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Top Stories October 1, 2014

Watermark Bidding Vote May Be Revisited


10/01/14 - Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy says his hope to break ground on the Watermark by this fall is still a possibility. The Beaver Dam Operations Committee earlier this month rejected an effort to begin the bidding process for the planned community and senior center. In casting a “no” vote, Alderman Laine Meyer noted the funding shortfall and the fact that the budget process for next year has not yet come to committee. Kennedy told us on WBEV’s Community Comment that funding sources have been identified for all but $270-thousand dollars out of the estimated $2.1 million dollar project. He says without bids, officials will not really know exactly how much the building will cost. If the Watermark costs more to construct than has been collected to date, Kennedy says there are plenty of other options to consider that “do not require taxpayer funding.” He says starting the bidding process will not tie the hands of elected officials because high bids do not have to accepted. Kennedy says knowing the actual cost of construction will provide a clearer understanding of the options. In voting against the project, Alderman Maier noted that – given the lack of available tax dollars for the project – the city should not knowingly go out to bid just to get more solid numbers on the project cost. Kennedy says there is a possibility the bidding matter will be brought back before the Operations Committee for consideration as early as their meeting next Monday. If the bidding question is brought back for another vote, the item must be initiated by one of the four alderpersons who had originally voted against the plan.


Local Manufacturers, Educators Addressing ‘Skills Gap’


10/01/14 - Wisconsin's largest employment sector is expected to grow over the next five years. In 2014, Dodge County had nearly 10-thousand manufacturing jobs with an average income of nearly 58-thousand dollars. Manufacturing is expected to grow by ten-percent by 2020. That’s according to Beaver Dam Chamber President Phil Fritsche – who is also President-elect of the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives Board of Directors, a leadership position that comes with a multi-year seat on another statewide board, the highly influential Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Fritsche says it is significant for the community to know the importance of manufacturing. He says it is crucial to our economy and the parents, educators and school counselors need to be aware of the opportunities available.  A study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute found that nearly five-percent of manufacturing jobs remain unfilled because employers cannot find people with the right skills. To fill the skills gap, educators and employers in the greater Dodge County-area have formed the Manufacturing Business Alliance. The Alliances Cliff Sanderson, who is the Vice President of Human Resources with Mayville Engineering Company, says the local alliance is focused on developing opportunities in manufacturing. The MBA group promotes the concept of good paying manufacturing jobs in and around Dodge County. Sanderson says there is high availability of jobs for individuals with the right work ethic and proper training. According to the Manufacturing Institute, this industry contributes more than $53-billion dollars to Wisconsin's economic output. More than 16-percent of our state's workforce is directly employed in manufacturing, outpacing the national average of nine-percent.


Monthly Index of Local Manufacturing Is Positive


10/01/14 - The manufacturing economy got better this month in southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois.  That's according a monthly index of general factory growth released Tuesday by Marquette University and the Milwaukee chapter of the Institute for Supply Management.  The index was 63-point-18 for September -- three-and-a-half points higher than in August.  Anything above 50 indicates overall growth, while an index below 50 shows a general decline in the region's industrial sector.  The index has shown growth in seven of the last nine months, and 16-of-the-past-21 months. 


Oshkosh Corp Lands $99-Million Dollar Contract


10/01/14 - The Oshkosh Corporation continues to get military business, even with U-S involvement in the Middle East winding down.  The company on Tuesday announced a $99-million dollar contract to refurbish extended-boom forklifts for the Marine Corps.  Oshkosh made the units originally.  The new contract also calls for 100 armored cabs and related replacement parts.  The work will be performed over a five-year period at the company's plant in Oshkosh. 


