Suspect in 1976 murders bound over for trial

Raymand Vannieuwenhoven, who is hard of hearing, listens to testimony via portable headphones during the June 19 preliminary hearing into charges the Lakewood man killed David Schuldes and Ellen Matheys at a Marinette County park in 1976. He is seated next to defense co-counsel Travis Crowell. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

A Marinette County bailiff escorts Raymand Vannieuwenhoven from court June 19 after he was bound over for trial for a 1976 double homicide. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Lakewood man accused of murdering a couple in Marinette County 43 years ago has been bound over for trial following a preliminary hearing Wednesday, June 19.

Raymand Vannieuwenhoven, 82, was arrested in March and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of David Schuldes, 25, and Ellen Matheys, 24, who were shot to death July 9, 1976, at the McClintock Park campground in the town of Silver Cliff.

Matheys was also sexually assaulted, and Vannieuwenhoven originally was also charged with first-degree sexual assault, but the count was dismissed after the defense noted that the statute of limitations for that crime expired in 1982.


OFHS graduation date moved

The Oconto Falls High School Class of 2020 will be graduating two or three days sooner after a School Board vote on June 10.

The board approved an administration request to change the ceremony, which has been held at 2 p.m. Sunday during Memorial Day weekend for the past few years, to Friday or Thursday night of the same weekend.

High school Principal Jake Beschta brought in a recommendation for Friday night, saying the goal was to maximize participation in the commencement exercises while not interfering as much with the biggest community fundraiser of the year, the four-day Memorial Day Celebration.

“A lot of students and adults really like the Memorial Day concept of graduation weekend, in the sense that families can travel and spend an extended holiday weekend together, but they’re also open to a different day of graduation,” Beschta said.


Another no contest plea in fatal crash

The driver in a fatal crash that took the life of an Oconto Falls man will be sentenced Aug. 1 after changing her plea last week.

Kelly Nicole Crispin, 28, St. Paul, Minnesota, pleaded no contest June 11 to homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle in connection with the Sept. 29 crash that killed Cory Folts, 22.

In a plea agreement filed in Oconto County Circuit Court, Assistant District Attorney Robert Mraz will ask Oconto County Judge Michael T. Judge to dismiss charges of homicide by use of a motor vehicle with a prohibited alcohol content and second-degree reckless homicide.

According to the agreement, Mraz will recommend that Crispin be sentenced to 7½ years in prison followed by 7½ years of extended supervision and that she be ordered to perform 80 hours of community service, among other conditions.


Oconto Falls music festival gets preliminary OK

The Oconto Falls City Council has given a local band approval to plan an all-day music festival in September at Memorial Field that would feature as many as a half-dozen regional groups and “a national touring act.”

Mike Nicola, Brandon Olsen and Craig Hicks of What Shadows Hide, a “melodic metal band,” appeared before the council June 11 to share their idea for Our Fest.

“What we want to do is provide a platform for local and regional artists to play their music,” Nicola said. Their band would be one of those acts, along with He-Nis-Ra, whose lead singer is Oconto Falls native Joe Angus.

They’ve been in touch with the local American Legion and Disabled American Veterans about providing beer and food for the event.

As many as seven bands could perform including the headliner, and they’re exploring having dart and beanbag tournaments to raise some more money. The idea is to have Our Fest run from 2-11 p.m.


City of Gillett, Underhill fire departments work together

A mutual aid agreement between the city of Gillett and town of Underhill fire departments received final approval from the Gillett City Council on June 6.

The Underhill Town Board had previously approved the agreement.

“The two departments have been working together for some time in training and actively fighting fires, and this is just making it more formal,” said Alderperson Debbie Rudie.

Fire Chief Kurt Hicks said the two departments will automatically be paged simultaneously when fire calls come in for either jurisdiction.

“If it’s a CO2 call or something that’s not a working structure fire, we’re probably, we’re not going to respond. I’ll be in coordination with their chief on that,” Hicks said.

Fire departments in northern Oconto County already have a simultaneous-page system that is working well, he said.


Abrams theater thrives on community

Abby Frank and the cast rehearse a routine from “Footloose: The Musical,” which opens Friday, June 21, at Byng Community Theater in Abrams. (Contributed photo)

Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. (ASPI) is completely run by volunteers. The theater, from performers and production crew to set designers and the box office, even the board of directors, is entirely dependent on volunteers.

