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Regional music lineup to highlight Fish Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 18:29

Saturday festival in Port to feature performers with area roots, run/walk, parade and plenty of fried fish

There will be a distinctly regional flair to the music heard Saturday, July 16, at Fish Day, Port Washington’s largest festival.

The list of performers from the area starts with country artists Josh Thompson, a Cedarburg native whose mother lives in Port, and Nora Collins, who hails from Brookfield. They will headline the Main Stage, with Collins opening for Thompson, just as they did in 2014.

The list extends to the side stages, where Milwaukee area groups like the Briton, Road Crew, Bobby Way and the Way Outs and The Rush Tribute Project will perform.

“There’s such a huge contingent of talent in the region,” Fish Day General Chairman Mary Monday said. “When we got Josh back and Nora back, we said let’s see if we can really make this a celebration of the talent you can find here.”

This year’s 52nd annual Fish Day celebration — the oldest festival in the city —  will follow the theme “Fishmas in July.”

It includes something for everyone — an 8-kilometer run and 2-mile fun walk and run, parade, carnival, classic car show, arts and crafts area, smoked fish-eating contest, music, fireworks and, of course, a bounty of golden fried fish and chips.

Fish and chips are sold at seven stands run by local civic organizations that use the proceeds for community projects such as park improvements and scholarships.

In addition, chicken strips, cheese curds, craft and traditional beer, nonalcoholic beer, hard lemonade, Gatorade, soda and water will be sold at the stands.

 Fish Day kicks off at 8 a.m. with a run and walk to benefit Portal Industries. The race will be chip timed, providing precise information and almost instantaneous reading of the results.

The parade starts at 10 a.m., with units stepping off from the corner of Wisconsin Street and Walters Street, proceeding south on Wisconsin to Grand Avenue, then continuing west to Wisconsin Street.

Among the units will be perennial crowd favorites such as New Generation and the South Shore Drill Team from Chicago.

Representatives of Port Washington State Bank, the longest-standing sponsor of the festival, will be the parade marshal. Alyssa Lanagan of Grafton High School, who designed the Fish Day logo, will be the junior marshal.

On the festival grounds, music is the main attraction.

This the first time Fish Day has had a repeat Main Stage headliner, Monday said.

“Josh was such a hit, people were asking for him to come back,” she said. “And then we thought, if we’re going to bring him back, why not Nora?”

Thompson, whose latest album “Change: The Lost Record, Volume One” is described as his most introspective, will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. 

His first single “Beer on the Table,” hit No. 16 on the Billboard country chart, and his second, “Way Out Here” hit the top 40.

Thompson’s sophomore disc, “Turn It Up,” debuted in the top 10 and produced two singles —“Cold Beer With Your Name On It” and “Wanted Me Gone.”

Collins will perform at 8 p.m.

 Also performing at the Main Stage during the afternoon will be Road Crew.

The headliner for the Blues Stage is Dynasty, a Chicago blues band.  

The Bandshell Stage headliner is The Britins, while The Rush Tribute Project will headline the Lakeview Stage. 

Local and regional acts will perform on stages throughout the day.

All the music at Fish Day is free, with the exception of the Main Stage acts. A Fish Day button is required for entrance there. The button is $2 before the festival or $5 at the gate.

A number of the food stands will also have musical groups.

Fish Day features a wide variety of events for families, including a carnival with a large Ferris wheel. 

Helicopter rides will take off from Upper Lake Park.

The traditional smoked fish-eating contest will be at 2:30 p.m. at the Lakeview Stage.

The soccer water fights in Veterans Park will begin at 3 p.m. Teams of three youths can sign up for the fights at 2:30 p.m.The Upper Lake Park bluff is the location for the arts and crafts show and the classic car show, which run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The festival closes with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. Fireworks are set off from Coal Dock Park, which will be closed after 1 p.m. as crews prepare for the show.

Free shuttle buses will run throughout the city, stopping at designated points marked by signs.

In addition, buses will pick up and drop off passengers at the Ozaukee County Justice Center on South Spring Street, Harbor Hills on Port’s west side, the Ozaukee County park-and-ride lot off Seven Hills Road on the city’s north side and Walmart in Saukville.

Pets are not allowed on the grounds, and visitors are not allowed to bring backpacks into the festival. Bikes, skates and skateboards are also prohibited.

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Study of PWHS outdoor facilities to sharpen focus for fundraising PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 18:14

School Board hires firm whose analysis of athletic fields will help foundation prioritize needs, cost

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board last week commissioned a study of outdoor high school athletic facilities that is intended to be a blueprint for fundraising spearheaded by a recently formed foundation.

