“News-June 21, 2011”

BD Sends Message On Threatening Texting


6/21/11 – An ordinance that targets those sending of threatening emails or text messages was unanimously approved Monday night by the Beaver Dam Common Council. The ordinance prohibits the unlawful use of computers or other electronic equipment for the intent to frighten, intimidate, abuse, harass or threaten to inflict injury with physical harm to any person or property.  Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor that could result in fines or forfeitures as prescribed by the municipal judge.


Landmark Commission Members Appointed


6/21/11 – Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy announced his appointments to the newly created Landmark Commission at Monday night’s meeting. Earlier this month, the common council approved the creation of the commission to oversee future renovation to downtown buildings. The commission will not be able to require existing property owners make changes but will regulate signage, façade and other improvements to make sure the alterations are in compliance with a historic, turn-of-the-century century theme. Businessmen and longtime downtown advocate Michael Firchow will chair the Commission.  Other voting members include Ken Thomas, Peggy Dandy, Ben Westra and Alderwoman Teresa Hiles Olson. Alderman Glen Link is an alternate along with Josiah Vilmin. The city mayor, building inspector and city attorney will also serve as advisory members.


BDPD Receiving K-9 Donations


6/21/11 – The Beaver Dam Common Council last night approved two separate donations for the police departments K-9 program.  The city received a $964 donation from the high school and a $2600 donation from Mischler’s Harley Davidson. There have been several recent donations from private citizens and local businesses toward the K9 program, which was put on hold last year following the death of the city’s previous drug-sniffing dog. In fact, earlier this month during the police department’s regular appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, American National Bank made a $1000 donation.  Chief Ronald Smith says they are over half way to their goal of $12,000 to start the program.


Liquor License Approved For Former Church


6/21/11 – While wine may have been served there for many years, the former St. Michael’s Church in Beaver Dam now as a liquor license. The Common Council last night approved the license for Jimmie Walker with Chapel of the Archangels LLC, for use as a private hall. The church on 800 Madison Street was one of three Catholic churches in the city until its closure in the fall of 2006 and its consolidation into St. Katherine Drexel. Chapel of the Archangels is available by reservation for events like wedding receptions.


BD School Board Approves Contracts


6/21/11 – On a 7-2 vote the Beaver Dam School Board approved two-year contracts extensions for the teacher and support staff unions.  Among the major components is a wage freeze, employees paying 5.8-percent for their pension and no increase for health insurance premiums.  Those voting against were concerned about the length of the deals because of the uncertainness of what the Governor’s collective bargaining restrictions would mean in year two of the contract.  However, a provision in the current contract says that if there isn’t a new deal by June 30th it would automatically be extended for another year.  The district’s counsel couldn’t say for sure that the bargaining restrictions would supersede that provision.  And with the district facing a $2.9-million deficit for the 2011-2012 school year the board felt they needed to take the sure thing so as to collect the retirement contributions. The two contracts were both overwhelmingly approved by the unions.


Home Sales and Prices Down for the Year


6/21/11 – Wisconsin Realtors sold almost 23-percent fewer homes in May than they did the previous year. The Realtors’ Association reports almost 49-hundred sales of existing homes statewide last month, down from 63-hundred in the same month a year ago. For the first five months of this year, Realtors sold 18-hundred fewer homes than in the same period of 2010.  In Dodge County, home sales were down 17-percent from May of last year and 12-percent for the year as a whole.  Columbia County saw a 14-percent drop in home sales last month from 2010 and a 15-percent drop so far this year. The biggest decrease in our area was in Washington County where sales for May were down 36-percent from last year and down 26-percent for the year as a whole.  Jefferson County was the lone county in the area to see an increase as realtors there sold six-percent more homes last month than they did in 2010.  However, sales for the year are still down nearly 11-percent.  Those selling were also getting lower prices for the homes as the median price in Dodge County for the year is down 10-percent to $99,900 while Columbia County was down nearly 16-percent to $121,000.  Jefferson County sellers were getting 5.7-percent less at $143,300 and in Washington County the median price was down 5.8-percent to $174,250. Association board chairman John Horning said the declines were expected because a big incentive for homebuyers was about to expire – the federal tax credits which totaled in the thousands per customer.


Weak Tornado Spotted in Dodge County


6/21/11 – The weak tornado that apparently touched down southwest of Theresa on Sunday was classified as an F-Zero, the most common form of twister.  That’s according to Emergency Management Director Joe Meagher, who says thousands of these go unreported on a yearly basis.  And the National Weather Service said no watches or warnings were issued because they are so common.  Meagher says they want to avoid issuing watches or warnings because he says it may lead to a “crying wolf” situation, where residents don’t take them seriously because they are issued all the time.


