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Rusk County News


The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office says they have taken homicide suspect Preston Kraft into custody. No other information was released by the Sheriff’s Office at this time.

Preston Kraft, 31, is considered the suspect in the death of 53 year old Robert Pettit from the Conrath area. Pettit’s body was found last Friday afternoon at the intersection of County Road I and Blueberry Road, near Conrath. After the shooting, Kraft escaped authorities driving a White Mitsubishi vehicle. The vehicle was found located in the Northwestern part of Rusk County reportedly in the Christie Mountain Ski area parking lot. A number of sightings of seeing Preston Kraft were reported the past days to Rusk County authorities. Charges were filed against the man accused of killing Pettit last Friday in Rusk County. Several charges including first-degree intentional homicide were filed against Kraft in Rusk County.

Wldy-Wjbl received a call from the Ladysmith School district informing that their Internet System was down in the School. With the Internet down means there is no phone system available in the school. You will not be able to call the Ladysmith MHS. You are to try later in the day.

Tuesday morning at about 10:15, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a Burglary complaint. According to the report, a female caller stated that she believes someone entered her home on 6th Street, Weyerhaeuser Monday night without permission. A Rusk County deputy responded to the scene. After an investigation, the deputy spoke with the reportee who advised that she believes that someone came into her residence Monday night around 9 PM. Her doors were not locked and that she believes that a female that use to work for her was stealing things from her residence. The complainant wants the Sheriff’s Office to look over her residence while she is gone. The deputy reported to change the locks on her doors.

Ladysmith Police shortly after 11 PM Tuesday night, conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle on West 10th Street South, Ladysmith. According to the report, a male subject was driving due to the registration being expired since March. A City Officer asked the two individuals if there was anything illegal in the vehicle. They both advised that there was not. An Officer frisked the two subjects for weapons due to Officer safety. The Officer located a small glass bulb pipe in the right front pocket of one of the subject’s shorts. The subject stated that it was a meth pipe and that he had smoked an hour before the traffic stop. The subject was then placed under arrest for OWI 1st and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) — The man accused of shooting and killing a Rusk County Sheriff’s Deputy has waived his change of venue request.

Doug Nitek, 45, appeared in Rusk County Court on Monday. He’s charged in the October 2016 death of Deputy Dan Glaze.

Nitek’s defense says he wants to have the trial in the county where he was raised. In addition to removing his request to have the trial moved out of Rusk County, Nitek also changed his plea. Instead of pleading not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, Nitek has instead entered a not guilty plea.

Nitek faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide and more than two-dozen other counts.

The trial date is yet to be determined but is expected to last at least two weeks.

A status conference is set for June in St. Croix County to discuss details of the jury trial.

RUSK COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) — As of Monday night, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office said the search continues for homicide suspect Preston Kraft.

The sheriff’s office said several units are still patrolling the Blue Hills area where possible sightings of Kraft were reported during the weekend.

Schools will be asked to keep children inside for recess on Tuesday.

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office is asking all schools in the county to keep students inside.

The School District of Ladysmith says it is a precautionary measure due to the homicide suspect still at large.

Preston Kraft, 31, is considered a suspect in the death of 53-year-old Robert Pettit from the Conrath area.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Preston Kraft, you are asked to contact the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency.

Just after 12 Noon Monday the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a male saw a subject in the road on Tyman Road. The subject was walking West but was not close enough to get any sort of description. After an investigation a Rusk County deputy confirmed that a 10 year old child was walking from one residence to another in the area which may be the sighting. Authorities continue to search cabins in the area.


A Rusk County deputy made a traffic stop shortly after 10 PM Monday on East Railroad Avenue near North 1st Street, Bruce. According to the report, a field sobriety was performed on the driver. The vehicle was stopped for the license plate not matching the vehicle. After an investigation, the driver was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, non registration and failing to transfer title.

EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) — The man charged with breaking into five churches in Eau Claire County reaches a plea deal.

On Monday, May 21, Timothy McClarron pleaded guilty and was found guilty of two felony counts of burglary of a building or dwelling. Three other charges were dismissed but read in.

The break-ins happened in November 2016 at Concordia Lutheran Church, Messiah Lutheran Church, Hope United Methodist Church, and Spirit Lutheran Church, all in Eau Claire, as well as St. James Trinity Lutheran Church in Fall Creek.

