WKEB Local News

One Dies, Two Injured in High Speed Crash

One Dies, Two Injured in High Speed Crash  Wednesday, September 27, 2023


On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, at 2:54 p.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting a one vehicle accident with multiple injuries.  The location was reported to be on Oriole Dr. north of CTH-O in the Town of Medford, Taylor County.

Emergency services were dispatched, including fire, ambulance, and law enforcement.


Taylor County deputies were first on scene and found that all of the vehicle’s occupants had been ejected during the crash.  Two males and one female were located.  The two male occupants were transported by ambulance and flown by helicopter for treatment of their injuries.  The female had succumbed to her injuries and was deceased at the scene.


Preliminary investigation into the cause of the accident indicates the driver was one of the injured males and the other two were passengers.  The vehicle was travelling southbound on Oriole Dr. at speeds in excess of 100 mph when the driver lost control of the vehicle while crossing a bridge.  After losing control, the vehicle left the west side of the roadway at a high rate of speed overturning multiple times during which the occupants were ejected.  The vehicle continued, overturning until eventually coming to rest approximately 191 yards (573 feet) off the roadway.  The accident remains under investigation; speed and drugs are considered contributing factors in the accident.


Names are being withheld pending notifications of the families


Local Man Dies in ATV Accident

Local Man Dies in ATV Accident   Monday, Aug 14, 2023


On Saturday, August 12, 2023, at 12:50 p.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting an ATV accident with injuries near 530 Lake Shore Dr in the Village Of Rib Lake , Taylor County. The 911 caller was among a group of individuals driving UTVs and found the injured subject laying on the road unresponsive. Taylor County deputies along with fire and EMS were dispatched.


Upon the deputies arrival the unresponsive ATV rider was identified as 48-year-old James C. Wacholtz Jr. of Rib Lake Wi.


Preliminary investigation into the cause of the ATV accident indicates Wacholtz lost control of the ATV he was operating while attempting to negotiate a right turn in the roadway causing the ATV to overturn. Wacholtz was ejected off the ATV as it overturned.  


Wacholtz sustained severe injuries as a result of the accident and was air lifted to Aspirus Wausau where he ultimately succumb to his injuries and passed away. Speed is considered a contributing factor in the cause of the accident, Wisconsin DNR is further investigating.


Up on the Rooftop

Up on the Rooftop   August 2, 2023


On Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at about 11:38 PM the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch received a call from a resident in the 800 block of E. Broadway reporting hearing the sounds of footsteps on the roof of the residence.


An Officer from the Medford Police Department arrived at the location at about 11:45 PM and saw a male subject on the roof of the residence. Deputies from the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to assist. The male subject made his way to a garage connected to the residence and fell through the roof, into the attic space of the garage.


Officers and Deputies attempted contact with the male subject and ordered for him to come down from the attic area. The male subject then barricaded himself in the attic space and refused to comply with commands to come out. After negotiating with the male subject, Officers and Deputies were able to successfully arrest the subject at 1:28 AM without further incident.


The male subject was identified as 38-year-old Luke J. Hudak.
Request for Charges is being filed on Hudak for Criminal Trespassing, Criminal Damage to Property, and Resisting Arrest.


The Marathon County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the incident by sending a K9 Unit to the scene to assist if needed.  The Medford Police Department wishes to thank the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, Taylor County Ambulance Service, and the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office for assisting with the incident.

Vehicle vs Pedestrian Accident in Medford


Vehicle vs Pedestrian Accident in Medford  July 31, 2023


On Thursday, July 27, 2023 at about 6:39 PM the Taylor County Sheriff's Office Dispatch received a call reporting a vehicle versus pedestrian accident that happened on STH 64/Broadway Ave at
the intersection of Park Ave.


The Medford Police Department and the Taylor County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene along with the Taylor County Ambulance Service and Medford Fire Department.


