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Distracted driver blamed for drinking water warning PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 19:21

Woman reaching for purse hits fire hydrant, prompts boil advisory

    What started as an accident turned into a major inconvenience for some Port Washington residents last week after they were warned to boil their drinking water for a day.
    It was an unusual accident and aftermath, Water Supt. Dave Kleckner said.
    “It’s something we haven’t dealt with in the time I’ve been here,” he said, adding that’s been 35-1/2 years. “This was totally beyond our control.”
    The accident occurred about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, when a 26-year-old Belgium woman driving north on Bywater Drive reached down to pick up her purse, which had fallen, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.
    “When she looked up, she was jumping the curb,” he said.
    The woman’s 2008 Saturn, which was totalled, struck the fire hydrant, breaking both it and the lateral pipe feeding it, Kleckner said.
    It’s normal for the hydrant to break in an accident, he said, noting they’re designed to do just that. But it’s very unusual for the impact to fracture the lateral, he said.
    The accident happened just as he was heading home, Kleckner said. While on his way home, he got a call that someone in the Misty Ridge subdivision on the city’s south side had no water.
    “Then calls started coming in from other subdivisions — New Port Vista, Greystone, Woodridge,” Kleckner said.
    Once police notified him of the accident, he headed to the scene. Although water was gushing from the pipe, department workers had to shut off the flow slowly to avoid damaging other pipes, Kleckner said.
    It took about an hour to completely close the pipe, he said, estimating more than 400,000 gallons of water were lost during that time.
    The damaged section of pipe didn’t feed any customers, Kleckner said, but the amount of water flowing from the pipe caused customers in the area to significantly lose pressure or lose water service all together.
    Kleckner consulted with the Department of Natural Resources — something required by law after a significant loss of pressure in a system — and was told the city needed to impose a precautionary boil order.
    That’s because when the pressure in the system dropped, cross connections or illegal connections could have allowed bacteria to enter the system, he said.
    When the system is operating normally, the water pressure doesn’t allow this to occur, he said.
    Water department workers collected eight samples of water Wednesday evening —two each from the Misty Ridge, Greystone, New Port Vista and Woodridge subdivisions —for testing, a process that takes 24 hours.
    The department has a certified lab to do the testing, and the samples came back clear Thursday evening, Nov. 16. The boil advisory was then cancelled.
     A new hydrant was installed on Friday, Nov. 17.
    Police cited the Belgium woman for inattentive driving, Hingiss said, adding the department will likely seek restitution for the water that was lost and other costs.
    “This just shows the importance of paying attention and not getting distracted,” he said. “She could have been on a sidewalk hitting someone.”Daily Press

Residents question town recycling center plan PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:38

Debate over Port board’s proposal to buy land next to hall to expand facility dominates budget discussion

     A debate about the future of the Town of Port Washington’s garbage and recycling center was the central subject of the 2018 budget hearing.
    The Town Board is considering purchasing two lots adjacent to Town Hall to expand its recycling and garbage operations, but Gordon Naujock, 3642 Norport Dr., suggested that other options be explored.
    “How serious are you in pursuing it?” he asked the board, noting that purchasing the properties could cost the township $500 annually in taxes it would otherwise collect.
    “You guys are charged with making the best decisions for the town, and maybe that’s not the best one.”
    Board members said the current situation works but is not ideal, and as the town grows things will only get more difficult.
    Buying the properties will make it possible to handle the operations into the future, they said.
    But Naujock said the town should consider moving the operations from the west side of the Town Hall to the east, saying there is plenty of property adjacent to the parking lot to collect the garbage and recycling.
    The parking lot reaches almost to the end of the town’s property, board members said. Even if the town owned the land, they said, a stormwater ditch next to the lot would make expanding the operation difficult if not impossible.
    But Naujock said the $50,000 the town allocated in the 2018 budget for the properties to the east — funds town officials said would be the initial payment for the lots — could be used to buy adjoining land on the west side of the hall, if needed, and make any necessary modifications.
    The properties the town is considering buying, he added, are “probably the two best lots in Knellsville.”
    Town Chairman Jim Melichar said that only the property next to the Town Hall would likely be used for the garbage and recycling operations.
    The town would likely lease the other property at the intersection of Highland and Highway H, he said.
    Owning those lots would give the town greater control when and if future development is proposed there, Melichar added.
    “We don’t know what’s going to happen until we get sewer and water here,” Melichar said.
    Paul Gantner, 2550 Hillcrest Rd., said the rent the town would realize from the corner property would offset any loss of taxes, and added that the town needs to do something to improve its garbage and recycling operations.
    “This is an investment for the town,” Gantner added, particularly considering the potential impact on future development.
    Terry Anewenter, 3693 Hwy. KK, agreed that the town should look at other options, saying, “I think that’s an interesting idea.”
    After learning that the road in front of the Town Hall is a dead-end that merges with a private driveway, Anewenter suggested that the town consider moving the dumpsters to the roadway instead of keeping them in the Town Hall parking lot.
    If the traffic flow doesn’t work, he said, the town could create a driveway from the current east-side parking lot to Highland Drive to accommodate it.
    Town Supr. Mike Didier noted there’s a long way to go before the town purchases the properties.
    The town has yet to receive an appraisal of the lots, which are assessed at $82,400 and $132,000, he said.
    If negotiations are successful, the Town Board would present the plan at the annual meeting of the electors in April, Melichar said.
    “We cannot buy it without approval from the electorate,” he said. “The negotiations may take until then.”
    The eight residents at the public hearing approved the $462,233 levy for 2018, which reflects an increase from this year’s levy of $457,517.
    The board then approved the budget of $572,415, an increase of .85% from this year’s budget of $567,564.
    The town tax rate is expected to be $2.23 per $1,000 assessed valuation.Daily Press

