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City to cut back on curbside wood chipping PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 18:56

Port Works Board agrees to reduce crews’ time at homes, charge residents when services take longer than 14 minutes

Anticipating that there will be “an explosion” of dead ash trees due to the emerald ash borer in the coming years, the Port Washington Board of Public Works on Tuesday decided to reduce the time it will spend chipping wood at homes before residents are charged.

Beginning next year, the city will chip wood outside homes for as long as 14 minutes with no charge, the board agreed. After that, residents will be charged $1.83 a minute, with a minimum of five minutes ($9.16), plus a $10 administrative fee.

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven recommended the change, saying he wants to discourage people from hiring a contractor to take down their dead trees and then placing the wood at the curb for the city to handle.

“I can see that overwhelming our staff next year,” he said. “We’re not trying to make money on this, but to encourage homeowners to have their contractors take care of the chipping.”

Too often, Vanden Noven said, “contractors will tell the homeowner it’ll be $1,200 to take down your tree but only $1,000 if we don’t have to chip it.” 

J.D. Hoile, who will become the city’s street commissioner later this month, told the board some contractors will cut the bill by half if they don’t have to chip the wood.

“We have to discourage them from saying, ‘Let’s have the city do it,’” Hoile said. “It’s going to be an issue. We can see it now.”

Board members were initially wary of the change, saying they did not want to penalize people who trim the trees at their home and need to get rid of the resulting brush.

“That’s a really nice service the city offers,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich, a member of the board, said.

Street Commissioner Dave Ewig said that it won’t affect most people.

“Our crews can chip an awful lot of brush in 15 minutes,” he said.

City arborist Jon Crain agreed, saying, “It’s not going to affect the average person who trims their trees. You almost have to have a full tree removal (to incur a charge).”

Board member Jason Wittek questioned who times the crews when they chip. Ewig noted that the crews are good at estimating the time it will take when they arrive at a home, and if they suspect it will take a great deal of time they keep track.

Vanden Noven said the change will also  help the city keep its expenses low. Currently, when the crew spends more than 20 minutes at a house, a staff member checks to see which workers are there and calculates the exact cost to the city.

The new policy charges a flat fee based on the average wage paid to the full-time street department crew and the summer help, he said.

The board also approved spending $56,431 to buy 617 trees to be planted by the street department next year. Of those, 417 will be planted in spring and 200 in fall.

“We’re planting more trees than ever,” Vanden Noven said. “With the emerald ash borer, we have quite a few more trees to replace.”

In addition, the city has taken on the task of planting trees in two subdivisions — the developers of each has paid the city for this service — and to replace trees along the streets when roads are rebuilt.

Crain told the board that the price of trees has increased significantly. The supply is limited, both because of the emerald ash borer and the fact that more people are building homes and landscaping, and that has driven up the price.

“It’s incredible the increase in price,” Ewig said, noting that about five years ago the city paid $50 for a Kentucky coffeetree. Today, the price is $100 or more.

Crain also noted that the city will be purchasing some trees grown in containers, something that hasn’t been done in the recent past. The price is comparable to other trees, he said, and they are easier to handle.Daily Press

 
Wall of Honor event at Port High School to mark Veterans Day PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 18:46

Veterans Day will be celebrated with the annual Wall of Honor ceremony at Port Washington High School Friday, Nov. 11.

The ceremony will run from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. in the school auditorium, and the public is welcome to attend.

Four veterans are being named to the Wall of Honor. 

Nominated by  the Landt-Thiel American Legion Post in Saukville are Richard Schoenfeldt and the late Roger Staton.

Staton, 55, an Army veteran, was in the Army Reserves when he died on June 11.

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post nominated Craig Heatwole and the Van Ells-Schanen American Legion Post in Port Washington nominated John Jacque.

The ceremony will include musical presentations by the Port High Symphonic Winds and the Concert Choir, as well as the playing of taps by Lilly Pankow.

In addition to a welcome by Principal Eric Burke, there will be an address by Student Council President Ann Nuedling before Nick Blank introduces the honorees.

There will be a rifle salute and reflections following remarks by the honorees and their representatives.Daily Press

 
Former Blue Heron official charged with embezzlement PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:44

Saukville resident accused of using group’s investments for unauthorized purchases

A 45-year-old woman who served on the board of directors of Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary in the Town of Saukville was charged last week in connection with the embezzlement of tens of thousands of dollars from the organization.

