Vilas County


Last year, Vilas County opened more than 700 new criminal cases.

Almost all of them went before the county’s only circuit court judge, Neal Nielsen.

That made him one of the busiest judges in the state.  Statistics show Nielsen is doing the work of about one and a half judges, ranking third in the state in judicial need.

“Obviously, we would like to be able to devote an appropriate amount of time to each case and to resolve those cases swiftly so that everyone had confidence that this was a system that worked well for the citizens of the state,” Nielsen said.

Debate Continues Over Future Use Of VC Fairgrounds

Feb 7, 2020

With two years left on the current lease with the Fair Board, Vilas County has agreed to pay for removal of all existing structures once used by Eagle River Baseball Association, to inspect the property this spring when the snow is gone, and continue contact with the Fair Board.

County board chairman Ron DeBruyne acknowledged all the property, including Riverside Park, “are currently managed by the Fair Board (Vilas County Agriculture Society) 12 months of the year” under the current lease.

Wikimedia Commons Royal Broil

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has been asked to review the Vilas County ordinance establishing a uniform addressing system for the purpose of aiding in the fire protection, emergency services, and civil defense under authority of state statutes.

Vilas Co. Fair

The Eagle River city council has asked that  the city have the first opportunity to buy the Vilas County fairgrounds property should it come on the market in order to “control growth.” kolyaeg

A fire in Boulder Junction late Tuesday destroyed a home and a garage.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Department reports a garage fire was called in at 10:47 p.m. on Platinum Lane.

As firefighters arrived, the blaze had spread from the garage to the main house.

The home is also a complete loss.

There were no injuries and the fire remains under investigation. Several emergency response agencies were on the scene.

Goll Faces Sentencing For Vilas Co. Death

Feb 27, 2019

Felony charges against Chad Goll, 32 of Racine, were amended in Vilas County court Monday from 1st degree reckless homicide to 2nd degree reckless homicide in the delivery of drugs causing the death of Daniel Norton, 36 of Eagle River to which Goll pled no contest and was found guilty by Vilas County Judge Neal Niesen, III with sentencing set for May 6.

Two counts of felony delivery of heroin were dismissed but allowed to be read in at sentencing and three other charges were dismissed outright.

Bike Trail Along Vilas Country "W" Approved

Feb 21, 2019 pamjpat

Another segment of the overall Vilas County bike trail system was approved this week (Feb. 19) when the county Highway Committee approved close to three miles of Highway W right-of-way in the town of Winchester for the WinMan bike route to Manitowish Waters.

Wikimedia Commons The Catalyst31

A two month part-time administrative assistant vacancy in the Vilas County Tourism & Publicity office was approved this week after committee members rejected a full time replacement. This happened even though the 2019 county budget funded a full time person.

Asked about the work load, publicity director Cindy Burzinski favored a full- time person telling the committee “I've been working that position for two months and the person will never be looking for things to do.”

A former St. Germain man, Michael Fabian, was bound over for arraignment after a preliminary hearing in Vilas County court Monday.

Fabian, 51,  entered a not guilty plea to a charge of homicide by intoxicated operation of a motor vehicle last May 26 in Arbor Vitae that took the life of Kelly Sleeman, 43, of Arbor Vitae.

At the preliminary hearing, District Attorney Martha Milanowski had deputy Jacob Hodgdon describe what he saw when he arrived at the accident.


A number of land-based grant proposals from county departments were approved recently by the Vilas County Board of Supervisors including a three-year land information plan submitted by the county Land Information committee.

Vilas Co. Artifacts To Be Turned Over To The State

Nov 6, 2018

Most of us realize there were small communities and groups scattered across northern Wisconsin that most often moved according to the seasons . . . and evidence of their occupation has been collected, including artifacts on the Vilas county forest.

Vilas County Forest administrator John Gagnon  indicated to the county Forestry committee the State Historical Society has requested the county relinquish ownership of artifacts they collected to the state.

The Occult Museum

It's no secret that Wisconsin is full of famously haunted houses.

This week on a Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz tells us about Summerwind Mansion in Vilas County.

Summerwind mansion in Vilas County regularly shows up on lists of the most haunted places in Wisconsin.  The ghost stories surrounding Summerwind are only legend and hearsay, and none can be corroborated with independent evidence.  The mansion was real and interesting in its own right, but the tales of disembodied spirits and eerie organ music only add to the fascination of the place.

Sheriff Fath Named To Juvenile Corrections Committee

Jul 12, 2018

Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath has accepted an appointment by Governor Scott Walker to represent this region  on a Juvenile Corrections Study Committee.

Sheriff Fath said he was asked by the Badger State Sheriffs Association if he was interested and was appointed last month by Governor Walker

Reconstruction of Vilas County "B" Moving Forward

May 17, 2018
Wikimedia Commons Royalbroil

Reconstruction of 25 miles of Vilas county "B"  between Land O' Lakes and Presque Isle, estimated to cost $5 million, could be eligible for a 80% federal highway grant according to Vilas County highway commissioner Nick Scholtes (SHOAL-tees) report to the county highway committee.

Vilas Co. Vehicle Bid Process Questioned

Dec 20, 2017

How vehicles are purchased by the Vilas County highway department was questioned when it was learned this week some quotes came from phone calls to local dealers and others by sealed bid, however those bids were opened weeks earlier by employees without any public notice and prior to the highway committee meeting.

Purchase of a pick up truck had staff phone local vendors and received quotes ranging from $29 to $34,000 and no information from the state approved contract.