News – February 23, 2016

Another Roadblock In Mayville Sewer Lateral Ordinance


2/23/16 – Mayville’s Common Council tabled discussion last night on whether to approve Attorney James Hammes’ wording changes to an ordinance that would repeal and replace an existing ordinance that requires roughly 70% of homeowners to replace their sewer lateral for roughly $3,000.  Council President Rob Boelk made the motion to table due to uncertainty over who will pay for necessary camerawork tied to the replacements.  Since Hammes would have to defend the ordinance in a court of law, Boelk does not want the council changing its meaning without the lawyer’s input.  The ordinance has been a topic of debate since it was approved in July.  Both men running for mayor this spring, Boelk and Alderman Joe Hohmann have voted against it in its current form.  As a result, Hohmann believes the ordinance might be repealed once the new mayor is in place unless changes are made.  Hohmann believes the ordinance needs to address the three streets that he says are causing the majority of the infiltration: Barwig Avenue, Golf View Drive, and Lincoln Lane.  Attorney Hammes will review the ordinance again in the coming weeks.  The council expects to vote at its March 14 meeting.


Mayville Sets Policy For Fining Fire Safety Violators


2/23/16 – Mayville’s Public Safety Committee recommended a plan to its council last night that sets policy for fining business owners who do not comply with the city’s fire safety code.  After the annual fire inspection, the city says it will check back multiple times to see if the necessary changes have been made.  If not, fines between $25 and $1,000 can be issued after three months.


New Person Leasing Mayville Farming Properties


2/23/16 – There will be a new person leasing two city owned farming properties in Mayville this April.  The finance committee last night recommended to the council approving Michael Schultz’s bids to lease land in the city’s Industrial Park and adjacent to the TAG Center.  Schultz, a local resident, will pay roughly $10-thousand dollars to lease the properties.  He was the lowest of four bidders on both parcels.  The three-year leases begin April 1.


Horicon Schools Committee Advances Green Energy Audit


2/23/16 – As school districts in Horicon and Mayville discuss a possible consolidation, each school board is facing its own challenges in deciding which buildings to spend money improving, as some buildings would have to close if there is a merger. A joint meeting will be held next week to decide which buildings would be used if the two districts combine; a final vote on consolidation is expected in July. The Horicon Schools Facilities Committee last night laid the groundwork for one-million dollars in green-energy improvements. The state’s new Energy Efficiency Exemption Law allows districts to exceed their revenue cap on projects that will pay for themselves in energy savings during the life of the building. Horicon is looking to exceed their revenue cap by $650-thousand dollars and combine that with another $300-thousand from the tax levy over two years. But first the committee last night had to decide if both Horicon school buildings would be audited to determine what energy-efficient projects should be undertaken.


School Board President Jerry Tribbey says he is curious to see the list of projects and their estimated payoffs. He says there is uncertainty but he is not overly concerned with moving forward with the audit. Tribbey says he has not idea which projects will be undertaken just as he has no idea at this point if the consolidation will happen but while there is uncertainty pieces are coming together.  Energy-efficient projects could include lighting, windows, heating and cooling, water conservation, fire safety and even roof repairs if there is insulation added. However, Tribbey says there is currently no sense of urgency with roofs as that may be part of a larger discussion once current referendum debt is paid off. If there is a consolidation the debt of both districts would become the combined debt of the consolidated district. When asked, Tribbey said it would not be unreasonable for Mayville to provide input into new debt decisions just it would not be unreasonable for Horicon to be consulted to potential new debt in Mayville. Tribbey says the districts should “want to be talking to each other in good faith about the type of commitments being made given the uncertainty.”


A project development agreement with Lockheed Martin and subcontractor CESA 10 to audit both Horicon High School and Van Brunt would cost around $7000 per building. However, there would be no charge for the audit as long each building has at least one energy-efficiency project. The school board will vote on the agreement during a special meeting next Monday, prior to the joint meeting with Mayville.


Columbus Hires New Ag Teacher


2/23/16 – Columbus schools will see a return of an agriculture program later this year. Superintendent Annette Deuman told the school board that the contract has been signed that will bring Columbus-native, Glenda Crook, back home. Crook had been teaching in the Lodi School District for over 20 years. Columbus schools have been reassessing their agriculture curriculum for the past year and a half. The addition of Crook as a full-time teacher will mean that new Ag courses will be available for middle and high school students next fall.