Police say at one of the churches, Holiday Gas Station gift cards were stolen. The cards were then used at a gas station in St. Paul, Minnesota, where investigators were able to use surveillance video to trace the license plate of the vehicle to Timothy McClarron. Police say his face also matches the suspect’s face from surveillance video taken during the burglaries.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 15, 2018.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) — With many local students preparing to take the next step in their lives, health officials want to make sure they get there safely.

“It’s so important right now because as we know it’s a time of celebration and accomplishment with the graduation season just around the corner. We’re really stressing the importance that there is other ways to celebrate this time of year besides underage drinking.

Many local departments participate in the “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most” campaign.

A ten-year-old campaign to increase awareness for underage drinking.

“Negative outcomes could be poor academic performance. It can impact areas of the brain such as the Hippocampus that control areas of judgement and so it can really influence other risky behavior too.

On top of the social and health repercussions there are also legal consequences, and not just for teens.

“Parents say things like ‘well as long as they’re drinking at my house I know it’s safe or I know they’re with me’ and I don’t think they realize sometimes that if an underage drinker, and you’re supplying the alcohol, they go out and get in an accident or something bad happen the liability falls back on them. I don’t think parents sometimes realize just how much danger they’re putting themselves in just from having that kind of an attitude.

“One bad choice can really mess up a lot of hard work before this. So we want parents to really emphasize with their kids, sit down and talk with them say ‘hey, we need to be smart, just because you’re graduating doesn’t mean responsibility ends’, it’s just beginning in a lot of cases.




Rusk County News


RUSK COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) — The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office is asking all schools in the county to keep students inside.

The School District of Ladysmith says it is a precautionary measure due to the homicide suspect still at large.

Preston Kraft, 31, is considered a suspect in the death of 53-year-old Robert Pettit from the Conrath area.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Preston Kraft, you are asked to contact the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency.

Rusk County, (WEAU) – Possible sightings of a Rusk County homicide suspect were reported Sunday to Rusk County authorities. Preston Kraft,31, is considered a suspect in the death of 53 year old Robert Pettit from the Conrath area. Pettit’s body was found Friday afternoon shortly after 4 PM in a driveway at the intersection of County Road I and Blueberry Road, near Conrath. Sunday, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office said it received two separate reports of possible sightings of Kraft in the Blue Hills.

The first sighting was reported at about 10:25 AM Sunday. The anonymous caller reported a male subject walked out of the woods about a ¼ mile East of the intersection of County Highway F and O. The subject was wearing a Blue backpack and Camo jacket. The subject was approximately 5′ 8”.

The second sighting was reported at about 4:30 PM Sunday from a caller advising about 3 PM he witnessed an individual crossing Fire Lane Road next to the First bridge North of County Highway O. The caller looked at photo from the News release and believes the individual he saw was Preston Kraft.

Rusk County authorities, Barron and Sawyer County authorities, Wisconsin State Patrol and aircraft assisted in the search. The search continued throughout the night. Deputies want to remind people in the Township of Atlanta to lock their houses and their vehicles.

The Original 911 call came to Rusk County dispatch at 3:33 PM Friday afternoon from a resident advising that Preston Kraft shot her husband. According to the Police logs, that the subject Robert Pettit was shot with a rifle from the car. Kraft was reportedly in a White Mitsubishi vehicle and a police chase took place in Rusk and Chippewa County. After an investigation, at 9 PM Friday night, a male subject at Christie Mountain advised that there was a White Mitsubishi convertible with Grey top parked in the parking lot. The subject provided a plate number and it matched the vehicle in question. The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office released a statement early Saturday morning saying the car was located and the driver 31 year old Preston Kraft was not with the vehicle.

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating Kraft who is armed and dangerous. If You have any information regarding Kraft’s location, you are asked to contact the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office at 715-532-2200 or your local law enforcement agency.

In other news from the past weekend, Saturday afternoon at 1:50 PM, Rusk County authorities received a transfer advising there was an argument at a residence on ten mile road Chetek about the son’s girlfriend having Drug Paraphernalia at the residence. After an investigation, a female was taken into custody by Rusk County deputies and was transported to the Rusk County jail.

Sunday morning at about 2:45 AM, Ladysmith Police responded to a location on Lacy Street in Sheldon to assist a County deputy who was holding two subjects at gun point. According to the report, during the traffic stop, Jonathan M. Peacock, reached for a hand gun in his vehicle and manipulated the firearm’s action. The County deputy ordered Peacock and the second subject to the ground and believed Peacock still had possession of the firearm. Peacock was taken into custody and was arrested for multiple offenses. The second subject was released to his Mother.

