Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 20:52
PW-S district’s $49.4 million improvement plan on minds of incumbents, challenger in Tuesday election
Three Port Washington-Saukville School Board incumbents face a challenger who is no stranger to education in the Tuesday, April 7, election — and it should come as no surprise that the district’s $49.4 million referendum, also on next week’s ballot, is on their minds.
Aaron Paulin, a social studies teacher at West Bend West High School, is challenging incumbents Brenda Fritsch and Michelle Shinners, who were elected to their first term in 2012, and Brian Stevens, who was appointed to the board in February 2014 to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Jim Olson.
The top three vote-getters will represent the City of Port Washington on the nine-member board.
If there’s one thing all the candidates agree on, it’s that the district needs to invest $45.6 million in its high school, which dates to 1931, and $3.8 million in Dunwiddie Elementary School, where an addition would be built to alleviate overcrowding.
Noting that the current school improvement plan is a pared version of an initial proposal to spend between $86 million and $97 million on facilities, Stevens said, “That initial amount probably struck people pretty hard. Now we’ve come up with something that meets the needs of today’s students and our future students.”
The improvements, he said, will benefit generations of students.
“This is a reasonable amount of money to invest in the long-term future of our schools,” said Stevens, whose children attend Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Port Washington High School.
Shinners said the board’s initial plan to spend at least $86 million on schools, which was modified after a majority of residents who responded to a district survey indicated that was too much money, was not unreasonable. The projects called for in the current plan are the least that should be done to improve schools, she said.
“When I look at our original proposal, none of it was over the top or frivolous. There was nothing crazy about it,” Shinners, whose children attend the middle and high school, said. “It was what we needed.
“I’m doing this for future generations, and I’m finding it disheartening that people don’t have the same vision to pay it forward.”
The candidates agreed that the space crunch at elementary schools and the age and antiquated design of the high school make a convincing case in support of the referendum.
“When I took a tour of the high school, I was devastated,” Shinners said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s where I send my son.’
“There are a lot of things that should have been dealt with a long time ago but weren’t.”
Paulin said one of the primary reasons he and his family moved from Belgium to Port Washington in August was because of the Port-Saukville school system, but it has become apparent to him that the district facilities are in need of improvements.
“This plan is absolutely affordable,” said Paulin, whose only school-age child attends Dunwiddie Elementary School. “It comes down to what we value. I sense there’s a lot of pride in Port, and I want to see that pride reflected in our schools.
“The schools are the centerpiece of our community. They shouldn’t be armpits.”
Fritsch, who has children at Lincoln Elementary School, the middle school and high school, said not only are improvements needed, but now is a critical time to make them.
“I know you sometimes have to swallow hard when you look at the dollar amount, but now is the time to be doing something about our facilities,” she said. “I know some people ask why now if we’re getting by, but the question is why not now.”
Low interest rates and the fact the district does not have referendum debt make the timing right, Fritsch said, but so too does what’s happening around the schools.
“We’re at a turning point in Port Washington,” she said. “We have people who are making investments in our city, and the school district couples with economic development.
“If we (the city) continue to grow — and I certainly hope we do to provide new opportunities and new jobs — we can’t be so far behind in our schools that we end up rushing to catch up.”
In addition to either overseeing a four-year construction project if the referendum passes or revising the school improvement plan if it fails, the school board will soon be faced with what could be the most challenging budget in a decade because of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget.
Fritsch said the district has made great strides in curriculum development and elective course offerings, and it must protect student programs from budget cuts.
“We have to maintain our options for students and continue to support our staff,” she said. “I hate to see anything for our students lost.”
Stevens agreed that maintaining student programs is a priority and noted that the district has done a good job phasing out unpopular or antiquated high school elective classes and replacing them with ones that are not only more popular but better prepare students for life after high school.
He said the district should continue its emphasis on technology education and its partnerships with area industries to ensure Port High graduates have the qualifications employers expect.
