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Community Celebrates Longtime Business By Planting Liberty Elm TreesSubmitted: 05/18/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


Photos By Shardaa Gray

RHINELANDER - Trees can be found just about everywhere in the northwoods.

But there's one tree that hasn't been in Rhinelander for a while.

Carlson Funeral Service celebrated its 100 year anniversary as part of the Rhinelander community.

Today more than 100 people joined them in planting 100 young Liberty Elm Trees.

After planting the tree, they put a white wrap around them to prevent animals from getting to them.

Carlson Funeral Home director Bruce Carlson will need a little help keeping the animals from nibbling on the trees.

"We just ask people in the community if they could watch out for them please," Carlson said.

"If they want to they're welcome to water them. They need water and if it doesn't rain around here that would be very helpful."

More than 25 organizations helped with this project.

But there was one that wanted to make one of its trees unique.

"Our tree is in memory of Duane, Mary Ann and Mitch Huebner. And the Huebner family was a very active 4-H family in our county," 4-H member, Hanna Mahner said.

"We lost all three of them to types of cancer. They're also very important to our family."

"We decided to dedicate one to the Huebner family because they're a huge asset on Oneida county." said 4-H president, Zach Rinehart.

The trees have been planted throughout the city.

They'll finish getting them all planted Monday.


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ONEIDA COUNTY - Within a few hours, a jury found a Fox Valley man guilty of stealing things from the house where Ashlee Martinson killed Thomas and Jennifer Ayers Thursday.

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.

"It seems like a burden to have to come up here, pick up the stuff, store it, mess around with it, hold onto the titles, make sure it doesn't get stolen," Bennett said during his closing argument. "That's not a jackpot, that's a burden." 

Spietz will be sentenced in October. 

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"It's my home. When we first got here, within the second day, I had all the cottages memorized, I knew where everything was," said Froelich's Sayner Lodge owner Carole Froelich. "I fell in love with it right away. So there was no going back."

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MADISON - Donald Trump's Wisconsin director is calling on Democratic Senate candidate Russ Feingold to say whether Hillary Clinton's actions as secretary of state were ethical.

Trump's state director Pete Meachum issued a statement Thursday injecting himself into Feingold's Senate race against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

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LAKE TOMAHAWK - Fisherman in Lake Tomahawk will celebrate 40 years of the World Musky Hunt this weekend, and the fishing event was enough to attract Gov. Scott Walker to town on Thursday.

Walker said he wants to keep improving fish population in the area.

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RHINELANDER - New ownership will be taking over a major employer in Rhinelander and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Oldenburg Group announced today its Heavy Equipment Group has been sold.

That includes its Defense and Mining business units.

J.F. Lehman and Company will take over control of the operations.

The company was founded in 1992 by former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

The former Oldenburg operations will be renamed Lake Shore Systems, Inc.

The existing management team and employees will stay in place, and all plants will operate as normal.

The deal includes the plant in Rhinelander and several facilities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Wayne Oldenbug said one of his conditions was that there would be no deal unless there was an agreement to hire everybody...and not close any facilities.


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BOULDER JUNCTION - There's a lot of things you won't find at Aqualand Alehouse in Boulder Junction that you're probably used to seeing in the Northwoods.

You won't find a deep fryer in its kitchen, you won't find any Miller Lite on tap, and you won't find any fish fry on Friday night's.

But you might just find your new favorite pub.

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VILAS COUNTY - Seven departments and two SWAT teams swarmed an area in Vilas County Wednesday evening, responding to an armed man.

On Thursday, we learned that man is 48-year-old Mark Mayo of Eagle River, and he was threatening to kill himself. That was near a home between Eagle River and Phelps.

Mayo is safe, but now in Vilas County Jail.

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