Feb 12

Council discusses stormwater, zoning issues at recent meeting

Tensions were high at the Feb. 4 Whitewater Common Council meeting, as both community and council members demanded action be taken on multiple issues.

One of the biggest topics of discussion was stormwater management throughout the city. City studies of the current stormwater piping showed that the current systems are too small to maintain recent rainfalls. As a result, many Whitewater residents and business owners have experienced floods on their properties.

Two Whitewater residents addressed the council, expressing their frustration that the problem had not yet been fixed. Richard James of 224 N. Fremont St. in Whitewater said he first brought the flooding of his property to the attention of the city in 2008, and ever since he has gone back and forth with the city about getting the stormwater pipes fixed.

“Why hasn’t this, in five and a half years, been scoped to find out what the problem is, and fix it,” James said. “If nothing else, do something. At least tell the people what’s going on, because it just gets tiresome, it really does.”

City Manager Cameron Clapper addressed the issue, explaining that there have been events preventing the city from moving forward with fixing the stormwater pipes, one of which was the cold weather preventing the use of a camera in the piping to find the main sources of problems. While he assured the concerned residents the issue was being evaluated, Clapper admitted the process has been taking longer than it should.

“It is being addressed, albeit slowly, and shame on us, perhaps, for not getting to it a little bit faster,” Clapper said. “But it is being worked on and we’ll be letting you know in the near future.”

Chuck Nass, streets, parks and forestry superintendent, presented options to fix the stormwater systems throughout the city to the council.  One of the most affected areas is along Woodland Drive in the Buckingham Estates subdivision. Options to fix this area included replacing the current system with varying sizes of piping, allowing for less flooding. Other considerations were whether to have a new system that will last 10 or 100 years.

Nass presented these options and others to the Common Council, who decided to wait until the television of the pipes to make a final decision. For now, the current evaluations and options for fixing the piping are available on the City of Whitewater website, whitewater-wi.gov.

Another hot topic at the Feb. 4 meeting was zoning. The Common Council has been considering a city zoning rewrite since October 2011, and has been unable to hold a public meeting to discuss changes before making any decisions.

Council President Patrick Singer stated the process has been dragged out too long due to the complication of holding public meetings when everyone interested can attend. Alderman Stephanie Abbott agreed, and expressed her concerns to the council that no decisions have been made.

“We owe the public a better discourse than this,” Abbott said. “I think the fact that we haven’t had this public hearing yet is embarrassing, it’s a problem.”

The rewrite is being considered to allow more student housing in the city, due to the steady increase of enrollment at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The current suggested rewrite would allow for more than three unrelated people to live in a residence in an area near campus. This area includes structures on West Whitewater Avenue, Fourth Street, South Janesville Avenue, South Summit Street and West Center Street.

The council has tried to hold public hearings multiple times to discuss the zoning rewrite, but have been unable due to time conflicts from interested individuals. Abbott, who works for DLK Enterprises, the biggest rental property owner in the city, suggested having one joint meeting on Feb. 25 for all the bodies that would be affected by the zoning rewrite: business, industrial and residential.

“There are people waiting to make decisions in their own businesses, in their own lives,” Abbott said. “This can’t go on, we need to solve it. Frankly I think the 25th of February should be a hearing on the entire zoning code, and it should be put up to a vote after that.”

Abbott’s speech ended with applause from the audience.

Other councilmembers disagreed, stating a meeting discussing all three bodies would be too long. After discussing a few dates, the council decided to hold open meetings on Feb. 25 for commercial and industrial property owners and March 10 for residential owners.

Other topics brought up at the council meeting included Whitewater Chief of Police Lisa Otterbacher announcing the success of the K-9 unit fundraising. After a final donation of $12,000, the police department is able to purchase a Labrador retriever and the equipment needed to maintain the K-9 unit, including a special van and safety protection.

Otterbacher said the police department will still accept monetary contributions to sustain the K-9 program, which has been completely funded through donations.

Jan 30

Blogs, blogs and some more blogs!

Blogs are everywhere these days, you can’t avoid them. Especially if you’re reading this post right now.. in a blog. So, finding ones that interest you and that you trust can either be really easy or extremely difficult. For my first blog assignment in Journalism for the Web, I tried finding some new blogs that I found interesting and may continue reading in the future, but I ended up going to blogs I was already familiar with.

