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Top Stories May 3, 2016

Dodge Co. Approached About Economic Development Partnership


5/3/16 - Dodge County has been offered to join in on a local five-year community development plan.  Jefferson County’s Economic Development Consortium is creating a new public-private nonprofit organization called the Glacial Heritage Development Partnership 2017-2021 Strategic Initiative.  The $4,100,000 plans’ three primary goals are attract and develop new workforce talent, grow area businesses, and promote tourism.  The idea is to fund the organization through public and private sector donations that have not yet been secured.  Consortium Executive Director Genevieve Coady says this effort would supplement, not supplant the work of current economic development staff in the county and its municipalities.  She says the plan would be to both work with individual communities on their specific needs and address needs that are common to all area municipalities.  Coady says this could benefit Dodge County through possible job creation and an increase in sales/property tax revenues.  Dodge County has been offered three levels of participation.  At its meeting yesterday where a presentation on this matter was given, the Executive Committee was most interested in the highest level which calls for an annual contribution of $85,000 in the five years.  Under that plan, the entire county would be covered, a full-time program manager would be placed in the county to provide support, and Dodge County would get three seats on the plan’s Board of Directors.  The Executive Committee plans to invite the Dodge County Mayor’s Consortium to a similar presentation to gauge their interest.  A final decision on whether to participate will not come until budget time.  Using sales tax revenues was suggested as a way to fund Dodge County’s participation.  Jefferson County officials say they are only approaching Dodge County for the time being, but they may speak with other neighboring counties in the future. 


August Start Date Targeted For New Human Services Director


5/3/16 - Dodge County hopes its new Human Services and Health Director will start work August 15.  That’s according to County Administrator Jim Mielke who announced at yesterday’s Executive Committee that applications are due May 20.  Interviews will be conducted in early June with hopes of recommending a candidate to the county board at its July meeting.  Former Human Services and Health Director Janet Wimmer was terminated last month amid alleged wrongdoings that led to her being placed on indefinite, paid leave in March.


Dodge Co. Still Not Planning On In-Depth Department Review In 2016


5/3/16 - It looks like Dodge County still will not conduct an in-depth look of one of its departments in 2016.  At yesterday’s meeting, the Executive Committee revisited the recommendation it made last month after multiple members of the Finance Committee expressed interest in having the $30-thousand dollar operational review.  After looking at the Human Services and Health Department last year, it was suggested Clearview would be examined in 2016.  County officials feel that would be bad timing since Clearview is looking into new billing systems prior to 2017 budget talks.  The committee believes it would be better to wait until after the new software is in place to conduct to the review, instead of examining the department while they are still using an outgoing system.  County Administrator Jim Mielke calls the decision a “pause, not stoppage” in the review, stating the county’s intention to pick it back up in future years.


Mayor, Alderman Clash Over Watermark Parking Layout


5/3/16 - The Beaver Dam Operations Committee continues to wrangle over the parking layout of the Watermark Community and Senior Center. Alderman Mick Fischer objected to the designated staff parking spaces because he says they were in premium locations in proximity to the building. He says he has never seen a business in the private sector that allows staff to park closer to the building than the public. The Watermark’s Evonne Boettge says the employee parking stalls are located near a door that is intended for staff only. Fischer presented a plan that would move employee parking farther away from the building and increase the number of handicapped parking stalls adjacent to the building from nine to 15. He presented the committee with a design he made detailing the proposed changes.


That drew criticism from Mayor Tom Kennedy, whom Fischer later accused of (quote) “dressing him down.” Kennedy criticized Fischer for not asking enough questions of department heads in formulating his plan, not presenting his plan to department heads in advance of the meeting and not getting the name of the constituent who took issue with the parking layout. “A lot of these problems could be solved with a simple telephone call to whoever the individual was that Mr. Fischer never got the name of but should have. We can’t be coming up with these – and I’m not saying nit-picky little things – but quite honestly it should have been handled by staff first. If you’re questioning it you should be bringing it back to staff and educating yourself as to why it is that way.”


Operations Committee Chair Robert Ballweg defended Fischer saying he handled the situation exactly how an elected official should. “The parking issue was on the agenda two weeks ago, Alderperson Fischer attempted to address issues that were brought to his attention so I think it was appropriate to come back to the committee because that’s how it was designed to come through originally. The mayor’s comments as to going to staff first, it did got to staff first, came to our committee two weeks ago and was brought back.” The committee was pressed for time in the minutes leading up to last night’s common council meeting and that, coupled with the fact that there are two new alderpersons on the committee, led to a motion to table the vote for two more weeks.


