2015 Year in Review, Part I
A summary of the biggest stories of 2015.
Kwik Trip Coming to Church St.
City leaders in Stevens Point approved the newest location of Kwik Trip on Church Street.
The site has been an unused parking lot in front of the former location of Copps Food Center for several years. Another location was announced on Plover Rd. in Plover.
New County Officials Sworn In
The Honorable John V. Finn presided over the ceremonies swearing in Sheriff-Elect Michael Lukas, Clerk of Court Patricia Baker, Coroner Scott Rifleman and Court Commissioner Michael Zell.
The ceremony took place in Circuit Court Branch II.
Napiwocki Sentenced in Contractor Embezzlement
Jason Napiwocki has been sentenced for leaving a Custer family in the cold- literally.
Napiwocki, 37, was been sentenced to three years’ probation and fined more than $65,000 for not completing his job on the Custer home of Jason and Miranda Grezenski, who live on Rolling Hills Road with their children. The couple last year told the City Times they hired Napiwocki in 2012 to remodel and expand their home.
Almost $50,000 later, the home remained unfinished and- in some spots- exposed to the elements. According to court documents, Napiwocki only spent about $5,000 on labor and materials for the family’s home.
Groups Demands Recall of Two on School Board
The “Save Our Schools” group filed papers to formally launch a recall campaign of two sitting school board members, Kim Shirek and Lisa Totten. The group needed to obtain 6,549 valid signatures- 25 percent of all voters from the last gubernatorial election- within 60 days but were unsucessful.
According to paperwork filed by the group, three reasons were listed for the recall: inability to cooperatively work with administration, staff and other board members to move the district forward; disrespectful and rude in public televised meetings; poorly represents the district by unprofessional demeanor.
Security, Space Concerns at SPPD
After years of trying to fix problems in-house, the Stevens Point Police Department finally broke its silence about ongoing concerns for security and safety inside the city’s police department. A leaking roof had caused stalactites to form in the department’s boiler room; victims and suspects often had to share space and office windows were easily accessible from outside. Security updates have since begun.
Crews Respond to Elizabeth Inn Fire
Crews from Metro Fire, Almond, Rosholt, Grand Rapids and Amherst departments were called to a mid-afternoon fire at Elizabeth Inn on Harding Ave. in Plover. Several fire trucks and an incident command center are on the scene, which was heavy with white smoke. The cause was later determined to be accidental.
Plover Welcomes New Police Chief
Dan Ault became the new police chief of Plover.
Ault, a U.S. Navy veteran, was sworn during a ceremony at the Plover Village Municipal Building. Officials from the Plover Police Department as well as Hull, Stevens Point and Portage Co. EMS, fire and law enforcement agencies were also in attendance.
New Charter School Exceeds Enrollment Goals
The Point of Discovery School took in just over 50 students during its open enrollment period, with 56 incoming 6th and 7th grade students applying for a spot at the school. Point of Discovery is a public charter school within the existing district using the principles of Expeditionary Learning (EL).
The school opened at the former site of Jackson Elementary on West Zinda Drive.
City Takes Input on Comprehensive Plan
City leaders held a series of public input meetings to hear what constituents want to see in the city over the next several years. Meetings were held in each district and most saw high attendance.
School Board Gets an Education
After several accusations between members of improper behavior and violation of open meeting laws, a district lawyer was brought in to conduct a workshop on the state’s open meeting laws. It’s not clear what measured were immediately taken by the board to improve the problems, as accusations continued amongst board members in the months following, and recently a formal complaint was filed against Board Member Angel Faxon for a meeting violation. No complaints were filed against members Kim Shirek and Lisa Totten, who admitted during public meetings to having violating the laws on different occasions.
Mayoral Candidate Busted for Dissing College Students
Former mayoral candidate Alex Kochanowski was caught degrading students at UWSP while he was working as a city bus driver. City officials from the transportation department released video clips of Kochanowski saying students were,“college brats…dumber, more spoiled, less respectful. Half these kids aren’t going to amount to nothing.” Kochanowski later dropped from the mayoral race and has retreated from public service.
Wiza, Moore Tops in Mayoral Primary
With all precincts reporting in, Mike Wiza and Jerry Moore are the top two vote-earners in the city’s mayoral primary.
Wiza far and away outgunned his opponents by a factor of 4, earning 1,491 votes. Jerry Moore came in second with 368 votes. Wiza went on to be elected in a landslide election.
Town of Grant Sues Portage Co.
The Town of Grant filed a lawsuit against Portage Co., saying the county is taxing town residents for ambulance service it does not want. The town is close to the Wood Co. line and contracts ambulance service with Grand Rapids, but still pays taxes to the county for emergency ambulance services. The case is ongoing.
The Stevens Point School Board narrowed down its superintendent search to two final candidates, both local, but in an 11th-hour decision opted to select neither candidate, a decision which brought fourth heavy public scrutiny. The board later chose to hire an interim superintendent, Lee Bush, and has now begun the search for a full-time superintendent for next year.
SPPD Chief Retires
Kevin Ruder announced his retirement from the Stevens Point Police Dept. after disclosing he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Ruder had been with the department for 28 years and police chief for seven. He remains active with the Guns and Hoses charity softball game, which supports local veteran organizations, and has since been replaced with Chief Marty Skibba.
So Long, Mickey’s
Mickey’s Restaurant is now a part of history.
Crews from Stuczynski Trucking began demolition of what was once a popular pizza restaurant on the city’s north end.
Mickey’s closing in late 2013 also opened an opportunity for the city to better align the intersection of Marie Drive and Second Street. Michael Ostrowski, community development director for the city, announced the project last year, saying widening Maria Drive to the west would provide for better pedestrian and bicycle safety. The intersection is surrounded by an established neighborhood and Madison Elementary.
The city purchased the property for $87,000.