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Port Washington


Man’s claim of beating in jail denied by police PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:07

    A Mequon man who claims three Port Washington police officers beat him up Saturday picketed outside the Police Station Monday, but authorities deny the man’s claim, saying he was unruly when they arrested him.

    Bill Wisth said he was worried about the welfare of his son, whom he hadn’t heard from in three to four days, when he called police to a south-side Port Washington apartment Saturday afternoon.

    Officers spoke to his son and said the son didn’t want to speak to him, Wisth said. He then asked the officer to collect $750 from his son — money he said  his son owed him — and police asked him to leave.

    Wisth said he was waiting outside for a ride home when officers confronted him, pulled out a Taser and handcuffed him. They took him to the Police Station, then to the Ozaukee County jail, where Wisth said they threw him onto the hood of the squad car to search him, ripping his pants.

    Inside the jail, he said, they slammed him into a window, kicked and punched him while two sheriff’s deputies watched. They removed the handcuffs and released him in a cell.

    Wisth said he plans to file a complaint with the Police and Fire Commission and sue the city and county.

    Police Chief Kevin Hingiss disputed Wisth’s claims, saying his officers acted professionally. “There’s absolutely no truth or basis for a police brutality complaint,” he said.

    Hingiss confirmed officers were called for a welfare check on Wisth’s son, but said the son told police that he had spoken to his father the previous day and didn’t want anything to do with him.

    Wisth told the officers he was going to stay there until he saw his son, threatening to “kick his son’s (backside) and get his money,” Hingiss said. Wisth was asked to leave, and when he didn’t, he was arrested and placed in the squad car. He then started kicking the vehicle and threatening to break the window, Hingiss said.

    Officers did not harm Wisth, Hingiss said.

    Undersheriff Jim Johnson on Wednesday said a review of video and audio footage of Wisth’s arrest and jailing — taken by cameras in the jail and body cameras worn by the Port police officers — shows that there was no undue force used.

    “As far as we know, it’s a false claim,” he said. Officers and deputies did use a compliance hold, which he said is minimal force, to escort Wisth because he was uncooperative and went limp, Johnson said.

    Johnson, who said that his department had previously issued an alert on Wisth because of threats he has made, said Wisth tried to kick the Port squad car while at the jail.

    Following department policy, Johnson said, the videos were reviewed by a use of force instructor and a lieutenant to ensure proper policies were followed.



 
Port to spruce up unsightly north beach entrance PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 18:13

   Work on lights, fence could begin next year

Port Washington officials are taking steps to beautify the walkway to the north beach, making plans to replace the chain-link fence around portions of the wastewater plant and relocate the lights along the east pathway.

    This is a next logical step for the city, which has taken steps to make the beach more accessible in the past several years, the Board of Public Works agreed last week as it endorsed the plan.

    “I’m all for making it beautiful,” Ald. Jim Vollmar, a member of the board, said.

    Beach access has become a hot topic for officials recently.

    “The topic comes up from time to time, but there seems to be a greater interest now than ever before to improve the north beach access,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

    “This isn’t a completely new idea, but it may be an idea whose time has come.”

    The plan calls for the existing fence on the south and west sides of the plant to be replaced with a decorative one.

    The existing chain-link fence creates an uninviting atmosphere for people walking to the beach, Vanden Noven said.

    In the past several years, the city has planted native vines along the fence to try to camouflage it, he said.

    “That was my low-budget attempt to improve the appearance,” he said.

    But as the city discussed ways to improve the access this summer, renovating the walkway to curb the mud that flows from the hillside over the path, Vanden Noven said it was time to look at further improvements.

    He noted that the city would not allow businesses in the community to install chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire.

    “The city should live up to the expectations it puts on others,” he said. “It bothers me that the city has a chain-link and barbed-wire fence around its facility. It’s unlikely we would allow someone to build this.”

    When some members of the board questioned whether a decorative fence would be secure enough, Vanden Noven pointed out that We Energies erected similar fencing around its power plant when it was renovated.

    It’s difficult to climb because there aren’t easy footholds, Ald. Mike Ehrlich, a member of the board, said.

    The fence along the east walkway to the beach won’t be replaced until a driveway on that side of the wastewater plant is repaved within the next five years, Vanden Noven said.

