Jefferson County pushes for increased internet access

As technology continues to become a more vital part of daily human life, so will the need for the sufficient broadband access across Jefferson County. The discussion was based around creating of a Broadband working group which will oversee the “Broadband Forward! Community Model Ordinance” that was enacted in December 2018 by the board.

The ordinance is designed to expand broadband access and usage in underserved rural areas in Jefferson County and the committee which will consist of five-to-seven members appointed by the County Board Chair Jim Schroeder.

“People can run highly sophisticated businesses out of their home and may prefer to live in a rural area because of the amenities we have out here (Jefferson County),” said Schroeder.

This idea is something that has been on the mind of board supervisors for some time but have been limited by the environment that state legislatures have put into place with the current agreement and duopoly between providers AT&T and Charter.

“In my view it should be like municipal utility electricity and water something that everyone uses,” said Schroeder.

County Board Supervisors unanimously approved the resolution to create the group. There isn’t quite a plan in place to execute the broadband as there will be some funding that would need to be done to create the necessary infrastructure.

Supervisor Amy Rinard, who will be one of the chairs for heading the group is interested in seeing how the proper funding will be required to create the necessary infastructre.

“I think that it’s going to take the county and town governments to contribute some funding to make it more economically feasible for, as you say, the last mile of some of these projects to happen,” said Rinard, “I expect that we’re also going to put together a grant application to the Public Service Commission.”

While it will take some time to get these systems into place to support more broadband, the long-term benefits should be substantial.

63% of people in the United States work from home at some point in their jobs According a the market research firm Gallupthe number of American employees working remotely at some point from to 43 percent in 2016 from 39 percent in 2012.

With an increasing market for remote jobs the increased broadband extension would make Jefferson a more appealing place for people to live.

Barbra Frank leaves on top

 For the last 38 years Barbra Frank has been involved with Jefferson County government and has spent the last 22 as the county clerk.

She first began her service to Jefferson County in 1981 as an employee of the Jefferson County Human Services Department. Frank moved to a staff position in the clerk’s office in 1983, working with the late County Clerk Barb Geyer.

Frank was in charge of her last meeting in Jefferson at the March 12meeting and was greeted with some kind and light hearted ‘roast’ by County Chair Schroeder at Frank’s last meeting about the clerk’s trials and tribulations throughout her tenure in Jefferson County.

In lieu of Frank’s departure, the board’s Executive Committee approved a recommendation to appoint Chief Deputy Clerk Audrey McGraw as county clerk effective April 3.

Other Notes

  • Two broken boilers at the Human Services Workforce Development building were approved to be replaced.
  • The Parks Committee proposed a resolution to the board to authorize and application for Outdoor Recreational/Development Aid for a snowmobile trail maintenance program. The board unanimously approved the resolution. The aid would be used for the proposed 191 miles of trails that Jefferson County plans on creating as a part of their public outdoor recreation options.
  • April 2019 will be recognized as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month after a unanimous approval from the board supervisors. The month is built to create awareness and create events to prevent the mistreatment of children by adults.

Common Council: Brown Cab tries to stay afloat with city assistance

Whitewater’s Common Council meeting was a hot topic for discussion as Brown Cab’s general manager Karl Schulte and the city of Whitewater’s finance director Steve Hatton presented a potential financial solution for the expected $22,934 in revenue loss due to loss in ridership.

The program is operated majorly through funding from WisDOT/FTA grants and needs to get approval before making any big decisions. Even more-so a problem is the riding operating costs which plan on raising from $28.87 in 2018-19 to $31.73 in 2019-20.

Hatton and Schulte presented a set of solutions to the Common Council that focused on allocating funds previously set aside for a taxi replacement, creating new revenue streams through sponsorships, and widening of the existing revenue stream through an increase of fares.

Although the hearing wasn’t simply about budgeting, Brienne Brown a Whitewater resident who ran for a seat on the Whitewater City Council in the spring of 2018, stated her frustration with the company’s prior engagement with physical handicapped riders.

Brown said she spoke with a few members of the handicapped community in Whitewater and they had either been left ride-less or were waiting for an egregious amount of time, forcing them into a move to Fort Atkinson. Schulte defended Brown Cab as a company as a whole referring to their hard-closing time and they emphasize to riders regardless of physical capabilities that they may have.

When discussing the next steps for the programs with the looming financial crisis on the horizon Lynn Binnie, a representative from District 4 since 2008, was on board with giving Brown Cab what the needed to succeed.

“Sometimes it’s important for the city to contribute to an important service like the Brown Cab,” said Binnie.

Wisconsin Lobby Day

 Whitewater city manager Cameron Clapper attended the League of Wisconsin municipalities Lobby Day event on February 20, where he had the opportunity to present concerns and strategies for smaller municipalities that might not be discussed otherwise in daily state government hearings.

The agenda provided on the event laid many topics for discussion including strengthening of local democracy, fixing the broken funding systems for local government, and tailoring laws and taxes for community size throughout the state of Wisconsin.

In terms of strengthening government, Clapper showed dissatisfaction with the way cities belonging to the of the League of Wisconsin municipalities were limited in terms of how they can organize their government best fit for their city and how the taxes are spread out.

Funding systems are crucial to small towns and since 2005, “the state has strictly limited the annual growth in a municipalities tax levy. In the last 18 years shared revenue for municipalities has been reduced by 94 million,” according to the agenda for Lobby Day.

Other Notes:

  • Community TV station worked through some technical difficulties that prevented broadcast of the February 19 council meeting. Those issues have been resolved and programing will continue as scheduled.
  • The city of Whitewater is looking for active members of the community to join various boards for this year. If interested please visit