Share this page on facebook
Port Washington


Where’s the tower plan? PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:18

Port officials haven’t heard for weeks from group that wanted to build 80-foot-tall structure in Upper Lake Park


    A proposal to build an observation tower in Port Washington’s Upper Lake Park overlook area was advancing at a rapid pace earlier this year, but it has abruptly dropped out of sight.

    City officials withheld action on the proposal in January because representatives of the Friends of the Tower and their contractor could not attend the Common Council meeting.

    Since then, communications between the city and the group have been virtually non-existent, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

    “We haven’t heard a word,” he said.

    Port Washington businessman Pat Poole, a spokesman for the group, failed to return calls seeking information on the status of the tower.

    The Friends of the Tower has proposed raising between $300,000 and $500,000 to build the 80-foot-tall tower as a gift to the city.

    The structure would be an attraction for residents and visitors alike, Poole said, offering views that people can’t get anywhere else. The park was selected as a site because it is visible and, as one of the city’s highest points, would likely offer some of the most spectacular views, he said.

    The plan was endorsed by the city’s Plan Commission and Parks and Recreation Board. However, after officials got a graphic demonstration of the height of the structure and the views it afforded by being lifted in the fire department ladder truck, many aldermen expressed misgivings about its location, aesthetics and height.

    The concerns led some officials to suggest an alternate site be sought.

    “I am not adverse to this project,” Ald. Dan Becker said Jan. 17. “I’m just not in favor of this location. I don’t think it works, and I want to look elsewhere.”

    Neither Poole nor a representative of Jos. Schmitt & Sons Construction, which built a similar tower in Sheboygan in 2009, was available to attend the January meeting.

    “I don’t think it’s fair to pursue this (discussion) until we have a representative of the people who want to do it here,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said at the time.

    Representatives of the Friends group said they would notify the city when they can attend a council meeting, Grams said.

    “Until they come back to the city, there’s nothing we can do,” Mayor Scott Huebner said. “We’re just waiting to hear from them.”

 
Benefit critics carry the day in PW-S School Board primary PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 19:04

Larsson, Kelley finish first and second; Mueller, Fritsch also advance


    Ross Larsson and Earl Kelley, the two self-described conservative candidates for the Port Washington-Saukville School Board who have been critical of teacher benefits, received the most votes in Tuesday’s five-candidate primary race for two City of Port Washington seats on the board.

    Also advancing to the April 3 general election are Michelle Mueller and Brenda Fritsch. Leo Duffrin was eliminated from the race.

    Larsson, a 41-year-old real estate appraiser, received 865 votes (21.9%), while Kelly, a 74-year-old retiree, garnered 840 votes (21.2%), according to unofficial results from the Ozaukee County Clerk.

    Mueller, a 43-year-old technology consultant, finished a close third with 837 votes (21.2%), while Fritsch, a 44-year-old residential designer, received 752 votes (19%).

    Duffrin garnered 644 votes (16.2%).

    A total of 3,955 ballots were cast in the school board primary election.

    The results are unofficial until certified by the school district’s Board of Canvass and could change slightly because of outstanding absentee ballots.

    On April 3, voters will chose two of the four remaining candidates to replace longtime board members Patty Ruth, who is the current president of the board, and Myron Praeger, both of whom are stepping down at the end of their terms.

    Larsson and Kelley have worked to distinguish themselves as the conservative candidates for the board. They have been critical of the School Board’s decision to approve a teacher contract extension and outspoken about their desire to further curb benefits.

    Larsson, Kelley and John Soper, who is challenging incumbent Carey Gremminger for her Village of Saukville seat on the board in the general election,  collaborated on a mailing to voters titled, “Your conservative School Board candidates.”

    That message, Kelley said Wednesday, resonated with voters.

    “I think it must have because the candidates have similar positions when it comes to academics,” he said. “Where we differ is on the teacher benefit issue.”

    Fritsch, who has defended the teacher contract extension as being fair to employees and taxpayers, conceded that the issue of teacher benefits was undoubtedly a factor in the election returns.