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a call shortly after 7 PM Sunday evening from a male subject advising that he had a person who crashed there motorcycle by his home located on Squaw Point Road, Holcombe. The caller advised that the driver came around a corner to fast and hit the ditch. The driver was in extremem pain and can’t move, possible neck and back injuries. Rusk County deputies, Sheldon ambulance and Lifelink helicopter were called to the scene. The ambulance brought the patient to a landing zone at the church. After an investigation, the crash happened in Chippewa County on 240th street. The subject was airlifted to Luther hospital. No other information was available.

MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) — Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has crowned this year’s Alice in Dairyland.

Kaitlyn Riley has been chosen as the state’s 71st Alice.
Alice in Dairyland’s job each year is to help educated the public on Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.

Riley grew up on a dairy farm in Gays Mills. She has a degree from UW- Madison in strategic communications and broadcast journalism.

“As Alice in Dairyland, I will give a positive voice to Wisconsin’s diverse agriculture industry,” said Riley. “Through my travels, I will learn from the many faces of agriculture to better educate urban and rural audiences about the importance of Wisconsin food, fuel and fiber production in our daily lives.”

Rusk County News


High pressure, our fair weather friend is still in control keeping our weather quiet to end the work week.

Plenty of sunshine today with temperatures on the rise. The weak front which came through Wednesday night is just to our south and will come back north, shifting winds to the southeast and south. This will again allow us to be around 80 with some of those stronger breezes.

The weekend will bring some changes, but what had looked like a more significant rain potential for Saturday earlier in the week, looks much weaker and is also forecast to move slower. This means Saturday is now looking brighter, and though we still have a slight chance of a shower in the forecast for late in the day, most places are likely to stay dry with a mix of sun and clouds. It will remain above average, though a bit cooler than the last few days, with highs in the 70’s. A weak cold front is expected to slide through by late in the day while pushing east into early Sunday. This will shift winds back to the east and northeast as a wave of low pressure slides to our south. This system will make for a mostly cloudy and cooler day on Sunday, with the chance of a few showers, but it seems like we will be on the northern edge with high pressure and drier air just to our north. Outdoor plans may be impacted, but chances remain on the lower side, and it appears a good part of the day would still be dry. Best to just keep checking in on the forecast as we become more confident on details.

(CNN) — At least eight people have died as a result of a shooting Friday morning at a high school in the southeastern Texas city of Santa Fe, CNN affiliates are reporting. This is the third school shooting in eight days, and the 22nd since the beginning of the year in the United States.

A suspect has been arrested in Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School, about 20 miles outside Galveston, assistant principal Cris Richardson told reporters near the school.

A second person has been detained as well, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter.

Witnesses described students running from the school as they heard gunshots; they also described hearing an alarm at the school, though the sequence of events wasn’t immediately clear.

Students empty their backpacks outside Santa Fe High School Friday.

An armed person walked into an art class at the school and began firing what looked like a shotgun, a witness told CNN affiliate KTRK.

The witness told KTRK she saw a girl shot in the leg.

Multiple deaths have been reported as a result of the shooting, two law enforcement sources told CNN.

Prevea Health held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, May 17, to celebrate the start of construction on the new, Prevea Ladysmith Health Center. It is scheduled to open this December and will offer family medicine and women’s care, as well as additional specialty care. The type of additional specialty care we plan to offer will be announced at a later date. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by about 40 people and included Prevea Health leaders and staff, the Prevea Health physicians who will see patients at the new health center, and many community members – including business leaders and members of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce.

Prevea Ladysmith Health Center will be located at 1101 Lake Avenue West in Ladysmith. Prevea Health, a physician-owned, multi-specialty health care organization based in Green Bay, operates more than 40 health centers throughout Eastern, Northern and Western Wisconsin. The first Western Wisconsin location opened in 2015 in Chippewa Falls. Since then, Prevea helath centers have opened throughout western Wisconsin including in Eau Claire, Menomonie, Augusta, Mondovi, Arcadia, Cornell and Altoona. A Prevea health center in Rice Lake is slated to open this Summer.


At about 11:45 PM Thursday night, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Chippewa County requesting the Sheldon Fire Department for a call in Chippewa County. According to the report, the location was West on 295th Avenue, just past Big Swede’s and about 2 ½ miles down 280th Avenue. 1 engine, 1 brush truck and manpower were requested for the call. No other information was available.

