Press Star looks back on 2015
Year in New London, Hortonville
By Scott Bellile
A pharmacy robbery, state trip for Bulldogs softball, the demolition of a former theater and plans for a downtown veterans’ memorial were among big news in New London in the first half of 2015.
In Hortonville, child pornography charges for Hortonville’s former village administrator, a Main Street house fire and months of downtown Hortonville bridge construction generated buzz.
This is the first in a two-part review of the top stories for 2015.
2005 New London graduate Chris Rombough was inducted into the Wisconsin Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame on Jan. 9. The UW-River Falls cross country coach holds Wisconsin’s track and field record for the 3,200-meter run (8:57.73), set in 2005.
The New London School Board approved a bid Jan. 12 to replace 60 percent of the roofing at New London Intermediate/Middle School. Local voters had approved the project in a non-recurring referendum the previous year.
Bricks falling from the former Wolf River Community Theatre building at 225 N. Water St. forced the property owner to decide whether to repair or raze the 122-year-old building.
New London City Council approved a rezoning of five vacant parcels in the third district along East Beacon Avenue on Jan. 13. The rezoning paved way for the creation of low-to-moderate-income housing.
Outagamie County Highway Department crews reached New London Jan. 21 in an effort to complete the 23-mile Newton Blackmour State Recreation Trail.
The New London Parks and Recreation Committee approved the Bernegger River Walk as the site of the future New London Veterans’ Memorial on Feb. 3. (This would later change.)
A fire destroyed a barn on Randy Strey’s farm on Spring Road in Greenville on Feb. 5.
The Hortonville Village Board approved renaming an Otto Miller Park diamond to Gil Hart Memorial Field on Feb. 5. Hart, a Hortonville educator for 21 years and girls’ softball coach, died at age 63 in 2014.
School District of New London payroll and accounting specialist Wendy L. Swinton was charged with felony theft. She was accused of stealing more than $60,000 in cash from the school district over five years.
Hortonville Village Administrator Patrick Vaile was charged in Outagamie County Court with 16 counts of possession of child pornography on Feb. 11. Vaile resigned from his position after his arrest.
The Hortonville Village Board approved a 12,000-square-foot expansion of Gardan Enterprises in the village’s industrial park.
Waupaca Goodwill Retail Store employee Maria D. Muniz of New London was charged with embezzling nearly $17,000 while working as a team leader.
Donald W. King was charged with intentionally subjecting an at-risk individual to abuse after leaving his 77-year-old mother to live in a trailer with virtually no heat, food or running water.
New London wrestler Scott Cook and Hortonville wrestlers Jacob Barnett, Joe Cliver, Elliott Luker and Curtis Diedrich advanced to the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament.
The JJ Watt Foundation awarded the New London football program a $6,600 grant to purchase 100 jerseys for middle school players.
A state appeals court overturned the conviction of Chad Magolski, who was accused of killing his 77-year-old neighbor James Park in New London in 2007.
First National Bank, the largest bank headquartered in Waupaca County, faced federal scrutiny by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
A fire sparked by equipment failure destroyed a substation on Douglas Street in New London.
Dave and Sue Tennie of New London were named New Dublin’s Irish Man and Irish Rose for 2015.
The Bernegger River Trail was no longer a usable site for New London’s future veterans’ memorial after the discovery of underground utilities.
New London High School students learned March 11 a new high school senior they had attended school with for six weeks was an undercover police officer, Brody Erickson. The operation yielded two arrests of students for possession of marijuana as well as several arrests of drug suppliers outside the district.
Press Star reporter John Faucher was named New Dublin’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal.
New London firefighters and several local residents rescued an 18-year-old man who went sailing down the Wolf River on an ice chunk on March 20. Two online Press Star videos documenting the incident received more than a combined 35,000 views.
Edgar Soriano of Manawa died days after rear-ending a New London school bus on State Highway 54 on March 24.
Hortonville voters elected Traci Martens village president. Jeff Schuh and Kelly Schleif were re-elected village trustees. Peter Olk defeated Louis McKellar in the municipal judge race, but Olk accepted a village board seat he had also won. As a result then-current judge Norbert Dallman was appointed to remain as judge until the April 2016 election.
Hortonville school board members Willard Griesbach, David Schlichting and Dana Ramshak retained their seats after running unopposed.
Connie Neely, Jeremy Gorges and Bill Schmidt were re-elected to New London’s school board.
Alderperson Robert Besaw was voted onto New London City Council while incumbents Tom O’Connell, Lori Dean, Rob Way and David Morack were re-elected as alderpersons.
Bree’s Inn II bartender William Bree and his mother Jayne White tackled would-be robber Kyle Conlon of Marinette in New London on April 12.
Reconstruction on Hortonville’s Black Otter Lake Dam, mandated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, began in late April. The DNR had determined nearby homes would be at risk of flooding in the event of a dam failure if the project didn’t proceed.
CHS Larsen Cooperative announced an expansion of its grain facilities in Readfield and Center Valley.
New London High School DECA students took the student-run Percy’s Pro Shop to the national competition in Florida in late April after receiving first place in Wisconsin in March.
The New London Veterans’ Memorial Foundation unveiled conceptual designs for a memorial in Taft Park on May 5.
Firefighters extinguished an electrical fire in a janitor’s closet at Emanuel Lutheran School in New London before serious damage occurred on May 6.
The New London City Council debated the creation of a landlord registry for rental property owners on May 12.
A man robbed Jernegan’s Health Mart in New London with a gun and made off with prescription drugs on May 13.
Property owners along the Wolf River and Embarrass River petitioned New London City Council to place no-wake zones near the convergence of the two rivers.
Failing bridge abutments led to the first delay of the Black Otter Lake Dam reconstruction project in Hortonville.
New London High School’s Class of 2015 graduated on May 29.
A faulty refrigerator sparked a fire that destroyed the home of Stewart Garson on Main Street in Hortonville on May 30.
Hortonville High School’s Class of 2015 graduated on June 3.
New London began planning the installation of a memorial rock for late New London mayor and city attorney Sigurd Krostue.
Hortonville cousins Cody and Hannah Lohrenz ran at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships.
Wolf River Paddle Sports in New London closed abruptly June 5 after undergoing interior renovations to its new home, the former Curt’s Barbershop building on Pearl Street.
The New London girls’ softball team advanced to the Division 2 State Tournament and lost 3-1 in the first round on June 12.
The City of New London Planning Commission began exploring the possibility of zoning for tiny houses within city limits.
The State Highway 15 bypass project experienced delays after state lawmakers couldn’t agree on a proposed biennium budget.
A $42,000 playground expansion at Hatten Park that began summer 2014 and was delayed by poor weather continued to experience weather delays.
The former Wolf River Community Theatre was demolished on June 18 after owners Fidelity Direct Leasing opted not to make necessary repairs.