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Top Stories April 22, 2014

Beaver Dam Officials Hear Watermark Update


4/22/14 - Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy says the city caught a break when a spring application deadline was set for a grant that could help fund a portion of the proposed Watermark Community and Senior Center. The Community Development Block Grant could be worth up to a half million dollars. The deadline last year was in September but Kennedy says news of the June 2 deadline this year could allow the project to move forward during the current construction season rather than waiting until next year. A public hearing, a requirement of the grant, is tentatively planned next month.


Architect Marty Sell says the size of the building is now estimated at 12-thousand-842-square feet, about 340-square feet larger than preliminary floor plans. Building costs were adjusted slightly higher to $1.86 million, up from $1.84 million. Site work – like parking lot, curb and gutter installation, water and sewer connections and demolition of out buildings – bring the project to just over $2.1-million dollars. 


Community Activities and Services Coordinator Evonne Boettge gave a financial update last night. She says there is $302-thousand dollars cash in the building account. There is another $598-thousand dollars in pledges. The fundraising campaign is also still active. Four donors have requested cash refunds totaling $4-thousand dollars. Boettge says two refunds were given when the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association was mulling a partnership and the other two refunds were needed for unexpected medical expenses. Another $60-thousand dollars in in-kind donations are anticipated. The price tag also includes the $400-thousand dollar value of the donated building on South Center Street.


Another revenue source was mentioned last night: revenue from the TIF District in the downtown redevelopment area. State law would allow for TIF dollars to be used for certain types of infrastructure improvements, like site work for the parking lot installation and sewer connections. Preliminary figures from the city finance director put that dollar figure at as much as $300-thousand dollars. However, $75-thousand dollars from the TIF fund account is already earmarked for a downtown fa�ade improvement grant program recently adopted by the city council. The fa�ade program originated in the city’s Community Development Committee and its chair, Robert Ballweg, says so far there have been no takers for the grant, which will fund up to one-third of the cost for building improvements in the downtown redevelopment district.


Petri on WBEV: ‘I’m Still On The Job’


4/22/14 - Congressman Tom Petri discussed his pending retirement yesterday on WBEV’s Community Comment. After 35 years in Washington, the Republican from Fond du Lac announced earlier this month that he will not be asking voters to send him back to Capitol Hill. Petri says his term goes through the end of the year so he will still be showing up for work doing his job and getting a number of bills addressed or ready to be completed after his term ends. He has served on the Transportation Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee. An effort to reform student loans remains a work-in-progress. Petri is optimistic that a plan to allow pre-tax deductions of monthly repayments will be included in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


Walker: ‘Democratic Primary a Good Thing’


4/22/14 - Governor Scott Walker says a Democratic primary for his seat is a good thing.  Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey of Madison said yesterday he would challenge former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke in the August primary.  At a small business dinner in Wausau last night, the Republican Walker said it's good that more people want to take part in the process.  And no matter who wins the primary, Walker said voters will choose between his policies and those of former Governor Jim Doyle, which Walker said "failed the state."  The Walker camp also stands to benefit financially from a Democratic primary -- which some party leaders were hoping to avoid, so their eventual nominee would not have to eat up campaign funds before taking on Walker's well-funded war-chest.  Hulsey told Madison's W-I-B-A Radio that Democrats don't need quote, "some spoiled rich kid," referring to Burke.  Hulsey also unveiled a jobs plan which he said was "backed up by U-W economics professors."  Madison political science professor Ken Mayer told W-K-O-W T-V that Hulsey does not pose a serious challenge.  He said Hulsey lacks name recognition around the state.  Mayer also noted Hulsey's erratic behavior, including the day he brought a box-cutter to the Capitol to teach self-defense to a staffer.  Mayer also said Hulsey is so far to the left that it could actually help Burke's campaign.  The Burke camp said it remains focused on defeating Walker.


Justice Department Response Time Scrutinized


4/22/14 - It took at least four months for the State Justice Department to start checking out 43 tips about child pornography -- and some of those cases were never investigated.  That's according to a Justice Department letter obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  It was the result of an internal review which led to the firings of Milwaukee agents Willie Brantley and Anna King just over a month ago.  Until now, we were told three child porn investigations had been delayed -- and Attorney General J-B Van Hollen had said it was impossible to know how many other cases were affected.  The Journal Sentinel said a termination letter to Brantley indicated that the 43 delayed cases were funneled from Madison to his Milwaukee office from 2011 through last year.  It also said there were examples of other agents holding cases from 60-to-89 days.  Brantley filed the letter with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, as part of an appeal to try and win his job back.  The letter did not indicate the outcomes of the other cases in question.  Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck said those cases are related to a quote, "pending employment action" -- and the agency will respond at the proper time.


