June 20th, 2023

Audio Work Examples


April 14th, 2023

Opioid Epidemic Settlement gives millions to communities across Wisconsin

Nick Walczak

In 2013, over one third of Americans had used prescription opioids, with many of them resulting in addiction, according to 2015 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Wisconsin Counties Association alleged that several pharmaceutical companies knew that profits could increase if they were able to sell opioids for long-term use. The county also alleged that these companies created marketing campaigns with the intent to give the medical community and the public false impressions that opioids were safe for long-term use.

Jefferson County Human Services Director, Brent Ruehlow, believes that the county will “Use these funds to help the problem directly… (We will be able to) track the issues in the community and offer services immediately after we have identified them.”

Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of 70 other counties across Wisconsin. The board voted to pass this item, accepting the payout. Funds will be deposited into a separate account which will be used for special projects.

The second round of settlement allocation is going to be an estimated $2,548,187 after attorney fees, (which may be paid back to the county via the national attorney fee fund). Final settlement amounts will be learned at a different date, depending on the number of parties that benefit from the total settlement.

“We do see this as a methodology to get proactive with many things we are trying to do. Our first settlement, we used the money for crisis workers and some assistance in our drug treatment court… We are looking ahead to the future (figuring out) how to use these various funds to really help get after the epidemic related to opioids.” said Jefferson County Administrator, Ben Wehmeier

Youth Mental-Health Crisis Center

In other action on Thursday, the board voted on and passed a proposal that will convert the old Bethesda grounds in Watertown to a youth crisis center. A portion of the property that was agreed upon included Camp Matz, which was a campground that was traditionally used by wheelchair bound campers.

The county has been awarded two major grants, which has in part made the plan possible. A Consolidated Appropriations Act grant in the amount of $800,000 which will be applied toward startup fees and staffing costs and the second grant, which is a Program Revenue grant, in the amount of $578,737 is intended to be used for architectural, construction, and remodeling costs. The Program Revenue grant will also be used to cover a portion of the costs for reserving beds to ensure they are available for future admissions.

Jefferson County has also been awarded a Youth Crisis Services Facility Program Revenue grant. The amount of the grant could be as high as $498,000 per year and can be applied for renewal for an additional two years.

The county expects this facility will help save money by providing a better cost-effective solution for its children going through a crisis. Admission to this facility will be voluntary with a main purpose being to provide short-term care for children ages 10-17, experiencing a mental-health crisis lasting for 3-5 days or longer. The goal is to treat the patient, stabilize them and avoid admission to a more restrictive inpatient setting. Various care options will be provided such as therapeutic interventions, risk assessment and safety planning, discharge planning, and medication administration.

Also on Tuesday:

  • The board discussed the possible completion of the near 11 mile Interurban trail. The board agreed to pass the item, meaning Jefferson County is responsible to pay $321,938 and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Transportation Alternatives Program are paying for the other 80% of the trail via a grant. The county will be responsible for the up keep of the trail, which is an estimated $600-$900 per mile per year over the approximate 10 miles of trail that would be added.
  • The board also discussed e-Bikes and whether or not they should be allowed on county bike paths. The county does not address the use e-bikes the various paths in the current ordinance. However, the board voted and agreed to pass the item. There were a few caveats as to how e-bikes could be used. Including a max speed and designated paths.
  • Lastly, the board welcome in the county’s new facilities manager, Ryan Hayes. Before taking the job with Jefferson County, Hayes worked in the public sector for the City of Milwaukee primarily with police and library facilities. After multiple rounds of interviews and numerous project presentations/proposals, the county decided Hayes would be the best fit.

April 14th, 2023

Historical water tower repairs to surpass $1 million

Nick Walczak

The Starin Park water tower is one of the oldest water towers in the state, and it is quite apparent to everyone who sees it. So, the question remains, “to knock it down? Or not to knock it down?”

The Whitewater Common Council on Thursday voted to send the roughly $1 million project budget to the finance committee for consideration.

The nearly 115 year-old water tower is in relatively good condition according to Whitewater officials. For the water tower to return to usable form in just one construction season, it would cost the city between $950,000 and $1.1 million. The council was also presented with a three-phase plan that would add around $500,000 to the total.

“The condition of the tower is in a safe condition, the only issue that they see right now is rocks falling off the façade.” said a McEnroe Consulting Engineers employee, “Currently, the falling debris is contained by a fence to help mitigate the problems.”

The council was presented with a third option, demolition. To completely rid the water tower from where it currently stand would cost an estimated $600,000. Regardless of what the city votes to do, 2024 is a potential date for action on this topic.

Water rate Increase

In other action on Thursday, the council covered the water rate increase which Whitewater residents will see on their water bills as early as May.

The bill, which has been passed, is raising the current water rate, 3.3%, to 8%. The near 5% raise will add an extra $7 on average to each citizen’s monthly water bill.

This additional money will help fun other tax-payer ‘projects’ in the city.

Also on Thursday:

  • The council discussed an amendment being added to the current ATV-UTV ordinance which only allows the use of the vehicle on city street in Jefferson County. The council previously discussed the option of opening up all City streets to ATV-UTV use, so the council asked the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would allow the use of the vehicles on all eligible city streets in both Jefferson and Walworth County. “We used a lot of the same verbiage that was on the approved ordinance already from Jefferson county,” said Councilman Majkrzak. “(We) really just relaxed it so we are either including Walworth County or defining what Whitewater’s city is.”
  • The council also talked about two “Class B” license applications filed by Casual Joe’s and Five Points Mobil. Both businesses have filed alcohol licenses, but only one of them is going to be accepted for the location. Each side has previously stated their case and police and community members have made their comments. A movement was made and agreed upon to postpone this item’s voting.

Also covered at the meeting was the city manager’s update. The city manager, John Weidl talked about the Spring Primary voter turnout. The results were presented and discussed. Also talked about was the public works trying to clear snow and ice around the city as well as stump grinding and filling potholes. There was also talks about water meter replacements and new lines to be run. The waste water staff also took place in hygiene training and testing. Also noted was the search for more paramedics on the Fire & EMS department’s staff. The update also talked about upcoming events taking place at Irvin L. Young Memorial Library. Neighborhood services are also taking a look at several housing issues and opportunities in the


February 23rd, 2023

Introductory Post

Welcome to my blog! Thank you taking the time to check it out and thank you for reading anything that you may. My favorite sports team is the Milwaukee Bucks, so I added a link to their website. I was only able to make it to one game this season, which is a bummer, but I watched a lot of them on television. I am hoping for another championship this season!