City Manager Clapper reveals 2015 budget

City Manager Cameron Clapper revealed Whitewater’s 2015 budget Tuesday night, a tax increase less than one percent from last year.

The city is expected to take in $9,472, 401 in 2015. This is a 0.98 percent increase from 2014’s $9,378,041. The three largest areas where the money will go are general government, public safety, and debt service and sinking funds.

Concerning general government, health insurance premiums were increased and there was an increase in the number of positions. Sixty-two Whitewater employees take advantage of the City’s health insurance program. The overall increase is expected to be $87,688 in additional costs for 2015.

Also under general government is the change in contingencies. $94,000 was allocated to Contingencies in order to meet the one percent minimum of the total annual budget. An additional $87,000 was allocated in anticipation to wage increases, pending the completion of the classification and compensation study underway. The study is expected to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015.

The two main areas the proposed budget will pull its revenue from are intergovernmental revenue and the property tax levy.

The property tax levy for 2015 is $2,499,974, an increase of $26,066 from 2014. Combined with a debt service tax levy of $571,760, the total tax levy is expected to be $3.07 million. The budget will see an increase of 1.80 percent from last year.

A new source of revenue, the UW-W Dispatch Payment, will provide an additional amount of $169,000. In 2014, the council approved the purchase of a new records management system for the police department. The department staff is now in the process of purchasing a system that will be compatible with systems currently used by UW-Whitewater and Walworth County. The compatibility will allow the City to sync data with Walworth County and UW-W. This reduces the duplication of law enforcement efforts in all three organizations. The amount of $169,000 is roughly 33 percent of the operation costs. The University will pay this to the City.

The council will begin reviewing department-specific budgets starting Tuesday, October 21. If approved, the budget will be implemented at the November 18 meeting.

In addition to learning about the new budget, the council also heard from school district representatives Eric Runez and Nathan Jaeger concerning the referendum for the Whitewater district. The referendum will cost $1.2 million per year for four years. This will provide protection for student support services, new technology, maintenance and more stable classroom sizes. A concern regarding the deficit is a “one step forward, two steps back” situation according to Runez. They have fewer pupil costs, but that’s due to a decline in enrollment. Sixty percent of Wisconsin districts are experiencing declining enrollment. Citizens will vote on the referendum on November 4.

In other action, the council heard from Police Chief Lisa Otterbacher and Officer Jim Elder regarding the new police cadet program. Otterbacher said the program has been added to their “goals list”. Elder was introduced as an officer who volunteered to build the program from scratch. The program has already received 26 applicants, but Elder said they’re looking for 12. These cadets will assist in traffic control, at police events and even with organized searches for non-violent people. Students must be enrolled in a criminal justice program, either at UW-W or nearby technical colleges. They must also have a 2.5 GPA, be 18-years-old and have no criminal record. Those selected will have a great opportunity to leave an impression with the department so when positions open up, they have the potential to be selected for hire.

My Journey as a Writer

It’s the last week of my summer class. It’s been an interesting three weeks to say the least. I think that as a writer I’ve gained some insight at the process of freelance writing as well as the variety of publications out there. It’s also taught me how to balance deadlines with other commitments.

After this class I think I want to practice more writing, both in class and out of it. I also want to continue working at my internship and board operator job. The last three weeks reminded me how much I love writing, but I still want to continue trying all of the opportunities out there for me.

I still need to work on tailoring my writing for certain requirements. I also need to gain some comfortability with more formal pieces. I still feel like I have some awkward transitions within the pieces themselves.

The new assignments were fun as well as the challenge they presented. I think I liked the how-to piece I wrote the most. It gave me the chance to insert my voice into my writing, but at the same time, I was trying something fresh and new. The tough part, as mentioned, was balancing my work with two jobs and other obligations. I also don’t like that online classes take away the ability for me to get feedback right away before I submit a final draft of a paper.

Despite challenges and obstacles, the class will be over soon, and I still feel that I learned a lot and it was a positive experience. I’m looking forward to having more spare time again. Mostly, I’m excited to graduate this fall and hopefully start my new career!

Until we meet again.

Entringer, out.

Writer’s Block

I used to think writer’s block was just something in the movies, but now I know it’s the real deal. I mean, sure, I’ve gotten stuck writing in the past, but it usually passes if I walk away for a while and come back to the writing.

I’m struggling to narrow my angle for our third project, a seasonal feature. I want to write about camping, but I have no clue what about camping it is I want to write about. It’s frustrating because I want to just sleep on it and come back like I usually do, but I know I don’t have the same amount of time to do so. That’s one bad thing about online summer classes-so little time to prepare and think about your assignments before they are due.