For the first one, I cheated. This blog is written by a fellow classmate and Royal Purple editor, Abbie Reetz. I started reading it over winter break and I absolutely love Abbie’s book reviews. She does a great job covering a range of genres. There are adult fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction; and there are also categories that tell how “epic” a book may or may not be. There is also a post that was created around the holidays with gift ideas, which is a great way to attract audiences and build a community.

My next blog I found when I was doing research for a history paper. I’m a huge Tudor fan, which is a monarchy that lasted only three generations between the 16th and 17th centuries. I’m sure many of you are familiar with King Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn (The Other Boleyn Girl staring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johanssen and Eric Bana). This blog consists of research on Anne Boleyn. It is updated quite often with book excerpts, evidence and random facts about the infamous Queen of a Thousand Days. It’s unique how this blog makes an extremely old topic seem new and relevant. The best feature about this blog is whenever there is a significant date in Anne Boleyn’s life, there will be a post about it on the anniversary of that day. It gives tons of free content, but there are some paid files. The author, Claire Ridgeway, offers unlimited feedback from readers and even giveaways and contests.

My final blog came to me as I was listening to “Film Scores” Pandora station, which I do often when doing homework. And of course, a Disney song came on, so I instantly searched for Disney blogs and found an awesome one. This unofficial blog is ran by fans of Disney who work for a fansite, not the Walt Disney Co. Because it’s not an official Disney website, it’s not all PR content, which makes it much more real and more fun to read. Again, this blog offers tons of user comments, and even offers ways to become a writer for the blog. There is a huge variety of topics, from classic to new movies, to Disney parks and future television shows. I particularly liked the post about the new Boy Meets World spinoff, Girl Meets World. I think that post is what really got me hooked!

Apr 30

State Senator Vinehout tours university

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout

Apr 16

Center for Global Education selects new director

Center for Global Education selescts new director

Apr 16

Students, parents question drinking policies

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is being questioned by both students and parents concerning their policies for underage drinking.

An alcohol violation is defined by the University as “the student was present while alcohol was being consumed underage or was in possession.” There are different consequences for each time an underage student is found with alcohol.

Punishment for first time violation of alcohol policy is as follows:

 Completion on we-based alcohol awareness course costing $35 for student
 Residence hall probation for one year.
 Parental notification
 Signing a statement of understanding of alcohol policy and future consequences

If students do not comply with any of the University’s policies for alcohol violations, they are sent to their complex director, who will give them further punishment.

A full list of consequences can be found at the Residence Life website.

Each violation has further consequences. If a student gets four alcohol violations in a year, they will be suspended from the University for up to two years.

One thing does remain the same with each violation. Parents are always notified.

“I don’t understand why our parents should be notified if we’re adults,” said UW – Whitewater junior Alex Johnson. Johnson has had two alcohol violations in one year and his parents were notified both times.

Johnson’s mother believes if she is supporting her son financially, she has the right to know what happens at the University.

Students are not immediately in violation if they are found in a room with alcohol. They first have a conduct meeting with their assistant complex director to discuss if they were in violation to any University policies.

John Wittee, assistant complex direct for Cambridge and Fox Meadows Apartments, says a letter is not always sent to parents. There are cases where students are not found responsible after meeting with their assistant complex director.

“There’s a lot of black and white areas, but there’s a lot of gray areas too,” said Wittee. “If the situation involves the police or is obvious that [the student is] hosting/responsible [assistant complex directors] can send the letters before the conduct meeting.”

UW – Whitewater Sophomore Elizabeth Sweeny also does not agree that parents should be notified concerning an alcohol violation.

“My parents aren’t involved in my schooling financially, so I don’t feel they need to know if I get caught drinking,” Sweeny said. She received her first alcohol violation on March 2. “I already have enough consequences to deal with, I shouldn’t have to deal with my parents too.”

Sweeny pays her tuition with multiple student loans and grants.

When asked randomly at the Anderson Library at UW – Whitewater, 24 out of 30 students said their parents would not be upset if their child got an alcohol violation.

