January 8, 2013

Mining Vote Expected by March


1/8/13 – You can expect a final vote in March on a bill that makes it easier to create new mines in Wisconsin. Majority Assembly Republicans say they’ll make mining their first major action in the new session. Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald said Monday that he expects his house to take up the package in early March. The Republican from Juneau did not offer specifics on what the bill would include. But he said it would be harder than ever to get the Indian tribes in northwest Wisconsin to support such a package – and he said it would face inevitable court challenges. Democrats have called on the G-O-P to pass a mining bill which does not include a relaxing of environmental protections – and does not cut off public challenges to the D-N-R’s various mining decisions before permits are issued. Both those items were in the package that was rejected last year, due to the opposition of moderate Republican Dale Schultz. The Senate only had a one-vote majority last year. Now, it has a stronger cushion with a three-vote advantage.


“Social Hosting” Ordinance Tabled


1/8/13 – Discussion on an ordinance that would fine those who provide alcohol for underage drinking parties in Beaver Dam was tabled in committee last night. So-called “social hosting” ordinances are popping up in communities throughout the state. Beaver Dam’s draft was modeled after one in Manitowoc. Alderman Jon Litscher took issue with wording that says a person does not have to be present at a social event to be responsible. The ordinance was drafted by the city attorney with input from the mayor, the police chief, the district attorney, the municipal court judge and the community-based anti-drug coalition “Impact.” City Attorney Mary Ann Schacht says the burden of proof would fall on her to prove the accused had knowledge and intent. Mayor Tom Kennedy says he expected to the ordinance to go through changes committee and says the intent is not to fine those who are not aware of an underage drinking party. Guilty parties would face fines of between $5 and $1000 for a first offense; between $10 and $2000 for a second offense and between $15 and $4000 for any subsequent offenses.


Walkway Over BD Dam Will Be Closed for Six Months


1/8/13 – Beginning this June, the walkway over the dam in Beaver Dam will be closed for six months. Mitch Leisses of Kunkel Engineering who gave the city’s Operations Committee an update last night on mandates orders by the DNR following an October 2010 safety inspection. Around $400,000 in repairs are needed, including the complete replacement of the concrete walkway, or deck, which is basically the main housing holding the whole dam in place.  Kunkel was hired to design the upgrades. In a separate project, the city installed an electronic gate last year, eliminating the need to manually remove boards from the dam to control water levels. Because the deck installation designs were drawn-up before the new gates were installed, Kunkel is submitting a design change order to the city. In the meantime, Leisses says plans have been submitted to the DNR that would temporarily allow the dam gate to operate without the deck. He says a bracing system will allow a whole new concrete deck to be poured.  The entire project has been estimated to cost around $485,000 and grant funding has been secured to pay for more than half of the work. DNR approval is expected this month.


Sale of Parcels in BD Business Park Approved


1/8/13 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved the sale of a lot in their business park. There were two parties interested in the same property and city officials found a way to satisfy both parties. The Beaver Dam Chiropractic Clinic bought a half acre adjacent to their Corporate Drive facility to expand parking. Developer JJB Commercial Real Estate bought the rest. Plans are to build a four-acre, 16-thousand-square-foot outpatient care center for the Beaver Dam Community Hospital. The offers came in simultaneously and city officials had to reconfigure the parcel to suit the needs of both parties, designing the parking lot along a nearby pond in a way that still made the bulk of the parcel attractive to the hospital developer. The purchase price is $30,000 per acre. The deal was worked out in the city’s Community Development Committee and CDC Chair Robert Ballweg encouraged his colleagues to vote yes, even though he was the lone “no” vote. Ballweg says it was a matter of principal because some language was approved in committee that was left-out of the final contract. He says it should have gone back to committee for approval again, something he says happens all too often.


Oshkosh Corp. Ends Stock Maneuver


1/8/13 – Now that Carl Icahn has scrapped his plan to buy the Oshkosh Corporation, the company will end a stock maneuver which could have blocked the purchase. The company that’s best known for its military vehicles said a “poison pill” that was supposed to end in October would instead expire at the end of today’s trading. The “poison pill” was a temporary shareholder rights’ plan. It would have taken effect had one person or group acquired 10-percent or more of Oshkosh stock, and its goal was to ward off a hostile takeover attempt. Oshkosh had rejected Icahn’s previous offer to buy the company, saying it was not adequate. Icahn is known for buying struggling businesses and shaking them up. His total bid for Oshkosh was around three-billion dollars. He abandoned the takeover attempt last month, after less than a quarter of the company’s shares had been tendered before his offer expired.


December Vehicle Sales Down


1/8/13 – There was a drop in the number of cars sold in the region last month compared to December of last year. Reg-Trak of Waterloo reports December sales in the nine-county region decreased by less than a half-percent (.5%) when compared to the same month last year. In Dodge County, there was a 7-percent decrease with 240 cars and trucks sold last month compared to 258 in December of 2011. Each county in the region saw a year-to-date increase through December, ranging from 7-percent in Columbia County to 20-percent in Iowa County. Year-to-date vehicle sales in Dodge County were up 7.7-percent, with 3,066 sales in 2012 compared to 2,848 in 2011.


Can’t Hind from Arrest Warrants


1/8/13 – Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls says an arrest warrant will follow you around from state-to-state and there is no statute of limitations. Case-in-point, according to Nehls, is the story of 42-year-old Susan Schucknecht. Last week, authorities in Pennsylvania contacted his department to report that they had a woman in their custody with outstanding warrants from Dodge County.  Schucknecht had been charged in early 2002 with eleven misdemeanor counts of Failure to Support regarding her two children.  She failed to attend the court hearing and in 2006 a warrant for her arrest. In 2007, she was arrested in Pennsylvania on that warrant but because she was pregnant, the judge postponed her appearance.  She failed to show for the follow-up appearance and another warrant was issued.  Last month, authorities in West Virginia picked her up and she was extradited to Pennsylvania for the charges.  Plans are in the works to extradite her to Wisconsin to face her charges of owing in excess of $42,000 in child support. Nehls says Dodge County does not typically authorize extradition for all arrest warrants, but because of the dollar figure associated with this one it seems appropriate. Dodge County has contracted with a private firm who will complete the transport for under $600. It’ll be up to Schucknecht to figure out how to get back home.