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Port Washington

Commission asks aldermen to reconsider life-vest plan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 17:17

Officials voice concern about liability city may face if it installs waterfront kiosk

    Port Washington officials may be asked to reconsider their support for a loaner life vest program at the marina.

    The Harbor Commission on Monday expressed concerns about the liability and responsibility the city may be undertaking with the program, which was approved by aldermen last month.

    The life vests would be in a kiosk being built by Boy Scout Josh Schaefer as his Eagle project. The kiosk would be installed next to marina control building, where the vests would be easily accessible to boaters.

    The purpose of the program is to provide vests for boaters who don’t have enough of the safety devices for all their passengers, officials said.

    Funding for the project will come through the Department of Natural Resources, and the DNR will also provide 32 life jackets for the station, Schaefer told the Common Council last month.

    The life vest program started in Alaska in 1996, Schaefer said, and since then more than 2,100 life vest loaner stations have been installed throughout the U.S.

    Although there have been concerns that people would take the vests and not return them, that hasn’t typically happened, officials said.

    Instead, the number of vests available tends to grow as people donate the ones their children have outgrown, they said.

    But commission members noted that the marina staff will be expected to maintain the kiosk and vests, checking them to make sure they are in order.

    “Who’s going to be responsible for checking the straps?” commission member Tony Matera asked. “I’m not against this program. I just want to minimize the city’s liability. Now that you’ve got them, you have a duty to maintain them.

    “I’d feel better if we had a better idea of our duties. I think the question is how we implement it. Is it going to add another 10 hours of work for the staff each week?”

    Commission member Jerry Baganz said the panel supports the idea of the program.

    “I think this is something we think is a good idea, but we don’t fully understand the responsibility we’re taking on,” he said.

    Commission members questioned what would happen if the marina staff came in one morning and all the vests were missing.

    “We call the DNR and have them get us more vests,” Harbormaster Dennis Cherny said.

    Cherny agreed that the contract with the DNR should be reviewed by the city attorney to check on liability questions and the city’s responsibilities.

    However, he said, the program is valuable and workable for the marina.

    “I don’t see it as a big problem,” he said. “Certainly we can do it. I think we should do it.”

    The marina staff will also be tasked with checking the availability of life rings and ladders on the breakwater when they are installed, Cherny said. This task can be conducted largely by sight, he said, with staff using binoculars to make sure the rings are on their stands and the ladders are intact.

    Matera suggested that instead of the kiosk the marina could buy a couple life vests to loan to boaters in need and store them inside the marina office, eliminating much of the possibility of vandalism and damage to the equipment.

    Ald. Dave Larson, a commission member, said that when the Common Council approved the program, he thought the DNR would carry the bulk of the responsibility for maintaining the vests, not the marina.

    He said he will and mention the commission’s concerns to other aldermen and may bring the matter back to the Common Council for reconsideration at its July 16 meeting.

    Cherny said he will check with other marinas that have implemented the program to see what the community’s responsibility actually is and how onerous it is.

City stands firm on sidewalk assessments PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 17:38

Port aldermen agree to charge residents on Parknoll Lane, Seven Hills Road for installation despite protests

    Port Washington aldermen on Monday moved ahead with plans to assess residents of Parknoll Lane and Seven Hills Road for sidewalk that will be installed in front of their homes as part of road reconstruction projects this summer.

    However, aldermen agreed not to install sidewalk along a portion of Second Avenue where the street is not being rebuilt.

    The decision follows the city’s policy to install sidewalk in places where there is none when the street is being reconstructed, City Administrator Mark Grams told aldermen Monday.
  “Only a portion of Second Avenue is being reconstructed at this time,” he said. “When we do put the rest of the street in, we should add it.”

    But on Parknoll Lane the street is being rebuilt and thus the city should install sidewalk, Grams said.

    “When there is no sidewalk on a street being reconstructed, it’s our policy to add sidewalk,” he said.

    There is sidewalk on a portion of the street, he said, but it abruptly stops.

    “Since you have a dead-end sidewalk, it does make sense to extend the sidewalk (north) to Seven Hills Road,” Grams said.

    The sidewalk assessments have been controversial as residents from both areas appeared before the Common Council during a public hearing last month to ask that the walkways be eliminated from street construction plans.

    Although about 20 of these residents attended Monday’s meeting, there was no time allotted on the agenda for public comment.

    That’s standard with special meetings, Grams said Tuesday, although he said officials frequently allow the public time to comment.

    Two residents — Karen Makoutz of 1924 Parknoll La. and John Poull, president of the Birchwood Hills Condominium Association — distributed letters to aldermen opposing the sidewalk before the meeting.

    Poull said after the meeting he was “totally disappointed” with the decision.

    “There’s a lot of people who were spitting mad,” he said of the crowd. “This is a piece of property that really doesn’t need a sidewalk.”

    Many residents argued at the public hearing that the sidewalk is unnecessary, noting people in the area use the Ozaukee Interurban Trail that runs through their neighborhood, and would exacerbate drainage issues that already exist.

