Local news from rock947.comhttps://rock947.com/news/sections/local/Local news on rock947.comen-usMon, 22 Jun 2020 19:05:45 +0000Governor appoints new Marathon County judgehttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/governor-appoints-new-marathon-county-judge/1031999/[email protected] (Chris Conley)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 19:05:45 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/governor-appoints-new-marathon-county-judge/1031999/WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  Governor Tony Evers has appointed a new circuit judge to the Marathon County court.

Suzanne O'Neill, a long-time public defender, will take over for Judge Jill Falstead who is retiring on July 3rd.

She has managed the public defenders office since 2004, and is a past president of the Marathon County Bar Association. She is also one of the founding members of the Marathon County OWI Treatment Court, where certain cases are handled with an emphasis on sobriety programs and restorative justice instead of criminal penalties.

“I am humbled and honored that Governor Evers has appointed me to the Marathon County bench,” O’Neill said in a written statement. “I remain dedicated to serving the people of Wisconsin and look forward to serving the state’s citizens in this new role. I would like to thank Governor Evers for the opportunity and for his confidence in my ability to serve as a fair and impartial jurist who will treat all with dignity and respect.”

She will fill out the remainder of Judge Falstead's term, which runs through July 31, 2021. O'Neill would have be elected by Marathon County voters to continue serving on the court.

Police investigation opened at Wausau luxury apartment complexhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/police-investigation-opened-at-wausau-luxury-apartment-complex/1031957/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 17:39:04 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/police-investigation-opened-at-wausau-luxury-apartment-complex/1031957/WAUSAU, WI (WSAU-WAOW) -- Wausau Police are investigating a shooting incident on South 25th Street.

Officers say an adult male busted into an apartment and physically assaulted the female inside before shooting her dog. He then fled the scene before officers arrived.

The woman was treated for some undisclosed injuries at the scene, while the dog was rushed to a nearby vet but did not survive the incident.

The male suspect in the case remains at large. No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Officers emphasize there is no danger to the public at this time. Anyone with information should call Detective Nate Stetzer at 715-261-7970 or Marathon County Crimestoppers.

Two Lincoln County residents lose thousands in scams last weekhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/two-lincoln-county-residents-lose-thousands-in-scams-last-week/1031928/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 16:44:26 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/two-lincoln-county-residents-lose-thousands-in-scams-last-week/1031928/MERRILL, WI (WSAU) -- Another pair of scams were reported in Lincoln County last week costing residents a combined $4,600.

Sheriff's officials say one resident in the Town of Merrill was taken for $1,200 when a scammer called them claiming to be from a computer virus protection agency and requested remote access to the victims PC. The victim granted access, and the scammer then requested $900 via gift cards as payment after the job was completed.

After the man realized he'd been bamboozled, he discovered another $300 was missing from his bank account thanks to malware that was placed on his machine by the scammer. Officials are investigating that incident but say the money is likely unrecoverable.

Later in the week, an Irma man was the victim of a Craigslist scam involving a jet ski and trailer. According to the victim he had been communicating with someone who had posted the items for sale on the site. After they had settled on a price, the seller requested payment in the form of Best Buy gift cards. After turning over the card numbers, the seller promised to deliver the jet ski and trailer on Saturday but it never arrived.

According to the victim, the seller would only communicate via email. Again, deputies are continuing to investigate the incident but again say the money will likely be untraceable.

Officers emphasize that legitimate businesses will never demand payment by gift cards, and to conduct online sale transactions in person at a safe location such as a public space or local law enforcement station.

Stevens Point teen enters plea for school threat, other chargeshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/stevens-point-teen-enters-plea-for-school-threat-other-charges/1031920/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 16:19:09 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/stevens-point-teen-enters-plea-for-school-threat-other-charges/1031920/STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) -- A Stevens Point teen accused of making a bomb threat at SPASH back in December has pled no contest to several charges held against him in five open cases.

Keenan Alderman was in court on Friday to enter the play to two counts of taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, making a terroristic threat, disorderly conduct, and numerous charges of criminal damage to property.

