“News – August 4, 2009”




Police Department in Cambria Dissolved


8/4/09 – More than 40 people showed up in Cambria last night as the village board approved an ordinance change that dissolves the police department and relieves Chief Rick Nelson of his duties.  The change takes effect today.  Last night was the first time the ordinance had been on the agenda and it called for a waving of the first two readings and approving the change on the third reading.  The result of the 4-2 vote in favor of the change is the loss of Nelson, along with three part time officers.  Reasons cited by trustees for the change included budget concerns, complaints from residents about Nelson, and a survey in which 27-percent of respondents said they were very dissatisfied with the police protection they received.  Officials says over the next few months the village will seek out other forms of police protection and for the time being anyone with an emergency is being asked to call 9-1-1 which will be routed through Columbia County.


Beaver Dam Gets $20 Million in Recovery Dollars


8/4/09 – Utility customers in Beaver Dam have been spared a $600 annual increase in water rates as the city has been awarded $20 million in stimulus money. Governor Jim Doyle announced the funding yesterday at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Half of the $20 million is an outright grant while the other half is a low-interest, tax-free loan.  Beaver Dam plans to expand their outdated wastewater treatment plant and incorporate green technology into the upgrade. The plan will allow the city to pre-treat waste from Kraft Foods and convert it to biogas which will be used to generate electricity, saving the city about a quarter million dollars a year in electricity costs. In addition, Alliant Energy will buy surplus electricity from the city, estimated at another quarter million dollars annually. Beaver Dam got one-fifth of the $106 million allotted the state in recovery funds for wastewater construction projects, which Doyle says is intended to create jobs and stimulate local economies. This new green approach will allow the city to keep utility bills below $40. A 2007 facilities plan to upgrade the sewer treatment plant would have increased sewer bills from the current $37 a month to nearly $50. The project should be complete by the end of next year.


Beaver Dam To Clean Up Underneath Downtown


8/4/09 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved plans to temporarily fund the removal of leaking underground storage tanks from three downtown sites, including the former Weyco Shoe Factory property. The city found out yesterday that they would be receiving a $117,000 grant to address removal of possible contaminants buried decades ago by businesses long gone.  The action by the council last night will allow the city to use TIF District funds to pay the costs of the project until the grant funding is released.  Mayor Tom Kennedy says by removing any environmental hazards from the downtown, it makes the properties all the more attractive to potential developers. It’s also a benefit for Wisconsin Redevelopment LLC and their plans to convert the shuttered shoe factory into loft-style apartments. The city recently extended the developers option to purchase the property until the end of this month. Kennedy says he is optimistic the developer will move forward with the $10 million dollar project.  Construction could begin as early as the fall of next year, but is contingent on a number of other factors, including investor funding and the sale of recently awarding of tax credits for capital.


Mercury Marine Makes New Contract Proposal


Mercury Marine says it has given its union workers in Fond du Lac a new contract proposal – and the outcome will determine whether the firm stays in Wisconsin.  The company is not proposing wage cuts for its current employees over the next three years.  But the firm does want to change the way new and re-hired employees are treated.  They would also get incentives for early retirement, in which they could leave with the current benefits intact.  The union has submitted a counter-proposal that’s said to include a demand that their jobs be guaranteed.  About two-thousand people now work at Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac.  The company has considered moving the plant – and its Fond du Lac headquarters – to a non-union site in Stillwater Oklahoma.  The two sides have met twice, and another bargaining session is planned for Thursday.


One Dodge County Couple Register for Domestic Partnership


8/4/09 – Dodge County didn’t see the long lines that were common in Madison yesterday, as gay couples in Wisconsin began to register for legal protections granted in the new state budget.  However, County Clerk Karen Gibson says one couple did come in yesterday afternoon and register.  It won’t become official until after the five day waiting period that is required for both marriages and the new domestic partnership registry.  Other places saw a much bigger turnout.  About 50 couples had signed up in Dane County by the end of the day while Milwaukee County had 20 couples register.  Most other counties had fewer than 10, if any.  Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin said some couples would wait to register until important dates in their relationships.  Governor Jim Doyle proposed the new registry, for which same-sex couples file applications similar to marriage licenses.  Three board members of the Wisconsin Family Action group have asked the Supreme Court to strike down the new registry.  They say it violates the constitutional ban on gay marriage passed in 2006.


Edwards Won’t Fight Extradition


8/4/09 – The man accused of killing two high school sweethearts in Jefferson County 29 years ago will return to Wisconsin to face his charges.  76-year-old Edward Edwards told a judge in Louisville Kentucky yesterday he would not fight his extradition back to Jefferson.  He appeared in court in a wheelchair with a cast on his left arm.  And when District Judge David Armstrong Junior asked Edwards if he wanted to fight his return to Wisconsin, the defendant simply said quote, “I’ll go.”  Edwards was arrested last week, after authorities said his D-N-A matched that on the pants of 19-year-old Kelly Drew.  She and her 19-year-old boyfriend Tim Hack were killed in August of 1980, after they left a wedding reception they attended in Sullivan.  Hunters found their decomposed bodies two months later a few miles from the reception hall – where Edwards was a maintenance man at the time.  He lived in Louisville before his arrest.


