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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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  • 11/23/18--00:00: O Christmas Tree
  • OCONTO, WI (WTAQ) - For many, it's already time to shift into Christmas-mode and that means going out to hand-select the perfect family Christmas tree.

    Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto will be one local option.

    They open for business today and owner Dave Vandervelden says over the decades he's noticed a holiday trend.

    "Now Thanksgiving weekend has become very, very popular," he says. "So I think people like decorating earlier now than they did in the past, so they come in earlier and put their trees up earlier."

    He says they'll sell plenty of trees in the next few weeks in addition to plenty of garland and Christmas decor.

    And if the traditional dark green spruce isn't your cup of tea. there's no reason to worry. They'll gladly accommodate at Whispering Pines.

    "The last couple of years we've been painting a few hundred trees," says Vandervelden. "We have I think purple and blue ones this year."

    While they might see a rush of families this weekend, that doesn't mean it's just trees flying off the lot.

    "We sell a lot of trees, but we sell a lot more garland and wreaths and bows because people do a lot of decorating this weekend," he says.

    And if you do happen to find that perfect tree, they feature everything else you'll need to go along with it.

    "We've got thousands and thousands of ornaments," explains Vandervelden. "You can have your tree shook and bailed when you're out there and we even have tree stands."

    He says to bring the entire family with for a day of holiday fun.

    There's an express train that runs on site, a holiday shop, and plenty of food and treats available for purchase.

    More information on the farm can be found here.


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  • 11/23/18--01:52: Shoppers: Start Your Engines
  • ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - Shoppers are already on the move, taking advantage of deals retailers starting offering at stores across NE Wisconsin on Thanksgiving Day.

    "It's always a fun time of the year....this is the day we wait for."

    Mark Weigle is the manager of the Bay Park Square Shopko. He's been through 33 holiday shopping seasons.

    His store is ready to go, full of merchandise and a large staff.

    This guy was first in line when the doors opened.

    "We want to take advantage of some 'Door Buster' sales we saw."

    But for others, like Taryn, she has a game plan and, if she needs them, some sharp elbows.

    "You gotta know the layout of the store because you have to know where things are....and you gotta be aggressive."

    Colleen has the planning down to a science.

    "You plan ahead, you write lists, you put the prices down so you know what you're looking for. You put the name of the stores on top of your lists. That's the way I do it."

    Many of the shoppers say this is just the start of their blitz...with the goal of holiday shopping done by Sunday night.


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - It's the start of another holiday shopping season.

    One executive at a major, Ashwaubenon-based, retailer talks about how the shopping landscape has changed and how it's stayed the same.

    For better than two decades Jim DePaul, C-O-O for Shopko, has gone through what used to be known as Black Friday.

    "the trend going into Black Friday has been a good one, so we're definitely optimistic."

    Online shopping is much bigger than it was even 10 years ago. Retailers like Shopko have had to change with the times.

    "we're trying to give the customers all the options they want...both from a digital online experience as well as inside the store."

    DePaul expects electronics and appliances. They're also counting on picking up sales from other retailers who've closed down in 2018.

    "especially with Toy R Us out of the market this year, we're expecting a stronger overall sales volume out of the toy department."

    November & December sales count for up to 40-percent of Shopko's yearly business.

    Consumers have already spent at least 1.75 billion dollars shopping online since Wednesday and that number is only going to climb as deal hunters hit the stores. 

    And if Black Friday's not your thing, there's always Small Business Saturday. 

    After that, it's on to Cyber Monday. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - While many had the day off, celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, some people were on the job Thursday.

    'Operation: Turkey Bags' is an effort to give some working in the Green Bay area a free lunch, and a message as well.

    The operation began early Thanksgiving morning. Bags and boxes were delivered to the West Side Moravian Church in Green Bay.

    "There are people, because of duty, or obligation or necessity are working on Thanksgiving. So like while we're watching parades and football games, they're stuck at work."

    Scott Eastman tells FOX 11 about 100 volunteers from the faith-based group called citySERVE spent days preparing a complete meal, including 400 roast turkey sandwiches.

    Even on an assembly line, Janice Clemens says there's an art to making the meal.

    "They said to load them up, and no heels. So just make a nice, fresh turkey. These were freshly-roasted turkeys, and bake them up. And hopefully, bring a smile to somebody that's working today."

    It only took about an hour for volunteers to assemble the bags. 20 drivers took to the road to deliver the goods.

    Lorri Lunde's first stop was Green Bay Metro Fire Station number three.

    "Hi there, Happy Thanksgiving," said Lorri Lunde, Green Bay.

    "That's a very nice gesture," said Lt. Karl Linsmeier, Green Bay Metro Fire Department.

