Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 21:14
An agreement to have Ozaukee County purchase a new voting maching for the Town of Port Washington was approved by the town board last week.
“They’re going to buy the equipment so every community in the county is going to be using the same equipment,” Town Clerk Jenny Schlenvogt told the board. “I think it’s more than fair. It makes their job easier, and ours, too.”
The county will study the various machines that are available and purchase the one that works best and is the best buy, she added.
County Clerk Julie Winkelhorst said the county is poised to purchase new voting machines to replace those currently used by the municipalities at an estimated cost of $550,000.
The County Board agreed to buy the machines in September, and the Finance Committee recently reviewed an intergovernmental agreement spelling out the responsibility of both the county and its municipalities in regard to the purchase.
“We want all the municipalities to be on the same equipment,” Winkelhorst said. “We don’t want to have issues like some other counties have had.”
The new voting machines will replace those purchased by the county in 1998.
The existing machines are still reliable, but the technology, which is from 1991, is outdated, Winkelhorst said.
The optical scan equipment hasn’t been made since 2006, according to the resolution authorizing the purchase of the equipment approved by the County Board in September.
“They’re very trustworthy,” Winkelhorst said. “We just want to take care of things before there are problems.”
Port Washington City Clerk Susan Westerbeke agreed that the time to replace the machines is now.
“The machines are really tired,” Westerbeke said. “A number of us have had to have them repaired. This has been a very good quality machine, but you don’t want to wait until there are major issues before you replace them.”
The county hopes to jointly purchase the equipment with other counties in the state, which could potentially bring down the price, Winkelhorst said.
The county would buy 32 machines, enough to replace all of those used by municipalities during the April 2014 election, according to the memorandum of understanding. The municipalities, in turn, agree to use the machines through 2020. Otherwise, they will have to repay the county for the machines.
Any additional machines would be the responsibility of the municipality.
According to the agreement, the county would buy three machines for the City of Port Washington, one for each of the city’s polling places, and one for the Town of Port.
The Village of Grafton would also get three machines, while the town would get one. The villages and towns of Saukville, Belgium and Fredonia would each get one machine.
While the county would be responsible for buying the new machines, the municipalities would be responsible for training its election workers, the agreement states.
Although the county is expected to buy the machines next year, Winkelhorst said, they will probably not be used until the spring 2016 election — in part because there isn’t a fall 2015 election scheduled.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 20:02
Both suspects face felony charges for fights that injured police officers
A 50-year-old Port Washington man was arrested Sunday after crushing a cigarette on a police officer’s face and spitting in his eyes, then injuring another officer in the brawl that ensued, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Monday.
Lawrence Shelton was eventually subdued after officers stunned him several times with Tasers.
Shelton, who was free on bail in connection with a disorderly conduct domestic abuse case, was charged this week with battery to a peace officer and two counts of discharging bodily fluids at an officer, felonies punishable by a total of six years in prison and seven years of extended supervision.
He is also charged with misdemeanor counts of bail jumping, disorderly conduct-domestic abuse and resisting an officer.
According to the criminal complaint, at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, officers were called to Shelton’s home, where his wife told them he had been drinking and was now destroying things in their house.
Shelton had been ordered by a judge not to drink alcohol or have contact with his wife while awaiting trial on the disorderly conduct charge, so officers Chris Erickson and James Russell told him he was under arrest for violating those orders.
Shelton became angry, and when ordered by Russell to drop the cigarette he was smoking and turn around so he could be handcuffed, he refused. When Russell repeated the orders and put his hand on the lapel of Shelton’s jacket, Shelton pulled away, said “Don’t grab me you (expletive),” spit twice in Russell’s face and crushed his cigarette on the officer’s cheek, the complaint states.
What police described as a violent wrestling match ensued.
Erickson tried to stun Shelton with a Taser, but because Shelton was wearing several large winter coats, the Taser was ineffective.
Shelton became more enraged and spit into Erickson’s eyes, according to the complaint. Erickson then fired a Taser and hit Shelton in the thigh. Eventually, police were able to handcuff him.
