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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Green Bay Packers are helping to put the great comeback of the Beach at Bay Beach over the goal line.

    Packers CEO and President Mark Murphy announced Tuesday that Packers Giveback will match a community fundraising effort of $250,000 to complete the fundraising portion.

     

    "When you see the plans to bring the beach back to what it was, it will have a huge impact on the community.

    Murphy says the Impact Grants started five years ago and their goal is, just as the name says, make an impact.

    It is being called Green Bay's biggest comeback- 90 years in making.

    The Packers are offering a $250,000 matching grant to complete the project.

    Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says they need the community to donate $250,000 to reach their fundraising goal.

    "I think that the community always wanted to restore the beach since the 30's."

    Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt is confident that they will raise the funds.

    "The community has an appetite to restore this and they are willing to put their money into it so we are delighted with this matching grant and we will achieve it."

    The $7 million project includes installing a 1,000-foot sand swimming beach, a 450-foot long pier, a new shoreline walkway, a concession stand, and bathhouse, along with additional parking.

    "It's a beach that is going to be used by all walks of life and is going to be around for generations," Schmitt says.

    While swimming will be a big part of the beach, Schmitt says he knows people will go there to read a book or play volleyball.

    Construction is set to start in 2019.

    Schmitt says this project and fundraising is going to move fast and swimming could start within 18 months.

    The donation opportunities are starting to be offered.

    Donation levels range from $25 dollars to $50,000 dollars, and each level comes with a gift for the donor.

    $25- Bay Beach Sand Bucket

    $100- Sunglasses, Beach Ball and Sand Bucket

    $500- All Previous Gifts and a Beach Towel

    $1,000- Entire Beach Kit along with a chair and tote

    $5,000- Donor Recognition and 4 Invites to a Private Bay Beach Party

    $10,000- Donor Recognition and 8 Invites to a Private Bay Beach Party

    $50,000- Donor Recognition and 16 Invites to a Private Bay Beach Party

    The top two donation levels also include a name on a plaque that will be displayed at Bay Beach.

     


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  • 12/18/18--07:45: Monfils 6 Defendant Is Out
  • LAKE TOMAHAWK, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Michael Hirn, one of the men convicted for the 1992 murder of paperworker Tom Monfils, has been released from prison.

    Dept. of Corrections records show he was released from the McNaughton Correctional Center today.

    Hirn, along with Keith Kutska, Rey Moore, Michael Johnson, Dale Basten, and Mike Piaskowski were convicted in 1995 of killing Monfils and dumping his body in a pulp vat at the then-James River paper mill.

    All have denied any involvement in his death.

    Piaskowski’s conviction was overturned by a federal judge. Basten was paroled due to deteriorating mental health and later died.

    Kutska, Johnson and Moore remain behind bars.


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    BROWN COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Emergency crews made two rescues of anglers stranded on the ice Tuesday morning. Officials say conditions led to the ice breaking away from shore, sending the fishermen drifting. 

    The ice that broke away was estimated to be about 10 miles long.

    One person was rescued at Red River County Park, north of Dyckesville and the other was a group of 13 people that were rescued near Volk's Landing, South of Dyckesville.

    Brown County Sheriff's Office brought the fishermen safely to shore. 

    All parties refused medical treatment. 

    Bayside Ice & Marine Recovery was sent out to retrieve the angler's gear that also drifted away. 

    Tom Drzewiecki, Captain, and Owner of Bayside Ice & Marine Recovery says they had to act quickly.

    "The gear was about a mile and a half to a mile and three quarters away from where we started", he explained. "If that would have sat overnight, it could have ended up in Escanaba."

    Originally the ice was reported to be shifting out from shore and had a 50-foot crack opening that quickly became a half mile wide. 

    Drzewiecki says a situation like that is rare, but conditions Tuesday made it happen.

    "That little ice on a big body of water, and the wind starts to blow in the wrong direction resulted in the ice cracking off right on shore."

