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New snow clearing rules likely to be approved in RhinelanderSubmitted: 04/04/2013

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor
lkimble@wjfw.com


RHINELANDER - This winter made it especially tough on homeowners to find places to put all that snow. We got to a point where many were shoveling it into piles higher than their heads, or maybe even onto their neighbor's property.

Department of Public Works Assistant Street Superintendent Tony Gilman saw plenty of that this year.

"This is a recurring problem," Gilman said. "It happens often. But with the amount of snow we had, I would say the complaints this year have doubled or tripled. Occationally we'll get someone really upset, but most people are really decent about it. They just want to know how they can correct it."

Correcting that problem should be even clearer now. The Public Works committee added language to the city ordinance.

Now, it says homeowners can only put snow specifically on their property.

It also reinforces that snow cannot block views for traffic or sidewalks.

Gilman thinks these changes should be nothing new for most people.

"Be courteous to them," Gilman said. "If you put it out, don't put it on their property and then they have to clean it up. I try to get the neighbors to work together. Luckily, they do a pretty good job and we don't have to get involved."

If you're caught breaking this ordinance, you could get slapped with a $50 fine.

If crews have to come clear the snow, you'll be charged a minimum fee of $193.85.

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The two-day trial for Mark Spietz, 39, of Kaukauna, finished up Thursday afternoon, following a morning of the defense arguing it was all part of Spietz's job.

Spietz was a contract worker for a company called TruAssets, which secures abandoned or foreclosed homes throughout the country. The company is based in Arizona.

On Thursday, Spietz testified that in September and October, he took ATVs, bows, a John Deere tractor, a trailer and Jennifer Ayers' purse from the house to try and secure it for his employer.

"My experience with the work order is that it is our job to make sure the property is secured," Spietz said. "Obviously if I can open the doors and get into it, anybody can open the doors and get into it. So I ended up removing the ATVs with the trailer and them bringing them back to Kaukauna to lock up in my storage facility where they would be under lock and key for the future for whatever the bank decided they wanted to do with their property."

In the criminal complaint, however, Spietz told investigators he took the purse because he thought his wife would like it.

But the state argued Thursday he technically didn't have permission from the company to be at the house after the first visit. Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek presented Spietz with the original work order form TruAssets assigned him. The document specifically stated not to remove any personal property from the house, and that contract workers should submit a bid for the property if they do take it from the house.

Schiek then argued Spietz specifically targeted the empty house because he knew its owners were dead.

"Looking back, what did you think you saw?" Schiek asked Spietz during his cross examination.

"Couple spots on the floor, large, dark spots," Spietz responded.

"Knowing what you know now, do you know what that was?" Schiek asked.

"To the best of my knowledge that's where they were killed," Spietz replied.

Spietz's attorney Brian Bennett said since Spietz is not from the area, he wouldn't have known the homicides happened at the house. He argued there was no sign saying no trespassing, nor had he had any knowledge the house was in probate.

"He used his best judgment based on his experience," Bennett said during his closing argument. "Which makes him quite possibly, if he's a burglar, the worst burglar in the world."

Bennett added Spietz gets little supervision from TruAssets, as Spietz testified he has never met a person from the company.

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