TOWN OF PESHTIGO — The Hipke Road Firearms Shooting Range was a burning issue at Tuesday evening’s Town of Peshtigo board meeting. 

Doug Trippler, a resident near the range, said he has picked up numerous shell casings in his yard, some of which he brought to the town hall along with photos of the side of his home where bullet holes can be seen.

“I am outside often and those bullets come flying toward me,” he said. “I was outside killing some ants when a bullet flew past my head. My grandkids come over and I am afraid that they will be shot. Close the range or move it away so my grandkids and other kids can be safe in their own homes.”

Trippler described the gunfire as rapid, comparing it to AK-47s or automatic weapon fire. 

Jennifer Walloway, who had a similar story, said she was kayaking on the Peshtigo River over the weekend with her children.

“Bullets were flying all over. We couldn’t move. It sounded like they were using automatic weapons. Bullets were flying over our heads,” she said. 

While stories about stray bullets are abundant, over the years no one has reportedly been hurt. 

Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Suave attended the meeting and informed the board and all those present that effective Wednesday, the range would be closed pending a full investigation into the issue.

“These are not isolated incidents,” he said. “I have worked with the DNR today and they have been great to work with. Just so you know, we take these complaints seriously, we can’t have this happening and we’ve been fortunate that no one has been hurt. We respond as quickly as we can but we can’t always get there right away. This weekend, for example, we had a bank robbery and a drowning that we worked on. While working those cases, my phone was ringing about the gun range just to give you a small taste of my world. We do take these seriously and we will investigate thoroughly. Once we have concluded our investigation we will work with the DNR about what will need to happen next.” 

David Halfmann of the Peshtigo DNR service center agreed with Suave.

“An emergency order to temporarily close that firing range has been sent to the secretary who will sign it Wednesday morning,” Halfmann said. “We cannot have people being put into danger. We will cooperate fully with the sheriff.” 

In other business: 

¦ The no wake ordinance for all of the lower part of the Peshtigo River has been put on hold for now. DNR Conservation Warden J. Lautenslager suggested that the board have another look at the ordinance they planned on adopting.

“Basically, the way it is written, I can’t enforce it,” Lautenslager said. “To be enforceable, you would have to place signage and buoys along the way. You would need to have written permission from each land owner where you would place the signage. To be honest, I am just one person and that is a lot of river. It would be difficult to enforce the ordinance. If you did put in a no wake zone, it could actually do more damage to the upper river.”

Town Chairperson Herman Pottratz said the board would have to do some more thinking about it. 

¦ On the subject of ATV/UTVs being allowed on the town roads, resident Wendel Johnson requested that a referendum be used to determine what the town residents would like.

“A referendum would really show the board what the town wants,” Johnson said. “There are already several complaints from affected people that live on Shore Drive. There is minimal enforcement of the rules. I am asking for a delay in opening the town roads until the residents have had a chance to speak up.” 

A referendum can only be completed during a regular election. Pottratz suggested that residents could send letters to inform the board of their wishes.