Monday, December 30, 2019

Readers choice: looking back on 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, the Oshkosh Examiner takes a look back at the stories that readers read the most. The Oshkosh Examiner concentrates on scoops and exclusives, and most of these stories fit into those categories. Click on the headlines to read the original posts.

1. Archaeological dig at Oshkosh headquarters site yields 20,000 artifacts, eight sets of human remains

It was old news, very old news, that was the big news of the year. In October readers of this site learned that the remains of eight Native Americans, believed to have been buried at least 800 years ago, had been recovered from the site of the nearly completed global headquarters of Oshkosh Corp. 

2. Menominee Nation Arena developer called insolvent; builder wants the keys, says false financial data used

Stories beginning in early August described financial troubles at the Menominee Nation Arena, whose owner has filed for bankruptcy and is working on a plan to reorganize its finances.

In April, the Oshkosh Examiner broke the news that the skies over Pioneer Island would be full of bombs bursting in air and rockets red glare come as the city opted to move the annual July 4 fireworks display from Menominee Park.

In June the Oshkosh Examiner was the first to report that local officials were calling on Winnebago County Coroner Barry L. Busby to resign in the wake of his erratic behavior, including extended absences from the state, the dismissal of his longtime chief deputy and sexual harassment incidents that got him temporarily banned from meetings of the state professional association whose members investigate suspicious deaths. He turned in his resignation in August.

5. UW Oshkosh graduation party is getting smaller as Molly McGuire's drops out of annual beer gardens

The Oshkosh Examiner scooped in April that beer gardens, the traditional outdoor celebration of the end of the UW Oshkosh school year, would be taking place at only one off-campus bar in 2019 as rising costs prompted Molly McGuire’s to drop its request for a special event permit. The Common Council voted to allow Kelly’s Bar, 219 Wisconsin St., to hold a two-day “Graduation Beer Garden” on May 17 and May 18. But Molly McGuire’s owner Tom Taggart said he was dropping out after sponsoring the event for about 25 years. “The costs make it impossible to do,” he said. “Every year the city’s costs go up and up and up.”

6. Oshkosh area leaders putting together plan for outdoor sports complex to support teams, draw tournaments

In January local community leaders were reported to be in the preliminary stages of planning a multiuse outdoor sports complex to address needs illustrated in a joint study between the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau and Rettler Corp. According to the Oshkosh Sports Facilities Feasibility Study, the city’s current facilities are functional but need improvements to lighting, concessions, restrooms and bleachers.

7. Oshkosh OKs sale of south-side land for 'Sawdust Lofts'

The Oshkosh Examiner reported in November that the city’s Redevelopment Authority had agreed to sell a south-side parcel valued at $150,000 for $1 to a local development company that is proposing to build 60 units of “workforce” apartments there. Northpointe Development Corp., which is owned by Andy Dumke and Cal Schultz, won out over three other entities that had ideas for the contaminated lot, which is in the 700 block of South Main Street.

8. Oshkosh Defense is accused of rounding time records to cut pay, reduce overtime in federal lawsuit

In March the Oshkosh Examiner reported that Oshkosh Defense workers were pressing a federal lawsuit that alleges the company illegally rounded time-clock records to cut compensation, especially overtime pay. Workers argued that since October 2015 the company had used a time clock policy in which “hourly employees’ start- and end-times for their shifts were rounded in 15-minute increments.”

9. UW Oshkosh student says his rights have been violated in sexual assault investigation, pushes federal lawsuit

In September fallout from a sexual encounter between two UW Oshkosh students landed in federal court, with the male plaintiff arguing that the school has “flagrantly violated” his constitutional rights in pursuing the matter. The case stems from a party sponsored on March 16 by a campus sorority at Winkler’s Westward Ho on County Road S, according to court papers. One of the sorority sisters invited a member of a campus fraternity to attend as her guest, and the two of them took part in the event along “with many other male and female students of the university,” the court filing says.

10. Walmart sues to lower its Oshkosh tax bill

Renewing its legal battle with the city of Oshkosh, Walmart filed suit July 3 to have $6.2 million knocked off the assessment on its South Washburn Street store. The Oshkosh Walmart is valued by the city at $16.6 million, but the company says it's worth only $10.4 million. The company sits atop the Fortune 500 and had $500 billion in sales last year. But like other major retailers, it believes that its stores are worth much less than local real estate assessors have determined. Two other “big box” retailers, Lowe’s and Menards, had already won significant rebates from the city on the grounds that their buildings were overassessed. By the end of November, the city had agreed to lower the store’s assessment and its tax bill.

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