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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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  • 07/16/18--19:22: Groundbreaking For The Kids
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Monday was groundbreaking for a new Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Center Expansion. Director Mike Reed says the new space will provide added classrooms for the 4K program.

    "This is going to be really wonderful for the kids.

    Reed says the new space will provide added classrooms for the 4K program.

    "Right now we are making due with the space that we have, but we have to turn kids away from the program. We do not want to do that because it is so good for them."

    Reed says the new expansion will also include a public gathering space and enhancements in technology.

    The goal is to get more kids into the 4K program.

    The new space is more than 12,000 square foot and is scheduled to be completed by early 2019.


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    MARINETTE, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A Little Chute High School teacher has been ordered to stand trial on charges he sexually assaulted a friend of his daughter.

    45-year-old Jason LaVigne is charged with third-degree sexual assault for the June 2 incident near Crivitz.

    He appeared in Marinette County court Monday for a preliminary hearing, at which a judge ruled there is enough evidence for the case to proceed.

    Online court records indicate the judge also approved LaVigne's lawyer's request for a change of bond conditions.

    LaVigne may now have contact with people under 18 years old, as long as another adult is present.

    LaVigne is due back in court to enter a plea Sept. 21.

    Meanwhile, LaVigne also faces a charge of repeated sexual assault of a child for incidents that allegedly happened with a student at Little Chute High School in 1999. He is due back in Outagamie County court July 26 for the case.

    LaVigne remains on leave from the Little Chute school district.


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  • 07/17/18--02:12: Snuff Out Those Butts
  • APPLETON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - In two weeks a nationwide ban on smoking in public housing will take effect two years after it was passed.

    Hundreds of housing units already comply with the rule from coast to coast.

    Residents living in Oneida Heights, a 10 story high Appleton apartment complex, will no longer be allowed to smoke within 25 feet of the building.

    "I think the no smoking ban will offer a healthier, safer living for all our residents, and with the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke," said Kari Godsill, Oneida Heights property manager.

    Godsill tells FOX 11 in addition to better health, the ban will hopefully reduce the cost of maintenance, cleaning and redecorating.

    "We've had had a lot of positive feedback that is looking forward to the smoking ban, you know that they aren't exposed to it."

    FOX 11 was not allowed to enter the property and ask residents questions.

    Godsill said although there was positive feedback from residents, some were concerned about not being able to smoke.

    "In regard to that, we have offered a smoking area outside of the building, for those individuals who would like to utilize that."

    There are already several smoke free public housing in Appleton. Oneida Heights is among some of the last to ban smoking.

    Godsill said the agency is waiting until the 30th for the rule to take effect because residents need a smooth transition.

    "If a resident wanted help with quitting smoking or things like that, we were offering that in the meantime, so we just chose to go with the July 30th date."

    If someone is caught smoking, Godsill says the offense will be treated as a lease violation.

    "We will offer a verbal warning on the first violation. The second violation, if it's within 60 days of the first violation, we will give a written warning."

    And if there's a third violation within 60 days of the second violation, Godsill said the tenant will be evicted

    When the new rule was announced two years ago, 600 Public Housing agencies nationwide already had smoke-free policies in place.


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - Lt. Don Riha and his wife Tammy did a bit of paying forward this last weekend to a very special

    of public safety.

    Mariah Weiss came to Ashwaubenon Public Safety last week and donated $600 to our K9 program.

    She raised that money through friends at a birthday party and felt the need to share it with the department she someday wishes to be part of.

    Since then the department learned that Maria had all of her softball equipment stolen.

    She's a catcher so this became quite pricey.

    Well, the good Karma Mariah gave came right back to her with the help of Lt. Riha and his wife Tammy.

    They contacted Mariah and took her shopping along with Officer Scott Fassbender, bought some new gear and were able to help her get back into the game.

    Lt. Riha feels that spreading the word about this may inspire others to spread kindness when they see the opportunity.


