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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.
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  • 06/20/18--02:13: Major Projects Move Forward
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Tuesday was a busy night for Green Bay City Council, passing major city project proposals.

    The Council unanimously approved an incentive package for Green Bay Packaging's new paper mill.

    Last week the company announced its plan to invest more than $500 million into a new state-of-the-art mill.

    Green Bay approves $23 million in TIF assistance for Green Bay Packaging's mill.

    Next up will be Brown County Board's vote tonight to provide $5.3 million, then the WEDC for the state's $60 million in tax credits.

    For Green Bay, the incentive means Green Bay Packaging will get back 90 percent of the taxes it pays on the new assessed value it creates with the new mill.

    Also, the city will be providing some land it owns near the mill.

    Green Bay Packaging Executive Vice President Bryan Hollenbach told the council the assistance helps keep the company and its 1,100 Brown County employees in the area.

    "If we're going to do this, we're going to do it right because we want it to be an asset. The last mill lasted 70 years. I don't know if this one will last 70 years, but we want it to last 50. We want it to be a lasting foundation for, frankly, the city of Green Bay."

    However, when it came time to talk about the city's new Shipyard proposal, there was some debate among the council members.

    The disagreement was on the risk the city is taking in building the public part of the Shipyard in order to attract private development to the area.

    One week ago is when we first saw the new renderings for the proposed Shipyard District on the western edge of the Fox River.

    The $10 million proposal includes a turf field and an array of converted shipping containers for food and retail shops.

    There would also be an urban beach, children's playground, boat slips, and a kayak launch.

    City officials say $30 million in private development is needed to keep this project off the city tax levy.

    That's because tax revenue from new development in the area would pay off what the city bonds for the project.

    Four council members wanted instead to secure the private development, before moving forward with the city's part.

    The 8-4 vote allows the Shipyard project to move forward.

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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - David Meyer was convicted Tuesday in connection with the drunk driving crash which killed a mother and daughter who were walking along a Lawrence road.

    44-year-old Rebecca Pennenberg, and her 18-year-old daughter Raelia, were walking on French Road in Lawrence on Aug. 17th, when they were hit and killed.

    Meyer pleaded no contest to two counts of homicide by use of a vehicle while having a prohibited alcohol concentration.

    Two other counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle were dismissed but can be considered at sentencing.

    Sentencing is set for September 11. The maximum sentence would total of 50 years in prison.

    Meyer told police he was headed home from a golf outing.

    According to court documents, Meyer's preliminary breath test was .219 percent, which is more than two and a half times the legal limit of .08 percent.

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  • 06/20/18--15:03: Beach Advisory Remains
  • TWO RIVERS, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A beach in Two Rivers that was closed because of elevated levels of E. coli bacteria has reopened, however, there is still a swimming advisory for Neshotah Beach.

    While swimming isn't prohibited it, it isn't recommended.

    "If you ingest the water in any way, then you could become sick. I mean, if you're just standing in it, it wouldn't be a huge deal. But we always say don't risk it, especially if you have kids," says Carmen Thiel, the director of the lab at UW-Oshkosh that conducts the water testing.

    But the water quality does seem to be improving according to Thiel.

    Contamination spikes can be caused by a number of sources, including flocks of birds and other wildlife.

    But this time, it was likely due to the stormy weather earlier in the week.

    "Usually if we see a big rain event such as this one it's due to the stormwater that's coming in. Everything from the landscape, the surrounding watershed, is just being flushed into the water," according to Thiel.

    Thiel added levels typically return to normal in a couple days.

    And for some at Neshotah Beach, the water wasn't even a concern.

    Elin Bjork of Green Bay and her friend were taking the day off to enjoy a little sun and some sand.

    "The water is not warm enough to swim in yet this year...... we are here relaxing. We both needed a day of relaxation today and we came to enjoy ourselves and listen to the rolling waves and the seagulls and have a picnic and we are enjoying ourselves immensely," says Bjork.

    According to the Wisconsin Beach Health website, Neshotah beach still has elevated levels of the bacteria.

    Fischer Park Beaches and Hika Bay Park are now closed because of E. coli, however.

    Advisories are in place for three other beaches in Manitowoc County.

