News – April 5, 2016

Spring Election Today In Wisconsin


4/5/16 – Today is Election Day in Wisconsin.  Races include the presidential primary, Supreme Court, and a number of county and municipal seats.  Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson reminds voters to bring a photo ID, be patient in line since a large turnout is expected, and read the ballot carefully before making selections.  People who need to register to vote can do so at the polls by showing a valid proof of residence.  A complete list of Dodge County polling locations can be found on the clerk’s page of the county website. Gibson also reminds voters that they must be 18-year-old to cast a ballot today. She says there is a misconception by some voters that they only need to be 18-years-old by the time of the general election in November and she says that is simply not true.  The statewide turnout is projected to be 28-percent higher than the 12-percent who showed up at the polls in February. Polls are open from 7am to 8pm. Meanwhile, at least 226-thousand Wisconsinites have obtained absentee ballots to vote early, well more than twice the 95-thousand given out during the last presidential primary four years ago. Only Republicans had a contest back then, since Democrat Barack Obama was running for re-election. Almost 137-thousand people voted in person at municipal clerk’s offices the past two weeks, much more than the 27-thousand who did so in 2012. State elections’ officials say this year’s numbers are not final, since the data is still being tabulated. Those still holding absentee ballots have until the end of Tuesday to mail them — and their local clerks must receive them by four p-m Friday in order to be counted.


Mayor, City Attorney Block Watermark Agenda Item


4/5/16 – Members of the Beaver Dam Operations Committee are not allowed to have an agenda item with updates on the status of donations to the Watermark. That’s according to City Attorney Mary Ann Schacht who explained during Monday night’s meeting that she had the agenda item removed because finances are a function of the city’s Administrative Committee. Operations Committee Chair Robert Ballweg had the agenda item included originally because members of his committee had requested an update. The same committee last night made decisions on the Watermark involving a change order in the construction budget for the $2.1-million dollar community and senior center. Ballweg says his committee should have a complete understanding of the latest finances because they are still making financial decisions on the Watermark. He notes that last night the council approved change orders which he says are ultimately reflective of budget items and therefore it’s important to have a good idea to have the latest numbers. He says both committees have had a collaborative relationship throughout this process.  Mayor Tom Kennedy agrees with the city attorney that finance is a function of the Administrative Committee not Operations, adding that the finance director does not have time to generate this type of report on pledges for the Operations Committee. Kennedy says there are one or two alderpersons who are against the Watermark project requesting the update and he says if they want financial information they should go individually to the finance director. Ballweg was able to publicly state some of the numbers during the open meeting before being interrupted by the city attorney. Pledges of money and in-kind donations, not counting the donation of the property, total $1.06-million dollars. Of that, 174 pledges in the amount of $655-thousand dollars have been completely paid-off. Eleven donors with pledges totaling $103-thousand dollars have not made any payments to date. Finally, 44 pledges totaling $304-thousand dollars are being paid in various installments over a five-year period. The Watermark is currently projected to come in around $15-thousand dollars under budget.


Grant Falls Short For Watermark Parking Lot


4/5/16 – The Beaver Dam Operations Committee last night approved a new parking lot for the Watermark Community and Senior Center. The committee followed the recommendation of City Engineering Coordinator Ritchie Piltz in not accepting a grant for an environmentally-friendly, permeable pavement parking lot. Piltz says the grant was only for $14-thousand dollars. The city will be installing a regular asphalt parking lot for just over $100-thousand dollars versus the $300-thousand for the permeable pavement. Meanwhile, the full common council last night held first reading on an ordinance that restricts parking in front of the Watermark. If approved in two weeks, parking would be limited to ten minutes directly in front of the South Center Street facility. The council last night also hired a company to remove asbestos from the old senior center on East Third Street prior to its demolition. Environet Inc of Oshkosh will perform the service for $11-thousand dollars. There is $275-thousand dollars budgeted for the demolition which is anticipated to take place this summer. The old senior center grounds, in conjunction with the current library parking lot, will be reconfigured to allow for a larger parking lot along with a state-mandated water filtration pond.


Beaver Dam Approves Business Park Access Roads, Map


4/5/16 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved two items related to the city’s new business park.  A. Glewen and Sons of Waupun was awarded a $19-thousand dollar contract for construction of a temporary gravel access road into the 151 Business Park which is located on the north side of the city. A certified survey map was also approved last night that outlines the lots that are in the process of being sold. WDS Construction, Vintage Parts and Beaver Dam Cold Storage – all existing industries in the city – are looking to expand into the new business park.


Dodge County Operational Review Not Likely In 2016


4/5/16 – All signs point to Dodge County taking a year off from looking in-depth at their major departments.  At yesterday’s meeting, the Executive Committee discussed postponing a $30,000 operational review of Clearview, the Highway Department, or the Sheriff’s Office.  County Administrator Jim Mielke says the review could interfere with a contracted project where the Government Finance Officers Association, or GFOA, will consult county departments on their day-to-day operations.  Mielke says department heads will spend a large amount of time working with GFOA officials and having one department leader work with both the GFOA and Baker Tilly simultaneously would be difficult.  In 2015, Dodge County paid Baker Tilly Virchow Krause $30,000 to conduct an operational review of the Human Services and Health Department after questions were raised over a $1,100,000 budget shortfall in 2014.  The plan was to look at Clearview, Highway, and the Sheriff’s Office by 2018.  Mielke says the funds budgeted for the operational review this year could be carried over to 2017.


Neighbor Causing Problems For Dodge County Paging Channel


4/5/16 – One of Dodge County’s emergency paging channels is getting interfered with by one of Dane County’s channels.  Dodge County Emergency Management Director Amy Nehls says Dane County’s Fire and EMS channel is close in frequency to Dodge County’s spare tactical channel.  Now that Dane County is expanding the use of its Sun Prairie tower on the east side of the county, it is occasionally interfering with the Dodge County frequency.  Since it is a backup channel that is rarely used, Nehls says it is not a major issue.  Nehls said the problem started last fall, and the counties have been working together to find a solution.  She says Dodge County is willing to switch its tactical channel to a different frequency as long as Dane County is willing to bear any of the costs.  Nehls says Dane County officials seem open to the idea.


Juneau Interested In County-Owned Property


4/5/16 – The City of Juneau is interested in purchasing a county-owned property.  The 5.6-acre piece of land is between the Henry Dodge Office Building and the Archie Monuments on Highway 26.  There is no word on what the city would do with the parcel or how much it would cost.


Name Of Person Killed In Columbia Co. Accident Released


4/5/16 – The name of the person killed in Friday’s two vehicle accident in the Columbia County Town of West Point has been released.  25-year-old William Prieve of Lodi’s car reportedly crossed the center line on Highway 60 near Gannon Road and struck an oncoming semi.  The semi’s driver was not injured.