4/8/16 Facelift For Ice Age Trail
In 2015, the Ice Age Trail Alliance upgraded 5.8 miles of signage within the Taylor County Forest while scouting options to reopen a section of trail in the Gus Johnson Lake area.
Plans for 2016 include 2 mobile skills projects in Taylor County: May 18th thru the 22nd a base camp will be set at Wood Lake County Park. Plans are to work with the Rib Lake and Medford school districts, and New Vision Wilderness to bring youth out on the trail for a day of services and learning. The focus area will be west of County C, but not in county forest.
The second effort will be July 26-31st within the county forest. Base camp again will be at Wood Lake County Park. It is anticipated this will involve 100 to 125 volunteers from New Vision Wilderness and around the state. Work will include constructing ¼ mile reroute north of Gus Johnson Lake to work around an area inundated by beaver.
A bridge over Wood Creek will be replaced with a 24 foot clear span bridge. From County C to Bear Avenue, ½ mile of tread with rock walls and landings will be completed, along with a 49 foot and 100 foot boardwalk and a 16 foot simple bridge. Along Highway 102 at the former Walbeck property a 6 car parking lot will be established. Within Wood Lake Park, the boardwalks will be upgraded to meet current standards.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s volunteer chapter in Taylor County is continuing their effort to maintain and improve the Ice Age Trail.
Van Der Geest Dairy Machine Shed Burns 4/6/16
A fire Wednesday afternoon, April 6, destroyed a machine shed on the Van Der Geest dairy farm between Wausau and Merrill. The fire which started in the machine shop at about 3:30 Wednesday afternoon was discovered by a worker who tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. Reports indicate that while the machine shop was destroyed, no people or animals were injured. Firefighters had some anxious moments as the fire raged near a 500 gallon diesel fuel tank. The dairy farm milks about 3,000 Holstein dairy cattle. Preliminary estimates of damage are placed at $400,000.
Camp 28 Railroad Bed Is Under Water 4/6/16
The Taylor County Forestry and Recreation Committee met recently. Two gentlemen, Joe Yanko and Dan Casey told the committee that they were seeking assistance to improve the road which leads to their hunting cabin. The road is actually a former railroad bed which turn of the century loggers used to haul timber from the area surrounding the former Camp 28 cookhouse. Recently the men built a new cabin adjacent to the old cookhouse. The road which goes through nearly a mile of county forest is used by the county only during the winter after freezeup for moving timber sales. The former railroad bed is now sinking into the black spruce swamp. The county’s forestry department has plans to replace a faulty culvert, but a large section of the former railroad bed is under water.
Chairman Chuck Zenner asked about the location of the cabin which is at the end of the logging road and over the Lincoln County line. Committee members were told that on one stretch of the road you drive through water for about 100 yards at depths of 8 to 14 inches. County forester Jake Walcisak indicated that bringing .4 mile of the road up to passable condition would cost about $35,000. Mr. Zenner told the group that while it’s public land and they can’t deny access, but to pay $35,000 of taxpayer money to access a cabin in Lincoln County is a tough sell to taxpayers. He went on to say that the road that is there works for the county’s winter logging projects.
The committee took no action on the request and directed the cabin owners to bring back a possible cost sharing proposal which could be considered by the Forestry and Recreation Committee.
Two Deaths in Downtown **UPDATE**
On Thursday, March 24, 2016 the Medford Police Department responded to a report of two deceased individuals at an apartment off of South Main Street in the City of Medford, Taylor County, WI.
The deceased have been identified as 27 year old Chad K. Mayes and 20 year old Kristina I. Knopp both of the City of Medford.
The criminal investigation in coordination with the Taylor County Medical Examiner has determined that Kristina Knopp died as a result of homicidal gunshot trauma and Chad Mayes died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Medford Police Department would like to thank the Dept of Justice, Div of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin State Patrol, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance.
There is currently no danger to the community and we are not seeking suspects at this time.
Bryan Carey, Sgt.