Paulin said the district’s priority should be its teachers.
“If you want to do what’s best for students, you have to do what’s best for teachers,” he said. “What parent, administrator or school board member wouldn’t think that’s appropriate?”
Shinners said the priority should be preserving programs, even if it means making tough choices when it come to class sizes.
“The key is not making any radical moves,” she said.
Paulin said he would bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the board. One of those ideas, he said, is to eliminate or at least reduce the number of early-release days during the school year. He noted that in March, a month in which students have three full days of vacation, there were three early-release days.
“As a teacher, I believe that many half-days aren’t good for students, parents or teachers,” he said. “They’re just not useful for anybody.”
But the other candidates said while early release days may complicate the schedules of parents, they provide valuable time for teachers to plan, collaborate and fulfill educator effectiveness requirements.
“As a parent, it does seem like there are a lot of half days, but as a board member, I’ve learned how important they are in terms of a direct benefit for teachers,” Stevens said.
School board members running unopposed are Carey Gremminger, who represents the Village of Saukville, and Paul Krechel, who was appointed to the board in July to represent the towns of Grafton and Saukville after longtime board member Jim Eden resigned.
Although board members represent specific communities within the district, they are elected at large, which means all voters can vote for all candidates.
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 20:45
Incumbents Didier and Rychtik face challenges from Welton, Anewenter in supervisory election
Port Washington Town Chairman Jim Melichar and Treasurer Mary Sampont are unopposed on Tuesday’s ballot, but town voters will have a choice of four candidates to fill the two supervisory seats.
Incumbents Mike Didier and Jim Rychtik are being challenged by Greg Welton, a builder and member of the Board of Appeals, and T. Andrew Anewenter — better known as Terry — a farm owner and former Plan Commission member.
Didier, Rychtik and Welton said they are pleased with the way things are running in the town, while Anewenter said he is running to give voters a choice.
Unlike the other candidates, Anewenter said, he was not born and raised in the town but grew up in urban areas that give him a different perspective.
Welton said his experience as a builder who developed Lange Estates would be invaluable as the town grows.
“The town is starting to grow, and I’d like to keep it going in the right direction,” he said. “I’d also like to see the town get a little more of a business base.”
Rychtik said the current board’s done a good job, and that’s evidenced by the fact taxes have been lowered and services improved.
For example, he said, the town was the first in the county to privatize its roadwork, especially snowplowing, instead of hiring Ozaukee County.
“During a snowstorm, I used to get calls all the time from people saying, ‘I can’t get to work. My road’s not plowed,’” Rychtik said. “I don’t get those anymore.”
The town’s roads are generally in good shape, he said, noting Highland Road is being reconstructed this year and Green Bay Road and Northwoods Road will be addressed in coming years.
Didier and Welton concurred, while Anewenter said more needs to be done to maintain roads.
“I think it’s been neglected,” Anewenter said.
He also said the town should seek more bids for projects and be flexible enough to alter projects if bidders have alternate ideas.
Some residents have questioned the board’s responsiveness to residents in light of continuing complaints of excessive noise from the Briggs & Stratton proving grounds on Highway LL that neighbors say disturbs them day and night.
Anewenter questioned how seriously the board has taken the complaints, saying the town has to find a middle ground that will allow the company to continue operations while meeting the needs of residents.
“Perhaps the town hasn’t been vigorous enough in negotiations,” he said. “There hasn’t been a lot of investigation.”
But both Didier and Rychtik said they have been to the property many times and found the company conforms to town ordinances.
“I hear what the people are saying,” Rychtik said. “The sheriff’s department has been there numerous times investigating the noise and haven’t found any violations.
“I’d like to see them do something with a privacy fence that would block the noise, and that’s something the town chairman is working on. But I can’t in good faith spend taxpayer dollars fighting a battle on something I think we’re going to lose.”
Company officials recently said they are working on a buffer to reduce the noise, Didier said.
