News – November 3, 2011

Hoeft Gets One More Chance To Sell Fountain Inn Tavern

11/3/11 – There is a deal in the works to purchase and demolish the former Fountain Inn Tavern in downtown Beaver Dam. The Front Street business formerly known as “Emotional Rescue” was the final building constructed over the Beaver Dam River that remained standing after a city buy-out. The city purchased and demolished ten other century-old buildings in 2009 because their construction in a flood plain violated modern state statutes. Owner Jay Hoeft was the lone hold-out. He had been in negotiations with the DNR until May when the agency walked away from the table. Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy says the city was recently informed by the state Department of Administration that there are leftover Community Development Block Grant funds from the 2008 floods and they could still be used for acquisition and demolition of flood plain properties. Kennedy says in accordance with the grant award, the city would only be allowed to purchase the property under the terms and conditions that were used to purchase the other ten properties three years ago. The purchase price would be based on the assessed value of the property in 2008, which was $94,000. Razing of the structure is estimated at around $50,000. Relocation fees would not be given to Hoeft because he has since closed his bar. Kennedy says it’s now a matter of Hoeft accepting or rejecting the offer as the process does not allow for negotiations. Hoeft would not comment on the latest offer.

Lively Debate, Resignation Mark Juneau Restructuring Plan

11/3/11 – Juneau Mayor Ron Bosak unveiled his plans to restructure the city’s Utility Commission last night. The proposed change comes after every other elected and appointed city official received an 18% reduction in annual salary and per-meeting stipends. The council voted earlier this year for the pay decreases but chose to exempt the Utility Commission, which is city-owned but self-sustaining using virtually no tax dollars. The exemption drew heavy criticism from Bosak who said commissioners were not being “team players” in these tough economic times. The ordinance he is proposing would reduce the number of citizen commissioners from five to three and they would serve staggered three-year terms. Two alderpersons with voting powers would also sit on the commission in one-year terms along with the mayor who would only vote to break a tie. While alderpersons on the commission would receive per-meeting compensation, they would not get an additional salary. Pay for the three citizen commissioners would be cut by 45%. In addition, the ordinance would change the way utility employees are hired and compensated by consolidating various personnel committee’s into one committee that answers to the common council with recommendations from the Utility Commission.

Citizen comments were divided last night with some residents criticizing the mayor’s restructuring plan saying it would politicize the commission. Those in favor of it said there needs to be more turnover on the commission and some fresh blood. Commissioner Randy Schaefer said the commission should be comprised of elected officials who are accountable to the public. Finance Chair Robert Affeld asked Mayor Bosak why the Commission is now facing 45% in cuts while everyone else saw an 18% decrease. When Affeld asked if the plan would go away if the commissioners accepted the 18% decrease, Bosak said “too late for that buddy.” Alderman Dan Schamberger said he could see both sides but called Bosak’s actions “spiteful.” Commissioner Paul Marose said the mayors actions were retaliatory and announced his immediate resignation. Last night’s meeting was strictly informational and any action would come at future meetings.

Pay Scale For Elected and Appointed Positions in the City of Juneau:

Mayor: The mayor is currently paid a $6000 annual salary. That will be reduced with the next term in April to $5000.

Utility President: The Utility President annual salary is $3000. Under the proposed restructuring plan, that would be reduced to $1800.

Alderperson: All elected or appointed alderpersons are paid $1200. Once new terms begin, that will decrease to $1000.

Utility Commissioner: Utility Commissioners are currently paid $900. Under the proposed restructuring plan, the salary would be reduced to $500.

Meeting Pay: All elected and appointed city officials are paid $25 and as current terms end the new meeting stipend will be $20. Utility commissioners would also be paid $20 under the proposal.

Fox Lake Council Approves Borrowing

11/3/11 – The Fox Lake City Council voted to borrow not more than $300,000 to deal with a mistake by the city assessor. In August, Assessor Art Kind informed the council that the report he filed with the state on the TIF District’s valuation was nearly $16-million less than it should have been. The error wont effect the amount of money they can collect for taxes, but does impact the amount it gets from the TIF District. Kind filed an amended report with the state, meaning they’ll eventually see the money lost. But it will leave them short for 2012. In response, after consulting with their accounting firm in September, the city will borrow at least $242,000 and as much as $300,000 to cover the shortfall in the 2012 budget, which will keep residents tax bills from fluctuating too much. The city is also in the process of finding a new assessor. The council also approved a ban on concealed weapons from any city-owned buildings unless given prior approval by the police chief. They plan to put up signs notifying the public about the ban.

