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Top Stories January 30, 2015

Kennedy To Discuss Borrowing Plan On WBEV


1/30/15 - Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy will discuss the city’s borrowing plan for the next two budget cycles this afternoon during his regular monthly appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment. City taxpayers will find out on Monday night if they will be paying for various street projects along with a portion of the proposed Watermark community and senior center. Beaver Dam operates under a self-imposed cap of $1.6 million in borrowing each year. However for 2015, road and infrastructure projects alone total $1.7 million. Total borrowing for the Watermark also totals $1.7 million. Because overall borrowing is more than double the cap at $3.5 million dollars, a three-fourths majority of the council would have to approve the borrowing plan. Kennedy told us recently that if the funding is approved, the project could move forward immediately. Kennedy says if funding for the Watermark is not approved he would suggest asking (quote) “some choice alderpersons what their plans are.” He says it was a mistake that the project was not put out for bids last year so that the council knows the exact amount that needs to be borrowed. Kennedy says he is optimistic that bids come back at the price predicted or lower. Taxpayers would only pay around $600-thousand dollars of the $1.7 million needed for the Watermark as grants and pledges would eventually cover the difference; the taxpayer liability includes an estimated half million dollars for construction and $100-thousand in interest on the borrowing.  Kennedy will be joined by Community Activities and Services Coordinator Evonne Boettge during this afternoon’s Community Comment program, which begins at 12:35pm.


Randolph Seeking One-Campus District


1/30/15 - Much like their neighbors in Cambria, residents in the Randolph School District will be posed a referendum question on the April 7 ballot.  Approval of that question would authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $17,570,000 which would be used to build on an addition to the current high school campus to make it a K-12 school, something the board has been looking at for a number of years.  Superintendent Dr. Steve Huebbe says that the aging that the elementary school has experienced has left it in a state where it no longer meets the educational needs of its students.  He believes that the best option is to bring all of the students onto one campus, rather than spending more money on improving the already old grounds.  If the referendum question is approved, Huebbe says that construction would likely begin this summer, and Randolph could see a single campus by the start of the 2016-17 school year.  Huebbe says that if the question does not pass, as was the case with a proposed $20,800,000 question that would have approved funds for campus renovations in 2010, roughly $12,000,000 in improvements would need to be made to the current elementary and middle school building, including possible roof replacement, lintel repair, and the installation of a new boiler.  If the referendum question passes, the owner of a $100,000 would pay an extra $355 per year in taxes.


Warrant Issued For Child Abuse Suspect


1/30/15 - A Dodge County judge issued a bench warrant Thursday for a Burnett woman accused of raising her children in deplorable conditions. Secoy Koch-Miller failed to appear for a motion hearing in Dodge County court. Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg requested the warrant and Judge Steven Bauer authorized it. The case against the 26-year-old made national headlines after. Prosecutors say Miller was allegedly raising an infant and a toddler in a house filled with rotting food, black mold and pungent pet odors. The toddler’s hair was full of spiders and spider eggs, he was running a fever and was underweight. The infant had bug bites and bruising around her eye. Prosecutors say the living conditions – described as that of a typical hoarder – contributed to the neglect and Koch-Miller’s failure to take action left the children unable to thrive. A telephone scheduling conference is now scheduled in March.


Beaver Dam Man Proceeds To Trial On Eighth Offense OWI


1/30/15 - A Beaver Dam man will proceed to trial on charges of eighth offense drunk driving. Jay Zeman waived his right to a preliminary hearing yesterday to a pair of felony OWI charges. Zeman went out for a hamburger earlier this month in a car without valid registration is now facing charges of eighth offense drunk driving. When police pulled him over, he told them he had four ounces of Schnapps earlier in the day. The 55-year-old is still on extended supervision from his last OWI and is required to maintain absolute sobriety. He is also required to have ignition interlock on his vehicle, a tube he has to blow into to prove he is sober. Zeman reportedly told police to just take him right to jail. He even tried to skip the field sobriety test. A breathalyzer registered a point-one-one (.11). Zeman remains jailed on a $50-thousand dollars cash bond. He will be arraigned next month.