    Eastman says each volunteer started with 20 turkey bags.

    "Just drive around the city and if they see someplace open, and they'll just run in there, and here's some lunch. Happy Thanksgiving."

    The next stop was the Family Dollar Store, on West Walnut Street.

    "We brought a little bit of Thanksgiving to you. And hopefully, that will make your day go better."

    Delivering a piece of Thanksgiving, one bag at a time.

    "It makes other people happy. And makes me happy as well and I like to give back," said Lunde.

    citySERVE formed in 2018, with the purpose of unifying faith communities of the city around the purpose of serving and loving the people of the Green Bay area.


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A fowl Thanksgiving Day for Smoke the Turkey. He was hit by a SUV Thursday morning.

    The unofficial Mayor of Ashwaubenon was waddling on Hazelwood Lane when it happened.

    Smoke appears to be okay.

    He was lead off the road and into the woods after the SUV drove off.


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  • 11/23/18--08:21: Fatal Crash on Thanksgiving
  • TOWN OF MORRISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Brown County Sheriff's Department says a fatal crash killed a 59-year-old Reedsville woman.   

    The crash happened just before 5  Wednesday afternoon on CTH W between Man-Cal Road and Stone Road. 

    The driver was ejected after their vehicle left the road and rolled over.

    The Reedsville woman, who was the only individual in the vehicle, died in the crash.

     

    Deputies say alcohol is a factor in the crash and the victim wasn't wearing a seatbelt.


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  • 11/23/18--08:42: Gas Station Robbery
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay Police say the Grand Central gas station on Velp Avenue was robbed.

    The incident happened late Wednesday night.

    Police say the suspect showed a gun to the cashier and demanded money.

    The suspect got away with some cash.

    Police say no one was injured, but the armed robbery could be linked with other recent robberies in the area.


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    OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - A teenage girl was found safe on Thursday night in the town of Dale after being kidnapped by a reckless driver.

    The 13-year-old girl was found safe in a pickup truck after a man stole it in an attempt to flee from police in a drug-induced chain of events.

    The man had methamphetamine on him and is facing multiple charges, including kidnapping and multiple counts of vehicle theft.

    Deputies were called at approximately 10:55 PM to a report of reckless driving in the Town of Greenville to the area of the intersection of State Highways 76 and 96.

    Upon arriving, officers found a black Cadillac Escalade that had crashed into the back of an Appleton International Airport Public Safety truck. The driver then stole the vehicle, a black Ford F-150 pickup truck, of a bystander who was attempting to provide assistance.

    Several responding agencies found a stolen truck and a missing girl upon arriving. Inside the stolen truck was both a 13-year-old girl and a rifle.

    Grand Chute police were called to a gas station minutes later at the intersection of State Highways 76 and 96, where they found the girl safe and unharmed. 

    The officers were pointed in the direction of the Town of Dale for the stolen truck because the girl had activated her "Find My iPhone" app.

    During that time a call came in for a hit-and-run accident in the Medina area, which matched the description of the suspect's vehicle, but the vehicle wasn't found.

    The suspect's vehicle was eventually found in a field at approximately 11:38 PM in the area of State Highway 96 and Industrial Drive in the Town of Dale. The man was stopped by officers after attempting to drive away and was taken into custody without further incident.

    The first reckless driving report came from when the man started driving a red four-door sedan. That red car was driven into a house and then rammed through five other doors of the property, which injured the house's occupants. The red car was then driven by the suspect through the garage door of another home, where the black Escalade that rammed the Airport truck was found.

    The man is facing multiple charges, including kidnapping, reckless endangerment, multiple counts of vehicle theft, multiple counts of damage to property, hit-and-run causing injury, burglary, and disorderly conduct. Drug use was a factor in the incident and the man had methamphetamine on him.

    Toxicology results are first needed before officials can determine if the man was on any other drugs.

    There is no information available regarding what will happen to the vehicles damaged in the man's hit-and-run spree.


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  • 11/23/18--12:24: Shots Fired In Oshkosh
  • OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - Oshkosh Police are investigating a report of gunshots in the city.

    Officers were called out to the 1400 block of North Main Street early Monday morning.

    Officers say they were able to make contact with a man that was involved in a disturbance but was not injured.

    Other people that were involved left the scene before officers arrived.

    The incident is believed to be isolated and there is not a threat to the public.


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  • 11/23/18--14:07: Bar Lost In Morning Fire
  • TOWN OF FRANKLIN, WI (WTAQ) - Denmark Fire responded to an early morning fire at Sheila's Bar in the Town of Franklin.

    Officials arrived on scene just before 4 a.m. to find the building totally engulfed.