    He says if the wind picks up at all while you are on thin ice, it is time to get off of it quickly.

    Drzewiecki says the fact that temperatures have not been very cold has not given us much time to form.

    The Brown County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone to check the ice conditions prior to venturing out on the ice. Due to the warm weather ice conditions can deteriorate rapidly.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay firefighters replaced their firemen helmets with Santa hats on Tuesday as they spread holiday cheer at St. Vincent Children's Hospital.

    Gifts were purchased through the generosity of the community, collected with help from Central Church in Green Bay, and then wrapped early Tuesday morning by the firefighters themselves.

    The sight of firefighters in uniform was almost a bigger hit than the gifts themselves to children at the hospital. Kids young and old showed that they still get excited to see the fire department in person.

    "I mean who doesn't?" asks Andrew Collins, Green Bay Fire Chaplain. "I walk into firehouses and I get excited just seeing the fire trucks and the squads."

    Collins is amazed by the generosity of the community. He says most families are just getting by and have to focus on their family, but overwhelmingly people are displaying a giving mindset during the holiday season.

    "Yeah, I may be tight this month, but if I spend an extra twenty bucks I can bring joy to someone," explains Chaplain Collins. "That does come back to you, you don't give just to get."

    There's never a great time to have a sick child that has to be hospitalized, but it can be especially trying for a family during the holiday season.

    The Henrickson family wasn't planning on spending their holidays in the hospital, but had no choice after their 1-year-old child Corbin came down with a fever and suffered a seizure.

    When a member of the family, especially a young child, becomes sick then all other aspects of life get tossed to the side.

    "There's all the stuff that you're missing," says Henrickson. "You're just sitting here thinking about like 'Oh, we're going to miss this, we're going to miss Christmas, we're canceling plans the whole time.'"

    The ongoing process of spending so much time inside the hospital can be mentally draining.

    "It gets very old and monotonous around here," explains Kurt Henrickson, father of 1-year-old Corbin. "It's nice to have a little change of pace and see a friendly, smiling face."

    And the Green Bay firefighters are more than happy every holiday season to provide that much needed and much appreciated change of pace to families.

    "To bring that Christmas experience to them here, I think it's absolutely incredible," says Chaplain Collins.


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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - An Oshkosh man was charged with first-degree reckless homicide for the death of the 10-month-old boy on Tuesday.

    34-year-old Freddy Colon had a $250,000 cash bond set in his initial court appearance.

    Colon rented a room to a woman and her son and found the child "face down in vomit and called the mother."

    A CT exam discovered evidence of child abuse, with bleeding behind the right eye and bruises on the brain.

    According to the complaint, Colon's story changed several times in subsequent interviews with police.

    The complaint states that Colon's 4-year-old son told police that “his daddy spanked the baby because he’s always crying; the baby stopped crying after his daddy went into their room and hit the baby."

    The complaint goes on to say “The autopsy showed that (the child) suffered such a severe injury to the head that his brain swelled to the point that it fractured his skull between the plates (the) injuries (he) sustained would have immediately impaired his ability to function."

    January 10, 2019, is when Colon will be back in court for a scheduling conference.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Green Bay Packers leading rusher is having his season end a couple games early.

    The team announced on Tuesday that running back Aaron Jones is being placed on the injured reserve list following a knee injury he sustained in Sunday's loss to the Bears.

    Jones finishes his season with 728 yards and eight touchdowns.

    In other moves on Tuesday, the Packers signed WR Allen Lazard to the active roster from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad.

    DL Eric Cotton and CB D.J. Killings were signed to the practice squad.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A long-time agricultural reporter and voice heard on WTAQ is being honored for a lifetime of excellence.

    Green Bay resident and WTAQ Ag Reporter Mike Austin is hanging up the mic as he'll be wrapping up all his reporting activities in early 2019.