Honestly, I haven’t figured out how to cope with this yet. It definitely helps that I’m staying ahead of my work so if I run into problems, I have time to deal with them without fear of missing a deadline. I have no clue how professionals deal with this on a regular basis. I’m freaking out, and I only have to do this for 15 days! I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when I do it on a permanent basis. I guess that’s what school is supposed to do though-prepare you for the real world.

I’m getting excited for the review I’m doing already, and my last two features came to me pretty easily. I got into my profile and my how-to, mostly because they interested me personally. I think that if I can find an angle that interests me that same way for my seasonal feature then I might do alright on it. My goal is to just do the best I can to get over my writer’s block and come up with a great idea.

The Journalist at Work

Hello again, folks. It’s been a whole three or four hours. It’s day one of my summer class, and I’m already finding out that I’m going to need to work hard every day if I want to get all of my assignments in on time and succeed. As of now, I’d like to stay two days ahead at least just to cover my bases in case something comes up. I know I’ll be gone Friday so I need to work ahead this week.

I guess I’m a little nervous. I’m not quite sure who I should interview for my first feature or what it’s really going to be about. I’m trying to work on some ideas, but I’m worried that I’m going to run out of time before I need to turn it in. One challenge with this class is going to be that I already have two jobs this summer. I asked to only work two nights a week at one of them, but I still feel a little stressed. The last month I’ve been balancing my two jobs, my friends, my family and my boyfriend. Now I’ll have another thing pressing on my mind for the next 15 days, plus I also just got a new kitten.

I hope that as I make my way through the syllabus I get a better feel for what I’ll need to accomplish. Maybe then I can figure out the type of features I’ll be writing, and then I can plan my interviews out ahead of time. Right now my problem is figuring out exactly what this profile needs to cover. Once I solve that issue, maybe I’ll get a better idea of who I want to interview for it. At the moment I think I should talk to my neighbor who has a pretty rare and scary illness that she’s been battling.

Tomorrow I work in the morning, and then I have plans with friends so I probably won’t get much time to work on my pre-write, but Wednesday morning I have a lot of time.

Until then, friends.

Entringer, out.

Who am I?

Hello to anyone out there. You’ve wandered onto the blog of a journalism student and amateur writer. Maybe you’ve visited my blog in the past and looked at some of my musings on different articles that pertain to journalists, maybe you’ve never heard of me before. Either way, it’s fine. This is the start of something new. My fresh posts will most likely not be as humorous as prior ones. That’s OK, I’m sure we will survive somehow.

My name is Alyssa Entringer, and I’m a student at UW-Whitewater who’s pursuing a journalism degree. I’ll be graduating in December of this upcoming fall semester, which means I’ve been putting a lot more thought into my future plans than in previous years. Honestly, I’m not sure where I want to end up. I currently work for Midwest Communications in the Sheboygan location as a board operator and as an intern at a station in Fond du Lac. I love the idea of working in radio, but I love writing too. My ideal plan includes dabbling in radio while writing for a local paper. I’d prefer to write human-interest stories, but if I have to do other things while I’m earning my dues, that’s OK too. I’d also like to remain fairly close to my hometown in Fond du Lac, WI.

Before I decided to enter the College of Arts and Communication at UW-W, I was actually going into education. When that changed I thought, “Well, you love writing, so why not give this a shot?” Originally, I loved the idea of being a novelist and writing for papers until I could finish a novel and get it published. That’s when I had a radio practicum class and decided that maybe radio was for me. Three and a half years later, here I am.

I hope that you enjoy my future posts and my journey as a journalist.

Entringer, out.

Journalists might want to avoid these 10 countries

Mashable published an article ranking the 10 countries with the most journalist deaths since 2004. These countries are typically the worn-torn ones, where journalism is the most dangerous career to seek.

The data found shows that Iraq is the most dangerous, but in past years, the situation has improved greatly. In March, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced that Syria is actually the most dangerous country now after a recent uprising. The CPJ keeps track of obstructions to press freedom on a global scale. This includes fatalities in the media.

The chart was compiled using data from the CPJ. It includes deaths with “unclear motives”.

-picture courtesy of Mashable

-picture courtesy of Mashable

May 3 marked World Press Freedom Day, an annual remembrance of journalists who lost their lives while doing their jobs, as well as a celebration of press freedom’s importance. An international conference around this year’s theme, “Media Freedom for a Better Future,” will be held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on May 5 and 6.

I think that this chart represents a fact that’s important, but still pretty frightening. I think most of us aren’t naive enough to think journalism is a cookie-cutter job. It comes with risks-one of them being threats on our lives. I also believe this means we’re doing it right. If people want us dead, obviously we’re tracking down stories that expose big, important issues. The great thing about being a writer is knowing you have a voice and you use that voice to help those who need it most or can’t speak for themselves.