    Poull said in his letter that the association has spent more than $41,000 on drainage issues, adding he fears the situation will only get worse with the installation of sidewalks.

    “It’s going to be a mess,” he predicted.

    The association had proposed that the city install sidewalk only on the east side of the road, noting its members would be willing to split the cost with property owners on that side of the street, he said.

    They also suggested building a walkway that would link Parknoll Lane with the bike trail, saying this would better serve residents.

    Although some concerns were expressed about the possibility of trees needing to be removed for the new sidewalk, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said the city can accommodate virtually all of them, with potentially one or two exceptions, if residents grant the city temporary easements to grade behind the walkway.

    “Any tree we remove we will replace,” he said, adding that more trees will be planted in spring along that stretch of road.

    Similarly, Vanden Noven said, the city needs temporary easements for grading to pitch the sidewalk toward the street to help ease drainage concerns.

    Ald. Mike Ehrlich said he struggled with the issue, noting he received an almost equal number of calls from people in favor of the walkways and opposed to them.

    “I’m kind of torn,” he said. “I do like the fact Rob is confident we can help with the drainage, and we can add trees.”

    Sidewalks will also help improve safety in an area where motorists often speed, Ehrlich added.

    “By adding sidewalks, you do add safety,” he said. “If I had my way, we would be narrowing all the streets to slow down traffic.”

Thieves target unlocked vehicles in Port PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 18:44

A 70-year-old Port Washington man reported to police Saturday that approximately $300 in cash was taken from his unlocked vehicle while it was parked in the driveway of his house in the 1500 block of Scott Road overnight.

    It was the most recent incident in which thieves and vandals have targeted unlocked vehicles.

    Roughly a half-dozen incidents of thefts from vehicles have been reported in June, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.

    “I would like to stop this before it gets worse,” he said. “The best way for people to avoid this is to lock their cars at night or, at the very least, make sure there are no valuables left in the car.”

    In some cases, Hingiss said, thieves have used unlocked side garage doors to access vehicles during the night.

    On June 18, a 43-year-old woman reported that someone entered a vehicle parked overnight at her house in the 400 block of Grand Avenue. Items from the vehicle were strewn in the street, but nothing was taken, she said.  

    Two years ago, the city was hit with a spate of thefts from unlocked vehicles during the summer months. Thieves took everything from small electronics to sunglasses and spare change in more than 30 cases reported from May to September 2011.

    In other police news:
    •  A group of young adults were warned by police after they were reported to be on the roof of the Ozaukee County Administration Center, 121 W. Main St.
    They told police they were participating in parkour, a free-walking activity in which people try to move with maximum efficiency while negotiating obstacles.

    The officer told the youths that if they don’t own the property, they should stay off.

    • Police received a call at 10:45 a.m. June 16 from a person locked in the bathroom on the north side of Old Theatre Square, 116 W. Grand Ave. The handle to the room was apparently broken, and there was no one else in the building to help, the person told police.
   Officers brought in a carpenter to remove the handle and trim and free the caller.

Back to class for summer starts Monday PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 18:05

More than 1,200 students in Port-Saukville district will participate in dozens of enrichment, remedial courses

    It’s back to school Monday for more than 1,200 students in the Port Washington-Saukville School District for whom going to school in summer is as normal as attending classes during the regular school year.

    The five-week kindergarten through eighth-grade summer school program is comprehensive to say the least, offering 65 enrichment courses ranging from math, science and reading to fishing, in-line skating and cooking.

    Organized and taught by a 110-person staff at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School, the summer program also offers a host of special education and remedial classes.

    “We’ve had schools try to replicate our program because there just aren’t many like it, not only in the state but in the nation,” Middle School Principal Arlan Galarowicz, who oversees the summer program, said.

    New offerings this year include Tri-Kids, a course that trains children in second through eighth grades to compete in triathlons, yoga, print-making and News in View, a course that teaches students how to make a news broadcast.

    Among the most popular established classes are nature science, engineering, Music in Motion, Spanish, gardening and Managing Middle School, a course that introduces incoming fifth-graders to the middle school routine.

    “Math has also become quite popular because of the technology we’re using,” Galarowicz said.

    At Port Washington High School, summer school classes began June 17. About 225 students are taking at least one summer course, Assistant Principal Dave Bernander, who oversees the program, said.

    Although high school offerings have traditionally focused on remedial education, the summer program offers a number of preparatory classes for advanced placement courses, as well as introductions to engineering and the DECA marketing and business program.

    An increasingly attractive option for students is taking a gym class for credit during the summer to help fulfill their phy-ed requirement.

    “That allows students room in their regular school schedule to take another AP (advanced placement) class or music,” Bernander said.

    One of the most significant advantages of a comprehensive summer school program is that it gives both educators and students the opportunity to experiment, Galarowicz said.

    Two years ago, the middle school tested an individual learning, computer-based math program in summer that was so successful it was used during the school year and laid the groundwork for a technology initiative that will be launched in September.

