News – November 23, 2016

Horicon Budget Fails, Alderman Walks Out Of Meeting


11/23/16 – At the city of Horicon’s annual budget meeting last night, adoption of the 2017 budget failed on a four-to-one vote. Shortly after the vote, Alderman Donald Miller, who cast the lone no vote, walked out of the meeting after a verbal exchange with the mayor. City ordinance in Horicon requires a three-fourths majority to adopt the budget, which on a six-person council translates to five of the six alderpersons. Alderman Nathan Anfinsen had an excused absence meaning all five elected officials in attendance had to agree on the $3.6-million-dollar document. Alderman Miller cited funding another year’s salary for the current city Economic Development Director as his reason for voting against the budget. Miller says the city is not getting its money’s worth out of the $86-thousand-dollar salary and cited personal and professional issues with the current director Jim Schaefer. Miller said that Schaefer, who answers to the mayor, refuses to tell him anything about pending projects.  Miller also said at a recent economic development presentation, Schaefer handed out information to everyone in the room except him and had other people lead the presentation. Alderman Carl Fausett, who was the first president of the city’s Community Development Authority, was quick to disagree with Miller saying that the city is “making more progress on more fronts than [he] has ever seen.” Fausett said that the budget process is not the appropriate time to debate the status of a specific employee with the proper channel instead going through the personnel committee. Mayor Steve Neitzel then criticized Miller’s “negative” attitude during a presentation by a developer looking to bring a $6-million-dollar project to Horicon. Neitzel said “you [expletive deleted] and complained that nothing’s happening here… and then you turn around and say ‘it’s Jim’s fault that nothing ever happens here,’ I think you better turn around and look at yourself.” Miller walked out at the meeting was adjourned. No word yet on when the rescheduled meeting will be held.


Horicon Budget Figures


11/23/16 – As far as the budget itself, the $3.6-million-dollar document as presented includes a tax levy just under $2.2-million dollars, up nine-percent or $181-thousand-dollas from last year. Officials are planning to take $103-thousand dollars out of the General Fund to balance the numbers, leaving around $500-thousand dollars in undesignated funds in the account. The mill rate is increasing 75-cents to $9.78 per thousand dollars of assessed value. Property values in the city are up 1.4-percent. The budget meets state levy limits and qualifies the city for Expenditure Restraint Program dollars totaling around $69-thousand-dollars. Included in the budget are a new police car, a pickup truck, a lawn mower and $100-thousand dollars for mill-and-overlay projects. The tennis courts at Riverbend Park would be resurfaced, there would be new asphalt laid on the parking lot and driveway at the city garage, and a new paint job is planned at the Public Safety Building.


Dodge County Sheriff’s Office Launches Death Investigation


11/23/16 – Carbon monoxide poisoning may be to blame for the death of a Milwaukee man in a Dodge County cabin. Sheriff Dale Schmidt says deputies responded to the cabin in rural Reeseville Monday evening after receiving a call to check on the welfare of two males. A family member of the two men reported that they were overdue to return home to Milwaukee from their weekend deer hunting trip and the family was unable to reach either man by phone. Responding deputies did not receive a response when knocking at the door but were able to observe through a window one of the men on the floor unresponsive.  Deputies requested EMS and forced entry into the cabin where they found a 46-year-old Milwaukee man deceased and the victim’s father, a 69-year-old Milwaukee man, with a potential life-threatening medical problem.  He is in an Intensive Care Unit in Madison; his condition is not known.  The sheriff says the cause has not been definitively determined, but carbon monoxide and other environmental factors are being investigated.  Names and the specific location of the incident are being withheld at this time pending notification of relatives and security of the cabin due to the forced entry.  The Dodge County Medical Examiner is investigating the death with the Sheriff’s Office.


Waupun Man Killed In Town Of Alto Wreck Identified


11/23/16 – Authorities have identified the Waupun man killed in two-vehicle accident Monday night. 23-year-old Brock Hoekstra was a passenger in a car that was hit head-on in the Fond du Lac County Town of Alto. Sheriff’s deputies say a vehicle driven by 57-year-old James Jensen of Waupun crossed a center line on County Highway AW and hit an oncoming vehicle driven by 52-year-old Debra Hoekstra of Waupun. Brock Hoekstra, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Debra Hoekstra and a passenger in her vehicle, 17-year-old Austin Burckhardt of Waupun, were taken to Waupun Memorial Hospital with serious injuries. Jensen was taken to the Aurora Medical Center in Summit by a Flight for Life with serious injuries. Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Officials say alcohol was not a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.


