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The Town of Grafton is not a firing range PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 16:16

It would be no surprise if a scientific analysis of the soil in areas of the Town of Grafton revealed an abnormally high content of lead. Thousands of rounds of ammunition have been fired over that land.
    The Town of Grafton, particularly the part along Highway C between Port Washington and Lakefield Road, was once the home of some of the most intensely hunted public hunting grounds in the state.
    On opening day of upland game season, the shoulders of Highway C were parked chock-a-block with hunters’ vehicles. When the hundreds of hunters took to the fields and legal hunting started on a Saturday noon, the barrage could have passed for the thunder of a military assault.
    Much of the lead in the ground is no doubt in the form of No. 6 shot, the shotgun-shell pellet size favored by pheasant hunters. The Grafton hunting grounds were pheasant-hunting nirvana, thanks to the great numbers of the gaudy birds planted in the fields rented from farmers for public hunting by the DNR.
    This is not ancient history. Hunting was flourishing in rural Grafton as late as the last quarter of the 20th century. Then things changed. Homes popped up in what once were the wide-open spaces. Subdivisions consumed vast tracts of former farmland. An enormous shopping complex rose a short distance from the hunting grounds.
    Today, though crops are still grown on some land under contract, working farms are a thing of the past in the Town of Grafton. Residential development is surging. Town roads are busy, not with the vehicles of hunters, but with commuters, sightseers, bike riders, runners and walkers and people bound for the beauty and serenity of the county park created adjacent to the one-time hunting grounds, Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve.
    The character of the area has changed to the point where shooting must be considered mostly an obsolete pastime in the Town of Grafton. And certainly, shooting rifles that fire high-velocity bullets, which unlike the short-range shotgun loads that once fell on the hunting grounds can fly for miles, cannot be considered safe in the current town environment.
     The more than 30 people wearing camouflage clothing who confronted the Grafton Town Board on Oct. 11 obviously disagree. They exercised their right as citizens to show up en masse to protest the town government’s restrictions on shooting ranges and expansion of the town’s no-discharge zone.
    Town Chairman Lester Bartel explained why the restrictions are needed: “We have received legitimate complaints about people coming out on weekends and firing hundreds of rounds of high-powered ammo, which has been scaring the bejeebers out of people.”
    In February, the board acted to put a stop to the use of land on Arrowhead Road, not far from the I-43 business district, for a firing range. Now the problem seems to have moved to the eastern part of the town near Highway C. Residents have reported prolonged firing of numerous guns and even shooting after dark. To be clear, this is not hunting; it’s shooting for the fun of shooting.
    The citizens who appeared at the board meeting to object to firearms restrictions were reacting to letters sent to owners of property where shooting has been taking place informing them that firing ranges are not allowed in the town.
    The residents were also informed of a possible amendment to the town’s nuisance ordinance that would further restrict the use of guns.
    The Town Board in on the right track. The type of shooting that is “scaring the bejeebers” out of some residents is simply not compatible with life in the town in the 21st century. Safety is the heart of the issue, but it is appropriate that the problem is being addressed under the nuisance ordinance—because the racket and anxiety caused by the shooting are truly a nuisance, one that people seeking the peace and quiet of the countryside should not have to endure.
    One of the firearms enthusiasts protesting the restrictions told the board, “I moved to the Town of Grafton so I could shoot.”
    His disappointment is understandable. The Town of Grafton is a nice place to live and shooting guns is a perfectly acceptable hobby that gives enjoyment to many, but the two do not go together.   

A city without a grocery store? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 16:07

