A Radisson man, Jerry Wayne True, was sentenced Wednesday, Aug. 14, to 28 years in prison after being found guilty in a July 11 jury trial of four felony counts of threatening bodily harm to Sawyer County Judge John Yackel, District Attorney Bruce Poquette, Assistant District Attorney Aaron Marcoux and their families in a letter he sent Nov. 7, 2017, to an acquaintance from the Sawyer County Jail.
True, 46, appeared before Judge John P. Anderson for sentencing in Sawyer County Circuit Court. He has been in prison since May 2018, after his probation was revoked for a sex offender registry violation.
Judge Anderson sentenced True to seven years in prison on each of the four charges of making threats, followed by three years of supervised release. The totals are consecutive, adding up to 28 years in prison plus 12 years of supervision.
As conditions of extended supervision, True must not have contact with any of the victims, their families or their property and cannot come within one mile of the victims' properties. He must take any counseling deemed appropriate by his agent, which must include cognitive thinking programming. He was assessed $2,072 costs.
According to the criminal charges, True threatened to "hunt down" the judge and prosecutors and two other individuals and stated, "They ruined my life. I'm taking theirs."
In the letter he sent, True also threatened to "blow up the courthouse and jail."
According to True's probation agent, in July 2017 True violated his probation by exchanging messages with a Facebook group of single women, in which he used racial slurs, told one mother to kill herself, told another he would make her into "bar-bque and stew" and that he had no problem killing people be-
cause he "doesn't care." He told another woman that he would find her via her computer ID address and would hunt down her and her family.
As a result, True was arrested and jailed for a probation violation. The complaint states that while in jail, he threatened to punch an inmate and kill a different inmate.
True's sentence is consecutive to his current prison term of three years, which was imposed in May 2018, after his probation was revoked for failure to provide updated information to the state sex offender registry in October 2016.
The charges against True were prosecuted by Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Robert J. Kaiser Jr.
A proposal to open up all 99 miles of town roads in Spider Lake Township to travel by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) drew an overflow crowd to the Aug. 14 town board meeting.
After nearly two hours of debate, pro and con, Town Chairman John Leighton appointed a committee to draw up a survey to be posted on the town's website. The survey will ask town landowners and residents their opinion on the issue, before the board makes a decision.
Town Supervisor Mike Lemminger first proposed three months ago to open all town roads to ATVs and UTVS.
Leighton checked with the Wisconsin Towns Association, which advised that roads may be opened by a majority vote of the town board at an ordinary town meeting, with proper notice of the agenda. At that time, the board voted to table the issue "to give the opposition the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to do," he said.
Lemminger said he wants residents to be able to drive their ATVs on town roads to get to their hunting spot, to a business or to see a friend "without the risk of getting a ticket. Seventy-five percent of our roads are dead ends, and there won't be massive amounts of people driving down them," he said.
"Everybody around us is opening up their roads," Lemminger added.
Don Mrotek, trail coordinator for the Sawyer County ATV and Snowmobile Alliance, said, "There is a lot of fear about ATVs coming in and causing problems. We already have laws covering a lot of (the concerns)," such as young kids driving on the roads. "It's against the law for a 12-to 15-yearold to be on the road without adult supervision." It's also illegal for anyone under age 12 to operate an ATV. Town resident Jerry Keating said manufacturers in their advertisements for ATVs and UTVs "state in no uncertain terms 'Do not take these vehicles on roads.'"
Another speaker said the concern of the ATV/UTV manufacturers is for paved roads, as "ATV tires are not meant to grip roads."
Mark Little, recreation safety warden for the northwest region of the Department of Natural Resources, said the town has the statutory authority to open its town-maintained roads as
ATV/UTV routes. Once the town enacts an ordinance, it sends it to the DNR and other local law enforcement agencies.
Leighton said the Town of Spider Lake currently has bicycle and snowmobile trails, but no ATV trails. "So if we open our roads to ATVs, it won't be to get to a trail." However, local people who own ATVs are driving them on roads, he said.
Mrotek said, "The main purpose of opening up roads for ATVS is for locals and land owners. Most of your roads are dead ends. We don't foresee that much traffic coming in here."