Brandon Bett, a UW – Whitewater sophomore, was found in violation with alcohol policies last spring. His mother, Kris Hoffman, laughed when she got the letter and hung it next to their family portrait.

“It’s just ridiculous that parents need to be notified,” Hoffman said. “Why should they act like adults if they’re not treated like one?”

Apr 16

Mayor arrested after alcohol-related accident

Mayor Gustavus G. Petykiewicz, 53, faces criminal charges after being involved in an alcohol-related traffic accident on Saturday, which injured a Kittatinny resident.
Petykiewicz had a blood alcohol content of .14, almost twice the legal limit, when the accident occurred.

Petykiewicz’s 2006 Ford Explorer collided with a 1997 Buick Le Sabre that was heading north on State Highway 117. The Buick was driven by Robert H. Doane, 40, of Kittatinny.

An eyewitness told police deputies that the Ford was heading west on Fonebone Road when it hesitated at a stop sign, then turned left onto the highway. The Ford’s front end collided with the Buick’s driver side. Both cars were inoperable after the collision.

Petykiewicz was not wearing his seatbelt, but did not appear to have any injuries.

According to the police report, the Ford had an “odor of alcohol.” There was also a half-empty bottle of Fleischmann’s vodka on the front passenger floor.

When asked by a police deputy if he had been drinking, Petykiewicz responded, “You’d be drinking, too, if you were me.” He then asked the police officer, “Do you think we could just keep this quiet? I’m the mayor of Kittatinny.”

After consenting to a breath test and failing a field sobriety test, Petykiewicz was placed under arrest.

The Buick did not deploy any airbags and Doane was wearing his seatbelt. He was found conscious, bleeding from his head and complaining of stomach pains.

Doane was transported by a Flight for Life helicopter to Northeast Pennsylvania Hospital and Trauma Center in Wilkes-Barre. He is currently stabilized with several broken bones as well as cuts and bruises on his head, chest and stomach.

Petykiewicz was taken to Schuylkill County Jail where he exercised his right to remain silent but did not call an attorney. He was released into the custody of his wife, Gloria Petykiewicz, after she posted a $500 cash bail.

There will be a preliminary hearing at Schuylkill County District Court on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Petykiewicz is being charged with causing of great bodily harm by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

If convicted Petykiewicz faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The mayor and his wife were unavailable for comment.

Mar 12

Steve Jobs gives advice to Stanford graduates

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios, used his 50 years of experience as advice for the graduates of Stanford University. Jobs told stories of his past and shared what he has learned at the commencement ceremony on June 12.

“You’ve got to find what you love… Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Jobs began doing what he loved in 1976 when he created the first ever Apple Computers product with friend Stephen “Woz” Wozniak. Apple Computers grew rapidly in popularity, but the company’s success was not always due to Jobs himself.

Without ever mentioning him by name, Jobs told the story of John Sculley, former president of Pepsi Co., whom Jobs hired as CEO of Apple in 1983.

“As Apple grew, I hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge, and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him. And so at 30, I was out, and very publicly out… What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating,” Jobs said.

In the months that followed Jobs’ departure from Apple, he was unsure of what to do. Eventually, he “decided to start over,” and the loss of his company became an unforeseen opportunity.

“It turned out getting fired from Apple was the best thing that ever happened to me,“ Jobs said. “It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

In the same year he was fired from Apple, Jobs launched NeXT, Inc., a computer company that developed a complicated system intended for higher education and businesses. After the expensive work station failed to sell as Jobs hoped, Apple Computers bought NeXT for its advanced software and Jobs returned to the company he created.

“I’m convinced the only thing that kept me going is that I loved what I did… I had been rejected, but I was still in love,” Jobs said. “The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit.”

After Jobs return to Apple Computers, the company began to expand to other forms of technology, causing the company to change their name to Apple, Inc. As he was expanding Apple, Inc., Jobs was also CEO of the growing Pixar Animation Studios, a job he took after leaving Apple

After telling his personal story, Jobs gave advice to the graduates based off what he experienced.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it were your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then… I have asked myself everyday ‘if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’”

Death became a recurring theme during Jobs’ speech. Having been cured of a rare form of pancreatic cancer less than a year ago, Jobs said remembering he will die helps him to make decisions without the concern of fear, embarrassment, or pride.

