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2017 Year in Review: Top stories in Northeast Wisconsin

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt sits along side his attorney, Patrick Knight, during a removal hearing, February 20, 2017. (WLUK/Andy Harbath)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Throughout the year, FOX 11 has provided you balanced coverage on the stories that matter to you, from the near removal of Green Bay's mayor to a series of tragic shootings in the Wausau area. Here is a look at some of the stories that made headlines in 2017.

GREEN BAY MAYOR REMOVAL HEARING

The year started with uncertainty whether Green Bay's longtime leader would be keeping his job.

“I don't trust him anymore,” said Scott Vanidestine, who filed a petition for Mayor Jim Schmitt’s removal.

The petition, which forced the city council to hold a removal hearing, came shortly after Schmitt pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor campaign finance violations.

“They did not involve any mayoral duty,” said Patrick Knight, Schmitt’s attorney.

After hours of arguments, the council voted 8 to 4, one vote shy of the amount needed to remove Schmitt from office.

“I'm a strong mayor,” said Schmitt. “I'm going to keep the city moving as I've committed to do the last 14 years.”

HOTEL NORTHLAND PROBLEMS


2017 was supposed to be the year Green Bay's historic Hotel Northland reopened.

Instead, the project's top lender pulled its $12.8 million loan, an ownership battle ensued, and work on the 93-year-old hotel eventually came to a halt.

“There is a real rat's nest here,” said Ald. Guy Zima.

A receiver has now taken over decision making for the project, with a new goal of opening the hotel next summer.

MARATHON COUNTY TRAGEDY


A terrifying March afternoon in central Wisconsin resulted in the loss of four innocent lives.

“There is officers with guns everywhere and we're trying to figure out what's going on and no one will tell us anything,” said Susan Thompson of Weston.

Authorities say Nengmy Vang killed two of his wife's coworkers at Marathon Savings Bank, his wife's divorce attorney at her office, and then Everest Metro Police Detective Jason Weiland during a standoff at Vang's apartment.

“Jason was a phenomenal officer and he was part of our family,” said Chief Wally Sparks of the Everest Metro Police Department. “It's difficult.”

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTINGS


2017 also saw police officers kill three people in separate incidents in our area.

In May, Appleton Police Lt. Jay Steinke shot and killed Jimmie Sanders, a bystander of a bar close fight at Apple Pub. Investigators later deemed the death an accident, with the shot meant for someone with a gun.

Kewaunee County's district attorney determined sheriff's deputy Jamie Tlahac saved lives in August when he shot and killed knife-wielding Tyler Whitmire.

At the beginning of December, an officer shot and killed a 35-year-old Virginia man in Peshtigo, after authorities say he showed a gun in a Marinette motel room.

WASHINGTON MIDDLE SCHOOL SAFETY CONCERNS


In a tearful June resignation to Green Bay's school board, sixth-grade teacher Kerstin Westcott brought awareness to dangerous conditions at Washington Middle School.

“Students and staff are physically, verbally, emotionally, mentally, and sexually abused every single day in the building,” said Westcott.

“We know what the problems are, but what are the long term solutions,” said Michelle Langenfeld, the superintendent of the Green Bay Area Public School District, during a press conference in response to Westcott’s concerns.

A series of community meetings led to more staff at Washington and revamped student and staff expectations throughout the district.


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