“A good corporate citizen.”
    People in Port Washington are using those words to describe Sanfilippo Sentry, the city’s only supermarket.
    They are not using them to describe the new owner of the NorthPort Shopping Center, and for a good reason: That company’s restrictions on its property could leave the city with no grocery store at all.
    PJR Properties LLC of Sheboygan, an affiliate of the Piggly Wiggly Midwest supermarket chain, bought the shopping center in August and is advertising the space occupied by Sentry for lease with the restriction that it not be used by a supermarket.
    Besides leaving Port Washington without a food market for perhaps the first time in its 182-year history, the demise of Sentry would eliminate a competitor to the Piggly Wiggly market in Saukville.
    Sentry owner Joe Sanfilippo’s lease will expire May 30, 2018. Though he has the option to extend it, there are indications he wants to sell the business. But that option is complicated by the restriction against renting to another supermarket operator.
    The possibility of a thriving community of nearly 12,000 people not having a store that sells the fundamental necessity of life is a measure of economic evolution. When Port Washington’s population was about half its current size, the city had as many as eight grocery stores, plus three meat markets, two bakeries and two fish stores.
    Any one of today’s supermarkets likely has more food offerings than all of those stores combined. Size and variety are not the only aspects of the food business that have changed. So has the competition—it’s fierce. Even though Sentry is the sole supermarket in Port, competitors are but a few minutes’ drive from the city’s west side, and it is no secret that Sanfilippo Sentry has had plenty of challenges.
    But make no mistake, the loss of Sentry would be a blow. For many residents, it’s a convenient alternative to the two big Saukville markets, Walmart and Piggly Wiggly. As a competitor to those stores, it’s part of a dynamic that helps careful shoppers find the best food values. People who live near Sentry and appreciate the benefits of needing only a short drive, or maybe a walk, to buy groceries would especially miss it.
    And there’s more at stake. The perceived inability to support a grocery store would dull some of the lustre on the city’s image as a progressive community attractive to new residents and businesses. It would not go unnoticed that the other Ozaukee County communities of Port’s size, as well as the smaller Village of Saukville, have no dearth of supermarkets.
    A fond hope occasionally voiced in the city is that Sendik’s, the independent, Wisconsin-owned and much respected supermarket company that has stores in Mequon and Grafton, would come to town and succeed Sentry in the NorthPort Shopping Center. That’s probably a fantasy, and in any case the anti-competitor restrictions stand in the way.
    To its credit, Port Washington’s city government has taken a role in trying to save or replace Sanfilippo Sentry. It is the right thing to do, but the city’s options are limited by the lack of a building suitable for a supermarket other than the restricted NorthPort Shopping Center space. Nonetheless, there is some hope that incentives offered by the city will attract a buyer that could carry on the Sentry business under the lease.        
    Against a deadline of October 31 for informing his landlord he intends to extend the lease, Joe Sanfilippo is working with city officials to find a way for the Sentry store to carry on under its lease, which is in keeping with his approach to doing business here. He has been a generous supporter of community causes. That is the characteristic of a good corporate citizen.
    What is not a characteristic of that is the message on the shopping center’s sign advertising for a new tenant for the Sentry space: “Not available for supermarket use.”

A new drug menace and no place is safe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Thursday, 12 October 2017 15:52

There is no safe haven from this plague.
    Places like Ozaukee County—with its appealing suburban and rural character displayed in small communities with educated and relatively prosperous populations—were once unlikely to be touched by more than a glancing blow from the drug miseries that plague America’s biggest cities. No more. Drug addiction is now a fact of life here and virtually everywhere. And everyone is paying for it one way or another.
    Here is one way, as explained by Ozaukee County Administrator Jason Dzwinel: “Opioid addiction and mental health issues, which are pretty much entwined, drive a significant amount of our budget. Look at the case load in the child protective services and you’ll see it’s drastically up. We don’t have enough foster homes for kids. This is being driven by mental health problems and opioid addiction.”
    The costs are paid in other ways too: In drug addiction’s growing demands on local and county police and prosecutors; in the burden on health care resources; and, most tragically, in its human toll—the ruined lives of adults and the psychological and physical damage to the children of parents too dependent on drugs to care for them. It’s happening right here in our beloved small towns.
    There is no mystery about the cause of this pain. It is the addiction to prescription pain pills such as oxycodone that act like opium and heroin and are just as addictive. Addicts not only support a criminal black market in the drugs, but are vulnerable to becoming heroin users.
    The financial burden caused by opioids has become so significant that government agencies in many states are turning to the courts in the hope of compensation from the pharmaceutical companies that market narcotic pain pills.
    Ozaukee County has been asked to join a lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Counties Association against so-called Big Pharma. The suit claims the companies should be made to pay because they “flooded the market with highly addictive drugs claiming they were safe and efficacious for long-term use, manufactured studies to support those false claims and knowingly misrepresented the addictive nature of these drugs.”
    There is no question the counties could use help in dealing with the opioid epidemic. Their state association asked the Walker administration for an additional $13.5 million is state funding for child and family services related to the epidemic, but were granted less than half of that in the state budget.
    Ozaukee County should sign on to the suit. As a plaintiff, it would only have to document its costs of dealing with the societal ills of opioid addiction. There would be no financial commitment, yet the county would share in any settlement or court-awarded payment.
     There are caveats, though. One is that winning the suit may be a long shot. Successful lawsuits by the states against tobacco companies are seen as the model for the litigation, but the parallels are fuzzy. Unlike cigarettes, the narcotic pain-killers are FDA approved medicine that when properly used serve a legitimate health care need.
    Another is that even a court victory with a big payoff, while it would help agencies cover the costs of dealing with the results of opioid addiction, would not slow the epidemic. That will take work to prevent addiction, which should be a state and federal responsibility, including efforts to control the over-prescribing of narcotic pain pills by physicians and counseling patients about the risks of opioid use even when needed after surgery or injury.        
    Meanwhile, more Americans are dying from drug overdoses each year than from car crashes and gun violence. Two-thirds of those deaths are blamed on opioids, and some are happening here in our communities. It will take more than lawsuits to change that.

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