December 2019
Public Affairs Capstone

This Capstone project is supposed to reflect all of the many skills I’ve learned in the Journalism program over my three years at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The link is below, enjoy!

Capstone Final

College Reflection

Cameron Edward Slate.

       College has permanently changed my life. The main reason I decided to enroll in college is because I wanted to make a name for myself. I don’t have a very large family; so doing something like accomplishing college would mean a lot to us all. By making a name for myself, I mean not having to rely on my family for help with paying bills, scheduling appointments, making overall good decisions or saving money. I knew early on that I wanted to attend a university and really put myself in a situation to succeed with the skill that I would acquire. That and the fact that there has been a little more outside pressure over the last decade on getting a college degree in order to be successful. 

I was mostly expecting high school, but with far less rules. I was expecting the normal school routine of waking up every morning to go to class, getting some homework done, and just waiting patiently for the long school day to be over. Then there is the less rules part. I knew I was going to be going out with friends and paying little money for disgusting mixed drinks at least a couple times a week. So in saying that, I think I was pretty spot on with that aspect. What I didn’t expect was to make so many new friends that I can count on to help me in life. These new friends have gone through the same process I have at UW-Whitewater, so there is an understanding and almost a respect that is different from the friends I grew up with. 

I really didn’t expect to be that involved on campus either. I was a member of the Whitewater Advertising Association for 2 years, played a handful of different intramural sports, was the Public Relations Manager for the Students Allied for a Greener Earth organization for a year, and participated in radio and television for all three of my years on campus. It’s because of these different organizations and activities that I’ve met so many great friends and harnessed the necessary skills to have a career after college, and one that I enjoy. The classes I enrolled in were all challenging in their own way, but another thing I didn’t account for before attending college was how much time I had to set aside in order to stay on schedule. Being a journalism major was very demanding and I realized that very quickly. Journalism is unique in that it asks us to be a more well-rounded worker. Journalism isn’t just writing like many think it is. I had to learn how to operate a videocamera, operate a switchboard, and understand each of those mediums individually in order to execute them correctly.  

I am very grateful and proud that I graduated with a journalism degree. I’ve had the pleasure of being in front of and behind a camera on live television. I’ve been able to watch UW-Whitewaters’ sports teams win conference and national championships and I’ve even received a few awards in my respective field. Those are memories that I will never forget, and the things that will help me make a name for myself. There is no better feeling than seeing your name on the lower thirds during a live television broadcast, then having your friends and family congratulate you. I have always wanted to be in front of a camera and speak to the people. My true passion is sports, but now that I have gathered some better experience in other areas of journalism like newspaper formats and interviewing people of importance, I can do many different things. One of the most important things I’ve learned while at college is how to market myself and using better time management. It is important in any job to know your worth, but it’s even more important to put in the work of making allies and trying to make yourself known. 

The lifestyle I lived while at college shaped me into the person I am now, four years later. I got into the habit of getting up early every morning before class and having a nice breakfast. It wasn’t always a big breakfast, but it was something. Little things like not spending money on food every day and setting aside enough time to complete simple tasks that usually get pushed off, have shaped me into a more punctual and confident person. I now know what I’m capable of, and that is a powerful characteristic to have. I also think that I have gotten a good idea on how to think about issues or topics from all angles. Journalism has made me less bias and has provided me with the ability to think for myself. I haven’t really had a change in political views since attending college, but the way I think about people and life has changed a little bit. I have made a deep connection with our beautiful planet and everything it has to offer and have taken a liking to doing things to keep it from crumbling. I have joined advocate groups that are centered around learning about how to be more sustainable and less wasteful, which has been humbling. I am now able to better understand different policies that make it to the White House regarding clean energy and sustainability. That is important for me as I am a registered voter and a true advocate for local and national policy. 

