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Port Washington

Benefit cuts buoy budget, but wages still unsettled PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 18:37

Promising budget gives PW-S District room to negotiate pay under new law

    A Port Washington-Saukville School District that has slashed employee benefit costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars is poised now to focus on negotiating employee wages.

    Although the School Board and Port Washington-Saukville Education Association have yet to open negotiations because of confusion about the state law regulating public employee compensation, the proposed 2012-13 budget can accommodate pay increases, Supt. Michael Weber said. The board will also have to negotiate wages with the union representing secretaries and paraprofessionals.

    “We have a group of teachers stuck at step one that we need to move off there. They need to see an increase,” Weber said. “We want to continue to attract and retain strong teachers because that’s what makes the difference in the classroom.”

    The current starting salary for teachers is $36,877, Weber said.

    A hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, at the District Office, 100 W. Monroe St., Port Washington.

    Act 10, the controversial state law that prompted Tuesday’s failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker, stripped public employees of the right to negotiate benefits but permits them to bargain for wages. Wage increases, however, are capped at an amount not to exceed the consumer price index, which measures inflation.     

    But how wage increase caps are to be calculated and what components of raises are subject to negotiation was unclear until Tuesday, when the district received clarification on these issues, Weber said.

    The district must first calculate a base wage, then multiply it by the consumer price index, which is currently 3.16%, Weber said.

    The overall salary increase and how that increase is distributed throughout the pay scale is subject to negotiations with unions, he said.

    “We want to attract and retain the best teachers, but salary is only one component of staying power,” Weber said. “The biggest factors are job satisfaction and working environment, and we’re leaders in those areas.

    “All of this is very manageable in the proposed budget, which puts the district in very good financial shape.”

    Although Act 10 was enacted last year, it will not affect most district employees until July 1. That is because teachers, as well as secretaries and paraprofessionals, are working under contracts until June 30, when the agreements expire.

    Teachers were granted a one-year contract extension in April 2011, shortly before Act 10 was enacted. That contract contained several concessions, including a partial pay freeze that allowed increases only for educational advancements.

    Board members said the contract extension would give them a year to draft an employee handbook to replace the contract and overhaul benefits in a new post-collective bargaining era.

    Last month, the board took its most significant step in that direction by ending its long-term relationship with WEA Trust, the insurance carrier associated with the state’s largest teachers union, and giving its roughly $4.5 million worth of health insurance business to Humana.

    The change in carriers and benefits is expected to reduce the total insurance premium by $919,000 next school year. Most of that savings — at least $700,000 — is expected to be realized by the district, which pays 87% of the premium for most employees. The balance of that savings will benefit employees, most of whom pay 13% of their premiums, and retirees, whose health insurance benefits are frozen at retirement.

    Under the new insurance plan, employee premiums, which are now $100 and $200 for single and family coverage, respectively, will increase to $500 and $1,000. The new plan also introduces a $20 co-pay for office visits and increases the co-pays for urgent care and emergency room services.

    Also last month, the board reduced the benefit that pays employees cash in lieu of health insurance benefits.

    Currently, employees who opt not to be covered by the district health insurance plan receive an annual payment equal to the district’s portion of the single coverage premium, which is $8,380. Beginning July 1, employees are eligible for a cash payment of $5,400.

    The board also changed the criteria for the cash payment eligibility. Employees will have to work at least 80% of full time to qualify for the benefit, even though those who work 60% qualify for prorated health benefits. Currently, employees who work as little as 50% qualify for a prorated cash in lieu of insurance benefits.

    In addition, the cash option will be eliminated for employees whose spouses also work for the district. Currently four employees who are covered by the district insurance also receive the cash in lieu payment because their spouses are district employees.

    The board also eliminated cash in lieu of insurance payments for retired teachers and hourly workers beginning in 2013.


Sale of former bank paves way for renovation PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 17:59

Port Historical Society poised to acquire building and convert it to museum

    The Port Washington Historical Society was expected to buy the historic Business Man’s Club building in downtown Port Wednesday, Society President Jackie Oleson said.

    “It’s a big day for us,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s pretty awesome.”

    Two weeks ago, plans to renovate the facade of the building at 118 N. Franklin St. were approved by the city’s Plan Commission.

    Members were enthusiastic about the project and its anticipated effect on the downtown.

    “I think this is awesome,” commission member Ron Voigt said May 17. “Having someone who wants to invest in this kind of work is awesome.”

    An anonymous donor is providing the funds for the Port Washington Historical Society to buy and refurbish the structure, recreating its original facade.

    “The schematic is impressive,” Mayor Tom Mlada, chairman of the commission, said as the panel reviewed a rendering of the building. “It goes a long way in caring for the rich history of our city.”

    Architect Mike Ehrlich told the commission much of the facade was destroyed when the building was incorporated into the neighboring bank building decades ago. Any stonework that jutted out was cut off when metal panels resembling the white facade of the bank were installed, he said.

