meetings would provide transparency for the taxpayers. Dennis Fuchs indicated the county would have to change their whole structure of how they do business to make the meetings meaningful. Supervisor Bizer questioned whether it was in the best interest of taxpayers to pay $50 to 17 members for every meeting. Diane Albrecht indicated she stays informed by reading the minutes of other committee meetings on her computer. The issue of how often the county board should meet was referred to the committee on committee on rules.
Representative Mary Williams presented the county with a flag that was flown over the state capital on the date of the courthouse rededication. Mrs. Williams reminded those present that she started on the county board and she urged them to consider making a run for the state senate or assembly.
The board agreed with Highway commissioner Jess Sackmann to not spend nearly $220,000 for a 3 mile bikeway. The blacktop pavement on County E between County O and A is scheduled to be replaced. Wisconsin Code trans 75 requires the construction of bikeways on certain roads unless there is excessive cost, and the board could not justify an additional 25% cost to add a bikeway on the rural highway.
There was considerable discussion regarding spending powerline impact money for the purchase of an $18,000 Honda UTV with tracks and heated cab for grooming trails and tubing hill at the Perkinstown Winter Sports area. Lester Lewis felt a machine for half that price could to the job. Mckovskey felt they could use the airports machine. Chuck Zenner indicated it would cost $8,000 to make the airport’s machine compatible for the task. Jim Metz felt the powerline fees were intended for this purpose and supported the purchase. The board voted 15 to 2 in favor of purchasing the UTV with powerline impact money.
The board acted on the 2015 budget and approved 2 amendments to the proposed budget. The first addition was $110,000 to add a financial supervisor position and remodeling at human services. The county’s auditors strongly recommended the change indicating that the expertise in obtaining grant funds could pay for the position. Supervisor Scott Mildebrand felt it was irresponsible to spend money the county doesn’t have. He asked the board to wait until they identify the areas to be affected by proposed cuts in January. Human Services director Amber Fallos said the county was losing out by not having a financial supervisor. The amendment to create the new position using money from the fund balance passed on an 11 yes and 5 no vote with Hanson, Lee, Mildebrand, Thums and Soper voting no.
The next change to the budget came with Tim Hanson speaking on behalf of the county libraries which had $25,887 trimmed from their combined budgets. Hanson indicated that the cuts amounted to 15% of the Rib Lake library budget. The money would be transferred from the savings of a proposed note refinance measure. Rollie Thums warned the board to not turn their backs on education. The board was unanimous in restoring $25,887 to the county library budget.
Ultimately the board approved the revised county budget of just under $11 million. The budget will result in a mill rate of $8.27, compared with $8.17 last year which will result in an additional $10.00 tax on a $100,000 property.
With state tax limits the board is facing a 2016 deficit forecast to be about $500,000. Lester Lewis proposed a referendum which would ask county residents to allow the county to exceed the levy limit by $1 million per year for 5 years. Lewis proposed taking $500,000 for funding possible programs which otherwise would be cut, $100,000 for highways, and $400,000 to boost the county’s dwindling reserves. By a 15 to 1 vote with Soper voting no, the board approved a referendum on the spring ballot which will seek approval to not exceed $1 million over the state levy limit each of the next 5 years.
Judge Ann Knox-Bauer addressed the board and supported a resolution which would object to a proposed lapse in state funding to the Wisconsin circuit court system. The cuts which are included in the pending 2015-17 state budget would eliminate $66,000 which taylor county would need to add into future budgets. The board was unanimous is their opposition to the proposed cuts.
The county board was unanimous in supporting resolutions for the county bridge aid, and the 2015 Highway Department equipment schedule with expenditures of $450,000. They approved appointing Scott Perrin as medical examiner and Schmiege and Graff as Corporation Counsel. The board supported authorizing a general obligation note in an amount not to exceed $4,385,000 with $1 million additional funding for maintaining the taylor county highway system. That was some of the business which was conducted at the Taylor County Board meeting on Wednesday.
On Sunday, November 2nd, 2014, Gertrude Vetter of Medford will celebrate her 100th birthday. On Sunday, October 26th, Gertie was honored as the Grand Marshall of the Harvest Days Parade in Medford. Gertie was kind enough to stop by the WKEB Radio Studios in Medford and share some stories and reminiscences from her century of good living. Gertie also has a little advice to pass on to the younger generation. You'll find that advice in section 4...
Every year, millions of children in the United States catch enteroviruses that can cause coughing, sneezing and fever. This year, the enterovirus that is most commonly causing respiratory illness in children across the country is enterovirus D68. Patty Krug of the Taylor County Health Department recently stopped by the K99 Radio Studios in Medford and shared with K99's Russ Gowey what every parent needs to know about enterovirus D68 and how to take basic steps to help keep your child from getting and spreading EV-D68......
On Friday, October 3rd, 2014, staff at the Medford Area Senior High School were made aware of a second bomb threat this week. Earlier this week, students and staff were evacuated and the school building was searched after staff at Medford Area Senior High School were made aware a bomb threat. The bomb threat on Friday, October 3rd did not require an evacuation of the building, however, making bomb threats is a serious matter. Medford Area School District Superintendent Pat Sullivan gives K99 Radio details of this current bomb threat and possible further actions by the Medford School Board......
Medford School District Superintendent Pat Sullivan w/K99's Patrick Porten
October 2, 2014 at about 12:45pm The Medford School District alerted the Medford Police Department of a bomb threat. In messages that originated from a site known as "Yik Yak" the suspect made two different threats referring to bombs in his locker. After law enforcement and school officials reviewed the material and determined the threat came from inside the Medford Senior High Campus, the school was evacuated and searched.
During the investigation Officers were able to determine the threat was sent from inside the high school and further identified a suspect by use of geo-tracking. Additionally, through interviews and assistance from "Yik Yak" Officers made contact with a 17 year old suspect and questioned him about the bomb threats. The suspect when confronted admitted to the threats that he posted online.
Prior to locating the suspect, the Taylor County Sheriff's Department, Medford Fire Department and Medford School District Employees assisted the Medford Police Department with the search and evacuation of the Medford Senior High School.
The incident is being referred to the Taylor County District Attorney's Office for charges under Wisconsin Statute 947.015 Bomb Scare.
On Wednesday afternoon, October 1st, 2014, the staff at the Medford Area Senior High School became aware of a bomb threat directed toward the Medford Area Senior High School. Students and staff were evacuated and local law enforcement began a search of the Medford Area Senior High School. No bomb was found. All after school activities on Wednesday, October 1st at the Medford Area Senior High School are canceled. Students may pick up their vehicles in the Medford Area Senior School parking lot, however, the Medford Area Senior High School building remains under lock down Wednesday night, October 1st. All classes will resume as per usual on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014...for more details...check out our audio report....