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  • 07/17/18--13:22: Gun Found Outside of School
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A handgun was discovered outside of Green Bay Notre Dame Academy High School over the weekend.

    Green Bay Police were notified of a student that found a gun that was found inside the football stadium fence. 

    Authorities were contacted immediately and confiscated the weapon.

    "We're working to determine who the rightful owner of the gun is, was it used in any other crimes, and how that gun got onto the football field," said Green Bay Police Captain, Kevin Warych.

    The school issued a statement Tuesday:

    "Dear Parents,

    Over the weekend at an event in our football stadium, a student from another school found a gun inside the stadium fence in an area that is rarely used by students. The police were immediately contacted and the weapon was taken into police possession. Please be assured that the weapon was found in the grass and was not confiscated from a person on the site.

    Notre Dame Academy appreciates our partnership with the Green Bay Police Department and works closely with them on these matters. The Police Department has assured us that, through their investigation, there was not a threat to our school, students, staff, or the event.

    As always, the safety of our students, staff, and campus is of the utmost importance. Notre Dame Academy is thankful that the student who located the weapon, immediately reported the situation to an adult.

    This situation serves as a learning opportunity for parents/guardians to remind their students that immediately reporting situations such as these to adults is imperative.

    Please feel free to contact me with further questions.

    God Bless,

    Patrick Browne

    Principal

    Notre Dame Academy"


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - The name and design for the new baseball stadium in Ashwaubenon was unveiled Tuesday.

    Capital Credit Union Park will be built on six acres south of the Village Hall.

    The stadium will cost about $10 million dollars.

    “I'm just excited and hope it happens soon,” said Larry Smith, a Green Bay resident.

    Capital Credit Union Park will host Northwoods League Baseball, Premier Development League Soccer, concerts, and other sporting events.

    Capital Credit Union President Tom Young says he called the village about the naming rights as soon as he heard the stadium was being built in Ashwaubenon. 

    “Our corporate office is two short blocks away,” said Young. “We just felt it was a perfect fit for us to contribute back to the community.”

    The stadium design has some creative features. The distance to the right-field wall will be shorter than normal, but the design has a way of compensating for it. 

    Two shipping containers will be stacked to form a wall which will be 19 feet and 19 inches tall. The numbers 1919 is a tribute to the Green Bay Packers inaugural season.

    “I think it's going to have a lot of features that are very forward thinking and modern,” said Jonathan Cole of Pendulum Studio, the architect of the stadium.

    Two empty buildings on the site are incorporated with the design.

    One building will house six premium suites and a tap room on the second level. It will also house offices, concessions, restrooms, and a team store.

    “I think that is something we’re really proud of,” said Vern Stenman, president of Big Top Baseball. “It wasn’t easy to fill this whole thing up and make it work.”

    The stadium will seat 2,500 people and have a capacity for 4,000 with standing room. For concerts, the stadium's capacity will be 7,000 people.

    As for the team's name, it could be changing. The team is hosting a naming contest on its website. Whether Green Bay stays part of the name is up to the fans.

    Construction is set to begin in September. The newly named squad plans to be settled in and ready to go by the end of May for the first pitch of next season.

     

    The stadium is being paid for through a 20-year lease agreement with the owners of the Bullfrogs, as well as tax-revenue from new development in the area.


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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin's efforts to beef up digital security are hitting close to home.

    Outagamie County Clerk Lori O'Bright says election staff in the county will be going through a security training before the next election.

    "There is heightened security concerns because of the public's awareness of what has happened at the federal level."  After going through training with the state, O'Bright says they are going over things that are not always though about.  "Keeping our elections secure if for some reason a disaster occurs."  Those disasters can include, fire, tornado and power outages. Part of the states training also goes over keeping information secure with software and using the state database.  O'Bright says they are going over many aspects of election security.  "That includes everything from disaster preparedness to IT aspects."  The next election is coming up in August.  Part of the training is also going over what to do incase of a disaster like a tornado, fire or power outage. In the wake of federal charges against Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 elections, Wisconsin is beefing up its own digital security.