Numerous other counts were then dismissed but read in including bail jumping at both the felony and misdemeanor level, one felony count for making a bomb scare, and a count of fleeing or eluding an officer.

The charges of making a terroristic threat came in mid-December when Alderman used a burner phone to call the main office at SPASH to say a bomb would go off at the school during the noon hour. Police were able to track the number on the phone to Alderman, who was eating breakfast with some friends at a nearby restaurant.

Other charges came from earlier incidents and were not related to the school threat, but were bundled into the case earlier this year.

Prosecuting Attorney Michael Zell requested a pre-sentence investigation to be completed, noting that Alderman has a lengthy juvenile record to go with the most recent charges in adult court. Both sides will have a chance to look at the final report in the week before sentencing on August 18th.

Mayors Monday: Merrill's Derek Woellnerhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/mayors-monday-merrills-derek-woellner/1031662/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 10:00:00 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/mayors-monday-merrills-derek-woellner/1031662/MERRILL, WI (WSAU) -- The group organizing a new skate park in the City of Merrill is ready to move to the fundraising stage of the project, despite uncertainty for many as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.

Mayor Derek Woellner says the special committee made up of parks and recreation leaders in the city, skateboard enthusiasts, and others have approved plans for the park, with an estimated price tag of $1.5 to $2 million.

"Not great timing with the COVID-19 [outbreak], but I think it will still work out. It may just stretch the timeline out a little bit because people are hurting financially," said Woellner. "[For many] there's not as much money to donate to charity but I'm still optimistic it'll get done in the next few years."

With that in mind, Woellner says he doesn't expect groundbreaking for the project to happen anytime soon. He does plan to propose a matching fund program for the park using city funds to encourage businesses and individuals to start the fund. "Our budget is pretty tight, but it would help incentive things. That way as an individual you know if you donate $100, you're really putting $200 towards it."

That plan would need approval from the full city council before it's implemented.

Woellner says the park will be one of the biggest of its kind in the area. The project was one of the first big-ticket items he took on as Mayor after winning a four-year term in 2018. He says he'd still like to see the city embrace disc golf as well, a sport that he is very passionate about himself.

Other topics Woellner discussed with WSAU's Mike Leischner include:

Start of video- City's response to COVID-19 and how prepared officials are for a potential resurgence of the virus.

10:00- Closing the city pool and Woellner's decision to cancel the city's fireworks show

17:28- Update on the city's Skate Park and Disc Golf plans

Kayakers pulled under along Eau Claire riverhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/kayakers-pulled-under-along-eau-claire-river/1031655/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 21:22:46 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/kayakers-pulled-under-along-eau-claire-river/1031655/WESTON, WI (WSAU) -- The South Area Fire District is warning watersports enthusiasts to beware of currents on the Eau Claire River in Weston after two kayakers were pulled under on Sunday.

No one was seriously injured in the incident. Officials say it happened just west of Yellow Banks Park when the kayakers came up to some debris in the water.

SAFER crews were able to clear some debris from the scene, but say the incident is a reminder to always wear a life jacket and to take your boat out of the water to get around debris.

Marshfield police looking for missing manhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/marshfield-police-looking-for-missing-man/1031612/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 12:25:18 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/marshfield-police-looking-for-missing-man/1031612/MARSHFIELD, WI (WSAU) -- The Marshfield Police Department is asking for the public's help to locate a missing man.

Friends and family say 32-year-old Zachary Vasa hasn't been seen since June 13th and hasn't been returning messages. They say it's unlike him to go silent for so long, and are concerned for his safety.

He's described as 5'6" and weighs 135 pounds.

No further information has been released, anyone who thinks they've seen Vasa should call the police.

Marathon County surpasses 100 COVID-19 caseshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/marathon-county-surpasses-100-covid-19-cases/1031432/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 20:36:46 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/marathon-county-surpasses-100-covid-19-cases/1031432/WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- The Marathon County Department of Health confirmed 6 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the county-wide total to 101 since the outbreak began.

Of that total, 59 are considered to have recovered. Just 13 cases have required hospitalization.