Medford Fire Depatrment Member Brad Dahlvig & Medford School Superintendent Pat Sullivan
Conditional Release Denied For Heidi Mann
Heidi Mann, the Rib Lake woman who is serving time in the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for attempting to take her own life and the lives of 4 of her children was in Taylor County Court requesting a conditional release. The first person to testify on the second day of testimony was Kylie Fitzgerald of Taylor County Human Services. Ms. Fitzgerald testified in closed session for nearly an hour. When open court convened, Heidi Mann took the witness stand. She expressed her frustration with human services for allowing her husband to supervise the visits at Winnebago with her 3 youngest children. She told the court that the kids want more ‘mommy’ time. She expressed her frustration that she needed her husband’s permission to speak with the kids on the phone. D.A. Kristi Tlusty told Mann that this was a high profile case and that everyone in their small town knew what she tried to do to her children. If she was to be released, would she be able to handle the everyday stressors? The D.A. told Mann that in Winnebago there are specialists who help you handle the day to day stress. Fighting back tears, Heidi Mann told the court “I love my kids, I tried to get help, I want my kids to heal”.
Mark Mann was called to the stand. He told the court he has taken their 3 youngest children to Winnebago for visits with their mom every-other weekend. He indicated the 3 older children don’t want to see her. Mr. Mann was asked about the couple’s impending divorce. He testified that he believed in working through problems. But when he discovered that his wife was in an intimate relationship with another man, he didn’t think that was in the best interest of the children.
In closing D.A. Tlusty told the court that Heidi Mann’s present mental status is “stable”. But she said it should be as she is on medications and under structured programs in an institution. D.A. Tlusty told the court the nature and circumstances of the crime was the most important factor. She said: “It’s not often that a parent attempts to kill their children”. She scolded Mann and said it was difficult to understand how she was able to have religious beliefs that if she killed her kids, she would go to heaven. Ms. Tlusty finished by asking the court to deny the release because she wasn’t willing to gamble on the lives of innocent children.
Heidi Mann’s attorney Karl Kelz talked about the conflicting opinions of the 3 specialists. He said, this is not an exact science but one of the psychiatrists issued a glowing report. He cited one doctor’s opinion that Mann could suffer a relapse in 6 to 10 years as “Pretty Speculative”. Kelz told the court that while it’s a hot button issue, he was requesting a conditional release with supervision.
Judge Ann Knox-Bauer indicated that Heidi Mann had the right to request the conditional release, which she did in July. The judge indicated her decision was guided by the doctor’s reports and other issues including: the nature of the crime and where would she live? The doctor’s testimony made mention of psychotic features, the idea that the kids would be better off dead than going through divorce. The judge continued saying that Heidi Mann thought for days what to do with her children, concluding that heaven was better than Mark and his family. The judge stated that past behavior is a fair predictor of future behavior and that Winnebago is a more controlled setting to address Ms. Mann’s health needs. The judge concluded by saying: “Release at this time would be a recipe for disaster for the community, family, friends and most importantly, Ms. Mann.” Heidi Mann can apply to the court for conditional release again in six months.
An evening of “Child’s Play” turned deadly Tuesday night (Sept 9). According to Sheriff Bruce Daniels, at 5:50 PM Tuesday the Taylor County Dispatch Center received a 9-1-1 call requesting an ambulance at N2778 Highway 97 in the Town of Goodrich. The caller indicated that a 9 year old boy had apparently fallen while playing in the hay mow of the family barn and was in distress. Emergency responders from the Taylor County Sheriff’s office, Medford Ambulance and Medford Area Fire Department along with Medivac Air responded to the location. Highway 97 was closed to traffic to allow the Medivac helicopter to land on the roadway. Sadly, despite aggressive lifesaving efforts on the part of family and emergency responders, the 9 year old boy succumbed to injuries which he suffered while playing and ultimately falling from a rope swing located in his family’s hay mow. No foul play is suspected in this tragic incident.
The 19 year old Medford man, who is the alleged gunman in Saturday's Medford city shooting, was in Taylor County Court Tuesday morning, September 2nd. Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty indicated that Harrison Davis is facing serious felony charges and felt that a significant bail was justified. She requested bond to be set at $50,000 cash. Further, she requested that Davis have no contact with Jason Crabb or Michelle Dyer.
Judge Anne Knox-Bauer agreed with the D.A. and ordered Davis be held in the Taylor County Jail with bond set at $50,000 cash. Davis is to have no contact with either Jason Crabb or Michelle Dyer. He is prohibited from posessing firearms.
Harrison Davis' initial court appearance is set for Tuesday, September 23rd at 1:00 P.M.
Davis is accused of shooting into a Park Avenue home in the city of Medford on Saturday afternoon, then fleeing the scene, eventually crashing his car near the Chippewa and Taylor County line. Reports indicated that three sheriff's dogs tracked down Davis, who was apprehended in a swamp without further incident.
On Saturday, August 30th at 2:56 P.M., the Taylor County Dispatch Center received a 911 call of shots being fired into a house in the 500 block of South Park Avenue in the City of Medford. Officers responded to the scene and during their investigation they received information regarding a suspect and vehicle information. From witness statements and electronic tracking, law enforcement officers were able to determine the direction of travel of the suspect and eventually located the suspect's vehicle in the ditch of the 35000 block of County Highway M in Chippewa County.
Saturday night at approximately 6:15 P.M., law enforcement officers from the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department, Taylor County Sheriff's Department, Medford Police Department and the Department of Natural Resources arrested 19 year old, Harrison C. Davis of 767 Gibson Street, Medford.
Harrison Davis is being referred to the Taylor County District Attorney for 1st degree reckless endangering safety, discharging a firearm in a school zone and discharge of a firearm into a building.
The shooting incident, which occured in the 500 block of South Park Avenue in the City of Medford, was within 1000 feet of Holy Rosary Catholic School which is a violation of discharging a firearm in a school zone. During the shooting students were not in the school but it was later reported there were people setting up for mass within Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
A Medford High School varsity football game was in progress at the time of the shooting. As a precaution, the game was suspended, tied 14-14, in the first overtime period and the players, coaching staffs and fans were taking into the Medford Area Senior High School and put on lockdown. Support staff and the radio announcers were put under lock down in the press box. The lockdown lasted about two hours. When the all clear signal was given, the game was allowed to resume with Chippewa Falls defeating Medford 22-14 in overtime.