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    MANITOWOC, WI (WTAQ) - Tariffs are having an impact on Wisconsin businesses now, and in the future. Some owners took time the to address their concerns on Monday.

    Business owners from Wisconsin had an opportunity to sit down with Senator Ron Johnson.

    "It makes it hard to be competitive and it makes it hard for our customers here in the U.S to be competitive because we are forced to have price increases."

    Ralph Hardt President of Jagemann Stamping, Technologies and Plastics in Manitowoc says with his business, the tariffs have long-lasting effects.

    "That is going to affect future sales, future opportunities, and future investments. Most of our project last 7 to 10 years, so if you lose it, you have lost it for a decade."  The company has seen major price increases. He said it is a long road, but felt the time with Senator Johnson may be a step to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  "I think the Senator clearly heard us. I applaud him for hosting the forum and being a former business owner I think he gets it."  Hardt says the Senator promised that he would take the comments to Secretary of Commerce, the Administration, and the President directly.  The business has 300 employees.        

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    KAUKAUNA, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - The Coast Gaurd is giving Kaukauna less than 3 years to fix a bridge near the downtown.

    The Veterans Memorial Bridge hasn't been in regular operation since the 1980's.

    Scott Veith of Kaukauna told FOX 11, he hasn't been able to experience the historical locks in Kaukauna for several years.

    “When we were younger we went through it a couple of time. It’s worth to take a day and go through the locks and through the whole system."

    People can't get on the five Kaukauna locks because the Veterans Memorial Bridge hasn't been operational for years.

    “We have a system of five locks that have been fully restored since about 2015," said Jeremy Cords, Fox River Navigational System Authority CEO.

    Cords said the inoperable drawbridge affects the lock system.

    “We can’t open up these locks because the boats can’t fit underneath the inoperable bridge."

    The Coast Guard told the city last month that the bridge needs to be fixed no later than May 1, 2021.

    Mayor Tony Penterman tells FOX 11 the problem is with funding.

    “Because the bridge is in such good shape, it qualifies for less federal money, meaning the tables are flipped around. So, it'll be 80% municipalities funded and 20% state and federal funded."

    Penterman says the city sent letters to state legislators, hoping to find additional funding for the $2.2 million project.

    "They wanted to do it a few years ago, but we didn't have the funding then."

    Cords said despite the cost, it'll be worth the money.

    "The Fox River Valley, from the Bay of Green Bay to Lake Winnebago could realize a potential impact of 290 million dollars."

    The city of Kaukauna is hoping to get a one-year extension to fix the bridge.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ- WLUK) - A 32-year-old Green Bay man has been charged with kidnapping his ex-fiancee and holding her at a motel for more than two weeks, abusing her physically and sexually.

    According to the criminal complaint, the 35-year-old victim told police that Tony C. Hughes grabbed her as she got off a bus in Green Bay May 26.

    Hughes was not supposed to have any contact with the victim because he was out on bond on previous domestic abuse charges.

    The victim told police Hughes threatened to kill her or her loved ones if she did not get back on the bus.

    Once on the bus, Hughes allegedly told her to sit down and keep quiet. The victim said they then took the bus to a motel on Green Bay's west side, where they had been staying.

    At the hotel, the victim said Hughes told her he missed her. He threatened to kill her and her family if she left the hotel.

    The victim said she and Hughes got into physical arguments in which he would hit her, pull down on her hair and stick his fingers into her mouth, pulling down on her jaw.

    He also allegedly sexually assaulted her several times.

    At times, the victim said Hughes would push her into the bathroom in an attempt to muffle her screams.

    Eventually, on June 12, the victim said Hughes allowed her to contact her brother and leave with him. They drove to a domestic violence shelter and contacted police.