    “It remains a very hot topic in this state, so I think it could have been a factor, particularly in a primary where voter turnout isn’t always so high,” she said. “I think that might change in the April election.”

    In a pre-election interview with Ozaukee Press, Kelley said the contract extension approved last year, which included a pay freeze and brought health insurance and pension contributions in line with the state’s budget-repair law, did not go far enough to  reduce teacher benefits.

    “Teachers — and even they seem to admit this — have a Cadillac benefit package. I’m not talking about changing it overnight, but taking one, two, even three years to bring teacher benefits in line with those of the general public,” he said.

    Kelley is also calling for the creation of an ad-hoc committee consisting of district taxpayers to oversee the creation of an employee handbook, which will replace teacher contracts next school year.

    Larsson said he sees the current board as “a group of people who are sympathetic to teachers and the unions when instead they should be sympathetic to parents.”

    Fritsch said her focus is on continuing the academic and extracurricular programs the district offers.

    Mueller and Duffrin pegged their campaigns on the need to expand the use of technology in schools, specifically saying the district needs to find the means within its budget to replace textbooks with tablet computers and electronic texts.

    “Our generation hasn’t prepared itself for the challenges we now face,” Mueller said in an interview. “Not changing that for our children would be an even greater mistake.”

       

 
Retirements will cost PW-S district 14 staff members PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 19:35

    The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved retirement requests for nine veteran teachers and five paraprofessionals.

    The 14 retirements are effective at the end of this school year in June and come on the heels of 23 employee retirements last school year, the most the district has had in recent history.

    Teachers who are retiring on June 30 are: Jim Juech, fourth grade at Saukville Elementary School; Pam Kirsch, special education at Thomas Jefferson Middle School; Cheryl Lanser, fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary School; Jerome “Bim” LeMahieu, fifth grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School; Linda Lohr, fifth grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School; Diane Pfaffenroth, first grade at Saukville Elementary School; Linda Raschka-Garcia, third grade at Saukville Elementary School; Christine Rismeyer, fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary School; and Lilly Wisotzke, fifth grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

    Retiring paraprofessionals are Jane Allam, Thomas Jefferson Middle School; Kay Gnorski and Diane Kozlowski, both at Port Washington High School; Becky LeDuc, Dunwiddie Elementary School; and Linda Verhey, Lincoln Elementary School.

    “We have some great people leaving our district after many years of service and I’m sure we’ll have some great people coming into this district,” Supt. Michael Weber said.

    The deadline for submitting retirement notifications was Feb. 1.

    Of the 23 employees who retired last year, 18 were teachers. Many of the retirements were prompted by changes to the teacher contract, which was influenced by the state’s budget-repair law.

 
City loan to help couple buy historic firehouse PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 19:20

Port council agrees to lend $40,000 to business owners who want to convert vacant building into art gallery, hall


     The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday agreed to lend Blue Heron Artisan’s Gallery LLC $40,000 from its revolving loan fund to help finance the purchase of the historic firehouse at the corner of Wisconsin and Pier streets.

    The 20-year loan, which will help Betty and Jim Langford buy the building and renovate it as an art gallery and banquet hall, will have an interest rate of 1.625% interest, aldermen said.

    In exchange for the loan, the couple agreed to create the equivalent of two full-time jobs, officials said.

    The city agreed in December to sell the historic firehouse to the Langfords for $188,000. Although the sale was to be completed by the end of 2011, the couple ran into a financing glitch and the closing was delayed.

    The council’s action Tuesday paves the way for the couple to complete the purchase.

    Betty Langford told aldermen Tuesday that the couple plan to create an informal gallery on the main floor where artists would rent space.

    “The idea is to support the artists so they would have a place to sell and display their art,” she said.

    She has about 14 artists who are interested in the gallery, Langford said, adding the space could accommodate 80 artisans.

    On the lower level, the couple plan to create a banquet hall.

    There’s been a lot of interest in that space, Langford said. A music teacher is talking about renting space twice weekly, she said, and an exercise instructor is also looking to lease space.

    The hall could also be rented for one-time events, including a shower planned for May, she said.