Medford Police Department
Two Deaths in Downtown
On Thursday, March 24, 2016, at approximately 7:40 pm, the Taylor County Dispatch received a 911 call reporting two deceased subjects in an apartment off of South Main Street in the City of Medford. A Medford Police Department Officer responded to the scene where he found a deceased male and female inside an apartment. Based on the circumstances the Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) was contacted and asked to assist the Medford Police Department with the investigation.
At this time the Department of Justice, DCI, Medford Police Department, and members of the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department are working together on this investigation.
I would like to emphasize to the members of the public that based on our initial investigation there is no danger to the community at this time.
Ken D. Coyer, Chief
Tues 3/15/16 Busy Day For Taylor County Board
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, March 15th. The board passed a resolution in memory of Dennis “Foxy” John Fuchs who had served for 8 years. Interim board chair Chuck Zenner asked for a moment of silence before he presented a certificate to Foxy’s son, mother and wife.
Deputy Sheriff Corey Dassow was recognized for taking 5th place in a statewide competition in the 2015 A.L.E.R.T. Law Enforcement Challenge. Sheriff Bruce Daniels complimented Dassow for his performance in the “Risk Management” competition.
Wisconsin is the 4th largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. generating approximately ten million dollars annually to approximately 5,000 Wisconsin producers, many in Taylor County. The board passed a resolution proclaiming the week of April 24-30th as “Brighten Your Week with Maple Magic” in Taylor County.
With the birds chirping the pending arrival of spring the second Saturday in May was proclaimed as International Migratory Bird Day. To recognize the importance of volunteers, April 10-16th was designated as National Volunteer week in Taylor County.
Next, the board focused on the fairgrounds. It was noted that the refreshment stand was structurally unsound. The estimated cost of a replacement 40 by 60 foot structure including concrete is $28,500, with an estimated $3,500 available in the fairgrounds budget. The board approved allocating $25,000 from the contingency fund to cover the cost of a new pavilion at the fairgrounds.
Next, the County Board turned their attention to the Rib Lake Ski & Snowshoe Club. The club purchased a UTV and groomer for $33,550. Supervisor Thums indicated that since he was one of the founding members of the club he would abstain from voting. But Thums reminded the board that the 25 miles of trail attracts many tourists to the area annually. The club had requested 50% of the groomer cost, or $16,775 from Powerline Impact Fees. The finance committee sliced the amount to $5,000. Supervisor Zenner indicated he voted against funding because the club already receives federal assistance. The vote to grant the Rib Lake Ski & Snowshoe club $5,000 passed with only one dissenting vote by Mr. Zenner.
If you look up in Medford you may have sighted the new tower at the Education Center. The board approved purchasing the tower for $230,000 which will include the cost of dismantling the old tower. County Clerk Bruce Strama indicated the county currently earns $73,000 per year in lease fees from cellular companies.
State Statutes require county boards to set the salary for county elected officials. The board accepted a pay scale for the county clerk, county treasurer and register of deeds. The scale will result in a wage freeze for the county clerk until 2019 at which time the 3 officials will earn the same wage with each of them earning $54,018.
Speaking of wages, the board approved the professional employees, Teamster, Local 662 agreement which will increase each step by .73% effective January 10, 2016.
Supervisor Krug introduced Sasha Boushan who is the new county interim 4-H youth agent.
It was noted that this was the final county board meeting for Roger Ewan and Dave Lemke who are not seeking reelection.
Chuck Zenner told the board that his goal is to seek a method of rotating committee membership among board members. Lester Lewis indicated he was formulating a plan to merge finance and personnel into one 7 member committee.
The county board moved to closed session to confer with legal counsel regarding potential settlement of litigation in which it is involved. Following the closed session the board voted to direct legal counsel to resolve the case under parameters as described. Details into the litigation will become public once the county board takes formal action on a resolution.
The next meeting of the Taylor County Board is scheduled for April 19th
Crash Fatality on Highway 13 3/2/16
One person has died in a one vehicle crash north of Medford on Highway 13.
On Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 at approximately 3:00 P.M., the Taylor County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center was notified of a one vehicle crash on State Highway 13 approximately four miles north of the City of Medford.
