Capstone Project

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Jefferson County Board of Supervisors Overrules Zoning

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors overruled a zoning petition at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The area of land that is under consideration is a plot of 3.2 of 40 acres owned by Philip and Sandra Bittorf of Lake Mills.

This land- that is being rezoned from A-1 Exclusive Agricultural to A-2 Agricultural and Rural Business- is home to the Bittorf’s small business, Mid-State Traffic Control.  The business is located on Stoney Creek Road, and provides many items for roadways- such as traffic signs, barricades, and traffic cones.

The zoning change would mean the Bittorf’s would have to relocate Mid-State Traffic Control to a new area.  The location currently has existing sheds used for the business that occupy the land that is up for rezoning.  The Bittorf’s are not requesting to add any new buildings at this time; however, they are looking to keep these storage components as part of their functioning business.

Thirteen neighbors and community members were present at the meeting to show support for the family’s business, and included Hope Oostdik, Karen Battist, Ellen Rust, Caryn Hansen, Elaine Schallmayer, Erik Halverson, Jean Lenz, Roselyn Bittorf, Aaron Bittorf, Carol Eck, Brandon Wilke and Terry Adams.

Karen Battist, who has lived on Stoney Creek Road for more than 50 years, mentioned, “How can a few people come in and change rules and cause trouble?”

Other arguments for the Bittorf’s included former employees who spoke about the business’ close attention to safety, and neighbors who talked about the longevity of the business.

The opposing side to the Bittorf’s business in this zone included a few families from the area and the families’ attorney.  The spokesman for these families, John Phillips, noted that this was not a personal motive to attempt to rezone the land, but his large concern was for their children’s safety.

“I don’t believe there’s enough space to ensure the safety of my family,” he said.

The board of supervisors overturned the ordinance in a vote of 3-24, which will send the ordinance back to committee for further discussion.  Planning and Zoning Committee Chairman, Steven Nass, said that the overturn of the plan was going to be difficult to discuss a second time, considering the changing nature of the information.

Additionally, the meeting also focused on the first graduate of the Alcohol Treatment Court, Henry Gibbemeyer.  Gibbemeyer, who was charged with his 5th OWI, spoke about the importance of the four-step program.

“This program is fair, but a very firm one…since I’ve graduated, I still attend AA meetings,” he said.

In order to avoid a prison term, Gibbemeyer successfully appeared routinely in front of judge, underwent alcohol and drug testing, and attended a minimum number of self-help groups each week.

United Way of Jefferson County also spoke to the committee about new ways to get connected with volunteers.  One way the organization is networking with volunteers in the community is through an online database, which matches community members to potential volunteer opportunities.  For more information, please visit


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Whitewater Common Council Reviews Annual Budget

citylogosmallPublic safety and the Whitewater Aquatic Center were at the top of the agenda at the Whitewater Common Council meeting.

The council, which gathers at the Whitewater Municipal Building, met Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the annual budget.

The proposed budget is more than $9.7 million- a 3.12% increase from the previous budget cycle.  This revenue is expected to be generated from intergovernmental revenue, property tax levy, and public charges.

Highlighted budget changes, among others, include additional toters for recycling, local, state and federal elections, and the 27th payroll.  This extra payroll cycle that will take place at the end of the year is expected to be an extra $160,000 for compensation of city employees; which will be taken out of the city’s reserved fund.

Another change to the budget is coming from the Fire Department’s operational costs.  Currently, the Whitewater fire department is ranked as the cheapest in the state, according to City Manager, Cameron Clapper.  The proposed budget will increase operational spending by $94,000.

Clapper, said, “We need to look at ways to fund things, which is always a big issue every year since costs go up and levies stay the same,” he said.

Seeing that public safety is the city’s largest expenditure at $4,058,000 annually, the council is taking different approaches to evaluate costs.

“We are bumping up against a ceiling that will require changes to how we fund things if we want to be successful in the future,” said Clapper.

Additionally, capital funding for the Whitewater Aquatic Center plays a large part in the city’s budget. The Whitewater Aquatic Center is currently 15 years old, and Clapper says the city needs to maintain a vision for the future.

“The facility is 15 years old, we need to plan for capital expenditures that will occur within the next 15 years,” he said.

The Whitewater Aquatic Center board, city and school district jointly operate the Whitewater Aquatic Center; which features a family pool, 25-meter lap pool, locker rooms, and water slide. The agreement, which includes funding of $78,000 by the city and fund matching by the school district, is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016. However, the city is looking to modify this agreement. The proposed framework includes working directly with the Parks and Recreation Committee to alleviate some of the duties that have been given in previous years. The Parks and Recreation manager will also play a key role in being a liaison to the Whitewater Aquatic Center manager and the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Other topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting also include a water supply update, which noted that fluoride levels were higher in August when a sample was taken, and should have been reevaluated in September when the fluoride levels were more consistent. Storm water rate increase, water utility rate increase, and wastewater facility improvements were also mentioned as topics to look forward to in the near future.

