News – December 28, 2016

Progress Made On Township Fire and Rescue Contract


12/28/16 – A lot of progress was made last night in negotiations involving the five townships that contract services with the Beaver Dam Fire Department, though a new contract will not be in place when the current document expires at years’ end. The townships of Calamus, Lowell, Westford, Trenton and Beaver Dam comprise the Beaver Dam Community Fire and Rescue Association, and at their meeting last night a counter proposal was presented to city officials. A primary sticking point had been the townships role in contributing to costs associated with the replacement of deteriorating water rescue equipment. Some township officials had previously indicated that they did not want to be charged for water rescue services and cited state statute which places that responsibility at the county level. Association Chair Tom Stebbins says the offer now includes the money the city was seeking for water rescue, just over $55-thousand dollars split among the townships over five years beginning in 2018. Fire Chief Alan Mannel last night reiterated that the service being offered would be all or nothing. He is pleased with the progress on negotiations. The city has included $170-thousand dollars for replacement equipment in its preliminary borrowing plan for next year which is 75-percent of the cost and $55-thousand dollars represents 25-percent of the cost. There is still a chance that the county funds a portion of water rescue in future budgets and if that is the case the townships would see a portion of their contribution returned. While the contract with the Association expires on December 31, city and township officials have agreed to a contract extension through the end of February. The Association is drafting their counter-offer and a final vote is expected during their regular February meeting.


OSHA Cites, Fines Columbus Manufacturer


12/28/16 – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued multiple safety and health violations against a metal fabrication company in Columbus following a workplace death this summer. 17-year-old Dusty Babcock of Reeseville died on July 2, less than one week after the incident at GD Roberts. The facility on Continental Drive was given 16 serious violations and one violation considered “other-than-serious” along with penalties totaling nearly $120-thousand dollars. Federal investigators determined the worker was clearing scrap below a loading table for a laser-cutter when the machine lowered, trapping Babcock beneath. OSHA found that the company failed to ensure procedures were followed to “lockout” the machine to prevent unintentional movement, and did not train its employees properly in such safety procedures. In addition, the agency found that GD Roberts failed to conduct periodic inspections of machine safety procedures; affix lockout devices prior to allow employees entering a hazard area; conduct noise monitoring; train workers about noise hazards; evaluate for airborne hazards; implement engineering controls for dust and other airborne hazard exposure resulting in employee overexposure; implement engineering controls for dust and other airborne hazard exposure resulting in employee overexposure; train workers in forklift operation; seek manufacturer approval prior to modifying forklifts; and train employees about chemicals in use in the workplace and maintain a chemical inventory. OSHA’s area director in Madison, Ann Grevenkamp, says the worker suffered a tragic death shortly after starting a new job and proper lockout devices along with training could have prevented the tragedy. The company, which fabricates metal trailers, has 15 business days from receipt of the citation to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent review commission.


Sheriff Warns Residents To Protect Valuables


12/28/16 – Dodge County residents are being warned to protect themselves against thieves.  In his monthly column, Sheriff Dale Schmidt says people need to take steps to ensure the safety of their possessions since good evidence is often limited in theft investigations.  Schmidt says the most important tip is to lock up all valuables, including one’s vehicle, even when it is left outside a gas station, at a friend’s house, or one’s own garage.  Schmidt says there are multiple technological devices that can be purchased to monitor one’s property, such as camera systems that include up to 8-16 devices at a price between $150-$500, trail cameras that can be placed in a tree facing a door, or doorbells with cameras that connect directly to smartphones.  Schmidt says these techniques can help deter criminals or catch them red-handed.


Walker Says Gottlieb Chose To Leave Transportation Job


12/28/16 – Governor Scott Walker’s office says Mark Gottlieb made his own decision to leave, even though he’s gone against the Republican governor on highway funding issues in the past. The Republican Walker said Tuesday that Gottlieb will retire January sixth, to be replaced by state Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross who’s a former mayor of Superior. Two years ago, Gottlieb’s D-O-T proposed 750-million dollars in tax and fee hikes that Walker rejected. This time, Gottlieb told lawmakers that the number of Wisconsin roads in poor shape would double in the next decade if new revenues are not found — but he said he understood the governor’s insistence not to raise taxes on state motorists. G-O-P Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who also says a highway tax hike might be needed, praised Gottlieb — a civil engineer and former legislator — as being one of the state’s “most hard working and articulate public leaders.”


MPTC Annual Report Available


12/28/16 – Moraine Park Technical College has released its annual report in e-book form. Readers will learn about the many accomplishments achieved by students, faculty and staff; the College’s financial information; and any new facilities updates during the past academic year. Also included is information from the Moraine Park Foundation, which shares student success stories, new foundation initiatives and financial data. To view the Annual Report in e-book format, visit the Moraine Park website.


State’s First Snowmobile Fatality In Vilas County


12/28/16 – Wisconsin’s first snowmobile death of the winter is still being investigated. Vilas County sheriff’s deputies say a 63-year-old man from East Moline, Illinois died when his machine struck a tree Monday night off a trail near Arbor Vitae where he was part of a group of riders. The name of the Quad Cities’ victim was not immediately released. The state D-N-R says the season’s first snowmobile death did not happen until January 16th last winter — but that was a relatively mild season, and only nine people died in state snowmobile crashes last year. That’s down from 23 deaths just three winters ago.


Truck Tips Carrying 35 Cows


12/28/16 – Highway 57 is open again in De Pere, after a truck with 35 cows tipped onto its side. Media reports say at least one of the animals died, and the truck driver escaped injury. De Pere police and fire officials say the driver veered off the road and hit a small driveway before the truck tipped. It happened late Tuesday morning, and the highway was closed for more than five hours. The cows were heading to Green Bay to be processed.


Comedian Helps Milwaukee Food Pantry


12/28/16 – Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan makes fun of food in his routines. But in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Gaffigan and his family helped provide food for the needy when they volunteered at the Riverwest Food Pantry run by his brother in law, Vincent Noth. Gaffigan’s wife Jeannie is from Milwaukee, and he calls the city his “hometown in law.” Jeannie says the food invites people into the pantry, and then they receive “all sorts of mentoring.” Gaffigan has performed on New Year’s Eve in Milwaukee for the past decade — and this week, he added an extra Friday night show at the Pabst Theater, with all of the ticket revenues from that show going to the Riverwest Pantry.