Jefferson County Board meeting heats up with zoning dispute

Nov. 11, 2015

Heated community members attended the Jefferson County Board meeting this past Tuesday regarding a rezoning dispute for 3.2 acres of land in the Town of Lake Mills.

Owners of the property in examination, Philip and Sandra Bittorf, requested that part of their 40-acre parcel of land located at N7103 Stoney Creek Road be rezoned from A-1 Exclusive Agricultural to A-2 Agricultural and Rural Business to accommodate their business Mid-State Traffic Control.

Currently the 3.2 acres of land is host to 3 sheds previously used for horse stables. The sheds hold Mid-State Traffic Control supplies: traffic signals, traffic control barrels, highway signs, barricades and stripping services for use during road construction.

The Bittorfs’ petitioned for their land to be rezoned and also requested a conditional use permit which would allow them to legally store Mid-State Traffic Control equipment in the sheds as well.

The zoning committee had declined the Bittorfs’ request due to the non-agricultural nature of Mid-State Control’s business which prevents it from fulfilling the requirements to rezone to A-2.

At the Jefferson County Board meeting 13 area citizens signed up for public comment. Concerns were brought up about the speed limit of trucks traveling along the road along with concerns of blinking lights and loud noises. On the opposing side, people rallied in support of Bittorfs’ safety practices and overall good-natured personalities.

In a vote of 3-24, the county board rejected an ordinance that denied the Bittorfs’ zoning petition. The petition will return to the Planning and Zoning committee where they will create a draft ordinance to be handed along to the county board once again. The county board will then enact or reject the new ordinance made.

“What the Planning and Zoning Committee has to do is, they basically have to redraft the ordinance and resubmit it to the county board,” county corporation counsel J. Blair Ward said. “Then the action before the county board would be to approve the petition as submitted by the Bittorfs. (At that point), an affirmative vote would mean they approve the petition and a negative vote would mean they don’t. So basically, we’re going to try it all over again with a few minor difference.”

The original zoning petition was drafted by the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Committee on Sept. 14 after a site inspection. A public hearing was held on Sept. 17 and on Sept. 28 a committee meeting recommended the denial of the petition.

“All the people that spoke in public comment tonight were not participatory in our decision making,” Supervisor Steven Nass said. “We can only make a decision based on the information we have that day and that’s how we made our decision.”

In order for the Bittorfs’ land to be zoned A-2 there are nine criteria that must be met which can be found on the Jefferson County website under Planning and Zoning.

Nass approved the decision to send the ordinance back to the committee.

“To refer it back to the committee I think is a good decision,” Ward said. “It doesn’t finalize anything, it just requires additional though and argument in this whole situation and I think that was the concern of a lot of the supervisors.”

Also discussed at the meeting:

  • The 2016 budget tax levy for Jefferson County will reach approximately $70 million. Debt services will be used to pay for highways and law enforcement. The vote for the budget’s approval is in early November.
  • Henry Gibbemeyer, first graduate of the Alcohol Treatment Court, spoke about his time throughout the course and the benefit he sees it will have in the community. This program serves to promote the treatment of alcohol addiction and offer participants the skills and resources needed to improve. He spoke on mandatory practices of the course including: breathalyzers, court dates and mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
  • The United Way of Jefferson County and surrounding areas launched a new website “Get Connected” to help link volunteers to groups or organizations in search of assistance. The website is free and intended to be user friendly. For more information visit www.volunteermain.com.

1 comment November 4th, 2015

UWW Democrats ‘Feel the Bern’

Oct. 20, 2015

Pizzas lined the front table and students were dispersed throughout the classroom all waiting for the debate, streamed to the room via CNN, to officially begin.

Club president, Tim Hanks, came to the event rooting for his favorite Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“My favorite? Bernie Sanders,” Hanks said. “Yah most definitely just because first off he wants to make college free or affordable so that would mean he would basically be taking money from Wall Street.”

At 7:30 p.m. the show began and five democratic political leaders took the stage. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley were joined by more the more student anticipated Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

As Sanders spoke his statements, chants of “Feel the Bern” could be heard throughout the room.

One in specific especially riled the students.

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said in regards to the secret emails found on Clinton’s personal computer.

The College Democrats claimed this was an epic response as they continued to laugh in favor of Sanders.