Thursday afternoon, due to the fire conditions, burning was not allowed in Rusk County. Burning in barrels, debris piles, and grass or wooded areas with your annual permit was prohibited. Campfires, though strongly discouraged, were permitted if used solely for cooking or warming purposes, but to use extreme caution.


Rusk County News


Our overall above normal temperatures and nice stretch of spring weather continues with a few more days of unseasonable warmth. Usually by the second half of May our highs are right around 70°. Yesterday temperatures topped out in the mid 80’s! Today and tomorrow will continue the trend of highs about ten degrees above average and then we will see more of a return to typical May weather into the weekend.

It will be another pleasant day to spend time outdoors, just make sure you have the sunblock and are staying hydrated (and keeping the kids drinking enough water). The sky will be mostly sunny but by later afternoon and evening there is still a small chance of an isolated shower. This is looking most likely further to our west so most of us won’t have to worry about any rain, but there is still that slight possibility. Expect highs to be right around 80. The nice, warm weather will continue into tomorrow, with high pressure to our east. A warm front will be to our north as breezes increase from the southeast and south. Highs will be in the low 80’s again Friday.

Rusk County tornado impact
Some say when a tornado passes through, it sounds like a freight train.

“I was in the Navy,” says John Pollak of Conrath. “It sounded like an F4 taking off the flight deck.”

For Pollak, who lost his home to the EF3 tornado on May 16, 2017, the sound may have been different. But the damage? All the same.

One year later, the imprint of the EF3 tornado is still clearly visible throughout Rusk County, and for families like the Pollaks, it’s a grim reminder of what it took away.

“May 16th 6:26. That was the time that it hit us, that we were in the basement,” says Eileen Pollak, explaining the night the tornado came through.

When John, Eileen and their dog managed to crawl out from under all of the debris, they discovered devastation.

“They couldn’t even tell there was a house here, well there wasn’t a house here anymore,” says John.

The two discovered devastation, losing sentimental items dear to them, and the place they once called home.

Today, the Pollaks have purchased a new property with help from a benefit-but the two look back one year ago to when the community rallied around them.

“Even the high school canceled their trip and came and helped us, the Ladysmith Senior high school class,” says Eileen. “They spend the day with us helping us clean up and stuff so, yeah I would say our community, Rusk County is working together.”

Efforts like the ones shown on the Pollak’s property have been a familiar sight throughout the county.

Rusk County Sheriff, Jeff Wallace says the county faced around $1.9 million in damage.

“It’s sad to still see the loss that some of these people had,” says Sheriff Wallace. “The county just pulls together and is there for each other. It’s neighbors helping neighbors, trying to get things back to where they were.”

Getting back to where they were, something that wasn’t an option for the Zunker family, as the tornado damaged or caused complete destruction to 10 different buildings on their family farm.

“I looked out the door and I said, ‘man we are going to need a lot of help,’ and within a half an hour we were talking to our construction agency.

Local churches, students and volunteers also lent a hand in picking up debris.

For the two families- whether it be relocating or rebuilding, one year later they see the tornado in a new light.

“You look at what you have now and we think well, maybe it was a blessing,” says Zunker.

“God works in mysterious ways,” says John.



Barron County Remembrance Event

Friends and family in Barron County also joined together Wednesday night for a remembrance ceremony in Chetek.

According to the Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, 100 percent of families displaced in by last year’s tornado are back in permanent housing! The sheriff, speaking at the event, said what better way to remember the tornado anniversary than by being together as a community
Hundreds showed up to the Chetek Airport Park where a free meal was provided to everyone who was affected or had a hand in recovery efforts.

The tornado damaged more than 150 Barron County properties and caused more than $10 million in damage. A moment of silence was also held at Wednesday night’s event for the two victims of last year’s tornado, one person who was killed during the storm and one during cleanup.

The sheriff said the leftover donation money will be used for a park beautification project in Chetek to create a tornado memorial as a thank you to everyone. Wednesday night, every property owner also walked away with a blossoming crabapple tree as a sign of remembrance


Just before 4 PM Wednesday, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call advising of a two car accident in the 100 block of West Arthur Avenue, Bruce. According to the report, one subject was trapped in a vehicle with unknown injuries. There was road blockage. Rusk County deputies, the Bruce Fire Department and the Ladysmith ambulance responded to the scene. A subject was transported by ambulance to RCMH. A firearm was taken by County deputies for safe keeping. No other information was available.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped to a record-low 2.8 percent, more good economic news for Gov. Scott Walker as he runs for re-election.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported the latest figure Thursday for the month of April. It had been at 2.9 percent for the previous two months, which tied the record low set in 1999.

