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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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  • 08/09/18--02:11: Takeover Of Area Waterways
  • MENASHA, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Health officials are seeing expanding blooms of what's commonly referred to as blue-green algae in several Wisconsin lakes.

    It's also called cyanobacteria, but it's actually not algae at all. It's a bacteria, and it can be dangerous to both people and pets.

    It's blooming across the state, including in Lake Winnebago.

    Pam Barton of Random Lake described the blue-green algae to FOX 11 as pea soup.

    "It's green and it's thick and there's no visibility at all."

    Blue-green algae is a bacteria that can produce toxins.

    "When people or animals ingest water that contains that toxin, they can become ill and that's what we're trying to prevent," said Doug Gieryn, Winnebago County Public Health director.

    The toxins can have effects including rashes, respiratory problems, and liver failure.

    Gieryn tells FOX 11 it can be hard to tell the difference between regular algae and blue-green algae.

    "The thing about blue-green algae is that it moves and it's difficult to say with any precision, where that algae blooms going to be in any given day."

    And there's more...

    "If it's very cloudy in the water, or water looks like paint, that's definitely an indication that there's a very high concentration of what could be blue-green algae in the water."

    Gieryn says the warmer the weather, the worse the bacteria becomes.

    "Higher temperatures favor the growth of the bacteria, as do more runoff and more sunlight as well. Sunlight feeds the bacteria as well."

    Gieryn said there are steps to reduce the bacteria, including don't over fertilize.

    "Be aware of runoff, grass clippings in the streets, they go to the storm sewer end up in the lake. Those are all sources of nutrients for algae to grow."

    Once cooler weather hits, health officials say, the bacteria will disappear.

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    FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - At least 16 people face charges in what officials are calling “a very significant multi-agency drug trafficking investigation” in Fond du Lac.

    The state Department of Justice, Fond du Lac District Attorney, Fond du Lac police chief, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and several other local police agencies are involved.

    Law enforcement reporting the bust includes the distribution of 127 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of nearly $10 million.

    They also say the investigation continues and more arrests are expected.

    Those arrested so far are charged with conspiracy to deliver. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

    Those charged include:  Lateef Strong, John Sobrilsky, Tony Potratz, Kayley Kropp, Veronica Fannan, Joseph Davis, Lashonda Cruckson, Nicole Cassola, and Dennis Armstrong.

    The 18-page criminal complaint details a series of drug deals between July 2017 and April 2018 at multiple locations.

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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - An Appleton man who killed two individuals in a drunk driving crash on December 17th has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    Joseph Konetzke ran a stop sign and collided with a second vehicle, which killed an 82-year-old man and an 83-year-old woman.

    At the time of the crash, his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

    Konetzke was also handed ten years of extended supervision at his sentencing on Wednesday. 

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    MARINETTE, WI (WTAQ) - Marinette's Community Recreation Center is being planned to open on December 14th, which is five months later than the original goal.

    The facilities interior is practically finished, but additional construction is necessary on the exterior of the building.

    Metal panels that were incorrectly set on the exterior need to be removed and replaced, which will be done by Appleton-based Boldt Construction. 

    $10 million of the $16 million project is coming from city taxpayers, while the remaining $6 million is from private donations. 

    They are attempting to be reimbursed for any costs that occurred outside of the project's original budget.

    An outside attorney, which was hired by the city, is investigating which vendors are responsible for the construction errors. 

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    STURTEVANT, WI (WTAQ) - Ascension Wisconsin plans to build a $42 million medical center in Sturtevant.

    The center will include primary and specialty care and they plan to hire 100 new employees.

    The announcement comes as the region prepares for a population growth that is expected to follow the planned Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing complex.

    This is the first of multiple planned projects in Racine County, according to Ascension Wisconsin. 

    The center plans to open in early 2020 and begin construction late this year. 

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    STURGEON BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Michigan Street Bridge in Sturgeon Bay will be closed next week as crews paint beams damaged by vehicles.

    The bridge will be closed August 13th thru 15th between the hours of 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

    Drivers attempting to cross the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal are encouraged to take the Maple/Oregon Street Bridge.

    Pedestrian and marine traffic will be able to access the bridge next week. 

