“News – September 23, 2009”

Much Needed Rain Hits Area


9/23/09 – Fall officially arrived yesterday.  And in Madison, and other parts of southern Wisconsin, a lot more than leaves tumbled to the ground.  Wisconsin’s capital had three-and-two-thirds inches of rain – the wettest September day ever, breaking the old mark of three-point-four inches in 1874.  Madison street crews got soaked while unclogging sewer drains during the big downpour.  But it didn’t prevent streets and intersections from being flooded.  The wastewater treatment plant in Beaver Dam is reporting we got 3.07-inches of rain on Tuesday after getting more than an inch on Sunday.  And after the rain moved out, heavy fog moved in. Totals of three-inches were seen in other parts of Dane and Columbia Counties as well.  The National Weather Service says it will be dry for the next couple days, and there’s another chance of rain and thunderstorms statewide on Friday.


BDPFC Advances Budgets


9/23/09 – The Beaver Dam Police and Fire Commission approved budgets for both departments last night.  If approved by the council, the Police Department’s $2.5 million dollar budget would represent an increase of 3% over last year.  The department is hoping to make some minor equipment purchases next year, like a video camera for the K-9 vehicle and four new light bars for squad cars.  Chief Dale Boldt also included a letter with his budget requesting city officials set aside $5 million for the construction of a new police station. There is uncertainty with some of the numbers in the Fire Department’s proposed $1.8 million budget for 2010.  Chief Alan Mannel says the numbers provided to him by administration for fringes and benefits were substantially higher than previous years and, if accurate, would represent an 11% increase over 2009. He will be sitting down with the Finance Director this week in hopes of identifying any possible errors. Mannel says his proposed budget should really about be 5% higher than last year. While that is still above the requested 3% increase, Mannel says the extra money is needed to address important transportation and safety needs including the purchase of turn-out gear and new hoses. All city budgets will be submitted to the Finance Director by weeks end and will then be forwarded on the Administrative Committee for debate before heading to the council floor for approval in November.


Columbia Co. Announces Free H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccinations


9/23/09 – The Columbia County Health Department has announced that free swine flu vaccination clinics will be held at schools throughout the county as soon as the shots become available. The state Department’s of Public Instruction and Health Services are actively encouraging county health departments to offer school-based clinics. Columbia County Public Health Officer Susan Lorenz says vaccinating children at school can help meet the demand for convenient, timely vaccination of school-aged children while decreasing the burden on local health care providers who may be busy treating those infected with the virus or seasonal influenza. School-based clinics for children in grades 5K thru 12 will be held during the school day in Columbus, Fall River, Lodi, Pardeeville, Portage, Poynette, Randolph and Rio. In addition, they will be holding school-based clinics in parochial schools including Columbus Peterson Elementary, Columbus St. Jerome’s, Columbus Wisconsin Academy, Columbus Zion Lutheran, Randolph Christian, and Pardeeville St. John’s.  Lorenz says the health department will be contacting parents and sending them information about the vaccine, the disease, and the vaccination clinic.  They will also be requesting that parents either provide or decline consent for the vaccine.  There will be no cost for children to receive the H1N1 vaccine.


Meanwhile Dodge County, Public Health Officer Jody Langfeldt says she will be contacting schools in the next week to determine if they would be interested in hosting a free swine flu clinic for students.  Langfeldt says some school officials have already indicated that they would be receptive to hosting clinics but expressed reservations about doing it during school hours.  The vaccines are expected to be available around mid-October but Langfeldt says it may be the end of next month before the first clinics are held.


Horicon Awards Bids on Three Projects


9/23/09 – More than a million-dollars in bids were approved by the Horicon City Council to build a new well on property recently purchased near the high school.  The city needed to approve the bids prior to October 1st so they can be eligible to receive possible grant funding for the projects.  The council also awarded two other bids.  The first is for about $547,000 for the complete reconstruction of Maple Street and other second was for $451,000 to relocate the Rice Street Lift Station.  Clerk Treasurer Dave Pasewald says both of those projects are contingent upon the city gaining funding.


School Board in Horicon Holds Budget Hearing


9/23/09 – The Horicon School Board held their annual budget hearing Monday night.  Superintendent Gary Berger says the $11.1 million dollar document has a current deficit of $42,600. Administrators and the school board have been working since last year to trim the budget by about $700,000.  A failed referendum in April led to deep cuts in equipment, supplies and staffing.  Berger attributes the most recent shortfall to a decrease in state aid. The mill rate is projected to increase 55 cents to $9.58 per $1000 of assessed value. The final calculations will be made in mid-October at which time the school board will consider the final budget.  Berger says at that time they hope to have the budget balanced.


BDUSD Hires Company to Perform Facilities Maintenance Study


9/23/09 – The school board in Beaver Dam has approved hiring a company to perform a facilities maintenance study on the districts buildings.  Superintendent Don Childs says Siemens Building Technology will come in and determine what needs to be done and then give the district a preliminary idea of what it may cost to fix it as well as a potential timeline.  Siemens is doing the work free of charge with the idea that if the district goes through with the work they will use their services.


WI has 9th Highest Property Taxes


9/23/09 – The Tax Foundation says Wisconsin has the nation’s ninth-highest property taxes.  The group quotes Census figures in listing Wisconsin’s median property tax at 29-hundred-63 dollars last year.  That’s almost 11-hundred-dollars more than the national average.  But it’s still less than half of the country’s highest median property tax – 63-hundred-dollars paid in New Jersey.  The Tax Foundation also says Wisconsin pays the fourth-highest property tax as a percentage of a home’s value.  The average Wisconsin tax is one-point-seven-one-percent of what a house is worth.  Texas is the highest at one-point-seven-six.  The average is point-nine-six.