    Multiple fire departments arrived on scene.

    The owner lived above the bar was able to make it out okay, but a dog died in the fire.

    The bar is a total loss.

    The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Firefighters were called to a structure fire at the High Image Salon.

    Officials say the fire happened around 1:13 Saturday morning.

    It happened on the corner of High Avenue and Division Street.

    There are apartments above that were occupied by residents.

    Two people went to the hospital for injuries.

    The status of their injuries is unknown.

    More information is expected.


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    UNION, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - The Southern Door and Brussels Fire Department were called to a house fire.

    The fire started just before 4 o'clock Saturday morning in CTY DK.

    Smoke was seen coming from the structure.

    Officials say those living in the home were evacuated and got out safe.


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    SUAMICO, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Brown County Sheriff's Deputies say two 22-year-old men were walking on the train tracks when one was struck.

    It happened just before 3 a.m. behind the Suamico Fire Station.

    One 22-year-old man was from Seymour was not hit.

    The 22-year-old man from Green Bay who was hit was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

    Deputies say alcohol was a factor in the incident.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Small business Saturday brought people out to local shops all over Northeast Wisconsin. It's an important day for businesses locally owned. People shopped for their holiday gifts from that little shop down the street.

    "Just makes it extra special," said Megan Treml, owner of Besselli a store in Green Bay. 

    Supporting the 'mom and pops' while also cashing in on deals.

    "Small business Saturday is so important because it really supports all the local businesses, and a lot of the businesses on this street are family owned," said Treml. "Some are new, some are old, but it’s getting people in the doors that really make our businesses successful." 

    Treml said shopping local is gaining traction.

    "I feel like each year it's really taking off. People are getting the idea behind it," she said. 

    According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a small business is one with less than 500 employees.

    99.4% of Wisconsin Businesses are considered small, and they employ 1.2 million people in the state.

    While the number of small businesses is growing, the survival rate is low; 4 out of 5 of them last more than a year, only about half survive five years and 1/3 of them survive 10 years or more.

    Some businesses cash in on Small Business Saturday by catering to those with specialized hobbies. 

    The Manitowoc Historical society did just that. 

    "We are also opening up our museum door to get local history gifts,"said the The Manitowoc Historical Society Museum's executive director, Amy Meyer. "Really embrace the holiday season and kick it off thinking about local history." 

    Barrel 41 in Neenah celebrated their grand opening. 

    "What better day to open than small business Saturday," said co-owner Matt Stubbing.


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    SISTER BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A Swedish Sister Bay restaurant known for great food and goats on the roof was named best small business in America. 

    The designation comes from online voters via Rubicon Global. Its website says the company considers itself a leader in providing waste, recycling and smart city. 

    Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant will receive $10,000 from Rubicon Global.

    The company asked small businesses to explain how they stand out over other companies and how the business is being environmentally friendly.

    "Al Johnson’s is a prime example of a small business taking advantage of its history and integrating a sustainable solution that yields financial and environmental benefits, along with demonstrating sustainability in action for its patrons," said David Rachelson, Vice President of Sustainability for Rubicon Global in a press release.


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  • 11/26/18--00:00: Bridge Barriers To Return
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Highway Maintenance is taking place once again in Northeast Wisconsin.

    Traffic is expected to be impacted as lane closures on the 172 bridge over the Fox River will be in effect both Monday and Tuesday.      

    "We are going to have our maintenance crews repairing some joints and washing some drains from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. so it is only daily and there will be a lane closure on the bridge."  

    Mark Kantola, Wisconsin DOT Regional Communications Manager says this goes beyond a typical lane closure that occurs on the bridge.  

    "These lane closures are not part of the larger bridge painting project."  

    He says the bridge painting is in winter shutdown.  

    Work will also be done Monday on I-43 between County MM and the Sheboygan/Manitowoc County line and Wednesday at the 41/141 interchange ramp in Oconto County.  


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  • 11/26/18--00:00: Wanted: Deer Donations
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - If your freezers already full from this years gun-deer season, make sure the leftovers go to those in need, instead of in the trash.

    Hunt for the Hungry is a program from Paul's Pantry in Green Bay that has been feeding thousands of low-income families while also reducing waste of venison and other wild game for years.

    Craig Robbins, Executive Director of Paul's Pantry says simply drop off the deer and they'll do the rest.

    "Once they're dropped off we take them to a processor and it's ground into one-pound frozen hamburger," he says.

    Robbins says there are a couple of rules to follow prior to donating.

    "If you got the whole deer it needs to be field dressed," he says. "If the temperature is warmer we would like maybe a ten-pound bag [of ice] in the hindquarters and chest cavity."

