2019 Year in Review: Part One
Summaries of just some of the stories published in the Tomahawk Leader in 2019
Jan. 1 – 2014 Tomahawk High School graduate Alex DuPlayee was appointed Executive Director of Our Sisters’ House homeless shelter in Tomahawk. … Heritage Chevrolet’s “Fill the Truck, Fill the Need” food drive helped restock the Tomahawk Emergency Food Pantry and the Nokomis Food Pantry. … Milestone Senior Living announced an upcoming change in management, with Senior Housing Management, located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, taking over duties.
Jan. 8 – Tomahawk Police Officer Brett Susa began serving as Tomahawk School District’s Resource Officer. … Tomahawk STAR Foundation’s STAR Splash at The Happy Snapper raised about $16,000 for local organizations. … The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a burglary at a Town of Schley tavern.
Jan. 15 – The stench coming from a home on E. Kings Road that was overrun with cats lead to residents expressing complaints at the City of Tomahawk Health and Safety Committee’s monthly meeting and writing letters airing their grievances. … A four-year-old boy died in a Town of Ogema house fire. … Governor Tony Evers visited the Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake correctional facilities in Irma during his first week in office.
Jan. 22 – Although Shopko corporate filed for bankruptcy, Tomahawk’s Shopko Hometown was not one of the stores the company closed. … A fire destroyed a home in the Town of Nokomis. … The City of Tomahawk Health and Safety Committee discussed raze orders for the “cat house” on E. Kings Road. … The cost of Forever stamps increased by five cents. … Jim Likwarz discussed his 27 years of volunteering as a delivery driver for Meals on Wheels.
Jan. 29 – Dottie (Neumeyer) Dean and Darlene (Morren) Wurl, friends since they were in the second grade, celebrated their 92nd birthdays together. … Oneida County saw its third snowmobiling fatality of the season after a crash in the Town of Lake Tomahawk. … With January being National Mentoring Month, the Tomahawk Leader published a special section asking readers to consider becoming mentors with Kinship of Tomahawk.
Feb. 5 – A polar vortex with temperatures dipping under 35 degrees below zero shut down area schools, businesses and essential government. Mail delivery was even halted. … St. Mary’s School celebrated with a mortgage burning after paying off their $300,000 loan taken out in 2012 to renovate a former clinic into their new school. … Trig’s announced the opening of a pharmacy in their Tomahawk store.
Feb. 12 – The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office responded to 18 crashes and 42 slide-offs over the course of a week. … The City of Tomahawk Department of Public Works crew labored to thaw storm sewer catch basins and mains in an effort to get water off the roadways. … The City of Tomahawk Common Council unanimously approved a well house renovation project for the summer, with bids coming in over the $1 million mark. The City had estimated the costs to fall between $800,000 and $900,000. … Shopko announced its Rhinelander location would be among 251 store closings.
Feb. 17 – Brian and Cherie Hafeman of Tomahawk danced their way into Clint Eastwood’s film The Mule. The Hafemans were cast as extras in a polka dancing scene. … After seven cancellations due to weather and already having added five minutes to each day in an effort to make up missed time, the School District of Tomahawk canceled early release and school in-service days. … One person was killed and another was critically injured in a shooting incident in the Town of Pine River.
Feb. 26 – The two people involved in a shooting incident in the Town of Pine River were identified. Barbara Renken, 77, died of gunshot wounds at the scene, while John Renken, 78, was hospitalized with critical injuries. The shooting took place at the couple’s home. … Brantwood artist Benjamin Eric Marheine discussed his screenprinting studio Sisu Press. … Another winter storm blanketed the Northwoods in what seemed to be a never-ending onslaught of snow. … Former Lincoln County Sheriff Ronald W. Krueger died at age 79.
March 5 – 60 inches of snow fell in just February. City of Tomahawk Public Works Director John Cole estimated the costs of contracting out the labor to remove the city’s snow would have come in around $140,000. He estimated the city’s costs at just under $73,000. … The heavy snow lead to roof problems for multiple W. Wisconsin Ave. businesses. City residents, local businesses, and the fire and police departments came together to help clear snow off the roofs of local establishments and make sure the structures were safe.
March 12 – Tomahawk’s Bonnie Cahn traveled to Abu Dhabi to coach in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games. … The Tomahawk Regional Chamber of Commerce reported that the 2018 Fall Ride had an estimated $27.3 million economic impact on the area. … Over 50 “Hydrant Heroes” volunteered to help clear snow away from fire hydrants in the City of Merrill. … Tomahawk High School hosted the forensics district competition.