    Hughes was arrested at the hotel.

    Officers say he told them only a verbal argument had happened there and denied the allegations of physical abuse.

    Hughes faces six felony and three misdemeanor charges, including kidnapping, third-degree sexual assault, false imprisonment and substantial battery with the intent to cause bodily harm.

    If convicted, Hughes could be sentenced to more than 77 years behind bars.


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    HOWARD, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A close call for a young girl at the Duck Creek Quarry has Howard leaders reminding people that they're swimming at their own risk.

    Officials say the girl almost drowned Monday but is okay.

    It's been nearly ten years since quarry has been open to the public.

    "We enjoy it," said Tina Erickson of Green Bay.

    Erickson tells FOX 11 she's familiar with the dangers of quarries, and that's why she keeps a close eye on her children.

    "Our kids do know how to swim well. But we are here with them, we realize it is swimming at your own risk."

    Village administrator, Paul Evert, tells FOX 11 the public needs to take precautions when swimming at the quarry.

    "Like every open body of water, people need to know what their skill set is. They need to take the individual responsibility."

    He says caution signs have also been put up hoping to prevent any type of incident.

    The beach does not have any on-duty lifeguards, and is 'swim at your own risk.'

    For those inexperienced swimmers, the village has set up a designated shallow area.

    Evert says it will be buoyed off and opened this week.

    "Families should really go to that newer beach that will be completed and opened by the end of the week. That's my suggestion if you don't have an experienced swimmer."

    As for Erickson, she says she's just glad the landmark has re-opened, "It's a beautiful place to be outside and enjoy the summer."

    Despite calls by some to close the quarry, village officials say they have no plans on shutting the quarry down.


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  • 07/18/18--04:51: Pay Raise For Mayor
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The person elected mayor of Green Bay next year will get a pay raise.

    The city council voted last night to give the mayor a $12 thousand dollar raise over the next four years, plus a two-percent cost of living increase.

    That will eventually put the mayor's pay at $102, 298.55 a year.

    The raise will kick in after next year's election.

    The council also approved $2 million for the Shipyard project.

    The money will be used for the initial phase of the project.

    That includes purchasing property and design and engineering work.

    The $10 million plan includes a turf field and an array of converted shipping containers for food and retail shops.

    There would also be an urban beach, children's playground, boat slips, and a kayak launch.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay Metro Fire Department says the cause of two apartment fires this month was from improper disposal of smoking materials.

    Lt. Shauna Wachholz says the two fires had a lot in common besides being started by smoking material.

    "Both of these were on hot days and perfect weather for a fire with wind conditions that were perfect."

    Many days of investigation took place to determine the cause of the fire.

    "Both of these fires took place on the exterior of the building and both buildings were constructed with wood frames."

    While the best thing to do is to stay away from smoking, here are some tips to keep yourself and others safe.

    • Use large, deep, non-tip ashtrays. Never leave a lit cigarette in an ashtray and never leave an ashtray on the arm of a couch or a chair.

    • AVOID smoking inside and on decks.

    • Douse cigarette butts completely with water before discarding them.

    • NEVER smoke in bed or while lying down; especially when you are drowsy or are taking medications that can make you sleepy.

    • NEVER permit smoking around the storage or use of an oxygen tank.

    • Keep matches, lighters and other smoking materials away from children. Teach children that lighters and matches are not toys, and not to touch them.

    • If smokers have visited, be sure to check the floor and around chair cushions for ashes that may have dropped accidentally.

    • Treat “Fire Safe Cigarettes” the same as a normal cigarette because they are still capable of starting a fire. It is important to have an escape plan and several working smoke alarms in the unfortunate event that fire does break out in your home. No civilians or firefighters were injured or killed; we are extremely thankful that everyone escaped safely. Both fires were accidental and we urge everyone to please be aware of the dangers of smoking and to follow the tips listed above.

