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County server glitch leaves governments in the lurch PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 18:42

Problem that began last week snarls operations for Ozaukee municipalities

A problem with Ozaukee County’s computer servers has left much of the county and several municipalities without email and access to their files for nearly a week.Daily Press

The system was to be brought back online Wednesday “with the hopes the problem will be resolved,” county Director of Information Technology Jason Dzwinel said.

E-mails could not be sent or received at county addresses since last Thursday. Municipalities using the county’s e-mail servers facing the same fate include the city of Port Washington, the villages of Saukville, Fredonia and Belgium and towns of Port Washington, Saukville, Fredonia and Belgium.

Grafton and Mequon are on different e-mail and website servers and were not affected.

In addition to emails, many municipal websites are down since they are hosted on the county’s system.

The issue reached the point that some county employees were given the option to take vacation since they couldn’t accomplish much at work.

“It’s up to the departments; it’s up to them to decide if they can be utilized. If not, they have the option of taking some time off,” County Administrator Tom Meaux said.

The county had an issue with the storage on its virtual servers, which caused a delay in the network, Dzwinel said.

“It’s functioning very slowly so users don’t have access to email and many of the software programs we use,” he said.

Latency issues were noticed last week, Dzwinel said, and staff began looking for the problem.

“The difficulty is in diagnosing the issue because there are so many pieces and parts to the network,” he said.

By process of elimination, Dzwinel said the problem was found with the county’s C drives, meaning in addition to no e-mail access, employees can’t access any of their files, either. The affected municipalities face the same problem.

Servers from one virtual storage area are being moved to another virtual storage area.

“It’s our hope that that will clear things up, and it should. Unfortunately, it’s a slow process because it’s a big network,” Dzwinel said.

“We have a disaster recovery plan in place for most disasters. This one was so unique and out of the box at the SAN level that that was the cause and length of the outage,” he said.

Municipalities are anxiously awaiting the solution.

“It’s crippling us, pretty much. Anything to do with e-mail or the county server we can’t do anything with,” Fredonia Village Clerk Sandi Tretow said.

Phone calls and faxes have filled in during the interim.

“You’ve got to make do. There are a lot of things you find you can do not using e-mail. That can only go for so long, you know,” Tretow said.

Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said officers are “doing things the old-fashioned way,” writing reports out by hand. The department can still do background and license plate checks since those procedures use a state-run system, he said.

“If anybody is sending us e-mails and wondering why we are not responding, that would be it,” he said.

Port Washington got hit with a double whammy as it had a separate, unrelated issue with its Time Warner modem. Internal phone and fax lines went down Tuesday morning. Phone reception would sometimes get muffled and internal phone extensions didn’t work without calling outside the system, Administrative Assistant Judy Klumb said.

The city has adjusted accordingly.

“We’re getting a lot of filing done. Instead of e-mailing agendas, we’re mailing agendas,” Klumb said.

“It’s really hard not to have e-mail to work with. You don’t realize how much you need it. Thank goodness it’s not a payroll week.”

Dzwinel said Hewlett-Packard, which runs the county’s storage area network, has been on the scene, along with a number of vendors that serve different parts of the network.

“It’s just all hands on deck until we have a solution,” he said.

Man charged with homicide for selling drug in fatal overdose PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 18:36

Milwaukee resident accused in Percocet deal that led to death of Port High graduate

A 55-year-old man was charged Monday with first-degree reckless homicide for allegedly selling the drugs that contributed  to the overdose death of a 27-year-old Port Washington High School graduate and Fredonia resident in December.Daily Press

Milwaukee resident Michael Roby is charged with selling the narcotic pain medication Percocet to a woman who purchased it on behalf of Jacob Tietz on Dec. 29, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court. 

The next morning, Tietz was found dead of “mixed drug toxicity of which Percocet was a substantial factor,” the complaint states.

Roby has been held in the county jail since January in lieu of $35,000 bail in connection with a separate but related drug charge.