March 19 – Susie Klinger, general manager at Tomahawk Railway L.P., retired after over three decades of employment with the company. … John Renken, the second victim in the shooting incident that occurred in Pine River in February, died of his wounds. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office termed the incident a homicide/suicide. … The School District of Tomahawk’s Sara Hinke was named Art Educator of the Month by the Wisconsin Art Education Association (WAEA).
March 26 – Within days of each other, the corporate offices of both Family Dollar and Shopko announced the closings of their Tomahawk locations. … Tomahawk resident Jane Wright celebrated her 100th birthday. … A group filed papers seeking to recall five City of Merrill alderpersons. … Over 20 THS students qualified for the state forensics competition.
April 2 – Tomahawk earned an official “Snowmobile Friendly Community” designation at the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) spring meeting in Green Bay. … Approximately 30 employees of the Harley-Davidson plants in Tomahawk gathered on the sidewalk outside the facility on Somo Ave. in an effort to raise awareness for their desire for a new, fair union contract. … Tomahawk High School’s Abigail Norman and Mercedes Venske were Herb Kohl Foundation scholarship recipients.
April 9 – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers discussed the closing of the Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake juvenile correction facility in Irma, the state’s infrastructure, education, healthcare and more in an exclusive interview with the Tomahawk Leader. … Two fatalities and multiple injuries were the result of two separate car accidents in Lincoln County. Wayne Allen Millron, 28, of Rhinelander, died at the scene of a Town of Harrison rollover, while two 18-year-old passengers, one from Tomahawk and the other from Rhinelander, were injured. Harold Broderick, 70, of Marinette County, who was seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 51 south of Highway 64 in the Town of Pine River, later died from his injuries. … Two unions representing Harley-Davidson employees in Tomahawk and Milwaukee voted to reject contract offers from the company. A third union, representing Milwaukee-area workers, agreed to a five-year labor agreement with the company. … There was a 24% turnout – or 5,493 ballots cast – in Lincoln County in the Spring Election, with Brian Hagedorn narrowly defeating Lisa Neubauer by less than one-half of one percent in the Supreme Court Race and Tadd Wegener stepping into the City of Tomahawk Wards 5-6 seat previously held by Alderman Jim Graeber, who chose not to seek re-election. Graeber had held the post since 1996.
April 16 – The City of Tomahawk Health and Safety Committee voted unanimously to start its own procedures to raze the “cat house” at 1340 E. Kings Rd. … The U.S. Attorney’s Ofﬁce for the Western District of Wisconsin and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the federal criminal investigation of alleged civil rights violations at Lincoln Hills School (LHS), Irma, had concluded, after finding insufficient evidence to prove federal criminal civil rights charges against LHS staff members. … City of Tomahawk Director of Public Works John Cole said the poor condition of the city’s roads after winter 2018 “led to a different way of thinking,” with road repairs taking priority over water and sewer repairs. … Tomahawk’s Music on the River announced its summer 2019 summer concert series lineup, with favorites Hip Pocket and The Jimmy’s slated to return to Veterans Memorial Park, along with several new acts to be featured.
April 23 – Football conference realignment in Wisconsin meant Tomahawk would be leaving the Marawood for the MONLPC-West in 2020. … Harley-Davidson and United Steelworkers Local 460 and 2-209 unions ratified a new five-year labor agreement. … Trig’s in Tomahawk joined the company’s other stores in dealing with a virus that affected the server running cash registers. … The Harlem Wizards were in town to entertain a large crowd of fans at the Hatchet Field House, helping to raise funds for Kinship of Tomahawk.
April 30 – 2018’s Prom King Evan Ploeckelman and Queen Kiana Callahan crowned Taylor Sankey and Rayna Bates 2019 Prom King and Queen. … Tomahawk School Board members sent Rep. Mary Felzkowski a letter highlighting the district’s issues and needs ahead of the Representative’s listening session in Tomahawk. … Tomahawk Postmaster Scott Klinger used a ﬁre extinguisher from the Post Ofﬁce to keep a ﬁre in the overhang of the “old hotel” at 310 W. Wisconsin Ave. under control. Fireﬁghters arrived a short time later to ﬁnish the job.