    To help commemorate the building’s  roots as the city’s firehouse, Langford said she will create an area to showcase the fire department and its history.

    Langford said she plans to paint and install new floors in the building, which also needs a new furnace, attic insulation and upgrades to the electrical system.

    “I think this is a great use for the building, and I think this will fit nicely in the fabric of downtown,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said.

    People often talk about the need for a space for the arts, Mayor Scott Huebner said, and this would help meet that need.

    “I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

    The historic firehouse was last used as the city’s senior center. The center moved from the site to a new location in the former St. John’s Church on Foster Street last summer.


 
Port man accused of sexually assaulting 4-year-old girl PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 19:06

Thirty-five-year-old faces first-degree assault, child porn charges after victim tells defendant’s mother of abuse


    A 35-year-old Port Washington man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl he was entrusted to watch and taking pornographic pictures of her.

    James R. Esselman was charged last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child younger than 12 and five counts of possession of child pornography.assault

    On Sunday, Jan. 22, Port Washington police launched an investigation that quickly led them to Esselman after a hospital reported the suspected sexual assault of the girl, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said. Esselman was arrested the next day after police searched his home in the 200 block of W. Jackson Street.

    According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Jan. 25, Esselman’s mother told police that her son brought the girl to her home on Saturday, Jan. 21, so she could watch the child while Esselman ran errands.

    Esselman, who met the girl’s mother through an Internet chat room five years ago, was apparently watching the girl, who is from Green Bay and was visiting Port Washington, according to authorities.

    Esselman’s mother said she was clipping the girl’s fingernails when the girl said she and Esselman, whom she referred to as Jimmy, play “boy butt and girl butt,” the complaint states.

    When Esselman’s mother asked the girl to explain, the girl moved her hands in such a way to suggest masturbation, according to the complaint.

    The woman said that when she asked the child if she liked the game, the girl replied, “No. I cry. I don’t like that,” the complaint states.

    Esselman’s mother said that when she confronted her son about molesting the girl, he said, “It only happened once,” the complaint states.

    After the girl told Esselman’s mother about the assaults, she was taken back to her home in Green Bay, where she was examined at a hospital, Hingiss said.

    Esselman told authorities he sexually assaulted the girl twice, beginning Friday, Nov. 4, according to the complaint.

    Esselman said he and the girl, who was staying at his home, were lying on his bed watching a movie when he began to rub her back, then pulled down her pants. He said he had sexual intercourse with the girl, the complaint states.

    Esselman told police the second assault happened about two weeks later after he picked up the girl and took her to his house, according to the complaint.

    Esselman also admitted to taking several pornographic photos of the girl. His mother, who said she retrieved the pictures from her son’s home, turned the images over to police, the complaint states.

    In all of the photos, the girl is wearing a diaper even though in at least some of the pictures she is clearly too old to be wearing diapers, according to the complaint. Some of the pictures show the girl posed on a pink blanket decorated with butterflies.

    The girl was 4 years old during both assaults. She turned 5 last month.

    During Esselman’s initial court appearance on Jan. 25, Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Sisley asked that bail be set at $500,000. Judge Paul Malloy set bail at $100,000 and, in the event Esselman posts bail, ordered him not to have contact with the girl or her mother. The judge also ordered him not to have unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18 and not to possess photographic equipment, including cell phone cameras.

    Esselman, who will be represented by a public defender, remained in the Ozaukee County jail this week. He’s scheduled to appear in court for a status hearing on Feb. 6.

    If convicted of the sexual assault charges, Esselman will be subject to a bifurcated, or two-part, sentence comprised of a prison sentence and extended supervision totalling a maximum of 60 years for each count. Because Esselman is older than 18, the prison term must be at least 25 years.

    The possession of child pornography charges each carry a maximum 25-year sentence that must include at least three years in prison unless a judge determines a lesser sentence does not endanger the public. The crime also carries a maximum fine of $100,000 and a mandatory $500 surcharge.


Image Info: Photograph of James Esselman

 
<< Start < Prev 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Next > End >>

Page 32 of 57
advertisement
Banner
Banner
Banner