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Top Stories October 21, 2014

Formal Homicide Charges Months Away For McHenry


10/21/14 - The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department has formally requested charges of First Degree Intentional Homicide against the Milwaukee woman suspected of killing a 43-year-old Randolph man. According to a press release issued Monday, the charges were requested Friday against Kriscilla McHenry. The 30-year-old was reportedly the last person seen with Michael Soeller. She is currently charged only with Vehicle Theft because she allegedly took his car after leaving his apartment. Soellar’s landlord discovered his body in August. A competency hearing on the Vehicle Theft charges is scheduled for December 8. Meanwhile, the Dodge County District Attorney’s Office says that any charging decisions would be premature until the current mental competency issue is resolved. Managing Attorney Bob Barrington says that the Sheriff’s Department was informed of that in mid-September. Consequently, neither the DA’s Office nor Sheriff’s Department will have any additional information for public release until after the competency hearing. McHenry remains jailed on a $50,000 cash bond.


Neighboring Watermark Building Purchase Stalls


10/21/14 - The Beaver Dam Operations Committee Monday night discussed the possible purchase of a building located next door to the planned Watermark Community and Senior Center. The owners of the neighboring All-Phase Building at 207 1/2 South Center Street provided the city an “offer to sell” for the back-half of the building at a cost of $59-thousand dollars; the entire structure would cost $159-thousand dollars. Watermark supporters noted that the building would be an ideal location for a woodworking shop, which is part of the current Senior Center but not part of the blue prints for the Watermark. Committee debate centered on the status of funding for the project; bidding the project was recently tabled until costs are more clearly defined.  The committee decided to deny forwarding the matter to the city’s Plan Commission until the funding situation is sorted out. Chair Glen Link says the action last night was procedural and the purchase could be brought back at any time for consideration.


Loud Music Added To Demerit Point Ordinance


10/21/14 - The Beaver Dam Common Council Monday night approved additions to their Demerit Point Ordinance. The city adopted the ordinance in 2009, which allows demerit points to be assigned to bars for such violations as serving minors, excessive noise or failing to notify the police of a fight. Taverns that accumulate 200 points in a rolling 12-month period could have their license suspended or revoked. Last night’s action adds noise violations including loud music to the list of possible violations. The penalty would be 75 points. Police Chief John Kreuziger says the change does not mean an end to live outdoor music as officers would be expected to exercise discretion and weigh the level of noise with the type of complaints they receive. The ordinance change was adopted on a 10-to-3 vote.


Operations Committee Hears Details of Sewer Rate Increase


10/21/14 - The Beaver Dam Operations Committee Monday night heard the details of a proposed increase in sewer rates. Utility Foreman Rob Minnema says revenue projections are lower than anticipated while costs have been going up. The average residential homeowner would see a quarterly increase of 25-percent, or $8. A commercial property is estimated to see a 35-percent increase, or roughly $29. Industrial users would also get a 35-percent increase. Last night’s discussion was informational and the Operations Committee still has to sign-off on the plan, which would then trigger a public hearing before council consideration.


Beaver Dam Expands Weapons On Campus Prohibition


10/21/14 - The Beaver Dam Common Council Monday night adopted an ordinance that prohibits dangerous weapons on school grounds. State statute already criminalizes guns on campuses. The ordinance outlaws other weapons like knives, pellet and bb guns and starter pistols. Police Chief John Kreuziger says in the past, such offenses resulted in a disorderly conduct citation which he says is not the appropriate charge. The first offense would be a criminal misdemneaor and the second offense a felony. The ordinance exempts the use of a weapon for school-sanctioned purposes.


BDUSD Adopts Budget


10/21/14 - The Beaver Dam School Board last night approved the 2014-2015 budget. The 37-million dollar budget includes a tax levy of $12.6-million dollars, a decrease of three-point-seven-percent (3.7%) from last year. That results in a mill rate of $8.51, 33-cents lower than the mill rate property owners saw on their tax bill this year.


Horicon Schools Board Approves Budget


10/21/14 - The Horicon School District Board of Education adopted its 2014-15 budget at last night’s meeting.  District Administrator Gary Berger says that the total budgeted amount is slightly less than it is in the current year.  The decrease is around $20-thousand.  As a result, the total levy dropped from $4.3-million to $4.1-million.  The mill rate also declined from the past year.  It lowered from 11.23 to 10.43 per $1,000 of assessed property value.  This means that a person who owns a property valued at $100,000 would pay $1,043 for the school portion of their tax bill.  Berger says that part of the decrease in these numbers is due to an $11-million increase in school district property values.  Enrollment and revenue remaining steady were also cited for the drop in levy and mill rate.  As a result of this happening, only a few minor cuts had to be made in the coming year’s budget.