Erickson suffered neck and shoulder pain and was taken to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
Shelton is being held in jail on $10,000 bail.
Shelton’s wife also called police to her home in July because, she reported, her husband was attacking her and would not leave, according to the complaint filed in that case.
The woman said she allowed Shelton, who had been living in Kentucky, to move back into her house because she felt sorry for him, but on July 28, he had been drinking and was out of control, the complaint states.
She said she was on her way to the gym when Shelton grabbed a bag from her and began searching it for evidence of an affair he thought she was having, according to the complaint.
The woman said Shelton called her vulgar names and smashed a mirror that was in her bag.
Shelton was charged as a repeat offender in that case because in July 2011 he pleaded guilty to felony intimidation of a witness. Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams withheld a prison sentence, placed him on probation for three years and ordered him to serve six months in jail as a condition of probation, according to court records.
Shelton is the second person to be charged in the course of a week with beating Port Washington police officers.
On Wednesday, Nov. 26, Mark T. Jancoski, 51, of Port Washington, was charged with three felonies — strangulation and two counts of battery to a police officer — and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct after a Nov. 1 fight with police.
According to the criminal complaint, a man told police that Jancoski came to his house earlier that day, was angry, told him he had a knife and would “gut him like a pig.”
Officers went to Jancoski’s home and, because of the threats he made earlier that day and his “deteriorating mental state,” forced their way into his apartment, the complaint states.
Officer Jason Bergin saw a knife on the table next to Jancoski and attempted to grab it, but Jancoski beat him to it and, with the knife in his hand, stood up, according to the complaint.
Officer Eric Leet shot a Taser at Jancoski, but it was ineffective. Jancoski charged Leet and threatened to kill him before grabbing him by the hair with one hand and his neck with the other, according to the complaint. Officers eventually were able to subdue arrest Jancoski.
Leet suffered a bruised larynx, the complaint states.
Jancoski is being held in the county jail on $3,000 bail.
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 15:29
Officials hope $11 million reduction will be enough to win voter support in April
Architects who proposed a $61 million renovation of Port Washington High School now say they can cut that cost to $50 million while retaining key elements of the initial design in an attempt to win public support for an April referendum, Supt. Michael Weber told the Port Washington-Saukville School Board Building and Grounds Committee Monday.
Bray Architects initially proposed demolishing about 70% of the high school and rebuilding it to create a modern school with a stunning entryway as well as new gyms, a cafeteria and classrooms.
To pare the price, Weber said, some parts of the school initially slated for demolition would be retained but gutted. Design elements like the entryway and new facilities built on the hillsides on the south and west sides of the school would remain part of the proposal.
A work group comprised of administrators and school board members has expressed support for the revised Bray plan, Weber said.
“The work group is pleased with the proposal Bray is recommending,” he said.
Efforts to revise a sweeping proposal to renovate the high school and build additions onto the district’s three elementary schools was prompted by a survey last month that showed while a majority of district residents support school renovations, they are not willing to spend $61 million on the high school and $25 million on the elementary schools.
Survey responses also showed that residents would not support doing both the high school and elementary school renovations at the same time, an approach that would cost taxpayers an estimated $86 million. When asked to choose, most survey respondents indicated the high school should be the priority.
“It was fairly obvious from the survey that we need to take a look at another proposal to reduce the tax levy impact while still keeping the highest priority needs in the project,” Weber said.
What the survey did not tell school officials is how much taxpayers are willing to spend on the schools. It appears Bray and school officials are betting that amount will be around $50 million for the high school.
The fate of the elementary schools, however, remains uncertain.
Abnormally large and often unpredictable enrollments in particular grades, referred to as bubble classes, and additional requirements for programs like special education have created space issues at Lincoln and Dunwiddie elementary schools, administrators have said.
At Saukville Elementary School, the only open concept school in the district, security is the concern.
