Projects Almost Completed in Columbus
5/19/11 – Two downtown construction projects in Columbus are nearing completion. Work on replacing wastewater sewer mains along James Street will be done by the end of May. The work has been causing traffic detours on highways 16 and 60 through the downtown since April. Meanwhile, final installation work on repair of the Udey Dam is underway. Railing pieces for the Dam are expected to be installed within the next two weeks and operational testing could get underway next month. The City is waiting for the final DNR Udey Dam inspection schedule.
Beaver Dam Man Arrested for 7th OWI
5/19/11 – A 52-year-old man was arrested this week for his 7th drunk driving offense. Jay Zeman of Beaver Dam allegedly showed up drunk to a meeting with his parole officer on Tuesday. The criminal complaint says Zeman told authorities that he had three drinks while visiting his father’s house in Madison before driving back to Beaver Dam for the meeting. The parole officer noticed he smelled like alcohol and gave him a breathalyzer test that recorded a .09, which is just over the limit of .09. If convicted Zeman faces up to 10 years in prison along with a substantial fine. Zeman’s drunken driving convictions date back to 1989 with the most recent coming in 2006.
BDCH Adds Sexual Assault Services
5/19/11 – The Beaver Dam Community Hospital will be implementing a program next month that is intended to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with a sexual assault. Beginning June 1, the hospital will have a SANE Nurse on call 24-7. Nurse Bonnie Falk, the manager of the Emergency and Urgent Care Department, says the Sexual Assault Nurse Exam will allow the hospital to provide rape victims with physical, mental and emotional care while collecting important forensic evidence that could lead investigators to their predator. While hospitals in Hartford, Watertown and Waupun have the SANE program on a part-time basis, many victims from this area have traveled to Madison or Milwaukee for the service. Falk says without a SANE program in Beaver Dam, victims may be deterred from reporting the crime. Falk says the hospital will be absorbing the annual operational costs associated with keeping six nurses on call around the clock, but the $20,000 start-up costs were funded with assistance from the Beaver Dam Community Hospital Foundation and a recent “Derby Day” fundraiser that brought in close to $15,000. Initially, the SANE program will serve only the adult population, which is considered ages 13 and up, but Falk says they hope to expand the program to those ages 2 and up once the current staff completes the required training, possibly as early as January 2012.
Some Education Funding Could Be Restored
5/19/11 – Republican legislative leaders say they’re working on a deal to restore some of the 844-million-dollars in proposed state aid cuts to Wisconsin public schools. Senate finance chair Alberta Darling and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald says the details are still being worked out. But both say they want to help those schools that face the largest percentage cuts in state funding, and cannot make up the difference by making employees cover more of their pensions and health insurance. A couple weeks ago, officials said the state would get an extra 636-million-dollars in tax revenues between now and mid-2013. Democrats want to use 376-million of that to partially restore the proposed cuts in school aid. Darling and Fitzgerald did not say how much the G-O-P would end up restoring. Earlier today, Fitzgerald promised there would be no cuts in the Senior-Care prescription drug program and state funds for recycling – both of which would have been cut under Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget. Darling said the Joint Finance Committee would consider the school aid changes Thursday, and changes to Senior-Care next week. She promised no new state spending.
Both Sides Cleared In Bargaining Ethics Accusations
5/19/11 – State officials have thrown out all ethics complaints against both Republicans and Democrats in connection with the battle to curb public union bargaining. The Government Accountability Board said today that Republican Governor Scott Walker did not break ethics rules, when he loosened up in a phone call from a blogger who pretended to be a big-money oil man and campaign donor. The board also threw out complaints against the Walker administration’s restricted access to the State Capitol. Four of the six entrances are still locked, and folks must still go through metal detectors and be monitored by police officers before getting in. The ethics panel also dropped complaints that Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald wrongly used state resources when he had state troopers look for Democratic senators who skipped out of the Capitol for three weeks. Complaints that the 14 Democrats were misusing campaign funds during their time away were also thrown out.