    The society, Ehrlich said, is intent on restoring that work.

    “So much has been destroyed,” he said. “The details are extremely intricate in the stonework. We’re looking to remake all of it.”

    However, he said, the goal is not to make the building look newly renovated.

    “The idea is not to make it look brand new but to look aged,” Ehrlich said.

    Construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall and take nine to 12 months to complete, he said.

    The improvements to the building and those being made at the neighboring Schooner Pub will complement changes the city is contemplating making to the alley between the structures, Ehrlich said.

    “One thing that will be kind of integral is the alley improvements and making it more of a pedestrian walkway,” he said.

    When completed, the building will have 3,500 square feet devoted to interpretive exhibits as well as an area devoted to educational programs.

    The Historical Society also plans to purchase the building at 205 N. Franklin St. immediately south of the former Lueptow’s Furniture store.

    The society is about $45,000 away from its $350,000 goal to purchase and renovate that building, Oleson said. That purchase is expected to be completed Aug. 31, with interior renovations completed this fall and occupancy by the end of the year.

    “Hopefully, we can raise the funds earlier than this fall and get started on that ahead of schedule,” she said.

    That building will house the Society’s offices, archives and resource center. There will also be a small display area in the building.

Street Fest returns to Port Sunday PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:47

Fifth annual community celebration will feature music, vendors and more

The fifth annual Port Washington Community Street Festival will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 27.

    Franklin Street will be closed off for the festival, which is a celebration of the community and its downtown.

    “This is a great opportunity for people to support their local businesses,” said Cathy Wilger, chairman of the festival’s organizing committee.

    This year’s event will include many of the attractions found in previous years — booths by city businesses, a bounce house, chalk drawings, face painting, a Port Washington Firer Department truck, the police department’s DARE vehicle and children’s games.

    The Disney princesses — including Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine and Mary Poppins and perhaps Snow White — will be on hand from 1 to 4 p.m. outside Pear & Simple, and a princess boutique will be set up next door so youngsters can primp for their visit with royalty, Wilger said.  

    A hole-in-one contest will be held in Rotary Park throughout the day. Golfers will try their hand at hitting a ball onto a hole set in a boat in the west slip.

    The Port Washington Yacht Club will be offering free boat rides throughout the festival, with a shuttle taking people from Franklin Street to the marina, Wilger said.

    Port Washington Main Street, which sponsors the festival, will begin to participate in foursquare, where people can check in using their smartphones to accumulate points for various rewards, Excutive Director Sara Grover said.

    In addition, Main Street will begin selling naming rights to the trees, planters, bike racks and benches that line Franklin Street, she said. The street festival began when Franklin Street was reconstructed and amenities like these were placed along it.

    More than 70 vendors, including businesses and service clubs, will line Franklin Street to sell a variety of items, including children’s books, fresh produce, plants and baked goods.

    Duluth Trading Co., which will open in the Smith Bros. Marketplace building, will have a booth, as will the Port Washington Historical Society, which is purchasing two downtown buildings for its archives and a museum.

    Northern Cross Science Foundation will set up telescopes so people can safely view the sun, she said.

    Ozaukee Sports Center will offer laser tag, and a number of city restaurants will have their specialties on hand for purchase.

    A full lineup of entertainment will be part of the festival. Wilger said that at the Performing Arts Stage in front of Port Washington State Bank, Port Washington High School’s award winning a capella group Limited Edition will perform at 12:30 p.m. followed by Impact Dance from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and Lake Shore Dance from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

    Otto Day and the Nites will play at the South Stage beginning at 1 p.m. and Soul Kitchen will be at the north stage beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Preschool plan for church riles neighbors PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 17:52

Ozaukee Christian School’s proposal for facility at Friedens Church sparks protests about traffic, parking

    A proposal by Ozaukee Christian School to open a preschool at Friedens Church this fall hit a snag Tuesday after several neighbors objected to the use.

    “It is a residential neighborhood. I’d like to protect the integrity of it,” said Stacey Berg, 431 N. Milwaukee St. “I’m concerned with traffic on a daily basis, with the noise. Our street is extremely narrow.”

    Celia Shaughnessy, 425 N. Milwaukee St., concurred.    

    “We have a lot of children in our neighborhood,” she said, and traffic is a major concern.

    Parking is another concern, added Jane Kircher, 504 Harrison St.

    Principal Kris Austin said she would work with the neighbors to alleviate their concerns.

    “I give you my pledge we will work with you as a good neighbor,” she told the residents during a public hearing on a conditional use permit for the preschool.

    Austin told the Common Council that plans are to have two preschool classes of 10 to 12 students during the first year. If the demand is there, the preschool could expand in the future, she added.

    Classes would be in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, she said.

    Austin noted that from 1992 to 1995 Ozaukee Christian School was located in Friedens Church, 454 N. Milwaukee St.

    More than 50 children attended the school then, she said.

    “We didn’t, to my knowledge, have any problems with our neighbors,” she said. “We did our best and it seemed to work.”