“Death is very likely the single best invention of life,” Jobs said. “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

Mar 12

Students prepare drag routine

“How do we make ourselves appear to have breasts?”

This is the question on University of Wisconsin-Whitewater junior Sean Van Aacken’s mind as he prepares his first ever drag performance.

IMPACT student organization is hosting UW-Whitewater’s third annual Drag Show. The Moulin Rouge-themed event will be held Thursday, March 1 at the Young Auditorium. The show is from 8 p.m.to11 p.m. and tickets are $7.

Being the chair to the event, finding fake breasts is not the only challenge Van Aacken has ahead of him.

“It’s been difficult trying to sync everyone together with being in college and needing to attend all the meetings,” Van Aacken said.

IMPACT began planning the Moulin Rouge Drag Show the week after homecoming. Ever since, the IMPACT executive board members have spent four hours a week planning the big event.

Switching to a bigger venue from previous drag shows has also turned out to be more difficult than expected. Van Aacken has been to 10 different meetings with Young Auditorium to get everything in order, and he expects more to come.

Between all the meetings and his class work, Van Aacken hasn’t had much time to prepare for his performance. He has only had one full practice run so far, on top of needing to prepare his costume, fake breasts included.

Luckily, Van Aacken and fellow first-time drag performer Devon Winfrey, a senior at UW-Whitewater, have had help from experienced Drag Queens. Although, even with the help of a mentor, these two amateurs worry how their performance will turn out.

“It’s a lot of acting,” Winfrey said. “Once I get on that stage, I’m not Devon anymore. I have to turn into this crazy, evil, inner diva that I don’t even know is there.”

Having never shopped for women’s clothing for himself, Winfrey also admits that he is having trouble finding a costume.

“I don’t even know how to walk in heels yet,” Winfrey said.

Van Aacken and Winfrey will be accompanied by three other amateur performers, as well as five Drag Queens and three Drag Kings.

Although Van Aacken and Winfrey did not want to reveal too much of the show, they did admit to having a variety of performances, including skits and dance numbers.

Many drag performers also use improvisation to interact with the audience.

“In the nature of drag shows, a lot of [the performance] is shock value. It’s exposing people to new things and saying ‘how crazy can I get,’” Winfrey said.

Winfrey has looked toward R & B singer Mya from the “Lady Marmalade” music video as inspiration to create shock among the audience.

Although preparing to act as the opposite sex has proven to be a challenge, Van Aacken and Winfrey both agree that it has been a fun experience. One of Winfrey’s favorite parts of working behind the scenes is making changes from the last two years.

“We’re pretty much revamping the entire show and turning it into something new,” Winfrey said.

Van Aacken is also excited to see how The Moulin Rouge Drag Show will compare to previous years.

“When I became chair of the drag show… I wanted to go big or go home,” Van Aacken said. “Putting on one of the biggest events of the school year and seeing the final product come together has been the most exciting part for me.”

Although the Moulin Rouge Drag Show is still in the production stages, Van Aacken, Winfrey and the rest of the committee members are excited to see the end result, and anxious to see if they can learn to walk in heels.

Feb 22

Mayor proposes 2013 budget

Mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz recently proposed his budget for 2013.

Because of the loss of Blast Furnace Unit 1 at Susquehanna Steel Corporation, Kittatinny is losing $103.8 million of taxable income and 600 employees are being laid off. Petykiewicz is proposing to raise tax rates and cut spending from multiple areas.

Petykiewicz is proposing to raise tax rates from 4 mills to 4.3 mills. A homeowner with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay an extra $30 a year with this tax increase.

However, this increase will not make up for the loss of Blast Furnace Unit 1. The city tax levy will still be down by over $114,000 from 2012.

Because the tax increase will not be enough to fund necessary spending for 2013, Petykiewicz proposes to make city employment changes, including laying off two police officers.

The lay offs would mean having no active police officers between the hours of 4 a.m. and noon everyday. Emergency calls would be handled by Schuylkill County sheriff’s deputies.

“This is something I do with a heavy heart,” said Petykiewicz. “These cuts will not be easy for any of us. This budget is just a starting point for discussions.”