“We have been blessed with a very dedicated active board and volunteer staff. They are not only on the sidelines giving direction or orders but putting in countless hours to make this theater thrive and standout,” said board member Jim Klein.

ASPI’s latest production, “Footloose: The Musical,” opens Friday evening, June 21, at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St., Abrams.

While many nonprofits may have paid staff to assist in day to day operations, Abrams Spotlight Productions relies on the generosity and commitment of its community. Each production, and the time in between, involves hundreds of hours of volunteer help. This means the theater is seldom empty or dark, even between productions.


OFHS teachers share at state and national conferences

Oconto Falls High School teacher Connie Rauterkus explains how models can be used to teach DNA replication at the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers Conference. (Contributed photo)

An Oconto Falls High School science teacher has been invited to write an article about her class’s “pickle people autopsies” for a national publication.

Constance Rauterkus and her colleague Candice Behnke were selected this spring to share ideas at both the Wisconsin Society of Science Teacher’s Conference in Madison and at the National Science Teaching Association’s National Convention in St. Louis.

“I murder pickles,” Rauterkus explained to the Oconto Falls School Board at their June 10 meeting, “and the kids do autopsies on them.”

The students in her Anatomy and Physiology course play the role of medical examiners and must conduct an autopsy in the case of a “dead pickle.” Students dust for fingerprints, use appropriate terminology and dissection techniques, and write a scientific report in which they share their results.


Jeff McDonald appointed to Oconto Falls City Council

Newly appointed Oconto Falls Alderman Jeff McDonald is sworn in by City Administrator Vicki Roberts during the City Council’s meeting of June 11. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Oconto Falls City Council voted 3-1 June 11 to appoint Jeff McDonald to fill the unexpired District 1 seat of the late Jay Kostreva until next April’s election.

Kostreva died April 23 after a short illness, exactly one month before what would have been his 70th birthday.

McDonald was one of three people who came forward after the city asked for candidates. The others were Jen Comins and Sophie Ford.

Alderman Marty Coopman said with that much interest, there is no real reason to fill the seat right away.

“I think by appointing somebody you give them a sense of incumbency, for lack of a better word, that we pick this person over another person, so therefore when the election comes around in April that (they have an advantage),” Coopman said.


I-41 to I-43 ramp closures planned

Drivers heading to Interstate 43 from Oconto County on I-41 will have to make their plans around ramp and lane closures next week announced by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Northeast Region.

Maintenance crews will be polyjacking bridge approach slabs at the southbound I-41 to southbound I-43 flyover ramp in Brown County on Monday, June 17, to Wednesday, June 19. Polyjacking is done to raise pavement level to eliminate uneven pavement on bridge approaches.

The southbound I-41 to southbound I-43 ramp will be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. overnight Monday and Tuesday. The suggested detour route is to follow Southbound I-41 to Velp Avenue to Atkinson Drive to southbound I-43.

The southbound I-41 off-ramp to Velp Avenue will be closed from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m., Thursday. The suggested detour is to take southbound I-43 to Atkinson Drive to Velp Avenue.


Celebrating all things dairy

Dozens of volunteers helped serve up a hearty farm breakfast Sunday at the annual Oconto County Breakfast on the Farm event. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

The Soggy Prairie bluegrass group entertained at Breakfast on the Farm. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

This miniature horse was one of the stars of the petting zoo at Breakfast on the Farm on Sunday at Peterson Dairy north of Lena. (Times Herald photo by Warren Bluhm)

A steady stream of wagons tractored people from the parking lot to the big tents, and at peak times the line stretched impressively over the grass at Peterson Dairy LLC north of Lena, but the 2019 Oconto County Breakfast on the Farm generally ran smoothly.

“The food was great,” said Joan Denis, one of the approximately 5,000 people who was served a big farm meal Sunday, June 9. “They’re very well organized; we ate right away.”

A light rain came through around mid-morning, but Mother Nature generally cooperated with temperatures in the mid-60s under cloudy skies.

Visitors were split into three lines of servers ready to dollop out scrambled eggs and ham, sausage and cheese, pancakes, yogurt, apple slices, milk, orange juice and coffee.

Once they were finished eating, there was still plenty to do at the annual celebration of June Dairy Month in Oconto County.


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