I would like to think that I would do everything all over again. Being a journalism major has turned me into a more well-rounded reporter and a true professional. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some very important people in the Illinois and Wisconsin area. Some of them professional athletes, other have been political figures, and most of them have been other journalists like myself. The different kinds of advice given to me from teachers and other professionals has been great and something that I will always remember. Graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will be the greatest accomplishment of my life thus far. Once I hear my name being called over the speakers in the Kachel Fieldhouse and I receive my diploma, I will know that I have truly made a name for myself. 

Jefferson County Board Meeting

Broadband to be introduced into rural areas of Jefferson County 

By Cameron Slate/Capstone 

JEFFERSON— The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance on Tuesday, related to broadband internet access in some rural areas.  

A working group is set to address broadband internet access as well as future funding possibilities for certified rural communities. In a December 2018 meeting, the board approved an ordinance that would allow the county to hold a Broadband Forward! Certification.

A Broadband Forward! Community Certification signals that “a local unit of government has taken steps to reduce obstacles to broadband infrastructure investment.” 

The ordinance, created by the Public Service Commission (PSC), was designed for statewide consistency to level the playing field with persons who reside in urban areas. It was noted that the ordinance does not allow a community to discriminate between service providers. 

County board Chairman Jim Schroeder said it simply, “Internet access in 2019 should be like water or electricity.” Meaning, every household in any community needs it, and should have it. 

The chairman wasn’t the only person who thinks the committee should move forward with its internet access plan. A handful of supervisors noted how often county voters had called them in an effort to urge the board to get the ball rolling on the Broadband Working Committee. 

On Tuesday, the board made some steady progress in starting off the new broadband initiative by appointing a group of supervisors to serve on it. 

The working committee now consists of five people, four will come from the Economic Development Consortium, Executive Committee, Finance Committee, and the Planning and Zoning Committee. The rest of the vacant positions will be appointed by county board Chairman Jim Schroeder. 

The lack of broadband in the Jefferson area is concerning for any individuals without access, but it also hurts the working force in and around the county. Schroeder mentioned, “60% of the Jefferson population works outside of Jefferson, and many people might not be able to get there daily.”

While this seems like a transportation issue, it could be the product of hardworking individuals in rural areas not having access to proper opportunities, much like broadband internet. Schroeder went on to say, “we have people who live in rural areas who would like to run business out of their homes.”

County Supervisor Amy Rinard, of Ixonia voiced her approval on the broadband issue and her reasons for backing Jim Schroeder. 

“We really believe having access to broadband Internet is an economic development tool and helps increase property values and makes Jefferson County a more desirable place to live.”

Barb Frank’s Retirement 

It was before the approval of the working committee when the board decided to take a few minutes to congratulate Barbara Frank on her 38 years of service. While she did not work with the Jefferson County board for all 38 years, she served the county of Jefferson for the majority of her tenure. 

Several peers, including Barbara, said a few words while colorful pieces of cake made their way to each county board member. 

“They were 38 long years in Jefferson County, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world,” Frank said. 

“Thank you to the friends who have helped me over the years, and all of you for making my Tuesday nights very interesting.” 

The surprise of the night came from Schroeder and County Administrator Ben Wehmeier. Together they read a special proclamation, designating this Election Day, April 2, as Barb Frank Day in Jefferson County.

Barbara Frank will retire immediately after the 2019 spring election. 

In other County Board news Tuesday:

  • Approved having the Parks and Recreation Department apply for an Outdoor Recreational/Development Aids Grant to fund a snowmobile trail maintenance program.
  • Approved a $71,000 contract with Bos Design Builders for a storage building to be built at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office training facility in Lake Mills. 
  • Approved $50,500 contract with Sun Mechanical LLC to replace two boilers in the Human Services Workforce Development Building.
  • Approved a proclamation supporting April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

• The next board meeting will be held on April 16, at 5:00 p.m. The schedule has been altered due to the spring election.

Whitewater council votes to approve fares for Shared Ride Taxi Program

Whitewater council votes to approve fares for Shared Ride Taxi Program

By CAMERON SLATE / CAPSTONE

WHITEWATER— A quick meeting between curious Whitewater citizens and the Whitewater Common Council was all it took for some important fare structure increases to be approved to the city’s Shared Ride Taxi Program.

