Waupaca County elected its first woman as circuit court judge in 2014.
The year also saw three people in the county charged with homicide, the first phase of South Park in Waupaca renovations completed, the resignation of the superintendent and three school board members in Manawa and the governor sign a bill to build a new hall at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.
This is the first in a two-part review of the top stories for 2014.
After the school board gave staff the go-ahead, Waupaca educators began planning for a 4K program to start in the fall of 2014. The district is working with area daycare centers to prepare children for school.
After months of debate, the Weyauwega-Fremont School Board voted 4-3 to accept the W-F Booster Club’s donation of gym equipment. At issue was the equipment’s value, which some members of the school board challenged. The donation was accepted without any recognized value.
Chris Klein, who chairs both the Dayton Town Board and the Little Hope Lake District Board, filed three notices of circumstances with Waupaca County. Such notices are the first step taken when suing a government body. They present the issues associated with claims for damages. None of the three notices indicated specific amounts of money.
Gov. Scott Walker appointed Keith Steckbauer to serve as a Waupaca County judge. Steckbauer replaced retiring judge John Hoffmann on Branch II of the circuit court.
Four candidates filed nomination papers seeking election for Branch II Waupaca County Circuit Court judge. Running for the seat were Steckbauer, Edmund Jelinski, Vicki Clussman and Brenda Freeman, with a Feb. 18 primary and an April 1 general election.
State Rep. Kevin Petersen has introduced a bill to authorize $80 million in bonds to build a new residential hall at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.
To be named after a World War II veteran and former state veterans affairs secretary, John R. Moses Hall will be a 200-bed facility designed with small living units for 8-12 residents, each with its own living room and dining room.
After a heated meeting, Supervisor Lee Schroeder resigned from the Dayton Town Board.
Waupaca’s Downtown Visioning Committee held its first meeting to begin long-term planning for Main Street.
Jim Peglow, who has previously served as town chairman, was appointed to replace Schroeder on the Dayton Town Board.
In the Feb. 18 primary, Keith Steckbauer and Vicki Clussman received the most votes in the race for judge. They faced off in the spring election.
The Waupaca County Board voted 18-5 against a Zoning Committee recommendation to maintain a 30-foot restriction on clear cutting along waterfront property.
Supervisors amended the county’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance to allow waterfront property owners to have view corridors of up to 100 feet.
The woman involved in a crash that killed an Iola teen in July 2012 was charged with homicide by the intoxicated use of a vehicle. Heather D. Schmidt, 38, Ogdensburg, was charged in the death of 18-year-old Dylan Thorne. She is currently slated for a jury trial the week of Aug. 18-21, 2015.
The city of Waupaca hired Andrew Whitman as the new recreation supervisor.
The Waupaca County Finance Committee denied claims for damages filed by nine residents on the former Little Hope Mill Pond.
The claims seek a combined total of $406,000 in compensation for lost property values due to the county’s decision to remove the dam at Little Hope and eliminate the mill pond. An additional $73,500 is sought to pay for cleanup costs.
This was the first step in litigation against the county by those opposed to the dam’s removal.
The same month, the Dayton Town Board asked the Department of Natural Resources to order Waupaca County to transfer the long-contested dam to the Little Hope Lake District.
By a vote of 2-1, the board passed a resolution opposed the county’s petition to remove the dam and requested a hearing before the DNR.
It also requested that the DNR assist the lake district in preparing a petition to transfer the dam and provide specifications and cost estimates to the lake district.
Prosecutors accused Lance S. Vandenbusch, 36, of killing his son, who died six days after suffering traumatic injuries to his head in December 2013. He was charged with first-degree reckless homicide. The boy was one month shy of his third birthday.
The Little Hope Lake District board approved a 2014 budget in March. Because the lake district did not hold an annual meeting in 2013, the board does not have the authority to levy taxes. However, the board voted March 31 for a $2,000 budget with all revenues coming from donations and all but $200 in expenses going toward legal fees to restore the mill pond.
Waupaca County voters elected Vicki Clussman to be Branch 2 circuit court judge. She defeated Keith Steckbauer by a vote of 3,687 to 2,713.
Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill April 4, paving the way to build a new skilled nursing facility at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. The bill authorized the state to issue $80 million in bonds for John R. Moses Hall.
The new 200-bed facility will replace Burns-Clemens Hall, built in 1959, and Ove Hall, built in 1929.
Although a majority at Dayton’s annual meeting of electors voted in favor of a five-member town board, the motion failed.
Electors voted 24-15 to increase the size of the town board from three to five member during the April 15 annual meeting.
However, Dayton Town Chairman Chris Klein said the majority at this year’s annual meeting was insufficient to overturn a vote at a prior special meeting. In 2007, 85 people voted to overturn a decision to change the board from three to five members.
“You need to have a greater majority to reverse that decision,” Klein said, citing state law.
Waupaca County filed a lawsuit against Dayton town officials, asking a judge to rule that the Little Hope Lake District is “null and void.” The suit argues that the town board did not have the legal authority to establish a lake district.
The Little Hope Lake District held its first annual meeting in May and by a vote of 15-6 approved a budget for 2015. The budget has total expenditures of $6,000, of which $4,500 is for anticipated legal expenses.
Two people at the annual meeting challenged its legality, noting that the lake district as filed with the Waupaca County register of deeds shows 182 parcels within its boundaries while only about 50 parcels were actually recognized as part of the district.
Multi Media Channels, which purchased several community newspapers and shoppers from Journal Communications in December 2012, restored the original names to three of the newspapers. The Waupaca County Post, New London Press Star and Clintonville Tribune-Gazette all returned to their mastheads that dated back, in most cases, more than a century.
After more than 20 years of teaching vocal music at Waupaca High School, Dan Wolfgram announced he would leave to become a principal in the Manawa School District.
Zoey Brooks, 22, was chosen as Alice in Dairyland 2014 after besting five other finalist candidates. The daughter of Ron Brooks and Terri Brooks, both of Waupaca, she grew up on her family’s sixth-generation dairy and grain farm on County Road A in the town of Lind.
The Waupaca County Board of Adjustment denied the appeal challenging the Zoning Committee’s decision to grant a conditional use permit to AF Gelhar to open a sand mine in the town of Union.
In the written decision, the board said it limited its review to whether the Zoning Committee made any errors in its proceedings.
Opponents of the sand mine have since appealed the decision to the circuit court for review.
F+W, which owns Krause Publications in Iola, announced that Tinicum L.P. had completed a majority investment in the Cincinnati-based media and ecommerce company.
Molly Vold, who had held the position since the facility opened in 2001, resigned as director of the Iola-Scandinavia Community Fitness & Aquatic Center. She was replaced by Tim Welch as ISCFAC director the following month.
During the DNR’s contested case hearing June 3-4, engineers, biologists, hydrogeologists and other specialists testified regarding the feasibility of restoring the Little Hope dam.
Bill Sturtevant, a DNR dam safety engineer, estimated it would cost between $750,000 and $1 million to build a new dam, more than double the county’s estimate for the project.
Stephanie Flynn, Carl Artz and Kurt Kreklow resigned from the Manawa School Board. Also in June, then Manawa School District Administrator Ed Dombrowski resigned.
During a special meeting of the Manawa School Board, Dean of Students Jim Quinn was appointed as interim district administrator.
For the fourth year in a row, Waupaca was named the No. 1 FFA chapter in the state of Wisconsin.