The council is expected to meet on three consecutive Tuesdays starting Oct. 28 to Nov. 3 to further discuss the budget and its contents, and will conclude with a public hearing for budget approval on Nov.17.

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UW-Whitewater College Democrats hold Debate Party

democratic_debate_2016_ap_ftr1-1440x756-e1444925497957The UW-Whitewater College Democrats were in high spirits at their on-campus debate party on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.

The first Democratic Party debate of the 2016 election cycle was aired on CNN, and took place at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the five candidates stood behind podiums speaking on an array of political issues, students of UW-Whitewater congregated in Hyland Hall to take part in the debate as well.

Among the group of nearly 40 students in attendance was UW-Whitewater College Democrats Chair, Tim Hankes.  Hankes has previously made his approval of President Obama known in “The Royal Purple,” saying, “Obama wants to invest in more clean energy, increase the minimum wage and even mentioned sending someone to Mars.” During the debate party, Hankes affirmed his support for the president. “I think that’s what being a Democrat is all about- caring for people other than yourself.”

The debate featured the five democratic candidates pursuing the presidency: former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, U.S Senator, Bernie Sanders, former Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, former U.S. Senator, Jim Webb and former Governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chaffee.

Clinton led the polls prior to the debate, with ideals focused on raising middle-class incomes and protecting womens’ rights.

Sanders, from Vermont, has served his term since 2007, and has gained a lot of attention- especially from college students- for his plans to acquire free education for U.S citizens.

UW-Whitewater College Democrats Finance Director, Mike O’Connell, said, “Bernie Sanders is about free education for college students.  He hasn’t fully laid out his plan, but I know Hillary along with the other candidates hasn’t come up with anything close to that.”

Although O’Malley, Webb, and Chaffee are also in the running to become the next president, the spotlight remained mostly on Clinton and Sanders for the majority of the evening.

Anderson Cooper addressed Clinton for her scandal in using private email servers to conduct government business.  The room of students at Whitewater reacted with cheering and applause when Sanders replied to the issue by saying, “Let me say something that may not be great politics, but the secretary is right. The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”

The audience in attendance at the debate also cheered loudly, and gave a standing ovation after the two candidates exchanged smiles and a warm-hearted handshake.

It is possible that Vice-President Biden may also announce his run for the presidency in the coming weeks.  Prior to occupying the Vice-Presidential seat in 2008, Biden spent 36 years as a U.S. Senator from Delaware.

“I love Joe Biden, personally,” said Hankes.  “I think it would be cool to have someone in there [presidential seat] who directly represents the Obama administration because I think Obama did a really great job as president.”

The next democratic debate is slated to take place Saturday, Nov. 14 and will be aired on CBS at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Facebook Engagement for Newsrooms

I read an article this week about keeping Facebook engagement that was  very detailed in regards to different strategies that newsrooms use.

This was one of my favorite analogies they used in the article and it really helped me grasp the mindset a business needs to have when they market themselves in social media.

imageGo along with this for a moment: Imagine you are at a party.  If someone is constantly talking about themselves, no one would really want to talk with them.  If they are asking others about themselves, being entertaining, and can provide others with insightful information, they will be someone who’s presence is enjoyed.

This instance is so true- if businesses are constantly talking about themselves, it won’t be much fun to follow them on social media platforms.

The article also vouched for what we have been taught in class- posting videos and photos on Facebook.  According to the article, the algorithm favorites status updates with links, because this will automatically link a picture from the site to the update. The article also mentioned that standalone photos to strike up a conversation work very well, too.

At my internship this summer in the Milwaukee area, I am the social media coordinator for a community real estate company.  I will be taking control of their Facebook, blog and website.  I have learned so much in this class this semester, and can’t wait to put forth all of the tools that I’ve gained through out lessons, and through articles like these that I’ve been able to share.

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A picture is worth a thousand words


As journalists in this day and age, an expectation of most jobs is to be able to one-man-band- being able to shoot, edit, write, blog and post to social media.

During my internship last summer, I’ve found that just being at the scene builds credibility on its own.  This can be done by shooting a standup, or posting photos.  While at the scene, however, it’s not likely that you will ever see a digital camera being used by a sports journalist anymore, unless they are specifically a photojournalist- they all use their phone.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.01.37 AMIn this article, I read about a man who has completely switched his professional career as a photographer by strictly using an iphone to take photos.  Since we are constantly posting to Twitter, blogs, and Facebook to retain credibility, I thought this was very relevant to our topic of social media this week.

Julian Calverly says that social media has been a key role in helping him switch from DSLR camera’s to his iphone.  He also mentioned that Instagram, which I mentioned in my last post, is his favorite app to use when sharing his photos.

An important key topic that I took from this article is the app, Snapseed, that Calverly uses to edit his photos.  Check out this video here to see how it works.

The app allows for professional editing, so next time you are on the go and posting to social media, be sure to run it through the app to retain a large image size.