    Donations aren't simply limited to deer though, as a variety of wild game is welcomed.

    Some of the other wild game that they've had donated in the past include elk, turkey, and pheasant.

    It also doesn't need to be meat from your most recent hunt that's donated, rather they'll help you clear out your old stock.

    "If you have meat left from previous hunts we'll be happy to take that also," says Robbins. "If you need to make room in your freezer for this year."

    Robbins says it won't cost the hunter a penny to donate towards this good cause.

    "There's no charge, it's just real simple," he explains. "If you're donating a deer that you took this year you just bring it to us, give us the confirmation number that you received from the DNR, and that's all there is to it."

    Hunters from outside the area can access a full list of deer donation drop-off sites within the state here.

    Non-hunters can also provide pivotal help in feeding the less fortunate this holiday season.

    Paul's Pantry is always in search of non-perishable food items, especially some Thanksgiving favorites that perhaps weren't used for this years gathering.

    "Canned vegetables, stuffing mix, potatoes, all of those holiday-type items," explains Robbins.

    More information on food or monetary donations can be found here.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Train lovers of all ages climbed all aboard the 9th annual "First Freeze Train Show and Swap Meet" Sunday.

    The family-friendly event featured more than 100 tables packed with trains of all sizes and operating layouts.

    Kids could take part in train races, and special door prizes were drawn every hour.

    Event organizer Basil Buchko tells FOX 11 there's something for everyone to enjoy.

    "Whatever your imagination can reach, you can do with model trains. You can take the toys, we like to call it weathering, so you can add realism, there's tons of scenery. If you're into any sort of modeling, this presents an absolutely excellent opportunity for modeling."

    Kids also got the chance to tell Santa what was on their wish list, as he made a special stop to the train show.


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    FOX CROSSING, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - The FDA and Center for Disease Control warned people last week not to eat romaine lettuce due to a dangerous strain of E. Coli.

    While many businesses were clearing their shelves of romaine lettuce, it was the customers clearing the shelves here at the Free Market in Appleton.

    “People snatched it all up. They've been saying this is the only place they can find it,” said Kyra Evers, a Free Market associate.

    Sunday just one bag of mixed greens remained, but they don’t have far to go for more.

    The produce travels just two miles from the Fox Valley Hydro Farm to here. It's not your conventional farm, instead a vertical hydroponic system indoors.

    Steve Main, the owner of Fox Valley Hydro Farm, tells FOX 11...

    “If we had an acre of these systems we could grow roughly 100 acres of conventional farming.”

    He grows and distributes, leafy greens to local businesses and at Farmers Markets- mainly lettuce.

    Fork Farms is the Appleton tech company that designs and builds the system.

    ”We are able to control the environment here so not only can we control the growth rates and the success of the plant but we can also control the food safety really carefully,” said Alex Tyink president of Fork Farms.

    He tells FOX 11 safety is what’s on the mind of shoppers when buying lettuce these days.

    “The E. coli outbreak is really scary.”

    Tyink says growing indoors, and locally, lowers the chances of bacterial growth.

    “Those crops are coming from very large-scale farms usually in Arizona and California and it’s where we get a majority of our produce right now in the United States. Farms like that they grow outdoors primarily.”

    Tyink lists things like human contact, travel time, well water and environmental conditions to all have negative effects on crops.

    “That product being at such a large scale has to go through a lot of different steps in the supply chain in order to get here- and every one of those steps is an opportunity for pathogens to get into the food.”

    Steps that he says are eliminated with this hydroponic process.

    “Some of those unknowns, we can really tightly control here.”

    From 'indoor farm' to table.


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    FOX CROSSING, WI (WTAQ) We've made it past the Thanksgiving holiday and there's still no vote scheduled in Madison on a tax incentive deal to keep a Kimberly-Clark plant open in Fox Crossing.

    Behind the scenes, talks are continuing.

    State Senator Roger Roth says they need 17 votes on the $100 million plan and they're not there yet.

    "Takes time when you're working with other Senators to get them to that comfortable sot."

    That means continuing to educate senators on the statewide benefit of the incentive package.

    "Making sure they have the information, offering them tours, offering them meetings with peop[le who might be able to answers their questions and get them to that spot."

    Kimberly-Clark says if the tax-break bill is passed the company would spend $1-point-5 billion across the region to upgrade its facilities.

    As for Kimberly-Clark, Roth says the company isn't putting up a specific date for an answer....at least not yet.

    "There message to me and to others has always been that they would like to see this move as quickly as possible."

    Roth has always been optimistic the tax incentive deal could pass the Senate after the election because there would be no political advantage to any party or candidate.

    No vote has been scheduled. The Fox Crossing mill employs about 400.


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