As recommended by the city’s Finance Committee earlier this year, this meeting focused on the beneficial increases in taxi fares for the Shared Ride Taxi Program. The council passed the fare increase on a unanimous vote.

City finance director Steve Hatton explained the current problems the Brown Cab Taxi and Shared Ride Services are sharing, along with some feasible solutions for each to consider.

Hatton noted that the Shared Ride taxi program in Whitewater has declined in ridership over the past 10 years. According to the informational packet put together by Hatton and the Finance Committee, the program has seen a decrease of almost 8,000 riders since its peak of 32,795 riders in 2011.

The true issue lies within the funding of the Shared Ride Taxi Program. The taxi program receives most of its funding from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal transit Administration (FTA).

Meaning, state and federal funds help pay for the system to get up and running, then the revenue collected from various riders make up the rest. Pretty straight forward, however, because Whitewater is the official sponsor for the program, the city of Whitewater is responsible for bridging any financial gap those social-service agencies and the revenue collected from riders can’t account for.

Hatton detailed that ridership has been in steady decline since 2013, with around 10-percent fewer trips logged since 2017. The Finance Committee and the Shared Ride Taxi Program have projected a shortfall of $22, 934. A shortfall is when a financial obligation, or budget, creates a situation in which there are not enough funds to cover the obligation it has considered. The shortfall is expected to increase even more in the 2019-20 program to about $32, 370.

“We want to increase the fares to what they are in other areas and communities in Wisconsin,” Hatton said.

As recommended, the agency fares, agency pre-paid fares, and package delivery fares will all increase to $9.50 each per trip. That means a $3 increase for agency fares, $3.65 increase in agency pre-paid fares, and a $5.05 increase in package delivery fares. The rates for additional wait time will also double to 40 cents per minute from its current 20 cents per minute.
There will still be fares not in need of changes. Regular adult fares will remain at $3.25, along with student fares at $2.50. Disabled/elderly riders, extra riders and extra stops will stay at $2.25 each; and children under 6 years old will continue to be free.

Whitewater resident Brienne Brown was the lone citizen commenting during the meeting. Brown stated she was told by two disabled persons that the taxi hours of operation did not fit their schedules.

“I know they have moved to Fort Atkinson because the taxi hours didn’t work for them and they didn’t feel like they were being helped in the best ways possible,” said Brown.

General Manager of the Brown Cab, Karl Schulte, noted that all vehicles are handicapped-equipped and capable of helping any customers who need it. Schulte also noted that the taxi company has a “hard close” at 7 p.m. during the school year, which has been in place for many years.

The council unanimously approved the new fares on a 6-0 vote.

Cameron Clapper’s visit to Madison

City Manager Cameron Clapper lead the second half of the meeting, as he announced he would be attending the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Lobby Day on Wednesday.

According to Clapper, this Lobby Day is designed for local governments to meet with state representatives concerning current issues impacting local communities.

With a mental list already in place, Clapper turned to council members for ideas on what topics he should discuss with state legislators.

Most of the discussion in Madison will include an increase in funds from the state. For things like restructuring city sidewalks and drainage systems. As well as the desperately awaited U.S. Highway 12 expansion and other local infrastructure projects.

Clapper also plans to address and restore a common ground to the property tax system. Details of the Lobby Day meeting will be discussed at the next council meeting on March 5.

In other action Tuesday:

-There was a slight technical glitch with the live television feed from the Feb. 19 meeting. The situation will be monitored and a full recap of the meeting will be posted on the Whitewater Common Council website as soon the glitch is corrected.
-City job openings are available. Including vacancies on city boards and commissions.
-Clapper applauds Whitewater residents and municipalities for their snow/ice removal efforts this year.
-Approved a formal agreement through 2019 with the Downtown Whitewater Inc. organization.
-Approved a change-of-agent for a Class B beer and wine license for Cozumel Restaurant. The new agent is Jose J. Lopez.

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