     

     

     


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - An investigation of the circumstances that led to a handgun being found outside of Green Bay Notre Dame High School over the weekend is continuing. 

    Police Captain Kevin Warych says the student who found the gun did the right thing.   "Don't touch it. We want them to contact an adult so they can contact police."  Warych says, in this case, the gun was not in the greatest condition, which may indicate that it was there for a while.   "It was very weathered and was probably outside for a long period of time given the condition that the gun was in."  Warych added that the situation was still concerning because the gun was found loaded.  Police continue to see if the gun is linked to any crimes in the area.  "At this point, we do not believe that the gun was used in any crime, based on what we can find in our database."  

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    BROWN COUNTY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Brown County’s Board of Supervisors have agreed to ask voters in November whether medical marijuana should be legal.

    It will be on the ballot as an advisory referendum, which is basically a formal public opinion poll and cannot change state law.

    However, the board decided to not ask voters about recreational marijuana legalization.

    For more than three hours, a predominately pro-marijuana crowd took turns telling Brown County supervisors why voters should be asked about the drug's legalization.

    “The people, as you can see here tonight, would really like to have their voices heard on this matter,” said Wendy Coriell of Green Bay.

    The board was tasked with deciding whether to ask voters the two marijuana-related questions during November's election: one on medical marijuana and one on full legalization.

    “There is overwhelming data nationwide that shows 90 percent of the kids who have opioid addictions, especially in the teenagers, started with pot, with marijuana, as a gateway drug,” said Patricia McDougall, a doctor living in Hobart who said she was speaking on behalf of other medical professionals in the area.

    “I don't like feeling like a criminal when I have to go and try to find somebody who I can buy from,” said Michele Neary of Green Bay. “I'm 59 years old, I shouldn't have to beg somebody to give my husband the medication he needs.”

    While public speakers were largely in support of the referendum, a handful of people spoke in opposition.

    Marian Krumberger, the chair of the Brown County Republican Party, accused supporters of having a political motivation in asking for the cannabis questions.

    “Keep in mind, November elections are partisan elections. You are a nonpartisan body and when you place something in a partisan election, it does have an effect.”

    When county supervisors took their turns speaking, one of the two board members who proposed the referendum idea shared his personal legal marijuana experience.

    “What I did find was I didn't jump out of my window like some after-school special,” said Erik Hoyer.

    “I didn't lose my job, I didn't miss a day of work, I didn't leave my wife and join Phish on the road. I didn't do any of that.”

    Some board members argued the issue shouldn't be taken up at a county level, because only state lawmakers can vote to legalize marijuana.

    “My constituents, quite a few of them, have gone out of their way to tell me that they do not want me to undertake this,” said Joan Brusky, a Brown County Supervisor.

    “They want me to attend to county business.”

    In the end, the Board voted 16-10 to pass the medical marijuana referendum. The recreational marijuana referendum failed, 15-11.


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - There's new life for an old dump in Oshkosh.

    The Snell Road Landfill has been closed for decades, but a new conservation park is open for business.

    John Rabe, Winnebago County Solid Waste Director, tells FOX 11 this is the last step in a long process.

    "Landfilling was complete in '89, and then the final cover was installed in 1991. So that started the long-term care period. And so it really has just kind of sat idle. We're just taking care of it, and it created a great opportunity to create a park."

    The idea has been in-the-works for about four years.

    Design engineer Chris Anderson says they had to figure out how to make a park out of a dump site.

    "We had to examine the water. And the sediment in the pond, and look at ways that we can separate the public from the landfill. Facilities like the landfill gas system and the leachate system. And then make sure that we weren't exposing the public to any sort of contaminants."

    A fence separates the mound from the 25-acre park. There are hiking and biking trails. There are two ponds. People can watch nature, or fish from an accessible pier made of recycled plastic.

    "We're able to use something that people consider a waste. Basically a brown site, and create a park. A community asset to let people enjoy the property here," said Anderson.