The intiial 9-1-1 call report indicated a Ford truck, possibly an F-250, had been traveling on State Highway 13 between County Highway M west and County Highway M east. The truck left the roadway, entered the east ditch and struck a tree.
Emergency responders from the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Medford Area Fire Department, Taylor County Ambulance and Medevac responded to the scene.
A single occupant was located in the 2003 Ford pickup truck that had gone off of the road. The occupant had obviously sustained injuries and was non-responsive. Medford Area Fire Department personnel entered the vehicle through the use of the Jaws of Life. Although significant lifesaving efforts were attempted, the single occupant of the Ford truck succumbed to the injuries sustained in this crash and was pronounced deceased at Aspirus Medford Hospital and Clinics.
The victim in this fatal single vehicle crash has been identified as 56 year old David Klempier of Itasca, Illinois. Witnesses reported that Klempier's southbound vehicle seemed to deviate in it's lane of travel and when it came to a slight curve in the road, continued straight, entering the east ditch and ultimately striking a tree. The investigation revealed that safety restraints were not used but the driver's side airbag did deploy. Alcohol is not considered a factor at this time.
Search Begins for New Police Chief
It looks as though the Medford Police Department will be hiring a new police chief this summer. At this week’s meeting of the Medford Police & Fire Commission, it was noted that Chief Ken Coyer informed the commission that he is retiring in the summer of 2016. Both the commission and Chief Coyer would like to begin the hiring process by searching within the department. Should no qualified candidate be found, the commission could then extend its’ search.
At the Commission’s February 17th meeting they ratified the mayor’s appointment of Roger Ewan to fill the unexpired term of Jim Metz who recently moved outside of the city limits. Jim Elliot was nominated as chairman of the police & fire commission.
Medford Area Fire Department Called Out on Valentine's Day
The Medford Area Fire Department was called out Sunday morning, February 14th just after 11 o’clock to the report of a shed fire. Firefighters responded to the Tyler Johnson residence at W7840 Birch Drive in the town of Molitor. Apparently sparks from an outdoor wood burning furnace ignited an adjacent small building. No injuries were reported. Damage was estimated at $5,000. Firefighters were on the scene for just over an hour Sunday morning.
Medford Fire Department Has a Busy Tuesday
A stubborn fire kept the Medford Area Fire Department busy on Tuesday, January 19th. Employees of the millwork division of Weathershield noticed that the sprinkler system had been triggered in the sawdust collection system about 9:30 Tuesday morning. Firefighters from the Medford Area Fire Department focused on the sawdust silo located outside the south end of the milwork division on Whelen Avenue in Medford. After about three hours, it was determined there were no more hot spots in the silo.
When the sawdust collection system was reactivated, smoke began billowing from the silo again. Medford firefighters returned to the scene once again durng the noon hour. The sawdust silo's filter system was removed to allow firefighters to access the caked on sawdust.
No injuries were reported. There was some damage to the silo's filter system. Also responding to the scene were the Medford ambulance and Medford police. Medford firefighters were on the scene until about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.
ONE VEHICLE CRASH NORTH OF MEDFORD
Monday, January 11, 2016
One person was seriously injured in a one vehicle crash north of Medford Monday morning, January 11th. Preliminary reports indicate that a southbound pickup crossed the centerline of Highway 13 veered across the highway, clipped off a mailbox and telephone pedestal, coming to rest after striking a large spruce tree on the east side of the road just south of Jolly Avenue at N3898 highway 13. Taylor County officers, the Medford ambulance and Medford area fire department responded. The driver of the pickup was trapped in the back seat of the pickup in subzero temperatures. Medford firefighters used the jaws of life to pull the roof off of the truck and free the injured driver from the back seat. The male driver was taken by Medford ambulance to Aspirus Medford hospital and then transferred by Aspirus helicopter. The crash is being investigated by the Taylor County Sheriff’s department.
