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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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    DODGE COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - An endangered animal across North America is making a bit of a comeback locally.

    Whooping cranes have been spotted throughout the marsh near Waupun and are settling into their new home at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.

    Hillary Thompson with the International Crane Foundation of North America explains how big of a deal this is.

    "Not everyone will see one in their lifetime, so it's pretty special to see one," she says. "It's always great to see Whooping cranes in the wild."

    Less than 700 cranes exist in the wild throughout North America and about 100 of them are right here in Wisconsin

    Experts didn't anticipate something that happened two years ago, though.

     A male whooping crane actually nested with a Sandhill Crane.

    Workers then took a bit of a gamble by reintroducing the male to a new female whooping crane.

    "We weren't sure that it really was going to work," says Thompson. "It's not something that we've done before."

    The gamble paid off and workers will spend time teaching the rest of the family to migrate south for the winter. 

    Their hope is that the birds keep returning to Horicon in the future.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Veterans Housing and Recovery Program will be expanded thanks to a federal grant.

    The state Department of Veterans Affairs will expand the program, which operates with the goal of getting veterans permanent housing.

    The program also provides temporary housing and veterans can stay in the program for up to 2 years.

    The grant will allow the program to serve as many as 18 veterans in Green Bay.

    The Green Bay facility will hopefully open by October 1st, according to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

     


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    WAUPUN, WI (WTAQ) - Waupun is taking the initiative to assist residents before more rain hits this weekend.

    Sandbags are available on a first-come-first-serve basis to city resident's and are being distributed at the city garage located at 903 N. Madison St.

    Waupun resident Deana Price was one of the individuals taking advantage of the materials on Friday. She's attempting to help protect her fiancee's parents home.

    "We're going to put tarps up and put sandbags on there," she says. "Trying to prevent more damage, because it's very bad."

    The home they are protecting has already been hit hard by storm weather earlier in the week.

    "Their house had a tree fall on it," Price explains. "It's got flooding in it and they don't have a basement, so if we get more rain it's going to flood into the rest of the house."

    Rain is in the forecast throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend.

    That doesn't mean Waupun residents will welcome the weather without protecting themselves, though. Fire Chief B.J. Edema explains the town's mindset.

     "This area has been hit with heavy rains for the last ten days and we're certainly not welcoming any more rain to the area," he says.

    Residents will be able to fill up at their leisure as additional sand and sandbags will be available.

    Any brush from storm damage can be disposed at the city garage or can pile it at the city terrace, which will be later picked up by public works crews.

    Large trash bins will be located at the city garage for individuals to throw away damaged household items.


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    JUNEAU, WI (WTAQ) - A former corrections officer at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution has been sentenced for sexually assaulting inmates.

    Prosecutors allege that 34-year-old Alex Wouts coerced various victims into sexual acts over the course of several years.

    Prosecutors believe there are more victims than the three victims that testified against him.

    Wouts was able to get inmates to participate in the acts by threatening discipline or offering privileges. Wouts was sentenced to 35 years in prison and another 25 years extended supervision.


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    GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ) - An intersection in Grand Chute was shut down on Thursday due to a gas leak.

    The Grand Chute Fire Department says that the leak occurred after a natural gas line was hit on accident by a contractor.

    In order to be safe, a nearby Kwik Trip was evacuated.

    Fire officials warned drivers to stay away from the Casaloma Drive and Victory Lane intersection where the incident occurred. 


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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) -- West Nile virus has returned to Appleton.

    City officials say a dead crow found Aug. 24 has tested positive for the virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.

    In most people, the virus causes mild symptoms or none at all. Less than one percent of people become seriously ill.

