News – September 14, 2016

Horicon Bonding To Cover Project Costs


9/14/16 – Horicon’s City Council approved the sale of $1,600,000 worth of general obligation bonds at last night’s meeting.  Mayor Steve Neitzel says $920,000 will pay for TIF 5 projects such as running water and sewer to John Deere and the recently acquired industrial property.  Neitzel says the remaining funds will cover the upcoming Washington Street reconstruction from Main Street to Valley Street.  $435,000 will pay for the general construction costs, $205,000 will cover the water portion of the project, and $55,000 will pay for the sewer portion.  He expects the Ehlers and Associates will sell the bonds within the next month.


Horicon Utility Rates On The Rise


9/14/16 – Horicon residents will see an increase in their utility rates in the coming months.  The council last night signed off on a 15-percent water increase and three-percent wastewater hike.  The state’s public service commission still needs to approve the water increase.  A public hearing will be held prior to the final ruling.  If approved, the average residential customer would pay an extra $4.50 per month for their utility bill.  City officials call the hike a response to the utility losing money on residential customers in recent years.  Implementation is expected by early 2017.


Alliant Energy Seeking Fixed Rate Increase


9/14/16 – State utility regulators will hold a public hearing September 28th in Madison on Alliant Energy’s request to raise the fixed charges that all electric customers pay. It’s been a sensitive subject the past couple years, as utilities say everyone should pay fair shares for the cost of power poles and other equipment — while critics say it hurts senior citizens and apartment dwellers who use less power, and penalizes those who have followed utilities’ advice to conserve energy.  Other Wisconsin utilities were given average increases of 66-percent in their fixed charges — and Alliant’s charge of almost eight-dollars per month is now about one third of the state’s highest. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Wisconsin regulators are more generous than others in approving the higher fixed charges. It says 48 other rate requests around the country resulted in much smaller increases averaging 14-percent.


Juneau Council Approves 2017 Employee Health Carriers


9/14/16 – The Juneau Common Council last night approved carriers for employee health insurance next year. Workers will continue to be able to choose from two carriers, Dean and Unity. As in past years, the city is providing 85-percent of the lowest premium, which in this case is again Unity. Those on the single plan with Unity will see a small increase of point-one percent (.12%) while those on the family plan will actually see a decrease eight-tenths of one percent (.8%). Clerk-Treasurer Gladys McKay says that’s the first time she can recall seeing a premium that decreased. Those who opt for Dean coverage will see their single plan go up four-percent (4%)and their family plan go up three-percent (3%).


Uninsured Wisconsinites Decline


9/14/16 – The number of Wisconsinites without health insurance has taken a big drop. The U-S Census Bureau says 323-thousand state residents did not have coverage in 2015, down from 518-thousand just two years earlier — when the Affordable Care Act started requiring Americans to be insured. Wisconsin is tied with Rhode Island for the nation’s sixth highest percentage of insured residents, and it was the only state among the Top 20 not to accept millions in federal money to expand its Medicaid programs. Republican Governor Scott Walker has resisted calls from Democrats and health care advocacy groups to take the Medicaid funds from Obamacare, saying he didn’t want the state to be left holding the bag if the federal money runs dry. Instead, Walker provided Badger Care to those below the poverty line, while ending coverage for lower income people not in poverty.


New Judge To Decide Brantner’s Trial Fait


9/14/16 – A new judge will decide whether Dennis Brantner will get a second trial for the 1990 murder of 18-year-old Berit Beck. Fond du Lac County Circuit Judge Gary Sharpe recused himself from the case Tuesday. He said he withdrew because of comments he made in the jury room about the sufficiency of evidence, right after the jury failed to reach a verdict on Brantner’s guilt in June. District Attorney Eric Toney says he believes the judge made the right decision to pull out, and he’ll keep pushing to declare a mistrial in the first case and hold a second trial. Defense lawyer Craig Powell said he thought Sharpe was impartial, and he hopes the new judge will be fair in considering his request to drop Brantner’s first degree murder charge. The murder occurred 26 years ago when Beck was driving from Racine County to Appleton; her van was found in Fond du Lac — and her remains were discovered in a ditch near Waupun.


Man Accused Of Stealing From Trenton Quarry


9/14/16 – An inmate at the Stanley Correctional Facility is accused of stealing from a Dodge County business prior to being incarcerated.  Donny Lafferty is facing a felony Theft count for allegedly admitting that he stole over $8,000 worth of copper wire from the Linck Aggregate Quarry in the Town of Trenton in March 2011.  The copper was part of the electrical system running the quarry and two weeks’ worth of work was lost because of the theft, costing $1500 per day. A DNA test of chewing tobacco found at the scene reportedly tied the 23-year-old to the crime.  Lafferty reportedly sold the wire to support his drug addiction.  If he is convicted, Lafferty faces up to eight years in prison.  His initial appearance is next month.


Watertown Man Accused Of Shooting Minors


9/14/16 – A Watertown man is accused of shooting multiple people with an air soft gun.  Scott Uselman is facing two felony counts of Physically Abusing a Child for allegedly hitting multiple minors with pellets during a July incident at a Watertown park.  If he is convicted, the 17-year-old faces up to 12 years in prison.  Uselman’s initial appearance is September 26.


Skimming Hitting Wisconsin Gas Stations


9/14/16 – The practice of “skimming” has hit Wisconsin. The state’s Consumer Protection agency says it’s aware of skimmers at gas stations throughout the Badger State using either false card readers that slip over the real ones, or cables that steal data before it gets to the main circuits of gas pumps. Officials say you can check for a fake card reader by gently wiggling the reader that’s on the pump, and see if any security seals were broken. However, state consumer official Frank Frasetto says most people will have no idea they used altered devices until they see their credit card bills. He says it’s another reason people should pay close attention to their monthly statements and get regular credit reports.


Groundwork Laid For Business Access During Columbus Work


9/14/16 – Merchants and business leaders in Columbus continue to prepare for next year’s James Street construction in the center of the city. The Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Corporation, and the Columbus Public Library are all working with local business volunteers to help people find their way during the construction. In an effort to keep a flow of customers into the city while a major east/west route is closed, the groups are working to make it easier for customers to visit. The Columbus Economic Development Office is working on a website for distributing public information. A communications committee is working on getting an email list and block captains together to help keep the public up-to-date on project progress. And a committee designated for “alternate routes” is working on maps and signage to aide customers on their way to find a way to downtown Columbus businesses.


UW Madison Named Top Ten In Public Universities


9/14/16 – U-W Madison has made the national Top Ten among public universities. That’s according to the annual rankings from U-S News and World Report released Tuesday. Wisconsin’s flagship campus is tenth among nationally regarded public institutions, up one spot from last year. The state’s ranking among all national schools is tied for 44th, down from a tie for 41st one year ago. U-S News also rated both public and private schools in one set of Midwest regional rankings. The Milwaukee School of Engineering is eleventh in that group with U-W La Crosse 31st, Eau Claire 37th, Stevens Point and Whitewater 49th, and Carroll and Concordia-Wisconsin 56th.


Evers To Deliver State Of Education Thursday


9/14/16 – Wisconsin schools Superintendent Tony Evers is set to deliver his annual State of Education speech Thursday in Madison. Following the speech, Evers plans to present a number of awards, including recognizing Sarah Breckley of Reedsburg Area High School, Pamela Gresser of Rothschild Elementary School, Chris Gleason of Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie and Barbara VanDoorn of Lake Holcombe School as 2016-17 teachers of the year.