    Elevated E. coli levels can also indicate the presence of other contaminants, so symptoms aren't just confined to those of E-coli.

    If you start to feel any sort of illness after swimming, experts recommend seeking medical attention.

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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ)- The Green Bay Police Department adn Brown County Health and Human Services recently completed a tobacco compliance investigation of 67 businesses.

    Green Bay Police Captain Kevin Warych says the numbers showed a sucess.

    "Of those 67 businesses, only 3 sold tobacco to minors."

    Warych added that three is too many, but the numbers did improve from last year by 12.9 percent.

    "Now our efforts are going to be focused on the three that failed to make sure that they don't reoffend."

    Warych says the three businesses were issued a citation, but more importantly, they were offered help to get better.

    "The statitics are very telling."

    Youth in the community went into the businesses to purchase tobacco. Officers were hoping to see eveyone ask for and check an ID and then refuse the purchase if the child is underage.

    "Any employees that work where tobacco is sold need to check ID's and make sure that the ID's are correct for the people that they are selling tobacco to."

    WI Wins is a research-based campaign to reduce youth acess to tobacco. 

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  • 06/20/18--18:10: Rat Patrol Hits The Streets
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - City Inspectors will be sweeping the west side of Green Bay Thursday, helping to remove and prevent rats in residences. 

    The program will include sweeping through more than 500 homes. 

    Neighborhood Development Manager Bill Paape says the idea is to locate areas where rats could visit.

    "This is something that we have been dealing with for some time."

    Paape says while removing rats is part of the process, the most important factor of the program is to help residents learn how to keep rats away.

    "Our focus is on education. Enforcement when necessary, but really the primary focus is to help folks learn that if they have an issue, here is what they can do to get rid of it."

    Paape says they are not just finding random areas.

    "These are areas that we have targeted because of complaints that we have received."

    He says there are certain things they will be looking for.

    "Food sources, water sources and conditions that are conducive for rats."

    Paape says the rat problem is not as big as people make it out to be.

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  • 06/20/18--19:19: Packers Give Back In Big Way
  • ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ)- The Green Bay Packers Give Back set a record with $1.25 million dollars in grant money being split between five organizations.

    The presentations of $250,000 dollars to each were given Wednesday.

    The 2018 recipients include Give BIG Green Bay, Golden House, The Center for Childhood Safety, Encompass Early Education and Care, and HSHS St. Vincent/St.Mary's Hospital Foundation.

    Golden House Inc. was awarded the Packers Give Back Impact Grant. Executive Director Karen Michaels says the money will be going towards expanding programs.

    "To be able to provide more opportunities for victims of domestic abuse to be able to come in for services."

    Michaels says they simply need more space.

    "Providing victims a safe place and a really uplifting place to be able to build their lives."

    The Center for Childhood Safety was one of three winners of the Packers Foundation Impact Grants. 

    The organization plans to use the money to build a facility, which will be a goal reached.

    "We have been around for 26 years and had never had a permanent place."

    Kimberly Hess says they will be able to be a one stop resource for safety and danger prevention.

    "We install carseats for families, we talk about bike safety, fire safety, poison safety, we cover it all with our orgranization."

    The new Ashwaubenon home will consist of an education facility with classrooms, a child passenger safety station and a replica child-sized town.

    Hess says in the past, they had to ask to borrow space for their programs.

    Encompass Early Education and Care Inc. will use their money to renovate playgrounds at their locations. They also announced that they will increase technology resources and improve teacher-to-parent communication.

    HSHS St. Vincent/ St. Mary's Hospital Foundation will use the money towards the Children's Hospital renovations. The hope is to expand capacity and accomodate more.

    The fifth grant is not a matching grant, but is used to support Give BIG Green Bay. The campaign raises money to help fund nonprofit organizations in Green Bay and are looking to expand. 


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Green Bay Area School District has decided to give a teacher her position back, after taking reassigning her into consideration.

    Bridget DaPra, a teacher at Aldo Leopold Community School, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession back in May.

    Charges against DaPra were dropped in June.

    The district said the decision was made in collaboration between Bridget, the School Board, District administration and school administration.

     DaPra will return to her position in the 2018-19 school year.

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  • 06/20/18--20:15: New Chief
  • APPLETON, WI (WTAQ)- Appleton has a new fire chief. 