Film Tax Credit Unchanged
5/19/11 – Those who want to see more of Wisconsin in the movies say the proposed state budget does not have a happy ending. Governor Scott Walker’s budget includes a half-million dollars in tax breaks for film producers – the same amount former Governor Jim Doyle granted when he left most of the previous tax breaks on the cutting room floor. Wisconsin granted much more generous film tax credits in 2008. But Doyle fumed when the producers of the Johnny Depp film “Public Enemies” – which had scenes filmed in Beaver Dam and Columbus – went home with four-point-six million dollars from Wisconsin taxpayers, while the state’s economy only got a net benefit of 400-thousand dollars. The Republican Walker has said he’s interested in boosting the tax credit – but apparently not in the next two years, as the state reins in other spending to try-and-end the perpetual deficits. Deputy state tourism director Dave Fantle fought for the movie tax credits when he was with the group “Film Wisconsin.” The Walker budget transfers the program from the Commerce Department to Fantle’s tourism agency. And he believes Walker is open to more tax credits once the state gets its fiscal house in order.
County Board Rejects Shoreland Protection Ordinance
5/19/11 – The Dodge County Board voted down a Shoreland Protection Ordinance last night that would have increased restrictions on land that borders a body of water. Some of the restrictions in the state mandated NR 115 included rules on the amount of vegetation allowed and where hard surfaces like blacktop could be placed. The vote wasn’t unanimous but 27 supervisors voted no with a lot of them mentioning a loss of property rights as a reason. However, the vote may not matter. The DNR has given counties until next February to adopt the new restrictions but the punishment for not doing so is the DNR forcing them to pass the same standards.
Columbus Approves Clean Water Fund Loan
5/19/11 – The Columbus Council approved a $1.4 million dollar Clean Water Fund Loan from the State DNR Tuesday night. The loan will pay for the improvement project that has already begun at the wastewater treatment plant. The Financial Assistance Agreement for the DNR loan came with two positives for utility customers…a $600 thousand dollar “principal forgiveness,” and a low 2.4 % interest payback rate. The resolution calling for approval and signing of the DNR Agreement was passed by a unanimous Council vote.
Fairest of the Fair Applications Available
5/19/11 – Applications are now being accepted for the “2011 Dodge County Fairest of the Fair” contest. The county’s 4-H & Youth Agent, Sally Schoenike, says the Fair Association is looking for girls age 18 as of January 2011. Schoenike says the winner will represent the Fair Association in media and promotional events at the Dodge County Fair and other summer events. The winner would also serve as the 2011 Fair Hostess and plan the 2012 competition. In addition, the Fairest will have the opportunity to participate in the 2012 Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs contest. The 2010 Fairest of the Fair Danielle Hammer says being the official ambassador for the fair has been life-changing and allowed her to give back to an event which has been part of her family’s life for generations. Applications must be submitted by June 10. Contact Sally Schoenike, Dodge County 4-H Youth Development Agent at 920-386-3790. The application can also be found online at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/cty/dodge/4h – Click Dodge County Junior Fair and Fairest of the Fair Application under Registration Forms.
Elvis’ Wild Ride Ready-To-Go
5/19/11 – Elvis Presley’s favorite roller coaster is set up and ready-to-go in Green Bay. And starting on Saturday, folks can get all-shook-up riding the Zippin’ Pippin. It took nine months for crews to build the wooden roller coaster at Bay Beach Amusement Park along the Bay of Green Bay on the city’s east side. The city showed off the new ride yesterday for reporters. Mayor Jim Schmitt says the ride will have an impact on the community that’s similar to the renovation of the Packers’ Lambeau Field in 2003. The Zippin’ Pippin is a replica of the roller coaster that Elvis rode for years at an amusement park that closed long ago in Memphis. A consultant recommended in 2008 that Bay Beach have a roller coaster – and that’s when the city looked into buying the one Elvis loved. The city spent three-million-dollars for it. The rides will cost a buck each.