Programming and Code: Why you shouldn’t start crying just yet

Lifehacker featured an article that spoke to me instantly. I was forced to immediately recall the week we had to deal with code (inward cringe). I know I’m not alone in saying that week was hell for me. I’m surprised I’m not bald. I do remember Kyle saying that knowing code is an asset, even though journalists might not necessarily have to know it.

This article said that there is a “good code” that programmers aspire to write. Programmer Peter Welch described it as “concise”, never doing anything “obviously stupid”. Lifehacker said, in return, that this “perfect, little snowflake” is impossible to create and typically, code ends up as a mash of multiple people’s work.

-photo courtesy of Lifehacker

-photo courtesy of Lifehacker

Welch said, “Every programmer starts out writing some perfect little snowflake like this. Then they’re told on Friday they need to have six hundred snowflakes written by Tuesday, so they cheat a bit here and there and maybe copy a few snowflakes and try to stick them together or they have to ask a coworker to work on one who melts it and then all the programmers’ snowflakes get dumped together in some inscrutable shape and somebody leans a Picasso on it because nobody wants to see the cat urine soaking into all your broken snowflakes melting in the light of day. Next week, everybody shovels more snow on it to keep the Picasso from falling over.”

Wow, I need a breath after reading that doozy. Basically, Welch says that everyone longs to write perfect code, but after pressures and standards get put on them, they end up doing the best they can before their code is shoved together with someone else’s flawed work. Lifehacker said that the benefit to everyone writing such bad code is that when one is learning how to code, they don’t have to feel bad if they suck.

I feel so much better about my struggles with coding now. That week I paced, I yelled, I laughed nervously, hell, I might’ve even cried. I felt like the dumbest person in the world, but this article made me think that that must be how dozens of journalists view coding. I am not alone! In the future I hope I grasp coding better, but for now, I’m just happy I’m not the only confused one.

 

Newspapers: Too ugly for TV? Come work for us!

JIMROMENESKO.COM published a short blurb recently about Springfield News-Leader’s new advertisement. It features their news team with a the line “Just another pretty face?” and says their team might not be pretty enough for the 6 o’clock news, but they’ve got a “nose for news and a heart for Springfield”. When asked if the team knew what they were posing for, executive editor David Stoeffler said several people laughed, and they knew they were posing for a fun, new promotional ad.

-photo courtesy of JIMROMENESKO.COM

-photo courtesy of JIMROMENESKO.COM

It wasn’t the story that drew me in this time (since it’s so short), but the comments. One in particular was interesting, especially given that we just talked about comments last week in our discussion.

Logan Anderson, a frequent commenter, said that he dislikes that his profession is portrayed as a group of “slovenly slobs”. I think that Anderson is a little over the top with this comment, but has a logical reason behind his opinion.

Dressing professionally is important, and if Anderson is referencing the picture to the left, which was used in the ad, I see where his reasoning might be coming from. The reality of the situation now is that if you’re behind the scenes of journalism (think newspapers and radio), attire is becoming more and more casual. At both my radio job and my internship, we aren’t required to dress a certain way. Sometimes when I work the phones I need to wear business casual, but usually jeans and a tshirt work fine for them. I think a precedent has been set. Students my age probably spend roughly 85% of their life in jeans. For journalists, jeans and a nice shirt are now acceptable attire at most news outlets.

My opinion is that this comment strayed from the point of the ad. What originally interested me about this short article was the idea that you don’t necessarily have to have Hollywood- good looks to work in news. You need to have an eye for important stories and do your job correctly. These topics still go together because it’s crucial to maintain a look of professionalism. Even if you don’t need to be beautiful to go out and find news, you want to look respectable when you need to interview sources or represent your news outlet.

Rapping and writing: Working hand in hand

Poynter recently published a short article about newspapers and their mention in rap songs. Author Jeremy Barr makes a comparison that rappers are like writers in that they write in first-person narrative. They also tell stories about people they’ve met or places they’ve visited as well as how these events changed them.

-photo courtesy of Google

-photo courtesy of Google

Barr also said that being featured in the newspaper, while the business is slowly declining, is still a sign that one has “made it”. Newspapers influence how cultures and people are viewed. They are “a totem of success”.

Even though this was a short article, for me, it hit on something many of us have to consider when thinking about our futures. We all know the print business isn’t what it used to be, but there’s still something that makes newspapers iconic and classic. The number of mentions newspapers get in rap music support that.

Also, this idea that rappers are like writers made sense to me. Good journalists find a way to unite people in the most dire circumstances. Rappers unite different people through the lyrics that describe what they’ve been through. Both are considered skilled if their words strike a chord with their audiences.