Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 18:57
Port officials tell dog owners who want city to let pets run free on beach they favor establishing special park instead
A group of Port Washington residents told the Common Council Tuesday they would like the city to designate hours when they could let their dogs run unleashed on the north beach.
But several aldermen said they believe a dog park may be the better answer.
“I think having dogs off leash is a bad idea,” said Ald. Tom Hudson, who has two dogs and described himself as a dog lover.
“I think it would be great for us to look into the possibility of a dog park. If somebody wants to take the lead and work with Park and Rec to establish a dog park somewhere, it would be wonderful.”
Even with designated hours for dogs to be allowed off leash, Hudson said, “There’s always going to be someone out there who doesn’t want to be bothered by dogs.”
A group of about 10 dog owners attended Tuesday’s meeting, but only one spoke.
“We believe giving our pets sufficient exercise is a prime responsibility of a dog owner,” said Anne Davis, 920 Crestview Dr.
“We believe letting our dogs off leash on the beach to chase a stick in the water and swim is not the same thing as letting dogs run rampant. We walk at times and in places we’re unlikely to encounter others.”
If the city were to establish hours when dogs could run unleashed on the beach, Davis said, that doesn’t mean other people couldn’t use the beach at the same time.
Out of courtesy, she said, the pet owners would continue to leash their dogs when others are present.
“We are not asking for the abolition of the leash law,” Davis said.
Nor are they asking the city to stop enforcement of the pooper-scooper law, said Davis.
“We wholeheartedly agree this has become a problem,” she said.
In recognition of the fact that a few negligent pet owners can cause problems for all owners, Davis said, her group has frequently picked up after dogs that aren’t their own.
Since the police department began strictly enforcing the city’s pet laws last month, she added, the bike path has been cleaned.
Police Chief Richard Thomas said his department has issued 15 warning to pet owners violating the city’s various pet ordinances during the past month, many for allowing a dog to roam off leash.
“We feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Thomas said. “The response we’ve received from the community has been wonderful. I’m very pleased and happy.
“Now we’re ready to take it to the next level.”
The department will now issue tickets and fines to pet owners who violate the city ordinances, Thomas said.
“We want to preserve our reputation as a pet-friendly community,” he said, “but we have to be responsible, too.”
But the dog owners, many of whom have received warnings from police for allowing their pets off leash, find it frustrating that even if no one else is on the beach, they cannot allow their dogs to swim and run freely, Davis said.
The group plans to approach the Park and Recreation Board next week to see if it is willing to consider designating hours when dogs could be unleashed on the beach, she told aldermen.
Several aldermen said they would prefer the group put its efforts into establishing a dog park in the city.
Ald. Mike Ehrlich said he has been approached by several constituents willing to work on establishing a dog park in the city.
“I like the idea,” he said.
John Sigwart, 230 Theis St., told aldermen the former landfill site off Grant Street might be a good place for a dog park.
“It’s ideal,” he said. “The city owns it. It’s isolated.”
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 18:02
Third annual Port downtown celebration will add portion of Grand Avenue to Franklin Street activities
Port Washington residents and visitors will flock to downtown Sunday, May 30, for the third annual Community Street Festival.
This year, the festival will expand from Franklin Street onto Grand Avenue as new activities are added to the lineup.
“We’re very excited,” said Cathy Wilger, chairman of the festival’s organizing committee. “There are things people will recognize again and new activities, too. There’s a mix of activities for families to relax and have fun with.”
This year’s festival falls during Memorial Day weekend, a fact that organizers hope will draw more people to the event.
“Not everyone goes away for Memorial Day,” said Sara Grover, executive director of the Port Washington Main Street Program, which sponsors the festival. “We’re hoping that the people who stay in town will come on down and enjoy the many activities and see what our downtown shops and restaurants have to offer.”
The festival will also serve as a kickoff to events commemorating the City of Port Washington’s founding 175 years ago. Birthday balloons will festoon the streets, and birthday cake will be served.
The street festival will run from noon to 5 p.m., an hour longer than in past years, and encompass Franklin Street between Jackson Street and Grand Avenue as well as Grand Avenue from Wisconsin Street east to the lakefront.
While Franklin Street and East Grand Avenue will be closed throughout the festival, one lane will be open on Grand Avenue to accommodate people staying at the Holiday Inn Harborview.
People are asked not to park on Franklin Street Sunday morning to accommodate the festival.
Among the returning attractions will be a cakewalk, children’s games, bouncy room, face painting, chalk drawings, dance and fitness exhibitions at the Performing Arts Stage and musical performances.
This year’s event will feature the band Otto Day and the Nites at 1 p.m., as well as music by Matt Tyner and Mike Brumm.
A variety of construction equipment will be on hand for children to explore. Photographs of the children will be taken on the vehicles.
Four charter boats will be giving free tours throughout the afternoon.
