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WKEB Local News Archives for 2013-02

    Residents in the Medford area are reflecting on the life of Philanthropist Joseph "Pep" Simek who died this week at the age of 86.  To many people, Mr. Simek was a perfect example of the American Dream.  A man with common roots, who would grow to become a self-made entrepreneur and coupled with his late wife Fran, philanthropists who's name is today displayed on facilities which through their generosity became a reality.

     The Simek Recreation Center, home to the Medford Area Youth Hockey and Figure Skating Teams.  The Frances L. Simek Memorial Library.  The Simek Memorial Fire Hall, home of the Medford Area Fire Department.  And gracious donations to help build the Holy Rosary Catholic School.  In addition to these buildings which their generosity made possible, the Simek's created jobs which today continue to support many families at the Nestle Foods, Pizza Division.

     Join us as we celebrate a lifetime of memories through an interview with Pep Simek, recorded in 2001.


K99 interview with Pep Simek Part 1



K99 interview with Pep Simek Part 2







A Medford man was arrested and charged with arson in connection with a Medford Main Street fire.  34 year old David J Johnson who had been the operator of Main Street Grill and Pizza was charged by Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty with Arson.  In Taylor County Court today (Tuesday) the state originally asked for $15,000 bond.  Court Commissioner William Grunwald ordered Johnson be held for $10,000 cash bond in Taylor County Jail.  Johnson is accused of starting a fire which destroyed a Main Street building early Saturday morning so that he could collect the renters insurance money from the damage.  In an unrelated case, David J Johnson was charged with 3 counts of identity theft, financial gain, repeater.  The charges stem from incidents where Johnson is alleged to have cashed checks from someone else’s checking account.  David J Johnson’s initial appearance is scheduled for March 19th at 1:30 in Taylor County Court.






MADISON — On February 16, 2013, at approximately 6:30 am, the Medford Police and Fire Departments, with assistance from the Stetsonville Fire Department, responded to a structure fire at 233 South Main Street in Medford, after a Medford police officer noticed smoke coming from the Main Street Convenience Store. 


On February 18, 2013, David J. Johnson of 210 North 4th Street, Medford, was arrested by Medford Police on One Count of Arson of a Building, a felony.  Johnson is the operator of the business.


At the request of Medford Police Chief Ken Coyer, the State Fire Marshal at the Department of Justice -- Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was contacted to assist in the investigation.  


A defendant enjoys the presumption of innocence.  The State must prove its allegations at trial.  David J. Johnson is in custody and being held on $10,000 cash bond.



     The Medford Planning Commission met Monday night (Feb 18) to decide whether a plot of land on Highway 13 in Medford should be rezoned from residential to commercial.  The request was brought by Jon Ruesch involving a parcel of just under 5 acres at the corner of Conrad Drive and Highway 13. 

     Gene Knoll addressed the meeting indicating that Forward Finacial would like to construct a new bank on the parcel.  Attorney Bill Grunwald told the group that there had been some issues regarding restrictive covenants.  Grunwald indicated that the parcel in question was not part of the Jentzsch property when the covenants were put in place in 1954.  Property owner Wayne Engel talked at length about how the city and county had adapted the restrictive covenants.  Engel  handed out a map which he said included the subject area and was then questioned by commission member Tim Hanson:  “Were Klinner Insurance,, the Brass Rail, Liske Marine and Mertens Garage all in violation of the covenant?  They’re on your map.”  

     After further discussion City Planner Bob Christenson told the group that in 1954 when the restrictive covenants were put in place, the Jentzsch family didn’t own the parcel in question, nor did they own several parcels to the south of the property.  Mayor Wellner asked the group, if we can’t put a business on Highway 13, where can we put it. 

     Ultimately the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that city council rezone the property from R-1 residential to C-1 commercial. 

     The Medford City Council will meet Tuesday, February 19th  to vote on the issue.




     A Saturday morning fire on Medford’s Main Street destroyed a Medford business location.  At 6:30 Saturday morning a Medford police officer noticed smoke coming out of the Main Street Grill and Pizza building.  For many years the building housed Eddie’s Bake Shop.  

     The building is owned by Steve Fischer and was rented by Dave Johnson.  When Medford firefighters arrived thick smoke was coming from the roof.  Firefighters first fought the blaze from inside the structure with the Medford ladder truck applying water from the back side of the structure. 

     The flames became involved behind remodeled walls and in order to save adjacent structures from the blaze, a backhoe was called in from Brunner Well Drilling.  The backhoe pulled the structure into the street where firefighters hosed down the hot spots. 

      The Saturday morning sub-zero temperatures caused many of the firefighters to become walking ice men with layers of ice forming on their turnout gear.  Members of the Stetsonville Fire Department provided mutual aid.  The Medford ambulance was on standby during the incident.  A salt truck was brought in to minimize the ice which was created by the thousands of gallons of water.  No injuries were reported. 

     The Main Street Grill and Pizza building is a total loss.  The adjacent businesses, Feet in Motion and Silence Is Nothing received water and smoke damage along with some structural damage as well.  Medford firefighters were on the scene on Medford’s Main Street until about 12:30 PM.   

     According to Chief of Police Ken Coyer, currently the cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Medford Police Department, the State Fire Marshal’s office and State Department of Criminal Investigations. 

     Emergency responders would like to thank the businesses that opened their doors to allow them to warm up along with those who provided food and beverages throughout the day.


Join them Saturday Feb 16 at the Stanley Boyd Schools from 1-4pm and for more information listen 



     The Medford Plan Commission met Monday, February 4th. The public hearing regarding the rezoning of land at 721 South 8th Street which had been requested by Jon Ruesch was postponed to a future date.  The request is to change the zoning from R-1 residential to C-1 commercial.  According to city documents Forward Financial Bank intends to purchase the property to build a new bank.

     The commission discussed selling a parcel of land in Medford’s Industrial Park to North Central Technical College.  Preliminary plans indicate that Wausau developer Ghidorzi Companies would construct and own the new building and enter into a long term lease agreement with North Central Technical College.  The property being sold for the school is located across the road to the west of Marathon Cheese.  Plan Commissioners voted 5 in favor, 1 against and 1 abstain.  Commissioner Dave Zimmerman voted against the proposed sale indicating his displeasure with locating an educational facility in the industrial park.

The city council will vote on the issue at their meeting February 5th.

     The final order of business had to do with a flood plain map involving all landowners located “down stream” from the WeatherShield dam.

     When the dam was installed it was compliant with all state rules.  Medford Mayor Mike Wellner told the assembled landowners that since that time, the rules regarding flood plains have changed.  If the city doesn’t adopt their own flood plain map, the D.N.R. has told city officials that the DNR would adopt their own map and subsequently bill city taxpayers for the DNR’s time.  Property owners expressed their displeasure with the prospect of owning land which will now be located in a flood plain.  When asked about flood insurance, commissioner Dave Clark indicated that homeowners in the area would need to purchase flood insurance to cover any remaining  amount of their home loan.  Property owner Don Cannon asked if he would be able to construct a building on vacant land which would now be in the flood plain.  Bob Christianson replied “Probably not”.  Property owners asked if their property tax would be going down since they would now be located in a flood plain.  They were told that 3 parcels in the mapped area would need to be sold before it could be determined whether the value of property in the flood plain increased, decreased, or stayed the same.  The measure to recommend that city council adopt the Weather Shield Dam non-existent flood plain map passed by a 6 yes 1 no vote. 





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