    The support beams were damaged on two separate occasions last Spring when over-height vehicles struck them on opposite ends of the bridge. 


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - An 35-year-old Oshkosh man charged with two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide was ordered Thursday to stand trial.

    Jesse McComb is the suspect in a double stabbing case from an incident on July 1st.

    McComb stabbed a man and woman outside of a bar after unsuccessfully trying to purchase a cigarette from the man, according to the criminal complaint. 

    The man was stabbed three times, while the woman was stabbed twice in the abdomen. 

    Court records show that McComb is scheduled to enter a plea on September 7th.


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    SHEBOYGAN, WI (WTAQ) - A 22-year-old construction worker died due to blunt force trauma while working at the construction site of a Meijer store in Sheboygan.

    Marcelo Barreilo-Mersfelder became pinned between heavy equipment and police have ruled the death as an accident.

    The police investigation is ongoing and the Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) is also investigating. 

    Barreilo-Mersfelder was working for Superior Masonry Builders Inc., which is based in Butler, Wisconsin.

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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Fans at the Packers opening preseason game needed their smartphone handy in order to get through the gates.

    That's because Green Bay has moved on from printed tickets into an entirely mobile format.

    Last night was the "test run" of this campaign, which is geared towards eliminating counterfeit tickets that trade hands on the street. 

     Aaron Popkey, the team's Director of Public Affairs, says there's a lot to like.

    "We're looking forward to seeing the efficiency of it," said Popkey. "The counterfeit situation, which we've had from time to time, nothing too much, but any time you can reduce that, it's positive as well."

    Season ticket holders will still receive their tickets in the mail, but everyone else is encouraged to download the Packers app on their smartphone for easy entrance. 

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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Kids all over the state have been spending the past few months at various summer camps, but one of them hosted at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is hoping to teach skills that could turn into a career

    This isn't your typical summer camp. Bunk beds, arts and crafts, and kayaking have been replaced by nuts, bolts, and something else.

    "The Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Camp is an excellent experience for them," according to welding instructor John Russell. "They can see manufacturing first hand."

    The program introduces youths to local manufacturing facilities and informs them of high-paying jobs.

    The average welder makes $69,000 a year and with those high wages and benefits, Russell and others are encouraging students to work in the industry.

    Alex Steiner, one of the nine boys that attended the program, said he enjoyed the experience.

    "I've actually learned a lot," said Steiner. "Safety, how to weld properly, and it's been fun."

     The Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, which holds more than a dozen camps across the country, was a sponsor of the program.

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    SEYMOUR, WI (WTAQ) - A 30th annual festival is being held in Seymour this weekend to celebrate a summer-favorite food that has a long history right here in Wisconsin.

    Burger Fest is a well-known Seymour tradition. But many might not know the historic past the burger has in town.

    Former Burger Fest Board President Jim Campbell tells the story of Charlie Nagreen who attempted to sell meatballs at the 1885 Seymour Fair. Good idea, but not very practical.

    "People would try to walk around with meatballs and they would roll off their plate and everything," said Campbell. "So he got the bright idea to squash it and make a sandwich, so he got his meatballs and squashed them down and the hamburger was born."

    Every summer Seymour commemorates Charlie and his invention while celebrating their community at Burger Fest.

    Events start at 8 AM Saturday and continue through the night. 

    The money raised goes back into the community towards charitable causes.

    "We usually try to get three scholarships a year for 600 bucks," says Campbell.

    The festivities feature a 5K "bun run," a hamburger eating contest, a ketchup slide, and a monstrous 190-pound cheeseburger.

    The massive burger may seem unimaginable but ultimately pales in comparison to historic past creations. 

    "1989, our first year, we served a 5,200-pound burger," said Campbell. "That made the Guinness Book of World Records.

    The mere 190-pound burger available on Saturday will be grilled and served on a first come, first serve basis.

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  • 08/10/18--09:52: OWI For The 5th Time
  • PULASKI, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A Pulaski man previously convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle was arrested on suspicion of his fifth OWI offense.

    54 year old Kenneth Berna was arrested just before 10:00 Thursday night on State Highway 32, south of Quarry Road.

    Authorities say they pulled Berna over because he was driving erratically.

    Officers say they could smell intoxicants coming from Berna while talking with him.