New this year will be a hole-in-one contest, with participants teeing off from Rotary Park to a hole across the west slip on the coal dock. The hole is 160 yards from the tee.
The prize is $1,000 cash. If two people make holes-in-one, a shootoff will be held for a second prize, a stay at the Fox Hills Resort.
The hole-in-one contest will cost $5 for three balls or $10 for eight.
Downtown businesses will offer a wide range of shopping opportunities, and 23 eateries will provide a variety of outdoor drinking and dining choices.
The Main Street Program will begin collecting photographs of the city for its first photo calendar at the festival.
“We’re looking for photos of Port Washington, the people of Port Washington. We’re looking for life in Port Washington,” Grover said.
Photographs will be collected through July 1. Selected photos will be used by the Main Street Program for everything from the organization’s Web site to brochures and the calendar, which will first be available in August during Maritime Festival, Grover said.
The Port Washington Street Festival has quickly become a tradition for many city residents, Wilger said.
“What we’ve been told is a lot of Port Washington people come to this, they see people they haven’t seen for a while and end up staying the afternoon,” she said.
“They feel it’s a nice little community festival. It showcases the businesses we have here in town and lets people experience them. It offers something for everyone in the family.”
READY TO CELEBRATE this weekend at Port Washington’s third annual Community Street Festival on Franklin Street and East Grand Avenue and representing a few of the activities to be found there are (sitting) Angel Tello of Tello’s Grille and Cafe, (standing, from left) festival chairman Cathy Wilger, Mark “Chico” Poull of Schooner Pub, City Administrator Mark Grams, who is organizing a hole-in-one contest, and drummer Gary Klever and guitarist Jim Bathke, both of the band Otto Day and The Nites. Photo by Sam Arendt
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 18:45
Port officials expect more revenue if service is added but unsure it would cover required ambulance upgrade
The Port Washington ambulance department would have brought in at least $68,000 in additional revenue last year if it had a paramedic unit, Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said.
But whether that amount would be enough to cover the additional cost of a paramedic program has not been determined, Mitchell said.
“We can’t make that assumption until we know what our costs are,” he said. “Whether it’s going to pay for the extra costs, we don’t know yet. It’s totally based on our service.”
That extra revenue would cover the cost of upgrading the Port department’s heart monitors to meet paramedic requirements, Mitchell said.
A feasibility study being undertaken by the department will determine what the additional costs of a paramedic program are, he said.
“The studies so far indicate it will cover the cost,” said Bruce Becker, a Police and Fire Commission member who also serves on the committee investigating the feasibility of a paramedic unit in Port.
That’s important, said commission chairman Rick Nelson.
“I think it would be a problem if we’re not cost neutral,” Nelson said. “We’d have a hard time convincing citizens or the council to bear the cost.”
The feasibility study will determine whether the additional revenue will cover the cost, Mitchell said.
“I think we just have to get reassurance this cost will not be passed on to taxpayers,” he said. “The increase in service to the patient is going to be tremendous.”
The biggest cost is likely to be the salaries for the part-time paramedics Port envisions hiring for its program, Mitchell said.
A paramedic program must be run around-the-clock, although the state will give the city two years to phase in the program, he said.
“The biggest concern is can we staff it,” Mitchell said.
The city would also need to pay the initial cost of the medications used by paramedics on calls, he said. The cost, however, would be reimbursed as patients use the medications and are billed for them.
Mitchell said the revenue estimate came from Life Quest, the firm that handles the billing for the ambulance. The firm did not look at every call the department handled but instead looked at expected fee increases when making its estimate.
Currently, the city calls the Thiensville paramedic unit when its skills are needed for a call.
From the end of 2007 through the end of 2009, the city paid Thiensville $5,300 to handle 27 so-called intercept calls for paramedic services, Mitchell said.
“That’s money we gave them that we could have kept,” he told the Police and Fire Commission recently.
This year, Port has already called Thiensville for paramedic services about a half-dozen times, he added.
When Thiensville’s paramedic unit is called, half the revenue from those calls is sent to Thiensville to cover its costs.
The city uses a set of protocols to determine when paramedics should be called. There are other times, however, when patients might also benefit from paramedic services, such as times when the patient’s condition changes en route to the hospital, Mitchell said.
“There are gray areas where we could use paramedics” he said.
If Port institutes a paramedic service, there will be paramedics on every call, Mitchell said.
“With paramedics, just the whole level of care increases,” he said. “Their level of training gets them to the point where they recognize things we can’t.”
Patients would only be billed for the paramedic services when they are required on an ambulance run, Mitchell said. That’s no different than today, he noted, because patients are billed based on the level of service required.
A patient receiving basic care for a minor injury is billed at a lower rate than those requiring more intensive care, he said.
The study committee is continuing to look into the costs and revenues associated with a paramedic unit, Mitchell said, as well as the staffing issues.