Bray Architects had proposed building regulation gyms and community rooms at Lincoln and Saukville Elementary schools. That would free existing space for additional classrooms and address the need for school facilities that can also be used by the public.
At Dunwiddie Elementary School, Bray proposed building an addition onto the front of the school that would provide a new secure entryway, additional classrooms and a community room. A new parking lot was also part of the proposal.
At a meeting earlier this month, Weber told the school board he believes the cost of renovating the elementary schools could be reduced from $25 million to between $10 million and $12 million by eliminating the gym addition at Saukville Elementary School, building a smaller addition onto the back of Dunwiddie Elementary School and foregoing the new parking lot.
At Saukville, Weber said, the renovations would focus on security by providing a new public entrance to the gym and partitions within the school building.
At Lincoln Elementary School, a new regulation gym would remain part of the plan because it would serve two purposes — provide a large gym that could also be used by nearby Thomas Jefferson Middle School, which needs additional indoor recreation space but cannot be easily renovated to provide it, and free existing space at Lincoln for additional classrooms.
The question administrators and board members continue to wrestle with is whether to draft a referendum that seeks funding for all school buildings at the same time or take a phased approach that would anticipate a series of referendums over a number of years.
What’s clear, Weber said, is Bray Architects does not believe the high school project can be divided into phases.
“They looked at a phased-in approach at the high school, but the problem is what happens if one phase of the project passes (in a referendum) but the other phases don’t?” Weber said.
The elementary school projects may be better suited to a phased approach, but Weber said that regardless of a referendum, the district intends to use money from its fund balance to make security improvements at Saukville Elementary School and create a new, secure entrance at Dunwiddie Elementary School.
“The new entrance at Lincoln cost a little more than $100,000,” Jim Froemming, director of business services, said. “In the grand scheme of fund balance, $100,000 is not that big of a deal.”
Bray Architects is scheduled next month to present a revised plan to the board, which intends to approve referendum questions in January.
“My goal is to have the high school look like a new school when we’re finished with it,” school board member Brian McCutcheon, chairman of the building and grounds committee, said. “I hope we can also handle some of our important needs at the elementary schools.
“I hope we can get it all done.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 19 November 2014 19:18
Anticipated decrease of $1 per $1,000 in valuation attributed to state aid hikes
Port Washington residents can expect to receive significantly smaller tax bills this year, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.
The overall tax rate should be about $1 less per $1,000 in assessed valuation, Grams told the Common Council.
The total tax levy — which includes funds not just for city operations but also the Port Washington-Saukville School District, Ozaukee County, technical school district and the state — will be $16 million, compared to $16.8 million last year, Grams said.
The tax rate needed to raise that levy will be $18.75 per $1,000, he said, $1.13 less than last year’s rate of $19.88.
Grams said he does not have the amount for the school tax credit, although he estimates it will be about the same as last year.
He also does not have the amounts for the lottery credit or first credit, but said those tend to remain stable.
“Overall, I would say we will see the tax rate go down about a buck per $1,000,” he said. “I think that’ll be the worst case. There’s no question people will see a reduction in the tax rate of at least $1.
“That’s good news. Everybody should be happy.”
The big reasons for the drop in the tax levy and rate, he said, are increased state aid for the Port-Saukville schools and the technical school district.
On Tuesday, the Port Common Council approved an $8.9 million budget for 2015 after a public hearing in which no one offered any comments on the spending plan.
The city’s tax levy of $4.9 million — also approved by aldermen — will require a tax rate of $5.79 per $1,000 assessed valuation, a decrease of two cents, Grams said.
The city’s recycling fee, which is a special assessment on the tax bill, will remain stable at $34, he said.
Sewer and water rates will also remain the same as last year, Grams said.
The city budget is largely a status quo spending plan, officials said, maintaining many city services while not offering many new initiatives.
Although officials are concerned about the state of the city’s roads, there are no major street projects planned in 2015. Instead, officials said, they will work to create a street repair plan and ways to finance it.
Another project not included in the 2015 spending plan is a study of the feasibility of a second fire station for the city.