Jefferson County Board Meeting- March 10th

On March 10th, 2015 the Jefferson County Board held their monthly meeting at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The board meeting, some of the main topics discussed were highway department satellite facilities and equipment purchases and last but not least, and the law enforcement radio upgrade among other things.

The most important topic discussed was the satellite facilities for the highway department.

According to Jim Schroeder, chairperson of the county board, there is currently a 4 million dollar bond, which could be expanded to 17 million. Of the 17 million, 15 million would be used for the highway with the remaining money going towards the satellite facility. Originally, the facilities were supposed to be 1.5 million for both of them, however the price was reduced. The remaining money will be used to fix up the existing shops.

Schroeder went on to say that the initial highway facility was built in the 1930’s. In the 1970’s, most of the facilities that were built decades before were tore down for new ones. However, in Jefferson, that didn’t happen, the old building was just renovated. Because of this, the old building is no longer suitable for renovations.

The old highway shop is also landlocked and surrounded by residential area. This is a problem, because residents don’t want big semi-trucks coming through their neighborhoods. This wouldn’t be a problem with the new shop though, because the new shop would be close to 26 acres, right on the Rock River.

George Jaeckel, one of the highway committee members gave an update on the status of the project. According to Jaeckel, the project is 90% done, and at the end of March the project will be substantially complete, with some minor check offs remaining. The tentative move in date is the first weekend of April.

In the meeting, the status of the Lake Mills satellite station was also given. The site, which was purchased in September of 2013 for 353,000 dollars, is halfway complete, with the building analysis, demolition estimate, and the soil boiling all done. The only thing left to do is actually breaking ground on the new building.

You may ask yourself, why is satellite shop even important? Well, that question was answered in the meeting as well.

Satellite shops are important because they reduce critical response for winter maintenance and emergency response team, and emergency highway traffic control devices can be stored at each location for quicker response time among other things.

The next big topic talked about were the upgrades of the law enforcement’s radio equipment.

According to Ben Weighmeir, a county administrator, the radio systems have exceeded life expectancy. Because of the switch form analog to digital, along with the government-mandated switch to narrowband the project would be very expensive. The total cost would be around 285,000 dollars. If indeed the switch is made, the 911 system would then also need to be updated which would push the total cost to around 385, 000 dollars.

More from the meeting

–       Memoriam for former county board supervisor Kathleen Grosskoff, who died February 16th at the age of 76.

–       K-9 Veterans Day is March 13th. K-9 Corps was invented March 13th, 1942

–       April of 2015 will be recognized as child abuse and neglect prevention month

–       City coroner wants four more people to be hired so that people are not over worked or over paid.

Whitewater Common Council Meeting-February 17th

On February 17th, 2015, the Journalism 486 Capstone class attended the Whitewater Common Council Meeting at the city municipal building in Whitewater, Wisconsin. In the meeting, topics included Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget cuts, approval of a new ramp and staircase at the city armory and adopting the league of Wisconsin municipalities partnership for prosperity agenda.

Like most people who are closely tied to the education system, the common council system was mainly concerned with Gov. Walkers’ new proposed budget cut and how it would not only affect the state’s education system, but specifically the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The proposed budget, which is currently in its initial review stage, will be around $300 million dollars and would have the most impact here on the campus of UW-Whitewater. The budget would reduce state system funding by 13% and would put a freeze on in-state tuition. The money from the tuition freeze could possibly be made up by raising Illinois resident tuition by $5 thousand dollars per student, but officials believe that this would stop Illinois residents from coming to the university which would also stop money from outside of the community from coming into the community.

Overall, the budget cut will cost UW-Whitewater somewhere between 6.4 and 8 million dollars. Council member Lynn Binnie said that the college plays a huge role in the community, not only financially, but culturally as well. Her biggest wish is that the school still would be able to have adequate funding for whatever needs they may have, if the budget is indeed passed.

Stephanie Abott, a UW-Whitewater alum and current council member, believes that the city of Whitewater owes a lot of its funding to the students of Whitewater. Losing that much money would not only be a major hit to the university, but it would greatly affect the community as well. Abott went on to say that this hit could be avoided if the two sides met in the middle and schematically developed a plan that would benefit both parties involved.

Regina Brown, a council member who sat in the furthest left seat on the board, had some very inspirational words to say and was very emotional in doing so. Brown, who began wiping tears away during her speech, said that she believes the budget cut will run good professors (like her own husband) off to other schools in other places because they will no longer have the amenities they need to be the best that they can be. Brown also went on to say that this budget cut would take away some sick time from the professors in addition to taking away the opportunity to for them to go out and study their field.

In addition to the school system, the proposed budget cut would prevent any bike and pedestrian trails from being built by the department of transportation in efforts to save money.

While the budget cut was the most important topic, it was not the only thing discussed at the meeting.

A new ramp and staircase replacement was discussed as well. The current staircase and ramp at the downtown armory would be torn down and the new construction would be long enough to place both into the parking lot and would bring both into compliance with the ADA. The cost of the project as a whole would be around $100 thousand and will be performed by Strand.

Another option to look at is electric lift. This option might even cost less than a brand new staircase and a new ramp. However, the electric lift would not be useful to the city food pantry, which currently uses the staircase and the ramp for its patrons.

League of Wisconsin Partnership

  1. Process in which we evaluate the levy
  2. Shared revenue is not always what we expected
  3. Agenda provides ways to improve the way in which we live
  4. We will be fine the next two years, but after that, it is a toss up.