    Jeremy Hansen has been selected to replace the retiring Len Vander Wyst. 

    Hansen is set to take over starting July 16.


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  • 06/20/18--20:19: Arrested For Vehicle Theft
  • ONEIDA, WI (WTAQ) - Two male juveniles were arrested in Oneida in connection with a stolen vehicle. 

     Around 4:30 Wednesday morning, Seymor Police were called to a gas station on Highway 54 for a stolen vehicle.   

    Later, police in Oneida located the vehicle and the two boys were turned over to Outagamie County Juvenile Intake.

     A machete and drug paraphernalia were also located in the vehicle.

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  • 06/20/18--21:00: Downtown Bridges Go Colorful
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - With much anticipation, the city of Green Bay can now be viewed in a different light.

    New colored LED lighting systems illuminate the Main and Walnut Street Bridges.

    Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says with the system that is in place, colors are endless.

    "We can do over one hundred different combinations and it is something that you can really look forward to in downtown here."

    Some of the lights displayed Wednesday included red and green for Christmas, red, white and blue for July Fourth, and orange for Octoberfest. 

    The crowd also got a chance to see what an evening football game at Lambeau Field can look like with downtown bridges being lit in green and gold.

    The idea will be to celebrate holidays, special occasions, sports teams with color.

    With the old lighting systems starting to fail four years ago, the city decided to put some color into the replacements.

    “We're estimating that the system is going to be consuming about 25 percent of what the old system did, so we will be able to run this system seven days a week for less money than we were able to run the old system just two days a week,” said Steve Grenier, Public Works Director for Green Bay.

    City officials say the colored lights cost about the same as if the city put in white lights.

    The goal is for these lights to last for the better part of 15 to 20 years. 

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    GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Fox Valley Tech wants all of its future truck drivers to know what human trafficking looks like while they're out on the road.

    "If you see this type of activity and you even think about participating, I want you to look at this card," said Rod Behnke.

    He tells FOX 11 he's been teaching soon to be truckers how to spot human trafficking for the past six years.

    "The truck driving students need to be aware they can be a significant force to combat the human trafficking issues that we have. They're the eyes and ears of the highways and I want to make sure they're aware of this."

    According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.

    The hotline shows 91 human trafficking cases were reported in Wisconsin last year.

    In 2016, the number was 66 and the year before that, 50 human trafficking cases were reported.

    Behnke said one sign of human trafficking can include a knock on a truck driver's door from a boy or girl while at a truck stop.

    "We want them to think twice about participating in this because, of course, this is someone's child."

    Students are being asked to be a part of the program called Truckers against Trafficking and call the police and a hotline to report any suspicious activity.

    The course has been eye-opening for students like Cory Krolczyk .

    "I'm really shocked by it all."

    He graduates next week and said he'll be paying attention while out on the road.

    "We do see a lot of stuff that I normally don't see in my everyday car so um, just with that in mind, when we're at a truck stop or just going through random areas, there's going to be stuff that we can pick up probably pretty easily just by keeping our eyes open."

    So far, Behnke said nearly 1,000 students have participated in the human trafficking awareness class.

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    STURGEON BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Tourism season is well underway in Door County.

    There are plenty of visitors, but businesses are struggling to find seasonal help.

    And it's groups of international students that are helping businesses keep up with demand.

    "It's really a new experience for me to work and travel here," said Ruby Sun, who is from China.

    Sun will be spending her summer at 'The Lodge' at Leathem Smith in Sturgeon Bay, as a seasonal worker.

    Jon Jarosh with the Door County Visitor's Bureau tells FOX 11 she's here as a part of the J-1 Student Visa Program.

    "J-1 students are collegiate students from other counties, that have an opportunity to travel to the U.S. and work. But also, to experience our culture".

    Jarosh says the program is becoming more popular among seasonal employers, who often struggle to find workers this time of the year.

    "Local workers are harder and harder to find meaning people up here. Or even college students, American college students, there's just not enough of them to go around."

    Paul Meleen, Owner of The Lodge, tells FOX 11 this is his fourth year hiring international students.

    "It's really helpful to fill some holes for us. Not just us, but as other Door County businesses grow, and you're in business to grow, with that there's more demand for more help."