Judge to Rule on “Premise ID”


9/23/09 – A judge’s decision is expected Wednesday on whether a Wisconsin law requiring livestock owners to register their properties is constitutional.  Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsell will hear testimony.  One of the litigants is among dozens of Old Order Amish farmers around the state that refuse to comply with Premise ID, saying it is the first step toward the eventual tagging of all animals – or the biblical “Mark of the Beast.”  This is believed to be the first “test case” on mandatory premise ID in the state, if not the country.  Clark County has dozens of farms that are reportedly not in compliance with the rule.


DNR Considering Longer Deer Hunting Gun Season


9/23/09 – The state Natural Resources Board will decide today whether to consider a longer deer hunting season in Wisconsin.  D-N-R staff members are asking the board to take the first step, and hold eight public hearings next month on the question of extending the November gun deer season from nine days to 16.  It now starts on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and the new proposal would have it starting a week earlier beginning in 2010.  The longer gun season is one option for controlling the state’s deer herd.  That’s after the board scrapped the controversial Earn-a-Buck program – in which hunters were required to shoot does before they could take trophy bucks.


Ellis Back in Court Today


9/23/09 – Alleged Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis is due back in court today.  A judge is expected to decide if there’s enough to put the 49-year-old Ellis on trial on seven charges of murder and homicide.  Prosecutors said the unemployed laborer stabbed-and-strangled seven female prostitutes between 1986-and-2007.  Police said Ellis’s D-N-A was found on the seven women and two others.  Defense lawyer Russell Jones says Ellis is innocent – and he wants new tests to see if the D-N-A on the victims actually belongs to his client.


Corrections Officials to Discuss DNA Samples


9/23/09 – State justice and corrections’ officials are planning to meet later this week, to talk about the D-N-A samples from 12-thousand convicted felons which never made it to the state’s data-base.  Corrections’ secretary Rick Raemisch said his employees will personally deliver the samples they get to the State Crime Lab.  And they want confirmation when the samples are added to the data-bank.  Raemisch also said he was trying for days to meet with Attorney General J-B Van Hollen about the problem.  Van Hollen says staffers from both agencies have been talking ever since the lost D-N-A samples were first reported last week.  Since 2000, all convicted felons have been required to leave their D-N-A with the state so police can use them to check out leads for crimes.  Meanwhile, the corrections’ agency continues to get felons who are not jailed to submit their D-N-A.  Many are being ordered to do it at local sheriff’s departments.


Oshkosh Pastor Back from Iraq


9/23/09 – An Oshkosh pastor who’s back home from Iraq called his service a “painfully unique experience.”  The Reverend Tim Routh of Calvary Lutheran Church said he helped and counseled both American troops and the military detainees they held at Camp Bucca.  Routh spent 14 months in Iraq as a member of the Army Reserve’s 320th Military Police unit – the same one that took humiliating photos of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison a number of years ago.  But now, Routh said the unit embraced a more kind treatment – and it brought tremendous results.  He said they treated those in custody with dignity and respect, and he was surprised at the low rate of repeat offenders among the inmates they freed.  Routh said most of the troops and prisoners he encountered had huge emotional swings – and the extreme heat, the long hours, and the separation from home made things even more difficult.  Routh said it’s no joke what our troops are facing.  Routh has been  home for just over a month, but he said he spent time reflecting on his experiences before returning to his congregation last Sunday.


New Law Could Force Residents to Recycle Electronics


9/23/09 – It could soon be against the law to throw away computers, T-V’s, and other electronic devices.  The Wisconsin Assembly voted 57-to-37 yesterday to make those manufacturers arrange to recycle their old products.  They contain toxic chemicals, and the bill’s supporters say our groundwater would be protected by keeping them out of the trash.  Neighboring Minnesota has a similar law.  The Senate approved the bill earlier this year.  But the Assembly has some changes which senators will have to ratify before the measure goes to the governor.  Also, the Assembly voted 89-to-5 to ban the sale of products with mercury added – including thermostats – and there would be some exceptions.


Jewel Stalker on a Mission from God


9/23/09 – A Wisconsin man accused of stalking country singer Jewel claimed to be on a mission from God.  That’s what Texas authorities said yesterday about 50-year-old Michael Kozelka of Townsend in Oconto County.  He’s charged with felony stalking after he allegedly made two visits in two days to a ranch near Stephenville Texas owned by Jewel’s husband, rodeo champion Ty Murray.  Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Kozelka was found on the ranch September 14th and was told not to return.  But the next day, Bryant said the man was seen at the ranch’s main house with a dog.  He was said to be carrying a pocket knife, but he was calm and did not resist arrest.   The sheriff did not say if Jewel or her husband were home at the time.  And Bryant would not divulge the comments Kozelka made about Jewel and her husband.  He’s in jail on a 30-thousand-dollar bond.  Jewel, her husband, and Kozelka’s attorney have not commented.  According to court records, a bank foreclosed on property Kozelka owned in Townsend last November, and it was sold last month.


Kindergarten Most Likely to Become Mandatory


9/23/09 – The Wisconsin Senate voted yesterday to make kids finish kindergarten before they can go to first grade.  It’s optional now.  But senators voted 17-to-15 to make it mandatory.  The bill now goes to Governor Jim Doyle, after the Assembly passed the same requirement last week.  All the yes votes came from Democrats.  Republicans all voted no.  The bill’s supporters say too many parents consider kindergarten to be like day care centers – and they’ll send their kids only when they feel like it, causing disruptions for both students and their teachers.  But the bill’s opponents asked why the Legislature should mandate good attendance for kindergarteners because their parents make poor choices.