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Police arrest man who ate and drank for free at 5 restaurants
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EagleHerald Staff Writer

Being nice only gets a restaurant owner so far.

If customers skip out on a restaurant bill, expect them to get caught. They might just get a pair of cuffs slapped around their wrists. They also could land in jail.

Martin Espinosa, owner of La Cabana, at 2812 10th St. in Menominee, let Randell Wayne Tipler, 60, walk out of his restaurant without paying Oct. 21 after he said he forgot his wallet. “He pretended like he didn’t have his wallet,” Espinosa said.

So Espinosa told Tipler, “You can walk out. But I’ve got to call the cops.”

“They never come back,” Espinosa said. “I gave him a half hour. He was going to go back and get his wallet and then he would pay.” Tipler’s bill at La Cabana was over $90 for drinks and fish tacos.

Instead of returning to pay, Tipler went to The Watermark Restaurant and Bakery next door, where he also is accused of skipping out without paying. Tipler allegedly hit five area restaurants over four days in October, drinking excessively, according to police reports.

“The guy’s going everywhere, just ordering up food,” said Tim Murray, owner of The Watermark, Pirate’s Cove and Murray’s Irish Pub and Grille in Menominee. “My thought was he was homeless and lives at one of the shelters.” Police did not provide an address for Tipler or information about his whereabouts, and the EagleHerald was unable to reach him for comment.

Menominee police picked up Tipler Oct. 21 at The Watermark restaurant, handcuffed him and arrested him. He was taken to Aurora Bay Area Medical Center with chest pains and difficulty breathing and admitted, according to police. But he didn’t stay long, because police cited him for theft at a restaurant the following day.

It was the fourth day in a row that Tipler allegedly ate and drank without paying and was cited.

Police took notice Oct. 19 when Tipler allegedly drank and ate at the Eastside Bar in Marinette. He said he lost his wallet and would come back later to pay, according to a Marinette Police report. Other restaurants have heard the same story.

Earlier the same week, on Oct. 20, Tipler allegedly ordered three double shots of Jameson liquor and three Heineken beers at Pirate’s Cove on 1st Street in Menominee before telling the waitress he couldn’t pay because he didn’t have any money on him. The waitress asked him to leave several times before police were called.

Menominee police arrested Tipler for a bond violation and cited him for trespassing and defrauding an innkeeper. When police entered his name into the computer system, they found two felony warrants from Ohio and two from Wisconsin.

He was taken to Menominee County Jail, where test results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.166.

Then on Oct. 22, he allegedly stole $81.75 in food and alcoholic beverages from Applebee’s in Marinette. He consumed five beers and five whiskeys plus a $10 order of boneless wings and $15 in chicken and shrimp, a police report said. Marinette police found him at Walmart and issued a citation.

For restaurant owners, scofflaws are an unfortunate part of what is a difficult business to start with. “You’re issuing credit to people,” Murray said. To avoid the issue, waitresses ask to scan a credit card when they start a tab for a customer.

“Most people if we know who they are, we’re going to grant that tab. If we don’t know who they are, we don’t do it. We don’t grab that tab,” Murray said. He’s not sure how Tipler persuaded the waitress to keep serving him.

Some scofflaws are young people who think it’s a game, he said. “They look for the pattern of how the servers are working. When the server disappears, that’s when they walk to the door,” he said.

For others, it’s a cry for help. “They want us to call the police, so we do call the police,” he said.

“We’re kind of attuned to it. In the past couple of months, we’ve caught a couple people with rather large bills,” Murray said.

“It’s every business man’s obligation to collect on the debt. So it’s our obligation,” Murray said. “If we didn’t, it would be more widespread.”

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Bulldogs in Space: Peshtigo students talk with astronaut

By Special to the EagleHerald

PESHTIGO—Students in the Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center (PELC), last week, had the opportunity to speak with Mark Vande Hei, an astronaut currently working on the International Space Station.

Mission Control of NASA worked with Peshtigo’s technology team to coordinate a half-hour of live questions and answers from PELC to the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Vande Hei is a retired Army colonel who was a combat engineer and later a professor at West Point. Vande Hei is also the cousin of Peshtigo’s fourth-grade teacher, Jodi VanVooren. He was selected by NASA in 2009 and already completed a six-month trip to the Space Station.

For his second trip to the International Space Station, “Astronaut Mark” as Peshtigo students called him, will be spending a year in space.

Much work had to be done in advance to coordinate between NASA Mission Control and the Peshtigo technology team of Larry Schultz and Dave Bloch.

“Dave and I loved participating in ‘Bulldogs in Space.’ The experience was exhilarating. We never thought we would be working with Mission Control at NASA to troubleshoot and collaborate about connectivity,” Schultz said. He explained that it took several trial runs between the district and NASA.

“The end result was a success and definitely a career highlight for information technology,” Schultz said.

Principal Kate Willett and associate principal John Bell also helped set up the event. Willett facilitated the question and answer session.

“I believed this event really showcased our students’ natural curiosity and put a smile on all our faces. Despite technical difficulties with the visual feed which were beyond our control, I’m very grateful for the crisp, clear audio we were all able to listen to,” Willett said.