Harrison Davis remains in custody at the Taylor County Sheriff's Department Jail.
The 87th Republican Assembly vote recount is finally over. The recount vote process concluded on Monday, August 25th with James Edming adding one vote to his total.
While four counties completed their recount on Friday, August 22nd, Sawyer County called a recess and their recount was completed at 3 o'clock on Monday, August 25th.
After the official recount, here are the 87th Assembly District county results:
In Clark County, there was no change from the 20 total votes cast .
In Marathon County, Scott Noble gained one vote.
In Rusk County, James Edming lost one vote.
In Taylor County, James Edming gained one vote.
And in Sawyer County, James Edming gained one vote.
The net results of the recount shows that James Edming gained one more vote to build his lead to 18 votes over Michael Bub. The state Government Accountability Board will now verify the results to make the primary election official.
Did you know that Taylor County has been called "the Garden Spot of Northern Wisconsin"? Do you know when Taylor County was founded? Do you know who Taylor County was named for? Author Robert P. Rusch has complied a book featuring photographs, maps and more from Taylor County's past in his new book, "Images of America...Taylor County". This fascinating book is available for sale at the Taylor County Historical Society in the Taylor County Fairgrounds in Medford and in the Taylor County Court House in Medford. Recently Robert Rusch and K99's Russ Gowey took a trip through Taylor County History. Oh, the answers to our Taylor County trivia questions? Taylor County was founded on March 4, 1875 and was named for then governor William R. Taylor. If you got those answers right...nice job! You'll find more such fun facts within the pages of Robert's book!
The Wisconsn Primary Election on Tuesday, August 12th, shows that your vote DOES count. In the 87th Assembly District Republican Primary, that race is not yet complete because it is so close on the vote count. On Tuesday night, it appeared as though Michael Bub would win the election by 3 votes. However, first thing Wednesday morning, August 13th, it was learned that was not the case as 20 votes from Rusk County were switched to the James Edming side due to a preliminary clerical error. This gave Edming a 17 vote advantage. K99's Brad Dahlvig reviews the election results and K99's Russ Gowey talks with Rusk County Clerk, Denise Wetzel, to learn what happened in the Rusk County vote count.....
K99's Brad Dahlvig w/the election review
K99's Russ Gowey w/Rusk County Clerk Denise Wetzel
Sierra Pacific Industries, a family owned and managed wood products firm headquartered in Anderson, California, announced it has enter into an agreement to purchase Hurd and Superseal Windows and Doors from Longroad Asset Management, LLC. With the acquisition of these leading national brands, this purchase will add manufacturing capacity, a skilled work force, additional product lines and immediate exposure to Central and Eastern U.S. and international markets. K99's Russ Gowey contacted Sierra Pacific Industries spokesman Mark Pawlicki to learn more about this acquisition.....
WKEB/WIGM News recently featured an in depth segment on one of the specialties at Aspirus Medford Clinic...that specialty is infertility. Dr. Suja Roberts, OB/GYN, is the infertility expert at Aspirus Medford Clinic. She recently stopped by the K99 Radio Studio in Medford and discussed with K99's Russ Gowey the evaluation process for infertile couples, the risks and benefits and the different fertility treatment options available. For more information related to a possbile fertility issue, Dr. Roberts can be contact at Aspirus Medford Clinic...........
GPS systems are handy for navigation. However, a GPS system on a $70,000 stolen skid steer led authorities to a barn on Castle Drive in Taylor County.
A construction firm in Boscobel reported that a 2014 Caterpillar skid steer had been stolen from a work site. The dealer of the skid steer was able to track the unit’s GPS and it came back to the Taylor County barn where a host of heavy equipment was located.
The owner of the barn told officers that if the equipment was stolen, it had to be taken by Christopher Steig. The barn owner indicated he thought Steig had purchased the equipment on Craigslist or got them from people he knew; the complaint said.
Equipment listed included a Case 430 skid steer, a 16 foot hydraulic dump trailer, a jack hammer, an electric generator, a 10 foot snow plow attachment, and the nearly new 2014 Caterpillar skid steer.
Various pieces of equipment were reported stolen from sites in Wisconsin over a period of time.
Authorities from Grant and Richland Counties worked with Taylor County officers in the investigation.
Steig was arrested in Richland County. Christopher Steig age 25 of Delavan, WI was charged Monday in Taylor County Court with 5 felony and 2 misdemeanor counts related to the alleged thefts. His bond was set at $5,000.
The same GPS technology which keeps us from getting lost may now reunite many owners with their stolen equipment.
28 year old Alexander Schneider pleaded no contest to 6 charges in Taylor County court on Monday. Schneider is the Westboro man who shot at Taylor County deputy Chad Kowalczyk on September 8, 2013. Alexander Schneider pleaded no contest to: 1st degree Attempted Intentional Homicide, Possession of a short-barreled shotgun/rifle, and 3 counts of bail jumping. Those 5 charges are all felonies; he also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of Battery.
Judge Ann-Knox Bauer found Schneider guilty of the 6 charges due to the no contest pleas and read-in 5 other charges which were dismissed. Schneider’s plea deal avoids his trial which had been scheduled to start July 21st.
According to the court records: the shooting occurred after Deputy Kowalczyk went to Schneider’s home to investigate a female’s complaint that Schneider had sent her at least 16 text messages that day in spite of a restraining order.
Schneider shot numerous times with a :22 caliber rifle at the deputy, striking him once in the abdomen. Kowalczyk has since returned to work.
Following the shooting Schneider told investigators he shot the deputy out of “anger”. Schneider went on to say “That guy’s just trying to do his job”.
Judge Ann Knox Bauer has set a sentencing hearing for September 15th at 1 PM in Taylor County Court. Schneider continues to be jailed on $1 million cash bond.
The Medford woman who was accused of failing to provide food for her pet has pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of failing to provide food for animal. Callie Neuman pleaded no contest in Taylor County Court on Monday to the charge. Two other charges were dismissed but read in. Judge Ann Knox Bauer found Neuman guilty and sentenced her to reimburse the Medford Police Department for veterinary services in the amount of $105.30 and pay a surrender fee of $200.00 to the Humane Society of Taylor County, along with court costs. The judge prohibited Neuman from owning any pets and may not be responsible for care of any animals.
Bryce Kelley, a local Thrivent Financial associate traveled to El Salvador in late April and early May as part of a Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity home building effort. Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a multi-year, multi-million dollar mission partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International. Thrivent members involved with Thrivent Builds help provide people in need with affordable housing and greater economic independence. Bryce Kelley recently stopped by the K99 Radio Studios in Medford and shared his experience in El Salvador with K99's Russ Gowey.......
