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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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    FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Plans to expand Hwy. 23 between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan are back on after a new environmental study was finished.

    The state Department of Transportation has been planning to expand 19.1 miles of the highway to four lanes and improve some intersections in the stretch.

    Brian Lipke, WisDOT planning project manager, tells FOX 11 WIS 23 will also be designated as an expressway.

    "Safety has gotten in everybody’s radar, papers are reporting accidents, it’s been a concern for the regional office here as well so we’re excited to get out there and do something about it and get the construction rolling."

    The project was put on hold when the DOT agreed to reopen its environmental review following a lawsuit from the group 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin.

    Despite the numerous car crashes, a group called '1,000 Friends of Wisconsin' filed a lawsuit against the project 7 years ago.

    FOX 11 contacted the group but they were not available for an interview.

    In the 2011 federal lawsuit, the plaintiff opposed the expansion saying it would displace residents, farms and businesses.

    The lawsuit claimed the DOT didn't hold a proper public hearing on the issue and didn't provide accurate traffic projection numbers to justify the project.

    But after revising the study, and considering a handful of other alternatives, the DOT said they now have a strong case for passing the expansion.

    "We firmly believe the document will hold up in court," said Lipke.

    "We’ve addressed every issue that has been raised so we feel pretty confident."

    On Monday, the DOT and Federal Highway Administration signed off on the new review.

    According to the DOT, the project will cost roughly $153 million through 2023.

    Plans now call for construction to begin next summer in Sheboygan County. The project is scheduled to wrap up in 2022, when work is completed in Fond du Lac County.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay Police investigating a one Vehicle crash on Dousman and Broadway on the city's west side last night.

    Damage to a traffic light at the intersection and a close call for the restaurant at the corner.

    Police took a 19-year-old man into custody.

    One female in the vehicle was taken to the hospital for treatment of what's being described as non-life threatening injuries.

    The normally busy intersection was closed for a time but has since reopened.


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    BARRON, WI (WTAQ) - An Amber Alert has been issued for a missing girl in Barron County.

    Authorities are searching for 13-year-old Jayme Closs after a western Wisconsin sheriff found both her parents dead inside her home. A neighbor says he heard shots fired around 1am. There is also a report that a 911 call was made from the home, but the caller didn't respond to the dispatcher. Screaming was heard in the background. The shooting victims are identified as 56-year-old James Closs and 46-year-old Denise Closs.

    Authorities are trying to confirm a possible sighting of Jayme Closs at a gas station in Miami on Monday afternoon. A tipster said they saw someone matching her discription with two men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent in their 30s. The report said the car they were in may have had Wisconsin license plates. Law enforcement is emphasizing that, for now, the report is unsubstantiated.

    Miami PD says it if was Closs she was in a black Ford Explorer. They belive the license plate is I60-WER.

    The sheriff says the girl is endangered and is not a suspect in her parents' death.

    The investigation is being assisted by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

    Jayme is 5'0" tall and approximately 100 pounds with green eyes and strawberry blonde hair.

    Anyone with information about her whereabouts or anyone that has contact with her is asked to contact the Barron County Sheriff's Department at 715-537-3106.


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    DOOR COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Door County has long been known for tourism and sight-seeing, but local officials are reminding people that it's also a great place to begin an exciting career.

    Door County will look to fill some of the 400 vacant manufacturing positions they have available on October 25 and October 27 when they host their second annual Door County Manufacturing Day. 

    The first day is intended for high school students, while the second day is open to the public from 8 AM to Noon.

    Officials and employers are urging interested individuals to rethink modern manufacturing.

    "It's not our grandfather's manufacturing, it's not really even our parents' manufacturing," explains Paige Funkhouser,  the economic development manager with the Door County Economic Development Corporation.

    The idea of the event is to bring workers face to face with hiring employees and give them an opportunity to see what goes on behind the curtain. Those interested can even apply on the spot.

    "We're encouraging [individuals] and they are open to taking job applications," says Funkhouser. "So come dressed ready to put your best foot forward."

    While hundreds of full-time, family-supporting jobs in manufacturing are available, many employers are also on the look to bring aboard interns. 

