January 7, 2013

Fleet Farm Burglary Investigation Continues


1/7/13 – The investigation continues today into the theft of several guns in a weekend burglary at Fleet Farm in Beaver Dam. Authorities were called to the North Spring Street business around 2am Saturday morning. Detective Ryan Klavekoske says someone broke in through a window, setting off the alarm. The suspect shattered a display case in the firearms sections, making off with a number of weapons. Police are not disclosing the make and model of the stolen guns.


Jury Trial Remains On Calendar In OWI Injury Case


1/7/13 – A Horicon man accused of injuring a passenger in a drunken driving accident will have a jury trial at the end of the month. 24-year-old Joshua Burkhardt is charged with OWI Causing Injury for the one-car wreck that occurred around 2am on October 3, 2011 in Beaver Dam.  According to prosecutors, Burkhardt was driving three people home from a Horicon bar when he took the railroad tracks on Wayland Street at a high rate of speed. His southbound vehicle reportedly went airborne and he lost control, driving through the stop sign at East Burnett Street and striking a parked car. Burkhardt allegedly offered the car owner money not to call police and then fled the scene. Police were able to trace a trail of leaking car fluids to Burkhardt’s vehicle. A passenger in his car fractured her spine, was taken to Beaver Dam Community Hospital and later transferred to Madison. If convicted, Burkhardt will spend a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of two years in jail and up to another four years without a driver license. In court late last week, Burkhardt said he wants the case done with soon and requested that an attorney be appointed by the court. Judge Brian Pfitzinger ordered that the January 30 jury trial remain on the calendar.


BD Committee’s To Discuss Dam, Alcohol Ordinance


1/7/13 – The Beaver Dam Administrative Committee will review a draft ordinance tonight that would fine those who provide alcohol for underage drinking parties. The ordinance was drafted by the city attorney with input from the mayor, the police chief, district attorney, municipal Court judge and the community-based anti-drug coalition Impact. Mayor Tom Kennedy says the law was modeled after one in the city of Manitowoc, which is the only other such ordinance in the state. Fines would be no less than $1000 and no more than $5000 for any person or parent who allows or knowingly provides alcohol to a non-custodial youth. The Administrative Committee meets tonight at 6:30pm. The city’s Operations Committee will get an update tonight from Kunkel Engineering on designs for improvements to the dam. At their meeting last month, Kunkel said the DNR is mandating additional upgrades and assurances. The planned changes follow the installation of an electronic dam gate last year that eliminated the need to manually remove boards to control water levels. Kunkel told the committee that the DNR issued a permit after the fact prompting the need for additional work. Mayor Tom Kennedy told us on WBEV’s Community Comment last month that Kunkel retracted many of the statements in a subsequent meeting with city leaders. Kunkel is asking the city to approve $18,000 in additional funding for design work, paid for with unspent funds from a recent grant. The Operations Committee meets tonight at 7pm.


New Session in Madison Today


1/7/13 – Wisconsin legislators will begin their new session today – and Governor Scott Walker says he’ll have them approve a more moderate agenda than in the last two years. The Republican Walker tells the Wisconsin State Journal that he’ll focus on the state budget and job creation. And he predicts less turbulence in the second half of his term than in the first half. Walker said none of his plans for the new session will prompt massive protests, like those which rocked the Capitol when he virtually ended collective bargaining for most public union employees. Walker said his budget priorities include incentives to create jobs, worker training, tax cuts, more education reforms, and new-and-improved transportation projects. The governor also says he wants to a new approve a more efficient way to approving state mining permits, and incentives to create venture capital for new start-up companies. Some of these measures expect to be controversial. But Walker says he wants to avoid the divisiveness that marked the previous two years in Madison. As a result, he’ll encourage his G-O-P majority not to bring up hot-button conservative proposals like making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, ending same-day voter registration, bringing back political appointees to run elections, and restricting immigration. Walker has supported most of those ideas in the past. He says he not flip-flopping on them now, but he says the state needs to focus on adding jobs. Former Democratic lawmaker Mordecai Lee, who’s now a professor at U-W Milwaukee, says Walker has become much more careful politically, after surviving last year’s recall effort. Walker’s up for re-election next year, and pollster Charles Franklin says he’ll need to maintain his position as a national conservative leader – while not provoking a backlash among Wisconsin voters.