Main Street Inc. takes over to keep winter market alive PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:34

    Port Washington’s winter farmers market will continue this year after all.            Port Main Street Inc., which runs the summer farmers market, is taking over the reins after former organizers Pat and Amy Wilborn announced earlier this year that they would not continue the market.
    The first market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at First Congregational Church.
    “When we heard Pat and Amy weren’t going to do it this year, we thought ‘That’s a shame,’” said Annie Bahringer, who with Jennifer Sapiro is organizing the market. “It’s been established and pretty popular. We want to continue the tradition.”
    So far, there are about five vendors signed up to sell everything from canned good, jellies, pickled items, fresh eggs, baked goods and produce from Wellspring Farms.
    The women hope to add to that number before next weekend’s market, however.
    “We’d like to have about a dozen vendors,” Bahringer said. “We’re looking for produce mainly, food products made here — honey, meats.”
    They’d also like to add locally made handcrafted items, she said.
    They are looking to supplement the products with entertainment, such as live music and perhaps a children’s storytime so youngsters are occupied while their parents shop, she said.
    Even as the market continues at First Congregational Church, its traditional location, Bahringer said the women are seeking a downtown location, especially since the Main Street district encompasses downtown.
    “It is a Main Street project, but everything’s booked or leased,” she said.
    The second market of the season is set for Dec. 16 at First Congregational Church, although Bahringer said the women are looking for a venue to hold a market on Dec. 9.
    “We want to hold it a couple times before Christmas and then maybe once a month after,” she said.
    But above all, she said, the women want to continue the sense of community that a market engenders.    
    “The summer farmers market is so wonderful and such a great community gathering,” Bahringer said. “We just wanted to continue that kind of community feeling and make it a destination.”
    Anyone interested in a booth at the winter farmers market is asked to send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .    Daily Press

Port will present budget with levy hike, rate decrease PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:32

    The City of Port Washington’s proposed 2018 budget is slated to increase 2.5%, with the corresponding tax levy increasing 2.2%.
    The $9.5 million expenditure budget and $5.4 million levy — which comes in just $353 under the state levy limit — were recommended recently by the Finance and License Committee.
    But even though the levy and budget are increasing, the tax rate will decrease because of the amount of growth in the city, City Administrator Mark Grams said, He estimated the tax rate, excluding the tax incremental financing district, will be $5.98 per $1,000 assessed valuation, a decrease of about eight cents.
    For the owner of a house assessed at $225,000, he said, their city taxes will decrease about $19.
    But, he emphasized, that’s not a final number because the TIF calculation hasn’t been computed yet.
    A public hearing on the budget will be held during the council’s 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, meeting. Aldermen are expected to approve the budget that night.
    The committee met all day on Oct. 26 to work on the budget and tweaked the final document Oct. 30 before recommending the spending plan, which largely maintains the status quo, Grams said.
    “As far as services go, it’s about the same,” he said.
    No new initiatives are included in the budget, which does include increased funding for elections — there will be four next year compared to two this year, Grams said.
    The biggest change may be a recommendation to eliminate the parks and recreation director’s position, he said.
    Director Charlie Imig has resigned effective Nov. 8, and instead of replacing him, the Personnel Committee has recommended splitting his duties between Kiley Schulte, the recreation supervisor, and Jon Crain, the city forester.
    That change will save the city between $40,000 and $50,000 next year, Grams said.
    The city expects to borrow about $2 million for capital projects next year, Grams said, primarily for road projects in 2018 and 2029.
    About $80,000 will be earmarked for a new computer system at City Hall, he said. The city is tied into the county’s computer system but there have been a number of issues with that lately, Grams said.
    The city plans to use the proceeds from the sale of 35.19 acres of bluff land for the Prairie’s Edge subdivision to finance several other capital items, Grams said.
    Black Cap Halcyon is expected to pay $2,257,086 for the land. Those funds will be used, in part, to pay for a new tanker truck to replace the current, 32-year-old truck at an estimated cost of $400,000, and a new ambulance for $225,000, as well as some street department equipment, and improvements to the heating system at the Niederkorn Library, Grams said.
    Grams also told the Finance and License Committee that the city will likely end 2017 $80,000 to $90,000 over budget, the result of a computer glitch that overstated the number of building permits being issued and a miscalculation in the payment in lieu of taxes the water utility will pay this year.
    He is meeting with department heads to see where savings might be realized to offset some of these shortfalls, Grams said, adding the city’s reserve fund has enough to cover the gap if needed.Daily Press

