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Port Washington


Drunken driver gets 3 years for hitting bicyclist PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 18:17

A 35-year-old Port Washington woman  was sentenced to three years in prison last week for running over a bicyclist while she was driving drunk for the third time.

Ann C. Stelling was also sentenced to three years extended supervision, as well as additional probation and jail time because she continued to drink after the accident in violation of a judge’s order.

“Third-offense drunken driving is serious in itself, but here we had somebody who was just taking a ride on an early fall evening with every safety device he was supposed to have and someone who’s essentially blind drunk drives right over him,” Ozaukee Circuit Judge Paul Malloy said, adding that Stelling had a blood-alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit.

Injured in the Sept. 16, 2010, accident was Robert Splan, 44, who was riding his mountain bike north on Wisconsin Street in Port Washington when, at about 7:30 p.m., Stelling hit him from behind.

Splan, a Town of Port Washington resident who said he was following all traffic laws and had lights on the front and rear of his bike and reflective material on a bag and his shoes, was thrown from his bike and hit a metal garbage can, he said in court last week.

“The accident was extremely traumatic for me,” he said. “I was thrown so hard that I dented a galvanized garbage can in half.”

Splan said he suffered a concussion and torn rotator cuff and has spent the last 11 months recuperating. He said he will also have to undergo surgery to repair his shoulder injury.

Splan objected to Assistant District Attorney Patti Wabitsch’s recommendation that Stelling be sentenced to two years in prison and three years extended supervision for hitting him.

“I don’t think two years in prison is enough,” Splan said. “I spent three months in rehab and suffered symptoms of my concussion for six months. Now I’m going to have to have surgery and they say I may only recover 80 to 85% of the use of my shoulder.

“That’s two years of my life that I’ll be dealing with this because a person made the decision to drive drunk.”

In addition to his injuries, Splan said, he suffered financial harm because he cannot pay the thousands of dollars worth of medical bills he incurred after the accident.

“I’m lucky she (Stelling) has insurance, but they haven’t paid anything,” he said. “I receive bills every day. My credit rating has dropped 265 points.”

Wabitsch said Splan is seeking $13,229 in restitution to cover existing medical bills and will have other medical expenses from his shoulder surgery.

Splan said Stelling has added insult to injury by not taking responsibility for the accident.

“She’s never once apologized,” he said. “She said I caused the accident.”

According to the criminal complaint, Stelling told police shortly after the accident that Splan was biking on Douglas Street and rode onto Wisconsin Street in front of her vehicle.

But a witness said he saw Stelling, who was driving north on Wisconsin Street, suddenly swerve to the right and hit Splan, who was also heading north on Wisconsin Street.

In court last week, Stelling’s attorney, Perry Lieuallen, said his client has not made excuses for her actions but has been limited in what she can say by her insurance company.

“She merely told the insurance company that she didn’t see him (Splan),” Lieuallen said. “Her insurance company, which is American Family, has told my client not to send any letters of apology, which she has wanted to do. I can’t let her say anything today because the insurance company has told me not to.”

Wabitsch said the fact that this was Stelling’s third drunken driving conviction is telling.

“She has not learned her lesson,” Wabitsch said. “She’s a danger to herself and the community, and now an innocent victim has been hurt.”

The recommended sentence is severe enough to teach Stelling a lesson and protect the community, Wabitsch said.

“Two years is a long time for someone who has never been in prison,” she said.

In June, Stelling pleaded no contest to charges of drunken driving causing injury and third offense drunken driving.

Malloy sentenced Stelling to three years in  prison and three years extended supervision on the drunken driving causing injury conviction, a felony punishable by a maximum six years in prison. He ordered that she be eligible for the earned-release program after serving two years in prison, meaning she could be released early.

Malloy ordered her to pay a fine of $2,400 and revoked her driver’s license in connection with the third-offense drunken driving conviction.

Stelling also pleaded no contest to two felony charges of bail jumping, which were issued after she tested positive for alcohol on Jan. 14 and March 18. Malloy had ordered her to maintain absolute sobriety while free on bail.

The judge sentenced her to 30 days in the county jail on one of the bail jumping convictions. On the other, he withheld a prison sentence, placed her on probation for two years and ordered her to serve 45 days in jail.

 
Five apply for Port police chief’s job PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 19:38

Field of potential successors to department’s outgoing leader includes three out-of-state candidates

Five people — three of them from out of state — have applied to become Port Washington’s next police chief, officials said.

The other two applicants are from Wisconsin, but outside Ozaukee County, Police and Fire Commission chairman Rick Nelson said Tuesday.

Advertisements for the position were posted on Aug. 1, Nelson said, and the first application, which was from someone in South Milwaukee, was received by the city on Aug. 4.

“I have no idea how many applicants we’re going to get,” he told the commission Monday, noting that the last time the city sought a police chief, 72 applications were received after a
nationwide search.

This time, the city is only advertising for applicants throughout Wisconsin.

Thomas, who has been chief since August 2005, has announced he will retire effective Dec. 31.