Tech College Teachers Make More than UW Professors


1/7/13 – Teachers at Wisconsin’s technical colleges were paid more last year than U-W professors. That’s according to a review of public employee salaries by Gannett Wisconsin Media, which has 10 daily newspapers around the state. Full-time instructors at the 16 tech schools averaged 90-thousand-dollars last year – and that includes 12-thousand in “overages,” which involve additional teaching assignments. University professors, meanwhile, averaged 86-thousand-dollars last year, but only 14-hundred were overages. Deb Seline, an instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, made over 200-thousand dollars last year, including 121-thousand in overages. She said she worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week – and most of it was grading papers. Seline said she did it because she had concerns about the economy, and it was an offer she took advantage of. Terry Fleischman of Fox Valley Tech doubled his 88-thousand-dollar salary. Officials said he took extra teaching assignments, ran a major development project, and covered for an instructor on medical leave. According to Gannett, some observers believe that overages save money for schools because they don’t have to hire extra people. But others say the compensation can get out of line – and it limits diversity among staff members.


Impact of Farm Bill Extension Unclear


1/7/13 – Wisconsin farmers are still waiting to see exactly what federal programs will be available, after some provisions of the previous Farm Bill were extended. Sue Hunter of the Farm Service Agency said that as of Friday, local F-S-A offices were not notified about the programs that have been extended – or when sign-ups can take place. As a result, they won’t be meeting with farmers on the subject until they get official details. Hunter says farmers should make sure their local Farm Service Agency has their e-mail addresses – plus the most current information on their farm operations. Congress extended parts of the 2008 Farm Bill for another year, as part of the negotiations which kept the federal government from falling over the fiscal cliff. Among other things, the Milk Income Loss Contract program – which provides federal supports to dairy farmers when market prices fall below certain levels – will continue as it’s been. A new dairy insurance program had been endorsed last year as part of a new Farm Bill that never got passed.


Kennedy Monthly Listening Sessions Tomorrow


1/7/13 – Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy has listening sessions scheduled for Tuesday. City residents are invited to meet with the mayor without appointment, in a one-on-one setting, on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Kennedy says he wants constituents to have the opportunity to speak with him the day after each regular meeting of the common council. The listening sessions are held in Room 158 on the first floor of City Hall from 10am until noon and again from 5pm to 6pm. If the regular listening sessions do not fit into your schedule, residents are encouraged to arrange a private meeting through the mayor’s office.


BD Xmas Tree Pick-Up Begins Today


1/7/13 – City of Beaver Dam residents who receive contracted solid waste collection services will be able to place Christmas trees and boughs street-side for collection by city crews beginning today (Monday). Trees and boughs must be free of ornaments, lights and stands so they can be chipped. Crews will continue to pick-up trees through Friday, February 1. Wreaths and boughs containing roping or wire may also be placed in the Veolia non-recyclable cart for collection as garbage. City residents can also dispose of Christmas trees and boughs at the Public Works Garage Yard Waste Drop‑off Site on South Center Street, Monday through Friday. DPW Director Jeremy Klug says the special collection will also include pickup of tree branches that came down with the recent winter storms. Branches cannot exceed seven inches in thickness and eight feet in length and must be left at the curb or brought to the DPW garage. No waste of any kind is accepted from outside of the City or from any contractors. Town of Beaver Dam residents will have one pick-up, it is scheduled for this Friday, January 11. Only real trees will be picked up and they must be left at the end of the driveway by 6am.


Anti-Religion Group Targets Ohio Middle-Schooler


1/7/13 – The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is warning a middle school in southern Ohio about a Jesus portrait hanging in its halls.  The local school district’s superintendent of schools says he won’t remove the picture without an order from the school board or a judge.  He says the display comes from a student’s initiative, which makes its permissible for display.  The portrait hangs in the school’s “Hall of Honor,” among other faces.  The Madison group sent a letter to Jackson Middle School last week saying it represents the school’s endorsement of a particular religion, possibly alienating non-Christian students.