On Friday the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 278 additional positive test results. That's just 2.5% of all tests conducted in the state.

The statewide death toll increased by 11.

Statewide, 76% of all COVID-19 patients have recovered.

Man who berated Hmong shoppers charged with hate crimehttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/man-who-berated-hmong-shoppers-charged-with-hate-crime/1031345/[email protected] (Chris Conley)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 16:52:57 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/man-who-berated-hmong-shoppers-charged-with-hate-crime/1031345/STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU)  A man who yelled racial slurs at Hmong shoppers in a grocery store is charged with a hate crime.

Robert E. Shrote, 57, was charged with disorderly conduct after the incident at the Save A Lot in Stevens Point. He used an expletive towards two Hmong shoppers, and said Chinese are poisoning people with Coronavirus.

Several people in the store on May 12 heard the comments and confronted Shrote, who was intoxicated at the time. Police were called. A woman gave Shrote a ride home before officers arrived. 

Officers interviewed Shrote at his home, and issued a citation. Because of hate crime enhancers, he could be fined up to $10,000 and serve one year in jail. He's now free on signature bond, and is due back in court on July 13.

Suspect sought in baseball bat attackhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/suspect-sought-in-baseball-bat-attack/1031337/[email protected] (Chris Conley)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 16:41:01 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/suspect-sought-in-baseball-bat-attack/1031337/STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) - Two women were assaulted by a man with a baseball bat early Friday morning in Stevens Point. The suspect is still at-large.

Police were called to the 2700 block of Lindenbergh Avenue around 2:30am after a report of an altercation. Two women were hit by a man with a baseball bat. Both were seriously injuried. One was hit in the head, the other on the arm.

What led up to the incident hasn't been made public.

Police have identified a person of interest, Lavonte Green, who fled the scene.

Anyone with information on Green's whereabouts should call Stevens Point PD at 715-346-1500.


Sheriff wanted to hold hunter safety classes, DNR said nohttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/sheriff-wanted-to-hold-hunter-safety-classes-dnr-said-no/1031300/[email protected] (Chris Conley)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 14:47:51 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/sheriff-wanted-to-hold-hunter-safety-classes-dnr-said-no/1031300/RHINELANDER, WI (WSAU-WXPR) -- Pressure is mounting on the Department of Natural Resources to overturn a decision to stop hunter and other outdoor recreation safety training classes because of fear of spreading Coronavirus.

The DNR ended the in-person portion of the training that is required to graduate and be eligible for a hunting license. The safety training is mandatory for new hunters. Suspending the program is now the subject of a lawsuit.

The Wisconsin Institute For Law and Liberty last week filed suit in Marathon County Circuit Courtasking to overturn the DNR's action.

All Wisconsin hunters born after January 1, 1973 must take a hunter education course before obtaining a hunting license, but they can't complete the in-person training. WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber says the reaction in Oneida county caught their attention. "The Oneida County Sheriff had wanted to offer a hunter safety course. They ended up canceling the course because they were told by DNR that they couldn't offer it. I think as a result of that a lot of people took interest in it.That was really one of the driving forces behind ultimately challenging the policy itself, which applies statewide."

State Representative Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander wrote to Governor Evers to ask for an overturn of the policy and last week had more than 40 fellow Republicans sign on. He says the order affects all safety programs including ATV's and boats. "It will be interesting to see, hopefully the Governor will respond. Obviously it's not just the people in the Northwoods that are frustrated. Obviously, it gained statewide attention with a lot of represenatives across the state."

The DNR has said they put the courses 'on pause' pending more developments regarding the virus.

The DNR said on its web site that the in-person training was cancelled because of the safer at home order from the Governor, which has since been struck down by the state Supreme Court.

Former Governor Will Head UW-Systemhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/former-governor-will-head-uw-system/1031296/[email protected] (Tom King)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 14:37:54 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/former-governor-will-head-uw-system/1031296/MADISON, WI (WSAU-WAOW) -- The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents announced today that former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson will serve as UW System Interim President effective July 1st.

A press release calls Thompson a "well known champion of Wisconsin's public universities."