Saukville resident Lynette R. Whitford was arrested on Oct. 25 after organization officials and authorities determined that $142,000 had been transferred from the group’s investments to its bank account and that unauthorized charges totaling $85,533 were made to Blue Heron’s credit card account to pay for expenses that ranged from pricey vacations and shopping trips to medical and insurance bills, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Whitford is charged with one count of felony theft, punishable by a maximum five years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

An investigation by the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department began Sept. 15 when Blue Heron President John Kelm reported that the organization’s accountant informed him that tax returns had revealed discrepancies in the group’s financial records.

Kelm told authorities that in addition to being a Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary board member, Whitford had helped her mother Barb Bogatzke, who was the organization’s treasurer, manage the group’s accounts before Bogatzke died in March 2015, the complaint states.

Kelm added that Whitford was also paid $20 per hour to do maintenance and groundskeeping work at the preserve and had access to the organization’s credit card to purchase gas and supplies.

Authorities learned that Blue Heron had a TD Ameritrade investment account, a Port Washington State Bank account and a US Bank credit card account. 

After Bogatzke died, Blue Heron officials requested receipts and other financial information from Whitford. It took her more than a year to turn over the information, which according to authorities revealed that records of transfers from the investment account to the bank account were falsely recorded, according to the complaint. Authorities also determined that credit card payments and balances were not recorded accurately, according to the complaint.

A representative of Global Value Investment, the firm Blue Heron paid to manage its investments, told authorities that Whitford had made several requests for money to be transferred from the organization’s investment account to its bank account. According to the firm, the total amount transferred was about $142,000, the complaint states.

A review of credit card records by Blue Heron officials revealed 200 unapproved and improper charges made between December 2015 and July.

The charges include thousands of dollars worth of purchases at stores such as Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, Shopko, Game Stop and Target. A single purchase at Dick’s Sporting Goods was for $1,109, while another at Best Buy was for $1,847, according to the criminal complaint.

Travel-related purchases included airline tickets, hotels rooms and car rentals. One purchase listed in the criminal complaint was for three American Airline tickets for Whitford, her husband and another family member for $1,968. Authorities said Whitford spent more than $11,000 for a family trip to the 2015 Daytona 500.

Other purchases charged to Blue Heron’s credit card account were made at various salons, Victoria’s Secret, a liquor store, Fanatics NASCAR and Packers Pro Shop. Accounting services were also charged to the credit card.

When confronted by authorities, Whitford admitted to using Blue Heron’s credit card improperly and transferring money from its investments to pay for the charges, the complaint states.

Whitford said she expected her inheritance from her mother’s estate would more than cover the amount of money she charged on the organization’s credit card.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland set Whitford’s bail at $3,500 and ordered her not to leave the state.

This is not the first time a Blue Heron official has been accused of  embezzling from the organization. In 2007, Cheryl Gaszak, the former president of Blue Heron, was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing nearly $1 million from the organization and its founder, Sally Stefaniak, between 2002 and 2005.

Stefaniak, who died in 2003, established a foundation to create and maintain the 92-acre preserve along the Milwaukee River off Highway O.Daily Press

 
Job scam bilks Port resident out of $4,000 PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:42

Bogus offer of employment with Swiss firm leads man to withdraw money from bank

A 22-year-old Port Washington man was duped out of almost $4,000 last week in an elaborate employment scam referred to as spoofing, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.

The man had placed his resume on Monster.com and was contacted by someone claiming to be from a legitimate Swiss business, Hingiss said. 

The co-called company representative interviewed the man twice via FaceTime, Hingiss said, and the man later received a letter telling him he had been hired to sell computer-based equipment and software.

The man received a $3,988 check from the company on Oct. 23 with instructions to deposit it in his personal account and then withdraw the money in cash, Hingiss said. He was then told to meet with “Jason” in Mequon to turn over the money. 

The man was told that after that, he would receive a computer in the mail so he could begin work, Hingiss said.

When the man went to the Mequon office building, “Jason” met him in the lobby “because he was walking out to lunch,” Hingiss said, and the man turned over the funds.

The man later received another check from the company for almost $8,800. He notified police of the incident on Thursday, Oct. 27, Hingiss said.

