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New Marathon Co. Sheriff Promises TransparencySubmitted: 05/09/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


WAUSAU - After a rough start to the year, the Marathon County Sheriff's Department could use a fresh start. The new Sheriff told us Thursday he's planning on it.

The wait for a new Marathon County Sheriff ended Wednesday when Governor Scott Walker appointed Chief Deputy Scott Parks to the position.

He took the oath today in front of his family and colleagues, filling the role 20 other people applied for.

It comes months after Sheriff Randy Hoenish resigned following the Wausau Daily Herald's discovery that he'd barely been to work all year. Then in March an inmate attacked a correctional officer, leaving her in critical condition. That led to the jail administrator's resignation, and the formation of a jail study panel. Sheriff Parks says their identification of that panel is an example of renewed commitment to transparency.

"I don't think we've hidden anything. We've opened up our closets and shown you as much as we possibly can. The whole focus here is to demonstrate to community, to you, to the department that we're serious about what we're trying to put in place here and what we're going to do for them. And that's how you start to build that trust back," says Parks.

Sheriff Parks also wants to develop ways to save money while giving people more services than they see right now.

"The top three agencies: Marathon Sheriff, Wausau Police, Everest Metro are combining our services in a number of areas. Our tactical team, SWAT; SWAT is a combination of Marathon Sheriff, Wausau and Everest. We continue to look to see if we can expand that out to some of the other law enforcement agencies," says Parks.

Sheriff Parks wants his colleagues to help hold himself to a high level of accountability

"I challenged each one of them that if they ever see me not holding myself accountable, or acting inappropriately, or what they consider to be inappropriately, I would expect them to address that immediately with me," says Parks.

All part of the new Sheriff's plan to help make the second part of the year less about controversy and more about progress in Marathon County.



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 IN OTHER NEWS

ONEIDA COUNTY - You often see tomatoes growing in gardens across the Northwoods, but making sure tomato plants stay healthy is difficult here in Wisconsin because of tomato blight.

In Wisconsin, tomato plants often get a disease called tomato blight. It can come early or late in the season.

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NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.

They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.

Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.

Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."

Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer. 


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ADAMS COUNTY - Two men died in a car crash near the Wisconsin Dells Saturday afternoon according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Police got a call around 2 p.m. about a two-car crash on County Road B north of State Highway 23 in Adams County.

A 65-year-old was driving and a 72-year-old was in the front passenger seat. Both those men died at the scene. They were both from Oxford, Wisconsin.

Driving the other car was a 24-year-old man from the Wisconsin Dells. He was taken to a hospital but is expected to survive.

Wisconsin State Patrol is still investigating. The names will not be released until the families are notified. 

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS - We now know who were the three people killed during Wednesday's double-murder suicide in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Wisconsin Rapids Police Department says  36-year-old Justin Bohn of Wisconsin Rapids shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter, Paige, and his 3-year-old son, Devon.



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- Local schools have stepped up to show their support for the Antigo community after last weekend's prom shooting. We'll show you what that effort looks like at Lakeland.

- Plus, a local greenhouse that was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 and was rebuilt is celebrating it's20th anniversary. We'll take you to the celebration.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - Large machinery moved north and parking spots disappeared on Brown Street in Rhinelander this week.  The city's $9.8 million downtown reconstruction project continued its push, closing down Brown Street from Davenport to Rives Monday.

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