January 22, 2013

Bitter Cold Sets In


1/22/13 – All of Wisconsin remains below zero, as folks wake up to the coldest morning of the winter. It was 6-below at the airport in Juneau at seven o’clock, and Beaver Dam had 7-below. Hartford had eight-below, as did several other places. Wind-chill factors hit 21-below in Juneau, and minus-16 in Waupun. The National Weather Service says parts of Wisconsin will have lows below-zero every night this week, but this morning was the worst of it.  Parts of the state are expected to get above zero today – we’re looking for a high of five-degrees. Tonight’s lows are supposed to bottom out in the negative single digits in our listening area. Scattered flurries and light snow are possible on Thursday and Friday.


Meanwhile, the bitter cold may have contributed to at least one death in Wisconsin. Green Bay Police found the body of a 38-year-old man yesterday morning just outside his house near the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. Officials said the man lived alone – and his vehicle was found at an east side Green Bay tavern. Police say they’re trying to figure out what the man did on Sunday night, and how he tried to get home. His name was not immediately released.


BD Operations Committee Reviews CIP


1/22/13 – The Beaver Dam Operations Committee Monday night got their first look at the newest version of the city’s five-year Capital Improvements Plan. The CIP, as it’s called, lays out infrastructure improvement needs and major equipment purchases over the next five years while outlining a borrowing plan for the current year. City officials had previously decided that borrowing for this year would be limited to $1.6 million.  However, unforeseen expenses related to the state’s reconstruction of Highway 33/ Front Street may cause the city to exceed that target by around $44,000. City officials learned last year that a turn-of-the-century building at the northeast corner of Front and Center streets interferes with the turning radius of semi-trucks and must be removed as part of any reconstructed highway. Not only has that oversight delayed the downtown portion of the project by a couple years but the city is going to have to borrow $300,000 to demolish the structure. City Engineering Coordinator Ritchie Piltz says the city will be reimbursed from the state for all but around $5000 of the demolition costs.  Other public works projects for 2013 include the reconstruction of Madison Street and Front Street from the Madison Street Bridge to Center Street; the repaving of Henry Street from South Spring Street to South University Avenue; and the repair of city-owned railroad tracks in the business park. Additionally, the fire department has $400,000 earmarked for equipment needs and another $50,000 is being directed to the library for improvements.  The CIP gained approval last night from the Operations Committee – which is tasked with placing items on or removing items from the CIP. It now heads to the Administrative Committee, which is the committee that holds the purse strings.


BD Council Approves Grant Application Resolution


1/22/13 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night unanimously approved a resolution to seek a state grant for a community and senior center. Because there are no city tax dollars being used to pay for renovation of the Watermark, a non-profit group spearheading the capital campaign hired a professional fundraising company. Kurt Saterbak of Saterbak and Associates told the council last night that Beaver Dam is uniquely qualified to receive funding under the conditions of the Community Development Block Grant. That includes redevelopment of the downtown, potential expansion of employment, serving low-income people and seniors, and having community support. Total cost of the project is $4.1 million and a capital campaign was launched in July to raise $2.9 million. To date, the group has raised $1.1 million in cash and commitments. That figure also includes the $400,000 donation of the former Fullerton Lumber building on South Center Street. Ellen Sushak, President of the Friends of the Beaver Dam Senior Center, says the campaign has brought in more donated money that any other municipal fundraising project in the city’s history. Last night’s approval was one of support as required in the grant application. The actual filing of the grant application has to occur when the project is 90 days away from breaking ground, which is expected this year. It is a matching grant, meaning the Friends group will have to match the award dollar-for-dollar with donated money. That award is anticipated to be between $500 and $750-thousand dollars.


Boating Fees and Penalties Going Up in Beaver Dam


1/22/13 – The Beaver Dam Operations Committee last night approved an increase in boating fees and penalties. Boaters on Beaver Dam Lake would pay the same $5 daily fee to launch this year as they did last year. If approved by the council, there would be an increase in seasonal permits from $20 to $25 for residents and from $30 to $35 for non-residents. Bill Boettge with the Lake Improvement Association says the increase would eliminate confusion by bringing the fee in-line with the county-owned Derge Park boat launch. The Association pushed for a $100 penalty for boaters who do not have a permit. That request, along with discussion of a $50 penalty, was not called for a vote and the fine will remain $20. Violators would now get three days to pay the fine, instead of one, if they want to avoid an additional $10 charge. The new Memorandum Of Understanding with the Lake Improvement Association would continue through April of 2014.


Watch Out for Aerators


1/22/13 – Aerators are out on Beaver Dam Lake this year. The Lake Improvement Association installs the units when oxygen drops to a level that would be dangerous to the health of the lake and its fish population.  The machine circulates water in such a way that it thins the ice for as much as a mile around. The Lake Improvement Association warns those on the lake to be on the look out for ropes, polls and reflectors.


Juneau Man Injured in Fatal Accident


1/22/13 – A driver who died in a one-car crash just off Highway 151 has been identified as 53-year-old Frederick Smith of Madison. A 28-year-old passenger, a man from Juneau, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. The mishap occurred yesterday morning, just off Highway 151 north of Sun Prairie. Authorities said the car left an off-ramp, fell down an embankment, and rolled over several times. Dane County sheriff’s deputies said speed and alcohol appeared to be factors, but they’re still investigating.


MLK Jr Day Observed in Madison


1/22/13 – The widow of a legendary Milwaukee civil rights leader slammed Wisconsin Republican policies yesterday at the state’s official celebration of Martin Luther King Day. With Governor Scott Walker just a few feet away, Margaret Rozga said anyone who tries curtail collective bargaining by workers, or suppresses the right to vote quote, “doesn’t stand with us.” Her comments drew cheers from the hundreds who attended the King Day ceremony at the Capitol. Rozga was the wife of Father James Groppi, who led Milwaukee protest marches in the 1960’s which succeeded in ending housing discrimination in that city. At yesterday’s ceremony, she was accepting an award on Groppi’s behalf when she criticized the Wisconsin law which virtually eliminated most public union bargaining, and required a photo I-D to vote. Rozga also criticized the bill which makes it easier to build new mines, saying her family loves Wisconsin’s natural resources – and she doesn’t want to see them endangered. She did not mention Walker by name. And Walker made no reference to her comments when he later read a proclamation of Martin Luther King Day. The governor quoted the slain civil rights leader, saying quote, “Hatred doesn’t drive out hate – Only love can do that.”


High School Grad Rates Up

1/22/13 – Wisconsin’s high school graduation rate has gone up every year since 2003. That’s according to the U-S Department of Education, which says that 91-percent of public school students finished high school in four years by the spring of 2010. That’s five-percent above the state’s rate from seven years earlier. And Wisconsin’s most recent graduation rate is 13 points above the national average of 78 percent. The federal report said the state’s dropout rate was around two-percent – one-percent below the national norm. African-Americans had the highest dropout rate in the state, at eight-percent. Hispanics and Indians had dropout rates of around five percent each.