2013: Year in review
Fluoride in city water, the removal of trees and a dam in Dayton, methane labs and heroin dealers, a drive-by shooting in King and an armed robbery spree, a tornado and a proposed sand mine were among the top local stories in 2013.
Following is the first part in a two-part series looking back over the news in Waupaca County in 2013.
• Ald. Paul Mayou and Lisa Funk, who announced her bid for the District 1 Common Council seat in January, led a fight to remove fluoride from Waupaca’s water.
The city’s Board of Public Works referred the issued to the Common Council with no recommendation after a motion to recommend against fluoridation failed.
At the Jan. 2 Public Works meeting, Dr. Jim Robinson, a Waupaca dentist, and Robbyn Kuester, a fluoridation specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, spoke in favor of fluoridating city water, while Dr. Bill Twohig, a Weyauwega dentist, spoke against it.
• Ald. Mike Kempf announced he would challenge Don Morgan in the election for Weyauwega mayor.
Morgan had served as a Weyauwega alderman for 15 years and as mayor for six years. Kempf had served as an alderman for 19 years.
• At the town of Dayton’s annual caucus on Jan. 15, Casey Plunkett was nominated to run against Chris Klein in the race for town chairman. Three candidates – incumbents Bruce Golding and Glen Newsome and challenger Lee Schroeder were nominated for two seats on the town board.
A week after the caucus, Plunkett pulled out of the race for Dayton town chairman and Klein was re-elected without opposition.
• Waupaca County health officials reported a sharp rise in influenza cases during the 2012-13 flu season.
Linda Behm, who was the county’s public health nurse manager, said hospitals reported between 50 to 100 flu cases per week statewide, more than double the number of the prior year.
• Local schools began reviewing their safety protocols in 2013 in response to the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Over the past year, the Waupaca School District has implemented several changes to ensure the safety of students. Visitors now encounter a second set of locked doors when they enter a school. They must push a button and talk to a secretary, who will verify who they are and why they are visiting the school before remotely unlocking the door. Visitors are then required to go to the office, sign in and receive a visitor’s badge in exchange for their car keys.
Other changes in Waupaca schools include updated communications equipment, more security cameras throughout the buildings and on the buses and a protective layer of glass on some doors and windows. The security upgrade cost Waupaca schools about $835,000.
• Hannah Bonikowske was named Queen of the Snows for the Iola Winter Carnival.
• The Waupaca High School Dance Team competed Feb. 2 at the state tournement in La Crosse and returned home after winning a state champion trophy in jazz and fourth place in pom pom.
• The state Department of Justice filed one count of first-degree sexual assault against Glendon C. Gouker, 42, on Feb. 4.
Gouker, who was then waiting trial for murder and rape in Oklahoma, was subsequently convicted of the 1990 violent rape of an Iola woman.
Judge John Hoffmann sentenced Gouker in August to 25 years in state prison for the Waupaca County rape to be served concurrently with the four life sentences, plus 70 years, he was serving in an Oklahoma prison.
Investigators also said Gouker was a person of interest in the March 22, 1992 double homicide of 23-year-old Tanya Togstad and 35-year-old Tim Mumbrue at a farmhouse just north of Weyauwega. A cold-case investigation into the 1992 killings has been ongoing for more than two years. No charges have been filed.
• Following two hours of presentations at a special Feb. 12 meeting, Waupaca Common Council voted 8-2 to keep fluoride in the city’s drinking water but at a lower level.
• Lisa Funk withdrew from the race for the District 1 seat on the Common Council. Although her named remained on the ballot, Funk asked that citizens vote for her opponent, Jillian Petersen.
• The Weyauwega-Fremont Booster Club announced in February it had raised $100,000 toward its goal of $400,000 to help build a 6,000-square-foot fitness center at the high school. The W-F School Board in November 2012 had committed $400,0000 in matching funds toward the project.
• Fremont Elementary School received a Wisconsin Title I School of Recognition Award.
• On Feb. 28, Waupaca police arrested a woman suspected of four armed robberies over the period of about one week.
Jessica M. Kaminske, 35, robbed the Village Inn, Best Western Grand Seasons Hotel and the Feminine Touch clothing store in Waupaca, and Primrose Gardens in Manawa. Three of the robberies occurred in less than six hours.
She threatened the victims with a knife and what later proved to be a toy gun before she bound some of them with duct tape.
Judge Raymond Huber found Kaminske “guilty but not guilty” by reason of mental disease in May. She was committed to a mental health facility for 25 years.
• Paca Pub & Grill on Main Street in Waupaca opened a new addition which provided a 30-by-40-foot family dining space overlooking Rotary Riverview Park.
• Linda Fenton, a third-grade teacher at Waupaca Learning Center, was in Alaska as the 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail. For 12 years, Fenton had used the Iditarod dog sled race to teach her students about geography, math and history.
• A drive-by shooting at 3:30 a.m. Saturday, March 23 at Wally World in King left Rickey Stoflet Jr., seriously wounded. At the time of the shooting, Stoflet was inside his apartment, which is attached to the rear of the bar. No charges have been filed in the incident.
• St. Peter Lutheran Church in Weyauwega held a ground breaking ceremony Sunday, March 31, for a new school building and church narthex.
• The most contested municipal election in Waupaca County in 2013 was in the town of Union. A proposed sand mine divided the community and led the town clerk to resign. Public hearings on the mine drew more than 100 people in a town of 800 residents, while a county public hearing in 2012 lasted more than seven hours.
All three Union Town Board seats were contested, as were the offices of town clerk and treasurer. The sand mine was the major issue of contention between the candidates.
Opponents of the mine lost all but one of the races. Town Chairman Roger Henschel, whose property is where the proposed sand mine would be located, was re-elected over challenger Marcy Wentworth by a vote of 185-147.
