News August 23, 2011

Home Sales Up in Dodge County, Prices Down

8/23/11 – Wisconsin Realtors said their home sales skyrocketed in July compared to the same month a year ago. The Realtors Association said today that its members sold just over 51-hundred homes statewide last month, up a whopping 34-percent from the 38-hundred sold in July of last year. And the median price dropped by almost six-percent to 139-thousand-dollars. The jump in Dodge County wasn’t nearly as drastic but sales were up 11-percent last month from 2010. But like the state as a whole the median price was down in the county coming in at $124,000, a drop of nearly 9.5-percent. The trend of sales being up but prices being down was seen in other areas counties too. Columbia County sales were up 54-percent while the median price fell nearly 38-percent. Sales were up 8-percent in Jefferson County but the median price dropped about 12-percent. In Washington County, sales were up 29-percent with the median price dropping around 6-percent. And in Fond du Lac County sales jumped 44-percent while the average price was down 6-percent. John Horning, who chairs the Realtors’ board, said his group anticipated the big jump in sales last month. He said they reflected a more seasonal pattern this year, as opposed to last year when more people bought homes from January-through-June to take advantage of a big federal income tax credit.

Gas Could Drop with End of Gadhafi Reign

8/23/11 – The downfall of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi might mean a break for you at the gas pump. But it will probably take awhile. And at least one Midwest analyst says the effect might not be all that much. Crude oil prices fell today on the hopes that Libya would resume its oil production soon, after a long-running civil war halted its output. Independent analyst Jim Ritterbusch said there might be some additional selling with Gadhafi getting pushed out. But he says it might not be pronounced, because there are still be lots of questions about how long it would take for Libya’s oil production to resume. Italy’s foreign minister said at least one company has already sent people to Libya to look into a re-start of oil production. Libya made about two-percent of the world’s supply before the civil war slashed its output. Gas prices in Wisconsin continue to hold steady for now. The state’s Triple-“A” said today’s price was 3.62 for a gallon of unleaded regular. That’s down two-tenths from yesterday, and up a penny from last Monday. Gas is almost 11-cents cheaper than a month ago, but 93-cents more expensive than a year ago with Labor Day two weeks away. Gas could be had for $3.49 in Beaver Dam this morning.

BD Police Use Pepper Spray to Break-up Fight

8/23/11 – Authorities were forced to use pepper spray to take a Beaver Dam teen into custody early Sunday morning after responding to a report of a fight. Beaver Dam police officers were called to a residence at 320 Madison Street just after 3 a-m after a caller reported five people were fighting and one of them had a baseball bat. Police say they were forced to use pepper spray to get a 15-year-old boy into custody. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. The teen was cited for disorderly conduct and resisting and obstruction. The boy’s 17-year-old brother was cited for disorderly conduct.

FDL Man Charged with Smuggling Tobacco into Prison

8/23/11 – A Fond du Lac man is accused of trying to smuggle tobacco into the Fox Lake Correctional Institution. Ray Pfantz is charged with a felony count of Delivering Illegal Articles to an Inmate. Corrections officials say they heard the inmate bragging that Pfantz would often smuggle contraband inside for him, so they monitored his visits by video camera. During a visit earlier this month, Pfantz allegedly slipped two cigar tubes with chewing tobacco into a potato chip bag and handed it to the inmate. That inmate was said to be videotaped reaching his hand into the bag and instead of putting chips in his mouth, he reportedly placed the cigar tubes in his socks. They were discovered during a pat down. A signature bond was set at $1000 on Friday and a preliminary hearing will be held later this month. If convicted, Pfantz could spend up to three-and-a-half years behind bars.

BD Athletic Hall of Fame Names Inductees

8/23/11 – The Beaver Dam Athletic Hall of Fame will welcome three new members to its ranks during the Homecoming celebration next month. The Hall of Fame committee recently announced the class of 2011. They include Hank Derleth Sr, Don Paitrick, and Cheri Brooks Brower. Derleth, who was inducted into the Wisconsin High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1981, was a long time athletic director and led the Golden Beavers football team to 92 wins in 15 seasons. Paitrick, a 1969 graduate of Beaver Dam High School, was a three sport athlete who excelled in tennis in both high school and at Carroll College. After lettering three years at BDHS and went on to letter four times at Carroll where he won the conference singles championship in 1973. Brooks Brower, class of 1980, earned seven varsity letters while playing volleyball, basketball and softball. She was named MVP for each of those sports in her senior year and was named Female Athlete of the Year. The three will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during Homecoming activities at the high school on September 30.