Walker heralded the latest record-low, saying “we’re not done yet.”

Democrats have said Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is riding the wave of the national economy and they’ve pointed to other measurements showing that the state is underperforming its neighbors and lagging the national average in job creation.

The unemployment rate dropped despite the state losing 3,100 private sector jobs between March and April. The labor participation rate was nearly 69 percent.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — There’s really no turning back for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Vinehout now.

Vinehout is a state senator from Alma who is among a crowded field of candidates for governor. Vinehout’s spokesman says on Wednesday she submitted paperwork with the state declaring that she will not seek a fourth term in the Senate.

Had she not turned that in before Friday’s deadline, Vinehout could have dropped her bid for governor and instead run for the Senate again. That’s what she did in 2014 after a car accident cut short her bid for governor.

Vinehout is one of nine top-tier Democrats running in the Aug. 14 primary.

Another, state firefighter union head Mahlon Mitchell, won the endorsement of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO on Thursday. It’s the latest in a series of unions to back Mitchell.


Rusk County News


A warm, summer-like pattern is taking hold for the rest of this work week, leading to well above average temperatures and mostly dry weather.

High pressure will be dropping to our south today, keeping us sunny and dry, but as a cold front drops down into Northern Minnesota, we will get into a warmer west and southwest flow. This will lead to a several degree warm up and we are looking at widespread 80’s in the area. Warmer days will also mean warmer nights and lows for at least the next few days will be in the mild 50’s. The warmth will continue into Thursday and Friday with more highs in the 80’s expected. The front to the north will sag to the south just a bit on Thursday, and this could lead to a few stray late day showers and storms. Most places will remain dry, but something to keep in mind if you have outdoor plans during that time. Humidity will also start to come up just a bit. It won’t be that bad, but with dew points rising into the 50’s, it will start to be a bit more noticeable.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the fatal tornado that swept through four western Wisconsin counties.

On May 16 2017, the longest on-the-ground tornado ever recorded in Wisconsin traveled through Polk, Barron, Rusk and Price counties, leaving behind an 84 mile path of destruction.

One man was killed in Chetek and dozens of others were hurt.
In Barron County, the EF 3 damaged more than 150 properties and caused more than $10 million in damage.

Since then, the community has come together to rebuild and more than one million dollars has been raised to support the victims.


Just after 1 PM Tuesday afternoon, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a female reporting that her neighbors field was on fire and threatening structures at a location on Highway 40, Bruce. The Bruce Fire Department, DNR, and the Ladysmith ambulance responded to the scene. No other information was available.

The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office just before 9 PM Tuesday night, received a call stating that on Maple Lane, Glen Flora, a large Brown house is having a bonfire. The DNR and a Rusk County deputy responded to the call. According to the report, the County deputy advised that there were a few stumps burning and they were almost burned out. The DNR was on the scene for about 45 minutes and would do a follow up Wednesday morning.

A Ladysmith Officer at 3:45 PM Tuesday responded to RCMH to assist with a Domestic Abuse call. According to the report, the Officer advised that the incident may have occurred outside of the City limits based on the current information. The Officer spoke with the female victim and took photographs of her injuries. When asked about the marks on her neck, she advised that she obtained those from the male suspect choking her in her hotel room in Ladysmith the night before. The case is currently under investigation. A warrant was put out for the male suspect.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report shows doctors are issuing fewer opioid prescriptions.

The state Department of Safety and Professional Services released a report Wednesday from the Controlled Substances Board. The report examines data compiled through the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

The report noted 1,109,174 opioid prescriptions were issued during the first quarter of 2017. That number dropped to 953,656 prescriptions in the fourth quarter of the year, a decrease of 14 percent.

Doctors issued 910,616 prescriptions during the first quarter of this year, down 4.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2017.

Hydrocodone-acetaminophen, tramadol and oxycodone, all opioids, were the top three most dispensed drugs in the first quarter of the year, just as they were in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Rusk County News


Hard to believe we are now halfway through the month of May and closing in on the start of meteorological summer. So far this month has been warmer than average with only four days seeing below average temperatures. And, looking ahead to the next few days it will be even warmer, more typical of mid June!