    “Appleton residents should be aware of West Nile virus and take some simple steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” Kurt Eggebrecht, the city's health officer and public health director, said in a news release. “West Nile virus is here to stay, so the best way to avoid the disease is to reduce exposure to and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

    • The city offers these reminders to protect yourself against becoming infected through mosquito bites:
    • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
    • Apply an insect repellant with DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin and clothing.
    • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
    • Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by removing stagnant water from items around your property, such as tin cans, plastic containers, flower pots, discarded tires, roof gutters, and downspouts.
    • Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use.
    • Change the water in bird baths and pet dishes at least every three days.
    • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.
    • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas, and trim tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

    The state Department of Health Services will continue monitoring the virus until the end of the mosquito season. To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay, or raven, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A Green Bay man facing charges for robbing a convenience store pleaded not guilty on Friday.

    Robert Herrington will return to court on September 28 for a status conference, according to court records.

    Herrington is charged with armed robbery and operating a vehicle without consent.

    No trial date has been set.

    The 37-year-old allegedly produced a gun, threatened to shoot the clerk, and grabbed cash from the register. 

    Police indicate that Herrington took a truck from a friend without consent and then proceeded to crash the vehicle into a home on Elm Street.


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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - The "Building for Kids" Children's Museum in Appleton will be closed for a few weeks as they prepare to introduce an exciting new feature.

    $2.4 million of renovations are being finished, which include the new Big Rig Depot exhibit.

    Museum marketing director Katy Compton explains some features of the exhibit.

    "The kids can go in and pretend to drive a truck, there's going to be an engine that they can run a diagnostic on," she explains.

    Compton explains these renovations were necessary to stay current with changing times.

    "The reason we're doing these renovations is to keep up with the evolving needs of the community," she says.

    One of the individuals taking in the museum on Friday was Matt Sommerfeldt. He says the facility is great for everyone.

    "It's a fun place to bring your kids, especially in the winter," he explains.

    A semi truck will great visitors to highlight the new Big Rig Depot exhibit. The Children's Museum will be closed starting Monday, September 3 and will reopen on September 24.


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    LITTLE CHUTE, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - The Little Chute Fire Department has taken to Facebook to express their gratitude towards a young boy that stood by himself and saluted the flag flying at the Little Chute memorial.

    "The first thing he did was looked at our American flag, then he saluted the soldier," Little Chute's assistant fire chief, Duane Nechodom, told Fox 11 News.

    People have responded and the post now has over 400 shares and dozens of comment.

    "We have a firemen's prayer on a bench also. He read that and before he was finished, he walked back up to the soldier and gave the soldier a big hug and then he walked away," Nechodom told Fox 11 News.

    Firefighters initially were reviewing surveillance footage to attempt to find an individual that vandalized the memorial about a month ago, when they stumbled upon the saluting boy. 

    "My thought is, when you see a young man like that, respecting the flag at such a young age, it means that to me that it's not all bad out in the world, it's a lot of good stuff going on," Nechodom said to Fox 11 News.

     


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) -  By next week all schools in the state will be back in session, but there will still be plenty to do around the Green Bay area/

    While some "pools" and seasonal destinations are starting to close their doors for the year, that doesn't mean all is lost.

    Brad Toll, President and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Visitors Bureau says, this is still a time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

    "The fall is just a beautiful time of the year in northeastern Wisconsin and our hiking trails, with the leaves starting to turn, is just a spectacular time," he says.

    And even some of the favorite summer activities around town extend well into the fall.

    "The farmer's markets go well into October and they all have live music," says Toll.

    If summer fun is more your style though, then you need to act quickly.

    "Bay Beach will be open on weekends for a while, then that ends up closing up for the winter season," explains Toll. "Heritage Hill starts to draw back a little bit with what they're doing."

    But even non-football fans can rejoice with the expanded array of entertainment ongoing inside the Titletown District.

    "If you walk around there in the evening you see people playing shuffleboard, and horseshoes, and bocci ball," he explains. "Kids playing on some very unique playground equipment."

    In addition to the available games, Titletown District will be featuring live music, food, and beverages prior to every home Packers game this year.

    A full list of upcoming community events, a comprehensive visitor guide, and additional information can all be found here.

     

     


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    TOWNSEND, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) -- Folks in the Northwoods are getting ready for the big Red Arrow Snowmobile ATV Club corn roast, and those putting on the event are celebrating a major milestone.