Nelson said he was surprised that the initial candidates for the job came from outside the area, noting officers working nearby knew about the opening before it was advertised.

“It’s kind of interesting (that most of the first applications came from outside the state),” Nelson said.

Those applications came from Connecticut, New York and Georgia, he said.

“That’s the power of the Internet,” commission member Mike Mueller said.

Commission member Terry Tietyen said the city should anticipate a number of applications from area officers.

“I will guarantee we will have several in-county candidates,” said Tietyen, a retired Mequon police officer. “I can name several.”

Officials have said there are five potential candidates in the department — Captain Mike Keller and lieutenants Kevin Hingiss, Mike Davel, Tom Barbuch and Eric Leet.

Applications will be accepted by the city through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31. A committee of five police chiefs from outside Ozaukee County will screen the applications on Sept. 7, and
those that make the initial cut will be presented to the commission on Sept. 12.

The candidates will answer essay questions, then be interviewed by the commission. The finalists will then go to an assessment center for evaluation.

The finalists will then have a final interview with the commission, after which background checks and physical evaluations will be performed. The commission will then selecte its finalist.

Commission members will be able to review all the applications as they come in, the group agreed Monday.

 
City asked to crack down on odor from Kleen Test plant PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 18:36

Resident who says she’s irritated by smell of dryer sheets plans petition drive to have nuisance ordinance enforced


For Amy Leder, the distinctive odor of dryer sheets that sometimes lingers over parts of Port Washington is a cloying stench that brings on a physical reaction.

“It clogs my throat. It gives me a headache,” Leder said. “It doesn’t happen that often, but when it happens, I can’t be outside.”       

Leder, who lives on West Walters Street, said she is circulating a petition calling for the Kleen Test Products to contain the odor within its plant at 603 N. Moore Rd.

“This action will greatly enhance the quality of life and business opportunities in Port Washington, reduce allergic discomfort ... as well as save residents money by not having to air condition their homes to exclude the stink of Kleen Test,” the petition reads in part.

“They don’t have to close it down,” Leder said. “I just want them to get a better filtration system.”

Leder said she didn’t know about the company when she moved to Port Washington more than two years ago.

“If I had known I had to smell dryer sheets, on some days really intensely, I would not have moved here,” she said.

“Since I’ve been here, I find very few people say, ‘I love the smell of Kleen Test.’ Some people don’t notice it. Most people can’t stand it.”

Leder said she has called City Hall and Kleen Test to complain about the odor to no avail. Because of that, she put together a petition asking the city to enforce its public nuisance ordinance in regard to the odor.

City Administrator Mark Grams said the city has received few complaints about the company in recent years.

“She (Leder) is the first to complain in a long time,” he said.

Several years ago, he said, the city received a number of complaints about the odor, but since then the company has installed a new filtratation system and instituted a policy not to leave doors open.

That has largely solved the problem, Grams said, although there are occasions when the distinctive scent can be detected in the city.

“I haven’t smelled it much lately,” he added.

Mayor Scott Huebner said he, too, has received few complaints about the company.

“If the company’s not emitting anything hazardous, I don’t see where we would take any action,” he said. “If any action needs to be taken, it would probably have to be through the Department of Natural Resources.”

Huebner noted that many communities have distinctive smells, not all of them pleasant, and they linger all the time.

“You go to the Fox Valley and you smell paper mills,” he said. “This isn’t an everyday smell. They have taken steps in the past to minimize the odor. I don’t think it’s been as bad as in the past.”

Ron Dillahunt of the DNR said the agency has not received any complaints about Kleen Test for the past couple years.

“I have talked to a few people about Kleen Test in the past,” he said, adding that the DNR worked with the firm in the past to minimize odors.

The firm uses internal air scrubbers to reduce odors at the plant, he said, and keeps its doors closed.

“Those are the main things they can do,” he said.

The firm, he said, is not required to have an air permit from the DNR because its emissions are below the standards set by the agency.

Odor regulations are subjective, Dillahunt said, adding that the agency looks at frequency, intensity, duration and objectionability.

“It is not a foul-smelling odor,” he said, “The intensity hasn’t been that high when I’ve smelled it.”

A call to Kleen Test Products for comment was not returned.

 
Sowing plans for a community garden PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 27 July 2011 17:48

Comments on creating public growing space next to Interurban Trail in Port to be accepted at Aug. 3 meeting


Port Washington gardeners may have a new place to plant flowers and vegetables next spring.

A community garden with 65 plots is proposed to be created on one-half acre of city-owned land next to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, south of Hales Trail and kitty-corner from Kaiser Park.

A public meeting on the proposal will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, at the Niederkorn Library’s community room.

Organizers are seeking input on the location, advice and looking to create a list of people who may be interested in renting a plot or helping with the garden.

Information gathered at the meeting will be presented to the city’s Parks and Recreation Board at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11.

“They (board members) are very interested in the idea,” said Derek Strohl, who is organizing the community garden effort. “They just want more community input.”