    "It's a great place to spend a summer as a college student," she says.

    Several hundred of the open manufacturing positions are in shipbuilding and a number of other technical fields.

    "People kind of have a perception of manufacturing as something that's still very dirty, and gross, and dark," says Funkhouser."That is not what 21st-century manufacturing is in Sturgeon Bay."

    In addition to available good-paying technical jobs, she says starting a career in a smaller community has its benefits.

    "You're not just another number on the floor, showing up, working the grind," explains Funkhouser. "These are family-owned companies and the people all live and work here and really care about one another."

    More than a dozen companies will be participating in the two-day event and tours will be available for free. 

    Additional resources and industrial maps will be available at an information tent located on the corner of Neenah Avenue and State 42 in Sturgeon Bay.


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    SHAWANO, WI (WTAQ) - Students were evacuated from Hillcrest Primary School in Shawano Tuesday morning.   

    School officials say smoke filled the hallways after a small fire was noticed in a bathroom stall. 

    Administration put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. 

    The Fire Department was called in and went through the building, clearing smoke.

    In an email sent to parents, Administration said students went to a nearby building during that time to get out of the cold and were released early.

    The building is being cleaned and parents were warned that their child's coats and backpacks may smell like smoke.

    School officials continue to investigate the incident. 


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    FRIENDSHIP, WI (WTAQ) - A Fond du Lac County sheriff's detective will be ticketed following a two-vehicle crash on Monday afternoon.

    Three people were injured in the incident, including two on-duty detectives with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office. It was determined that Panagiotis Vergos, the driver of the squad car, turned into the path of an oncoming SUV and will be given a ticket for failing to yield the right of way.

    The incident happened north of Silver Street, on Lakeshore Drive. 

    All three injured individuals, Vergos, the passenger in the squad car, and the driver of the SUV,  have been released from the hospital. 

     


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  • 10/16/18--15:03: Brief School Lockdown
  • OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - Reports of a man walking on New York Avenue and near an Oshkosh school with a rifle resulted in the school being placed on a brief lockdown just before 11:00 AM on Tuesday.

    Police located the 23-year-old man and determined he was carrying a BB gun.

    The school's soft lockdown was lifted at 11:11 AM and the man was arrested for violating his parole rules.  


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - Police has arrested a total of seven people in a rash of burglaries that have occurred in Oshkosh in the past month.

    Officers say, three men, ranging in ages from 20 to 26, along with four juveniles have been taken into custody.

    Nine burglaries and three attempted burglaries have been reported near UW-Oshkosh campus.

    Officials say unlocked homes, garages, and cars have been targeted and most of the incidents have occurred under the cover of darkness.


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  • 10/16/18--15:19: Asleep At The Wheel
  • ONEIDA, WI (WTAQ) - A crash in Outagamie County Tuesday morning occurred after the driver of a vehicle fell asleep at the wheel on Ranch Road in the town of Oneida.

    Officials say a woman sustained life-threatening injuries when her husband lost control of the vehicle after dozing off.

    The 71-year-old man entered the ditch and struck a culvert.

    The woman was taken to the hospital.

    Officials say both were wearing seatbelts.


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    BROWN COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - It was announced on Tuesday that Brown County will continue to fund a conservation project aimed at reducing erosion and sedimentation on local farms in their 2019 proposed budget.

    Local officials gathered at Dairyland Farms in New Franken, which is part of the Fox Demo Farm project and the first farm to receive full funding from the county to control pollution issues.

    A major effort needed to contain pollution issues is to reduce erosion and sedimentation and control phosphorus runoff, which can be achieved through planting cover crops.

    In their first year as a Fox Demo Farm, Dairyland Farms successfully planted 1,000 acres of cover crops.

    "If you buy a new vehicle and want to keep that vehicle nice you put a coat of wax on it... this cover crop is our coat of wax," explains Brown County farmer Mike Pribyl. 

    The Demo Farm project is a collaboration between Brown County, the Natural Resources Conservation Services, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

    Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach says it's not the governments or any other agencies role to tell farmers how to do their job.

    "In the end, it's not going to be the government that ultimately convince the farmers to change their land management practices, it's going to be the farmers," says Streckenbach.