County Board Has Busy Meeting 12-22-15
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday. County board chairman Jim Metz recently moved out of District 4 to just north of the city. Mr. Metz handed the gavel over to Chuck Zenner who will assume the position of chairman until the April reorganization meeting. Attorney Ken Schmiege told the board that 2 supervisor positions were open, one due to Mr. Metz moving and the second was due to Jason Julian resigning from the board. Schmiege told the board that county code addressed vacancies on the board but didn’t indicate a timetable. He suggested that at a future meeting the board could amend the county code and establish a timeline for filling vacant supervisor seats.
Chairman Zenner told the board that traditionally the chairman isn’t a member of committees. He asked the board for direction as to whether he should maintain his committee membership and chairman status or not. Supervisors Breneman and Dave Lemke felt the positions should be filled by other board members. Ultimately the board voted unanimously to have chairman Zenner maintain his status on committees.
The board approved the 2 new members and Judge Ann Knox-Bauer administered the oath of office to Michael Bub and Catherine Lemke.
Two 4-H members were recognized for achieving the highest award in 4-H Youth Development. The county board approved a resolution recognizing the efforts of Laura Bolstad and Douglas Schumacher for receiving the Wisconsin Key Award.
A presentation of a ceremonial check donation was given to 3 members of the Huey’s Hideaway board. The $10,000 donation will help equip the new children’s museum in Medford with construction slated to begin in early 2016.
Supervisor Tim Hanson congratulated Patti Krug and the staff of the county health department for achieving a Level 2 designation by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The board was informed that the Taylor County Health Department and the Taylor County Drug Opposition Partners are the recipient of a grant in the amount of $600,000 over the next 5 years. Funds from the grant are earmarked for attempting to reduce underage drinking and drug use.
The county board voted unanimously to withdraw from the Local Government Property Insurance Fund. The county’s 2016 premiums were projected to increase 35%, nearly $24,000. Other companies quoted premiums which were much lower.
The vote was unanimous in favor of a resolution which supported application for coordinated services team initiative as required by state law.
Recent attempts to locate a “super dairy” in Taylor County prompted interest in the county’s minimal water supply. A scientific study indicated that the average water well production is 9.2 gallons per minute. This is among the lowest output of drinking water in the state. Taylor County’s 9.2 gallons per minute pales in contrast to Portage County which averaged 56 gallons per minute. The board voted unanimously for a resolution supporting enhanced groundwater protections for Taylor County in any future legislation regarding groundwater. Some proposed legislation would designate certain areas of the state as “sensitive resources areas”.
The deputy sheriff’s and sergeants bargaining agreement for 2016-17 was adopted.
The former Perkinstown Jail is one step closer to being moved to the fairgrounds in Medford. The board approved allocating $5,500 in Powerline Impact fees to partially fund the move.
The next issue received the most debate. It involved the purchase of the Harold Miller property adjacent to the Taylor County Fairgrounds. Supervisor Bob Lee indicated the tax assessment of the property was about $56,000. He disagreed with paying nearly 3 times that amount, $165,000. Dave Lemke said the land could provide good use for the fairgrounds and highway department. He said the land could be developed into a campgrounds. He called it a one time opportunity. Supervisor Ewan said he was told that the land has been for sale for 20 years. He told the board that Medford’s Mayor Mike Wellner said the city is not interested in the parcel. Ewan said that the 24 acre parcel has 6 or 7 usable acres with the balance being wetlands. Supervisor Breneman said that taxpayers don’t think Taylor County should be buying more land. Supervisor McKovsky repeatedly told the board that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Supervisor Mildebrand indicated that the proposed land purchase would utilize funds from the county cash reserves. He said the county’s auditor’s have expressed the opinion that the county’s reserves are low. He felt that since the purchase is recreational, funding should come from powerline impact fees. Supervisor Dave Krug questioned how much personnel would be needed to maintain a 27 unit RV Park. Jeff Ludwig said since the land was so close to their office, no additional personnel would be needed. Krug said he liked the idea of a campground but was concerned about the cost of developing it. Supervisor Tim Hanson said he had a hard time justifying a purchase which would be used 3 or 4 days per year. The proposal to purchase 24.3 acres from Harold Miller near the fairgrounds for $165,000 failed by a 5 yes and 12 no votes. Voting in favor of the purchase were Albrecht, Gebauer, Lemke, McKovsky and Zenner.