By mid-summer, he said, the department hopes to hold a public hearing on the paramedic proposal.
Written by Ozaukee Press
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 18:37
Fed up with lakefront trash, fifth-graders join forces to give Port beach, harbor a caring touch
The Port Washington lakefront has been looking a little cleaner lately, thanks to the efforts of three fifth-graders at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and their friends.
Frustrated by the mess that greeted them when they headed to the beach and harbor to feed the ducks and hang out, Johannah Mueller, Amanda Kissinger and Caitlyn Mersereau have organized the Port Harbor Cleaning Crew.
They and eight of their classmates have been meeting every Tuesday for three weeks, spending about 45 minutes to tidy the lakefront — and have fun.
“Usually, every weekend I go to the harbor with my grandma. We noticed there was a lot of trash accumulated, and some dead animals,” Caitlyn said. “I felt that maybe if we got rid of the trash, it would help.”
“We hang out there,” Johannah said. “We like to watch the ducks and feed them.”
The girls agreed they needed to do something about the mess at the lakefront. They collected trash themselves, but realized that the more people who participated, the greater their impact would be.
“We thought if they did it, they would bring other kids,” Amanda said, and the effort would be contagious.
“I felt sad because they (the fish and animals) live in that environment. We’re doing this for the environment and the community and the ducks, and we’re having fun.”
“We love the ducks,” Caitlyn said.
So one night, while having a sleepover, they created the cleaning crew. The girls drew up a set of rules, created fliers to advertise their group, wrote up permission slips for their fellow crew members to get signed by parents, and put together a schedule.
They talked to Principal Arlan Galarowicz about the concept. He reviewed their plans, gave his blessing to the effort and they then announced the club to their classmates.
They didn’t open it up to the entire fifth grade or the school right away, the girls said, because they feared that if the group got too large, the students might get too rambunctious.
The group meets at 4:45 p.m. Tuesdays at the bandshell, then heads out to clean up until 5:30 p.m. Each week they have an itinerary.
The first week, they tackled the north beach. The group filled seven smaller, grocery-store sized bags and one larger garbage bag.
The following week, they headed to the harbor. They emptied their bags in the garbage cans, then filled them again, estimating they removed about 20 bags of trash.
“We ran out of bags,” said Johannah’s mom, Kim, who accompanied the group.
This week, weather forced them to cancel their session, but they plan to expand their efforts to the downtown next week, taking the historic walking tour to learn more about their community while cleaning it. They will close their season May 25 with a pizza party.
The group’s findings range from the mundane — cans, bottles and plastic bags, which the girls said can take 1,000 years to disintegrate — to the more unusual, such as a single flip flop and half a toy gun.
They’ve found a wooden pallet, lots of shoes and gloves, lighters, matches and a Frisbee, as well as a pile of tiles.
“The people got really mad about that,” Amanda said.
They’ve also found a lot of cigarette butts, they said.
“People need to know cigarette butts are trash,” Johannah’s mother said.
Make no mistake — they may be young, but they’re serious about their mission.
“That one lady littered right in front of me,” Caitlyn said indignantly.
The rules the girls have drawn up for the group are simple, but effective. Cell phones aren’t allowed to be used unless there’s an emergency, and even then their use must be cleared with one of the leaders.
The members are to wear gloves at all times.
“If anyone sees a dead animal, they should talk to Amanda,” Johannah said.
Amanda explained, “My mom’s a funeral director. I don’t say ‘Yuck’ and run away.”
If they find glass, they are to talk to Caitlyn.
“I think glass is pretty,” Caitlyn said.
And anyone finds nests or eggs, they’re to consult with Johannah, who’s particularly interested in wildlife.
“Don’t disturb them,” she said.
The first time they cleaned up, they discovered a nest with a broken egg and trash, something the girls said made them very sad.
When they’re done with an area, they try to remind people not to trash it. When they cleaned the north beach, Caitlyn said, they wrote “Don’t litter” in the sand and “Save the Earth” on a log.
They’re considering asking the city to place a recycling bin at the beach.
While the idea of cleaning up may not be exciting to some people, these young people make it fun. The sound of giggles is a constant companion.
Caitlyn said she’s asked others how they like the club.
“They said, ‘I like it. I loved it. I can’t wait until next week,’” she said.
And the people who have seen them working are just as appreciative, they said.
“We got a lot of good comments from people, a lot of thank yous,” Johannah said.
Although the group plans to take a break over summer, they will probably start up again in fall, the girls said.
After all, Caitlyn explained, “It looked a lot different when we were done.”
THE PORT HARBOR CLEANING CREW, a group of fifth-graders from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, have made it their mission to clean up the city’s lakefront. Last week, the group tackled the shoreline near the breakwater and harbor (top photo). Amanda Kissinger (at right in top photo and in inset photo) collected not just trash but a decomposing fish. Photos by Sam Arendt