Clinton on the other hand gained the most points toward her name as a result of the debate.

Clinton made her statements clear and direct. When it came to the issue of gun control in our nation she moved Bernie Sander’s to the left.

“It’s time for our country to stand up to the NRA,” Clinton said.

O’Malley knew how to pull the heart strings of his audience when he took his turns to speak.

O’Malley said, “We have failed as a country to invest in the human intelligence that would allow us to not only make better decisions in Libya, but better decisions in Syria today. It’s a huge national security failing.”

Students didn’t make a lot of remarks about Chafee, yet a hush came over the crowd as he spoke about an American leader’s credibility.

“So there’s an issue of American credibility out there. So any time someone is running to be our leader, and a world leader, which the American president is, credibility is an issue out there with the world,” Chafee said. “And we have repair work to be done. I think we need someone that has the best in ethical standards as our next president. That’s how I feel.”

The only audible comments made by students about Chaffee was about his resemblance to a specific turtle cartoon.

Student eyebrows were often raised as Webb took the mic. Webb was hostile about the total time each participant was receiving and he felt hadn’t had as equal of an opportunity to speak.

“Our greatest long-term strategic challenge is our relation with China,” Webb explained. “Our greatest day-to-day threat is cyber warfare against this country. Our greatest military-operational threat is resolving the situations in the Middle East.”

This response to the question regarding America’s greatest concern was not met by an applause for the College Democrats.

Students did however enjoy the comment made by Sanders.

“The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable,” Sanders said. “That is a major crisis.”

While Clinton has earned the most points since the debate, Sanders still has the hearts of a majority of the UW-W College Democrats. Jim Webb has since dropped out of the debate.

According to CNN’s website, the first Democratic debate of the season scored a bigger online audience than its first Republican debate.

If anyone is interested in joining the UW-W College Democrats they meet from 5 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday in University Center room 266.

Add comment November 4th, 2015

Whitewater’s proposed budget may increase taxes

Oct. 13, 2015

The Whitewater Common Council had a look at the proposed 2016 budget on Oct. 6, presented by city manager Cameron Clapper.

The 2016 effective budget has a 3.12-percent increase, or $305,397, from 2015. The 2015 budget was $9,472,401, while the 2016 functioning budget is $9,777,798. This proposal composes a balanced budget.

With the proposed budget, the tax levy will sit at $46,076, or an increase of 1.5 percent from last year.

The complete budget is a full 176 pages. At the meeting, Clapper summarized the most important facets of the budget highlighting points of change within revenues and expenditures.

The money for city revenue comes from the intergovernmental revenue, property tax levy, interfund transfers, public fees for service, water utility payment, licenses and permits, other taxes and special assessments, forfeitures and fund balance.

In opposition to the revenue, Whitewater’s expenditures include: general government, public safety, debt service and sinking funds, DPW/solid waste/recycling, community development and cultural/recreation/education.

Among services likely to increase are Fire and Rescue Department as the department was recently reorganized, utility rates as the plant is expected to undergo renovations in the near future and a cost increase for waste removal and recycling as state funding has decreased for this service.

Clapper explained the inevitable need to change funding in order to progress as a community and uphold the benefits within it.

“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. “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.”

Other issues mentioned during the council include:

  • The Whitewater Aquatic Center agreement involving a new plan to rearrange the management of the facility. The Aquatic Center is located at the Whitewater High School. The center is jointly operated by the city and the school district. It features a 25-meter lap pool, family pool, locker rooms and water slide.
  • The Whitewater water sample misread issue. The council heard assistant city manager Chris cDonell explain the fluoride level injections are at an average level, there was simply a test sample location error that has been solved. Tests will now be performed at a further proximity from the injector.
  • The resignation of Dowtown Whitewater, Inc. executive director Tami Brodnicki. Brought forward by DTWW Board of Directors Kristine Zaballos and Dave Saalsa, the council heard discussion for the next steps for the organization. This is the 10th year for DTWW, Zaballos said now might be a good time to re-evaluate the mission of the organization and if the goals are being reached through the program. A public meeting on the DTWW structure and leadership is set to take place on Oct. 22, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Cravath Lakefront Building.
  • The employment agreement with the police chief. Whitewater Police Chief Lisa Otterbacher signed a new agreement to extend for a three-year period.