The Jump River Park and Campground is scheduled for improvements with the projected cost of $37,690.00. The county board approved $10,000 in powerline impact fees for improvements to the Jump River campground and playground.
The board gave unanimous approval to including the UW Extension in the county conditions of employment code. Taylor County now has an official Finance Department. Larry Brandl will be the department head and will answer to the finance committee.
The final business of the day had to do with purchasing I Pads for the county board. Lester Lewis projected the effort would cost $20,000 per year. He expressed his concern about costs. Supervisor Dave Krug indicated that he’s a member of the ADRC which has used electronic tablets for the past 2 years. However most of the board members have turned their tablets back in. Krug blamed the lack of training for member hesitancy in using electronic tablets. County Clerk cautioned the board by saying if the board wasn’t going to use the tablets, then don’t purchase them. County Attorney Ken Schmiege cautioned the group that if the board members could communicate with all other members, that could be a violation of the open meetings law. The board voted to table the issue until the county board’s April reorganization meeting.
That was some of the business at the Tuesday Taylor County Board meeting.
The Taylor County Sheriff's Office and the Medford Police Department have been made aware of an individual impersonating an officer, both within the City of Medford and again in Taylor County. Both incidents involved a dark colored vehicle with red and blue grill lights stopping another motorist. In both incidents, the individual approached the stopped vehicle and verbally identified himself as an officer. He is described as a white male in his 30s, about 6 feet in height, with dark hair and some facial hair. He was wearing plain clothes and identified himself as a detective in the first incident. In the second incident, he was wearing uniform style clothing with no badge or markings. Both incidents appear to be random and authorities do not have anything to indicate this indivdual is targeting specific ages or genders, In both cases, the suspect told the driver why he stopped them and then left after minor conversation.
In both cases, this was a dark colored, unmarked car with simple grill lighting. It should be noted that both the Taylor County Sheriff's Office and the Medford Police Department have unmarked squad cars. These unmarked squad cars are equipped with more emergency lighting than two simple grill lights.
At this time, the Taylor County Sheriff's Department and Medford Police Department are simply informing our citizenry so they are aware and are asking them to report any information they may have related to an individual impersonating an officer. You may contact both the Taylor County Sheriff's Department and the Medford Police Department by calling 715-748-2200 or 1-800-343-2201.
If you are stopped by a suspicious vehicle, you should try to stop in a well-lit area. In rural settings, well-lit areas may be difficult to find, so you can stop in front of another house or even pull into a driveway to stop. If the officer is in plain clothes, ask for his identification and department number so you may call to verify his identification. These are simple requests that any officer should be willing to provide.
This is not a justification to avoid stopping for a law enforcement officer. Failure to stop for an officer is a crime. If you are suspicious during a traffic stop, dial 9-1-1 or the numbers listed above. A dispatcher will assist you in determining the validity of the traffic stop. Fully marked squad cars have not been an issue in these two cases.
12/17/15 County Board Changing
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors will have a new look in 2016.
In district 3 Roger Ewan has filed papers indicating he will not seek another term. In district 7 Dave Lemke has also filed non-candidacy papers. And county board chairman Jim Lemke has moved out of the city and now resides in District 5. That creates a vacancy in district 4 which Mike Bub has indicated he will file papers for. With Jim Metz now residing in district 5, Mr. Metz has filed papers to run and current district 5 supervisor Bob Lee took out papers which could create a contest between Jim Metz and Bob Lee.
In Medford all 4 incumbent aldermen and Mayor Mike Wellner have taken out nomination papers.
Individuals who are interested in running for city or county positions should contact either city clerk Ginny Brost or county clerk Bruce Strama. Nomination forms need to be completed by January 5th.
11/25/15 Officials Investigate "Clip & Run" Crash
The Medford Area Fire Department was called out just after 6:30 this morning, Wednesday, November 25th, to the report of a vehicle which had hit a power pole east of Medford on Highway 64. Upon receiving the call, the dispatch center also sent the Medford ambulance to the scene. Upon arrival, officials noted that a vehicle had struck a driveway entrance, went airborne and clipped off a power pole causing the power line to spark. However, the vehicle had left the scene. The investigation into the apparent hit and run crash is continuing.
