News – January 13, 2016

Boom That Rattled Dodge County Labeled ‘Frost Quake’


1/13/16 – Houses rattled and dogs started barking following a loud noise in Dodge County just after 8:30pm Tuesday evening. Sheriff Dale Schmidt initially said that it could have been a sonic boom related to National Guard training. The 115th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard is conducting training missions this week and according to an alert, F-16 fighter jets could be taking off and landing until 10pm. However, officials with the National Weather Service in Milwaukee tweeted later in the evening that there were “Reports of a ‘frost quake’ over parts of the area. Water in the soil expands as it freezes. Produces a boom and some shaking of the ground…The increased pressure of the expanding frozen soil being suddenly released creates the boom and the shaking.” The rare weather phenomena was heard from Oconomowoc to Beaver Dam.


Watermark Opens Today In Beaver Dam


1/13/16 – Years in the making, the Watermark finally open its doors to the public this morning. The $2,100,000 community and senior center on South Center Street had been the subject of wrangling by city officials for a decade or longer. After supporters raised funds and received grants for most of the cost of the facility, the council approved up to $200,000 in taxpayer dollars to complete the project.  The programming at the old facility on East Third Street was suspended last Wednesday and resumes today at 7:30am. Community Activities and Services Coordinator Evonne Boettge says the pictures are not yet on the walls, the signs haven’t been hung and the donor tree has not been delivered but everything else is ready to go.


BD Water Rescue Purchases Discussed At Town Meeting


1/13/16 – Talks continue over whether the Town of Beaver Dam will pay part of the cost for the Beaver Dam Fire Department’s new water rescue equipment.  Chief Alan Mannel requested a new boat and hovercraft be included in the city’s 2016 borrowing plan to replace the current ones which are said to be old and unreliable.  The City of Beaver Dam wants the five towns that contract services with city to pay $55,000 of the $223,000 cost.  The Town of Beaver Dam would reportedly be on the hook for $35,000 over the next five years.  At last night’s Town of Beaver Dam meeting, Chair Neal Stippich said he and the board are not opposed to replacing the equipment but rather the funding source.  He says including these funds into the township’s budget would mean other needs would have to be cut.  Stippich is concerned that the Town of Fox Lake would likely use the services without paying a cent while the other four towns the city approached would pay less than the Town of Beaver Dam, even though some of them have a larger area of the lake.  Dodge County Sheriff and Town of Beaver Dam Resident Dale Schmidt feels the Town of Beaver Dam should contribute funds to ensure public safety so everyone who goes out on the lakes can be safe.  Like Schmidt, County Board Supervisor Janice Bobholz does not want municipalities’ failure to receive any of the county’s half a percent sales tax revenues they requested to stand in the way of funding this equipment.  She says the board needs to prioritize people’s well-being ahead of money.  The Beaver Dam Community Fire and Rescue Association plans to meet in the coming weeks to further discuss, and possibly vote on the funding.


Juneau Council Wants Dodge County Sales Tax Dollars


1/13/16 – The Juneau Common Council last night adopted a resolution of support for a plan to give local municipalities a portion of Dodge County’s half-percent sales tax. A shared revenue proposal is being championed by the Dodge County Mayor’s Consortium. The group is lobbing for a portion of the annual income, estimated at $5,900,000 in the current budget year. Mayor Dan Wegener says local governments are hurting for some extra cash and he notes that state statute allows counties with the additional sales tax to distribute all or part to local municipalities. In a presentation to the county board this past fall, the mayors framed their argument as a quality-of-life issue saying that communities in the county are strapped for cash. If local communities had an additional revenue stream for beautification projects and infrastructure upgrades, the group argued it would attract more young couples to Dodge County, strengthening its tax base. The idea of syphoning money from the county budget has been met with mixed reaction by supervisors. After this past fall’s presentation to the board, the county administrator said it’s too late for this year’s budget. For the resolution to be brought forward, it would require the support of at least one county board supervisor.  The half-percent sales tax was put in place two decades ago specifically to pay for the county jail but the scope of use was expanded in recent years to allow for general county projects.


Watertown Man Accused Of Break-In, Forging Checks


1/13/16 – Bond was set yesterday in a Dodge County courtroom for a Watertown man accused of stealing electronics from a friend’s house.  Nathaniel Koplien is facing felony counts of Burglary and Identity Theft, both as a party to a crime.  According to the criminal complaint, the 22-year-old and a co-conspirator broke into a house to steal electronic items and blank checks.  Koplien allegedly tried to sell the stolen items and cashed a couple of forged checks.  If he is found guilty on both counts, Koplien faces over 18 years in prison.  His preliminary hearing is March 10.


Both Parties React To State Of The Union Address


1/13/16 – At least two Wisconsin House Democrats say they want to use President Obama’s vow for calmer politics to resolve some pressing issues this year. During his State-of-the-Union address last night, the Democratic president regretted that the rancor between the two parties has gotten worse — while highlighting his record and debunking critics who say America is getting weaker. La Crosse House Democrat Ron Kind and Madison Democrat Mark Pocan say they’d like to use Obama’s call for common ground to push for job training programs, helping families afford college, reform the criminal justice system, and federal campaign finance reforms. But Obama did not lay out many policy changes, on the realization that less gets done in an election year. G-O-P House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville calls the Obama speech “lofty platitudes and nostalgic rhetoric” that doesn’t explain how to solve problems.


State Assembly Approves Drug Related Bills


1/13/16 – The Wisconsin Assembly overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday requiring doctors to check a statewide database before prescribing narcotics and other addictive drugs. They also approved other legislation intended to curb the abuse of heroin and prescription opiates. The other measures would require pain clinics and methadone clinics to register with the state so officials could gather more information about them. The measures passed on voice votes and without anyone speaking against them and now go to the Senate.


Elections Board Says Parties Must Report Corporate Donations


1/13/16 – The Wisconsin elections board determined yesterday that political parties must report corporate donations they receive, changing course after the board told the parties those contributions don’t need to be made known. Republican Governor Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature late last year approved legislation overhauling campaign finance laws and allowing corporations, unions, and Indian tribes to give money to political parties and campaign committees controlled by legislative leaders.  Yesterday, the accountability board voted six-to-zero to require the parties and committees controlled by legislative leaders to report their corporate, union, and tribal donations in supplemental reports.


Federal Jury Convicts Wisconsin Man For Threatening Obama


1/13/16 – A federal court jury in Madison has convicted a Tomah man on two charges of making threats against the president. Fifty-five year old Brian Dutcher is scheduled to be sentenced March 15th. He did not testify during his two-day trial, in which his lawyer claimed that Dutcher was just spouting off when he wrote on Facebook and told a security guard he would have a “clear shot” at assassinating Obama when he appeared in La Crosse last July. Prosecutors said the threats were sincere, and that Dutcher “crossed the line” when he made them.