BD School Board Supports Greenhouse Fundraiser

11/3/11 – The Beaver Dam School Board this week gave their vote of support to a group looking to build an Environmental Science Classroom and Greenhouse Lab at the High School. The project titled “Generating a Greener Future” and student organizers need to raise $175,000 to make it become a reality. The hope is to replace the schools current 22-year-old greenhouse with a 1,500 sq ft free standing facility that could handle 35 students and be used by the entire high school in addition to the FFA. The group is holding a series of fundraiser and actively seeking donations. The project has already received financial support from the owner of Culvers and the manager of Kohl’s. The group plans on raising money until next April, breaking ground in May, and cutting the ribbon during homecoming next fall.

Highway Projects Move Forward

11/3/11 – Six Wisconsin highway projects moved a step closer to reality Wednesday. The state Transportation Projects Commission approved environmental studies for all six projects. Results from those studies could help decide whether they get final approval. The projects include a six-mile stretch of Interstate 94 in Saint Croix County near Hudson – and a three-and-a-half-mile segment of 94 in Milwaukee County. The other projects would expand-and-improve 56 miles of Interstate 39-90 in Dane, Columbia, and Sauk counties – 19-miles of Highway 12 in Dane County – nine miles of Highway 51, also in Dane County – and 14 miles of Interstate-43 in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties.

Foreclosures Dip In Metro Milwaukee

11/3/11 – The number of new home foreclosure cases in Metro Milwaukee dropped 25-percent in October, compared to the same month a year ago. The Journal Sentinel said there were 806 new cases in which homeowners got so far behind on their mortgage payments, they were in the process of losing their homes. The previous October, almost 11-hundred foreclosure cases had been filed in the region – which includes Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth and Washington, counties. All seven counties had declines of more than 10-percent in new foreclosures compared to a year ago. Racine County had the biggest decline from 122 cases

down to 70. In the first 10 months of this year, new filings were down 16-and-a-half percent from the previous year.

Wold and Johnson Found Guilty in Murder for Hire Case

11/3/11 – Two men were found guilty last night of hiring a hit-man to kill the estranged wife of one of the defendants. A Waukesha County jury deliberated for three hours before convicting 43-year-old Darren Wold and 67-year-old Jack Johnson of being parties to first degree intentional homicide. Both face life in prison when they’re sentenced next month. Prosecutors said Wold and Johnson paid seven-thousand-dollars to Justin Welch to kill Wold’s estranged wife, 39-year-old Kimberly Smith. She was stabbed to death in October of 2009, and authorities said it was because Wold wanted sole custody of the young son he and Smith had. The child was four at the time. The defense said the state could not prove there was a murder-for-hire plot — and they said Welch lied during their trial when he testified about the scheme. The defendants said Welch was only trying to win a shorter sentence, after he pleaded guilty to killing Smith. Welch will be sentenced to life, but prosecutors had agreed to seek an early release under extended supervision in exchange for his testimony. Johnson will be sentenced December 9th, and Wold on December 20th.

Abstinence Would Be Emphasized Under Senate Bill

11/3/11 – Sex education in Wisconsin public schools would have to go back to emphasizing abstinence under a bill passed by the state Senate last night. The measure now goes to the Assembly. And it nullifies the changes Democrats made last year, when they ran state government. They ordered sex-ed courses to teach ways to use birth control, and explain sexually-transmitted diseases. The G-O-P bill gives schools more leeway — but they would still have to tell teens that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and sexual diseases. They would also have to teach the benefits of marriage and what’s involved in being a parent. The main sponsor, New Berlin Republican Mary Lazich, said her bill emphasizes local control of the curriculum and quote, “small government at its best.” But Milwaukee Democrat Chris Larson said the question is whether kids will learn about sex from school or from quote, “a Google search.”

Police Investigating Egging of Senator’s Office

11/3/11 – State Capitol Police are investigating the throwing of eggs outside Senator Dale Schultz’s office. Staff members called police yesterday after seeing eggs splattered on the exterior marble, and egg-shells on the balcony entrance. Schultz, a Republican from Richland Center, says he has no idea why it happened. He said the Capitol is the people’s building, and therefore the damage is quote, “an affront to the people of Wisconsin.” Schultz said he was not sure why he was targeted. He took heat from conservatives in his own party this week, when he refused to vote for a bill that could give the G-O-P an advantage in possible Senate recall elections early next year. Also, Schultz and Janesville Senate Democrat Tim Cullen have been on a two-person crusade to restore civility to Wisconsin’s polarized political debate.