News – February 5, 2016

Dodge County Alcohol Court Adds New Program


2/5/16 – There is a new program in Dodge County to help offenders overcome addiction. The county has had a drug and alcohol court since 2010. Low-risk lawbreakers with, for example, their second or third OWI are offered incentives for maintaining sobriety, like avoiding additional jail time. Before now, offenders have been monitored two ways: starting-off with what’s called a SCRAM bracelet – which continuously detects alcohol consumption through sweat – then graduating to Soberlink which is a portable breath test that works through a smart phone. Both options cost money and are only used during the initial phases of probation. Circuit Judge John Storck is now spearheading the Color Line System for use after the other devices are not needed.


Modeled after similar programs in Waukesha County, the color line system randomly selects participating offenders each day for a breath-test. Every participant is given a color and told to call the court during designated times. Once selected, the offender is required to report to probation and parole, the jail, Human Services, the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion office or a participating police department to take a preliminary breath test or PBT to verify that they have not been drinking. Offenders from Beaver Dam can go to any of the sites for a breath test and are not required to go to the Beaver Dam Police Department. They have two hours to get to a site.


The alcohol treatment court currently has 42 participants and about half are eligible for the Color Line program. Storck says if they maintain sobriety, they graduate from the program and there are no further sanctions. The participants are on probation so in the event there are violations, their probation can be modified by giving them additional jail time or revoking their probation which would result in substantially more jail time. He says “these individuals really do have a desire to maintain their sobriety and by monitoring them, we are helping them do what they want to do in maintaining sobriety.”


From monitoring to treatment, Stork notes there are a lot of requirements to be in the program that may not be for everybody. He says some participants in the beginning regret not opting for the lengthier jail sentence because it may have been “easier.” But if they take the lengthy jail sentence, Storck says they still have a problem with addiction. “We’re trying to break that cycle and give them tools that they can use to maintain sobriety.” The only police departments currently being utilized through the Color Line System are Beaver Dam and Juneau but Storck says the program is designed to expand going forward department-by-department.


Ribbon-Cutting On Watermark Today


2/5/16 – The ribbon will officially be cut this afternoon on the Watermark. Beaver Dam’s $2.1 million dollar community and senior center on South Center Street was in the planning stages for years before the final funding components fell into place. The Watermark replaces the Senior Center on East Third Street which will be torn down in coming months to make room for library parking and a pond. The ribbon will be cut at noon today. An Open House is scheduled for Saturday, February 20 from 1pm to 5pm.


Local Schools Register For Voucher Program


2/5/16 – Several schools in the region are among the 135 private and religious schools and school systems that have registered for the state’s parental choice program. In this area that includes: Central Wisconsin Christian School in Waupun, Maranatha Baptist Academy in Watertown, Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Watertown, Wisconsin Academy in Columbus and the Randolph Christian School. DPI officials say there are 31 new schools applying to participate in the statewide voucher program for the 2016-17 school year.


Wisconsin Obamacare Sign-Ups Higher Than National Rate


2/5/16 – The number of Wisconsinites signing up for Obamacare is 16-percent higher than one year ago — more than the national increase of eleven-percent. The U-S health agency says 239-thousand Wisconsin residents enrolled in new plans from the federal purchasing exchange before the open enrollment period ended last weekend. Nationally, 12-point-seven million people are now enrolled in plans arranged through the Affordable Care Act. Health-and-Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell says Obamacare has helped more Americans than ever get health insurance, with 90-percent covered right now. Americans are required to have coverage, and those who don’t face fines of at least 695-dollars this year — something that rankles Republicans as they’ve tried and failed dozens of times to repeal key parts of the health law.


Governor Signs Multiple Bills


2/5/16 – Governor Scott Walker signed a number of bills Thursday, including one shortening the amount of time people have to recover damages from vehicle crashes. Under the new legislation, court actions to recover property damages through car insurance policies must be filed within three years, instead of six years. In cases of death, lawsuits must be filed within two years, instead of three years. The legislation was written by Representative John Spiros, a Republican from Marshfield, and Senator Frank Lasee a Republican from De Pere, and passed the Assembly by a vote of 61-to-36. It was agreed to by the Senate on a voice vote.


Blaze Pink Now Legal For Hunters


2/5/16 – Hunters, get ready to see pink. Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill that allows hunters to wear blaze pink in the woods, as well as blaze orange. Lawmakers of both parties proposed the measure, after a Madison expert showed that blaze pink jackets create the same type of high visibility as the blaze orange that hunters have had to wear for decades to boost hunter safety. Supporters say blaze pink would encourage more women to go hunting. There was some debate about that, but not enough to prevent both houses from passing the measure on voice votes last year.


Man Accused Of Hitting Child With His Car Waives Hearing


2/5/16 – A Watertown man will proceed to trial on charges that he struck a child on a bicycle then left the scene after paying the child’s caretaker 30 dollars not to call police.  Michael Werner waived his right to a preliminary hearing yesterday on a felony charge of Hit and Run Involving Injury. The alleged incident occurred in October. Watertown Police say the child had large cuts and bleeding on both elbows and forearms, his nose and the rest of his face.  The child said he was trying to cross the street when he was hit.  His caretaker told investigators that Werner smelled like alcohol.  The 43-year-old told officers he gave the caretaker 30 dollars to cover all damages and thought that was the end of things. Werner will be arraigned next month and faces up to nine months in jail if he is found guilty.


Beaver Dam Holding Swimming Lessons At YMCA


2/5/16 – The City of Beaver Dam is offering swim lessons at a new location over the next few months.  The city has teamed up with the YMCA of Dodge County to keep the cost down by using an existing facility.  One four week, eight lesson class starts February 22 and the other begins March 28.  Community Activities and Services Coordinator Evonne Boettge says lessons were not held last summer.  Despite the ‘swim-at-your-own-risk’ change to Crystal Lake Beach, Boettge says the attendance was three times greater than in summer of 2014.  Due to a lack of staff, Boettge says they also did not hold lessons this past fall.  During a recent appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, she said the city has received a number of requests to open an aquatic facility, similar to those in Horicon, Columbus, Fox Lake, and Waupun.  Boettge says the council will discuss things such as cost and location of a possible aquatic center in the coming months.  The upcoming lessons cost $21.50 for residents and $31.50 for non-residents.  Registration can be completed through the city.  No word yet on if lessons will be held again this summer.


BDAAA Exhibit Features Work Of Young, Local Artists


2/5/16 – Two local artists’ work is featured in the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association’s first exhibit of 2016.  Justin Behm and Jesse Corragio both grew up in Beaver Dam and recently graduated from UW-Stevens Point.  Behm, a 3-D ceramic artist, and Corragio, a painter, had their work combined for this exhibit, which opened January 22.  During a recent appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, Behm said his work focuses on transformation, which includes a series of recently-made sinks and urinals.  Behm also has a pile of skulls and a full figure sculpture on display.  Corragio primarily uses wood and paper canvases for his work, which focuses on the process of creating art more than finishing a piece.  He says people can see how his work transforms over time through a series of changes.  The exhibit runs through February 21 and is the first of nine on the art association’s 2016 calendar.