The man had become suspicious because it took so long for the check to clear, Hingiss said, so he called his own bank and discovered it was a bad check.

Both the company that the man believed had hired him and the bank on which the check was drawn were legitimate businesses, Hingiss said, and the man and his family had checked on that.

“They did their due diligence in terms of researching the company,” he said. “This was a legitimate company and a legitimate bank. Everything else was fraudulent.”

Hingiss said people need to be wary of incidents when a firm issues a check but then wants the money back in cash.

“No company’s going to be asking you to make a large deposit into your account if you’re not hired yet, then withdraw the money,” he said.

Nor, he said, will a company send a check in excess of what is owed and ask for the difference in cash — another popular scam.

To check out employment offers, Hingiss suggested, people should call the company directly and ask for their employment status.

Monster.com has posted ways to avoid being taken in by fraud on its website, Hingiss added. “Anytime you’re doing stuff over the Internet, you have to take every and any precaution you can,” he said.Daily Press

 
Incumbent, student vie for Assembly seat PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:39

Brooks cites experience in 60th District race against teen who calls for change

The race for the state’s 60th District Assembly seat has a one-term incumbent facing a high school senior.

Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) is opposed by David Pelikan (I-Cedarburg) in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election.

Brooks, 51, a real estate broker and small business owner, said he deserves a second term after doing a “good job representing the district and responding to constituents.”

Brooks said the bill he co-authored that allows columbaria to be built on church properties as one highlight of his term. It was signed into law last November.

Pelikan, 17, a Cedarburg High School senior, said the election isn’t about age but about ideas for the state’s future.

“Experience is not what drives Wisconsin forward, but common-sense legislation is, and that’s exactly what I bring to the table,” he said.

Brooks cited transportation as the state’s biggest issue, namely finding funds to fix Wisconsin’s roads.

Brooks said he is against increasing the gas tax, calling it a “declining revenue,” since more and more cars aren’t using as much gas as before.

Brooks said one way to keep down the cost of local highway projects is to avoid using federal funding, which automatically requires different standards and project elements that may not be necessary. He suggests swapping state money for federal funds.

“There’s a number of things we can address in the transportation budget without raising revenue,” he said.

Education, namely school accountability, is next on Brooks’ list. He would like to revisit the state’s school funding formula and ways to address failing schools.

Rules passed in the last legislative session allowed the Milwaukee County administrator to address failing schools, “and he failed to act on it,” Brooks said.

Brooks said he wants to empower the right people to address education. “We have great schools in my district, but the entire state pays for failing schools and failing students,” he said.

Brooks said he is proud of amendments restoring some items in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal last year. One example is helping the University of Wisconsin System get some funding back and eliminating some obstacles in university building projects.

Brooks cited his experience as Ozaukee County Board chairman in helping to pass a bill that allowed the Ozaukee and Washington county health departments to merge.

Pelikan said the state’s biggest issue is “hyper-partisanship.” In the last six years, the state has gone from one of the most bipartisan to one of the most politically divided, and the Legislature has been gerrymandered, giving one party complete control, he said.

Pelikan said through his platform bipartisanship can return.

Pelikan said he wants to make cuts in the Department of Corrections budget by sentencing those committing nonviolent drug crimes to community service, which he said will lower costs and reduce recidivism. 

“We want to keep people safe. But it’s not necessary to throw people in jail who aren’t a danger to other people,” he said.

Pelikan compared Wisconsin spending $1.2 billion per year to house 22,000 inmates to Minnesota spending $500,000 to house 10,000 inmates. Money saved through reforms, he said, could be invested in education.

Pelikan also wants to develop easy ways for people to connect with legislators. A petition with a designated number of signatures should require a response from the elected official, he said.

Pelikan said he supports campaign finance reform and wants to limit political action committee donations to candidates, wants to set feed-in tariffs for renewable energy and supports tax breaks for renewable energy producers.

In addition, Pelikan said he wants to provide tax incentives to companies that employ a certain number of state residents at certain wage levels.

Pelikan said he plans to major in political science and economics in college but hasn’t decided where he will attend.

The 60th District covers most of Ozaukee County and part of eastern Washington County. The winner of the election will serve a two-year term.Daily Press

 
Daylight Saving Time Ends PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:34

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