    The program is helping to fill the gap. But Jorash says finding seasonal workers remains a challenge.

    "It' still a very small piece of the puzzle in terms of finding employees, and workers to work all the available jobs in Door County."

    Jarosh says the international workers fill about 15-percent of the thousands of jobs that open up this time of year.

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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - The man who allegedly hitched a ride, robbed a bank and then bought some vodka with the stolen cash has been ordered to stand trial.

    Wesley Cox is charged with robbery of a financial institution for the May 29 robbery at Chase Bank.

    Cox was bound over trial after a preliminary hearing Wednesday. His arraignment is scheduled for July 16, according to a court official.

    According to the criminal complaint, Cox got a ride from a friend of his roommates, and she took him to the bank.

    After robbing the bank of $2,782, the pair stopped at a liquor store where Cox purchased vodka.

    Police later pulled them over, and he was found with $2,751 on him.

    He denied involvement in the robbery.

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    CLINTONVILLE, WI (WTAQ) - A bear was seen on a porch in Clintonville. Nancy Schley captured the image as the bear was trying to eat from a bird feeder.

    She says she hung a bird feeder on her upper deck, hoping it would be inaccessible to bears. But this one showed up anyway.

    The bear stayed on the porch for an hour.

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says bears tying to get at bird feeders is common since they like bird seed. 

    The best advice for people that live in areas where bears might be, put away the feeders. It is recommended to take the feeders down in early spring and keep them down until late fall.

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    OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - The report of details that led to a fatal helicopter crash on the Fox River earlier this month has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

    The June 9 crash killed the pilot 27-year-old Jonathan Bahr. 

    The report confirmed that Bahr was flying over the Four Horseman Poker Run with a photographer, and after they were done taking pictures, Bahr landed the helicopter to drop the photographer off and then left again.

    The report indicated that he started to fly south towards Wittman Field with the intent to refuel.

    As initially reported, the pilot came in contact with a static line and fiber optic line, crashing into the Fox River.

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    KEWAUNEE, WI (WTAQ) - A teen accused of causing damage to mailboxes and a sign pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.

    18-year-old Jacob Beauchaine is charged with criminal damage to property. Police say he allegedly caused more than $2,500 dollars in damage.

    According to the complaint, the Kewaunee County Sheriff's Department received multiple calls for damaged mailboxes in February. Sheriff officials say they also got a report of damage to a vehicle windshield and to road signs. 

    Officials say in the end, there were more than 40 victims in multiple municipalities.

    More than 30 mailboxes were damaged with totals exceeding $6,000 dollars.

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  • 06/22/18--00:00: Remembering A Marina Fire
  • ALGOMA, WI (WTAQ) - Lakshore communities in Kewaunee County will be having a special Blessing of the Fleet Friday in Algoma.

    The event was put together to remember the June 23, 2016 Algoma Marina fire that damaged boats and caused quite a scare.

    Troy Mattson of Kinn's Sport Fishing says they got idea of the Blessing of the Fleet from another community.  

    "It is an old accent Mediterranean tradition that pretty much every major port on the eastern sea has taken on."  

    The event will honor the work of the Algoma Fire Department and proceeds will go towards the fire department.  

    Mattson had four boats damaged that day. Algoma Fire Chief Tom Ackerman says many lessons were learned that day.  

    "Limiting the number of people that are on the boats throughout the evening hours. We are looking at appliances that being used to heat their boats and things like that."  

    He says he remembered how quickly everyone reacted.  

    "We had a number of different individuals that were jumping into the water to move boats from catching on fire."  

    Mattson says the idea is to thank those who helped that night and come together as a boating community.  

    A trout boil will also take place.   

    This is the 1st Annual event.  

    The details of the fire remain under investigation even two years later.

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  • 06/22/18--00:00: Rats Be Gone
  • GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - City Inspectors spent time looking for rat havens in Green Bay.

    The rat battle continued Thursday as inspectors like Bill Pappe became the rat pack, traveling home to home looking for places that might welcome rats.

     "So what we're doing is, we're going out and inspecting the exteriors of properties. We're checking for conditions that are conducive to rats," said Community Investment Manager Bill Pappe.  

