The Jefferson County Board discusses the 2020 Budget and Badger State Solar Project

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Rachel Charniak

The Jefferson County Board met on Tuesday, October 22 at the courthouse to continue discussions regarding the 2020 budget, the Badger State Solar Project, Broadband internet, and many other items.  The 2020 budget is $85 million, and major categories of spending include road projects, paying off debts, and remodeling Jefferson County buildings, especially the Jefferson County Courthouse. 

The Jefferson County Courthouse renovations are for maintenance and operational purposes, as the building needs to be modernized to account for our tech savvy society.  In January and February of 2020, it will be decided specifically what building updates need to happen.  The project will span over 2-3 years, with changes mostly occurring in the interior of the building. 

Jim Schroeder, Chair of the Jefferson County Board, said “If you have a car that’s nickel and diming you to death, that’s not really a good way to spend your money.  You’re better off either putting a new engine in the car or buying a new car, because in the long run your money will be spent more wisely.”

Major revenue sources for the 2020 budget include property taxes, but interestingly, property taxes rates have been steadily declining ever since 2017. 

Anita Martin from Lake Mills who works for the Land and Water Department spoke at the public hearing on the budget.  She says the department is down a person and was wondering if that position is going to be filled in the budget or not.  The board will make a conclusion at a later date. 

Badger State Solar Project

Two areas are being impacted by the Badger State Solar project, which involves the installation of solar panels used for making clean energy.  The project to the west off Highway 18 in the towns of Jefferson and Oakland was the location of discussion at the meeting.  The other location that has not moved forward with the Public Service Commission (PSC) is in the northeastern part of Jefferson County in Watertown, Ixonia, Farmington, and Concord. 

The proposal between the county and the developer states that the site would be 1,500 acres, and 149 megawatts.  It also discusses fencing, access roads, and landscaping.  The access roads would use existing soil levels and the conditions that are currently in place today.  Repairs to the site are required to be made within 30 days, and drainage repairs must be completed within 90 days.  The height of the panels is not to exceed 12 feet, with exceptions to the already existing project substations.  The useful life of the project is anticipated to be between 25-50 years. 

Community members have voiced concerns over the project and its noise levels during construction, and it may not be pleasing to the eye. 

The State Public Service Commission will give community members the opportunity to comment on the project on Nov. 6 at 2 and 6 p.m. at the Jefferson County Fair park grounds in the activity center. 

Nearing the end of the meeting, a few updates were given regarding the Broadband internet access project:

  • On Thursday, Oct. 24 the committee will be having its next meeting. 
    • Talking points may include how Broadband can support environmental wellbeing and how it would be incorporated in the 2020 budget. 
  • The grant for the project must be turned in by Dec. 19, 2019. 
  • Support from the community and county board is vital for this project to succeed. 

Two following community members from Jefferson County made claims against the county for damages.  Both cases were disallowed because the county believes they were not responsible for the alleged damages. 

  • Gary Lex – Damaged his vehicle on I-94 while driving behind a Jefferson County dump truck.  A rock was thrown from the truck, and allegedly caused damages worth $388.85.
  • Melissa Mason – Vehicle was damaged by loose gravel on Highway A and believes the county is responsible because of poor highway maintenance.  The alleged damages cost $543.99. 

For more information on the Jefferson County Board, including meeting agendas and minutes, visit

New 2020 budget proposed at the Whitewater Common Council meeting

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Written by Rachel Charniak

The Whitewater Common Council discussed the proposed 2020 budget of $9.8 million, a 2.5 percent increase from last year, at its meeting on Tuesday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Whitewater Municipal Building. 

City Manager, Cameron Clapper, presented on the budget and noted that funds are being drawn from property taxes and intergovernmental revenue.  However, intergovernmental revenue is starting to decrease, and residents may be taxed more. 

Clapper said, “We try to apply the revenues we receive to funds for specific purposes.”  Revenues may be used for general government, public safety, and public works.

Following the meeting on October 1, the budget will be reviewed by the finance committee October 10-24.  Then, on November 5, it is re-presented to the Whitewater Common Council.  The public hearing and adoption is November 19. 

The Common Council discussed a few spending items within the 2020 budget.  These included Clay St. reconstruction, lakes draw down project, radio console upgrades for the police department, and the installation of an amphitheater. 

Palmyra-Eagle schools

Matthew Sylvester-Knudtson and Mark Elworthy represented Whitewater schools at the Common Council meeting and discussed what the process of dissolving the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District (PEASD) would look like.  If Palmyra-Eagle schools are dissolved, the Whitewater district would take over a section of the PEASD. 

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will put together a seven-person School District Boundary Appeal Board (SDBAB) with one board member from DPI, two members from a small district, two members from a medium district, and two members from a large district.  After September 10, the appeal board will begin meeting and work to determine a solution.  Knudtson noted that “They are by statute required to make their decision by January 15.” 

If the Palmyra-Eagle school district is given permission to dissolve, it would take effect on July 1, 2020, and boundary lines would be redrawn to ensure all areas are being taken up by nearby existing districts.  If the request is not approved, Palmyra-Eagle schools would continue operations as usual.

In other Whitewater Common Council updates:

  • Entertainer and comedian Charlie Berens is coming to the Young Auditorium on October 19 at 8 p.m.  Proceeds from the event are going to the Whitewater Police Department K-9 Unit.  Tickets are $15 for UW-Whitewater students, and $25 for adults. 
  • Whitewater’s 29th annual CROP walk occurred on October 6, and 25 percent of proceeds went to the Whitewater Food Pantry and UW-W Warhawk Food Pantry.  The CROP walk helps raise awareness in the Whitewater community about world hunger. 
  • Anyone with expired or unwanted medications can participate in the DEA National Take-Back by taking their drugs to the Whitewater police in the Walmart parking lot on October 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to properly dispose of their medications. 
  • Mark Elworthy presented the Whitewater School District Annual Report.  He discussed Jerry Award winners, Ferradermis (the robotics team) winning the Wisconsin regional competition, national FFA winners, and more. 
  • Council member James Allen proposed future agendas include discussion of tarped cars on others property. 

For more information on the Whitewater Common Council, including meeting agendas, minutes, and meeting broadcasts, visit

Introductory Post – A reward is being offered to anyone who can find the “real killer” of Teresa Halbach

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Steven Avery’s attorney sent out a tweet on Monday, September 9 claiming there is a $100,000 reward for finding and convicting the “real murderer” of photojournalist Teresa Halbach. In 2005, Teresa Halbach was instructed to take pictures of Steven Avery’s vehicle he had for sale. Later, bits of her clothing and bones were found in Avery’s fire pit. The reward is being offered by a citizen, and tips can be called in at 630-847-3733. For more information on the story, visit

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