Snowmobile laws allow an operator to drive his sled from his residence or place of lodging to the nearest trail, Mrotek said. But ATV operators are prohibited from driving their machines on roads. So if a person wants to drive to his neighbor's place, that road has to be listed as a legal route.
Mrotek added that ATV/UTV drivers must have the headlights and taillights on their machines on at all times while they are on a road.
Explore the issue fully
A resident of Boulder Lodge on Highway 77 said he saw seven ATVs driving "full speed" on the highway that evening (Aug. 14) and said ATVs drive on Highway 77 "regularly."
Mrotek advised the speaker to notify the sheriff's department of the violators.
Spider Lake resident Tim Sullivan said that according to the DNR, the number of ATVs registered in Wisconsin is increasing, as is the number of fatalities involving ATV operators. Rollovers account for 65 percent of those fatalities.
Sullivan said another problem is noise and environmental pollution associated with ATVs — "all the crap that comes out of two-cycle engines." He urged the board to table the topic to explore it more fully "without making a rash decision."
The owner-director of the North Star youth camp on Spider Lake said he "fears for the safety of our bicyclists, especially kids" who cycle on the roads if ATVs are allowed on them.
Warden Little said that so far this year, there have been 15 ATV crash fatalities in the state, including three fatalities in Sawyer County.
He added, "We (DNR) only investigate fatalities. We know there are many more crashes. Most of the fatalities were the result of speed." Slightly more than 50% of the crashes were on roadways, he said.
According to the statistics, "the most unsafe operators" in the fatal crashes were middle-aged men, Little said. "Those are the folks who haven't gone through our ATV safety course." He added that more than half of the fatal crashes involved alcohol consumption.
Town resident Janet A. Brandt said the town has signs stating "'Share the road.' Shouldn't this include ATVs?"
Addressing another concern, Little said the state does not require ATV owners to have insurance. Mrotek said that if a person wants to take out a loan to buy a new machine, the lender will require the purchaser to have insurance.
A cabin owner on Murphy Boulevard said, "It scares me to death to add ATVs" to the traffic on that road, where pedestrians often are present. "There are so many scary turns and hills," she said.
A resident of Paddock Road said she is strongly opposed to opening up roads to ATVs. "It's a quiet road and that's why we bought there." She added that a friend's 12-year-old son was killed while riding an ATV with his dad when its wheel caught the edge of a road and the four-wheeler tipped over on him.
Mike Martin, Great Divide district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, said they manage the roads in the national forest jointly with the local town and "we defer to the town's" decisions. "We weigh safety and ecological concerns" in doing that. One example is Rock Lake Road, which is open to ATVs and other traffic, he said. "We worked with the club to resolve" safety concerns there.
The lower standard roads (two-tracks) that are not maintained by the local town are listed on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest motorized use maps, Martin added. They are listed as open, closed or open seasonally.
"We find a variety of users" on the roads, Martin added. "An ongoing challenge we have" is with those ATV/UTV drivers who "push the envelope and try to go further at the end of a dead-end road" to go to other areas, he said.
Martin, who resides in Spider Lake Township, said he is opposed in principle to opening up all town roads to motorized use. He would support looking at designated routes. The town's eastern third is mostly national forest, with gravel roads. In the middle third, there is a lot of private land around the lakes.
The western third contains the silent sports trails — the Birkebeiner Trail and CAMBA bicycle trails — intermixed with vehicle traffic. Martin said. "But ATVs and UTVs are a different beast. With a Polaris RZR, you can go from zero to 60 mph quickly with the touch of a throttle. That's faster than a car."
Mrotek said the Alliance's ATV/snowmobile maps show connector routes to the trails and businesses in the county, but don't show all the signed roads and streets that are open to ATVs.
A resident on Highway A said, "You people that live on dead-end roads have nothing to worry about. We (ATV users) are not going on your roads. We stay on routes. Snowmobilers and dirt bikers go off the roads. Give us (ATV riders) a fair shot."
The City of Hayward is a good example of opening up routes to ATV traffic, he added. "The businesses in Hayward are loving it."