    Adding to a lifetime of achievement was his induction into the Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

    "There is no one more deserving of this award, and I am honored to have been there to nominate and recognize him for his continued support of the 4-H program, and specifically the Brown County 4-H program," says Melinda Pollen, Brown County 4-H Youth Development Educator. "He is a steady and consistent, positive media force for our youth and program, and we are delighted to share in this award for him."

    Austin says he's honored by the recognition, but he can't take the credit.

    "It's the stories and the people behind those stories that really deserve the honor," says Austin. "I get recognized because I'm kind of the face and voice in front of it."

    For him, he takes pride in hopefully being able to make a positive impact on people he encounters.

    "It's good to know that you made a little bit of an impact on people and that the stories you were sharing made a difference," he explains.

    Ironically for someone now in the hall of fame, Austin was not a 4-H member growing up.

    Nonetheless, he has long supported the values that the organization represents.

    "Responsibility, communication, service. community, the willingness to think outside of the box," says Austin.

    He says the importance placed on those values has produced many outstanding men and women in a variety of fields.

    "You knew that this was an organization that not only benefited agriculture, but our general communities and economies, because of the type of young people that develop through the program," he explains.

    Throughout his career, Austin spent time volunteering to lead workshops that prepare 4-H youth to work and talk with media. He also would focus interviews during county fair season on life skills, not the ribbon, to highlight youth and adult partnerships and educate the public. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Court records show that Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt is facing a civil suit filed against him by former Alderman Guy Zima.

    Online documents show that Zima filed the suit on Monday and that it's also against the city of Green Bay, Green Bay city attorney, Vanessa Chavez, and the Cities & Villages Mutual Insurance Company.

    The suit is for an intentional tort, according to court records.

    By filing for an intentional tort, Zima is claiming that he was wronged in some way by everyone he's filing against.

    The filing fee has also been paid, according to court records.


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  • 12/18/18--17:43: Old Barn, New Plans
  • DOOR COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - A non-profit group has their eyes set on preserving a Door County landmark after securing over $1 million for the project.

    Horseshoe Bay Farms, a farm complex located just south of Egg Harbor, has a preservation plan set in place by Horseshoe Bay Farms, Inc.

    Andy Gill is on the Board of Directors and he says there's just too much history to pinpoint exactly what makes it so special.

    "Everybody kind of picks something different when they walk into this barn that they really get attached to," he explains.

    The farm buildings may be old, but they were built to last.

    "You can see the craftsmanship that went into this barn was pretty amazing," says Gill.

    And with the history and craftsmanship comes plenty of hidden wonders.

    You could spend hours in here, just looking at different bits of woodworking, and structures," he says

    The large grey and white barn, which holds a lot of history, is the farms most iconic structure and the group wants people to be able to experience it.

    Beyond the main barn, there are ten other buildings on the eight-and-a-half-acre site.

    With such a large property the group needs to first identify needs and then prioritize their objectives going forward.

    For now, they remain in the beginning stages after securing the money for the project just last month.

    "I think first and foremost, it's just making sure that it's safe for people to be in," he says.

    The farm has operated as a dairy, a cattle facility, and most recently, a cherry and apple orchard all in the last century.

    Gill says buying the property was the first and most crucial step, while restoring the property could take years.

    Some possible future plans for the site could include hosting tours, school groups and other public events.


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  • 12/19/18--03:20: Heater Causes Manitowoc Fire
  • MANITOWOC, WI (WTAQ) - Officials say a portable heater likely caused a fire in Manitowoc.

    Crews were called to the 1100 block of 25th Street for smoke coming from a home.

    Everyone was able to make it out of the house safely, but one cat did die in the fire.

    Crews were able to put the fire out within 20 minutes and said as we hit the winter months, there are some important things to remember, passing along this reminder.

    Please remember to test your smoke detector and ensure the detector is working properly. Also remember smoke detectors have a ten year recommended use and should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer recommendation. A working smoke detector is a wonderful gift for that someone hard to buy for. It’s not only a practical gift, but a lifesaving gift as well.


