News June 23, 2015

Motorcyclist Killed In Dodge County’s First Fatal Traffic Accident Of 2015


6/23/15 – A 63-year-old rural Ripon man was killed in Dodge County’s first fatal traffic crash of 2015.  The incident occurred just after 9 am this morning in the Town of Trenton on Highway 151 at the intersection with Hemlock Road.  A 64-year-old rural Randolph man driving an S-U-V was trying to change lanes on 151 to turn east onto Hemlock.  Witnesses say the Ripon motorcyclist had gone from the right lane to the left lane while the S-U-V merged left.  The motorcycle struck the front quarter panel of the S-U-V, overturned, hit a curb, and entered the grassy median just south of Hemlock.  The Ripon man was tossed off the motorcycle, landed about ten feet in front of his bike, and was pronounced dead at the scene.  The Randolph man and his 62-year-old female passenger were not injured.  An unsafe lane change and failure to wear a helmet appear to have been factors in the crash, which remains under investigation.  No names have been released.  The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office handled the matter and received assistance from the Dodge County Crash Investigation Team, Beaver Dam Police Department, Fire Department, and EMS.


Horicon Marsh Kayaker Dead After Drowning Incident


6/23/15 – A Horicon Marsh kayaker is dead following a drowning incident.  The Horicon Police Department responded to the shoreline area at the end of Vine Street earlier today and found the man with his family along the shore where CPR was in progress.  The man was transported to the Beaver Dam Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The cause of death is still pending but no foul play is suspected.  The man’s name has not been released.


Columbus Board Outlines Superintendent Search Criteria


6/23/15 – School board members and the administrative team from the Columbus School District have a busy schedule for the next four weeks. They will be searching for a new superintendent to replace outgoing five-year veteran Bryan Davis who was selected to be the new district administrator in Shorewood. The vacancy has been posted since last Thursday and the district office has already received a number of applicants. The board and administrators met in a special joint session Monday night to determine the selection criteria.  Applications will be accepted until 4pm on July 8th. After board review, the top five applicants will be selected by the next regular board meeting on July 14th. The top five candidates will then be scheduled for interviews on Monday, July 20th. At this point in the search, the board and administrative team are looking to find a qualified and permanent person to fill the post.


Hustisford School District Could Seek Referendum In 2016


6/23/15 – The Hustisford School District could propose a referendum question on the November 2016 ballot.  At a recent school board meeting, Superintendent Doug Keiser said there are a number of projects the school board has been exploring.  Those include: lighting, flooring, and safe entryways for both of the district’s buildings along with plumbing and bathroom improvements to make them ADA compliant.  He says the elementary school building could also use a space reconfiguration.  While he does not know the total cost of these projects, Keiser says an estimate from several years ago for the work on the elementary school building alone came in at $3,500,000.  Since the costs will almost certainly outweigh the district’s finances, going back to the voters is the likely option.  District residents just approved two referendum questions in November.  One allows the district to exceed revenue limits by $240,000 to maintain current programs and services while the other lets them go $150,000 over the cap to support instructional technology and expand educational opportunities.  Keiser says the board is looking at the 2016 date for this possible referendum since there will likely be a heavy voter turnout for the presidential race.  Keiser says the voters have been very supportive of the district in the past and is optimistic that they would do so yet again.  However, he realizes the difficulty of voting for a tax increase.  The high school and elementary school buildings are 35 and 45 years old, respectively.  Both still have most of their original infrastructure.  Keiser says that means it’s only a matter of time until items such as boilers and water heaters that have already exceeded their life expectancy need to be replaced.  The board will continue discussing the matter in the coming months.


Mural Donated To Prairie View


6/23/15 – Students returning to Prairie View Elementary in Beaver Dam next semester will be greeted with a huge mural of the United States in the playground. Charlotte Toth is the Vice President of the AT&T Pioneers, a local organization of employees and retirees from the company who volunteer their time to various community causes. The Pioneers provided paints, supplies and manpower for the map project.  Toth says children will be able to take a giant leap across the United States as they play on the playground this fall. She says the project will allow teachers to use the playground to teach geography through creative play. State Representative Mark Born was on hand for the unveiling and called in an impressive project that will allow our elementary students to learn more about our country through creative play. Principal Jesse Peters says she cannot wait for students to play on the new playground map this fall.