    The Ken Robl Conservation Park was dedicated Wednesday morning.

    "Today is one of the biggest days of my life. I never believed this would happen to me," said Ken Robl, Winnebago County Board Member.

    Robl is entering his 39th year on the Winnebago County Board, and Solid Waste Committee.

    "It proves that landfills just don't stand there, and do nothing. You can work with them, and accomplish something great for the communities," he said.

    A plaque and stone were also dedicated in Robl's honor.

    The Ken Robl Conservation Park is free and open to the public.

    The Winnebago County Parks Department will operate and maintain the site.


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  • 07/19/18--02:14: New Sports Facility Is A Go
  • APPLETON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A new sports facility is officially going to break ground in the Fox Valley.

    Wednesday, the city of Appleton approved the required funding plan.

    The $30 million indoor sports complex that was supposed to break ground July 9 was in danger of being postponed.

    The project will be funded by hotel room tax revenue within the Fox Cities.

    The facility required ten Fox Valley communities to sign-off, but the city of Appleton was hesitant.

    "I don't know if we wanted to take our time as much as do our due diligence, just like we do with any major project around here,” said Appleton Common Council alderman Edward Baranowski said. “We've had a lot of success."

    In December, Grand Chute approved a gift of land for the sports facility to the Fox Cities Convention and Business Bureau.

    It'll be located north of Greenville Drive and east of McCarthy Road in Grand Chute.

    The complex is being developed to drive tourism and is focused on attracting sports teams from outside the area.

    Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Pam Seidl tells FOX 11 this development is expected it to have a huge economic impact.

    "We have a great project that I believe will generate a lot of great economic impact, upwards of $8.9 [million] in the first year, up to $12 million in year five for the Fox Cities community. We’re very excited to move this project along".

    Grand Chute officials long-awaiting the approval were concerned, initially, that Appleton's hesitation would end up delaying putting shovels in the ground, costing more money.

    "The delay, so far, has cost us $40,000 in additional money just for working in the winter time; winterization, and so forth,” said Grand Chute chairman Dave Schowalter. “but my understanding is that interest rates may not be affected by this.”

    Wednesday's unanimous vote, and everyone now on-board, officials say they're ready to get to work immediately.

    The center will include three competition spaces, an NHL sized ice rink for hockey games, as well as four basketball courts and eight volleyball courts.

    It's expected to open in October of 2019.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A ribbon-cutting was held for a new tissue converting line at Georgia-Pacific's Broadway location in Green Bay.

    "It just goes to show that there's a strong paper industry yet in Wisconsin, we're still the number one papermaking state and there's still demand for our products," said Mike Kawleski, Georgia-Pacific public affairs manager. 

    The investment for two lines was $26 million dollars and includes new equipment and an updated warehouse. 

    Machines do most of the work, but the machines being used are made close to home.   "Most of the equipment that is in this facility has been manufactured in Wisconsin," said Tim Ellsworth, Vice President of Operations.

    Construction took about a year.

    Next year Georgia-Pacific will celebrate 100 years of business and Ellsworth said Thursday the company has no plans of slowing down. 

     


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  • 07/19/18--15:35: 1 Injured In Rollover
  • ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - I-41 ramp northbound to Lombardi Avenue was closed for a short period of time Thursday afternoon, two-vehicle collision sent one to the hospital.

    Officials say a truck lost the breaks and crashed into a vehicle, causing it to roll.

    The driver of the vehicle was trapped inside and crews used rescue tools to help the driver.

    She was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

    The driver of the truck refused medical treatment.


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  • 07/19/18--15:40: Crash Kills Green Bay Man
  • MARINETTE, WI (WTAQ) - A Green Bay man had died as a result of a crash this morning.

    The crash happened in the Town of Silver Cliff in Marinette County on Highway F.

    Officials say the man crossed the center line and collided with a log hauling semi-truck head-on.

    The man died at the scene.


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