On April 24th, the Medford Area School Board held their annual organizational meeting with the 3 candidates who won in the spring election taking their oath of office. Just over a month later, at Wednesday night’s special board meeting, the board voted to approve the resignation of Brenda Sommer, who was one of the 3 candidates recently winning a seat in the spring election. Wednesday night, the board was holding a closed session meeting, and following the closed session, they convened into open session at which time they voted to accept the a letter of resignation from Brenda Sommer. The Medford School Board will now need to determine whether to fill the seat, and if so, what process to use.
The Medford Curling Club is celebrating 100 years as a club this year. The Mertens family has been involved with the Medford Curling Club since the late 60's. Mitch Mertens has been a member since 1978. Along with being an active curler, Mitch has also spent time taking care of the ice and ice making equipment. Part of those duties include shutting down the cooling system each spring. In 2009, Mitch suffered a life threatening accident while working on the cooling system. Mitch recently shared his experience with K99's Russ Gowey....
Construction has been completed on the second phase of the Aspirus Hospital and Clinic Expansion Project. Starting Monday, May 19th the new entrance will be open. Patients and visitors will notice the new entry and welcome center along with a new pharmacy and the Crosswalk Cafe and Gifts. More new areas include the Cancer and Infusion Center, the improved Birthing Center and a new Community Room. Gregg Olson, CEO at Aspirus Hospital and Clinics recently took K99's Russ Gowey on a radio tour of the newly completed second phase of the Aspirus Hospital and Clinic Expansion Project....
The aspiration of any young athlete is to reach the pinnacle of their chosen sport and compete against the very best. For football players, that means making a team in the National Football League. One former Medford Raider football player is one step closer to making his professional football dream come true. Former Raider and Wisconsin Badgers defensive lineman, Ethan Hemer, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Shortly after the 2014 NFL draft, K99's Patrick Porten got an update on Ethan's progress from Ethan's father, Jeff Hemer of Medford...
The 67th Annual Alice in Dairyland finals will be held Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17 in Clark County. The festivities will include a banquet at the American Legion Hall in Loyal on Friday night beginning at 6:00 P.M. and the finale at El Norteno in Curtiss on Saturday with a social beginning at 4:30 P.M. and the finale to name a new Alice in Dairyland set to begin at 6:45 P.M. One of the members of the Alice in Dairyland Steering Committee, Chuck Rueth, recently took some time out from the busy Alice in Dairyland schedule to share more about Wisconsin's Officlal Dairy Ambassador with K99's Russ Gowey.....
The Medford Curling Club is celebrating it's 100th Anniversary in 2014. The Medford Curling Club was honored at this year's Medford Area Chamber of Commerce Recognition Banquet on Saturday, May 10th for their 100 years as a club. Current Medford Curling Club members, Mitch Mertens and Elmer Balko recently sat down with K99's Russ Gowey and shared some of the Medford Curling Club's history and discussed the changes that have occurred over the last 100 years....
The Medford Area Chamber of Commerce Recognition Banquet will be held on Saturday, May 10th in the Simek Recreation Center in Medford.
Two Medford businesses will be honored for reaching longevity milestones and providing outstanding service to our community.
Liske Marine will be honored for 50 years in business and Klingbeil Lumber Company will be honored for 75 years in business.
Recently, Marv Liske of Liske Marine and Bill Klingbeil of Klingbeil Lumber Company joined K99's Russ Gowey for a little reminiscing and shared some insight into how these businesses originated, grew and continue to thrive.
K99's Russ Gowey w/Marv Liske of Liske Marine
K99's Russ Gowey w/Bill Klingbeil of Klingbeil Lumber Company
At a recent meeting of the Taylor County Board of Supervisors, the board adopted a sub-division control in addition to the Taylor County code and also adopted a sanitary code to the Taylor County code. Taylor County Administrator, Kyle Noonan, stopped by the K99 Radio Studios in Medford and explained the changes and the reasons why the codes were adopted with K99's Brad Dahlvig. For your convenience the interviews have been split into two sections based on topic......
Medford Area Senior High School art student Gabby Staples has won the overall Sargent Award. Over 2.5 million pieces of art were submitted from school age artists around the state. Over 300 entries were displayed during an art show in the state capital. As winner of the overall Sargent Award, Gabby, her Medford Area Senior High School art instructor Sharon Hause and her mother will receive an all expenses paid trip to New York City this summer. Gabby's winning entry is an acrylic painting entitled "Beyond". Recently Gabby Staples and Sharon Hause visited with K99's Patrick Porten.....
Gabby Staples & Sharon Hause w/K99's Patrick Porten
"BEYOND" by Gabby Staples...overall Sargent Award winner
One of the advantages of being a locally owned movie theatre, like the Broadway Theatre in Medford, is the opportunity to screen smaller films that may not be seen in a larger venue. The film, "Soul Survivors: Angels in Training" will be shown at the Broadway Theatre beginning Friday, April 4th. The movie includes an appearance by Medford's Bailey Brandner. For show times, visit medford movies.com. Recently the films writer/director, Debbie Johnson, took some time to visit with K99's Patrick Porten....
We all know the saying, "busy as a bee". But there's more truth to that statement than you might at first believe. Honeybees not only produce honey...commercial honeybees pollinate about $15 billion worth of agricultural products each year. But the bees have been in decline for more than a decade due to habitat loss and pesticide use. The U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes to help honeybees by giving $3 million to farmers and ranchers in the Upper Midwest to improve pastures. The USDA hopes to help the bees by encouraging farmers in those states to plant alfalfa, clover and other plants that feed both bees and livestock. Local beekeeper Steve Suchomel recently paid a visit on K99's Russ Gowey..............
Local author, Shirley M. Gebert, is celebrating the nationwide release of her new interactive children's book, "Mighty Molly". "Mighty Molly" is author Shirley Gebert's third book in The World of Sounds series, which utilizes auditory bombardment to assist in speech development. Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide or from the publisher at tatepublishing.com/bookstore. Recently, author Shirley M. Gebert visited with K99's Russ Gowey............................................
Greg Brunner is the assistant fire chief with the Stetsonville Area Volunteer Fire Department. He also serves as the president of the village of Stetsonville. Recently, Greg Brunner stopped by the K99 Radio studios in Medford and gave K99's Russ Gowey an update on the Stetsonville Volunteer Fire Department including their state ISO rating and fund raising activities. They also discussed future plans for the stretch of Highway 13 that runs through the village...................
