2013 in review
A murder victim’s body being found in rural Waupaca County and a tornado were among the top stories of the second half of 2013.
Also during the last six months, the county voted to remodel Lakeview Manor, Waupaca began its improvements at South Park, Weyauwega continued discussions about expanding city hall, the Little Hope Lake District failed three times to schedule an annual meeting of electors and the Scandinavia First Responders were disbanded due to lack of local volunteers.
• Opponents of the proposed sand mine in the town of Union appealed the county zoning committee’s June 6 decision to grant a conditional use permit.
“I, along with my neighbors, am deeply concerned with the impact that the proposed sand mine will have on our community and on the values of our homes,” said petitioner Tania Wadzinski, of Manawa, in an affidavit. Her appeal was joined by 20 other Waupaca County citizens.
• More than 100 no-parking signs were installed along town roads in Dayton, many of them leading to boat landings, just before the July 4 holiday.
On July 6, Town Chairman Chris Klein placed warning notices on more than 50 vehicles for violating the town’s parking ordinances. He even put a notice on Town Supervisor Lee Schroeder’s vehicle. Schroeder had gone to the area in response to complaints he received about the no-parking signs.
• More than 100 motorcycles participated in the Dylan Thorne Memorial Ride in Iola on July 21.
The ride was to commemorate Thorne, who was 18 years old when he was killed in a head-on crash with an alleged drunken driver in the town of St. Lawrence on July 19, 2012. No charges have been filed yet against the driver.
• After rescinding a November 2012 vote in June 2013 to provide matching funds for a new fitness center at the high school, the Weyauwega-Fremont School Board voted 4-2 on July 22, 2013, to match the W-F Booster Club’s $400,000 donation and extended the deadline another six months.
• Bud Brown retired after 40 years as treasurer of the Waupaca County Market Animal Committee for the county fair.
• The Iola-Scandinavia School District hires Gary Trzebiatowski as its new transportation director.
• Area residents and others with special interests spoke to the Waupaca County Parks and Recreation Committee at an Aug. 5 public hearing regarding the removal of the Little Hope dam in Dayton.
Tom Miller, who spoke in favor of removal, described the Little Hope Mill Pond as “very little water with a lot of weeds.”
Susan Richardson, who lives in the Little Hope area, said, “I thought I bought a house on a mill pond. Now, I live on a mud flat.”
On Aug. 19, the Parks and Rec Committee voted unanimously to remove the dam.
• A storm that ripped through Waupaca County shortly after midnight Aug. 7 included a tornado which caused $2.5 million in property damage, mostly in the New London area.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in New London was destroyed. An elderly couple were injured when the storm overturned their camper at Huckleberry Campground in Fremont, and a town of Mukwa worker was hurt while cleaning up debris.
• Waupaca County deputies found the body of a Plover woman, 36-year-old Jamie Koch, in a burnt car on a farm in the town of Harrison on Aug. 7, 2013.
Two days later, Portage County authorities arrested Jose Luis Flores Aca, 32. He lived in the same apartment building as Koch. He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree sexual assault and hiding a corpse. He is scheduled for an eight-day jury trial in July 2014.
• Doug Nowak was named the new elementary principal in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District.
• The Iola Lioness Club celebrated 25 years of service to the community.
• The Weyauwega Common Council discussed expanding City Hall. By the end of the year, plans were ready to take to the public.
• When Little Hope Lake District electors went to the Dayton Town Hall on Saturday, Aug. 24, they learned the annual meeting scheduled for that day had been postponed because the county had questioned its legality.
County Corporation Counsel Jeff Siewert had recommended that the annual meeting be rescheduled because not all property owners within the district had received notice of the meeting in a timely manner.
• A second attempt to hold the Little Hope Lake District’s annual meeting failed on Sunday, Sept. 8, after Dayton Town Supervisor Lee Schroeder said state law requires that a proposed budget be sent with the notice for the meeting.
Those present at the meeting voted 30-9 to adjourn.
• At a special meeting of the Little Hope Lake District Board of Commissioners on Sept. 11, a third attempt to schedule an annual meeting failed.
Schroeder argued that a legal annual meeting of the district’s electors could not be held in 2013 because state law requires that meeting to be held between May 22 and Sept. 8.
“We lost our opportunity to have an annual meeting,” Schroeder said.