Strohl, who has been working on a community garden “on and off” for six years, last year worked on plans to develop the garden near Dunwiddie Elementary School.

Those plans were derailed, he said, when the Port Soccer Club, which developed the site about a decade ago as a soccer field but hadn’t used it in about five years,
decided it needed the space.

Strohl reviewed a number of other sites before settling on the current area.

The garden would be fenced, in large part to protect it from deer that live and feed in the area, he said.

Several years ago, Strohl noted, he proposed creating the garden on a site northeast of this one but people in the area overwhelmingly rejected it because of the
deer population.

A small path will have to be built for handicapped accessibility, as will a couple raised garden plots. The remainder of the garden will be in-ground.

The fence will be the biggest part of the expected $3,000 in start-up costs for the garden, Strohl said. Grants and donations will be sought to cover the cost.

The garden plots are expected to cost gardeners about $25 annually.

“We’re very optimistic we can raise the money this year so we can open the garden next spring,” Strohl said.

He would like to till the ground this fall and incorporate large amounts of compost into the soil. In spring, the fence would be built.

The biggest challenge, Strohl said, will be water.

“We could spend many thousands of dollars putting in water pipes,” he said, or much less to install two 250-gallon tanks and filling them from a nearby hydrant.
Gardeners would then use a spigot to fill watering cans.

In time, he would like to convert the tank spigots so a hose could be attached.

Strohl said he and three others have been working on the project, but would like others to join them.

“We need a board,” he said, noting rules for the garden need to be drawn up. “We’ll need help with the construction. There’s a lot of work to be done.

“But we’re overdue for this. Our community needs this. We need our children to grow up knowing where their food comes from. People need to be able to grow their
own food, even if they live in an apartment and don’t own land. People who don’t have land think, ‘I can’t have a garden.’ There’s no reason why we can’t have that.
We have plenty of public spaces.”

Playgrounds and concert venues are widely accepted uses for public lands, Strohl said, and gardens should also be.

“It’s a worthwhile activity for a community,” he said. “I get a lot of comments from people who say they’re excited about this.”

 
Revised lawn law softens crackdown on city parkways PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 20 July 2011 19:30

Ordinance tones down restrictions that had banned plantings in public areas

A revised lawn law that allows plantings in the parkway while still requiring properties to be maintained was approved Tuesday by the Port Washington Common Council.

The three-page ordinance not only accomplishes the city’s original intent of cracking down on unkempt lawns but also gets rid of a clause in the existing law requiring parkways to be
planted only with grass.

The new ordinance also allows hillsides, ravines and bluffs to be kept natural, noting that in these areas the plantings typically serve to control erosion.

City Administrator Mark Grams referred to the ordinance as a scaled down version of a draft presented a month ago, noting he and City Attorney Eric Eberhardt “pared it down to focus on
the issues that need to be addressed.”

The original intent, he said, was to make it easier for the city to crack down on property owners who allow their yards to grow unchecked.

The past ordinance did not allow the city to require a property owner to cut the lawn unless it was 12 inches long. The owner then had 10 days to mow.

The new ordinance shortens the allowable length to 8 inches and gives property owners five days to cut the grass.

While few people questioned this change in the ordinance, many were upset about the continued prohibition on plantings in the parkways.

Mary Enright, 126 S. Spring St., told aldermen Tuesday that she and others who have planted flowers in the parkways have done so to beautify their properties.

“The only thing that grows there are the dandelions because of the amount of salt (spread in winter),” she said. “I am caring for the plants I put there. I think it’s much better than the
dandelions that otherwise grow there.”

Grams said the former parkway law was in place “for umpteen years” and was never enforced, even when people landscaped the parkways.

“We let it go because nobody complained,” he said.

The ordinance approved Tuesday says that parkways “should be mowed and maintained as a lawn,” a change from the previous draft that said the areas “shall” be planted with grass.

“Shall imposes a duty,” Eberhardt explained. “Should implies a duty.”

The revised wording “strikes a nice balance,” he said.

“We felt that was the best way to give the city a little wiggle room if we get a complaint,” Grams added.

Ald. Paul Neumyer said the ordinance makes it clear that the city is “not going to track people down who have plantings in their parkways. We’re not coming out with weed-whackers and
mowers.”

Grams also noted that the city does not want to encourage every property owner to fill their parkway with shrubs or plants.

“I don’t think you want every parkway in the city to have flowers and large bushes,” he said. “Then it’s going to become a problem for people parking and trying to get out of their cars.”

Ald. Mike Ehrlich questioned whether the new language would give the ordinance enough teeth in case of problems, such as plantings in the parkway blocking the view of motorists.

Other portions of the city code address those issues, Grams said.

Ald. Jim Vollmar said he still believed the ordinance was too confusing.

“I really think this can be redone to be a much simpler ordinance,” he said, adding that the city should draw up a separate ordinance to deal with vacant properties.

But Ehrlich disagreed, saying, “Addressing just vacant homes doesn’t make sense.” Neglected homes also need to be regulated, he said.

 
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