WKEB Local News Archives for 2023-06

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. 


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