    However, the light poles that impede people with strollers and wheelchairs will be moved inside the fence and onto the wastewater plant grounds next year, he said.

    The estimated $75,000 cost is expected to be funded by the utility’s surplus funds, Vanden Noven said.

    Board member Kevin Rudser suggested the city also look at ways to camouflage the tanks, particularly when viewed from above, perhaps by covering them.

    That can be explored, said Vanden Noven, who also suggested the city consider painting murals on the sides of the tanks to make them less obtrusive.


Image Information: PORT WASHINGTON OFFICIALS are planning improvements to the paths to the north beach, including the removal of the light poles in the middle of the walkway on the east side of the wastewater treatment plant and the replacement of the chain-link fence with a decorative one.      Photo by Bill Schanen IV

   

 
Board approves borrowing for energy savings in PW-S schools PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 17:52

Officials set cap at $2.4 million, but projects are expected to cost less

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved borrowing as much as $2.4 million to pay for a number of energy-efficiency projects.

    By a unanimous vote, the board approved a borrowing plan that would typically require voter approval in a referendum. A state law, however, allows school boards to borrow more than $1 million without a referendums if the money is used to finance improvements that result in energy savings.

    The district’s plan is to undertake a series of projects that range from upgrading and replacing boilers in schools and installing high-tech heating and ventilation controls to using energy “misers” on vending machines.

    Administrators said the district will probably not have to borrow the full $2.4 million authorized by the board, but they want flexibility in case the cost of some projects is unexpectedly high. A more accurate, although conservatively high, cost estimate is $2.27 million, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

    That estimate includes a 7% commission for McKinstry, an energy-savings performance contractor hired by the district to design and oversee the projects.

    “These estimates are based on initial quotes, not bids,” Froemming told the School Board. “It’s like a flyover at 5,000 feet. These are not hard numbers, but they are conservative numbers.”

    School officials said the district is ideally positioned to undertake an energy-saving capital improvement project now, noting that in addition to addressing needs like aging heating systems, the improvements are expected to save more than $100,000 in annual utility costs.

    Earlier this year, the district made its last $485,000 payment on its referendum loan. The new debt is expected to cost the district $240,000 in principal and interest annually, less than half the previous payment, Froemming said.

    Supt. Michael Weber said the scope of the energy savings project was determined with the goal of keeping this year’s tax rate, which is set in October, flat.

    In addition, the district’s AA bond rating and low interest rates have made borrowing money more affordable than it has been in years. Froemming said he expects the district to be able to borrow as much as $2.4 million at an interest rate of between 1.2% and 1.8%. The district would borrow the money for 10 years, which is the expected payback period for the projects.

    Also factoring into the board’s decision to undertake the projects now is the district’s robust fund balance, which essentially serves as a savings account. The district ended the 2011-12 school year with a surplus of $795,497, which brings the fund balance to $5.2 million.

    The board will have to decide whether it wants to borrow the full amount of the projected cost, or delay borrowing and finance part of the initiative with money from the fund balance. The risk of delaying the borrowing is that interest rates could rise, and each 1/10 of a point increase will cost the district an additional $10,000, Froemming said.

    The district plans to seek bids early next year for work that could begin as soon as the heating season ends.    

    Among the planned projects, the upgrade and replacement of boilers at the high school and Dunwiddie and Saukville elementary schools constitute the largest portion of the initiative with an estimated cost of $1.1 million. Upgrading heating and ventilation controls at those schools and Thomas Jefferson Middle School is expected to cost $508,391.

    Other projects include a “green IT” plan that will examine computer and printer use and include computer optimization software, building weatherization throughout the district and a water conservation effort that may include retrofitting toilets and installing sink aerators.

    McKinstry estimates the district will initially save $185,194 in energy and operational costs and could receive $67,876 in Focus on Energy credits.

    School Board President Jim Eden said  it makes sense to deal with issues like aging and inefficient heating systems before they stop functioning.

    “If a boiler goes down when it’s cold out, we have a problem and we won’t be in any position to bargain for the best price,” he said. “Rather than wait until things fall apart, I’d like to act now.”       



 
Contracts for coal dock work total $1.5 million PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 18:23

    Port Washington officials took a huge step forward in developing the coal dock Tuesday, unanimously awarding roughly $1.5 million in contracts to build infrastructure for the future park.

    “The bids, thankfully, came in lower than our ($2 million) estimate,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven told the Common Council.