    The good news for Brown County residents is that this effort should have long-term benefits for the community.

    "They're creating the organics and their turning it back into fertile soils for future generations," explains Streckenbach.

    And the hope is that future generations of farmers will be practicing methods that demonstrate effectiveness in their usage of conservation systems. 

    "If we can get the next generation farmer, who is going to take over the family business, interested in implementing these practices then I think we will come out with a win-win solution," says Streckenbach.

    He reiterated that local government is in place to assist farmers with the resources they require, but ultimately their practices will evolve only as much as they wish. 

    "We're here just to be a supplement and a complement to help them learn how to best manage their soil," says Streckenbach.

    The continued funding for Fox River Demo Farms is part of Streckenbachs proposed 2019 Brown County budget, which will be discussed with the entire Brown County Board of Supervisors at their annual budget hearing on October 31.


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    BRILLION, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - After being shut down for nearly two years there are plans underway to redevelop the former Brillion Iron Works property.

    The facility closed in 2016, which left more than 300 people without a job.

    Earlier this month the Ariens Company bought the property.

    The company said in a press release that some of their initial plans include light manufacturing, commercial, and residential areas.

    Residents have felt the looming effect of the vacant building.

    “Once it shut down it became kind of a ghost town here," Keith Flanders told FOX 11 News. “Living in a small town like this, you know a lot of people."

    “Some people kind of tighten their belt, they didn’t do the flowers quite as much as they previously have done only because they weren’t quite sure exactly what was going to happen to them," said Colette Schroth-Thurwachter, the owner of Schroth Brillion Floral and Gifts, which is two blocks away from the facility. 

    The company has a five-year redevelopment plan, according to Brillion Mayor Gary Deiter.

    “Iron works closing affected us a lot, as far as our revenue comes in and tax base comes in. With the help of Ariens Company, we'll keep that tax base up," Deiter told Fox 11 News.

    Ariens Company is hoping to establish a third manufacturing facility in the city as it currently is renovating one of the buildings on site. 


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  • 10/16/18--16:21: Fatal Motorcycle Crash
  • APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - Appleton Police report they found a 35-year-old man laying in the roadway following a call for a motorcycle crash on Tuesday afternoon.

    The incident happened around 3:50 PM on the 900 block of East Randall Avenue in Appleton.

    The man appeared to have been thrown from his motorcycle and later died at the hospital, according to officials.

    The investigation temporarily closed traffic on East Wisconsin Avenue as photos were taken and evidence was gathered. 

    If an individual has information related to the crash they are strongly encouraged to contact the Appleton Police Department at (920) 832-5500. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The ribbon was cut on a $169 million Resource Recovery and Electrical Energy project in Green Bay on Tuesday.

    The project, which is being led by the Green Bay Metro Sewerage District, has been ten years in the making.

    "NEW WATER" reads across the two towers that make up the plant, which utilizes a technical process called anaerobic digestion.

    The end goal of the activity is to turn waste into fertilizer and electricity. 

    Previously, solids from waste were simply turned to ash and then taken to a landfill. This new process will extract some of the nutrients to use and then reuse.

    “We have a very similar end product in the form of ash that goes to a landfill but during the course of treatment now we’re recovering energy, generating electricity and recovering nutrients,” director of technical services Nathan Qualls, told Fox 11 News.

    The process is also a more eco-friendly decision. 

    “The phosphorus recovery won’t be going out into the bay,” Thomas Sigmund, NEW Water executive director, told Fox 11 News.

    NEW Water officials state the new process is expected to reduce 22,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, which equates to nearly 15,000 less vehicles on the road.

    The combination of energy cost savings and the profit of selling fertilizer will ultimately reduce rates for customers. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Two area lawmakers are working on legislation to make a one size fits all procedure when it comes to testing sexual assault kits.

    The State DOJ enacted new policies put in place ensure that all kits be sent to the crime lab within 72 hours of being collected, but Representative David Steffen says legislation that he and Representative John Macco are putting together, is the next step.

     "To ensure that a singular consistent pipeline exists for sexual assault rape kits in Wisconsin."  

    Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith says Green Bay sends in quite a few kits and wants to make sure that those who are responsible are brought to justice.  

    "Here is Green Bay, we send about 75 kits per year to the DOJ for analysis."  

    Steffen says the legislation should include one new key component.  

    "There will be a tracking mechanism that is associated so that survivors who are involved with this, who have since the time of the crime against them lost control, will once again have the ability to be back in control of the situation."

    Brown County Sheriff Chief Deputy Todd Delain says it is needed, but some of the details are still being worked on.  

    "Things that have to be worked out is where to store them and for how long and legislatures are looking at possibilities in storing them in specific locations."  

    Exact details of the legislation are still being worked on, but the plan is to present the legislation next January.


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  • 10/16/18--16:21: World Food Day Recognized
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Tuesday was World Food Day and a strong focus was made in Northeast Wisconsin

    Paul's Pantry in Green Bay brought awareness of hunger across the world, by explaining the need for feeding the hungry to area students.  

    "We rededicate ourselves to what we do, to our mission, to make sure that nobody in Green Bay goes hungry."  

    Craig Robbins, Executive Director of Paul's Pantry says even though Tuesday was a special day, their work is every day.  

    "Over 4,000 households that we are feeding right now which in those households is over 13,000 people. Each day we are able to distribute about 9 tons of food to help people save their grocery bill and maybe put that money towards rent or utilities."

    Father Benny Jacob of Our Lady of Lourdes talked about how kids can make a difference by volunteering and not wasting food.  

    Mayor Jim Schmitt read a proclamation declaring the day as World Food Day.  


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    SHAWANO, WI (WTAQ) - Shawano School District continues to investigate a small fire that started in a boys bathroom at Hillcrest Primary School, Tuesday morning.

    District Administration is also addressing a misstep in communication about that incident.

    According to Superintendent Gary Cumberland, a piece of toilet paper was started on fire in the boy's bathroom and quickly filled the room with smoke. The school was evacuated right away and students were kept outside until they got too cold and were moved to a nearby business.

    The District made a post about smoke and the evacuation on the District's Facebook page, but parents were not directly notified by email, text or phone until almost an hour after the incident took place.

    Cumberland says that was in an error in communication between himself and Hillcrest Principal Troy Edwards.

    "I thought one was doing it, he thought I was doing it. In the heat of the moment, I just thought it was done. The thought process was well Troy is taking care of that and I will take care of the District communication."

    He says all parents in the District get notified by phone and email but he wanted to make sure he had all the facts before the district, and those not directly involved with Hillcrest School were notified.

    Cumberland says he later learned that Edwards was actually involved in evacuating the building and putting out the fire after it started. 

    "Troy Edwards actually helped extinguish the fire," Cumberland said. "He came out of that bathroom full of soot and his white shirt was gray."

    It was learned that two of the toilet paper dispensers caught on fire and one melted off the wall and was just a glob of plastic when it was discovered. He said that is how the smoke got to be so much of a factor.

    Cumberland added that there was nothing wrong with how Edwards prioritized his actions because the safety of students and staff is the top priority. He said normally, it is his responsibility to send out district-wide notifications and school principals would send out notifications regarding incidents at their schools along with any updates.

    He says they are looking into clearing up that procedure for future events, but says looking back, he would have done things differently himself.

    "In retrospect, I should have focused in on what was happening there, get that message out to those parents right away and then deal with everyone else. "

    The district decided to cancel classes for the rest of the day and invited parents to pick the students up in the early afternoon. Cumberland said they were worried about sending the morning students home early because parents may not have childcare arrangements worked out at a moments notice.

    The administration decided to move the students to the other Elementary school nearby and allow for parents to pick kids up there. Cumberland said most of the parents picked up kids at Hillcrest before that, and only 40 kids were bussed to the other school.

    Along with communication, District Administration also found an issue with security equipment.

    Cumberland said they are also looking into possibly adjusting their surveillance camera placements because currently, they are mostly focused on entrances of the building.

    "The way we have cameras set up, we don't have a very good look at who is coming in and out of that bathroom."

    He says that would have been helpful in this case, but they are learning all they can from students and staff to see if they can find who started the fire.

