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WKEB Local News Archives for 2018-05

Medford Firefighters Deal With 2 Barn Fires Amid Intense Heat

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


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


Memorial Day Fire Destroys Barn

Memorial Day Fire Destroys Barn     5/28/18


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

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


Medford Vandalism

Medford Vandalism  5/23/18


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

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

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


Stetsonville Water Rate Proposal Makes Waves

Stetsonville Water Rate Proposal Makes Waves    5/22/18


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

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


Pretrial Set For Jake Wendt

Pretrial Set For Jake Wendt   5/15/18


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

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

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



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