    Keith Hendzel lives on Howard Street and says he has been fighting the battle for quite some time.  

    "Last two years it's gotten worse. I used to feed the birds out here but then the rats took over," he said. "I used to put bread out for the birds, and then you could literally just see rats climbing up and eating the bread."  

    Pappe says some locations are prime for finding rats, and those are the areas that need to be eliminated.  

    "A lot of food sources, water sources that need to be addressed some exterior storage," said Pappe. "A lot of burrows, some deep, and attached to garages that need to get addressed and looked at."  

    The efforts were more about giving tips and educating home owners about what they can do to keep the rats away, but ignoring the advice could result in citations in future.  

    To help the cause, free rat traps will be passed out at the Neville Museum on June 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m  

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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Several Northeast Wisconsin schools and districts received their share of state school safety grants Thursday.

    Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appeared in Appleton to announce $1.7 million in grants.

    "After the Parkland High School tragedies, we put our heads together to come up with a solution to keep our students and staff state."

    Schimel talks to FOX 11 about some of the uses that money could go to.

    "Some will be securing front entry areas with shatter resistant film, others will install security and surveillance systems. In addition to physical security, it requires schools to strengthen their response to student mental health issues."

    The money was set aside when Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in April to make $100 million available for schools.

    The measure requires schools to create a safety plan with local police to be eligible to receive the money.

    The schools receiving money Thursday are:

    Appleton Area School District: $767,207

    D.C. Everest Area School District: $239,975

    De Pere School District: $62,200

    Howards Grove School District: $66,757

    Lena School District: $61,720

    Menasha Joint School District: $164,600

    Mishicot School District: $63,090

    Muskego-Norway School District: $33,659

    Phelps School District: $23,107

    St. Peter Catholic School: $20,000

    Sturgeon Bay School District: $103,930

    Waupun Area School District: $99,979

    Winter School District: $62,385Waupaca Christian Academy: $20,000

    The Appleton School District has already been making improvements to their schools.

    Judy Baseman, the Superintendent for the District, tells FOX 11 along with the improvements to schools security, each staff member including the school's resource officers will be going through trauma training to better connect with students.

    "It's a huge benefit for us, a quarter of a million dollars will make a big difference for us in terms of our security planning."

    And Baseman says security improvements are already underway.

    "Something we have been doing at all three of our high schools is a program called Sources of Strength to build connections to have kids see there are strengths kids can build upon before doing a violent act."

    Schimel has been traveling around the state all month awarding grants to schools.

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    BROWN COUNTY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Brown County voters could be asked in November whether they want marijuana to be legal in Wisconsin.

    Two Brown County Supervisors, Alex Tran, and Erik Hoyer, are asking their peers on the county board to agree to the advisory referendum for November.

    “Personally, myself and Alex, Supervisor Tran, neither of us have any skin in this game,” said Hoyer.

    “We're simply asking a question, want the question asked and don't understand why there would be any resistance to at least seeing where we are as a community.”

    An advisory referendum is not binding and simply lets lawmakers know voters’ feelings on a certain topic.

    The drug can only become legal statewide, yet several other counties are looking at asking the question as well.

    Tran tells FOX 11 she sees a number of potential benefits if the drug were legal.

    “The tax revenue that the state could get could go to a lot of programs that we have that are unfunded like we need more DAs, we need more public defenders.”

    But talking to FOX 11, Supervisor Bernie Erickson has a different view.

    “If you're going to use tax revenue from drugs to add to the DA situation, you're probably going to add more cases that the DAs have to handle too in the long run.”

    Erickson is one of a few county board members who've already voiced their opposition to asking voters about legalizing marijuana.

    “They say the occasional use of marijuana and so forth can lead to the use of stronger drugs. We've got enough of a drug problem right now without making it readily available on the street.”

    Statewide, Marquette Law School posed the question two years ago.

    59 percent agreed that marijuana should be fully legal and regulated like alcohol and 39 percent disagreed.

    “Let's see what the results lie and if there isn't support for it, we have our answer,” said Hoyer.

    “If there is support, what can we do with that information?”

    The county board could take a vote on posing the question at its next meeting, in July.

    Milwaukee's county board has already agreed to an advisory referendum.

    It will be on the ballot when voters head to the polls on November 6th.