The final budget must be approved by the Common Council before it can take effect in the community.

The public hearing/adoption of the 2016 Budget and Tax Levy with final adjustments/revisions made to the budget will take place on November 17. For other updates, Whitewater Common Council meets every first and third Tuesday of the month.

1 comment November 4th, 2015

Instagram for News

InstagramPhoto Courtesy of Instagram

It has been announced that Instagram now has 300 Million active users. The Facebook run photo-sharing app has been around for four years that is home to a global community that shares over 70 million photos and videos a day. The community is thriving and obviously still on the climb.

My question, is why haven’t more news sources found value in this medium? People are drawn in by pictures and graphics. Visuals are key to any website or story. A lot of pictures we see in everyday newspapers or broadcasts are worthy enough to be posted in Instagram. Instagram has a large fan-base made-up mostly of youth and the younger generation.

Journalists continually search for ways to target the younger generation and I think Instagram just may be a way to go about it. The stats are shocking:

  • 300 million monthly active users
  • More than 70 percent of users are outside the U.S.
  • More than 30 billion photos shared
  • 2.5 billion likes daily
  • 70 million photos updated daily

I think its time for journalists to hop on board.

A picture says a thousand words.

1 comment December 14th, 2014

Choose to watch programming the way you want

In a recent study by Neilson, content is important in smartphones, TV, internet, etc. but it is seen differently by different races and mediums.

“Content is still king, but consumers are shaping their own content-discovery experience, and the evolving media landscape has not lessened consumer demand for quality, professionally-produced content. What has changed is the number and reliability of new media available to viewers,” said Dounia Turrill, senior vice president, insights, Nielsen.

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The standard content of DVR or video-on-demand is still often used by consumers, yet  daily time spent using a multimedia device continues to climb.

“Overall, American’s average daily time spent watching live TV decreased 12 minutes from 4 hours and 44 minutes in third-quarter 2013 to 4 hours and 32 minutes in third-quarter 2014. Conversely, consumer’s daily time spent using a smartphone increased 23 minutes, from 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 33 minutes per day.”

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This just shows that no matter what the world of journalism and technology is changing. Instead of people watching breaking news stories right away on scheduled news they can click on the story via twitter or CNN.com.

Consumers choose different ways to see different types of information and our job as journalists is to find a way to make our online  and TV sources appealing. We want to gain viewers, as many consumers as possible.

Demographics and media are an ongoing concern and will be for quite a long time. I think all traditional sources will die and the internet will entirely take over at some point.

4 comments December 6th, 2014

Bill Cosby: Rape Allegations

<div><iframe src=”//storify.com/abbyback/bill-cosby-rape-allegations/embed?border=false” width=”100%” height=”750″ frameborder=”no” allowtransparency=”true”></iframe><script src=”//storify.com/abbyback/bill-cosby-rape-allegations.js?border=false”></script><noscript>[<a href=”//storify.com/abbyback/bill-cosby-rape-allegations” target=”_blank”>View the story “Bill Cosby: Rape Allegations” on Storify</a>]</noscript></div>

Add comment December 6th, 2014

Twitter becomes the new Amazon.com

CapturePhoto courtesy of lostremote.com

Back in September, Twitter announced it would have a “Buy button.” This would allow for marketers and consumers to have a simple transaction process. If you see something you like while scrolling your feed, you can immediately buy it. How great is that?

To me, an unfortunate impulse buyer, this could be critical to my bank account. Yet, I do find it interesting how advertising and marketing have moved their way onto a new platform to reach more consumers. Smart play marketeers, smart play.

The “Buy button” will become available in 2015 with creators assuming the button will get its first real test during Super Bowl XLIX.

I think the best part about this, is while journalism jobs may be decreasing in number around the country, this could open some doors. Marketers will need social media savvy graduates to manage their twitter accounts to accumulate the most attention resulting in more revenue.

1 comment November 26th, 2014

Our youth need help

diplomaPhoto courtesy of www.newrepublic.com/article/114692/college-diploma-time-upgrade

Something I struggle with as a first-world county civilian is taking things for granted. I know that each day I should be thankful for the clean water I drink (and waste), the abundance of clothes in my closet, the love and support of a family, and most importantly the value of education.