    "We want to make sure that we find who this person is because we can't have things like this happen."

    Cumberland said somethings did go as planned. The school just had a fire drill the day before so students and staff knew exactly what to do and the fact that everyone ended up safe is a win for the District.

     


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    NEENAH, WI (WTAQ) - The conviction in a Neenah OWI case was upheld on Wednesday.

    The case stems from an August 2017 incident when 40-year-old Jesse Kain was pulled over for having an obstructed license plate.

    After the officer smelled alcohol on Kain a blood test revealed his BAC was higher than the .02 limit due to prior convictions.

    He was sentenced to 45 days in jail after a jury convicted him of driving with a prohibited alcohol level.

    Kain argued since he had an ignition interlock his car wouldn't have started if he was drinking, so the officer didn't have probable cause to arrest him.

    The appeals court rejected this argument. 

    “Kain is asking us to create a bright-line rule that when an ignition interlock device is in a suspect’s vehicle, it negates a finding of probable cause when an officer detects an odor of alcohol and has knowledge of a .02 BAC restriction. We will not do so. The obvious purpose of the ignition interlock device is to make vehicles inaccessible to drunk drivers. The ignition interlock device is a factor to consider in determining probable cause—it is not a negating factor. In this case, the knowledge of Kain’s prior OWI convictions, coupled with the odor of alcohol, Kain’s admission to drinking, and the officer’s knowledge that Kain “could drink only a very small amount before exceeding the legal limit that applied to him,” led to the officer’s reasonable conclusion that a statutory violation was probable. Further, Kain was not originally arrested for the PAC violation; he was arrested for the active warrant. Mulroy obtained the search warrant for Kain’s blood after he had been taken into custody, meaning he received a judicial seal of approval based on the search warrant approved by the on-duty judge. The circuit court properly denied Kain’s motion to suppress,” the ruling states.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The resurrection of a historic hotel in downtown Green Bay means plenty of positions need to be filed.

    Hotel Northland is looking for housekeepers, and cooks, and a security supervisor, and well, a lot of things.

    "We're looking for a total of about 135 people," says Hotel Northland General Manager John Williams. "That's what it's going to take to staff this hotel to properly and adequately serve guests in a luxury boutique environment."

    The hotel hosted their second job hiring event on Tuesday in hopes of filling some of those vacant positions.

    Williams described his attitude when it comes to bringing in employees.

    "Hire for attitude, train for skill," he says.

    Williams also noted that there's even opportunity to move around within the hotel.

    "They can come in and start in one position and maybe in six or eight months later another position is available," he says.

    Individuals interested in applying that missed out on the first two events can still do so online here.

    One question remains, though. When will the hotel open its doors? 

    Some of the areas, such as the hotel bar, are nearly complete.

    "It needs some tables, it needs some bar stools, and it needs some bottles of alcohol and it'll be ready to go," explains Williams.

    He wishes he had more definite answers about the hotels overall readiness to be opened, though. 

    Williams did say he's hoping it won't take a Christmas miracle for the hotel to be ready for the holiday season.

    "I would love to see a tree in that lobby," he says.


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    CHILTON, WI (WTAQ) - A man was sentenced on Wednesday for his role in an armed robbery of an Appleton credit union.

    Kenny Furdge will spend 20 years in prison and will be placed on extended supervision for 15 years after his release.

    He is currently serving a sentence in federal prison, meaning this sentence will be consecutive. Furdge was charged with two other individuals in connection to a September 13, 2017, armed robbery at a Capital Credit Union on East Calumet Street. 

    Appleton Police says witnesses saw two masked men rob the bank while wielding handguns and leave the scene in a nearby vehicle.

    The two other charged individuals, Patrick Jefferson and Jayvon Flemming, are scheduled to stand trial on December 4. 


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - Two Oshkosh men were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the theft of firearms.

    Both the 28-year-old men were taken into custody following a search warrant in the 500 block of Grand Street.

    The Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh went on a brief thirty-minute lockdown while the search warrant was served by officers, due to the buildings close proximity.

    Multiple charges are being recommended by authorities for the men in connection to the September 4 burglary, including burglary and unauthorized use of an individual's personal identifying information or document.


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