    After a field sobriety test, he was taken into custody.

    Berna was convicted in the 1994 Green Bay crash that killed 25-year-old Tau Cheng.

    Online court records do not show how long Berna served for that conviction.

    According to court records his last OWI offense was in 2011.

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    NEW LONDON, WI (WTAQ) - A silver alert has been issued for a 73-year-old New London man.

    Joseph Swinford is driving a red 2007 Chevy Silverado truck with a Wisconsin license plate number GP8964.

    The truck has Vietnam veteran stickers in the back window and he was last seen in Ironwood, Michigan.

    Please contact your local authorities if you spot him. 

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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Motorists should be aware of some changes to their morning commute starting next week.

    Both Military Avenue and Taylor Street will be closed so Canadian National can perform upgrades to the rail crossings at those locations.

    Steve Grenier, from the Green Bay Public Works Department, says the repairs are necessary. 

    "The rail crossing on Military Avenue has deteriorated," explains Grenier. "It's a problem."

    Military Avenue will be closed from Western Avenue to the Shopko driveway, while Taylor Street will be closed from Western Avenue to Badger Street.

    Grenier explains that not everything on those roads will be shut down.

    'We're still going to provide access to local businesses that front Military Avenue," says Grenier. "But, traffic won't be able to travel through there from one end to another."

    Detour routes will be placed along West Mason Street, Military Avenue, and Shawano Avenue.

    Motorists should anticipate backups, utilize caution in work zones, and follow alternate routes to navigate affected areas. 

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    FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - One of the individuals involved in the Fond du Lac cocaine ring pleaded not guilty to five charges on Friday.

    Danny Andrews Jr., who was allegedly partially in control of the cocaine ring, is scheduled to stand trial on October 25th.

    It's believed that Andrews and Nicole Cassola were in charge of operating the drug ring that sold more than 120 pounds of cocaine across the Fond du Lac area. 

    These drugs were moved for nearly a year between July 2017 and April 2018, according to police. 

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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - A man wanted in an armed robbery case in Ashwaubenon has been taken into custody.

    Carl Franklin Self is accused of robbing the Cash Store on Oneida Street on July 21st.

    The robbery resulted in no injuries.

    He was discovered in Chicago and will now be extradited to Brown County.

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    ADAMS COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - A data breach has occurred in Adams County in which the personal information of 258,000 people was illegally accessed.

    The Adams County computer system had usernames, passwords, and other possible information leaked from it.

    The suspect gained access to information beyond their role and department by manipulating software programs. 

    Health information and tax intercept information was on the computer system at the time of the breach. 

    At least one suspect has been identified, according to investigators.

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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - The Summer of Service program in Appleton is connecting youths to community projects through various institutions.

    On Friday teens painted a mural on the north side of the Grand Meridian building on North Oneida Street.

    The project is paired with the school district, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Appleton Police Department.

    In the upcoming weeks, the teens will be working on projects at the Riverview Gardens, Appleton Parks and Recreation, and the Bubolz Nature Preserve.

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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - The state-run Winnebago Mental Health Institute is getting out of the utility business.

    For more than 70 years two dozen property owners near the facility have used them as a utility.

    The town of Oshkosh, which does not have its own utilities, is hoping a state grant will help them plan a new sewer and water system.

    They recently were approved for a $50,000 block grant, which was approved by the Department of Administration, to plan and design a new system.

    Once the initial planning is complete the town will have to seek another state grant to fund construction costs, which could amount to $20,000 per property. 

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    TWO RIVERS, WI (WTAQ) - Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Two Rivers has started streaming an "Osprey Cam" that tracks the progression of two young ospreys, Jethro and Judd.

    The two young birds have yet to take flight but are expected to leave the nest soon.

    Jim Knicklebine from the nature center explains why this is such a great time to follow along.

    "The young birds really want to get out there," says Knicklebine. "They know they should be flying, so they spread their wings and they jump on the nest and holler."

    Ospreys typically head for a warmer climate as summer ends, so the birds are expected to be gone in a couple of weeks.

    The online stream is available at Woodland Dunes Dot Org. 

    Be prepared to have a hard time leaving the screen, though.

    "It's kind of dangerous having this," says Knicklebine. "It's a little distraction every time you walk past the monitor."


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