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    NEENAH, WI (WTAQ) - Voters will decide if the Neenah School District will have nearly $130 million for a new middle school and other improvements next spring.

    The school board approved going to referendum in April.

    The referendum dollars will be split up into multiple projects.

    • $31.2 million for infrastructure upgrades in each district building
    • $5.4 million for upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
    • $4 million for safety and security enhancements such as entrances and additional video cameras
    • $5 million to renovate the technical education area at the high school

    More than $83 million would be used to replace Shattuck Middle School.

    Paula Lehrer from Neenah is concerned about tax increases and doesn't find a new building necessary.

    "I don't think they need to replace it [Shattuck Middle School], because they have upgraded it in the past and it can be done again," she says.

    The referendum would increase taxes on a home worth $100,000 by $167 per year., according to the district.

    Tierney Potter from Neenah has a different view on the referendum.

    "They need the right facilities to have a better education for a better future for our country," she says.

    Potter doesn't have children that attend the public school, nonetheless, her support remains.

    "I see that education is an important aspect in our community," she explains.

    Neenah Joint School District Superintendent Mary Pfeiffer agrees in the importance of education to the community. She believes families in the area are ready to pitch in.

    "Our community is ripe," she says. "What I mean by that, they are ready to help us."

    She says of nearly 4,000 people who responded to a community survey, 61% support replacing the school. 

    "Overwhelmingly our community feels that it's time to begin a new middle school," she says.

    Open houses are scheduled to begin in February.

    • Feb. 20, Shattuck Middle School, 6 p.m.
    • March 6, Neenah High School, 6 p.m.
    • March 20, Shattuck Middle School, 6 p.m.

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  • 12/19/18--09:12: Child Death Investigated
  • FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - Fond Du Lac County Sheriff Officials were called to a home on Mill Road Tuesday afternoon for a baby without a pulse.

    Officials say the baby was pronounced deceased.

    No other information has been released.


    0 0

    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - With Christmas fast approaching one charitable Green Bay organization is making sure families in need will have gifts under the tree this year.

    The Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay is once again in the midst of their Christmas Distribution effort, which helps hundreds of pre-selected families in need.

    The program is made possible through the generous support of area businesses and community members.

    Jean Vandenlangenberg helps lead the program.

    "There are so many moving parts today that no one realizes how many Santa's elves there are putting this together," she says.

     And she's not exaggerating when she says that it's a full workshop of helpers.

    "I have about over 700 people in two days that are putting this together," she says. "From toy sorters to packers to you name it."

    Vandenlangenberg started helping with the effort about 5 years ago, but initially had doubts regarding what sort of impact this event would have.

    She says those quickly went away.

    "After my first year here it just opened it up to 'Absolutely this is necessary,'" explains Vandenlangenberg. "The looks on the parent's faces, the tears, the joy."

    For many Christmas is the most joyous day of the year, while for Vandenlangenberg it's the work done the week prior to ensure a happy Christmas for all that brings her the most joy.

    "My favorite day by far of the year is today and tomorrow to just see what joy this brings and what it does for the community," she explains.

    The organization could still use some more help in their effort.

    They say "teen toys," such as video games, are something they could use more of.

    More information on giving to the Salvation Army during the holiday season can be found here.


    0 0

    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - An Oshkosh man has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide for a 10-month-old's death.

    Freddy Colon, 34, appeared in Winnebago County Court Tuesday afternoon.

    According to the criminal complaint, the child's mother was renting a room from Colon.

    In the complaint, Colon told authorities he found the boy face-down in vomit. It states he called the infant's mother.

    The document says an exam found evidence of abuse, such as bruises on the brain and bleeding behind an eye.

    The complaint also states Colon's four-year-old son told police his dad spanked the baby because the child was always crying.

    That case marks the third child death in Oshkosh in just three weeks.