    “We’ve also been able to use summer school classes to boost the confidence and enthusiasm of kids in subjects like math, and if we can do that, we’ve certainly accomplished something,” Galarowicz said. “I had two girls who at the start of summer school said, ‘We hate math.’ Five weeks later, not only had their test scores increased tremendously, they said math was their favorite subject.”

    Port-Saukville summer school owes its success, in part, to its more than 40-year history. Started as a small undertaking at a time when districts could afford the up-front costs, it grew steadily into a program that administrators say is the envy of other school systems.

    “I remember state officials coming to observe the program because it was such an exemplary summer school model,” said retired administrator Joe Groh, who in 1966 was assigned to run the fledgling program started in one of the buildings that is now part of the high school.

    “There was no air conditioning, so it was unbearably hot. But when the middle school, which had air conditioning, opened in 1968, we were able to start adding more enrichment classes, and it just took off.”

    By the time he retired in 1993, Groh said, summer school was extremely popular.

    “There were a few people who always said it was nothing more than a baby-sitting service,” he said. “Call it what you want. The fact is, kids are coming to school in summer with smiles on their faces and they’re learning instead of sitting in front of the TV.”

    A list of summer school bus routes is on page 5C of this week’s Ozaukee Press.

School budget upgrades security, technology PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 17:20

Port-Saukville board OKs preliminary spending plan that includes funds for initiatives and addresses deficit

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board approved a preliminary 2013-14 budget Monday that not only addresses a $570,000 deficit but includes funding for a host of initiatives.

    Among the new programs funded at least in part by the spending plan, which was the subject of a public hearing prior to the board vote, are school security improvements, a new high school Project Lead the Way biomedical engineering class, an additional technology education teacher, 1,754 iPads and Chromebooks — one for every middle and high school student in the district — and on-going energy-saving capital improvement projects.

    “Despite being a challenging budget, we’ve found a way to add a tech-ed teacher, include start-up costs of the Project Lead the Way program and provide funding for electronic devices for students,” Supt. Michael Weber said.

    The budget appeared far more challenging in April when administrators predicted the district would face the largest structural deficit it has seen in years, in large part because Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2013-15 state budget seeks to keep the revenue cap for general school district operations — the amount of money schools can collect in state aid and local property taxes — flat for two years.

    Two months later, the district unveiled a plan that combines reductions in costs such as utilities and health insurance with staffing changes that administrators said won’t affect core programs.

    A significant factor was a reduction of nearly half of a projected 10% Humana health insurance increase that will save about $100,000.

    The district also expects to realize an estimated $75,000 in energy savings.

    In terms of staffing, the board does not plan to fill a vacant elementary school teaching position, as well as several part-time positions that equal another full-time teaching position.

    Staffing for less-popular extracurricular activities will also be reduced, as will funding for overload classes — additional sections of courses added due to demand — at the high school.

    In addition, the district will not fill a math consultant position or contract for those services resulting in a savings of about $45,000, Weber said. Administrators didn’t find a candidate to fill the position, so the money budgeted was used to pay for consultant services this school year.

    Also helping to balance the budget is a little more room under the district’s revenue limit granted by the state because of declining enrollment.

    “Overall, it’s a pretty positive picture,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said. “But this is very, very preliminary. Things always change between now and October.”

    October is when the board approves the final budget and tax levy, and until then the exact amount of money the district has to spend and the tax implications won’t be known.

    Administrators described the preliminary budget as a worst-case scenario and expect it will improve. If they are correct, the district will revise the budget by first reconsidering staffing decisions, Weber said.

    What is not likely to change is the district’s commitment to new programs, which would be funded through a number of sources in the budget.

    The school security initiative, which involves improvements at each of the elementary schools, including a remodeling project at Lincoln Elementary School, is to be funded with about $200,000 from the fund equity, the district’s saving account.

    Another $25,000 from the fund equity account will be used to pay for start-up costs associated with the Project Lead the Way biomedical engineering course.

    At the end of this month, the district will have a fund equity balance of $4.8 million — roughly 15% of its general operating budget, Froemming said.

    Most of the money for the purchase of student iPads and Chromebooks — part of a $1 million technology initiative — is coming from a federal grant and was included in this school year’s budget. Some funding for the program, including proceeds from a proposed increase in the student technology fee, is included in the 2013-14 budget.

    The $1.8 million energy-saving initiative, which includes projects ranging from the replacement of boilers to the installation of high-efficiency lights in district buildings, will cost the district about $195,000 a year in annual loan payments through the 2021-22 school year.

    The district invested $400,000 from fund equity in the project and borrowed the balance last year. The debt is not controlled by the revenue limits, which means the district can increase its property tax levy to pay it.

    With the proposed state budget in flux and without property value calculations, the district’s tax predictions are an educated guess, administrators said.

    As it stands now, the district is predicting a 0.2% increase in the property tax levy and rate. Theoretically, that would increase the average school tax bill by $4 or $5.

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