    Volunteers put the finishing touches on decorations inside the big white tent Friday morning. The annual corn roast draws thousands from around the region to Townsend.

    "This is a corn roast, and guess what? The best part is our sweet corn is free at this event. So come eat all you can," said Gary Wagner, Red Arrow Snowmobile ATV Club President.

    This year, the roast is also a celebration. Red Arrow is marking the club's 50th birthday. Money raised at the roast pays for snowmobile trail maintenance and equipment, like a new groomer.

    "We just purchased a brand new Tucker. A 2019 was delivered I want to say in June, and we got to pay for it yet," said Carl Christensen, Red Arrow Snowmobile ATV Club.

    The club offers safety lessons too.

    "We have ATV classes coming September 15th and 16th. We have snowmobile classes coming on October 27th and 28th," said Larry Westphal, Red Arrow Snowmobile ATV Club.

    People between the ages of 12 and 30 need to be certified before they can drive. Parents are encouraged to attend class with their kids.

    "There's a lot of factors that come into play, that without it being brought to your knowledge, you're not really aware," said Christensen.

    Red Arrow will also join a trail patrol ambassador program, where certified club members offer help on the trails.

    "If they have a flat tire, certainly stop and extend a hand to them, or if they're sitting at an intersection with a map, offer to help them. Where can I help you go? Where you looking to get?" said Wagner.

    For those looking to get to the corn roast, the event will go on whatever the weather.

    "You know rain or shine, you see the big top we've got going here. Some of our most successful events have been on rainy days in the past. You can't go out on the water, you can't work in your garden, you can't mow your grass. Come over and have a good time," said Wagner.

    The event kicks off with an ATV parade Saturday morning around 10:00 a.m.

    As far as corn, club members say 1,500 ears are ready to go.


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    (WTAQ-WLUK) -- The DOT warns drivers to be extra careful on the roads heading into Labor Day weekend. Several highways are closed due to standing water.

    Officials say drivers should not try to drive through standing water or around barriers.

    Here's a list of the highways closed by county. 

    Crawford County

    • WIS 131 is closed from US 60 to US 61 (Soldiers Grove). No detour.

    • WIS 171 is closed between WIS 27 (Mount Sterling) to US 61 (Rolling Ground). No detour.

    • WIS 179 is closed from WIS 27 (Eastman) to WIS 131 (Steuben). No detour.

    Columbia County

    • WIS 127 is closed from WIS 16 (Wisconsin Dells) to WIS 16 (Portage). No detour.

    Dane County

    • US 14 is closed between Cross Plains and Black Earth; traffic detoured via WIS 78 and US 12.

    La Crosse County

    • WIS 35 is open to one lane with flagging operations from County K to US 14.

    Marquette County

    • WIS 23 is closed at the Neenah Creek bridge, two miles east of Briggsville; traffic detoured via WIS 82 and WIS 13.

    • WIS 22 is closed at the Main Street bridge over the Montello River in Montello; traffic detoured via WIS 33, WIS 44 and WIS 73.

    Sauk County

    • WIS 33 is closed at Albert Street in Reedsburg. No detour.

    • WIS 58 is closed between County G (Ironton) and WIS 33 (LaValle). No detour.

    • WIS 113 is closed at County W (Baraboo). No detour.

    • WIS 136 is closed from WIS 33 (Rock Springs) to WIS 154 (Rock Springs). No detour.

    • WIS 154 is closed between WIS 23 (South of Reedsburg) and WIS 136 (Rock Springs). No detour.

    Vernon County

    • WIS 131 is closed between Ontario and Rockton. Traffic is detoured via WIS 82 and WIS 33.

    • WIS 131 is closed from County S to Viola. No detour.


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    GREEN BAY (WTAQ-WLUK) -- The neighborhood watch program is going digital in Green Bay.

    A stranger outside Manuel Lopez’s east side home is an example of how the city’s police department would like residents to use the new social networking application, Neighbors.

    When something moves outside Lopez's house, security cameras over his garage and on his doorbell send him a message with live video of what is happening. A week ago, at 2:20 in the morning, the camera caught a man trying to open the vehicles in Lopez's driveway.