Board of Regents president Andrew Petersen asked Thompson to serve "because of his legacy of bringing people together and finding common ground."

The Board is continuing a search for a new person to replace Ray Cross after the sole finalist for the position, Jim Johnsen, withdrew his name from consideration earlier this month. There had been mounting criticism of the search criteria and Johnsen's qualifications.

Police chief resignshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/police-chief-resigns/1031294/[email protected] (Chris Conley)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 14:31:14 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/police-chief-resigns/1031294/STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) - Stevens Point's police chief has resigned.

A statement from the city's Police and Fire Commission says Marty Skibba submitted his resignation at a meeting Friday morning.

Skibba had been on 15-day administrative leave earlier this year after it was determined that he'd consumed alcohol while on-duty. He'd said his drinking was because he was distraught over the deaths of his parents. At the end of his leave, the Police Commission announced that Skibba would have to undergo a professional review to certify that he was fit to resume to duty.

Since then the Police Commission issued a statement that "additional information was brought to the attention of the Police and Fire Commission by the Stevens Point Police Officers Association that warranted further investigation, including a vote of no confidence." Wausau PD investigated the new allegations, which have not been made public.

Assistant chief Tom Zenner has been named interim chief. 

The police commission said in a written statement that "the Commission maintains its high level of expectations for all police personnel."

The search for a new chief will begin shortly.

Fire destroys truck, camperhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/fire-destroys-truck-camper/1031203/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 11:30:59 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/fire-destroys-truck-camper/1031203/TOWN OF CRANMOOR, WI (WSAU-WDLB) - An electrical fire destroyed a truck and camper.

The fire broke out just before 8pm Thursday on Highway 54 east of Highway 80, and a half-mile west of Hemlock Trail in the Wood County Town of Cranmoor.

According to the Wood County Sheriff’s Department, no one was injured. The truck and camper were considered total losses. Highway 54 was closed for about two hours after debris melted onto the road.

The units are owned by 43-year-old Cary Anderson of Nekoosa.

The Sheriff’s Department was assisted at the scene by the Pittsville and Port Edwards police and fire departments, and the Wood County Highway Department.

Two horses shot in Clark Countyhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/two-horses-shot-in-clark-county/1031143/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 09:37:53 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/19/two-horses-shot-in-clark-county/1031143/LYNN TOWNSHIP, WI (WSAU-WAOW) - The Clark County Sheriff's Office is investing two seperate incidents where horses were shot early Wednesday morning.

The shootings both happened in the Township of Lynn, in southeastern Clark County.

The sheriff's office is looking for any information. Contact the sheriff's office at 715-743-3157 if you know anything about the incidents or if you heard gunshots in the area.

The sheriff's department is also urging all horse owners to check on their animals.

Wausau MetroRide, Marathon County discussing weekly bus route to Rib Mountainhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/wausau-metroride-marathon-county-discussing-weekly-bus-route-to-rib-mountain/1031022/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 23:03:07 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/wausau-metroride-marathon-county-discussing-weekly-bus-route-to-rib-mountain/1031022/WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- Discussions about a once-weekly bus route between downtown Wausau and the shopping centers in Rib Mountain are beginning to take shape, though a finalized plan is a long way from completion.

The city's Transit Commission was made aware of the discussions on Thursday during their regular meeting. MetroRide Director Greg Seubert says it comes from early discussions with Marathon County's Transportation Coordinating Committee.

Seubert says the route would come as part of a partnership with Marathon County. "All municipalities in Marathon County are under their auspices, so they could be the party to fund this to get us to Rib Mountain."

The plan currently calls for six stops between the downtown bus station and Rib Mountain over six hours on Fridays. Seubert says that's by no means a final proposal, and adds that the timing of when the proposal will be implemented hinges on several factors including when the COVID-19 outbreak will pass.

"These are certainly challenging times, and one of the issues we talked about was trial services in the middle of a pandemic; is that a wise timeframe in which to give something a try? I think we are all kind of in a 'wait-and-see' situation," he said.