Petri Unhappy With House Ethics Panel Inquiry


10/01/14 - Fond du Lac Congressman Tom Petri says he's getting a raw deal from the House Ethics Committee, just three months before he retires after 36 years in office.  Yesterday, the panel said it would continue its inquiry into reports that the veteran Republican owned stock in companies for which he helped obtain federal grants and breaks from government rules.  Petri sought the probe himself, after Gannett Wisconsin Media first reported the alleged connections earlier this year.  At that time, Petri said he was convinced he did nothing wrong.  An independent board said there was "substantial reason" to believe that Petri violated House rules, by building up to a million-dollars in Oshkosh Corporation stock as he helped the firm keep a three-billion dollar Army vehicle contract.  The report also said he had up to a half-million dollars in Manitowoc Company stock, for which he sought relief from E-P-A rules for diesel engines on its cranes.  Petri calls the findings "deeply flawed and unfounded."  He said his stock holdings have always been disclosed.  He openly advocated to help businesses in his district long before he owned shares in them.  And Petri said he repeatedly sought guidance from the Ethics Committee in his actions.  He also denied giving the panel inaccurate information in a previous matter.  Petri accused the committee of letting the House session expire before it can make its own finding of guilt -- or giving him a chance to clear things up.


Gubernatorial Candidates Dismiss Sales Tax Expansion


10/01/14 - Wisconsin's two major candidates for governor are not endorsing a proposal to broaden the state sales tax to include goods-and-services that are now exempt. The conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute issued a report Tuesday, which suggested that the state's current five-percent sales tax be applied to things like groceries, hair care, and health club memberships. Republican Governor Scott Walker said he won't propose anything that adds to an overall sales tax revenue hike.  He agreed with the institute's position that income and property taxes should be cut.  Walker said he'd prefer doing it by growing the economy.  His election opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, was non-committal about broadening the sales tax.  Her camp said the goal is to lower tax burden, to be more competitive with neighboring states and the U-S as a whole.  The G-O-P legislative majority didn't come out in favor of extending the sales tax to more services.  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said it's been a priority to simplify the tax burden -- and he did not address the Policy Research group's idea.  Lawmakers have faced the same proposal several times in recent decades -- and every time, it collapsed under the weight of heavy business lobbying to keep the current two dozen tax exemptions in place. 


Green Lake County Man Arrested In Double Homicide


10/01/14 - The estranged husband of a Green Lake County woman has been arrested for allegedly killing her and another man.  Berlin Police took 33-year-old Nicholas Tuinstra into custody last night.  He was booked on two possible charges of first-degree intentional homicide for the Saturday night shooting deaths of his wife Melissa and Justin Daniels, both 28.  Police questioned Tuinstra and then released him on Monday.  He was free for a day-and-a-half.  Officials will hold a news conference at ten o'clock this morning to say more about the case.  Police said Melissa Tuinstra was found shot-to-death outside her apartment building, and Daniels was found dead on the building's second floor.  During their investigation, police became concerned about the Tuinstras' missing eight-year-old daughter.  An Amber Alert was issued, and authorities found the girl with her father early Sunday morning in nearby Marquette County.  At last word, the girl was staying with grandparents.


DNR Warning Bird Hunters About Protected Species


10/01/14 - Wisconsin bird hunters are being warned not to shoot whooping cranes and trumpeter swans.  Both are protected species, but the D-N-R says waterfowl hunters are still shooting them -- generally by mistake.  It's illegal to kill cranes and swans, which are now flying across the state to their winter hideaways. Officials say hunters must be absolutely certain what types of birds they're trying to shoot.  The D-N-R's Web site has a guide for identifying trumpeter swans and whooping cranes.  Those who kill those birds can lose their hunting privileges and pay thousands-of-dollars in fines.  Killing a whooping crane could also send the shooter to jail for up to nine months.


Beaver Dam Has Street, River Cleanup On Saturday


10/01/14 - The Beaver Dam Department of Public Works is asking the public for help protect local waterways. DPW Director Jeremy Klug says volunteers are needed to help with Beaver Dam’s “Sweep the Streets and River Clean Up” this weekend. Klug says the event is intended to increase awareness about the importance of keeping oil, grass clippings, leaves and other debris out of storm water to keep the city looking clean. The Sweep the Streets River Clean Up is this Saturday from 9am to noon. Registration starts at 8:30am at Black Water’s Coffee parking lot.


Yesterday's Headlines
    - Dodgeland Middle School Students Getting New iPads
    - Hustisford Sets Sights On Exceeding State Expectations
    - Horicon Fire Department Holding Open House

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.