    “Unfortunately because almost every morning, like every midnight, there is a cat walking on my driveway and this time, for the first time I didn't watch it, there's a guy who tried to open our cars,” said Lopez.

    Lopez eventually did watch the video, sharing it on Neighbors.

    “I put it in public to warn other people what's going on in our city,” said Lopez.

    Ring, the company Lopez bought his security cameras from, launched the free Neighbors app in May for anyone to use.

    “Anything you can save to your phone can be shared to Neighbors as well,” said Morgan Culbertson, the public relations coordinator for Neighbors.

    Green Bay police are one of the first in the state to partner with the Neighbors app.

    Captain Jeremy Muraski says other departments who use it have seen a drop in burglaries and thefts.

    “For us we thought that alone is a win, but then you factor in the ability for us to interact and engage with the community and it makes it even better,” said Muraski.

    The application is a way for Neighbors to promote its products, like video doorbells and regular security cameras.

    Muraski says Ring is not paying the department to help promote the app.

    “We basically have a mutual agreement that allows them to say they're partnering with us, we're partnering with them,” said Muraski.

    Muraski says if enough people download Ring's Neighbors app, the company will give the department security cameras to give to residents who can't afford them.

    As for Manuel Lopez, Green Bay police say they haven't been able to find the man who was trying to get into his vehicles.


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    GREEN LAKE COUNTY (WLUK) -- The Green Lake County Sheriff's Office announced an emergency slow no wake zone Friday afternoon.

    It comes after severe weather and rain hit the area, causing Governor Scott Walker to declare a statewide state of emergency.

    The slow-no-wake order includes the following bodies of water:

    • All of Lake Puckaway
    • Al of Little Green Lake
    • All of the Fox River from Lake Puckaway north through Princeton, and to the North County Line of Berlin

    While Big Green Lake wasn't included in the order, deputies say people should be on the lookout for debris and other hazards.


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    WINNEBAGO/WAUPACA COUNTIES, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) -- Two news releases from the Winnebago and Waupaca County Sheriff's Office are shedding light on an unexpected and illegal plane ride. 

    Here's what we know based on both departments.

    On Friday night around 9:30 the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office and the Oshkosh Police Department headed to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. 

    They say they were trying to arrest 47-year-old Andrei Biesinger for alleged domestic abuse charges that happened on August 13. 

    Biesinger tried to get clearence to take off from the airport however, Winnebago County officials say those inside the airport tower tied to hold the plane. 

    The sheriff's office says Biesinger ignored the tower, almost hit an Oshkosh police car and took off anyway. 

    Biesinger ended up crashing his plane around 11:20 p.m. in the Town of Waupaca.

    A man called 911 after seeing a red light flashing near a field where he lived.

    The fire department pulled Biesinger out of the plane where he was eventually airlifted to the hospital with severe injuries. 

    Biesinger has not been charged but he's being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.


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    SUAMICO, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) -- Big cat, cougar, mountain lion, puma... whatever name you like to call it, it appears the Suamico Police Department is trying to verify accounts of what people say they saw.

    Police say, Friday night around 9, multiple people called saying they saw a mountain lion near Veterans Avenue between County Highway B and Norfield Road. 

    "These sightings were not confirmed by police or the DNR," a Facebook post reads on the department's page. 

    Police are asking for more information or photographs of the cougar. 

    The post goes on to say, "Mountain lion sightings are rare in our area, but are not completely surprising. Most sightings can be attributed to other wildlife and not an actual cougar themselves. Mountain lion attacks are also extremely rare and have not been documented in our area."

    Suamico police can be reached by calling 920-391-7450.


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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - Appleton Police are investigating after a threat was made to Fox Valley Lutheran High School.

    Monday afternoon, police were notified that a bomb threat had been received by an official with the school.

    Explosive detection K9's from the Appleton Police Department and Outagamie County Sheriff's Department were used to conduct a sweep of the school.

    The Outagamie and Brown County Bomb Squad were also called in to help.