State Doesn’t Get All the Money Possible for Unemployed


6/21/11 – About 10-thousand unemployed Wisconsinites have been without jobless benefits for two months, even though the state could have received federal funding to provide them. The state’s Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council has not considered applying for 89-million federal stimulus dollars to provide a 13-week extension of benefits – although it might do so on Thursday. Meanwhile, some in Madison are saying that the extra aid might be discouraging people from applying for work – especially for jobs that pay less than what they used to get. Republican Assembly Finance chairman Robin Vos feels that way. And Ed Lump of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association says it’s hard for some of his members to hire people they need, because they won’t work until their jobless money runs out. But Phil Neuenfeldt of the state A-F-L C-I-O doesn’t believe that. He says the current benefit of 363-dollars a week isn’t enough to discourage workers from seeking jobs that can support a family. And Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Council on Children-and-Families says it’s not true that people are choosing to stay unemployed – and he blames low hiring levels. Peacock cites a national study that says almost six qualified people are available for every job opening. And he says it’s crazy that the state is not seeking the extra benefit funds. Governor Scott Walker grudgingly supports the move, but he says it won’t encourage people to join the workforce. Unlike previous funds from Washington, the stimulus money does not have to be paid back. The state owes the federal government one-point-six billion dollars to keep the benefits flowing during the recession.


GOP Lawmakers Could Introduce a Bill Limiting Recalls


6/21/11 – Republican state legislative leaders say they might introduce a bill this fall to make it harder to recall public officials. They spoke to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editors yesterday about the new state budget that Governor Scott Walker is about to sign. But Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald says the legislative process has slowed down because senators are in quote, “full campaign mode.” Six G-O-P senators face recalls because of their votes in favor of the bill to limit public union bargaining. One of those six, Alberta Darling, says people should have time to see how the measure works before deciding whether to kick out the lawmakers who adopted it. Three Democratic senators also face recalls for skipping out of the Capitol for three weeks to try-and-block the union bill. Assembly G-O-P Finance chair Robin Vos says Wisconsin is becoming a state where campaigns never end – and Governor Scott Walker says most Wisconsinites just want the recall disputes to go away. Fitzgerald said he doesn’t support recalls against either party because of a single vote – and he’ll see if Democrats favor restricting them. But Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca is against limiting recalls. And he accused Republicans of trying to avoid accountability. But it was someone in Barca’s own party who last brought the limiting of recalls. Former Senate Democrat Kevin Shibilski of Stevens Point tried in the late 1990’s to limit them only to their original purpose – to remove politicians who refused to do their jobs, or couldn’t because of bad health. That measure never went anywhere. Fewer than 20 states allow legislators to be recalled.


Concealed Carry Bill Could Go to the Governor Today


6/21/11 – A bill to end Wisconsin’s 140-year-old ban on concealed weapons could be headed to Governor Scott Walker later today. The state Assembly will be asked to ratify a compromise measure passed by the Senate earlier this month. It’s the only bill on the Assembly’s agenda for today – and it’s expected to attract lots of debate. The Senate approved a measure endorsed by the Joint Finance Committee, which requires state permits and training. Both had been left out of the G-O-P’s original version of the bill. But they were added after Republican Governor Scott Walker said he wanted both the permit system and training in the package. Critics say it still has lots of loopholes. Jeri Bonavia of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort says the training could be nothing more than an Internet read-and-click program. Also, disagreements remain about the places where concealed weapons should automatically be banned. They generally include police stations, airports, and courthouses. Other government buildings and businesses can ban them by putting up signs – but critics say the State Capitol should be automatically banned, considering the emotional protests and debates the building attracts.


Mayville Man Jailed Following Chase


6/21/11 – A Mayville man will spend four months in jail for sparking a police chase.  Matthew Rantala pleaded to reduced misdemeanor charges of Fleeing in connection with the pursuit last April.  Authorities in Mayville say the 36-year-old was traveling at a high rate of speed on North Main Street with a headlight out and the dome light on when they turned around to initiate a traffic stop. Rantala sped to County Road TW where his eastbound car entered the northbound ditch, struck a culvert and went airborne.  The vehicle made it back onto the roadway but then entered the southbound ditch where it got stuck in the snow.  Officers executed a high risk traffic stop and the suspect surrendered at gunpoint. Rantala also had his license suspended for six months.