Sawyer County Sheriff Doug Mrotek said there were three complaints involving recreational vehicles in the county from 2017-19, including one ATV/UTV complaint in the Town of Spider Lake. One of the complaints was of bicycles not riding single file when a car wanted to pass.
"We live in a great community and there's no reason we can't all respect each other and work together," the sheriff added. "It's that 2 to 5 percent of people in every sport who wreck it for everybody. It's up to us in law enforcement to deal with that (offenders). We want to know where those problem areas are so we can focus on that and change that behavior."
DNR Warden Aaron Koshatka said that since January this year, he has responded to three complaints of ATVs riding on the same section of Highway 77. To date he has not written a citation involving ATVs, he added.
We live in a great community and there's no reason we can't all respect each other and work together. It's that 2 to 5 percent of people in every sport who wreck it for everybody.
Sawyer County Sheriff
Everyone can enjoy this year's 112th Sawyer County Fair with a full schedule of competitions, music, exhibits, food, carnival rides petting zoo and children's games. And that's not all.
The opening day, Thursday, Aug. 22, is Family Day and there is no charge to get in. The Pavilion opens at noon and DJ Mark Simono will provide music. At 2 p.m. the Junior Class Judging begins in the Exhibit Hall, followed by small animal judging in
the Poultry Barn.
At 5 p.m. the carnival rides begin and from 6-9 p.m. there is gospel music presented by the Greater Hayward Area Ministerial Association in the Family Tent.
Friday, Aug. 23
Gates open Friday at 8 a.m. with a Lions Club Pancake Breakfast in the Pavilion, from 8 to 11 a.m.
The goat, sheep, swine and beef judging starts at 10 a.m. in the Large Animal Barn. Also at 10 a.m. there is open and junior Llama judging in the arena.
Marc Simono returns with music at 11 a.m. and the Petting Zoo opens at that time as well.
Free pony rides for the kids begin at noon in the Animal Barn, as do the carnival rides, and at 12:30 p.m. go to the Family Tent for the Nicks Kids Family Show (additional showtimes are at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m.).
The "Singing Cowboy," Mike Keating, performs at the Pavilion from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and rabbit judging is set for 3 p.m. in the Poultry Barn. Also at 3 p.m. are Veggie Races in the Family Tent.
Enduro-cross ATV and motorcycling racing, sponsored by Hayward Power Sports and North Country Riders, is the big event at 6 p.m., with the Austin Fire Band performing immediately after. Divisions are ATVSide-x-Side and Motorcycle.
Saturday, Aug. 24
Again, the Lions Club will serve their popular pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. in the Pavilion. Open Air & Junior Class Horse Judging with Gymkhana starts at 10 a.m., with games to follow in the Horse Arena.
The Petting Zoo will open at 11 a.m. and Mike Keating will sing at the Pavilion from 11 a.m. to noon.
Also at 11 a.m. there is 4H Junior Livestock Bidder Registration and Open Dairy Judging in the Animal Barn.
Nicks Kids Family Show returns Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3 and 6 p.m.
Veggie Races and carnival rides start at noon and free pony rides run from noon to 8 p.m. (Veggie Races again at 3:30 p.m.)
DJ Simono provides music at the Pavilion at 12:30 p.m., while the Dairy Queen Dilly Bar Eating Contest — a highly photographed event — begins as well.
The afternoon offers a 4H Junior Livestock Pie Auction at 1:30 p.m., and the 2 p.m. 4H Junior Livestock sale, both in the Animal Barn.
Don't miss the Sawyer County Celebrity Milking Contest at 5 p.m. and hold on to your hats for the Championship Bull Riding & Barrel Racing in the Sports Arena at 7 p.m., followed by Chad Edwards and fireworks.
Now, that's a full day.
Sunday, Aug. 25
It's last call for the much-heralded Lions Club Pancake Breakfast, from 8 to 11 a.m., as the last day of the fair gets underway. Sunday activities include a church service with Pastor Tim Warner of the Northern Lights Church at 10 a.m. in the Family Tent.
Nicks Kids is on with shows at 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m., all in the Family Tent, and the Singing Cowboy performs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Pavilion.
