Time for Change: Should UW-Whitewater move up to NCAA Division II Athletics?


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Jefferson County Board passes highway budget proposal

The Jefferson County Board meeting, held on the evening of March 10, involved substantial spending and a lengthy debate about the reconstruction of the main highway facility and the construction of two new satellite buildings.

County Chairman of the Board Jim Schroeder

County Chairman of the Board Jim Schroeder

There are currently four satellite buildings that are in use or have been in use within Jefferson county. The four sites are located in Palmyra, Lake Mills, Ixonia, and Waterloo.

The proposal included the construction of two new satellite buildings located in Concord and Lake Mills. Jefferson county highway commissioner Bill Kern alluded to how much more convenient these new locations would be for both plow routes and employee commutes.

The new locations would significantly reduce emergency response time in the winter. These new sites would include a fully functional 12,500 square foot satellite building with a salt shed.

Response time is measured by how quickly a driver can get from their residence to the facility. The initial response time could be reduced by 30 to 45 minutes.

The construction of the new Lake Mills building would also eliminate 90 miles of overlapping routes, and as one member of the board mentioned, nobody knows how much gas could be a few years from now.

The proposal also included the demolition of the Palmyra site, followed by the sale of the corresponding property. The current Lake Mills site could also be demolished and sold or sold at its current state, while the Waterloo and Ixonia sites would also be sold along with the properties.

District nine representative Amy Rinard asked if reduced response time is the goal, shouldn’t they just renovate the existing sites and keep four instead of two.

Kern responded by explaining that the current buildings are in “inefficient spots” in terms of population and highway location within the county.

An amendment was unanimously passed to reduce the previously approved budget of $590,000 per facility to $500,000 per facility. The amended cost is just one-third of the originally approved budget of $1.5 million each.

Ultimately, the proposal was passed with a 25-4 vote to build the new satellite buildings.

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

The updated budget proposal will include:

  • Base improvements that will cost $440,000
  • Interior build with unisex bathroom that will cost $40,000
  • A private well that will cost $15,000-$20,000.

The overall cost of the proposal to build a new site and improving on the existing site that will continue to be used will be $17.22 million.

In addition, the Jefferson County members:

  • Approved that March 13 of each year is to be known as K-9 Veterans Day.
  • Approved that the month of April is to be known as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
  • Reviewed the annual reports from the county clerk, medical examiner, register of deeds, and treasurer.
  • Approved the sale of general obligation county building bonds not to exceed $3.98 million.
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Council Collectively Opposes Walker’s Budget Proposal

WHITEWATER – Tuesday’s common council meeting focused primarily on how Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal for 2015-2016 will affect the city of Whitewater, its university, and the people who live here.

The council passed a unanimous motion to join the university’s stance and reaffirm the city’s opposition to the governor’s budget.

The budget would significantly affect UW-Whitewater’s state funds with between $6.4 and $8 million being removed from the $15.3 million received the year prior.

With the current in-state tuition freeze, there are not many options for the university to make up the lost funding. This could mean a loss of university-held jobs including professors, a decline in student enrollment, as well as an increase in class sizes on campus.

The budget proposal really hit home for a few of the council members including District 5 representative and current UW-Whitewater student Sarah Bregant and District 3 representative Brienne Diebolt-Brown, whose husband is currently a professor at the university.

Diebolt-Brown was moved to tears as she explained some of the restrictions that will be placed on UW-W professors including no sick leave, no tenure and a lack of time for personal research, as announced earlier that day by UW-W Chancellor Richard Telfar.

“This means they will not come and teach our kids,” Diebolt-Brown said. “They will go to places that actually respect education.”

District 2 representative and UW-W graduate Stephanie Abbott shared the overall concern with the budget proposal and its impact on the university.

“I personally credit UW-Whitewater for a lot that I’ve done,” Abbott said. “I do share the fear that this will be a hit to our city and the people that live here.”

City manager Cameron Clapper explained that although Wisconsinites are safe with the current in-state tuition freeze, out-of-state students may have to suffer the consequences. Clapper acknowledged that out-of-state tuition could be raised by as much as $5,000 per student.

Clapper explained, however; a large out-of-state tuition increase like this could replace the loss of some state aid, including grants that could total over $400,000 and allow the city of Whitewater to avoid paying municipalities fees out of its own pockets.

Clapper also added that despite the hits on education, the budget “has had less impact on municipalities than in prior years.” This is a result of no change to the levy limit or the shared revenue.

At the hearing, Clapper also invited the city to adopt the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Partnership for Prosperity Agenda.

This agenda focuses on three main areas: maintaining the levy limit, exploring shared revenue that involves job creation and incentives and a potential 2-year transportation aid that helps the city find more sustainable ways to find transportation.

Following a unanimous vote, Clapper stated that he and Council President Patrick Singer planned to meet with legislature in Madison on Wednesday to further discuss the agenda.

Also discussed at the meeting:

  • The installation of over a thousand feet of fiber in city conduit that will link several buildings downtown. The fibers would run from the corner of Fremont and Main Streets. They would cross Fremont onto the south side of Main. It would require the Wisconsin Independent Network (WIN) to remove fibers from Whitewater’s current conduit.
  • Citizen’s proposed construction of the Whitewater armory’s ramp to be compliant with the ADA slope requirements. Construction costs would be over $100,000. District 4 Representative Lynn Binnie mentioned possibility of electric lift as an alternative, suggesting that it could be cheaper. The proposal was approved.
  • Request by Police Chief of and understanding between the City of Whitewater and UW-W Police Services for the use of the city’s Emergency Operations Center in the event of an emergency. The request was approved.
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