June 3, 2014

County, Legislative Races Set


6/3/14 – Monday was the deadline to file papers for the fall election. There will only be one contested countywide race on Dodge County ballots. Sheriff Pat Ninmann is facing a challenge from Dale Schmidt. Ninmann was appointed to the position last year following the early retirement of Todd Nehls. Schmidt is a Patrol Sergeant with the sheriff’s department. The only other countywide race on the November ballot is that of Clerk of Courts where incumbent Lynn Hron is running without opposition.


In the State Senate, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau is facing a challenge for his District 13 seat from Democrat Michelle Zahn of Juneau.


In the Assembly, District 39 Republican incumbent Mark Born of Beaver Dam will face Independent candidate Richard Bennett of Horicon.  In District 37, Republic incumbent John Jagler of Watertown is facing a challenge from Mary Arnold of Columbus. There will be a Democratic primary this August in Assembly District 42, which is centered in Columbia County and includes portions of Dodge County and four other counties. George Ferriter of Fall River will face Steve Gulasky of Poynette with the winner appearing on the ballot alongside Republican incumbent Keith Ripp of Lodi; Don Garves of Columbus is running as an independent. In Assembly District 22, incumbent Republican Don Pridemore of Hartford is retiring and there is a GOP primary with Janet Brandtjet of Menomonee Falls, Blair Rogacki of Colgate and Nick Oliver of Colgate. The winner will face Democrat Jessie Read of Sesse in November. In District 41, Democrat Joe Kallas of Princeton is challenging Republican incumbent Joan Ballweg of Markesan. In Assembly District 52, incumbent Assembly Republican Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Oshkosh is running unopposed. So is District 53 incumbent Republican Michael Schraa of Oshkosh.


Six Candidates Eye Petri’s Seat


6/3/14 – Six candidates have filed papers for the open Sixth District U-S House seat vacated by Tom Petri of Fond du Lac.  Five Republicans filed — state lawmakers Glenn Grothman, Joe Leibham, and Duey Strobel, along with Nancy Olson and Tom Denow, both of Oshkosh.  Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is the only Democrat who filed for that post.


Large Pool Vying For Treasurer, Sec of State


6/3/14 – The Wisconsin state treasurer and secretary-of-state have lost nearly all of their powers — but that’s not stopping a dozen people from running for those jobs this fall.  Long-time Secretary-of-State Doug La Follette and four others filed nomination papers for that office by yesterday’s deadline.  Seven people filed for the state treasurer’s post.  The state Government Accountability Board will decide a week from today whether all those candidates have enough valid nominating signatures to get on the ballot.  Governors and lawmakers from both parties have stripped duties from both the secretary-of-state and treasurer’s offices in recent years, for a variety of reasons.  Some candidates have said they would fight to restore the powers.  But one dropout said it would be futile as long as Republicans remain in charge of state government.  La Follette is the only Democrat to file for secretary-of-state.  Two Republicans filed — outgoing state Representative Garey Bies (byes) and Marc Bradley, along with Libertarian Andy Craig and Constitution Party candidate Jerry Broitzman.  Republican State Treasurer Kurt Schuller is not running again.  Filers for that seat are Republicans Matt Adamczyk and Randall Melchert, Democrats Dave Leeper and David Sartori, Ron Hardy from the Green Party, Constitution candidate Andrew Zuelke, and Libertarian Jerry Shidell.


Homicide Investigation Underway


6/3/14 – The death of a woman whose body was found Friday in Watertown is being investigated as a homicide. 28-year-old Heather Stewart of Clyman has been identified as the person who was found in a vehicle in the parking lot of the former Pick n’ Save on South Church Street. An autopsy was performed on Saturday. The cause of death is being withheld. Police Chief Tim Roets says the crime was not random but the public is not at risk. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Watertown Police Department. (608) 261-6660.


Municipal Court Penalty Schedule Set


6/3/14 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved the penalty costs for those who violate city ordinance. In 2011, the state legislature gave municipal courts the authority to set their own financial penalties. Beaver Dam Municipal Court judge Ken Peters says this is the first time the bond schedule has been updated since then. The penalties cover traffic violations, alcohol-related offenses, public nuisance and disorderly conduct infractions, among others. In addressing the council last night, Peters singled out those caught with 25 grams or less of marijuana…a fine which will cost a maximum of $1000 for the first offense and $2500 for the second. That’s not counting fines and court costs which would add an additional $300. Peters says the alternative would be to send offenses like minor marijuana possession up to the already-burdened criminal court system. He says when the verdict is handed down in municipal court, the financial penalties will be higher and the money will stay in the city. The new schedule takes effect July 1.


Council Approves Business Park Land Sale To WDS


6/3/14 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved the sale of three acres in the business park to a growing Beaver Dam-based construction company. WDS Construction plans to build a $1.2 million dollar, 12-thousand square foot facility. As part of an incentive package, the city is selling each acre for only $1 but is guaranteed $150-thousand dollars in property taxes over a five-year period. The new WDS headquarters is targeted for completion by the end of 2016. The three-acre parcel is located south of Industrial Drive near Vintage Parks and Wyllow Pet Hospital. There are only seven acres remaining the Lakeside Business Park. Beaver Dam recently opened a third business park on the far north end of the city.


Executive Committee Mulls Future of County-Owned Building


6/3/14 – The Dodge County Board Executive Committee discussed the status of the former Fox Lake Highway Shop during their monthly meeting on Monday. The facility is currently only used for canine training and to house vehicles confiscated by the sheriff’s department. The city of Fox Lake is interested in a salt storage shed on the property and wants to buy the whole parcel, demolish the highway shop but keep the shed. The county’s Director of Physical Facilities, Russ Freber, says there is a substantial amount of work that needs to go into the building before it is up to usable condition. He says maintenance needs include brick replacement, concrete window sill repairs and compromised supports throughout the building. Freber says roof repairs alone could cost up to $125-thousand dollars. That does not include additional concrete repairs, or recommended tests on the building. County officials plan to discuss if they want to fix-up the building, put it up for auction or sell it outright to the city of Fox Lake when the Executive Committee meets next month.


Appeals Court Questions Diocese Claim


6/3/14 – A federal appeals court has questioned a claim by the Milwaukee Archdiocese that it needs 55-million dollars to maintain church cemeteries.  A three-judge panel held a hearing yesterday in Chicago on an effort by the Catholic Archdiocese to keep its cemetery trust fund away from creditors in the church’s bankruptcy case.  Most of those creditors are victims of abuse by former priests in the ten-county Milwaukee Archdiocese which includes Dodge County.  Federal Judge Rudolph Randa had previously ruled that the cemetery funds were off limits.  Victims’ attorneys told the appellate panel that Randa should not have ruled on the matter because he has relatives buried in one of the Catholic cemeteries.  Trust fund attorney Brady Williamson said Randa’s family bought the burial plots almost 40 years ago, and Randa has not had any involvement in the matter since then.  Still, Judge Ann Claire Williams said she found the issue “troubling,” and Randa should have made his involvement known before his ruling. Judge Robert Dow questioned whether the church needs all 55-million in the cemetery fund — and whether some could be diverted to other purposes.  It’s not known when the appellate court will make its ruling.