    That will give the city a little cushion to pay for some work not included in the contracts, such as inspection services, repairing and restoring bollards, installing marina pedestals and planting trees, Vanden Noven said.

    He said he would have an updated estimate for those costs next month.

    Ald. Dave Larson, chairman of the Finance and License Committee, noted that the project attracted seven bids — a product, he said, of the size of the contract and the fact it is a high-profile project.

    The council awarded the contract for work on the north dock to Heartland Construction Co., which previously worked on the Sunset Road and Beutel Road reconstruction projects.

    The firm will be working with TP Construction, which recently constructed Lake Street and also worked on the harborwalk, Vanden Noven said.

    The infrastructure work includes walking paths through the interior of the dock, a promenade, lighting parking areas and an access road.

    Pfeifer Bros. Construction Co. was awarded the $281,389 contract to construct a bridge linking the north and south coal docks.

    Work on the project should start at the end of September and will likely continue until Thanksgiving, Vanden Noven said. Contractors will likely resume work in late March and complete the project by June 15.

    The city will borrow funds to cover its share of the infrastructure work, which will also be financed through a $961,500 Department of Natural Resources stewardship grant. Some of the additional costs may also be covered by the grant, Vanden Noven said.

    He noted he recently applied for another grant that could cover a portion of the cost of the marina pedestals, a platform for low-riding boats and some sewer work.

     While this work will make the coal dock usable for people, its not the only work being done on the area.

    City crews recently completed the first portion of the Sauk Creek naturalization project, building a 30-foot-long bridge over  Mineral Springs Creek, Vanden Noven said, and We Energies recently opened the south coal dock, where it created a bird sanctuary.

    While the infrastructure work will allow public access to the coal dock, it will be a bare-bones park until the city creates attractions there.

    Although the park’s master plan called for everything from a water feature to an interactive children’s garden, those were generalized ideas, Vanden Noven said.

    Now, the city has to determine what it wants to see there, he said.

    The coal dock committee will discuss what amenities should be added to the park when it meets Tuesday, Sept. 25.

    A public meeting to garner ideas on park amenities will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16.


 
Police presence returns to Port schools this fall PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 17:33

Officer will be assigned to work at middle, high schools for the first time since 2009

    For the first time in four years, a police officer will be assigned to public schools in Port Washington, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Tuesday.

    Officer Tom Schleg, a 20-year veteran of the force, will be assigned to Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Port Washington High School for the start of classes next week.


    “Officer Schleg’s demeanor and experience make him an ideal candidate for this position,” Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber said.

    The new school policing effort will be different than the previous school liaison program, which was discontinued at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, Hingiss said.

    Under the now defunct liaison program, which was jointly funded by the police department and school district, an officer was assigned to all schools in the district with the mission of building positive relationships with students, conducting programs on such topics as student safety and responding to incidents.

    “When the liaison program was started, it was new and different, and it was effective,” Weber said. “But as it went on, and with the advent of other efforts like Character Counts, we got to a point were it wasn’t needed.”

    After the program was discontinued, officers made regular visits to schools, but this approach suffered from a lack of the continuity that is achieved by assigning a specific officer to the school beat, Hingiss said.

    “One of the most difficult things for us was having so many different officers in schools,” Hingiss said.

    The new program, which is being funded exclusively by the police department in its normal operating budget, calls for Schleg to focus on middle and high schools exclusively.

    “That’s where we end up having the most contact with students,” Hingiss said. “Our mission is twofold. Above all, we want to build trust between the police and students. We also want to eliminate the issues that result in student-police contact.”

    Schleg will spend between eight and 20 hours per week in the schools depending on scheduling demands within the department.

    Hingiss said he was able to assign an officer to the schools because of the recent hiring of another police officer, James Russel, who was sworn in on Aug. 6. Schleg’s time in the school will be limited until Russel completes his field training — a three-month process — and joins the regular patrol rotation.

    “It’s worth mentioning that I would never assign an officer to the school who didn’t want to be there,” Hingiss said. “Officer Schleg is very excited to be doing this.”

    Weber said Schleg is a welcome addition to the school system.

    “The school district and police department crafted this program together so students would become more comfortable around police officers and so we would have an officer who can talk to our classes and emphasize respect for others and respect for property,” Weber said.




 
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