According to the criminal complaint, sheriff’s deputies responding to a rescue call were told by Tietz’s father that he discovered his son’s body in his bedroom at 11 a.m. Dec. 30.

Near the body was a tissue with dried blood, a rubber tourniquet and other materials used to “cook” and inject drugs, the complaint states.

Deputies also found Tietz’s cell phone, which they used to track down a woman he was communicating with about buying drugs.

The woman was arrested later that day and told authorities that Tietz contacted her about buying drugs. She said she knew Tietz had a drug problem because they had attended alcohol and drug abuse counseling sessions together in the past.

The woman said she made arrangements with Mike, whom she later identified as Roby, to buy 16 15-milligram Percocet tablets. At 3:15 p.m. on Dec. 29, she said she picked up Tietz at his home and, after stopping at an ATM where he withdrew money, they drove to meet Roby, according to the complaint. 

At the designated meeting location, which is not specified in the complaint, the woman got into Roby’s vehicle and paid him $200 provided by Tietz for the Percocet tablets, the complaint states.

Then she and Tietz drove to a nearby McDonald’s, where Tietz snorted some of the Percocet, she said.

About a week after Tietz’s death, the woman agreed to help authorities set up a sting that allowed them to arrest and charge Roby with conspiracy to deliver narcotics-armed with a dangerous weapon while results of the autopsy were pending.

On Jan. 5, the woman called Roby and told him there was “a kid up in Fredonia that has like $400,” according to the complaint.

She said she negotiated a deal with Roby, who agreed to sell her $400 worth of 20-milligram Percocet tablets at $14 each, and arranged to meet him, the complaint states.

Members of the Milwaukee drug unit, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force descended on the meeting location and, as they were attempting to make the arrest, Roby swallowed the contents of a pill bottle.

When told by officers he could die of an overdose, Roby said, “I don’t care,” according to the complaint.

Authorities discovered a loaded gun near Roby.

Roby has pleaded not guilty to the drug delivery charge. He’s scheduled to make his initial court appearance on the homicide charge on June 16.

The homicide charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision.

The drug delivery charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, although that can be increased by three years if the person convicted was armed, and five years of extended supervision.

PW-S district to buy 1,800 laptops for students PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 19:02

Board’s approval of Chromebook purchase reaffirms effort to provide computers for everyone in grades 5 through 12

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved the purchase of 1,800 Chromebook laptop computers, recommitting to an initiative launched three years ago that provided all middle and high school students with computers they use as their own.Daily Press

“We were leaders in terms of one-on-one devices for our students three years ago, and it’s been very successful,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming told the board.

The computers will cost $440,500 and be paid for with $250,000 from the district’s technology fund, $100,000 in utility savings due to a mild winter and another $100,000 in operational savings, Froemming said.

Three years ago, the district invested about $1 million in Apple iPads for fifth through seventh-graders and Chromebooks for eighth through 12th-graders. Computers were also purchased for labs, or learning centers, at elementary schools.

The investment reflected the belief that modern teaching and learning strategies are significantly enhanced by giving each middle and high school student a computer to use at school and at home during the school year. 

Officials remain committed to that belief but are tweaking their approach.

Although iPads lend themselves to interactive learning, they proved problematic in other regards. Without keyboards, they cannot effectively be used by students to compose essays or take standardized tests. 

In addition, the iPad is an application-based device, which makes maintaining the software on hundreds of the tablets time consuming and costly.

That’s why the district is abandoning iPads in favor of the Chromebook, which is a laptop computer that runs the Chrome operating system. It’s designed to be primarily used while connected to the Internet and mostly uses applications and stores data in “the cloud.”

They are also significantly less expensive than iPads. The district will purchase Dell Chromebooks for $193.50 each. It will also have to pay a licensing fee and buy protective cases, bringing the total cost per laptop to about $245. The district paid $450 for each iPad and more than $300 for each Chromebook three years ago.

The new computers will be distributed to students at the start of the new school year in September.