Initial investigation revealed that a westbound vehicle driven by 82-year-old Judith A. Kleiber struck a pedestrian, 59-year-old Scott L. Anderson, as he was crossing the roadway heading southbound. Anderson was transported to Aspirus Medford Hospital and subsequently transported to Aspirus Wausau Hospital due to the injuries he sustained.


Anderson remains in critical condition The investigation of the crash is still ongoing.

One Local Man Dies, Another Injured in Rib Lake Vehicle Accident

One Local Man Dies, Another Injured in Rib Lake Vehicle Accident  July 12, 2023


On Tuesday July 11, 2023, at approximately 6:57 p.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls reporting a vehicle accident with injuries on Harper Drive in the Town Of Rib Lake, Taylor County. It was also reported that two vehicles were seen racing side by side just prior to the accident. Taylor County Sheriff’s deputies along with fire and emergency medical services were dispatched.


Upon arrival deputies found a vehicle operated by 21-year-old Ethan M. Berry from Medford WI off the roadway and down an embankment. Berry was deceased at the scene due to injuries sustained in the accident.  An occupant in Berry’s vehicle 22-year-old Qwinton K. Davenport of Medford was severely injured, his prognosis is unknown at this time.


Investigation into the cause of the accident indicates the deceased Ethan M. Berry was operating his vehicle at high speeds and racing another vehicle. Berry appears to have passed the vehicle he was racing but then lost control while navigating a curve in the road. Berry’s vehicle struck numerous trees and fell down an embankment before coming to rest. Speed and alcohol are contributing factors in the cause of the accident.  


Several arrests were made at the scene, the investigation is ongoing.

Schmeiser Sentenced

Scheiser Sentenced     Monday, June 19, 1023


OWEN, Wis. (WSAW) - A 30-year-old man convicted of hitting another man with his vehicle and leaving the scene will spend one year in jail and 7 years on probation.


On Monday, June 19th, Paul Schmeiser pleaded no contest to hit and run involving death. He was found guilty as a result. In exchange for the plea, a charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle was dismissed.


The crash happened Oct. 31, 2021. Titus Kottke, 27 died as a result. Kottke’s body was found around 6 a.m. on Halloween near the intersection of Elm Avenue and Hamm Drive in the township of Holway, near Owen. Kottke was last seen alive at approximately 3:30 a.m. walking on the road about a mile away from where he was found.


Schmeiser wasn’t arrested until Dec. 22 of that year.


As a part of his sentencing, he’ll also have to write a letter of apology to the Kottke family. His license will also be revoked for five years.

Abbyland Foods Fined by OHSA

Abbyalnd Foods Fined by OHSA  Monday, June 12, 2023


ABBOTSFORD, Wis.  Abbyland Foods, a meat and sausage manufacturing plant is under scrutiny following machine safety standards led to two worker amputations, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found. 

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor, inspectors with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were looking into injuries sustained at Abbyland Foods, Inc.

The release said a turning auger on a meat processing machine at Abbyland Foods amputated the top of a 37-year-old worker’s finger in December 2022.  They also  received a report of a second worker’s injury at the plant a month later. In the January 2023 incident, a sliding guard on a trash compactor crushed a 23-year-old worker’s hand.

The investigations led to citations for repeat violations at the plant and 17 serious violations resulting in a proposed $277,472 in penalties by OSHA.

Most of the infractions involved the company’s failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures and provide adequate machine guarding to protect workers during operation.

An operator at the manufacturing plant might have spared the two employees from suffering even more serious hand injuries by following required machine safety standards, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found.

The release also said: 

Following the December injury, OSHA expanded its inspection under the Wisconsin Food Manufacturing Industry Local Emphasis Program. The emphasis program focuses on many hazards that can lead to serious injury, illness, and death in the food manufacturing industry. OSHA interviewed over 70 employees across all shifts at the facility during the two investigations. 

Before these inspections, OSHA had cited the company with 22 serious violations and, since 2013, has proposed more than $56,000 in penalties for Abbyland Foods’ failures to protect employees’ safety and health, including some of the same hazards identified in the most recent inspections.