Beaver Dam Hires Demolition Company For Former Senior Center


5/3/16 - The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved the hiring of a company to demolish the former senior center. Low-bidder Badgerland Demolition of DePere is being tabbed to raze the former senior center and its adjacent green house for $22,500. Once complete, the former senior center land will be reconfigured to allow for the installation of a state-mandated, storm-water filtration pond and a reconfigured library parking lot. The Common Council last night also approved a contract with Kopplin & Kinas of Green Lake for $339-thousand dollars to construct the pond. The project will be funded with money from the city’s Storm Water Utility and the state DNR.


Council Hires Construction Company For Fire Department Remodel


5/3/16 - The Beaver Dam Common Council last night awarded a contract to the bidder for the remodeling of the fire department, which is entering its final phase this year. Maas Brothers Construction of Watertown will be paid $208-thousand dollars, which is $90-thousand dollars below the budgeted estimate. The police department moved out of the Municipal Building in 2012 allowing the fire department to expand into the vacant space. Phase one of construction got underway in 2014 and over the past two years the project has seen the reconfiguration of the public entrance, upgrade to the dormitory and modernization of administrative offices. This year’s phase includes a new kitchen and classroom space. Fire Chief Alan Mannel says the classroom space will be used daily and replace one that is very cramped. The total project cost is $600-thousand dollars spread out over three budgets.


Former West Bend Administrator Appears On Enticement Charge


5/3/16 - A former city administrator in West Bend appeared in court yesterday (Monday) on charges that he offered up to 500 dollars to have sex with a 16-year-old girl in Waukesha County. Forty-nine-year-old Thomas Justice resigned last week amid allegations that he texted the girl for about one year. Prosecutors say the girl's mother found the texts and called police. An undercover officer who posed as the youngster arranged a meeting with Justice where he was arrested on April 21st. Justice is charged with child enticement and soliciting a child, both felonies. Justice is free on bond. Another hearing in the case is set for May 20th.


Dells Drive-By Victims In Wrong Place, Wrong Time


5/3/16 - Authorities say a Wisconsin Dells vacationer was heading home to Illinois when she was wounded in a drive by shooting Sunday, allegedly by a man suspected in a murder near Milwaukee. W-B-B-M T-V in Chicago identifies the woman as Tracy Czackowski, who's in critical condition -- and a family friend says she's on life support. W-I-S-C T-V in Madison says the woman's husband who was driving their vehicle is a federal drug agent, and he was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time as officials say the shooting appeared random. Authorities say the family's vehicle was passing an S-U-V southbound on I-90-94 near the Dells when the driver of the S-U-V, a 20-year-old West Allis man, fired three shots. The driver was suspected of killing 42-year-old Gabriel Sanchez Sunday morning at a West Allis apartment building -- the suspect and his two brothers reportedly spent time in the Dells later Sunday, before they were chased by police -- and an officer later shot and wounded the suspect, who's hospitalized while his two brothers are in jail.


US Attorney General Targets Wisconsin Voter ID Law


5/3/16 - The nation's attorney general has been asked to make Wisconsin's voter I-D law the next one to be put under the federal microscope. All four of Wisconsin's Democratic federal lawmakers wrote Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday (Monday), asking that she either file suit over the Wisconsin law or try to get it struck down as part of an existing lawsuit against another state. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin and House Democrats Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, and Gwen Moore all cited concerns about long lines at some polling places during the state's April fifth presidential primary. The four Democrats also mentioned recent media reports in which they quoted two Republicans as saying the photo I-D law was motivated in part to discourage young people and minorities from voting. The federal courts are currently reviewing the Texas voter I-D law, after plaintiffs said it discriminates against Hispanic and African-American voters.


UW Madison Faculty Senate Cast No Confidence Vote


5/3/16 - The U-W Madison Faculty Senate has overwhelmingly approved a vote of no confidence in University President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents. Monday's vote came about one week after members began discussing the measure as a protest to the new limits on tenure protections, which include evaluations of faculty and layoff procedures. Cross says he disagrees with the faculty vote, while Regents' president Regina Millner calls it an overreaction to what she calls a fair tenure policy that's in line with similar U-S universities. Meanwhile, there are reports that the U-W Milwaukee faculty will consider a similar no confidence vote next week. And professors at some of the other 24 U-W campuses are looking at ways to protest.


Nominations Open For BDHS Athletic Hall of Fame


5/3/16 - The nomination period has opened for this year’s Beaver Dam High School Athletic Hall of Fame class.  Student-athletes who graduated at least ten years ago, coaches who retired at least five years ago, and local friends of the school’s athletic program are eligible.  Forms can be picked up at the Beaver Dam High School and Education Services Center offices and are due back to the high school’s co-curricular office by June 1.  A ceremony honoring the Class of 2016 will be held as part of this year’s homecoming festivities on Friday, September 23.


Yesterday's Headlines
- Judicial Finalists Released
- Indicted Man Files Bankruptcy
- Lawmakers Question DHS 

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.