News – February 15, 2016

Primary Election Is Tuesday In Wisconsin


2/15/16 – There are only a couple local races on some Dodge County ballots for Tuesday’s primary election. There is a three way race for county board in District Nine where Stephanie Justmann of Mayville, Douglas Schulz of Iron Ridge, and James Qualmann of Horicon are vying for the District Nine seat being vacated by longtime Supervisor Howard Kriewald. In Watertown, incumbent Mayor John David is being challenged by Jordan Turner and James Romlein. All voters statewide will choose the two State Supreme Court justices that will appear on the April ballot. Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson reminds voters that a photo ID will be needed to cast a ballot Tuesday.


Tuesday’s primary elections in Wisconsin will include eleven school referendum proposals for new-and-improved buildings or tax increases beyond the state’s revenue limits. Three building projects are up for approval, and the largest is in Slinger — almost 43-million dollars for a new high school auditorium and athletics facilities plus upgrades throughout the district. Almost ten-million dollars of improvements are on the line in Oostburg and six-million in New Glarus. Rhinelander has the state’s largest revenue-cap exemption request, at almost five-million dollars for each of the next three years. About 120-million dollars in total school bonding and tax hikes are on Tuesday’s ballots throughout the state.


John Deere Expansion Aims To Consolidate Process In Horicon


2/15/16 – An expansion underway at John Deere Horicon Works is expected to add roughly 80 full time jobs at that facility.  That’s according to Factory Manager Steve Johnson who says work currently being done in the company’s Janesville location will soon move to Horicon with hopes of improving efficiency in their utility vehicle assembly process by consolidating all of the work in one factory.  Johnson expects this will improve product quality and timeliness in completing orders.  He says the roughly 120 Janesville employees are contract workers, some of whom may relocate to Horicon.  John Deere Horicon Works is currently much larger with approximately 1,100 employees. Johnson says Deere is paying roughly $40,000,000 to expand.  The company owns 143 acres west of Horicon, which Johnson says still has more than enough space to accommodate a new 388,000 square foot building.  That facility will house the work currently being done in Janesville.  The Deere expansion is part of the City of Horicon’s newest tax incremental financing district along with three parcels southwest of Deere that the council annexed last fall.  Johnson says construction began in November.  He expects building operations in the new facility to begin in October and for the Janesville plant to close its doors in May 2017.


Progress Being Made On Gold Star Trail


2/15/16 – A local group is working toward breaking ground on a walking and biking path that would connect multiple Dodge County cities.  The Friends of the Dodge County Parks are hoping to soon break ground on the five-phase Gold Star Memorial Trail, which is meant to honor six local veterans who were killed in combat.  During a recent appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, the Friends’ President Glenn Daily updated progress on constructing the $650,000 first segment of the trail, from Mayville to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center.  He says 55% of the funds have been raised and hopes the design work can begin this year with completion targeted for late 2017.  As we reported last week, Dodge County has applied for a federal grant that would cover roughly $525,000 of the $755,000 cost of the second segment which connects Horicon to the Wild Goose State Trail.  Daily says the goal is for it to go out for bid next year and be completed by 2020.  The third phase would likely connect the Wild Goose State Trail and Beaver Dam along Highway E.  Phase four would create bike lanes through the city of Horicon at a cost of $10,000.  Daily says his group is in talks with the DNR over using pre-existing trails through the Horicon Marsh to connect the Visitor Center to Horicon.  He says that fifth phase would only cost $1,000 if they are allowed to use the current trails but could run as much as $450,000 if they need to create new paths through the marsh.  There is no timetable yet for segments three through five.


