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New guidelines allow Rhinelander police to get rid of unclaimed propertySubmitted: 06/17/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson


RHINELANDER - Rhinelander police can start cleaning out the department's evidence storage.

Some of that evidence dates back to the early 1990s.

A few months ago, the department asked the city council to pass an ordinance telling the department how to go about getting rid of unclaimed property.

The city council did just that.

"The new ordinance, as it's been passed, is going to allow us to be able to contact people who had the rights to that property, see if they're still interested in it, and if they're not, we'll be able to auction the property off," said Rhinelander Police Chief Michael Steffes.

The people will have 30 days to claim their property.

Officers haven't started going through the evidence room yet.

"Our detectives, as they have discretionary time, will be able to go into there, assess cases that are - starting with our oldest cases that we have, determine whether or not the cases have completely gone through the courts, and if the evidence is available to be disposed of," Steffes explained.

The department will most likely use an online auction site.

Unclaimed cash and any money made from the auction will be put in the city's general fund.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

ONEIDA COUNTY - Back in November, a 20-year-old Rhinelander man drove and crashed his car after a night of drinking, killing his best friend in the passenger seat.

That driver will now spend nine months in jail.

Randall J. Lego was sentenced in Oneida County Court on Friday. 

He faced two charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

According to court documents, Lego's car hit a power pole on River Road just outside Rhinelander.

The passenger, 23-year-old Jacob Juedes, was dead at the scene. Juedes was a husband and father of a young daughter.

Oneida County Circuit Court Judge Patrick O'Melia said it was a tragic set of circumstances.

"The only aggravating factor here, and when I say that I don't mean to diminish the loss here, but is the result of this accident," O'Melia said. "That is the only thing that is not in your favor, which is the result of the action and the permanency of it."

Some witnesses testified to Lego's character and pleaded with the judge to not give jail time.

But, Judge O'Melia sentenced Lego to nine months in jail and seven years probation.

"There's a lot of people in the community who have strong feelings about what should happen," O'Melia said. "But the court can't sentence on community anger or community empathy."

Lego must also complete 200 hours of community service, for which Judge O'Melia wants Lego to speak to kids and teens about his experience. 




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RHINELANDER - If you shopped at Walmart in Rhinelander this summer, you probably noticed things weren't where they usually belong.

That's because crews were busy giving the store a fresh, new look.

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EAGLE RIVER - A woman will need to recover after colliding with a car on her bicycle Thursday night near Eagle River, according to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office.

The woman was riding south on Highway 45 when she tried to turn onto Evergreen Road. That's when a southbound car collided with the bicyclist.

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MILWAUKEE - The FBI says a Milwaukee woman added to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list this week has been arrested in North Carolina.

Twenty-four-year-old Shanika Minor is accused of fatally shooting Tamecca Perry and her unborn child in Milwaukee last March.

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MADISON - A new judge will be taking the bench in Marathon County.

The governor's office has named attorney Gregory Strasser to serve as a judge in Marathon County Circuit Court, replacing outgoing Judge Greg Grau.

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PORTAGE CO. - A 47-year-old Almond man now faces charges for his 5th OWI, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Nicholas Felella was arrested by the Wisconsin State Patrol's Wausau Post.

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ANTIGO - You can spot plenty of wildlife in orthern Wisconsin. However, you don't typically see a black belly barbado sheep or a royal palm turkey.

You can go check them out at the new It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo right off Highway 45 in Antigo.

The It's All Good Farmstand and Petting Zoo has a simple goal. It wants people to see interesting animals.
"We decided, what the heck, we should open something to the public to so that everybody that does not have farm critters and enjoy them like we do, can come in and pet the critters and learn a lot of stuff," said owner Cheryl Wirz.

Wirz decided to have her family be part of her staff. It's something she really enjoys.

"I love the fact that my kids are here and they're getting a hands on experience," said Wirz.

"I mostly help load and unload the animals from home to here. Also, I fill up all the water when we get here, and I run the food booth," said staff member and son Aiden Wirz.

That all adds up to work for their kids and there are some perks to working for your parents.

"Mostly, they can't fire me," said Aiden, laughing.

Most animals look familiar to the guests when they come right up to them, but what about the specific breeds?

"We try to promote rare and critically endangered breeds of farm animals. Most people don't even know what they are," said Cheryl Wirz.

The Wirz family is also passionate about the quality of food for their animals.

"We do all organic produce and all of our critters eat all organic. In fact, we grow most of their food," said Cheryl Wirz.

Some young kids might be a litte nervous of the animals at first, but the friendly staff is there to help.

"Little ones will be really nervous and scared, but after awhile they're calmed down and they really love it," said staff member Natasha Lewer.

Even with all the hard work that goes into owning a farm, the happy visitors make it all worth it.

"They light up when they're in there. We had a gentleman that was in a wheelchair and all the animals surrounded him and he was just smiling from ear to ear," said Cheryl Wirz.

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