Lawmakers Visit Columbus School Board Meeting


2/23/16 – State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, Senator Luther Olsen and Representative John Jagler visited Columbus High School to answer school board questions Monday night. Major areas of conversation were student testing, the legacy of Act 10 and the states use of vouchers. Outgoing school board member Liz O’Donnell shared her concerns on the use of school vouchers. O’Donnell says the cost of the voucher program takes away money that could be used to fund public schools. Fitzgerald says that only three-percent of schools in the state are part of the voucher program. The board and administration are planning to continue inviting state politicians for future conversations on educational issues in order to improve relations with state law makers.


Senate Bills Driven By Smaller Surplus


2/23/16 – Wisconsin Senate leaders will soon decide which bills to consider during its final meeting in mid-March. And with a smaller-than-expected surplus, a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says anything that costs money will get more fiscal scrutiny. Among other things, Governor Scott Walker’s college affordability package remains up for approval in the Senate. The Assembly’s final meeting last week left 160 bills for the Senate to act on — including a package designed to prevent fraud in the Food-Share program for low-income people. The Senate was also asked to ratify five measures it approved earlier but were changed by the Assembly — including an amendment to a special needs program that would reduce property tax revenues for public schools which lose students to private schools under the state’s voucher program.


Quad-Graphics Posts Losses


2/23/16 – Wisconsin’s largest commercial printing company reports a loss of nine-point-four million dollars for the final quarter of 2015. Quad/Graphics, based in Sussex, lost 20-cents per share for stockholders, after it netted 53-cents in the same period the previous year, when it had a profit of more than 25-million dollars. Quad notes that it had a number one-time expenses since last October, and many involved out-of-state plant closings. Quad’s fourth-quarter sales dropped by six-point-three percent from the same time in 2014, as general declines continued in the printing industry


Fire Forces Evacuation At Beaver Dam High School


2/23/16 – A metal shop fire led to an evacuation of the Beaver Dam High School yesterday.  When crews arrived on scene at 12:05 pm, the fire had already been put out by the school’s liaison officer.  It was caused by a torch malfunction.  Firefighters ventilated smoke out of the school.  While nothing happened to the building, some equipment was damaged.  Within a half hour, students were allowed to go back inside and resume classes.


Names Of People Killed In Columbia Co. Accident Released


2/23/16 – The names of the three people killed in Sunday night’s single vehicle rollover in Columbia County have been released.  18-year-old Zia Rowin of Oxford’s car rolled over on County Highway P at Whitetail Drive in the Town of Pacific.  26-year-old Donald Pangburn of Baraboo and 19-year-old Jack Stalker of Montello also died.  Another male passenger was taken to the hospital.  Speed is believed to have played a role in the crash.


Obamacare Boosts Wisconsin Hospital Profits


2/23/16 – A number of Wisconsin hospitals find Obamacare to be very profitable. At least three networks in southeast Wisconsin report increases of more than 100-percent in their operating incomes during their last fiscal years, and Aurora Health Care has the largest increase of 221-percent for 2014. Analysts say hospitals are giving less charity care with fewer bad debts — because those who could not previously afford insurance are now covered under Obamacare plans. Standard-and-Poor’s calls it a national trend it could not anticipate when the Affordable Care Act started offering coverage more than two years ago. Also, hospitals say they’ve been more efficient while controlling their costs.


Oshkosh Workers Accused Of Stealing Lottery Tickets


2/23/16 – Three convenience store workers in Oshkosh are accused of stealing 140-thousand dollars in lottery tickets and trading them for drugs. Thirty-five year old Christina Jacques, 32-year-old Sheila Coates, and 30-year-old Nicole Cushman are all free on signature bonds after being charged in Winnebago County with felony theft. Coates is due back in court March seventh. Both she and Jacques have hearings set for March 10th when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order trials, and Cushman has a similar hearing on March 17th. According to prosecutors, the owner of Bob’s Citgo in Oshkosh found that some of his employees had stolen lottery tickets and gave them to a drug supplier — and police say it happened over a period of three years.