Since 1977, Abbyland Foods Inc. has operated a custom meat processing plant and retail store in Abbotsford. Today, the company has more than 1,000 employees in eight divisions that manufacture a variety of cooked meat products and traditional fresh and smokehouse sausage products. Its products are shipped to retail stores and food service clients throughout the U.S.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.



Phillips Medisize in Medford to Close

Phillips Medisize in Medford to Close  June 7, 2023


MEDFORD, Wis.  - A local manufacturing company starts its layoff process in Medford according to a letter to the Department of Workforce Development on Tuesday. 


Phillips-Medisize in Medford, with nearly 170 employees has begun the process to permanently close.


Last August, Phillips-Medisize announced after “careful consideration and analysis of its global footprint” it will end operations at the Medford plant.  Since that time, though less than 25% of workforce was impacted. The layoffs are now hitting the Medford community. 


Production at the Medford plant will shift north to the facility in Phillips. The Phillips location has the size and capabilities to support its customers in the future.


Phillips-Medisize, a Molex company backed by Koch industries, is a global manufacturer of commercial and medical solutions.


According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development WARN notice, Phillips anticipates a permanent layoff of approximately 83 employees, beginning on or about Aug. 7 with approximately 46 employees being affected at that time. Of the 46 set to be laid off in August, 28 are operators. The reduction of another approximately 37 positions will take place in phases and is expected to be complete by the end of September.  With the 60-day notice they were likely told earlier this week. 


Phillips-Medisize has other locations in Wisconsin in Eau Claire, Menomonie, New Richmond and Hudson with job openings and the current Medford employees will be able to apply for roles at these sites as well as at other Molex and Koch locations, a media statement said.


In a statement in August company officials did confirm that all 170 positions would be let go from the Medford plant. In addition, around 100 employees will be let go from the Hudson plant, which is downsizing but not closing down.


Phillips-Medisize first came to Medford in an expansion from the Phillips community about 50 years ago in the early 1970s. 

Zarins Charged

Zarins Charged                       May 4, 2023


An Athens man is charged after a structure fire in Taylor County that left one person dead.


Jennifer Johnson, who was 51, died after being burned over 85-percent of her body in the January 2023 fire. The blaze broke out in a homemade structure built from an old camper frame.


A criminal complaint shows 50-year-old Matthew Zarins is charged with homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit manufacturing of methamphetamine, possession of materials for manufacturing methamphetamine, maintaining a drug trafficking place, and possession of waste from methamphetamine manufacturing -1st offense.


According to the criminal complaint, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, around 12:11 a.m., the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a structure fire at N44 Clark Drive in the Town of Maplehurst, north of Withee, in Taylor County..


The criminal complaint says Zarins reported his house was on fire. Zarins reported his wife was outside with him, but she had burn injuries.


Zarins told detectives a can of fuel slipped out of his hands and spilled when he was trying to build a fire in the woodstove, according to the criminal complaint. But a woman told detectives Zarins said he and Johnson were making meth when he poured something into the mix that caused it to explode.


Authorities learned there was no water and no electricity in Zarins’ house. The house was heated by burning wood. The home was burned down, more or less to the frame. The home consisted of a single-story camper-style/mobile home.


The criminal complaint says Zarins provided consent to search the camper.  Authorities found “several items laying outside and inside the burned structure consisting of but not limited to the following: a glass mason jar lid with a plastic hose coming out of the top, a plastic bottle with a plastic hose coming out of the top, cans of Coleman fuel, multiple glass beakers, a glass beaker with what appeared to be tin foil wrapped around the top, a glass measuring cup glass mason jars, assorted glassware and vials, a glass smoking device with a hose wrapped around it consistent with smoking methamphetamine.” A fire chief advised he suspected there was drug activity at the structure since he saw glass tubes, beakers, and hoses in the charred remains of the structure.


The criminal complaint says in an interview Zarins denied knowing anything or being involved in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. In an interview with an informant, she stated Zanis wanted to make meth to "make a lot of money."


Zarins admitted to smoking methamphetamine five days prior to when he was asked by authorities.


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