He’s said he’s been to the property when residents have complained several times and found the noise readings were less than the decibel level permitted by town ordinances.
Welton noted that, just because residents don’t get the results they seek, it doesn’t mean the board isn’t responsive.
“When I’ve seen people come in, they (the board) have heard their issues and started research or investigation,” he said. “It doesn’t always end the way the person may want. You have to look at both sides and see what’s best for everyone.”
Growth is always an issue in the town, and Welton said he would like to help guide it, especially along the I-43 interchange.
“Is it going to become stores or businesses, and how do we mesh residential development with it?” he asked.
The area between Port and Saukville is becoming more dense, Welton said, and will fill in during the next decade or so, as are the lakefront properties.
“The key is to keep rural areas rural,” he said.
Welton said he would also like to see the town create pedestrian paths to connect isolated subdivisions along highways 33 and LL to each other as well as areas such as Norport Drive to the rest of the township.
Both Didier and Rychtik said the I-43 interchange is important, but growth there isn’t likely to occur until water service is brought to the area.
That won’t happen anytime soon, they predicted, because it is very expensive.
Rychtik said the proposed Cedar Vineyard subdivision in the City of Port could put additional pressure on the south side of the town, which will likely transition from rural uses.
But Didier predicted that with the Cedar Vineyard development, the town stands to lose the homes it has in the area to annexation.
Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 20:43
Port High junior takes aim at $25,000 goal for Justice Center soccer pavilion
Soccer fans who have been to matches at the Ozaukee Justice Center fields in Port Washington over the years would probably agree that a shelter is a much-needed upgrade.
If Eagle Scout candidate Ian Tyree has his way, that dream will soon become a reality.
Tyree, a junior at Port Washington High School, has been trying to raise $25,000 to build the pavilion for about two years as part of his Eagle project.
“I actually started out by wanting to build a storage shed in the community garden,” he said.
“Someone else took that one, so my sister, who plays for the club, had always talked about them needing this.
“The (Port Washington Soccer Club) president (Lynn Fyhrlund) is a good friend of ours.”
Tyree, a member of Boy Scout Troop 855, needs to raise another $10,000 before his 18th birthday Nov. 15 to meet his goal.
“The pavilion will happen, it’s just a matter of whether or not I get my Eagle out of it,” he said.
He is hoping to complete fundraising later this spring with construction to start in the summer.
Plans for the pavilion call for a 30-by-50-foot complex that would include a concessions stand and picnic table seating.
It would be built in the middle of the soccer field complex.
Currently, tents are set up to sell concessions during matches and there is no place for those watching and playing to go if severe weather strikes.
“The pavilion will benefit the club in many ways, particularly if there is an emergency weather situation,” Erica Roller, Port Soccer Club co-vice president said.
“It also represents a permanent structure at the fields, which solidifies the club’s commitment to the community and our soccer families that the club will continue to offer affordable soccer now and for years to come.”
The soccer club leases the fields from Ozaukee County. The lease runs through 2040, Fyhrlund said.
To support Tyree’s Eagle project, a fundraiser is planned for Friday, April 10, at Memories Ballroom in the Town of Port.
A fish fry and broasted chicken dinner will be served at 6 p.m., followed by a silent auction and entertainment by Comedy Sportz for $40.
Auction items up for bid include a $300 gift card to Stefans Soccer, Milwaukee Admirals hockey tickets and gift certificates to local restaurants.
“We are still accepting donations,” Tyree said, adding he is hoping to sell all 280 tickets for the event which could raise $7,000.
The club is also selling personalized bricks that will be on display at the pavilion.
Tyree also ran a concessions booth during a tournament that “generated a lot of money.”
He said the club has sold apparel and has gotten donations from companies for the shelter.
Roller said the project is important not just for the future of the club, but also for Tyree’s Eagle award.
“We want to see Ian succeed as an Eagle Scout,” she said. “Most of the initial fundraising efforts were done by Ian and his family through letter-writing campaigns and word of mouth.”