    In one of those two other cases, Cory Lyons, was also charged with murder in his two-month-old son's death.

    “If there are any two factors that seem to be at the heart of any crime against children, whether it be physical, sexual or otherwise, it’s really selfishness, in my opinion, and a lack of empathy for the child,” Winnebago County deputy district attorney Scott Ceman said.

    The cases against Colon and Lyons have a big similarity: brain scans from the children showed evidence of child abuse.

    The injuries are consistent with Abusive Head Trauma, or Shaken Baby Syndrome.

    “People shake babies, mostly it’s out of frustration, because they cannot console, and they don’t have the coping skills,” Outagamie County Health and Human Services division manager Melissa Blom said. “Typically, it’s an impulsive act.”

    In 2016, there were more than 160 child abusive head trauma allegations made in the state.

    Child Protective Services substantiated about a third of those and, more often than not, the alleged abuser was the child's parent.

    Still, Blom said, it’s not easy to profile a maltreater.

    “It only takes an instance to injure a child or to lose control or get frustrated, but a lot of times it is someone in the household,” she said.

    According to Blom, shaken baby abuse usually happens when people get overwhelmed with a child and don't know how to control it.

    She said men also tend to get fewer resources for childcare than women.

    “One child protective services system can’t do it all, we really need to come together as a community and offer support and connection, so parents have a place to go and have someone to talk to when they are feeling stressed.”

    Both Colon and Lyons are scheduled to be back in court in January.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Green Bay Police continue to investigate a suspicious death after a male's body was found over the weekend at a residence on the 200 block of South Webster Avenue.

    The man is said to be a 59-year-old from Green Bay.

    Police Captain Jeremy Muraski says the cause of death is not known as they continue to await test results.

    "Some cases there are obvious medical reasons why someone has passed away, and others, the reasons are not that obvious."

    He says that is the case in this investigation and adds that suspicious deaths have to be treated as a homicide until it is ruled out.

    "When you don't treat a case that is suspicious like a homicide and later determine that there is something suspicious about that death, you can't go back in time and get that evidence or get those materials." 

    Police continue to do their own investigation by collecting evidence and talking to witnesses while they wait.

     


    0 0

    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A new bar and restaurant in downtown Green Bay is opening their doors starting Thursday.

    Poke the Bear is not your average sports bar.

    Located in downtown Green Bay in the heart of Packer land it's taking the emphasis away from the coaches and players and placing it on you. The beer drinking, cheese-loving fan.

    "Our concept, our take, is to celebrate the fan," explains Hotel Northland General Manager John Williams. "Particularly the one-hundred-year fans of the Green Bay Packers."

    Poke the Bear is located at Hotel Northland and is the first of the hotel's two restaurants to open.

    "There's another one coming, that'll open the day the hotel opens," he explains. "It's called the Walnut Room and it's a fine dining restaurant with a bar."

    Poke the Bear will initially be open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, serving lunch, dinner, and drinks from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    The bar will feature handcrafted cocktails, including classic Wisconsin Old Fashions. They also will have plenty to offer beer lovers.

    "We have some great draft beers," says Williams. "In fact, our own Northland Amber was made right here in Green Bay and it's my favorite beer down there."

    For food, there is plenty of variety to appease any taste.

    "Poke the Bear will serve fresh, amazingly good gastropub dishes," explains Chef J.R. Lundy, executive chef for the Hotel Northland.

    There's a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches that will be offered featuring local, sustainable ingredients.

    And try your best to save some room for more.

    "All our desserts are made in-house and are out-of-this-world," says Chef Lundy.

    A tentative opening date for the hotel itself has not been established, but for management, the opening of this first restaurant is an important step.

     "This is a long time coming, there were a lot of stops and starts," says Williams. "This is something the citizens of Green Bay wanted to see come back to life, and you know, it has happened." 

    The bar and restaurant plans on extending their hours and days with time. Anyone entering should come through the hotel's entrance at 304 N. Adams Street.