    Friedens isn’t going to be home to the preschool forever, Austin said.

    “We’re not seeing this as a long-term solution,” she said.

    “In our heart of hearts, we would like to bring the preschool to our school,” she said, noting that kindergarten through eighth grade classes are held in Immaculate Conception School in Saukville.

    Housing the preschool and elementary classes in one building would result in significant efficiencies to their operation, Austin said.

    But despite Austin’s pledge to work with the neighbors to alleviate their concerns, the neighbors were adamant.

    “I appreciate that, but it doesn’t matter,” Berg said. “A daily preschool is not something I would be behind.”

    Neighbors are willing to live with the noise and traffic during the annual Vacation Bible School, but regular classes during the school year are different, she noted.

    “This is everyday,” Berg said.

    Ald. Jim Vollmar suggested the city could place a limit on the number of students enrolled during the first year and review the conditional use permit after that time to see how it works.

    Aldermen voted 5-2, with Dan Becker and Dave Larson opposing, to table action on the permit until their Wednesday, June 6, meeting. This, they said, would give school officials a chance to meet with neighbors and try to hammer out an agreement with them over the preschool.

    Ald. Paul Neumyer also suggested the Police Department look at traffic concerns in the neighborhood.

    “I would like to slow this down a little bit so they (the school) can talk to the neighbors and we can talk to police about the traffic,” he said.

Judge forbids teen burglar to see friends PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 17:51

Port 16-year-old who stole handgun from house spared prison but gets jail, probation with no-contact provision

    A 16-year-old Port Washington teenager who broke into a house and stole a handgun was spared time in prison but will spend the summer in the county jail.

    Then he better start looking for new friends.

    After withholding a prison sentence during a hearing Tuesday, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams placed Joshua J. Young on probation for three years, then asked him who his friends are.

    Young, whose rationale for having a felony record at such a young age includes hanging around with a bad crowd and drug or alcohol use, named six friends. His parents added another name.

    Williams ordered him not to have contact with the friends he named for the duration of his probation.

    Young, who was 15 when he committed his crimes and was waived into adult court, pleaded no contest to a felony count of burglary becoming armed with a dangerous weapon for the Feb. 21 burglary of a house not far from his home on Port Washington’s west side.

    As a condition of probation, Williams ordered Young, who has been in jail awaiting a resolution to his case, to remain there until Sept. 1.

    “Then you’ll have a couple of days to get ready for school,” Williams said.

     Young also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of concealing stolen property and guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession in connection with the Feb. 21 burglary.

    In addition, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of theft and concealing stolen property for what he called “car shopping,” or stealing items, mainly electronics, from cars. Police discovered the stolen items while investigating the burglary.

    Williams placed him on probation for two years for the misdemeanors.

    Four other misdemeanor charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

    “You’re not unfamiliar to me, Mr. Young,” Williams said, referring to Young’s juvenile record.

    In response to questions from the judge, Young acknowledged he had appeared before Williams about a month before the burglary on a juvenile charge. He recalled that he apologized and said he wouldn’t break the law again.

    “A thief and a person not of his word — that’s you, Mr. Young,” Williams said.

    Williams, who ordered Young to comply with a long list of probation conditions that includes not having contact with the victims of the burglary and performing 500 hours of community service, reminded him what would happen if he violated any of those rules.

    “If you screw up, whether it’s me or another judge, they will not hesitate to send you to prison because you have proven yourself worthy,” Williams said. “Isn’t that sad? At age 16, you’ve proven yourself worthy of prison.”

    Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Feb. 21, Young broke into a house on Portview Drive. In addition to a handgun, he stole about $120 in cash and collectible coins.

    It took police only a day to trace the burglary to Young, whose house they searched on Feb. 22. In addition to finding the stolen gun, cash and collector coins, officers found a laptop computer and accessories, video camera and GPS unit that were stolen from unlocked vehicles.

    Although Young was facing a maximum prison sentence of 15 years on the burglary conviction alone, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Sisley and Young’s lawyer, public defender Adrian Renner, argued that he should be placed on probation rather than sent to prison because of his age and the fact he didn’t contest the prosecution’s effort to waive him into adult court.

    Renner also pointed out that Young took responsibility for his crimes and sought a quick resolution to his cases.

    In a calm voice, Young told Williams, “I fully understand how horrible the crime I committed is. I understand I violated the security of this family. I understand they probably hate me, but I’m sorry for what I did.”

    Williams said she had considered a far more serious punishment for Young.

    “While Mr. Sisley wasn’t considering a prison sentence, I was,” she said. “You have no clue how important someone’s home is to them. You haven’t been a father doing whatever he can to protect his family.

    “There’s a saying that a man’s home is his castle. That’s the only place we can all retreat to ... and you violated that for this family.”

    According to the other conditions of Young’s probation, he must pay $1,341 in restitution and $1,240 in court costs, not possess, use or be around alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and submit to random drug and alcohol tests.

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