Tuesday morning (March 18) just before 11 o’clock, a driver on Perkins Street in Medford told police that a silver car was coming at him head-on before the car hit the frozen snowbanks and flipped over, coming to rest on its roof. Medford police, E.M.S., Medford Ambulance and the Medford Area Fire Department responded. The accident report indicated that Leroy Brost was driving a silver Monte Carlo when it flipped onto its roof on Perkins Street near Tee Hi Place. In the upside down car, Leroy Brost said he couldn’t breathe, so the seatbelt was cut and Mr. Brost was able to crawl out of the broken window. No other vehicles were involved. Leroy Brost was taken by ambulance.
If you’re going to close a manure pit, you need a permit. That was the theme of a meeting of the Taylor County Land Conservation committee today (Monday). The owner of a mink ranch in the town of Goodrich was called to task for attempting to close a dairy manure pit without obtaining the proper permits. County conservationist Ashly Steinke received a complaint on Thursday March 13th. When Steinke visited the site he instructed the contractor to remove the manure laden snow from the field and put it back into the pit and repair the berm of the pit. Approximately 50 of the pit was restored and a new berm was built with soil. The field runs off into Mink Creek which is a tributary of the Rib River. It was estimated that between 50 and 100,000 gallons of manure had been released from the pit.
Scott Mildebrand asked if any of the material had made it to the creek and Steinke indicated he didn’t know. A spill specialist from the Rhinelander DNR is expected to visit the site this week.
The new owner of the farm, Jorn Mogenson told the committee that he knew that permits were needed to build a new pit. But he thought the pit had been emptied and was not aware a permit was needed to close a manure pit. Steve Weise, the operator of the backhoe told the committee that the water in the pit didn’t come over the top of his bucket. He said “I thought it was empty”.
A neighbor who’s a town supervisor, indicated the previous owner was poor at agitating the pit; that it hadn’t been pumped, and that Mogenson was lying.
Committee chair Dave Krug stopped the confrontation. Joanne Smith indicated that whether you’re digging up a septic or a manure pit, regulations state you need a permit.
The committee voted to issue a citation to Jorn Mogenson for failing to obtain a permit prior to closing a manure pit. He must pay $100 per day until a site closing plan is accepted by county conservationist Ashly Steinke. It was noted that the department is in the process of rewriting the language of manure pit management. Ray Soper felt it may be appropriate to include penalties for deliberate acts. While the county has levied a daily fine until the remediation plan is approved, the DNR’s investigation into the matter will continue until the snow thaws, or as one supervisor indicated maybe until July!
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Wisconsin's 2013 maple syrup production set a new record high of 265,00 gallons. This was the highest amount since NASS began keeping track in 1992. Local maple syrup producers are hoping the 2014 season will be as successful as 2013. In the summer, it's Nelson's Berry Farm. But in the spring, it's High Stump Sugarbush of Westboro. Owners Ryan Nelson and Duane Sherfield recently stopped by the K99 Studios in Medford and discussed all things maple syrup with K99's Russ Gowey.....
The near record-deep snow which is creating perfect snowmobiling conditions made a treacherous environment Wednesday night as rescue squads attempted to locate and transport an injured snowmobiler. Just after 9 PM the Taylor County sheriff’s department was notified that a snowmobiler had a seriously injured leg in the town of Grover northwest of Medford. The Taylor County ambulance and Medford area fire department responded. The intersection of County M and Richter Lake road was closed to allow the Spirit Helicopter to land. For a period of time the helicopter attempted to locate the injured man using its spotlight. But the flying ambulance had to land to insure there was enough fuel for the return trip. Ultimately the injured snowmobiler was located deep in the woods and transferred to the waiting helicopter. The rescue team from the Taylor County Sheriff’s department, the Medford Area Fire Department and Taylor County Ambulance returned to town at about 1:30 A.M. Thursday.
Wisconsin State Representative Mary Williams of the 87th District has announced that after 12 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly she will not seek re-election this fall. State Representative Mary Williams recently sat down with K99's Brad Dahlvig and discussed her political career, shared some of her experiences in Madison and her opinions on what it takes to be an effective and successful State Representative.......................
Timothy R. Phillips, the 42 year old Medford man who was arrested on Tuesday, January 28th after a stand off with local law enforcement, was in court on Friday, January 31st for his initial appearance.
Mr. Phillips received a 10,000 dollar cash bond. Further conditions of the bond include no consumption or possession of alcohol and no possession of firearms.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office has requested the following charges against Mr. Phillips to the Taylor County District Attorney's Office...
*Endanger safety by intoxicated use of a weapon
*Second degree reckless endanger safety
The Taylor County District Attorney will make the final charging decision.
The firing of Taylor County Sheriff Sgt. Dave Bender was justified according to a decision rendered by Judge Patrick Madden. Bender was fired after he was accused of using “excessive force” during an arrest of Shawn Steen. Four members of the Taylor County Personnel Committee considered 13 hours of testimony before voting to support Sheriff Bruce Daniels termination of Bender’s employment.
Following the committee’s decision, Bender appealed and Judge Madden was assigned to review the case. Judge Madden issued his finding which read: The facts present a question of both certiorari review and statutory review predicated upon the holding of Klinger versus Oneida County. Specifically the Court finds:
1. The committee had appropriate jurisdiction.
2. The theory of law was correct. The committee weighed the evidence and found just cause to terminate.
3. The Board’s actions were reasonable and are not subject to the Court’s substituting its analysis for that of the board.
4. The evidence was substantial and convincing.
A. Bender violated the use of force policy. Four officers reported Bender’s force was not warranted. Chief Woebbeking yelled for Bender to stop.
B. Bender violated truthful reporting policy. Substantial evidence in the record supports the findings that Bender violated the policy regarding truthful and complete recording. Bender’s report fails to include physical strikes.
In reliance on Klinger, which was a case decided by this court, the court concludes that the committee acted within its authority correctly, reasonably and made a proper determination by applying the facts to the law. The committee properly relied on the majority of officers to reach its conclusion.
Therefore, the court affirms the Taylor County process and findings, that ruling was made by Judge Patrick Madden.
Dave Bender was the commander of the county’s S.W.A.T. Team when the incident occured.
After Sheriff Bruce Daniels took office in 2007 he instituted what he called “Golden Rules”; 20 standards which all of his officers agree to abide by. The standards deal with integrity and use of force. In addition, Rule number 12 states: “If you cheat or steal I will fire you.”