Police Chief Roman Hruska does not agree with Petykiewicz’s proposal.

“Should there be a fire in the city, a civil disturbance or a hostage or shooting situation, our citizens would have to wait for police response,” said Hruska. “I disagree and I will be talking to the mayor about that.”

The mayor is also proposing to lay off AFSCME personnel, one in the city clerk’s office and one in the city engineer’s office. AFSCME Local 644 contract requires employees to receive a 3 percent pay raise, so lay offs would be the only way to reduce spending.

Petykiewicz hopes to reopen contracts with the Pennsylvania Police Association Local 34 and AFSCME Local 644 in hopes of adjusting pay rates and other finances in order to prevent the proposed lay offs.

Another way Petykiewicz is planning on cutting spending is by having top city employees take a freeze in pay, the mayor included.

Denelda Penoyer, president of Kittatinny City Council, says her and the other employees accept the proposed pay freezes in order to prevent more layoffs.

Hruska is suggesting something a little more drastic.

“In this climate, I don’t think it’s enough for employees merely to freeze their pay,” Hruska said. “If the mayor takes a 10 percent cut in pay, I will as well.”

Other changes in Petykiewicz budget proposal are:
Taking weekly garbage pick-up off the tax levy and adding it to city water bills. The mayor predicts this will add $180-$200 a year to residents’ water bills.
Replacing a police cruiser that has 221,000 miles, costing $54,763.
$39,088 to repave Main Street
$8,000 added to the city’s legal council budget in anticipation of lawsuits due to lay offs.

There has already been much debate over Petykiewicz’s proposed budget, and the mayor encourages Kittatinny residents to attend future city council meetings to discuss adjustments.

Feb 9

Student struggles with eating disorder

Picture your last birthday. No matter if you had a wild party, a simple dinner, or didn’t do much at all, picture that day. What did you do?

UW-Whitewater Junior Heather Bughman spent her last birthday beginning treatment for an eating disorder.

Dictionary.com defines an eating disorder as “any of various disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, characterized by severe disturbances in eating habits. Many people believe an eating disorder is developed as a way to become thin in a short amount of time. However, this isn’t always the case.

Bughman developed her eating disorder as a result of many rapid changes in her lifestyle. She had just moved out of her childhood home to live with her boyfriend, her grandfather had passed a way, and her brother was deployed to Iraq.

Bughman stated that show that eating disorders have nothing to do with the food, it’s a mental problem. For someone with an eating disorder, how they handle their eating habits is a way to exert control over their life when they feel they have no control elsewhere.

Bughman’s eating disorder was brought to her attention when she went to her doctor for stomach pains. After a couple doctor visits and ultrasounds, it was apparent that nothing was physically wrong with her.

This led Bughman’s doctor to ask about her eating habits and behavior around food. This was when Bughman finally admitted to herself that she had anxiety around food.

From that moment on, Bughman’s life became a struggle of admitting problems and learning to let go of her main focus in life – what she was eating.

“When you’re in your eating disorder world… your hobbies are food and the gym,” Bughman said. “You kind of hate everything.”

Bughman did not want food to be a priority over her future aspirations, so she began an outpatient program at Aurora Behavioral Health Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wis. The program required her attendance Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Because of the full attention her treatment required, Bughman was forced to take a break from school. Something she didn’t think she could bring herself to do.

“A lot of the mentality that goes along with an eating disorder is perfectionism,” Bughman said. This mentality is what drove her to overwhelm herself by trying to stay in school while dealing with an eating disorder. Finally, her family and boyfriend Mike convinced her to take the time she needed.

Everything was in place. Bughman had the outside support and time she needed to get herself better. But the thing that most helped Bughman was her own self-reliance. She knew she was the determining factor to getting healthy.

“It was very important for me to kind of do it on my own,” Bughman said. Although she also admits she needed the emotional support of those closest to her.

Bughman instructed her boyfriend and family on what kind of care she needed. She told them her meal plans and admitted when she was having anxiety about food. Because of her ability to admit she had a problem, Bughman was able to receive immediate care.

“It will eventually take you,” Bughman said. “There’s just no question about it. The sooner you admit [you have an eating disorder], the sooner you can take care of it.”

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