Fyhrlund agreed, saying he was “taken aback” by Tyree’s generosity to help build the pavilion.
“What a huge project for this Scout to undertake,” he said.
“It is something he wants to do and something that will make a big impact.
“Once built, Ian will have left his mark on our community, and it will be something he can proud of and will be able to see every time he comes back into the area.”
For more information on the project and to purchase tickets for the fundraiser at Memories, visit www.portsoccer.org.
Image information: EAGLE SCOUT CANDIDATE Ian Tyree held a poster promoting an upcoming fundraiser for the construction of a pavilion at the Ozaukee Justice Center soccer fields in Port Washington while his sister Katie, who plays for the Port Soccer Club, juggled a ball. Photo by Sam Arendt
Written by Ozaukee Press
Friday, 27 March 2015 14:56
A charity basketball game between former Green Bay Packer players and Grafton celebrities set for Saturday, March 28, at Grafton High School has been postponed.
Officials said they did not want the 5 p.m. event to conflict with the Wisconsin-Arizona NCAA basketball game that will be played at the same time.
The event will be rescheduled for another date this spring, officials said.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 20:39
Grafton resident had blood alcohol level nearly three times legal threshold, coroner says
The 70-year-old Town of Grafton woman whose body was found in a minivan outside her house last month froze to death because she was intoxicated, according to a coroner’s report released Tuesday.
Mary Ann Schuerman, who had celebrated her birthday the night before her body was found by her husband, died of hypothermia due to acute ethyl alcohol intoxication, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office determined.
Schuerman’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.223%, nearly three times greater than the legal threshold for intoxication, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department.
The body of Schuerman, a security specialist for US Bank and local artist, was found by her husband Michael in the passenger seat of the family minivan parked outside their house on Riverview Drive at about 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, according to the sheriff’s department.
The night before, Schuerman and her husband went out to celebrate her birthday. They returned home shortly after 10 p.m., Mr. Schuerman said.
Mr. Schuerman said during an interview earlier this month that he went to an upstairs bedroom “and just crashed.” He said he assumed his wife came into the house.
“I really don’t know what happened,” he said. “Now it looks like she never left the car, and I don’t know why.”
When he awoke the next morning, Mr. Schuerman said, he noticed his wife was not in the house but assumed she had already left for work.
“I texted my wife to see if she fed and let the dog out, but she didn’t respond,” he said. “That happens sometimes when she’s at work, so I didn’t think anything of it.
“It wasn’t until later that afternoon when I went out to the car that I found her.”
Mr. Schuerman called the sheriff’s department. Deputies and emergency medical technicians arrived to find Mrs. Schuerman dead.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 20:38
A 44-year-old repeat drunken driver from Grafton was charged last week with driving drunk again, this time with his 12-year-old daughter in the car.
John M. Raymond is charged with third offense driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle, a felony punishable by a fine of between $1,200 and $4,000 and imprisonment for between 90 days and two years.
Raymond was arrested after he was involved in a car vs. bicycle accident at 2:58 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and North Street in Grafton.
Raymond, who had just picked his daughter up from school, told police that he stopped at the intersection, then was driving through it when the bicyclist hit the side of his car, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.
A witness told police the accident was the fault of the bicyclist, who was conscious but bleeding from the head at the scene.
While talking to Raymond about the accident, an officer said he noticed “a faint and brief odor of alcoholic beverages,” according to the complaint.
When asked if he had been drinking, Raymond initially denied he had been, then said he had one beer, the complaint states.
Field sobriety tests showed Raymond’s balance was impaired, and a preliminary breath test indicated he had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.14%, according to the complaint. A concentration of 0.08% is evidence of intoxication in Wisconsin.
Raymond is not charged with injuring the bicyclist. He was previously convicted of drunken driving in April 2002 and October 2004.
He is free on $750 bail.