The firing of Taylor County Sheriff Sgt. Dave Bender was justified according to a decision rendered by Judge Patrick Madden. Bender was fired after he was accused of using “excessive force” during an arrest of Shawn Steen. Four members of the Taylor County Personnel Committee considered 13 hours of testimony before voting to support Sheriff Bruce Daniels termination of Bender’s employment.
Beth Dixon Vanderberg of Medford was a teacher in the Peace Corp from November of 2005 to January of 2008. She was sent to the southwestern African nation of Namibia where she met her future husband. Recently, Beth and her father in law Johanne visited with K99's Russ Gowey. Johanne shares with Russ some of Namibia's culture, people and history. He also shares with Russ his impressions of Medford and Wisconsin's winter weather..................................
On January 28th, 2014, at approximatley 12:45 P.M., the Taylor County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center received a report of a man with a gun. The caller reported that she had confronted the man who was brandishing a long gun. She attempted to persuade the individual to put the gun down but he refused. She reported that he then entered the residence at W5336 Perkins Street, just east of Medford in the Township of Medford and a short time later discharged the firearm through a window.
Emergency responders from the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Medford Police Department, Wisconsin State Partol, Medford Ambulance Service and Medford Area Fire Department responded to the area.
An approximately one hour stand off ensued. Telephone contact was initiated with the individual who reported he would commit "suicide by cop". Negotiations continued and ultimately the individual agreed to leave the residence but refused to relinquish his firearm. Officers on the scene repeatedly ordered the man to drop his weapon. He eventually complied with the orders given and officers made contact with the individual. After a brief physical confrontation, the individual was taken into custody.
Timothy R. Phillips, a 42 year old Medford area resident was taken into custody in relation to this incident. A further investigation is pending at this time.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office wants to assure residents in the area of this incident that this appears to be an isolated incident and that there should be no further safety concerns related to this matter.
Medford area residents Keith and Darla Wrage recently adopted an 8 year old son from China. As a part of the adoption process, the Wrage's traveled and toured parts of China. Included on this trip to China were the Wrage's high school age sons Tate and Ty. Ty Wrage, a Medford Area Senior High School sophomore, stopped by the K99 Radio Studios in Medford and shared some of his experiences in China with K99's Patrick Porten....
Medford Area Senior High School student, Sarah Lundy, a junior, recently traveled to Chicago to attend an audition for NBC's very popular singing competition program "The Voice". Sarah is no stranger to being on stage. She has performed in productions put on by the Medford Area Senior High School and Middle School Drama and Music Departments as well as with the Medford Area Community Theatre. But this, as Sarah discovered, is a totally different animal. Sarah shares her experience with K99's Patrick Porten...................................
The Taylor County Board met Wednesday, January 22nd, with nearly an hour spent on one issue: the amount of money spent annually on Taylor County employee health insurance. Supervisor Raymond Soper presented the background on a resolution which he drafted. Soper told the board that they have addressed wages but not benefits. He indicated that the goal of the resolution was to set a goal of paying the same toward health insurance that other employers in the county pay. Soper said that the county pays 70% more than area employers. He indicated that the county pays $3.7 million yearly for benefits.
Supervisor Lester Lewis rejected Sopers’ comments. Lewis indicated that county employees will pay 5% of their health insurance in 2015 and an additional 5% annually until they reach a 20% threshold in 2018. Supervisor Zenner felt the board is already working on the issue. Supervisor Mildebrand amended the motion to read 4 steps of 5% increases from 2015 through 2018. The amended motion failed by a 9 to 6 vote. Soper’s original resolution also failed by a 9 to 6 vote. Supervisor Mildebrand told the board he felt it took 25 or 30 years for the health insurance issue to evolve and it wouldn’t be “fixed” in one year.
In other county business the board unanimously approved the powerline impact fees to help repair the Jump River community center, the Centennial Community Center and the Medford Swimming Pool renovation.
They authorized the purchase of 40 acres of land which will provide public access to over 700 acres of county owned land. Money for the purchase comes from timber sales on county land.
The 2014 contracts with the county’s professional, non-professional and highway employees were approved.
The compensation plan for elected officials passed on an 11 yes and 4 no vote count.
The 2014 annual report from the Taylor County Health Department was approved.
The last order of business involved IT Committee chairman David Bizer asking the board their opinion of working with an electronic i-pad type device. Bizer showed the group his child’s workpad which cost under $200 and featured many capabilities of a computer. Bizer cautioned the device probably wouldn’t totally eliminate paper or cost less,but it could offer more immediate information. After an informal vote the county board approved pursuing more information on the technology.
A 29 year old Medford woman is facing a criminal complaint after she allegedly moved out of a house and left her pets behind. The Taylor County Sheriff’s department was notified by a Medford neighbor that a dog was continually barking inside the house next door, but that no one appeared to be living there. Officers responded and saw the dog peering out of a window. While they were at the Maple Street house the renter, identified as Callie Neuman drove by. Officers stopped Neuman and she ultimately gave permission to enter the home. In the criminal complaint Officer Lisa Kauffman wrote that the whole floor was covered with excrement and the smell was overwhelming.
The rental home is now due for a major cleanup as the Health Department declared the place as not habitable for human living and that measures need to be taken to make it fit for human living.
Neuman told officers that she had left food and water for her 2 cats and dog before she moved in with her boyfriend. She said he is not allowed to have pets and she just didn’t have the time to take better care of her pets.
District Attorney Kristi Tlusty has charged Callie Neuman with 3 counts of “Fail to provide proper food and drink to confined animals” which are Class A Misdemeanors. If found guilty, each count could entail a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to 9 months or both.
Public safety is more important than financial considerations. Judge Ann Knox-Bauer made that clear Tuesday afternoon. The man accused of killing a deer hunter with his vehicle in Taylor County was in court as his attorney requested a bond modification. James Winchell is being held on $50,000 cash bond. Attorney Van Wagner asked the judge to change Winchell’s bond to a signature bond which would allow the defendant to attend an intensive alcohol abuse prevention program for 28 days in Chippewa Falls. District Attorney Kristi Tlusty objected citing her concerns that Winchell was a flight risk. Judge Knox-Bauer denied the request citing the fact that Winchell faces homicide charges on what is his 5th charge of O.W.I. Winchell is accused of killing one man and seriously injuring another as they stood on the side of the roadway following deer hunting. The Judge indicated that bond is designed to not only insure a defendant’s appearance in court but also to provide public safety. There was further concern that the treatment program is not under strict supervision and participants sign in and out on their own accord. James Winchell remains in the Taylor County Jail under a $50,000 cash bond. A settlement conference is set for March 14th at 10 A.M.