Board to weigh in on mayor’s wheel tax plan PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 19:30

Levy of $20 would fund Port Washington roadwork

    Port Washington’s Board of Public Works will weigh in on a proposed wheel tax in the city when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tueday, Nov. 21.
    The board is expected to make a recommendation on the wheel tax to the Finance and License Committee and the Common Council.
    Mayor Tom Mlada proposed the $20 wheel tax on Nov. 7, saying it would provide the city with a way to fund improvements to its streets.
    The fee, collected by the State Department of Transportation when drivers renew their license plates annually, would not supplant the funds currently budgeted and borrowed by the city for road projects, Mlada said, but instead supplement them.
    Everyone acknowledges that street repairs are a priority, Mlada said, but costs continue to increase while the city’s budget is lean, state aids are declining and levy limits mean the city can’t tax more for roadwork.
    He projected the city could collect $200,000 annually from the fee, noting it would pay for resurfacing two-thirds of a mile of street, resurfacing and replacing the curb along one-third mile or completely reconstructing almost two city blocks.
    “We could make a difference,” Mlada said. “This is not chump change.”
    Mlada urged the council to quickly adopt the plan, noting the earliest the fee could be collected is April.
    The idea met with mixed reaction from aldermen.
    “I am really torn on this,” Ald. Dave Larson said. “I do not like taxes and fees.” Daily Press

Roads, land purchase drive proposed tax hike in town PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 08 November 2017 20:21

Budget, 8.5% levy increase to be presented during Nov. 13 hearing

    Town of Port Washington voters will have their say on a proposed 2018 budget during a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13.
    The proposed budget reflects an increase of 8.5%, from $567,564 this year to $572,415 next year.
    The proposed levy would increase from $457,517 this year to $462,233 next year. To raise that amount, the tax rate would increase from $2.18 this year to $2.28 next year.
    Town Chairman Jim Melichar said two major items are spurring the increase — a $50,000 allocation for purchase of property and an increase in the town roads budget of $80,000.
    The town is considering buying two properties just west of the Town Hall on Highland Drive to expand its recycling operations, and Melichar said the $50,000 would reflect an initial payment if a purchase agreement can be reached.
    “They (the property owners) gave Mike the idea they would like payments over time,” Melichar said, referring to Supr. Mike Didier, a real estate agent.
    The town is currently waiting to receive an appraisal of the properties as it proceeds with negotiations, he said.
    The idea of purchasing the properties came because a number of residents have asked the town to put a roof over its recycling operation, which is housed next to the Town Hall, officials have said, adding there isn’t enough room on the Town Hall property to erect a building.
    The family that owns the adjoining lots has approached the town to see if it might be interested in buying the parcels, prompting the town’s actions.
    The parcel closest to the hall has a dilapidated house on it, while the other has a rental property. The town could potentially use the lot closest to it for its recycling operation and either continue to rent out the other property or tear it down for future development, officials have said.
    The road funds are slated for two projects — reconstruction of Northwoods Road, which is considered the worst road in the town, and seal coating Mink Ranch Road — Melichar said.
    This would complete the Mink Ranch Road project, he said.
    The Northwoods Road project is expected to be done in conjunction with the Village of Saukville, which has jurisdiction over the west side of the roadway.   Daily Press

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