News – December 13, 2016

Districtwide Schedule Changes Approved For BDUSD


12/13/16 – Starting next month, students in the Beaver Dam Unified School District will have a different daily schedule.  Last night, the school board signed off on adding ten minutes to both the beginning and end of each school day for the second semester of the current school year and the entire 2017-18 year.  The last day of class this spring moves up from June 6 to May 22 with graduation bumped up two weeks to May 21.  Scheduled breaks over the holidays and in spring are unchanged.  The 2017-18 school year will run from September 5 through May 21.  District officials wanted to maximize the number of construction days without students in the building following last month’s passage of a $48,900,000 referendum question.  Superintendent Steve Vessey says last night’s action adds 24 non-student days, including ten this school year.  While a handful of school board members said they heard positive feedback from their constituents, multiple parents were in attendance last night to speak against changing the calendar, including Aaron Christman who has two children in the district.  Christman feels the decision will cause an economic hardship for families like his that already planned their finances for the coming year.  He says families could pay an extra $1,000 in childcare costs this summer for the additional non-school days.  Other concerns included the students’ sleep schedules and extracurricular activity involvement.  Those who were against the switches hoped to at least delay those changes until the start of next school year so they could plan ahead.  Superintendent Vessey addressed another concern: why the changes need to be made at all levels when the majority of the work will be done at the high school.  He says work will be done, at least to a certain extent, at all district buildings over the next 18 months and believes keeping the schedule consistent at all levels will benefit families with children in multiple buildings.  Vessey says the decision was not financially driven but expects the scheduling changes will cut $345,000 off the project cost.  He says work should wrap up in August 2018 and says the high school building will likely be closed off at times to outside organizations that normally use the space.  Last night, the board also approved hiring Wisconsin-based CG Schmidt as its construction manager at a rate of 1.5% of the total project cost.


Mayville Homeowners Could Be Fined For Not Replacing Lateral


12/13/16 – Changes could be nearing for one of Mayville’s most controversial policies.  At last night’s council meeting, an amendment to the city’s sewer lateral replacement ordinance was introduced.  The changes would allow the city to bill homeowners $50 per month if they do not have their lateral replaced within three months of receiving notice that it failed inspection.  Utility Director Nathan Kempke says notices were sent out in May to the 27 homeowners whose laterals failed inspection.  He says one of those homeowners has still not replaced his lateral and has not responded to multiple contacts from city officials.  Kempke says some of the other homeowners did not have the replacement done within three months but notes the city worked with them since they were cooperative and making progress.  He feels the amendment is necessary out of fairness for the residents who did bare the cost of replacing their laterals.  Last year, the council passed an ordinance requiring homeowners with defective laterals to replace them in an effort to reduce infiltration and delay the need for a new treatment plant.  It did not specify a penalty for uncooperative homeowners.  The council is expected to vote on the matter next month.  Kempke says the city plans to inspect another 65 laterals in 2017.


Mayville Withholding Money From Construction Firm


12/13/16 – The City of Mayville is withholding money from a construction firm.  The council voted last night to keep nearly $15,000 of the roughly $2,300,000 it originally agreed to pay Cardinal Construction to renovate the TAG Center.  City officials say they had to excavate the fitness center parking lot that was installed by Cardinal earlier this year.  There were no complaints cited about the rest of the work.


Bid Awarded For Mayville Riverwalk Design


12/13/16 – Mayville’s Common Council last night awarded a design bid for a planned downtown Riverwalk.  Kunkel Engineering of Beaver Dam will receive nearly $7,000 to design the 450-foot path from Mayville Savings Bank south to the Footbridge.  City officials say the Riverwalk will be installed as part of a 2018 state construction project.


Wisconsin Finishes Presidential Recount


12/13/16 – The chairman of the state Elections Commission says it’s “amazing” how close the Wisconsin presidential recount was to the original results. But Green Party candidate Jill Stein says it still exposes issues that need “serious action.” The state completed its 12 day recount Monday — one day before a federal deadline — and it added a net of 131 votes to Donald Trump’s margin of victory as he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by almost 22-thousand-800 votes of almost three-million cast. Stein, who paid $3.5-million dollars in donated funds to stage the recount, says the fact that Milwaukee and 22 other counties used machines “undermined the ability to get an accurate result.” But officials call it a “complete audit” of the state’s voting system, saying there was no evidence of the hacking Stein was concerned about, saying the discrepancies were all due to human error.


Man Pleads Guilty To Burglarizing Mayville Church


12/13/16 – An Appleton man pled guilty yesterday to breaking into a Mayville church.  In a Dodge County courtroom, Tristan Vandeneng was found guilty on one count of felony Burglary while two misdemeanor counts were dismissed and read into the record.  The 19-year-old used a pipe wrench to break into Christian Life Fellowship Church in November 2015 to steal cash and electronics.  It was part of an effort to build a home stereo system.  Vandeneng will be sentenced April 10.


Restraining Order Extended In Sex Offender Placement


12/13/16 – Fond du Lac County Judge Richard Nuss granted an extension of a temporary restraining order yesterday against the placement of a violent Washington County sex offender in the Town of Eldorado. Last Thursday, Washington County Judge Andrew Gongring suspended a placement order for 61-year-old Terry Olson at a Nitschke Road residence until three properties in Washington County could be reevaluated. Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mick Fink did his own investigation through Freedom of Information and learned Judge Gonring may not have received all the information he should have in making the initial placement decision. Corporation Counsel Meggin McNamara says it appears that even though DHS says when the three sites in Washington County were rejected they did a statewide search, the department focused in on the Nitschke Road site. Judge Nuss commended Sheriff Fink for taking the initiative and said the sheriff should not have had to “play Columbo” on this.


Trump ‘Thank You Tour’ Coming To Wisconsin


12/13/16 – President-elect Donald Trump will be in the Milwaukee area tonight.  His “Thank You” tour has a stop planned in West Allis.  Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will hold a rally at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center starting at 7 pm.


Walker Still Opposing Gas Tax Hike


12/13/16 – Governor Scott Walker still opposes any increase in Wisconsin’s gas tax, even if it’s combined with a plan to let gas stations choose if they want to charge less for their fuel. Some lawmakers are pushing the idea of a gas tax hike along with ending Wisconsin’s minimum markup law for gasoline, which forces stations to charge more than their wholesale price unless their competitors charge less. On Monday, the Republican Walker called it an “interesting idea,” but he would reject it if the Legislature sent it to him. Walker has long said he would oppose any increases in road related taxes or fees unless corresponding cuts are made elsewhere in the state budget. The governor did not dispute his transportation secretary’s warning from last week that 42-percent of state and federal roads in Wisconsin would be in poor shape if new revenues or other solutions are not found by 2027 — double the number of roads currently in poor condition.


State Ethics Commission Judge Resigns


12/13/16 – A reserve judge has resigned from Wisconsin’s newly-created Ethics Commission, saying it’s not equipped to ensure clean government. Retired Oneida County Circuit Judge Robert Kinney was one of three Democratic members named to the ethics enforcement panel, along with three Republicans. Kinney says the commission’s staff is “confronted with overbearing nitpicking at virtually every meeting,” and he said it might be the goal that “talented people” quit due to low morale. Kinney reportedly said the panel refused to act on a complaint he thought had merit. While he did not elaborate, Democrats filed a complaint against the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee in October for not submitting a report on its spending and fundraising. Governor Scott Walker says he’d love to meet with Kinney on why he quit and his concerns about how the Ethics Commission is operating.