Unfortunately, things have changed in our “developed country” people aren’t receiving the same benefits around the country, around the world. The Global recession continues to worsen, and seems it will for quite some time.

In a recent article by Matt Petronzio from Mashable.com, UNICEF’s September “Children of the Recession” report brings to light the youth living in developed countries are suffering from the recession.

“In the European Union, 7.5 million young people were not in education, employment or training (NEET) in 2013 — an increase of more than 1 million since 2008. Outside EU countries, NEET rates rose the most in the U.S. and Australia.In the U.S., 15% of Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 were NEET in 2013; that’s compared to 12% in 2008. And in Greece, where the economy is finally improving, roughly 21% of youth were NEET in 2013, up from 11.7% in 2008.”

Basically the report goes on to say that governments need to step in to stop child poverty and promote educational opportunities.

Just think, if the world continues on this trend, where will we be 20 years from now? To me this is a scary thought. For a “developed country” shouldn’t we place more focus on continually developing our nation? If we aren’t properly caring for our children and their education who will offer support for the next generation?

If anything, I think the media can play a significant role in promoting campaigns to raise awareness to this issue. We have the ability to spread the world to the public. Let’s use our voices.

1 comment November 20th, 2014

Find that job with LinkedIn

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Photo courtesy of www.advancingthestory.com

LinkedIn is by no means a new way to find a job, but it isn’t often mentioned how great it is for displaying a portfolio for journalism jobs. Yumi Wilson, a manager for corporate communications at LinkedIn, says there is a new option for embedding videos. Those interested in broadcast journalism now have a way to broadcast their broadcast reels.

There are of course other ways to get your name out in the open, but now LinkedIn offers another medium. The more the merrier.

Debora Wenger from Advancing the Story also listed a few other ways to get noticed on LinkedIn.

  • Be sure to use the name you plan to use in your profession.
  • The headline under your name should string key words together to show the job you want, too, not necessarily the job you have.
  • Join groups.
  • Be sure to include your photo and make it professional.
  • Write your summary in first person says Wilson, and make sure it is at least 40 words long.
  • Give people multiple ways to contact you.

And just like any blog post, make sure you use words like tags so employers can find you. Often they use one word key searches to find the qualities they require for a specific position.

Lastly, make sure you are updating your site and keeping it as current as possible.

3 comments November 16th, 2014

Facebook Like-Gate vs. Paywalls

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Photo courtesy of www.kimwilson.com/2014/11/the-big-like-gate-change-why-your-newsroom-shouldnt-freak-out/

Facebook recently eliminated it’s Like-Gate from all apps. This Like-Gate made web-users like a specific page before they could continue on in their search of information or, more commonly, to enter for a contest or drawing. Facebook allowed companies a 90 day notice, so this was no huge surprise to those who used the Like-Gate. Yet that doesn’t mean concern wasn’t felt. Fears of “are likes still important?” or “should we even have contests anymore?” Facebook says:

  • Likes = Legitimacy. People look at the number of likes a Page has to determine how important or trustworthy the brand is.
  • Likes = Organic Reach. The number of people that Facebook will show a post to (organic reach) is partially determined by the total number of likes the Page has. (The complex algorithm then also factors in the number of likes, shares, and comments a post has, as well as how well the page performs with engagement overall.

And yes of course contests are still exciting. Who doesn’t like to win free things?

As to why the gate was removed Facebook said:

“to ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

Recently, I took into account the use of Paywalls for news websites. Do Paywalls hurt or help a website? What kind of Paywall is appropriate? What kind of Paywall would work best for me and my consumers?

After reading this Like-Gate ordeal, it seems similar to a Paywall. Content creators want to be paid for a job well done and also to attract readers to enjoy the content produced. Like the Like-Gate, likes prove legitimacy and loyalty to a brand. If people visit the site constantly, they are, in a way, proving they like the site. A Paywall takes it a step further, just like the Like-Gate. But the removal of it was to build more legitimate connections between consumer and business.  Paywalls are meant to create stronger (financial) bonds with readers. In our case a Paywall means a consumer likes the content enough to purchase it. In the Like-Gate it just means a consumer liked the content only to receive something for free, not necessarily to be linked to the company permanently.

 

Add comment November 9th, 2014

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