    No items of concern were found.

    Investigators are continuing to work on identifying the source of the threat.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Appleton Police.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A new slogan is gracing the original Packers fence near Lambeau Field.

    It's a tradition that dates back more than three decades.

    In honor of the Packers' 100th season, this year's slogan was chosen as a tribute to Vince Lombardi.

    The phrase "Lombardi Legacy-leaders made here" now adorns the fence.

    Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy was on hand to help with the painting. He tells FOX 11.....

    "They have not had a Lombardi quote in the history of this, so it's kind of fitting for the 100th season. You know when you think of what Lombardi meant to this franchise and our history, it's pretty appropriate."

    The fence is recognized as a historical site.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Many students on Green Bay's east side are heading back to overcrowded schools again this year.

    But new classrooms are being built right now to address the problem some buildings face.

    “This is one of our busier summers that we've had in the last four or five years just due to all the referendum work that we have,” said Mike Stangel, executive director of facilities for the Green Bay Area Public School District.

    Voters approved $68.25 million for Green Bay schools last year. The largest project is rebuilding Baird Elementary School.

    Work started on 11 schools this spring.

    Construction on six other schools starts next spring.

    Some of the work is just renovations, but seven schools are putting in more secure entrances.

    Stangel tells FOX 11 six schools, all on Green Bay's east side, are expanding specifically to increase student capacity.

    “We still need to look at our capacities at our middle and high school level. Both Edison and Preble High School are close to capacity or over capacity.”

    Preble is 260 students over its target capacity. The city's other three high schools are all under capacity. East is 142 students under capacity. Southwest has room for 362 more students and West is 429 students under capacity.

    “I think Preble has done an outstanding job of really working with the student body to make that successful there, despite the fact they've been over capacity,” said Lori Blakeslee, the district’s director of communications.

    The district had two task forces look at the issue. In 2017, a facilities taskforce concluded a fifth high school should be built on the city's far east side.

    Blakeslee tells FOX 11 a boundaries taskforce recommended not building a new high school and no major changes to school boundary lines.

    “They had some thoughts around marketing our schools, looking at putting popular programs that are here on the east side and having some duplication of that on the west side.”

    Administrators are expected to look at recommendations once school starts. They hope to present a plan to the school board later this school year.

    Stangel says construction won't seriously impact normal school activities.

    Also of note, this will be the first school year where all schools in the district have air conditioning.

    It was added at Eisenhower and Webster Elementary Schools this summer.


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    NEW FRANKEN, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - UW-Green Bay incoming freshmen cleaned up some of the local waterways at Bay Shore County Park

    With trash bags in hand, Elayna Hartter and hundreds of other first-year students, scuffed up their shoes to make a difference.

    "We picked up a lot of trash, a lot of cans. Kinda surprising how many people just throw their stuff out. But that’s all we did, just kinda picked up trash."

    Samantha Myers tells FOX 11...

    "Everyone throws garbage in the ravine so, we went all the way down there, some we did not because they were too steep."

    Chancellor Gary Miller tells FOX 11 the community service project was a new UW-Green Bay addition to freshmen orientation.

    "One of the things we want them to know is that this is a great community to be in, but whatever community you’re in, you have to give back."

    Because 77% of new students attending the campus are not from Brown County, the University wanted to showcase the area, while serving the community.

    "It says that the community of the school definitely cares about the environment and making sure everything stays clean and healthy," said incoming freshman Daniel Bohringer of Milwaukee.

    "It did feel good to get back to the community, it’s been a little while since I have," Myers added.

    Myers also says students made friends while volunteering. Some say the project even helped ease the freshmen nerves.

    "I got to hang out with my friends for a bit, met some new people and we’re all going through the same thing, that’s what brought (the nerves) down a little bit. We’re all going through the same thing."

    And to get a real "Green Bay" feel, the service project was followed up by a celebration at Lambeau.

    With 2-year schools in the state combining with 4-year institutions, U-W Green Bay also has 3 other campuses now: Manitowoc, Marinette, and Sheboygan.


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