Waupun Woman Jailed For Drunk Driving Injury Crash


1/30/15 - A Waupun woman was sentenced Thursday to a month in jail after injuring young children in a drunken driving crash. Amanda Vant Hoff was originally facing felony charges but pled “no contest” to reduced misdemeanor charges of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Injury. The 29-year-old was eastbound on State Highway 68 near Laurel Hill Road in the Town of Trenton last June when she lost control around a curve and put her vehicle in a ditch. Two children, a four-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. In addition to a month in jail with child care and work release privileges, Vant Hoff lost her license for 18 months followed by 18 months of blowing into a tube to start her car.


Slinger Man Gets Deferred Prosecution In Horicon Burglary


1/30/15 - A Slinger man implicated in a Horicon burglary entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors in Dodge County yesterday (Wed). Austin Bruhn will avoid a felony record if he stays out of trouble while on probation. The property owners were not home during the burglary. A caller to police heard glass break and saw two people run away from the residence. A computer valued at $400 dollars was stolen. The homeowners suspected it was the neighbor. The 22-year-old initially told police he was out for a walk with his girlfriend and they were not aware of the burglary next door.


Fitzgerald Claims Voters Support Union Choice


1/30/15 - The Wisconsin Senate's majority leader says his colleagues need to consider a right-to-work bill as it works on the new state budget for the next two years. Republican Scott Fitzgerald issued a statement yesterday which indicates the voters support the idea of prohibiting workers from having to join labor unions or pay union dues.  Fitzgerald cited a poll commissioned by the Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce group that said 69% of 500-plus voters favor the right-to-work concept.  Fitzgerald said the budget process will pose "difficult financial challenges" -- and before lawmakers consider asking taxpayers for more revenue, he said, "We must first consider any initiatives that could increase Wisconsin's competitiveness."  The Senate G-O-P leader said the Legislature has an obligation to try and make the state a more attractive place for business, and to foster economic growth.  Governor Scott Walker will release his proposed 2015-17 budget next Tuesday.  As he considers a run for president, Walker is trying to stop lawmakers from acting on right-to-work early in the session. However, the governor has not said if he would sign the measure if it gets to his desk.  Supporters of right-to-work say it fosters workplace freedom.  Opponents say it would drive down wages.  


Wisconsin 2014 Tornado Total near Yearly Average


1/30/15 – Twenty-two tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin last year, and only four took place outside the month of June.  The National Weather Service released an update this week on the state's 2014 tornadoes.   The total was one short of the state's annual average of 23 twisters.  Last year's strongest was an E-F-Three tornado on June 17th that heavily damaged the Country View Elementary School in Verona.  At least 30 homes also had major damage from that storm. The E-F-Three severity was slightly above the mid-range in a zero-to-five rating system. The Verona twister was only on the ground for a few minutes, with estimated wind speeds of 136-miles-an-hour.  According to the weather service, 17 of last year's 22 Wisconsin tornadoes landed in five south central and southwest counties -- Dane, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, and Grant.  The others landed in Bayfield, Pierce, Dunn, Winnebago, and Outagamie counties.  The 2014 total was just over a-third of the record number of tornadoes for a one-year period in Wisconsin -- 62 back in 2005.


Harley-Davidson Sees Quarterly Earnings Drop


1/30/15 - Harley-Davidson blames a stronger U-S dollar for a reduction in its quarterly earnings.  The Milwaukee-based firm reports a net income of $35,900,000 in its motorcycle operations from October through December. That's 41% less than the same time a year ago.  The company blames it on foreign exchange rates, as sales in other countries have resulted in fewer U-S dollars coming back.  All told, Harley made $74,500,000 in its fiscal fourth quarter, down from $75,400,000 in the same period of 2013. Stock-holder earnings were 35 cents a share, up from 34 cents a year ago when more shares were outstanding.


Property Taxes Due Saturday


1/30/15 - Property taxes are due Saturday at your local municipal treasurer’s office. The second installment payments are due at the county treasurer’s office by July 31. Taxpayers mailing after tomorrow’s deadline are subject to interest and a penalty of one and a half percent (1.5%) of the total amount for the first month, and that increases by 1.5% percent for every month the tax remains unpaid. Also, if you are late the entire tax bill is due immediately. Watertown is the only Dodge County community that allows property taxes to be paid in three installments but all three payments have to be made in the city.


Yesterday's Headlines
    - Beaver Dam Mulling Two-Year Borrowing Plan
    - DA: 'Technology Driving Increase In Felony Filings'
    - New Sheriff Plotting Equipment Replacement Plan

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.