Seubert says they have also gone over some "back of the envelope" funding models for the potential program including what fuel and driver salaries could cost for the route. Given the preliminary nature of the talks, he wasn't willing to disclose those figures.

The route would provide Wausau residents who rely on public transportation a much-needed option for access to retail shopping which was lost when Shopko closed in 2019. "There are fewer options available, and if transit is only available in Wausau that's a problem for people who rely on public transportation.

Elliott sentenced for stealing from Marathon County Tavern Leaguehttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/elliott-sentenced-for-stealing-from-marathon-county-tavern-league/1030970/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 19:43:15 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/elliott-sentenced-for-stealing-from-marathon-county-tavern-league/1030970/WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- A man found guilty of stealing thousands from the Marathon County Tavern League was sentenced Thursday.

Daniel Elliott, the co-owner of the Kelly Club in Weston, entered guilty pleas for two charges of theft in a business setting, one a misdemeanor and one a felony.

He was then sentenced by a Marathon County judge to four months in the Marathon County Jail with work release privileges for the misdemeanor count. Additionally, he will be asked to complete a Victim Impact Panel and write a letter of apology to all victims including the state and county Tavern Leagues.

If Elliott meets those conditions and goes two years without any additional criminal charges, the felony count will be dismissed.

Elliott funneled as much as $100,000 from the Tavern League to pay his own bills and bills for his establishment. The League voted him off when the irregularities came to light.

When confronted, Elliott offered to pay back some of the funds after he sold his home, then pay back the remainder later.

Two new COVID-19 deaths in Clark Countyhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/two-new-covid-19-deaths-in-clark-county/1030941/[email protected] (Chris Conley)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 18:31:27 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/two-new-covid-19-deaths-in-clark-county/1030941/NEILLSVILLE, WI (WSAU-WAOW) - The Clark County Health Department is reporting two additional COVID-19 deaths. Both individuals were over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions. Health officials are not releasing any more information at this time.

“Our hearts go out to the grieving families and community members affected by these two deaths,” stated Brittany Mews, Clark County Health Officer, in a press release. “We would like to extend our deepest condolences to everyone impacted by COVID-19, past and present.”

To date 56 people in Clark County have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 15 cases are active, with one person in the hospital.

Clark County has the highest incidence rate and highest case fatality percentage, as defined by the Wisconsin DHS.

CCHD encourages everyone to practice preventative guidelines, including:

  • Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water
  • Covering cough and sneezes
  • Avoid touching the face
  • Stay home when sick
  • Practice social distancing
  • avoid large gatherings and crowds
  • Wear a face covering / mask

“In doing so, you’re not only helping to protect yourself, but also your family, friends, and community members,” Mews said

Second passenger dies in connection with Wood County crashhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/second-passenger-dies-in-connection-with-wood-county-crash/1030860/[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 15:47:51 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/second-passenger-dies-in-connection-with-wood-county-crash/1030860/WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (WSAU) -- A second passenger has died in connection with a two-vehicle crash in Wood County last weekend.

Sheriff's officials announced four-year-old Dominic Weichart passed away Wednesday evening from injuries sustained in the crash.

Weichart was in the back seat of a vehicle driven by Courtney Weichart of Manitowoc on Sunday morning when the car collided with a dump truck driven by a Stevens Point man.

One other passenger, identified as William Walsdorf of Manitowoc, was pronounced dead at the scene. Courtney Weichart suffered serious injuries. Officials have not provided an update on her condition.

The accident happened at the intersection of Highways 73 and 186 in the Town of Sigel. It's unclear if charges will be filed against the driver of the dump truck.

Man Charged In Waupaca County Deathhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/man-charged-in-waupaca-county-death/1030785/[email protected] (Tom King)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 13:24:11 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/18/man-charged-in-waupaca-county-death/1030785/WAUPACA, WI (WSAU) -- A driver who allegedly intentionally caused a traffic crash in Waupaca County hoping to kill himself but instead killed a woman in a truck he hit, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

Logan Stedjee, 17, is charged with reckless homicide in the crash which happened on May 30th. 

No trial date was set. He returns to court for a status conference on October 1st.