Without an annual meeting in 2013, the Little Hope Lake District cannot approve a budget or levy taxes in 2014.
• The Waupaca County Board voted unanimously to place a 12-month moratorium on all new non-metallic mines.
Ryan Brown, the county’s planning and zoning director, said the moratorium will give the county time to create new regulations. The Union sand mine is not covered by the moratorium since the zoning committee approved it prior to the vote on the moratorium.
• A three-year effort to expand trails in the city of Weyauwega came to an end in September.
The common council voted to end its contract with Mead and Hunt, the firm that has served as a consultant on the trail project, and effectively closed the door on a $275,000 state grant.
The project ran into challenges due to restrictions in the state grant and property owners who were unwilling to grant the city easements for the trail.
• Barbara Thiry, 71, Clintonville, was charged with 15 misdemeanor counts of intentionally mistreating animals, failing to provide food and failing to provide shelter.
Her five horses had been the subject of an investigation since January 2013 after county authorities received numerous complaints about the horses’ emaciated appearance and lack of proper shelter
During the investigation, Waupaca County Detective Sgt. Rob Karski learned that four severed horse heads had been found on a farm that Thiry had once owned in Kewaunee County.
Thiry is scheduled for a three-day jury trial in April 2014.
• Four complaints were filed with the Waupaca County district attorney, accusing Chris Klein of conflict of interest when he established the Little Hope Lake District. Klein owns several parcels in the area.
At the same time, Jeff Siewert, the county’s corporation counsel, obtained approval to hire a legal consultant in order to seek a judge’s ruling on whether the lake district is legal.
• At another contentious meeting of the Little Hope Lake District board Saturday, Oct. 19, commissioners voted 2-1 to detach 130 parcels from the district. The remaining 50 parcels were all contiguous to the former mill pond.
• The Department of Natural Resources met with the Iola Village Board to explain why weeds continue to be a problem after the recent drawdown of Lake Iola.
• The Iola-Scandinavia School District hired Sarah Thiel, of Tigerton, as its new business manager.
• At a special meeting of the Little Hope Lake District on Saturday, Nov. 9, the remaining property owners elected three new members to a five-member board of commissioners. The elected lake district board is to replace a three-member board, all appointed by and members of the Dayton Town Board.
The other members of the newly formed lake district board include Dayton Town Board’s appointee, Chris Klein, and a county appointee. However, the county will not appoint a member to the board until a judge determines the lake district’s legal status.
• Opponents of the Little Hope Lake District filed a lawsuit against Chris Klein, Dayton Supervisor Glen Newsome and the Little Hope Lake District. They allege election fraud at the Nov. 9 special meeting because Klein only allowed one vote per parcel rather than one vote per property owner.
Judge Raymond Huber subsequently stayed the results of the Nov. 9 election and ordered that the previous members of the lake district board continue to serve until the election challenge is decided.
• The Waupaca County Board voted 14-10 to remodel Lakeview Manor, the county nursing facility in Weyauwega.
The remodeling project is estimated to cost $1 million to create two new assisted living units.
• The Weyauwega-Fremont School Board voted Nov. 25 to table action on whether to accept a donation of fitness equipment from the W-F Booster Club.
The donation was to be part of the W-F- Booster Club’s portion of matching funds toward the construction of a fitness center at the high school.
The club estimated the equipment’s value at $59,000, but board member Neal Loehrke and others questioned the estimate.
• Five attorneys announced their bid to replace retired Waupaca County judge John Hoffmann.
Seeking election to the bench are Vicki Clussman, Brenda Freeman, Edmund Jelinski, Julie Sawyer and Keith Steckbauer.
• The Iola Historical Society dedicated a historical marker to former Iola resident Dr. T.E. Loope, who helped begin the football team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1889.
• Plans for remodeling Weyauwega City Hall were finalized and ready to be presented to the public at several meetings planned at the beginning of 2014.
• The Scandinavia First Responders were disbanded by the village and town of Scandinavia due to a lack of local volunteers.
• The town of Dayton set fines ranging from $20 to $200 for parking violations on township roads.
• The I-S School District was awarded $20,000 as the winner in a Cellcom-sponsored contest.
• Authors Kim J. Heltemes, Mary Werth and Janis Dahlke published a collection of historical photos of Weyauwega.