3 seats on Birnamwood Town Board face opposition

The town caucus in Birnamwood last week resulted in setting up contested races this spring for three seats on the town board, including the chairman and two supervisors.

One incumbent supervisor, Mike Fandrey, is not only running for another term in his District 2 seat but also simultaneously challenging Chairman Peter Stewart for that office.

Fandrey is being challenged for his District 2 seat by Steven Steinke.

Incumbent District 1 Supervisor Dennis Van Prooyen is facing a challenge from Frank Groh.

Town clerk Dennis Knaak and treasurer Debbra Kessen are running unopposed.

The Leader was still awaiting election filing and caucus results from a number of communities, but contested races being reported so far in the April 4 election include the following:


Public Record

Shawano Police Department

Jan. 16

Police logged 18 incidents, including the following:

Accident — Police responded to a single-vehicle property damage accident at Green Bay Street and Fairview Road.

OWL — A 33-year-old man was cited for operating without a license at Main and Green Bay streets.

Disturbance — Police responded to a domestic disturbance in the 1100 block of Waukechon Street.

Accident — Police responded to a two-vehicle property damage accident at Green Bay Street and Airport Drive.

Accident — Police responded to a single-vehicle property damage accident at Wescott Avenue and Washington Street.

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run at Green Bay Street and Fairview Avenue.

Jan. 15

Police logged 20 incidents, including the following:

Disturbance — Police responded to a disturbance in the 1300 block of East Lieg Avenue.


New summer festival planned for Shawano

Contributed Image Sun Drop Soda bottler Twig’s Beverage Inc. has signed on as a major sponsor for the new annual start-of-summer festival that will bear its name.

Shawano has always put an exclamation point on the end of summer with the Shawano County Fair extravaganza held each year around the time kids are heading back to school.

Starting this year, Shawano will try its hand at kicking off the start of summer with another blowout good time.

Sun Drop Dayz, an outdoor music festival, will entice crowds to downtown Shawano for an inaugural two-day event June 2-3, in what organizers hope will become a signature community tradition.

Plans for the festival include three live bands, food and beer, craft vendors, kids activities and more between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. June 2 and between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. June 3. Admission will be free, with wrist bands available for $1 for adults planning to purchase alcoholic beverages.


Man pleads not guilty to child porn possession

A Wittenberg man pleaded not guilty Friday to 67 counts of possessing child pornography.

James K. Beckwith, 56, could face a maximum 25 years in prison and $100,000 fine on each count if convicted.

Beckwith was initially charged in November with 25 counts of child porn possession. The criminal complaint was amended in December to add the additional 42 counts after further investigation by authorities.

Shawano County sheriff’s investigators were alerted in September that an IP address located in the county had downloaded possible child pornography, according to the criminal complaint, which states the internet address was subsequently linked to Beckwith.

The initial cyber tip was reported by Microsoft on behalf of Skype, according to the complaint.


Shawano charter school under review

Shawano School Board members are considering whether to renew the district’s charter school for another five years.

LEADS Primary Charter School serves students in 4-year-old kindergarten through second grade with a special “inquiry-based” curriculum designed to help students develop independent learning skills.

The charter school, which is housed inside the district’s Hillcrest Primary School, has been available to about 72 students annually since it started five years ago.

Funded through the district’s regular $38 million budget, LEADS is overseen by its own governing board.

Some board members have praised the LEADS program, while some have questioned its impact within the district. Parents also have voiced concerns about how their children transition from LEADS to a traditional curriculum starting in third grade.

The School Board’s initial five-year authorization for a charter school expires at the end of the current school year.


Public Record

Shawano Police Department

Jan. 12

Police logged 35 incidents, including the following:

Warrant — A 31-year-old woman was taken into custody on a warrant in the 1100 block of South Main Street.

Fire Call — Sparks were reported flying from a breaker box in the 100 block of East Maurer Street. The location was evacuated and power was turned off until the problem could be assessed.

Truancy — Police logged two truancy complaints from the Shawano School District.

Drug Offense — Police investigated a drug complaint in the 400 block of South Franklin Street.

Hit and Run — Police investigated a property damage hit-and-run at Perkin’s restaurant, 1398 E. Green Bay St.

Shawano County Sheriff’s Department

Jan. 12

Deputies logged 38 incidents, including the following:

Fire — Authorities responded to a barn fire on Regina Road in the town of Almon.


Schmidt assumes CEO responsibilities at medical center

Bill Schmidt commenced his CEO responsibilities at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano upon last month’s retirement of Dorothy Erdmann.

The new position is in addition to his CEO duties at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, where he has worked as hospital president since July 2001.

A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in industrial management, Schmidt first plied his trade in the manufacturing sector. In 1982 he accepted a job in productivity and cost accounting at a Fort Wayne, Indiana, hospital and discovered a new passion: quality and process improvement in health care.

“This new type of job was so much more rewarding,” Schmidt said. “I could see how we could directly influence patient care delivery and how our own people were treated. I never looked back.”


Teen's vehicular homicide trial delayed

Less than two weeks before it was set to begin, the vehicular homicide trial of Ryan Swadner, the teenage driver in a 2014 crash that claimed the lives of three passengers, has been pushed to October.

Shawano-Menominee Circuit Court Judge William Kussel Jr. said at a hearing Thursday he was reluctantly granting a defense motion to delay the proceedings.

Attorney Nila Robinson said changes in the financial status of the Swadner family would now allow the hiring of experts in accident reconstruction and toxicology to be called by the defense.

The two-week trial was expected to start on Jan. 23. A new start date of Oct. 9 was set.

Swadner, 19, of Cecil, is accused of being under the influence of marijuana on Oct. 21, 2014, when he swerved to avoid another vehicle stopped in his path on state Highway 22 in Belle Plaine and lost control on a gravel shoulder.


City approves wording for parks referendum

The Shawano Common Council on Wednesday approved the wording of a referendum question that will give Shawano residents a chance to tell the city how high of a priority should be given to the development of city parks.

The advisory referendum on the April 4 ballot will ask whether the city should borrow additional money for development of the Franklin and Smalley parks and a splash pad to replace the kiddie pool at Memorial Park.

The referendum question will ask residents whether the city should borrow up to $1.85 million for the projects, which would increase property taxes by $25 for a $100,000 home.

Mayor Jeanne Cronce said the city would be launching public information efforts to educate voters on what the borrowing would mean for the parks and its tax impact.


County pitches new library structure

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Audience members listen as Shawano County Administrative Coordinator Brent Miller, center, discusses library consolidation during a public forum at the Matsche Community Center in Birnamwood on Wednesday.

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Birnamwood Library representatives and other local residents examine a Shawano County plan for library consolidation during Wednesday’s gathering in the Matsche Community Center.

Shawano County officials are working to drum up support among library boosters for a countywide library consolidation aimed at promoting efficiency and shoring up local control.

The consolidation idea elicited many questions but also signs of support Wednesday during a public forum at the Matsche Community Center in Birnamwood.

County officials assured those in attendance that libraries in Birnamwood and elsewhere would remain undisturbed if the county assumed control of finances and operations.

Jan Atkinson, director of the Birnamwood Library, said later it sounds as though implementation of the county’s consolidation plan would be relatively transparent for library patrons and others.
Atkinson said that, although she still has some technical questions about the proposal, it seems to represent a reasonable strategy for reasserting local control of libraries in the face of intrusive financial penalties being imposed by neighboring counties.


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