Dodge County Housing Opportunity Available For Low-Income Residents


2/15/16 – A local organization that provides housing to low-income residents is looking for someone to fill a vacant home.  Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties recently bought a house on Beaver Dam’s North University Avenue near the Wayland Academy.  During Friday’s edition of WBEV’s Community Comment, Executive Director Russell Wanta said renovations are needed for the three bedroom, bi-level house.  Wanta says it is not a free handout but is being sold at the purchase price with no interest.  He says the requirements are: taking part in the renovation process, having an annual family income around $18,000 to $33,000, and being in need.  Examples of need include paying too much for current housing, living in sub-standard housing, or currently living with friends or relatives.  Wanta says applications are available on the organization’s website at


Open House Will Allow Residents To Weigh-In On Local Hunting Plan


2/15/16 – Area residents have the opportunity to weigh in on a new hunting plan for the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is holding an open house tomorrow at the refuge’s visitor center.  The goal is to update the comprehensive conservation plan approved in 2007 that identified goals and objectives for refuge management and hunting programs.  That plan called for expanding the Horicon refuge’s hunting season to match state guidelines, reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions on Highway 49, and restoring native vegetation such as upland grasses and oak savanna.  The open house will run from 6 to 8 pm tomorrow, and similar meetings will take place at the Green Bay and Fox River refuges.  Comments can also be submitted online by March 25 at


Wisconsin Legislators Weigh In On Scalia Passing


2/15/16 – The U-S Supreme Court vacancy left by the weekend death of Justice Antonin Scalia has become an issue in Wisconsin’s U-S Senate race for this fall. Incumbent Ron Johnson goes along with his fellow Republicans by saying his party should at least have a chance to replace the conservative Scalia with a like-minded jurist — and to let the voters decide through their choices for president and the Senate. Former Senate Democrat Russ Feingold, who’s trying to win his old job back, agrees with others in his party who say President Obama is right by promising to nominate a new justice “in due time.” Johnson says the nation needs justices who share Scalia’s “commitment to applying the Constitution as written.” Feingold left judicial philosophy out of his statement, noting that the Constitution requires the president to name a new justice — and the Senate must then work in a “bi-partisan way to vote on the nominee.”


Loggers Would Have Fewer Legal Obstacles Under Bill


2/15/16 – Wisconsin loggers would have fewer legal obstacles to moving their products, under a bill that’s moving through the state Legislature. Senate Transportation Committee chairman Jerry Petrowski is the main author of a bill to let equipment like skidders and harvesters travel on state highways without permits for up to one-half mile at a time. The Republican from Marathon says loggers were left out of two recent bills which approved limited highway travel for farm machinery under revisions to the “Instruments-of-Husbandry” law. The Senate recently approved the logger bill — and it now goes to the Assembly for final legislative approval. It’s separate from other farm equipment law revisions which recently passed both houses.


Local Roads Funding Bill Hits Pothole


2/15/16 – A plan to let voters raise their own taxes to fix their local streets and highways is all but dead in the Wisconsin Assembly. The lower house failed last week to act on a bill allowing an additional one-half percent sales tax in counties if voters agree to have the money used for road repairs. G-O-P Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says road funding is needed — and voters should be given a chance to spend money on it, if they consider it a priority. But Vos says some Republicans don’t want any ties to what they consider a tax increase — which comes as they’re about to face re-election in November. Assembly Republican Dean Knudson of Hudson proposed the bill — and Vos says discussions on it will continue, even though the two-year session is just a few weeks from being finished.


Beaver Dam Council President Named To Statewide Position, Again


2/15/16 – Just a few hours after federal officials confirmed the F-B-I is leading the investigation into alleged abuses at Wisconsin’s youth prison, Corrections Secretary Ed Wall announced his resignation.  Governor Scott Walker says former Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher will take Wall’s place.  Litscher is also the president of the Beaver Dam Common Council. Walker also says he won’t rule out shutting down the Lincoln Hills School for Boys.  Under state law, Wall could return to his former position as head of the Department of Criminal Investigation, but, for now, he will be placed on administrative leave.


Car Destroyed By Fire In Piggly Wiggly Parking Lot


2/15/16 – A car was completely destroyed in a fire in Beaver Dam Sunday morning. The incident was reported around 10:30am at 810 Park Avenue, the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly. Fire Captain Russ Johnson says a 1991 Ford Ranger was completely involved when crews arrived on scene; it was a total loss. Johnson says they are unable to determine a cause because the car was “pretty charred up.”