Fall River Schools Budget Adopted In Four-Hour Meeting


10/21/14 - The Fall River School District adopted their 2015 budget at their annual meeting Monday night. Over seventy vocal citizens were on hand to question policies and OK the proposed tax levy and mil rate. The school property tax levy will reach $2.2 million this year. The proposed district mil rate will be at $9.36 per thousand...a six-cent increase from last year.  District residents voiced concerns about the board and administrations' communications with parents and students. Much of the four-and-a-half hour meeting was spent questioning the first-year superintendent and school board on retirees' long term care benefits, teacher pay, teacher hiring and school meals. There was also strong audience reaction to the district's implementation of a special education program.


Schmidt Accuses Sheriff Of Hostile Work Environment  


10/21/14 - Just two weeks away from Election Day on November 4, there were multiple issues that Sergeant Dale Schmidt wanted to address.  Most of those topics stemmed from the comments made by his write-in opponent, Patricia Ninmann, on the same program five days prior.  He stood firm in his belief that the voters of Dodge County allowed their true voice to be heard when they selected him over Ninmann in the Republican primary on August 12 and that he anticipates a similar outcome in two weeks when he will be the only name appearing on the ballot.  Schmidt has been heavily criticized by Ninmann for not sharing his personnel file with the public as she did on her website.  Schmidt says that is not going to be the case for much longer.  He says that he will not release to file online to protect his family’s private information but will set up a meet and greet with the public once the file is obtained to review it with anyone who would like to inquire.  He says he is doing this as he wants to prove that he has nothing to hide.  The sergeant also went on to say that he feels it is more than just those who cast tallies in last week’s vote of no-confidence against Ninmann that dislike her.  He said that there are many people throughout the department that find working with the current sheriff to be difficult.  In addition to that, he says that he is glad that some of those employees are standing up for themselves and allowing their voice to be heard.  Schmidt says that he did not vote in, nor even attend, the meeting where the no-confidence vote against the sheriff was cast as he feels that would have been unethical on his part.


Ninmann Defends Management Style


10/21/14 - Sheriff Ninmann did respond in a phone interview to the comments made by Sergeant Schmidt on Monday’s program.  One of the topics that Ninmann commented on was Schmidt saying that her leadership made for a hostile work environment.  She says that she does not intend to do any of her employees wrong and has seen vast strides in her leadership ability.  Ninmann says that she takes it to heart when an employee tells her that they feel she mistreated them. The sheriff also spoke to not being satisfied with Schmidt’s comment that he will make his personnel file available via a meet-and-greet.  She says that he should put the file online for all to view and explain its contents.  The current sheriff feels that he is only sharing the file on his terms and that only two items have been placed in that file by her, one of which has been removed.  She cites that the other documents in the file were placed there by the previous administration and calls for him to explain those items.  Ninmann says that she does not approve of the way Schmidt is proposing to handle budget matters.  She describes his method as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”  The election is just two weeks away, on November 4.


Lake Mills Teacher Gets Benefits Adjustment


10/21/14 - The State Claims Board has voted to give ten-thousand dollars to a former Jefferson teacher, whose retirement was based on estimates that were way too low.  The Wisconsin State Journal said Cheryl Neupert of Lake Mills would not have retired had the state Employee Trust Funds department not miscalculated her annuity benefits three times.  Neupert asked the Claims Board for 107-thousand dollars, the amount she said was promised her -- but the board could only award a maximum limit of 10-thousand dollars.  The state Legislature could award more if it wants to.  The Madison news outlet said the Trust Funds agency apologized, and that the mistakes were "regrettable" -- but department officials told the board it did not have the authority to pay for its mistakes.  The Claims Board disagreed.  The State Journal said the problem was due to a clerical mistake made when Neupert's retirement numbers were calculated manually.  A department administrator said manual calculations are very rare.  For now, Neupert says she's doing substitute teaching to make up for the drop in her projected benefits.



Yesterday's Headlines
    -Union Casts No-Confidence Vote Against Sheriff Ninmann
    -Walker, Burke Square Off at Final Governor Debate
    -Dodge Co. Sheriff Candidates Debate Citizens' Voice

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.