In the meantime, the district will sell or repurpose as many of the 3-year-old devices as possible.

Students and teachers will be able to purchase their iPads for $70 or their Chromebooks for $30 at the end of the school year. 

Some computers will be reassigned to elementary schools and retained as backups. Some will also likely be made available to private schools, which have expressed an interest in them, Froemming said.

The district tentatively plans to offer those that remain and are in decent condition to the public from June 8 through June 10 for $80 per iPad and $35 per Chromebook. Although buyers would have 48 hours to return the devices, there is no “express or implied warranty” beyond that, Froemming said.

The district currently leases most of the student computers and can return those they don’t sell or repurpose for credit.

County to use grant to check water quality at Harrington PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 18:57

Department’s studies in, around Belgium park designed to determine source of E. coli

Once identified as some of the worst water quality in the country, part of Ozaukee County’s Lake Michigan shoreline is under the microscope again, this time with the plan to find and fix the polluting sources.Daily Press

The Ozaukee Land and Water Management Department is using a $38,500 grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan to monitor the water quality in and around Harrington Beach State Park in the Town of Belgium. Department Director Andy Holschbach said he is planning to inventory all of the outfalls within a mile north and south of the park.

“Our concern is E. coli,” Holschbach said. “I’ll identify strategic testing points and follow up to see where they’re coming from.”

Samples will be taken to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, where the types of E. coli will be determined.

If a high level of human E. coli is found, the cause is likely a failing septic system. Holschbach said his department, which administers the county’s sanitation ordinance, will inform landowners with faulty systems and make sure they get fixed or replaced.

For high levels of bovine E. coli, Holschbach said farms will be examined. He said there are ways to treat dirty water or divert clean water around barnyards.

“There’s always things you can do,” he said.

Farmers whose cattle contribute to the pollution would pick up 30% of the costs of improving their barnyards. The rest comes from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Holschbach said.

Testing is slated to be completed by the end of the year.

The work is a follow-up to 11 years of research by the Ozaukee County Public Health Department, including a 2014 study that showed high E. coli levels at Highway D and Cedar Beach Road after heavy rainfall.

The conclusion was stormwater sources that originate outside the park were the major contributors of beach water pollution, said Dan Ziegler, environmental health specialist.

Of the bacteria found, bovine was the most common. Human and gull were also found, he said.

While the park includes a manmade quarry with a point extending into the lake that has a stormwater outfall, Ziegler said its influence on water quality is less than from stormwater coming from outside the park.

Ziegler said data from 2003 to 2014 shows that weather is a major factor in how much pollution enters the lake and if beach advisories are issued.

“It really shows that rainfall is a significant contributor,” Ziegler said.

“Some people think (pollution is) coming up from Milwaukee, but that’s 100 miles away. It basically establishes that beach advisories are local phenomena.”

Ziegler is supporting Holschbach’s work by doing beach water monitoring and on days after large rainfall and using a testing technique called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), which identifies possible sources of E. coli like mammals or birds.

A grant covered qPCR in 2014, but not last year. Ziegler said this year the federal government is paying for the tests.

Ziegler’s testing will measure the amount of E. coli in stormwater from outfalls and in the beach water. Then, the type of E. coli from both will be determined.

“If there’s a match, you know the level and the significant contributor,” he said.

Holschbach and Ziegler last month discussed the studies at a Town of Belgium board meeting. Holschbach said he plans to give the board an update in fall.

“Our goal is to work closely with people to improve water quality in the area. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

This is the second grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan the department has received. It had completed stormwater abatement by installing two infiltration ponds to further treat waste at Cedar Beach Road and Highway D.

A 2013 report issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council said that Wisconsin has the second worst water quality in the nation along its Lake Michigan and Lake Superior beaches, contending the Ozaukee County shoreline is a significant part of the problem.

