News – February 25, 2016

Spring Ground Breaking Planned For Juneau Habitat Build


2/25/16 – Ground will be broken this spring on a new Habitat for Humanity home in Juneau. Russ Wanta, Executive Director with Habitat for Humanity of Washington and Dodge Counties, says the Mielke family has been selected for the new house being constructed in Juneau, which will be similar to other builds Habitat undertakes. Wanta says it will be a typical Habitat home at 1100-square-feet with three-bedrooms. While most Habitat homes have a one-car garage, the Juneau build will have a two-car garage to keep in compliance with city ordinance.


Families who are selected for a Habitat home must demonstrate need, meet income eligibility guidelines and contribute sweat equity by taking part in the building process. Habitat is currently renovating an existing home on North University Avenue in Beaver Dam, an unplanned project as the residence suddenly became available after a previous Habitat family vacated. Because the new family for the Beaver Dam residence may not be selected prior to the renovation being completed in April, Wanta says they could still contribute sweat equity to the Juneau build.


For the Juneau house, Habitat is partnering with Thrivent Financial, which is donating $50-thousand as part of its Thrivent Builds Homes program. From the national partnership’s inception in 2005, Thrivent Financial and its members have committed more than $226-million and more than 4.7 million volunteer hours. Thrivent Builds focuses on building new homes alongside Habitat partner families who pay a no-profit mortgage for their home as well as contribute hundreds of sweat equity hours in the construction process.  Wanta says they are grateful for Thrivent’s support of efforts to both build homes and repair homes in partnership with families in need of safe, decent, and affordable housing.  He says together, they are “changing a family’s life and strengthening the community.”


Wanta says Habitat families come from different backgrounds and have different stories, but they are all similar in their desire for a safe, decent place to live. He says Habitat works with families in the local community to provide a “hand-up” and not a “hand-out” when it comes to permanent housing solutions.  To learn more and get involved, visit and


Waupun Schools Save Money Refinancing Debt


2/25/16 – The Waupun School District will save taxpayers quite a bit of money by refinancing some old debt. District Superintendent Tonya Gubin says the school board approved the refinancing of general obligation bonds this week which takes the interest rate down from 5.3% to 0.7%.  Gubin says it’s a savings of $317,000, which means levying that much less to taxpayers over the next two years.


Mayville Committee Recommends Company For Street Work


2/25/16 – Mayville’s Finance Committee made a recommendation to the full council this week to hire Ptaschinski Construction to complete this year’s street projects. The Beaver Dam firm submitted the low bid of $1,400,000 to work on Clark Street, Lincoln Lane, and Center Street.  Mayor Bob Redeker says the bid came in roughly $150,000 below budget.  The council will vote on the matter in March, and construction will likely start in April.


Watertown Woman Pleads Guilty To Forging Checks


2/25/16 – A Watertown woman pled guilty yesterday to misappropriating funds from an office she managed. Bridget Mincheski was convicted on three felony Forgery charges while 15 other counts were dismissed but read into the record.  Mincheski faked checks from the office of Dr. Mary Grote and cashed 18 of them in less than two months totaling around $53,000.  The 39-year-old told investigators she had been sending a lot of the money to two men who told her they were in the Army.  One might have been from Nigeria.  She had an online relationship with the other man and was sending him money so he could travel to the U-S and meet her.  Mincheski was ordered to pay the remaining $21,000 of restitution in equal payments each of the next four years by December 1.  She would spend 60 days in jail each year the payment is late.  Mincheski was also ordered to complete 160 hours of community service.


Beaver Dam Woman Accused Of Stealing From Relatives


2/25/16 – A Beaver Dam woman is accused of stealing from multiple family members.  Emily Hanefeld is facing five felony counts including Burglary, Theft, and Forgery; along with three misdemeanors.  The 24-year-old allegedly twice broke into her family’s shop in Burnett to steal tools and also took cash and checks from other relatives.  Hanefeld reportedly cashed the checks at various Beaver Dam stores and used the money to fund her heroin addiction.  If she is found guilty on all charges, Hanefeld faces over 38 years in prison.  An initial appearance is set for March 7.


Oconomowoc Woman Charged In Husbands Murder


2/25/16 – A 52-year-old woman is jailed under a 100-thousand-dollar bond, after being charged in the murder of her husband in Oconomowoc last May. Amy Van Wagner faces Waukesha County charges of first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse. According to prosecutors, she claimed that she saw legs sticking out from a tarp in the couple’s basement — but officials say her husband, 50-year-old Stanley Van Wagner, was actually shot in another room and was then hidden downstairs. Amy Van Wagner is due back in court March fourth, when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial. Her attorney, John Schiro, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the state might have a weak case after police used flash-bang grenades to arrest her early Wednesday — when they actually could have just handcuffed her as she walked out the door to go to her job.


Fond Du Lac Police Offering Active Shooter Training


2/25/16 – The Fond du Lac Police Department has been offering free active shooter training sessions from a local police officer. After the San Bernardino, California shootings, Officer Erik Foster began teaching at churches, businesses and schools in the community. He says those groups drill for fires and tornadoes but are only now considering the dangers of an active shooter. Foster says hiding and avoiding confrontation does not work anymore.  He encourages fleeing, fighting, or defense by whatever means necessary.


DCSO ‘Law Of The Month’ Encourages Headlight Use


2/25/16 – Drivers are encouraged to use their headlights when outdoor conditions require.  That’s according to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office who addresses the matter in its ‘Law of the Month’ for February.  Sheriff Dale Schmidt says headlights should be used during the hours of darkness, which run from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.  The term also includes any other time there is not sufficient natural light to clearly see 500 feet ahead of one’s vehicle and any times of inclement weather.  The first violation brings a $162 fine and loss of three demerit points.  A second violation carries a $175 fine and an additional three points lost.


Walking, Biking Trail Grant Requests Outpacing Available Funds


2/25/16 – Wisconsin communities have stiff competition for federal money to create new walking-and-bicycle trails. The Wisconsin Bike Fed group says dozens of communities have asked for a total of 62-million dollars in trail funds through the middle of next year. But the state D-O-T only has one-fourth of that amount available through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, or about 15-million dollars. Tom Held of Bike Fed says it’s encouraging that people want places to walk-and-bike, and pediatrics professor David Allen of the U-W Madison medical school says communities need the federal money to help folks improve their health and reduce the state’s high obesity rates. Those groups and others are trying to get the next Legislature to raise trail funding, after it cut one-million dollars from the program in the current state budget.