High pressure, our fair weather friend, will be located to our north, sliding to the east and bringing us a light north and northeast wind. The air will be very dry and we will see sunshine from start to finish today. A good day for the sunglasses and sunscreen! Temperatures will top out in the mid 70’s but with low humidity it will feel very comfortable. The sky will remain clear at night and with the dry air, we should be able to drop down into the 40’s to start off Wednesday.

Temperatures will continue to warm during the mid-late week as the jet stream remains to our north and weak high pressure hangs on. A cold front will be located near the Canadian border, leading to a more west and southwest flow into the area. This, combined with more sunshine will lead to a warmer afternoon and we will be reaching into the lower 80’s. Average highs in mid-May are right around 70. The front is forecast to become nearly stationary to our north while low pressure will eventually develop further west in the Plains. This will keep us in a warm south and southwest flow until this system pushes through the area. Thursday will be another mostly sunny and warm day with highs again in the lower 80’s.


Monday afternoon at 1:30, Ladysmith Police received a Criminal Damage to Property complaint from the City of Ladysmith. The City reported that at an unknown date and time someone discharged a fire extinguisher inside the kitchen area of the Armstrong Pavilion in Memorial Park. A City Officer met with a City employee and observed the dry powder from the fire extinguisher was sprayed over the majority of the kitchen. The Officer observed the fire extinguisher was hanging back on its hanger and the hose was detached and the safety pin was pulled. The City employee advised that a few days ago the swing-out windows above the counter were found ajar. The employee was unsure if the fire extinguisher was discharged at that time, earlier or after.

Monday afternoon a City Officer responded to the Ace Home Center on a report of a shoplifter who had been apprehended by the store staff. The Officer arrived and made contact with the employee and the 17 year old juvenile. The juvenile was apprehended after concealing fish lures on his person. The Officer counseled the juvenile for his behavior and was warned that future shoplifting incidents will result in law enforcement action. The juvenile was not cited for retail theft.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Leah Vukmir is traveling to Wisconsin Republican Party field offices around the state in the wake of winning the state party endorsement.

The state senator from Brookfield got 73 percent of the vote Saturday while opponent Kevin Nicholson came in a distant second. The endorsement does not make Vukmir the nominee, but gives her access to the state party infrastructure which can help her counter Nicholson’s financial advantage.

Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Brad Courtney calls Vukmir a “proven conservative” and the activists who voted to endorse her will be the “backbone” of GOP efforts to defeat Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Vukmir’s tour of the 10 GOP field offices kicks off Wednesday with stops in Wausau and Green Bay and conclude Saturday.

Chippewa County (WQOW) – Two members of the law enforcement community are being recognized for their life-saving efforts last fall.

Nathan Steber, an investigator with Two Rivers police, and his dad Rob Steber, a retired deputy, stopped at the Eau Claire Travel Center on October 27, 2017 on their way out of town on a hunting trip.

That’s when they noticed a car in a retention pond, with an 88-year-old woman trapped inside. The two broke jumped into the pond and broke a window in the car. They were able to get the woman out.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office formally recognized both men for their heroic efforts. Both were presented certificates of appreciation on April 7 at a banquet in Two Rivers. The banquet, sponsored by the Two Rivers Kiwanis Club, was held for Investigator Steber who was being honored for Officer of the Year in their area.

Both the Sheriff’s Office and the River Country Coop, owners of the Eau Claire Travel Center,  expressed their appreciation with certificates.

Chippewa County (WQOW) – A Boyd man was charged in Chippewa County, accused of a hit-and-run while drunk.

David Samaniego faces five charges, including his fourth OWI. Police said on April 24, he was involved in a hit-and-run in downtown Chippewa Falls that caused minor injuries to two women.

He was tracked down a short while later. A blood draw showed his alcohol level was 0.23, nearly 3-times the legal limit to drive.

He returns to court May 29.

Rusk County News


You will want both the umbrella and jacket today as it will remain unseasonably cool and wet. Low pressure will be in the Plains tracking east, along a front to our south. A chilly east breeze will be with us, combined with clouds and rain, we are likely to remain in the 40’s all day. Conditions will vary however from north to south as the Eau Claire area looks to be on the northern edge of the rain and may only pick up .10-.20″. If you live further north then it will remain mostly dry and there may even be a bit of sun where temperatures will at least climb into the 50’s. South of Eau Claire the rain will be steady and heavier, where up to an inch or more can be expected. The rain may begin to move away by later afternoon but another round of showers is possible at night before this finally exits by daybreak Saturday.