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Multimedia Tools

The world of technology is continuously evolving, and this week I had the chance to read an interesting article this week that gave some pretty helpful techy-tips for journalists.  Many of them are useful apps that one can use while shooting in the field. Here’s the main points that I picked up from the article:

1. Instagram


Instagram is a great way to keep up with friends’ posts, but it also a great tool for journalists.  The article described Instagram as being useful when hashtags are involved.  Try incorporating hashtags such as: #tvnews , #tvphotog and #tvreporter in your next post.


2. Dropbox


Dropbox is another app, and is an excellent way to transport files of all kinds online.  It’s quick and efficient, and stores all of the files online so they are easily accessible.  Perhaps its best perk is that once you place it in the dropbox, it starts uploading automatically, which allows you to keep working and shooting media.

3. RadarScope


RadarScope is an app that I personally haven’t heard of until reading the article by “Advancing the Story”, but it seems very intriguing if you are interested in following weather and a hi-def doppler radar.  The post noted that this app does cost money, but is extremely reliable in cases of nasty weather.


4. Twitter

twitter_logoTwitter has been at the forefront of multimedia tools for journalists for quite some time, but I really wanted to just help narrow down the use for Twitter from what I learned from the article.  The post described Twitter’s use as a platform that works well for “BREAKING” or “HAPPENING NOW” news.  Tony Russell, the TV reporter who is interviewed in the article, says he doesn’t ask questions on Twitter or post old stories- it’s strictly for breaking news to an audience.

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The cost of being a public figure

It’s really too easy to judge someone based on a first impression.  How incredibly unfortunate if that first impression includes vulgarity or bad behavior, especially if you’re Britt McHenry this week.


McHenry, a reporter for ESPN, was in the news this week for behavior she displayed towards a parking garage employee.  Take a look at this article to see the video and more information on the incident.

Im not here to judge McHenry.  Nor, is it in my place to rule her out as a “good person.” Everyone makes mistakes, and no one is perfect.  But at the same time, she is a public figure, and that alone is what this blog post is about.

Being in the public eye certainly has its advantages, but the disadvantages are also dished out as well.  The role of a public figure requires being “on” as soon as you leave your house in the morning, until you get back in the evening.  Many people have taken to social media to unleash their hatred for McHenry,  a woman they don’t even know personally, and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be her at this moment.

In the same regard, McHenry is a journalist for the nationally accredited news organization, ESPN.  She knows she’s a public figure, and she should have known better.  As I mentioned above, however, no one is perfect.  Therefore, I agree with ESPN’s punishment of a week suspension.

Regardless of your stance on this issue, I think it’s a big wake-up call to all public figures and anyone working in the journalism industry- know your morals, think before you speak, and most importantly, consider the consequences before you render your actions.

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I’m a Fan.

I came across a short-but-sweet article this week regarding employment with Gannett.

In the article, the writer talked about a job posting that only has one requirement: “Five years experience developing a personal brand and fan base.”

I thought this was pretty interesting, considering all of the training and experience I’ve had to go through- just in my 3 years of schooling so far.  It goes without saying that people with a ton of followers are going to make the most impact via social media- positively or negatively will be affected by how and what they post.

I did a quick Google search for “fan base” hoping I would find a graphic of a Twitter screenshot or Facebook profile.  Instead, I got this.

Talk to your fan base, they're rooting for you.

Talk to your fan base, they’re rooting for you.












Corny, I know, but how relevant.  If we think of it this way, a “celebrity”(in this case, someone with more followers than an average person) broadcasts out to their “fan base”, who broadcasts to their fan base, to their fan base, to their fan base…you see where I’m going with this.

I think this requirement from Gannett might seem a little blunt at first glance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more news organizations started asking for something along these lines in the future.  News directors want their messages heard, and with this handy-dandy way of getting their news across more efficiently, they’ll be able to do just that.

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The Drone…the Future of Journalism?

This week I had the opportunity to read an article about the five best drones that have been made to date.  Of course, we have heard about drones in regards to recreational use and Amazon Prime shipping methods, but I’d like to talk a little bit about the opportunity for drone use in the journalism industry.

A drone fiies at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A drone fiies at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

First of all, if you are unfamiliar with what a “drone” is, it’s described as “any remote control flier that can carry an HD camera for miles at a time.”

I attended a conference last year where a reporter presented a news package about a police department who bought a drone to help them investigate crimes.  One officer was in charge of the drone, and he could simply fly the drone around the scene at a far altitude to get a full view of everything, or zoom in for particular access.  It seemed very interesting and innovative knowing that this police department would now have 365 access to a crime at the touch of a button.

This makes me think that something similar could be possible for news packages in general in the journalism industry.  I don’t think it’s something that will happen in the near future, but I definitely think it’s a possibility that news stations could use these handy gadgets for capturing video.  We usually don’t see aerial views in news packages, but I think this would make for a great tool if a journalist was able to completely maneuver the camera around in order to get side-by-side shots and close up angles.  Imagine the b-roll possibilities!

Take a look at this article from Drone Journalism Lab.  They bring up a great point of using drones for coverage of natural disasters.  I couldn’t agree more that with ease of access to coverage with this technology, that drones will be the “up-and-coming” thing for journalists in the near future.

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