Fox Lake Man Convicted In Fatal Accident


11/23/16 – A Fox Lake man has been convicted in connection with a fatal accident in 2014. 69-year-old Lee Henricksen pled “no contest” to felony Homicide By Negligent Use of a Vehicle and Reckless Driving Causing Great Bodily Harm and had a third felony charge dismissed but read into the record. The accident happened on County Highway A, near the intersection with County E. 45-year-old Judith Haddad from Lindenhurst, Illinois and a passenger were traveling southbound when she slowed to turn onto Indian Hills Trail and their vehicle was rear-ended by Henricksen. The impact pushed Haddad into the northbound lane where it struck 31-year-old Jennifer Polenska from Waupun. Polenska and Haddad sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The 9-year-old passenger in the Haddad vehicle died four days later at UW Hospital in Madison. Henricksen was uninjured in the crash. A voluntary blood draw found no alcohol or drugs in his system. Henricksen will be sentenced in January.


Hilt Convicted Of Embezzling From Employer


11/23/16 – Fond du Lac woman was convicted yesterday of embezzling from her employer.  Tessa Hilt pled no contest to three felony counts of Theft in a Business Setting and two other counts were dismissed but read into the record.  The 47-year-old misappropriated over $142,000 from Waas Boring and Cable Inc. in Lomira where she was the office manager.  Hilt used that money to pay expenses including electric bills, phone bills, credit cards and her mortgage.  All of this was discovered when the company was preparing its defense to a sexual harassment claim Hilt filed against them.  A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered and a hearing is scheduled in January.


Waupun Man Sentenced For Shooting Over Obama Sign


11/23/16 – A Waupun man was sentenced yesterday to ten days and jail and three years’ probation for shooting out the window of a car that pulled into his driveway to read his political signs.  Larry Bronkhorst pled no contest to Endangering Safety with the Reckless Use of a Firearm and had two other felonies and a misdemeanor dismissed but read into the record. The 79-year-old told police he was concerned the men were trying to vandalize his anti-Obama signs in the December 2014 incident.  Bronkhorst said he was trying to scare the men when he fired a shot from his shotgun at the vehicle.  The driver’s side window exploded, and the driver suffered a minor injury to his hand from the broken glass. In addition to ten days in jail, Bronkhorst was ordered to pay fines and court costs and must write a letter of apology.


New Overtime Rules Blocked By Federal Judge


11/23/16 – The Wisconsin Justice Department scores a legal victory, after a judge blocked new overtime pay requirements for salaried workers. Texas Federal Judge Amos Mazzant has issued a preliminary injunction that delays the mandate until he can fully review it. Wisconsin was among 21 states that filed suit against President Barack Obama’s rule that both public and private employers pay overtime to those making less than 47-thousand dollars per year, more than twice the current threshold. It was supposed to take effect December first, and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has said it could result in government service cuts and layoffs after fiscal experts said it would cost an extra 14-million dollars per year in salaries for state agency workers alone. Labor groups have praised the new rule, saying salaried employees have been working more hours with no extra pay — but business groups said labor costs would skyrocket and employee morale could be hurt as managers get demoted to hourly employees.


Shilling Renamed Minority Leader Pending Recount


11/23/16 – Wisconsin Senate Democrats have renamed Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse as their minority leader, on the same day her election opponent said he would seek a recount of their very close contest. The official ballot canvass shows that Republican Dan Kapanke lost to Shilling by 56 votes out of 89-thousand cast on November eighth. He expects to file a formal request today (Wednesday), and the recount would start Monday in La Crosse, Monroe, Crawford, and Vernon counties. Shilling says she’s putting the election behind her and focus on “moving Wisconsin forward” — and she says Kapanke is putting “taxpayers through a costly recount.” Shilling was reelected unanimously to another two years as the Senate’s minority leader, with no opposition — and it will be the smallest minority in the upper house in about 40 years.