TAYLOR COUNTY PERSONNEL COMMITTEE MEETING
The Taylor County Personnel Committee met Wednesday morning, November 18th. The committee approved the request to maintain a 40 hour per week administrative assistant position for the U.W. Extension offices. It was noted that future state budgets may require extension agents to cover several counties which will put more demands on the support staff. The measure now will be taken up by the county board. The Land Conservation Department was authorized to replace a conservation technician. Next, the joint personnel and finance committee met. They approved creating a finance department. It was noted that from a functional standpoint there will be no changes but now there will be a formal structure of the county finances. The committees approved job descriptions for the finance director and accountant with an amendment to include the language “review compliance reporting for human services department” for the finance director. That measure will now be acted on by the Taylor County Board.
LOCAL MAN DIES AS RESULT OF HOUSE FIRE
On November 17th, 2015 at 9:39 a.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a house fire at W2581 County Road M in the town of Greenwood Taylor County. Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies, RibLake Fire Dept., Medford Fire Dept., and Medford Ambulance were dispatched.
Upon Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies arrival, the house was fully engulfed in thick smoke. Deputies could hear a television on and could see a lamp on in what was believed to be the living room portion of the residence. Believing somebody may be in the residence deputies attempted to enter through the front door but were quickly overcome by dense smoke and zero visibility. Deputies also forced open the back door and attempted entry again but were overcome by the smoke once again. Deputies’ yells into the residence were met with no reply.
Once Medford and RibLake Fire Departments arrived on scene fire department personnel made entry into the residence and extricated one unresponsive male victim. The victim, identified as 77 year old Leroy H. Thieme was later pronounced dead at Medford Aspirus Hospital.
Cause of the fire has not yet been determined, investigation is pending
Taxes Going Down In Taylor County! 10/28/15
The Taylor County Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 28th. They presented plaques of appreciation to Darlene Anderson and Nancy Daniels as they are retiring from county employment.
The board approved the 2016 highway department equipment schedule which will include purchasing 2 patrol trucks, a loader replacement and 2 new pickup trucks for a total outlay of $500,000.
The 2015 county bridge aids were approved with the county paying half of expenses for new township culverts and bridges with the total county share of 11 projects placed at $59,540.
The amended compensation schedules for the county medical examiner and corporate counsel were approved.
The next issue received the first “no” vote of the day. A resolution to increase the classification and compensation steps for the county’s non-represented employees would provide a 2% pay raise. Supervisor Lester Lewis blasted the resolution saying it could be used as a tool to get people to leave the unions. Lewis was the lone no vote and the measure passed providing the 2% pay raise. The county is in negotiations with their unionized employees and current law limits any pay raise to not exceed the C.P.I. The current consumer price index is at .73%.
The board approved 2 ordinances relating to conditions of employment.
They approved a reaffirmation of the workforce innovation and opportunity act.
Current state law requires new bridges to be equipped with bikeways and sidewalks unless it is determined that there is an absence of need. The board voted unanimously that the County O Black River bridge is absent of such a need.
The county’s forestry department annual work plan for 2016 was approved. Supervisor Rollie Thums expressed concern that revenues which were derived from timber sales on county land could be used for tax relief. Chuck Zenner explained that the land acquisition fund is being built back up to $500,000. The forestry department is self- sustaining with excess revenues available for county expenditures. The Taylor County Forest is comprised of 15,738 acres of timber.
The budget review committee which included Charles Zenner, Scott Mildbrand, Tim Hansen, Ray Soper, and David Krug presented the 2016 county budget. Committee Chairman Zenner commended the county departments which presented budgets with no increase. After several small amendments which included an additional $1,000 for the fair and $4,000 for bridge aids, the board adapted a budget which will see a tax rate of $8.23, which is 4 cents under 2015’s $8.27. As a benchmark, the county tax on a $100,000 property will be $4 less in 2016.
That was some of the business conducted by the Taylor County Board on Wednesday, October 28th.