Facing a charge of attempted 1st degree Intentional Homicide for the shooting of the deputy, Schneider was represented by attorney John Vurkees. Deputy Cory Dassow testified that he responded to assist Deputy Kowalczyk on a case involving Schneider's ex-girlfriend who told officers she was assulted in Rib Lake and Westboro. She told officers that Schneider "head butted" her and also bit her nose Schneider said if she tried to contact the cops, he would kill her.
Nest to testify was WI D.O.J. Special Agent David Forsythe. Following the shooting, Agent Forsythe talked with Kowalczyk at the hospital. He recovered two bullets, one which was removed from Kowalczyk's abdomen and a second bullet on the bed which had been lodged in the deputy's uniform.
Following his arrest, Schneider told Agent Forsythe that he saw the deputy arrive at his Westboro home. He didn't open the door as the deputy requested becasue he feared he would be arrested for the incident with his ex-girlfriend. After a brief conversation with the deputy, Schneider went to the bedroom, retrieved a :22 caliber rifle and shot down the hall at the deputy's head. When he saw the deputy jump off the deck he ran back to the bedroom, opened the window and waited for the deputy to arrive at his car. He shot three more times as the deputy attempted to get into his squad car.
As the injured Deputy Kowalczyk drove away, Schneider ran to an abandoned house next door and kicked a hole in the wall where he retrieved a sawed off shotgun which he had hid there years before.
Schneider left a message on his ex-girlfriend's phone saying "I shot a cop".
Surgeon Dr. Sweet told Agent Forsythe that Kowalczyk's injuries included a bullet wound to his abdomen and colon. The bullet missed an artery by one centimeter. The surgeon indicated that had the artery been severed, the deputy would have bled out in less than three minutes. The doctor said "he's lucky to be alive".
Kowalczyk also had facial injuries from the shattering door glass, and where the initial bullet grazed his face.
Judge Knox-Bauer ruled she found probable cause and set arraignment for December 20th.
Schneider is being held facing a total of 7 charges in the Lincoln County Jail on a one million dollar cash bond.
Lights, Camera, Action, a class now offered at the Medford Area Senior High School, is providing a novel way for students to get out the message to their peers on making good life choices. The class instructor and advisor is Jill Fortin. Recently, Lights, Camera. Action students Alex Griesbach and Faith Doughty discussed some of their recent projects and explained the goals of the class with K99's Russ Gowey...
The Sheldon man whose vehicle struck and killed a hunter Friday night reportedly told Taylor County officers that he had “enough” to drink. The Taylor County crash report indicates that James Winchel was driving a Buick LeSabre at a high speed as it approached a group of hunters that were by a vehicle at the side of the roadway. After his vehicle struck Fernando Salinas Jr. and Juan Salinas, a rifle carried by Juan went through the windshield striking Winchel in the face. Prior to Friday’s crash, Winchel had been convicted of O.W.I. 4 times.
A criminal complaint was filed Monday in Taylor County Court against James L. Winchel of Sheldon. Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty charged Winchel with Homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and Operating while intoxicated causing injury-5th offense.
In the first count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, James L Winchel is charged with cause of death of Juan A Salinas by the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, a class D Felony, and upon conviction he may be fined not more than one hundred thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than twenty-five years, or both.
In the second count, operating while intoxicated causing injury-5th offense, James L Winchel did cause injury to Fernando Salinas Jr. by the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, a class H felony, and upon conviction may be fined not more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than six years or both. Also upon conviction the department shall revoke the defendant’s operating privilege for not less than one year not more than two years. In addition, the defendant will be required to undertake an alcohol and drug abuse assessment, and follow through the treatment recommendations as a condition of reinstatement.
In a statement to officers, Winchel stated that he “was intoxicated” when the crash occurred, and feels so “bad” for what he did.
A deer hunter was injured in Taylor County on Monday, due to treacherous icy conditions in the woods. Just before 11 A.M. the Taylor County dispatch was called indicating that a hunter had fallen and was unable to get up. The Medford Ambulance, Medevac, Taylor County Sheriff’s officers and Medford Area Fire Department responded to the scene on Martin Drive, ½ mile south of Highway 64 in the town of Goodrich. The male hunter indicated he had slipped on a large patch of ice and the fall resulted in injuries which prevented him from being able to get up. After a period of time another hunter found him and called 911. The Medford Area Fire department’s off-road rescue vehicle retrieved the hunter who was about ½ mile back in the woods.
Judge Anne Knox Bauer’s slate of court cases Thursday included the question of constitutionality regarding admission of evidence.
In a case involving Michelle Thompson, detective Aemus Balsis testified that he made a traffic stop in Medford when he observed a driver operating without a valid license. Thompson was a passenger in the vehicle which was being driven by a known drug abuser. When Thompson became squirmish in the front seat she was removed from the vehicle, handcuffed and in her purse methamphetamine was found. District attorney Kristi Tlusty said the state was relying on the automobile exception law to allow an officer to check the defendant’s purse without a warrant. Judge Knox Bauer told the court she would make a determination as to whether the Automobile Exception law does apply and allow the evidence to be allowed.
Next, a motion to suppress evidence was introduced by Karl Kelz, attorney for Heidi Mann of Rib Lake. Kelz felt that a recorded interview with Heidi Mann, Human Services Child Protective Counselor Julie Clarkson and Detective Aemus Balsis should not be allowed as evidence in Mann’s Case. Heidi Mann had requested that sheriff’s officers not come to her home and subsequently agreed to detective Balsis being present for the interview which took place at human services. Kelz argued that a lack of Miranda should render the hour and twenty minute interview inadmissible. Judge Knox Bauer ruled that Mann’s dialogue was of her own free will. The judge said that Mann’s dialogue told what happened, how she felt and why she did what she did. The interview was accepted for evidence. A status conference was set for December 16th at 10 A.M.
The construction and operation of the North Breeze Dairy in the township of Little Black has raised concerns among it's citizens. Recently a letter went out to many residents of Little Black from the Taylor County Conservation Department. K99's Russ Gowey was joined by Taylor County Conservationist Ashley Steinke with an update and recommendations for private well owners within a two mile radius of the proposed North Breeze Dairy. You'll find that interview below.......
K99 Radio once again this year hosted "Let's Talk Hunting" on Monday, November 11th and Monday, November 18th. Hosted by K99's Russ Gowey, "Let's Talk Hunting" featured Wisconsin DNR Warden Nick Nice and Wisconsin DNR Biologist Mark Schmidt. Listeners were encouraged to call in during the Monday, November 18th program with their deer hunting questions. Here's hoping all hunters have a successful, memorable...and SAFE...deer hunt! Below are excerpts from both "Let's Talk Hunting" programs...