Peshtigo students have been exploring a number of NASA developments. They’ve been learning about space exploration and what life is like as an astronaut. Teacher Jennifer Barker encouraged students to learn more about satellites.

Fifth-grade student Dominic Burns shared what he learned about the space race, “when the USSR and the US were competing to show which country was stronger and smarter.”

Students related the space race to sports and competition. “This was such a good way for students to experience something new and gain more background knowledge to pull from as they read,’’ teacher Melissa Sherman said.

In preparation for the live Q & A event, students researched topics they personally found most interesting.

“Some students were researching black holes, while others learned more about the sun and stars. Still others were amazed how the audio connection could travel so far with only a 45-second delay in live communication,” according to VanVooren.

VanVooren’s students watched videos about life at the space station.

“The ones they were most interested in were how to shower and use the bathroom in space. Another interesting one was how to play tennis in space,” she said, adding, “I think they have even more questions now than they did before the interview.”

Selected students were allowed to directly question Vande Hei.

“It’s amazing how bringing community members into the classroom contributes to curiosity and learning,” sixth-grade teacher Loretta Rich said.

“Kids want to know more and more and I anticipate this will inspire them to learn new things,” Sherman said. “The kids who were selected to ask questions were all smiles when they returned to class. The rest of us listened to the questions and answers and could hear cheers coming from the other classrooms as students would hear the voice of a classmate.”

It was a rare opportunity for Peshtigo students to speak live with an astronaut in outer space.

“I never thought I would talk to an astronaut one day,” fourth-grader Adam Falkenberg said.

Meanwhile, student Landon Klug beamed, “This is honestly the best day of my life!”

Editor’s note: This article was submitted by the Peshtigo School District.

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Spies Library lowers age for library card, gets set for new A/V room

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Starting today, Spies Public Library in Menominee will allow 16- and 17-year-olds with a driver’s license to register for a card without their parent’s signature, the Library Board of Trustees said Friday.

Younger youth are still required to have a parent sign the registration form for a library card. The change was made to allow teens who drive themselves to the library to obtain a library card and take responsibility for their library accounts, instead of turning them away if their parents aren’t present, Library Director Blair Nelson said at the Board of Trustees meeting.

Nelson said “a couple of patrons weren’t able to get a card for that reason. They’re coming in on their own.”

On Tuesday, new audio-visual equipment will be installed on the library’s first floor in the first step of what Nelson hopes will be a new, expanded community space for movies and presentations.

About $9,273 from the Klar Bequest will be used to purchase the equipment. The Menominee City Council approved the use of the funds at its Nov. 15 meeting. Creative Entertainment Services and Management Group is installing the system, Nelson said.

Nelson said to open up the A/V room to expand the number of people who can participate will require removing a wall. The library hasn’t yet obtained bids for this work. The board also discussed proposals received for a new heating, ventilation and air condition system, but decided to seek an expert’s help in determining the best option.

The trustees also agreed to adopt a new donation policy to avoid misunderstandings about how the library handles donations and gifts. “The library will, to the best of its ability, try to comply with the wishes of the donor of gift, bequest, memorial, etc. However, the library director, and thereby library board reserves the right to decide if its purpose is practicable and in the best interest of the library. The library has the right to refuse gifts and retains unconditional ownership of accepted gifts,” the policy states.

Blair said the policy, which is similar to one used at the library in Bayfield, Wis., where he previously served as library director, will help avoid misunderstandings if people donate artwork or materials the library doesn’t have space to display. The materials become the property of the library and can be sold, donated or disposed of at the library’s discretion.

The library won’t accept gifts with restrictions attached to the donation, according to the policy. It also doesn’t attempt to determine the value of gifts in-kind donations.

The policy will be summarized on a new donation form. Previously, the library didn’t have a written donation policy, as far as Nelson was aware, he said.

“I think it’s an excellent thing to have. I did not read anything in it that I didn’t agree with,” Trustee Doug Schoen said. Besides Schoen, trustees Jim Anderson, Paul Haupt and Jan Shetter attended the meeting.

The trustees reviewed the library’s financials and a statement the M&M Community Foundation provided on the Klar Bequest to the library. Loren William Klar was a 1939 graduate of Menominee High School and served as a combat bomber pilot in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Force and as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. When he died, he left $3.8 million to the City of Menominee, which was divided between the recreation department and Spies Public Library.

As of Oct. 31, the Klar Memorial Spies Public Library Fund totaled $1.85 million. Several trustees said they would like to see more information about how the funds are invested.

Nelson said over 1,000 people visited the library for trick-or-treating, and over 40 people participated in November at the first family reading night held since the start of COVID.

After a reduced scheduled due to COVID, the library is now fully open with the following hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Upcoming library events include:

Dec. 11, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Santa Open House. Children will receive a free book, treat and craft. Geared toward children under 8, but open to all audiences.

Dec. 13, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. In-person playgroups run by Menominee County Great Parents Great Start.

Dec. 13, 1:30 p.m. Library book group will discuss the novella, “A Christmas Carol,” with treats and coffee.

Dec. 16, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Storytime geared toward children under 6 with a coding theme. A 3D printer with simple design will be available for children to interact with.