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News 8.11.17

11 August 2017 News


Former Mayville Police Chief Christopher MacNeill is bound over for trial in Dodge County Circuit Court. MacNeill waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday and entered pleas of “Not Guilty” to one felony count of Misconduct in Office and one misdemeanor count of Obstructing an Officer. A Dodge County judge found there is enough evidence that a felony crime has been committed, however, a plea deal was presented to the court, and agreed upon by both sides. According to the plea deal, MacNeill would plead guilty to three misdemeanor counts and pay a fine not to exceed $10,000. The plea deal was not officially entered into court though, and a telephone scheduling conference was agreed to by both sides. If the plea deal is accepted, MacNeill would face no jail time, and would not be placed on probation. At that point, the court would schedule a plea/sentencing hearing.

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In just a few weeks from now, renovations are expected to begin on the historic Retlaw Hotel in downtown Fond du Lac. On Wednesday night the city council paved the way by approving a TIF package to assist the developers with financing. While there’s no construction activity yet at the Retlaw Hotel in downtown Fond du Lac, online images posted on the hotel’s website provide a glimpse of what to expect after the property gets a $26 million makeover, which developers say will be dramatic. The final hurdle for financing, went before the city council as members approved a TIF package worth $2.3 million. Once renovated, the hotel will feature 126 rooms, a farm to table restaurant, coffee shop, a spa and fitness center, plus retail space. The goal is to begin renovating the hotel next month, with a grand opening sometime in June of 2018.

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New figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show production costs for Wisconsin farmers remained steady in 2016. The average Wisconsin farm spent nearly $159,000 on feed, labor, machinery, fuel and other items last year. That’s just a fraction of 1 percent more than in 2015. University of Wisconsin-Extension farm management specialist Kevin Bernhardt says expenses have remained low over the last few years due to falling oil prices. Bernhardt says producers also saw more favorable rental rates for farmland last year. He says low commodity prices impact how much landowners can charge for rent. Bernhardt says farmers are likely to see a small increase in production expenses this year, as grain and dairy prices start to improve

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Wildlife officials in Wisconsin may use methods such as electric fencing to stop bears from damaging crops. Over the last seven years, about 275 farmers have enrolled in a state program that compensates farmers for damage bears cause. Last year’s appraised damage was $220,000. Department of Natural Resources wildlife damage specialist Brad Koele says there are about 28,000 bears across the state. He says problematic bears are typically trapped and relocated, but that finding them all can be challenging. Koele says the state is giving more farmers bear hunting permits, and that the agency plans to help farmers install electric fences. The crop damage program also applies to elk. Koele says paintball guns and drones are being tested to scare away the animals.

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