City will help foot bill for officials’ trip to Germany PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Thursday, 05 May 2016 20:13

Council approves spending $1,000 for Port delegation’s visit to sister city this spring

The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to pay $1,000 to defray a portion of the cost for a delegation of city officials to travel to Germany this spring.

The trip is intended to formalize a sister city relationship with Sassnitz, Germany, a community that Mayor Tom Mlada said is similar to Port in many ways.

Both communities have a population of around 10,000 people, and both are located on a large body of water. Tourism and fishing are among the major industries in each.

Mlada noted that Sassnitz is known for a long pedestrian bridge connecting the city to its port — something that the city is looking at to connect Rotary and Coal Dock parks.

Sassnitz is also known as the home of the decommissioned British submarine HMS Otus, a floating museum, Mlada noted while Port has several maritime-related museums and is a regular stop for the tall ship Denis Sullivan.

“We’re really excited about this,” he said. 

During the visit, Mlada said, Port officials will discuss everything from networking to city planning to downtown redevelopment.

“I think there’s a lot we can glean from one another,” he said.

Mlada said he will head the city’s delegation, which also will include city arborist Jon Crain. They are willing to make the trip, whether or not the city subsidizes it, he said.

“We’re that passionate about it,” he said.

Others considering making the trip include Engineering Technician Ross Kroeger, Director of Planning and Development Randy Tetzlaff and Ald. Dan Becker, the council president, Mlada said.

The council’s $1,000 contribution will be matched by $1,000 from the city’s Environmental Planning Committee, he said.Daily Press

Mlada estimated the cost of the trip would be $2,000 per person — not including the city’s contribution, which will be split among those making the trip.

Officials from Sassnitz will visit Port Washington next year, the mayor added.

Aldermen agreed to take the funds for the trip from the economic development budget.

City still waiting for Blues Factory offer PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 19:55

Port officials hope to hear from developer of controversial lakefront project in time for May 3 council meeting

Port Washington officials have not yet received an offer from Madison-based developer Christopher Long to purchase a lakefront parking lot for The Blues Factory, a Paramount blues-themed entertainment complex, Mayor Tom Mlada said Tuesday.

However, he said, officials still hope to receive an offer in time to consider it during the Tuesday, May 3, Common Council meeting.

Mlada said he has recently spoke to Long, who told him he is working on the offer and hopes to have it to the Common Council by next week’s meeting.

“We’re getting closer,” Mlada said.

The city’s decision to sell the north slip parking lot for development is a controversial one. 

Advocates tout the economic benefits of development, saying the city needs to provide a year-round attraction that will bring business to the downtown. 

Opponents in turn have said the benefit of an open lakefront outweigh any economic gain, saying the city should not sell publicly owned waterfront land.

The Common Council has been meeting in closed session regularly this year to discuss negotiations with Long.

If the city does receive an offer to purchase, Mlada said, aldermen may discuss it in closed session. Any action on the offer, however, must come in an open session.

Mlada said that if Long wants to reach his goal of opening the Blues Factory next year, in time for the centennial of the Wisconsin Chair Co., the parent company of Paramount Records, an agreement must be reached soon.

“If we’re going to do that, we’re coming to a critical juncture,” Mlada said.

But, he said, if an offer doesn’t come in time for next week’s meeting, that’s OK.

“At the end of the day, we’re very vested in the process,” he said. “If we’re not quite there, it’s better that they take the time they need to do it right.”

Even if the city does reach an agreement to sell the parking lot, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before the development begins.

A development agreement with the city must be reached, and City Administrator Mark Grams said recently that work on this has not yet begun.

Several issues are expected to be addressed in either the offer to purchase or development agreement. Daily Press

They include who will remediate any contamination on the site — the city has conducted environmental tests on the property that have shown minimal contamination — and assurances that the development will pay off for the city, especially if city incentives are used for the project.

Long said last year that he would be seeking $1 million in incentives. In addition to the incentives, the project would be funded through private equity — as much as $500,000 from accredited investors and $1 million in crowdfunding — as well as a construction loan, he said.

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