Keller Sentenced On Child Porn Charges


4/22/14 - A former Neosho man was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for possessing child pornography. Richard Keller had previously pled to a pair of felony charges and had three other felony counts dismissed but read into the record.  The charges against Keller date back to October of 2008 when the 44-year-old lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan. An inmate at a Michigan prison made unsubstantiated claims about Keller filming movies featuring his own children and both state and federal officials became involved. That same inmate was in prison for stealing Keller’s identity and it was said that the accusations were meant as retribution for the inmate’s prison sentence. No video’s featuring Keller’s children were ever uncovered but the investigation did turn up thousands of other videos and images of pre-pubescent children on several CD’s and DVD’s. They were found at a home Keller owned in Kalamazoo and also at his former residence in Neosho. Local detectives resumed their investigation after federal officials said last year that they would not be pursuing the matter. Keller – who now lives in West Bend – was also sentenced to four years of extended supervision and must pay $5000 in fines and spend 15 in compliance with the sex offender registry.


Lawmakers May Addressed Police ID Confiscation


4/22/14 - State lawmakers are raising concerns, after reports that Green Bay Police have occasionally confiscated driver's licenses and mailed them back to people with their traffic citations.  Chris Develice of Fond du Lac tells W-L-U-K T-V that an officer kept his driver's license after he failed to follow traffic directions when leaving a Packers' playoff game -- and his license got lost in the mail and he had to apply for a duplicate.  He said he needed the license not only to drive home, but as an I-D for an upcoming cruise he was planning to the Bahamas.  Green Bay Police Chief Tom Molitor told the T-V station that the officer couldn't get his pen to work, so he couldn't write a citation on the spot.  The chief defended the officer's decision to confiscate the license and mail it with the ticket.  After the license got lost, Molitor said he wouldn't have a problem with his agency paying to replace it.  State Senate Republican Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac says it does not appear to be a statewide problem -- but if something needs to be clarified, chief-of-staff Tim Lakin told W-L-U-K they would propose a bill to address it.  Senate G-O-P President Mike Ellis of Neenah said seizing the license broke state law and could have opened the driver to being an identity theft victim.  Molitor told the station he's not encouraging officers to confiscate licenses, but he's not ruling it out.


Fall River Post Office Hours Reduced


4/22/14 - Fall River-area postal customers have received notice that the hours of window service at the village Post Office will be reduced starting on May 17th. The reduction came after a mail survey of 1,114 people and input from a community meeting.  The new weekday retail hours for the Fall River Post Office will be from 7:30am to 3:30pm, with lunch from 10:30am to 12:30pm. That is a reduction of one-half hours a day on weekdays. Saturday morning hours will remain the same...8am to 10am. Access to mailboxes will not change as a result of the new realignment of walk-up service hours.


DPW Reminder: No Spring Leaf Pick-Up in BD


4/22/14 - City of Beaver Dam residents are reminded that there is no curbside pickup of leaves, lawn rakings and other garden waste in the spring. Director Jeremy Klug says leaf pickup only takes place in the fall during announced times. Residents can take yard waste to the Public Works Garage, which is open weekdays between 7am to 3:30pm and now on Saturday’s from 10am until 2pm. No waste of any kind is accepted from outside the city limits or from contractors.


Downtown Demolition Progressing


4/21/14 - The downtown Beaver Dam skyline looks quite different now after most of a building at the corner of Front and Center has been taken down. Work got underway about one month ago on the razing of 152 Front Street. City Engineering Coordinator Ritchie Piltz says the removal process is intentionally slow and time consuming so as to protect the adjoining buildings. In the past week, the north, south and west walls have been dismantled. The final wall, the east wall, abuts the neighboring Chinese restaurant and requires more careful dismantling. Statewide Razing Inc. of Combined Locks is doing the work. The three-story corner structure held up the Front Street portion of last summer’s Highway 33 reconstruction. It was discovered late in the process that the crumbling building is so close to the intersection that it interferes with the turning radius of semi-truck traffic. The state now plans to reconstruct the 100 block of Front Street/ Highway 33 next year. The building at 203 Front Street will also see the wrecking ball soon.

Yesterday's Headlines
    - DOT Touts Green Initiatives on State Roads
    - Firefighters Purchase Bee Protection Equipment
    - Baraboo Public Recreation Area Now Open

For those stories and more click here.

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