• In the town of Dayton, Bruce Golding and Glen Newsome were re-elected.
• In the city of Weyauwega, Michael Kempf was elected mayor over Don Morgan by a vote of 150-131.
• In Waupaca, incumbent John Lockwood won the race for the District 4 Common Council seat 79-62 over Lori Chesnut.
• Debra Buchholz won the race for clerk in the town of Royalton, defeating Florence Tate 131-51. Buchholz replaced Nancy Timm, who had served as town clerk for 28 years.
• Ken and Charlie Fenton, of Waupaca, were at the Boston Marathon on April 15 when two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.
“People just started running away and the town just lit up with sirens,” Ken Fenton recalled. “I heard two big explosions and didn’t know what was going on. We started seeing SWAT teams moving in and that’s when I knew for sure it was an act of terror.”
• At the town’s annual meeting on April 16, Dayton citizens voted unanimously in favor of a moratorium on tree cutting along town road right-of-ways.
County Supervisor Bob Ellis, who introduced the resolution for a moratorium, asked for a halt on “all this cutting and hacking until we put some sobriety into this equation.”
Ellis later amended the proposed moratorium until a committee overseeing the tree cutting could be formed.
After the unanimous vote in favor of a moratorium, Town Chairman Chris Klein said the resolution was no more than advisory.
A week later, Klein met with town residents and toured the roads. They came away from the meeting with the understanding that Klein plans to eventually cut down more trees in order to relocate most of the 300 stop signs and 1,700 fire numbers throughout the town of Dayton.
• The city of Waupaca named Aaron Jenson as its new parks and recreation director.
• After waiting nearly two years, the drawdown of Lake Weyauwega ended. The lake was refilled by early May.
• Police in Waupaca and New London were involved in a series of high profile drug busts in late April and May.
• In New London, a Waupaca County tactical team executed a search warrant at the home of Ashley J. Guyette, 32, after she sold heroin to a police informant. They found small amounts of heroin and cocaine. Guyette was not at home at the time, because she was in the hospital delivering a baby.
Ten days later, police searched Guyette’s home again and found significant amounts of heroin, crack, cocaine, narcotics and marijuana. She was arrested, charged, then released from custody in May on a $2,000 cash bond.
Guyette was arrested again in June after an informant told police she planned to purchase heroin in Milwaukee and bring it back to New London for distribution. Deputies found 10 grams of heroin in a body cavity when they conducted a strip search of Guyette at the county jail. Officers also found ecstasy in her purse and crack cocaine in the vehicle in which she was riding.
• In Waupaca, an explosion at an apartment on Granite Street, led police to a meth lab where they found a 23-year-old man severely burned. No charges have been filed in this case.
Waupaca police found a second meth lab in an Oak Street mobile home on May 29. Courtland and Lorranda Fritz were charged with drug trafficking, manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine. They were subsequently placed on probation.
• A May 6 drug deal on South State Street in Waupaca led to a robbery at gunpoint which was witnessed by a 14-year-old girl.
Brandon D. Williams, 18, Oshkosh was charged with armed robbery, theft, second-degree reckless endangerment, felony intimidation of a witness, theft and possession of marijuana. All the felony charges were dismissed and read into the record, and Williams was placed on two years of probation.
• Bruce Golding, a Dayton town supervisor, former county highway worker and longtime champion of the Little Hope Mill Pond, died at his home on May 5 at age 65.
• On May 14, the Dayton Town Board appointed Lee Schroeder to replace Golding as supervisor.
• Jeremy Schroeder, a Weyauwega native, was named the new principal of Weyauwega-Fremont middle and high schools.
• Judge John Hoffmann sentenced Kevin Lombard, 25, to 30 years in state prison.
Lombard was convicted of first-degree reckless homicide. On Aug. 12, 2011, he strangled 18-year-old Amelia Anne Schmitz while the two of them were staying at the America’s Best Value Inn in New London.
• The Weyauwega-Fremont Booster Club asked the school board for another six months to raise $400,000 for a community fitness center.
• Winchester Academy in Waupaca named Ann Buerger Linden as its new executive director. She replaced Dr. David Hathaway, who had been leading the educational program since 2004.
• The Waupaca County Planning and Zoning Committee voted 3-2 to grant a conditional land use permit for a sand mine in the town of Union.
The conditions of the permit prohibit the sale of frac sand from the Union operation, extended the setbacks to 500 feet from adjacent property lines and limits the facility’s mining operations to 16 hours per day Monday through Friday. The permit also includes a clause which requires the mining company, A.F. Gelhar Co., to pay for two appraisals on all properties within one-quarter mile of the sand mine. The appraisals will become a baseline for property values, If an owner is unable to sell a property after six months on the market, Gelhar is required to buy it at baseline cost plus 10 percent.
• Judge John Hoffmann sentenced a former Waupaca County deputy to four years in state prison, to be served consecutively to a three-year sentence imposed in Portage County.
Tamara L. Moe, 34, Scandinavia, was convicted of burglary, felony theft through fraud, credit card fraud and worthless checks.
While working as a deputy, Moe told her co-workers, family and friends she had cancer. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to help her pay for medical treatments which never occurred.
• Former students of Lynda Luce honored the Waupaca High School teacher and forensics coach who died in 2012 when they participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
• The Weyauwega-Fremont School Board voted 4-2 on June 24 to withdraw its commitment to match the booster club’s donations if it raised $400,000 by June 1 toward the construction of a community fitness center. At the time, the booster club had raised only $267,000 toward its goal.
This is the first installment of a two-part series on 2013. the second installment will appear in the Jan. 9 edition of the County Post West.