Names Wisconsin River Drowning Victims Released


6/23/15 – A man and his five-year-old son who drowned Friday in the Wisconsin River near Lodi were publicly identified yesterday.  Columbia County authorities said 29-year-old Elliott McKenna of Lodi and his son Andrew were on a sandbar that gave way.  Three others were rescued — a woman and two boys.  Sheriff’s deputies were called early Friday afternoon, and were told that people were screaming for help on the Wisconsin River in the town of Dekorra.  Divers found the young boy about three hours after they arrived.  His father was found two hours later.


Wisconsin Sees Strongest May Housing Sales In Nine Years


6/23/15 – Wisconsin home sales were the strongest for May since 2006, almost 2 1/2 years before the Great Recession began in earnest.  That’s the word from the state Realtors Association.  Its members sold almost 7,650 existing houses last month, an increase of almost 8% from May of last year.  The median re-sale price was $160,000, up by 6.7% from the previous year.  In Dodge County, the $143,000 median sales price this May was up 23% from last May.  Although the number of county sales dropped by roughly 19% to 79.  The C-E-O of the Realtors’ group, Mike Theo, says his group normally does not like to see housing prices rise so quickly — but it’s important to note that the housing has been in a “very low inflationary period” since the recession.  Sales in every part of Wisconsin were strong last month, and the same is true for the January-through-May period.  Over 26,400 homes were sold by Wisconsin Realtors in the first five months of this year.  That’s up by almost 4% from the year before.  In Dodge County, there were 11% less homes sold in the first five of months of 2015 compared to last year, but the median price was up 12% to $130,000.


GOP Lawmaker Optimistic About Impasse


6/23/15 – Republican leaders of both houses met again late Monday with key lawmakers to try-and-resolve the party’s three-and-a-half week old impasse over the new state budget.  During a break in the closed-door meeting, Assembly Republican finance member Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield said progress was being made.  He told the A-P he was optimistic a deal could be reached soon.  And it remains possible that the Joint Finance Committee could meet this week to finalize a budget that majority Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate could accept. In the meantime, Assembly Republicans solidified their stance on which highway projects should be cut.  A majority of the house G-O-P caucus — 33 members — signed a letter yesterday demanding that cuts be made evenly throughout the state.  Governor Scott Walker and Senate Republicans want Milwaukee’s Zoo freeway interchange project to keep going without delays, but those who signed the letter said safe-and-reliable transportation is a concern throughout Wisconsin, and not just in Milwaukee.  Walker’s office has said lawmakers should leave it to the D-O-T to determine which projects should be delayed in a likely cut in highway borrowing. The governor’s office repeated that stance yesterday.


Public Hearing To Be Held Today To Discuss State Trooper Pay


6/23/15 – A public hearing will be held today on a compromise pay raise for Wisconsin state troopers.  G-O-P legislative leaders said no to an average pay hike of 17% announced in March for the troopers’ union. Yesterday, the Walker administration unveiled a revised negotiated deal which calls for a 3% pay raise for the year ending last June — plus 3% on top of that for the year ending on June 30th.  In exchange, troopers would have to pay more toward their health insurance each month, just like other state employees had to do.  Troopers have not had a pay raise since June of 2009 — and after legislative leaders balked at the 17% average hike, the union said the higher pay was needed to keep good officers from bolting.  State troopers were exempt from the Act-10 public union bargaining limits from 2011.  The state’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations will hold its public hearing on the raise this afternoon. A committee vote on the new package could take place right after the hearing.


Meeting Next Month Will Discuss Columbia County Road Project


6/23/15 – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will be holding a meeting next month to discuss an upcoming road project.  It will give a brief overview of the Highway 73 resurfacing from Heritage Way to Faith Drive that is scheduled for 2018.  The meeting will be held at the Columbus Recreation Building from 5 to 6:30 pm on Wednesday, July 8.  The DOT will be holding another meeting tonight in Waupun to discuss the resurfacing of Highway 151 at the Highway 49 interchange that is planned for next summer.  That will run from 5 to 7 pm at the Waupun Public Library.