This Mother’s Day weekend is packed with area activities and events on Saturday, hoping for some nicer weather, and it appears that will be the case. A front will remain to our south, but any additional rain should remain confined to the southern part of the state, while we remain dry with just a mostly cloudy sky. Some sunshine will be possible at times, and highs will return to the lower 60’s. Even better weather can be expected on Sunday as it clears out with sunshine and a warmer afternoon, in the lower 70’s.

(Milwaukee, WI)  —  Republican Party members in Wisconsin will hear from leaders like Governor Scott Walker, Senator Ron Johnson and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan this weekend.  The party’s annual convention runs through Sunday in Milwaukee.  Choosing a candidate to run against incumbent U-S Senator Tammy Baldwin will be a crucial decision among the weekend’s activities.  The endorsement is important for both state Senator Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson.  This year’s convention has the theme of “Delivering Results, Moving Wisconsin Forward.”


On May 10, 2018 at  4:40 p.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received multiple 911 calls reporting a fight and stabbing in progress on County highway Q south of State Highway 64 in the town of Medford. Taylor County Sheriff’s deputies and Medford ambulance service were dispatched.  A 24 year old male, Stormy R. Webber of Medford and 25 year old Derek J. Novak of Phillips Wi.  were both transported from the scene to Aspirus hospital of Medford with injuries.

Investigation into the incident indicates the two men confronted each other on the side of the road over relationship and child care issues.  The confrontation turned physical and Derek Novak produced a military style knife, Webber was unarmed. During the fight Webber was stabbed several times resulting in serious injury that required he be  air lifted from Medford for medical treatment. Novak also  received medical treatment for his injuries and was released from Aspirus Medford and is currently being held at the Taylor County jail.


On May 8, 2018, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department took Jameck Tolefree, 41 of Chetek,

into custody for giving Marijuana to a 13 year old girl and exposing this same girl to harmful

sexually explicit material via text messages.

Tolefree was charged with a felony count of exposing a child to harmful material, a felony

count of exposing a child to harmful descriptions and a felony count of bail jumping. Tolefree

was out on bond from in Marathon County and Wood County with several other felonies.

Tolefree is free on a $250.00 cash bond.


MADISON, WIS. — Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Daniel Swessel, 33, Barron, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James Peterson to five years in federal prison for possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  Swessel pleaded guilty to this charge on February 27, 2018. 

 On September 1, 2017, Swessel was arrested in Barron for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.  During a search of his vehicle, law enforcement officers found approximately 50 grams of methamphetamine.

 On October 11, 2017, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Swessel’s residence in Barron.  During the search, officers found over 190 grams of methamphetamine. 

 At the sentencing hearing, Judge Peterson found that Swessel was a threat to society based on his lengthy criminal history, which included assaults and drug offenses.  

 The charge against Swessel was a result of an investigation conducted by the Barron County Sheriff’s Department.  The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — Four people are charged Thursday in connection to a recent case of drug trafficking from a local hotel.

According to a complaint filed in Eau Claire County Court, officers arrested 45-year-old Jason Rezarch, 38-year-old Kristy White, 31-year-old Andrew Featherly and 36-year-old Jeffrey Thomas.

The complaint says officers confronted Rezarch on May 5 about selling drugs from an Eau Claire hotel. Later that night, a car, driven by White, was seen leaving the hotel and was stopped. During a search, officers found meth, marijuana and weapon- including a rifle.

Rezarch, White, and Featherly are currently in the Eau Claire County jail. Thomas is free on a signature bond.


(WQOW) – Banks have been walking away from low-income homebuyers seeking loans, and that has affordable housing advocates worried.

Newly-released federal data on mortgage lending from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows people with low- and moderate-incomes made up only 26.3% of borrowers in 2017, down from 36.6% in 2009.

In part, that’s due to federal rules that sought to crack down on the subprime lending tactics that helped bring on the financial crisis. Also, skyrocketing housing costs have locked many people of modest means out of the market.

But the data reveals another profound shift. Big banks are moving away from mortgage lending entirely, while independent mortgage companies — or “non-banks” — pick up the slack.

“Non-bank” is a catchall term for financial institutions that don’t take deposits. Non-bank mortgage lenders just do mortgage lending, for example. So in a time of low interest rates and higher regulatory costs, traditional banks have the option of moving into more profitable ventures, like credit cards.



