“News – July 7, 2009”

BD Man Arrested after Columbus 4th of July Parade


7/7/09 – It’s safe to say a 31-year-old Beaver Dam man’s entry into the Columbus Fourth of July Parade didn’t take home the blue ribbon.  Mark Spinler entered his vehicle in the annual parade and decorated the exterior with anti-government and anti-war signs while playing similar messages riddled with profanities from speakers mounted on the roof.  Acting Police Chief Dennis Weiner says that led to a confrontation near the end of the route.  One person was standing in front of the vehicle and attempted to rip off some signs.  Spinler allegedly accelerated, causing one person to go up and over his hood.  Another person got behind the vehicle in an attempt to get the license plate number, when the subject reportedly backed up rapidly, bumping the man.  Neither was injured.  Before leaving the parade route Spinler drove towards another group of onlookers before swerving away at the last minute.  Spinler was located on the edge of town removing his signs.  Spinler was arrested and booked into jail on charges of Second Degree Reckless Endangering Safety and Disorderly Conduct.


Downtown Renovation Phase Two Projects Reviewed


7/7/09 – City officials in Beaver Dam got their first real look at plans for Phase Two of the downtown redevelopment plan in committee last night.  With Phase One on-time, nearly completed and now funded primarily with grants, city leaders are hoping to get an early jump on several projects that had originally been slated for next year. At the top of the list is resurfacing and weatherization of three buildings that had their exterior wall exposed with the demolition of neighboring buildings. The city would pay for an exterior foam insulating system at a cost estimated around $100,000; the style would replicate a façade typical to the age of the buildings. The Fountain Inn Tavern is not eligible.


Other projects that could be moved up to this year include the installation of an 85-foot pedestrian walking bridge in the Tower Parking lot at a cost of $225,000; protective barriers along the newly-created open river channel in the Tower Parking lot at a cost of $25,000 and the revision of a FEMA flood plain map at a cost of $50,000.  With most the buildings removed from the river, the river level is expected to go down.  Buildings on the 200 block of Front Street that are currently located in a flood fringe and are restricted in the amount of improvements they can make on their buildings could suddenly find themselves free of such restrictions.


Plans slated for 2010 include beautification and landscaping, replacement of the sidewalk on the Center Street Bridge, which could not currently support a railing; and construction of a flood wall. The construction of a flood wall would further remove several downtown buildings from the flood fringe and in a sense lift what city officials call “a death sentence” from the properties. The total cost of the Phase Two projects is estimated at $850,000. Both phases would cost a combined $2.6 million, which is about $100,000 below original projections.


Mannel on Transport Program: ‘More Successful Than Anticipated’


7/7/09 – The Beaver Dam Fire Departments Interfacility transport program has been more successful than anticipated.  That’s what Fire Chief Alan Mannel told city officials last night in requesting a $55,000 appropriation to hire additional, part-time staff. The program generates revenue by transporting patients between hospitals and Mannel says they have had so many calls for service they need to hire more part-time paramedics and EMT’s. Mannel says the program has exceeded revenue projections so far this generating over $111,000, as of May 31.  The funding approved unanimously by the council last night comes directly from the revenue generated by the program.


Progress Made in Closing Performance Gap for BD Students


7/7/09 – Beaver Dam Superintendent Don Childs says district is making progress in closing the performance gap between its special education students and the rest of the population but there is still a ways to go.  Each year grades three through eight as well as 10th graders take a test to determine their proficiency in five subject areas.  Childs says a great deal of the special students were able to move from minimal proficiency up to the basic level since last year.  While those scores were up the proficiency of the other students was down this year.  Childs says they still met the required mark for adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act but a decline was seen throughout most of the district.  Childs says he’ll be meeting with administrators over the next few weeks to determine how and why the decline occurred.  The information came as part of the district’s final monitoring report for the 2008-2009 school year.


Firefighters Continue to Battle Cudahy Blaze


7/7/09 – Authorities in Cudahy say it might take until early tomorrow to douse all the flames from Sunday night’s blaze at the Patrick Cudahy meat plant.  Thick smoke continues to billow from the 121-year-old plant which covers a massive one-point-four million square feet.  The fire-fighting effort almost drained Cudahy’s water supply yesterday afternoon.  Neighboring Milwaukee and Saint Francis supplied water.  The threat of illness from the plant’s ammonia evacuated hundreds of residents from their homes until last night.  Fire-fighters from almost 30 departments in Milwaukee and its suburbs have helped battle the blaze.  Officials said it might have started in an unused part of the plant – and cardboard and plastic packaging materials from a storage area helped the flames spread quickly.


Drees to be Honored Today


7/7/09 – Flags will be at half-staff today at National Guard armories and other facilities throughout Wisconsin.  It’s in honor of 19-year-old Army Private Steven Drees of Peshtigo.  He died June 28th, four days after he was injured during an attack in Afghanistan.  Drees’s funeral will be held today at Peshtigo High School, where he graduated just over a year ago.  The military said insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.


Changes Coming to Animal Cruelty Laws


7/7/09 – The outrage after charges were dropped against two Waupaca County men who were accused of running down deer with their snowmobiles could prompt a change in state law.  A judge has dismissed animal cruelty charges against two of the three accused men, after attorneys argued they were simply hunting the deer.  Charges against the third defendant could also be dropped.  State Representative Dean Kaufert says it’s a slap in the face to all legitimate hunters to equate running down deer with a snowmobile to legitimate hunting.  The Neenah Republican plans to introduce a bill that would allow animal cruelty charges if someone is not participating in legitimate and recognized methods of hunting.  Rory and Robbie Kuenzi, along with Nicholas Hermes, do face additional charges in the case.


WE Energies to Ask for Bigger Increase


7/7/09 – Wisconsinites are cutting back on electricity – and the state’s largest utility says it needs more money to cover the lost revenue.  We Energies had already asked the state’s Public Service Commission for the okay to raise residential electric rates by four-point-nine percent next year.  Now, the utility wants to make it a seven-percent hike – which would bring in 50-million-dollars plus the 76-million it sought earlier.  The average residential customer would pay 64-dollars next year, and 44-dollars in 2011 if the P-S-C approves the request.  Final action is expected late in the year.


Evers Sworn In


7/7/09 – Wisconsin’s new head of Public Instruction expects some difficult times in the near future.  State Superintendent Tony Evers was officially sworn-in to the office Monday in Milwaukee.  He takes over a public school system facing many financial problems.  Evers says federal dollars will help maintain the quality of education in Wisconsin, but he’s not expecting any major advances in the coming years.  Evers says this is a good time to re-examine how schools are funded.  He says the state needs to help give districts more flexibility under revenue caps, while also finding a way to protect taxpayers.  Even though school funding issues will be a top priority, Evers says he’d also like to focus on issues such as lifting graduation rates and looking for ways to improve Milwaukee Public Schools.