Westphal Gets 90 Days For Burglary


8/4/09 – A Grafton man will spend 90 days in jail for burglarizing a construction site in the Town of Rubicon.  Marshal Westphal pleaded “guilty” to a felony count of Burglary and had a misdemeanor count of Theft dismissed but read into the record.  The 21-year-old broke into a trailer at the construction site last September and removed copper wiring and construction equipment.  Westpahl was also ordered to pay restitution.


Dealers Protecting Themselves if “Cash for Clunkers” Falls Apart


The “Cash for Clunkers” program is still chugging along – but many Wisconsin car dealers are protecting themselves in case the program falls apart.  The three-month rebate program ran out of money after just one week.  The U-S House approved another two-billion-dollars for it last Friday.  But senators are holding up the measure.  And they may not get around to voting on it before they leave Washington for a month on Friday – in which case the rebates would end.  A number of Wisconsin dealers are still said to be offering the “Cash for Clunkers” rebates of up to 45-hundred dollars for trades that qualify.  But many of the deals are said to be contingent on the extra funding.  Elsewhere, dealers were telling buyers to either bring their new cars back, or give back the rebates if Washington rejects their applications.  Milwaukee dealer Jim Griffin says it’s a great program, but it’s an administrative nightmare.  The White House has assured  dealers they won’t be left in the lurch, but Griffin says every dealer is worried about it.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the new cars bought in the program get almost 10 miles more per gallon than the clunkers traded in.


Oshkosh Corp. Still Hiring


The Oshkosh Corporation is still hiring people to build hundreds of new military vehicles.  The Pentagon has increased its original one-billion-dollar order from June, and is spending another billion for 17-hundred more mine-resistant all-terrain vehicles.  Oshkosh has hired up to 400 people in the Fox Valley – and it brought back 600 people laid off from its J-L-G plant in McConnellsburg Pennsylvania.  A small batch of vehicles has already been sent out, as the need for the new type of desert unit continues to be critical.  Oshkosh C-E-O Robert Bohn says he’s confident the firm can raise its production to a-thousand a month by December.  For now, he expects to maintain that figure through February.


Steve Kagen Talks Health Care Reform in Green Bay


Opponents of the health care reform bill screamed during much of a forum held by Congressman Steve Kagen in Green Bay last night.  The Appleton Democrat could hardly get a word in edgewise.  And when he did, Kagen said he favored a system that values consumer choices and a more competitive market.  The former allergist said he does not support government-run health care – which critics say the nation will end up with, once private plans find they cannot compete with the proposed government alternative.  The overflow crowd filled all 300 seats at Brown County’s Central Library in Green Bay – and at least 50 others listened on speakers outside the hall.  Several times, Kagen said he couldn’t listen to a-hundred people at the same time – and it should be a discussion, not a shouting contest.  Green Bay Police arrived after the forum began, but did not arrest anyone.  It did get quieter near the end.  And Sharon Guyette of De Pere said the crowd was quote, “scared – and when we get scared, we get angry.”  She also said the people back home have no control.  Staffers said Kagen would schedule another Green Bay meeting on the issue.


DMV Closed on Friday


If you need a new title or renewal of your license plates, don’t try to do it Friday.  Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicle offices will be shut down.  This is the first of eight unpaid days off state employees have to take over the next two years as a part of cost-cutting for the state.  Friday will be the first time DMV offices close for furloughs since the new fiscal year started July 1st.  State officials say everything will be back to normal for business the following Monday, August 10th.


EAA’s Air-Venture Show Sees Increase in Attendance


The recession did not stop huge crowds from attending the E-A-A’s Air-Venture Show in Oshkosh.  About 578-thousand people attended the week-long event that ended on Sunday.  That’s 12-percent more than last year.  The numbers of planes that showed up were the highest in four years – just over 10-thousand.  That included 26-hundred show planes.  E-A-A president Tom Poberezny said people make choices in hard times.  And for aviation lovers, he said Oshkosh was a place they couldn’t miss.  The show featured the White-Knight-Two, which is designed to send tourists into space – the Airbus-380, the world’s largest passenger plane – and an appearance by the pilot and co-pilot of the U-S Airways flight which landed safely in the Hudson River.


Fritsche/ Doyle on Community Comment


8/4/09 – On Community Comment today we’ll get an update on the state of business in Beaver Dam from Phil Fritsche with the Chamber of Commerce.  Following that conversation, we’ll air the remarks that Governor Jim Doyle made yesterday in Beaver Dam when he presented the city with a check for $20 million dollars for their green approach to wastewater treatment.  We’ll follow that up with the conversation News Director Craig Warmbold had with the Governor about the state of the economy and the role green projects will play in economic recovery. Community Comment airs weekdays on AM1430 WBEV following our noon newscast.