Registration for Kids Pedal Power Tractor Pull is at 11 a.m. and at noon the sanctioned kids Tractor Pull begins at the Pavilion, as do the carnival rides.
The Dirt Dash stock car racing is at 1 p.m., presented by 1Goose One Promotions.
Admission rates are: Thursday (Family Day): no admission charge. Daily Pass-$10. Season Pass-$25. Seniors Daily Pass (65+)-$5. Seniors Season Pass-$15. Children 5 and under-no admission charge.
Carnival rides are not included in passes. Carnival rides wristbands can be purchased at the carnival.
The Sawyer County Fairgrounds are located 2.5 miles east of Hayward on Highway B. Free shuttle bus service is offered to and from the fairgrounds, with pickups at Sevenwinds Casino and the Hayward municipal parking lot from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
No pets are allowed; service animals only, as defined by ADA, are permitted.
The vice chair of the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Tribal Governing Board, the director of the LCO Child Support program and a tribal legal counsel appeared at the Aug. 15 meeting of the Sawyer County Board to state their concerns about comments made by the county child support director at the Aug. 1 county Public Safety Committee meeting.
The comments subsequently were reported in an Aug. 7 Sawyer County Record article titled "County child support director says some LCO members want to return
to county system."
As reported in the Aug. 7 article, Sawyer County Child Support Director Sandra Okamoto told the committee she had received several requests by LCO tribal members, who had formerly been under county child support but had transferred to the tribal court, to transfer back to the county.
When asked at the Aug. 1 meeting why LCO members were asking to be transferred back to the county, Okamoto said the tribal members were telling her that they were not receiving an adequate response from the tribal system to their calls, and that some had not received any child support.
At the Aug. 1 meeting, Okamoto also noted there wasn't a clear direction for how tribal members can transfer back to the county. The comments prompted Supervisor James Schlender, a former LCO tribal judge, to raise concerns that the issue was being discussed publicly. He said the process for tribal members to transfer out of the tribal system was to appeal to the tribal court, and if the appeal was rejected to pursue relief via the state court.
At the Aug. 15 Sawyer County Board meeting, three tribal representatives appeared and spoke about their concerns during the public comments portion of the meeting.
"I am here tonight to let the County Board know that the Public Safety Committee comments made and the issues brought forward were not well received," said Lorraine Gouge, LCO Tribal Governing Board vice chair. "It was disrespectful to the tribal court, to our agency, and that is how it was perceived. Government to government, we need to work on relationships when it comes to our agencies and the things we need to bring forward to provide services to our people. So there are ways to do that. There's ways it can be done. And we need to work together on strong efforts, to do the best we can for those children and families, to provide the services they need."
Gouge said the article made it sound as if there was no process for tribal members to change their status from the tribe to the county.
"There's a process in place," she said. "But the disrespect to our tribal court is not appreciated." Then Sue Smith, LCO Child Support director, spoke.
"My goal is to find a solution that better serves parents and their children that is beneficial to both agencies — Sawyer County Child Support and LCO Child Support," Smith said, "but most important, beneficial to the individuals we both serve with everything that we do."
Smith said over the past few years she had reached out to Sawyer County Child Support to work together and collaborate to provide services beneficial to both agencies. She said she had talked to Sawyer County Administrator Tom Hoff about creating a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two agencies.
The "most troubling" impression, Smith said, she had from the discussion at the Public Safety Committee meeting, is that the tribal court is not a valid court.
"Parties shouldn't be directed away from the proper course of judicial action," said Monica Chase, legal counsel for LCO tribal court program.
Addressing the proper course, Chase said, LCO tribal members should make a motion to the tribal court and if the court "finds that is proper," it will transfer the child support case back to the county.
"That is the procedure in place and some people have done it," she said.
Chase said it is troubling that some LCO members might be receiving misinformation and trying to "bypass the tribal court entirely."
She added, "I think we are on the right path to fix the issue, so we just wanted to make sure we came here and made it known that it was an issue for us and we are hoping to address it."
At the request of the three, Public Safety Chair Bill Voight said he would allow them to make a presentation at the next Public Safety Committee meeting in September.