Big Response to John Deere Celebration

8/23/11 – John Deere is Horicon is gearing up for their 100th Anniversary this weekend and officials say the response has been much larger than expected. Mayor Jim Grigg says so many former employees and tractor collectors are coming to the event that hotel rooms are scarce throughout the area. The celebration is slated to take place on Saturday beginning with a parade of every tractor ever made at the plant. Grigg says there will be bleachers set up at three different intersections with Lake Street to accommodate the crowd. There will also be a viewing of the tractors following the parade. Events get underway at 11:30 a-m.

Deductions for Heath Insurance and Pensions Begin this Week

8/23/11 – State government employees are about to feel the effects of the new law which makes them pay more for their health insurance and pensions. The deductions begin with Thursday’s bi-weekly pay checks – and the Walker administration says the average worker will get a nine-percent cut in take-home pay. But they’re no longer getting a three-percent annual pay cut from the furlough days that ended in June. And Republican Governor Scott Walker has often pointed out that state workers can also save money by cutting out the union dues they’re no longer required to pay. Assembly Republican Finance Co-Chair Robin Vos says public workers are making sacrifices – but he says the situation is nowhere near as dire as lobbyists and special interest groups had predicted. Vos also said it prevented layoffs at both the state-and-local levels – and other states with large budget deficits cannot say the same thing. Wisconsin’s measures were aimed at eliminating a three-billion-dollar revenue shortfall over the next two years.

Walker Gearing Up for Possible Recall

8/23/11 – Governor Scott Walker is gearing up for a possible recall election next year. Yesterday morning on Twitter, the Republican governor said he’s the quote, “next target of the special interest groups in D-C.” And Walker asked his supporters to quote, “grow our grass-roots movement to counter their attacks.” Democrats, union leaders, and other Walker critics continue to consider a possible statewide recall effort next year – even though they failed in their goal to win back control of the state Senate in this summer’s recall elections. Walker could not be touched this year, because officials must stay in office for at least a year before they can be recalled. Walker’s term began in January. Much of it has been marked by protests over his successful effort to virtually end collective bargaining for most of Wisconsin’s public employee unions.

Unions Must Decide to Whether to Recertify

8/23/11 – Most of Wisconsin’s public employee unions must decide in the next few weeks whether to try and remain certified. Groups that represent state-and-municipal workers must tell the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission by September 15th whether they plan to have re-certification votes. And those elections must then take place by November first. Local teachers’ unions that don’t have ongoing contracts must decide by September 30th whether to try-and-

recertify for the coming year. And that vote must take place by December first. Commission chairman James Scott says he has not been officially notified that any public unions plan to de-certify.

Police Called to School Board Meeting

8/23/11 – Police were called last night to a heated school board meeting in suburban Milwaukee. An overflow crowd showed up, as the Greenfield School Board was scheduled to discuss changes resulting from the state’s new collective bargaining limits. W-T-M-J T-V said teachers asked that the meeting be moved so everyone could watch – and when the board refused to move, union members started chanting and a board member called police. Officers said there were no incidents, and the police left after about a half-hour. A board member told the T-V station the meeting could not be moved, because the location was posted on the legal notice for the meeting.

Beloit College Release “Mind-set List”

8/23/11 – This fall’s college freshmen assume there has always been an Internet ramp onto the information super-highway. And video games have always had ratings. Those are just some of the things that Beloit College professors are being told to keep in mind when they relate to their students in class. The college has issued its annual “Mind-set List,” which has 75 items that show how today’s freshmen see the world. The only national labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in professional sports. People swipe cards instead of merchandise. Their schools’ blackboards have always been getting smarter. Women have always commanded U-S Navy ships. Bicycle helmets have always been required by parents. L-B-J has always stood for LeBron James – not former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. And movie goof-off Ferris Buehler is now old enough to be their father.