May 7 – A full-scale mock aircraft disaster exercise held at the Rhinelander/Oneida County Airport Thursday allowed the airport to test its emergency response plan and protocols. … A teachers’ union expressed their concerns regarding substitute teacher retention, growing the sub pool and more during a scheduled “opportunity to talk” at a Committee of the Whole meeting of the Tomahawk School Board. … Members of various faiths and the Associated Clergy of Tomahawk came together to observe the annual May 2 National Day of Prayer.
May 14 – New wrap-around flower baskets set to line W. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Tomahawk were expected to both look phenomenal and help save on water. … Police Chief Al Elvins gave a presentation on Social Media and Children at Redeemer Lutheran Church. … Alderperson Jim Graeber retired from the City Council after serving for 22 years.
May 21 – 85 students were set to graduate from Tomahawk High School, with Abigail Norman, Taylor Shilts, Kaylie Svacina and Kathryn Volz representing the class as co-valedictorians. … The Tomahawk School Board voted down a proposal to move the high school library and replace it with a fitness room after questioning security advantages. The cost of the proposal would have been $104, 417. … Some 300 collector vehicles were on display at the Main Street Memories Car Show in downtown Tomahawk. … With the 15th annual Spirit Barn Dance and Silent Auction, the Spirit Historical Society hoped to raise enough funds to aid in the relocation of one building and many historical artifacts to their new location at the Spirit Town Hall on Highway 86 in the Town of Spirit.
May 28 – State Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Mary Felzkowski discussed Medicaid expansion, roads, broadband internet access, abortion and more at a listening session in Tomahawk. … After joining an insurance cooperative, the School District of Tomahawk saw a savings of $152,559 on premiums. … Ralph A. Lucas, 83, of Rhinelander, who was found lying face down with a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the County Highway G and Nicolet College entrance in the Town of Pelican, died from his injuries.
June 4 – After nearly four decades in Tomahawk media, publishers Larry and Kathy Tobin sold the Tomahawk Leader to Waupaca-based MMC Local. … A ceremony honoring fallen service members was held at Union Grove Cemetery in Harshaw. … The Tomahawk Chamber Ambassadors welcomed new owners Darren and Amiee Merkel at Boomba Bar and Grill, 11083 Old 8, Tomahawk, on the Rice Reservoir/Lake Nokomis. The Ambassadors also had a greeting with owner Hob Habeck at Hob’s Service Center, 1992 County Road L.
June 11 – Construction on Kings Road (Phases II and III) and Third Street was anticipated to begin. … Convicted sex offender and former Roman Catholic priest David J. Malsch was released in Lincoln County. Malsch was accused of sexual misconduct with multiple boys in the 1970s and 1980s while serving at St. Patrick Church in Superior and was convicted of molesting a Tomahawk boy in 1993 while serving with St. Mary Catholic Church in Tomahawk. It was later revealed that church officials within the Diocese of Superior were aware of Malsch’s history of sexual abuse, yet repeatedly chose to send him to treatment before returning him to parishes, including Tomahawk, where he had regular contact with young boys, including those with emotional issues and learning disabilities, rather than report him to the authorities. In 2005, Malsch was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for possessing child pornography while at Wounded Brothers Recon Facility, a Robertsville, Mo., treatment center for troubled former clergy. … Jeffrey G. Wineland, 60, of Milwaukee, was killed in an ATV rollover in the Town of Bradley. … Four seniors in the Tomahawk High School Class of 2019, Nick Wiseman, Ty Gerstenberger, Garret Hurst, and Matt Bartz, discussed their decisions to pursue military careers following graduation.
June 18 – Road construction on State Highway 86 from the Price County line at County Highway YY to the Wisconsin River bridge on the south side of Tomahawk began. The project saw the entire stretch of Highway 86 resurfaced. … Merrill Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Hintze retired after 27 years of service. Jon Leiskau was promoted as Hintze’s replacement. … Work to complete Tomahawk Bike Trail Plan was set to begin over the summer, with state grants helping to cover the bulk of 4.6-mile loop’s cost.
June 25 – A loon rescued from the retaining pond at the Prentice Travel Center was released into Lake Nokomis. … St. Mary’s School and the Tomahawk Police Department celebrated K9 Officer Vali’s 8th birthday. … Contemporary Irish band Tallymore was slated to perform at Music on the River at Veterans Memorial Park in Tomahawk.