    More information on Poke the Bear can be found here.


    0 0

    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The beginning of construction on downtown Green Bay condominiums symbolically took place on Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony.

    The north end of Broadway in the Rail Yard district is the site where the eight-unit condos are being built.

    The condos will include a roof terrace with skyline views of Green Bay. 

    Condos in the price range of $219,895 to $409,185 remain available.

     


    0 0

    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A new bar and restaurant in downtown Green Bay is opening their doors starting Thursday.

    Poke the Bear is not your average sports bar.

    Located in downtown Green Bay in the heart of Packer land it's taking the emphasis away from the coaches and players and placing it on you. The beer drinking, cheese-loving fan.

    "Our concept, our take, is to celebrate the fan," explains Hotel Northland General Manager John Williams. "Particularly the one-hundred-year fans of the Green Bay Packers."

    Poke the Bear is located at Hotel Northland and is the first of the hotel's two restaurants to open.

    "There's another one coming, that'll open the day the hotel opens," he explains. "It's called the Walnut Room and it's a fine dining restaurant with a bar."

    Poke the Bear will initially be open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, serving lunch, dinner, and drinks from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    The bar will feature handcrafted cocktails, including classic Wisconsin Old Fashions. They also will have plenty to offer beer lovers.

    "We have some great draft beers," says Williams. "In fact, our own Northland Amber was made right here in Green Bay and it's my favorite beer down there."

    For food, there is plenty of variety to appease any taste.

    "Poke the Bear will serve fresh, amazingly good gastropub dishes," explains Chef J.R. Lundy, executive chef for the Hotel Northland.

    There's a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches that will be offered featuring local, sustainable ingredients.

    And try your best to save some room for more.

    "All our desserts are made in-house and are out-of-this-world," says Chef Lundy.

    A tentative opening date for the hotel itself has not been established, but for management, the opening of this first restaurant is an important step.

     "This is a long time coming, there were a lot of stops and starts," says Williams. "This is something the citizens of Green Bay wanted to see come back to life, and you know, it has happened." 

    The bar and restaurant plans on extending their hours and days with time. Anyone entering should come through the hotel's entrance at 304 N. Adams Street.

    More information on Poke the Bear can be found here.


    0 0

    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - With Christmas fast approaching one charitable Green Bay organization is making sure families in need will have gifts under the tree this year.

    The Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay is once again in the midst of their Christmas Distribution effort, which helps hundreds of pre-selected families in need.

    The program is made possible through the generous support of area businesses and community members.

    Jean Vandenlangenberg helps lead the program.

    "There are so many moving parts today that no one realizes how many Santa's elves there are putting this together," she says.

     And she's not exaggerating when she says that it's a full workshop of helpers.

    "I have about over 700 people in two days that are putting this together," she says. "From toy sorters to packers to you name it."

    Vandenlangenberg started helping with the effort about 5 years ago, but initially had doubts regarding what sort of impact this event would have.

    She says those quickly went away.

    "After my first year here it just opened it up to 'Absolutely this is necessary,'" explains Vandenlangenberg. "The looks on the parent's faces, the tears, the joy."

    For many Christmas is the most joyous day of the year, while for Vandenlangenberg it's the work done the week prior to ensure a happy Christmas for all that brings her the most joy.

    "My favorite day by far of the year is today and tomorrow to just see what joy this brings and what it does for the community," she explains.

    The organization could still use some more help in their effort.

    They say "teen toys," such as video games, are something they could use more of.

    More information on giving to the Salvation Army during the holiday season can be found here.


    0 0

    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The beginning of construction on downtown Green Bay condominiums symbolically took place on Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony.

    The north end of Broadway in the Rail Yard district is the site where the eight-unit condos are being built.

    The condos will include a roof terrace with skyline views of Green Bay. 

    Condos in the price range of $219,895 to $409,185 remain available.

     


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