Expansion, improvements, remodeling, additional services and new faces highlight changes being made at Time Federal Savings Bank. President and CEO of Time Federal Savings Bank, Tom Lindow, recently sat down with K99's Russ Gowey and shared the many changes on going and introduced us to the new personnel at Time Federal Savings Bank............................................................................
Price County Sheriff Brian S. Schmidt reports his department is investigating a report of a missing boater.
On Saturday, November 9th at 2:48 p.m., the Price County Sheriff's Department received a call of a missing boater who was duck hunting on Cranberry Lake in the Township of Hackett. A search for the missing man was immediately begun.
The body of the missing man, identified as 28 year old Nick A. Stuttgen of Colby, was recovered from Cranberry Lake on Sunday, November 10th at 7:38 a.m.
Responding agencies included the Price County Sheriff's Department, Pike Lake Fire Departments, the Central Price County Ambulance Service, the Tri-County Dive Team, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Price County Coroner and the Salvation Army.
Sheriff Schmidt would also like to thank the local residents that provided lifesaving assistance to the other hunters involved in this incident.
A mobile home being used as a hunting cabin was totally destroyed by fire Thursday morning. The Medford Area Fire Department was called to the scene after members of the Taylor County Highway Department discovered the burning building mid-morning. The fire was at N5436 County Highway E, just north of Highway M in the town of Molitor. When firefighters arrived the 14 by 70 foot structure was totally engulfed in flames. No one was in the building at the time of the fire. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department.
Taylor County Board Has Full Agenda
The Taylor County board room included at least 2 dozen spectators for an emotional start to the board meeting. The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution commending officer Chad Kowalczyk for his bravery and professional response. Sheriff Bruce Daniels became emotional when he read from the resolution that officer Kowalczyk was shot twice while in the line of duty on September 8th. Daniels said the officers are in fact his “second family” and they believe in what they do. Kowalczyk was awarded a medal which enrolled him in the “Police Legion Of The Purple Heart”. Following a standing ovation, Officer Kowalczyk told the group he was strengthened by the prayers and support which he received from people he didn’t know. Next the board approved a resolution commending Detective Steven Bowers for his actions at the incident. Bowers negotiated with the defendant resulting in an arrest and no further injuries. Accepting his “Outstanding Commendation Award” Detective Bowers indicated he felt it was a group effort. Families and friends of the officers shared their appreciation in the courthouse hallway following the presentation.
As the board was expressing thanks to the Westboro and Rib Lake fire departments for their assistance with traffic control following the September 8th shooting incident, supervisor Rollie Thums took the floor. Mr. Thums expressed his frustration with the county’s new digital radio communication system. He indicated that as assistant chief of the Rib Lake fire department, the new system isn’t working and is possibly putting emergency responders in harm’s way.
Sheriff Daniels spoke up indicating that a consultant had been hired to deal with the shortfalls of the system. Supervisor Bob Lee asked, didn’t we spend $1.3 million to upgrade from analog to digital?
Currently, due to certain frequencies not functioning properly, the sheriff’s department is simulcasting on the fire frequency. Daniels told the board that some issues are related to the weather sirens. Daniels concluded saying that the radio system today on the fire frequency is better than several years ago.
The county board expressed appreciation to Steven Oberle for his years of service as County Conservationist.
They approved the 2014 Highway Department Equipment Schedule, the 2013 Bridge aid expenses, and appointed Jess Sakmann as highway commissioner.
Medical examiner Scott Perrin and Corporate Counsel Ken Schmiege were reappointed.
The board approved a resolution requesting powerline impact fees of up to $20,000 for half of the expenses to renovate the Westboro Area Senior Citizens Center over the next 2 years.
The bulk of time was spent on implementation of a new job classification and compensation plan for Taylor County positions. Carlson Dettman Consulting prepared a new job classification system for county employees. The county currently has 73 pay grades. Under the new system that will drop to 18. Anybody under the new plan would to the step which provides a pay raise. Future pay raises would increase by a 2.5% step. For employees who feel they were not classified fairly they must approach their supervisor who in turn would contact H.R. supervisor Marie Koerner. Appeals would then be handled by the Carlson Dettman firm beginning next week.
One big change in the county compensation plan is the health insurance. The county hired a consultant who put the plan out on bids. The result was a $260,000 savings with premiums reduced by 10%. However, the out of pocket expense for family plans for health insurance will increase from $4,600 to $7,500 per year. Prior to employees receiving pay raises they will need to have a satisfactory job performance review. The new job classification procedure will cost just over $100,000 to implement. Pay back for the county will be realized by lower pay raise steps and lower minimum wage for future new hires.
The 2014 budget which calls for just over $25 million in expenditures, saw considerable discussion on a request to quadruple wages for county fair officials. The original budget called for $2500. Fair committee member Chuck Zenner requested doubling the wage for the fair secretary and establishing a per diem for board members. Zenner indicated he didn’t think it was right that board members were paying some expenses out of their pocket.
Supervisor Lewis indicated all surrounding counties pay in excess of $10,000 to support their fairs. Supervisor Mildebrand said he could support increasing the amount to $5,000 but not quadrupling it to $10,000. Supervisor Krug echoed those sentiments saying that doubling the secretary’s wage and adding per diem wouldn’t solve any problems.
Supervisor Bizer said he took the capitalist approach. If the fair makes a profit, perhaps the fair board could keep a portion of the profits. Rollie Thums asked if they really needed to pay volunteers. Zenner responded they were having a hard time finding volunteers.
The vote to increase funding to the fair to $10,000 failed on a 5 yes and 11 no vote.
The amended vote to increase spending to $5,000 passed on a 15 yes and 1 no vote.
The board gave a unanimous approval to the amended 2014 budget. The tax rate will be $8.17, compared to $8.11 in 2012. This will result in a 6 cent increase per $1,000 of full equalized value of property. The budget levy of $10,281,679 is an increase of $270,170 or 2.6%.
Taylor County property owners will see a slight increase in their property taxes. The Taylor County portion of property taxes will increase about 9 cents per $1,000 of equalized value as a result of the 2014 proposed budget which was passed by the county’s budget committee on Monday.
County Clerk Bruce Strama indicated that a significant savings in health insurance had an impact. Because of changes in the health insurance program the county is saving over $240,000.
In an effort to boost the amount of roadway improvements, the highway department budget included funds for additional road paving and maintenance.
Total budget expenditures are increased by approximately 3%.