News – August 5, 2020

(Beaver Dam) A Beaver Dam woman was found guilty yesterday (Tuesday) of Vehicular Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle. In April of 2019, Cindy Lara-Esparza was driving when her vehicle went off Madison Street Bridge and into the Beaver Dam River which resulted in the death of a passenger. Authorities were dispatched to the area near Ryan Cantafio’s Way, behind Park Plaza Pizza, at bar closing time. Lara-Esparza sustained non-life-threatening injuries but her 23-year-old boyfriend, Jared Frakes, was killed. Both Lara-Esparza and Frakes were drinking at Johnny’s Lounge the night of the accident. A blood draw from Lara-Esparza returned a result of point-two-one-two (.212). A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered and the 24-year-old is due back in court on October 22nd.

(Beaver Dam) Beaver Dam is closing TIF District #4 on the city’s northside. In April, the council approved a plan to extend the planned closing until next year, allowing one more years’ worth of revenues, around $1.8-million dollars. The catch: Beaver Dam has to spend that money on affordable housing efforts that could include funding citywide home grants and loans for rehab or weatherization, or fixing roads in low income areas of the city, among other things. The council this week voted to close TIF #4, which will not affect the affordable housing revenues. The move does free up $71-million dollars in available cap space, increasing the amount of value in the city that could be tied up in a TIF District.

(Beaver Dam) While a specific date has not yet been announced, St. Vincent de Paul of Dodge County has announced plans to break ground on an expansion this summer. In November, the non-profit launched a capital campaign entitled “Building to Serve our Neighbors” seeking to raise $1-million-dollars by the end of 2020. As part of their expansion plans, the organization has acquired four acres of land, west of their current Beaver Dam store. Completion is slated for the spring of 2021.

(Dodge County) Wisconsin health officials reported 728 positive coronavirus cases in Tuesday’s daily update, which is 4-percent of the 18,100 tests announced. There are 9,709 active cases in the state, a decrease of 157 from Monday. There were 12 deaths reported by state health officials, for a total 961. Dodge County has five deaths on record and 728 cases, an increase of 23 from Monday. County health officials are actively monitoring 130 cases.

(Wisconsin) Governor Tony Evers acknowledges Wisconsin residents are divided over his statewide mask mandate. But he says it’s not a fifty-fifty split, adding that the majority of the people in Wisconsin obey the law without the threat of everyday enforcement. He says most people drive the speed limit, most people don’t drive on the left hand side of the road and most people don’t walk into a restaurant and light up a cigarette.

(Wisconsin) A Republican legislative leader says lawmakers are concerned about executive overreach by Tony Evers. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald tells WISN that Republicans are much more concerned about *how* the governor is using his emergency powers, than the mask requirement he put in place last week. The Juneau Republican says there’s real fear the governor could use his emergency powers to close schools or make other decrees during the pandemic. Evers says there’s no secret plan to close schools. Fitzgerald said if lawmakers are going to act to overturn Evers’ mask mandate, they’re going to have to do it soon.

(Verona) Employees at one of the Madison area’s largest employers are being ordered back to the office. Management at Epic Systems in Verona are recalling all of the company’s 91-hundred employees back to the office starting next week. Media outlets report the company wants to return to in person operations. In an email to employees, CEO Judy Faulkner called employees heroes who are helping medical professionals be heroes as well, and that everyone will be more efficient and effective in person. Many employees have expressed their concerns with some questioning the need to be in person. A majority have been working from home since the start of the pandemic, and say they’ve been just as productive as in the office.

(Wisconsin) There’s no evidence that Wisconsin voters became sick or died from coronavirus because of the April election. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says only 14 people who voted in-person in Milwaukee in April tested positive for COVID-19. Health officials say it’s impossible to say how they picked up the virus at the polls. State health secretary Andrea Palm said in April that people would get sick and they would die if the election was held.