Rusk County News


It has already been a pretty wild week of weather when you think about it. Monday we were in the 80s (more typical of summer) then it has slowly gotten cooler with some rain, and the week will finish off with temperatures more typical of early April!

After a very soggy last 24 hours in some spots and some severe storms to our south, today will be much quieter. We can thank our fair weather friend, high pressure, for the nice weather. It will be situated to our north today and will lead to a light northerly wind that will keep temperatures cooler than average. Still, it will turn out to be a pleasant spring day with sunshine and clouds and highs in the mid 60’s. Clouds will then increase and thicken into tonight. The next low will be located in the Plains with a front stretching well to the east. Rain with this system will push up to the northeast and we could see some showers move back into the area by very early tomorrow morning. Rain is likely to be around tomorrow, but recent model trends suggest this may be a little further south, leading to higher rain totals south of Eau Claire. Still, we look to be wet with showers that will begin to exit through the afternoon. It will be cloudy, breezy and unseasonably cool. A large high up to our northeast will pump the cool air into the state from the east and highs will struggle to climb much above 50.


Wednesday afternoon a warrant was served at the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office. According to the police log, a male subject showed up in jail to turn himself in. No other information was available.

Just before 6:30 PM Wednesday, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a call advising a telephone pole on Homestead Road between the railroad tracks and Highway 8 was on fire. The Hawkins Fire Department was called to the scene. According to the report, Excel Energy was contacted about getting a new pole at this location which is off the road so tracked vehicles will be needed. The pole caught fire at the base and snapped off at the base and still sitting upright on the ground.

Rusk County authorities received a call at about 7:25 PM Wednesday night from a male subject advising of a one vehicle rollover on County Highway I, Tony. According to the report, the driver was out of the vehicle but did not want any medical attention. Rusk County deputies, Ladysmith Fire Department and the Hawkins ambulance responded to the scene. EMS advised the subject declined being checked out and they left the scene. No other information was available.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — The Eau Claire man accused of escaping in handcuffs and driving off in a squad car has entered a plea.

Joshua Robertson, 25, pleaded not guilty on all counts on Thursday morning in Eau Claire County Court.

According to the criminal complaint, Robertson and a female passenger were pulled over for speeding on January 28 when a K-9 detected drugs. A search led to the discovery of two pounds and $40,000 worth of crystal meth.

While Robertson was alone in the back of the state patrol cruiser, law enforcement officers say he was able to move his handcuffs in front of him, get into the driver’s seat of the car, and drive eight miles away.

BLOOMER, Wis. (WEAU) — A water main break in Bloomer has forced road closures.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said the incident happened at about 4:50 a.m. Thursday. Both the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 40 are closed at the intersection of Main Street. Southbound traffic will exit on 15th Avenue and head west toward Oak Street. Drivers will then travel south on Oak Street before rejoining Highway 40. Northbound traffic will reverse these directions.

Chippewa County Sheriff’s deputies are on the scene and detours have been set in place.

Crews expect the cleanup to take over two hours. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

(Eau Claire, WI)  —  Protesters at the various campuses in the University of Wisconsin system say they want the state to restore millions of dollars in budget cuts.  Students, faculty, and staff say they support the system-wide tuition freeze, but the lack of funding is impacting everyone.  They say state funding for the system has been frozen or cut for the last six years.  Instructors say their morale is bad because class sizes and workloads are growing, while salaries stay the same.  Those voicing their support for the system Wednesday are calling for lawmakers to start by covering the money lost when tuitions are frozen.

  • Wisconsin Sports 5-23 May 23, 2018
    Wisconsin State Sports (5am update)     >>Brewers Win 1-0 Pitchers Duel From Arizona (Milwaukee, WI)  —  A sixth-inning sacrifice fly from Domingo Santana produced the only run in a 1-0 Milwaukee win over the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday night.  Arizona lost for the 12th time in 13 games.  Santana had been robbed of a […]
  • Richard A. Johnson May 22, 2018
    Richard A. Johnson, 84 of Jump River, died Sunday, May 20 at the Rusk County Medical Center.  He is survived by his wife, Fern of Jump River, three sons, Jeffrey (Judy) Johnson of Marshfield and daughter/granddaughter, Rosebud, Bruce (friend Ellen) Johnson of Hawaii and his daughter/granddaughter, Phoenix and Dave Johnson of Jump River.  Richard is […]