The district will hire Point of Beginning, a surveying, landscape architecture and engineering firm from Stevens Point, to analyze Port Washington High School’s football, baseball and track and field facilities and recommend improvements.

The site analysis will cost $2,000, officials said. 

“The cost is not over the top because they see it as laying the groundwork for doing the work in the future,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

Improvements being considered include an artificial turf football field and possibly baseball fields, new bleachers and other football field-related improvements and an eight-lane running track.

Artificial turf, which is used by several schools in Port High’s athletic conference, seems to be central to the district’s improvement plan because the durable surface could be more heavily used for a variety of activities while reducing maintenance costs. For instance, the current grass football field, which is used almost exclusively for games, could also serve as a soccer field and be used for gym classes if an artificial surface is installed.

“Ideally, if you could do full turf on all the fields you could have soccer practice as early as you want in spring and accommodate gym classes and football,” Froemming said.

Because the school’s athletic facilities are in a relatively compact space just west of the school, the district decided it needed the expertise of a professional firm to redesign the outdoor athletic area.

“It’s going to take someone with some creativity to work with a piece of property like this and expand the outdoor athletic opportunities for our students,” Supt. Michael Weber said.

The recommended improvements will come at a significant cost, and having passed a $49.4 million referendum last year to make building improvements at the high school and Dunwiddie Elementary School, the district is not in a position to pay for them. That’s where the PWSSD Foundation Inc. comes in.

The group is in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization and, while independent of the district, it is working closely with school officials to raise money for improvements in the district.

The hope is the foundation, which with its nonprofit status can offer tax incentives to prospective donors, will be able to leverage large corporate contributions in addition to smaller gifts from individuals and groups.

Of possible help in the foundation’s mission is a recently approved policy that allows the School Board to grant naming rights in exchange for large donations.

The first step, however, is the outdoor facilities study, which in addition to guiding the district will give the foundation a plan to show potential donors.

“The foundation asked for a commitment from the district to come up with a plan,” Weber said. “They have to have a target to shoot for.”

Board says yes to selling school land PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 18:49

Decision paves way for Port-Saukville district to market 54.5 acres of farmland it has owned on city’s west side since 1969

The Port Washington-Saukville School Board voted unanimously Monday to sell 54.5 acres the district has hung on to for 47 years as a site for a school.

Convinced that with the approval of a $49.4 million school renovation referendum last year the district won’t need a new building in the foreseeable future, the board will seek proposals from real estate brokers, then choose a company to market what is now farmland north of Grand Avenue and east of Highway LL on the City of Port Washington’s west side.

“I think this is a gem of a piece of property for residential development,” Supt. Michael Weber said. “It has really nice, family-friendly developments on three sides of it.”

The land is flanked by subdivisions on three sides — Spinnaker West to the south,  The Woods at White Pine to the west and Lake Ridge to the east — and bordered by farmland to the north. Although ideally located for residential development, it’s a less-than-ideal school site because there is no suitable access to the land for the high volumes of traffic a school generates, officials said. 

The value of the land has yet to be determined, Weber said, but the property could net a significant sum. Under school funding rules, the district can use the proceeds to fund capital improvements or purchase other land without affecting the state aid it receives, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

“We’re going to have the broker work with an appraiser to determine the value of the land and a minimum price for the property,” Weber said. 

The school district purchased the property, which is comprised of two parcels, in January 1969 from Elmer and Myrtle Bley for $149,944, long before the subdivisions around it were developed.

“In (1969), the board dreamed of the future,” Froemming said last month. “The question is, does this property have a future in the school district today?”

The answer, school officials said, is no.

The district’s most pressing facility needs will be addressed by the referendum work, which includes a $45.6 million Port Washington High School project and a $3.8 million addition to Dunwiddie Elementary School. Even when the board broached the idea of building a high school on a new site, the land the district already owned wasn’t considered because it is too small by contemporary high school standards.

“It might be big enough for a middle school, but we don’t need a middle school,” Weber said. 

The land could also accommodate an elementary school, but the Dunwiddie project will address space needs in the primary grades. In addition, each of the three elementary schools have space to expand if needed in the future. 

Selling the property could benefit the district in several ways, school officials said. In addition to generating money for capital improvements, the sale will likely result in a residential development that will attract families to Port Washington and boost school enrollment.

“The school district has had this property since 1969, so the board wanted to take its time and make sure this was done right,” Weber said. “The big step was making the decision to sell the land. Now that that’s been done, I think the board will move fairly quickly.”

City rejects bids for next breakwater repairs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kristn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 22:04

Aldermen decide to rebid improvement project after lowest offer comes in well above $550,000 budget

As a crew from the Army Corps of Engineers is completing repairs to the steel cell section of the Port Washington breakwater, the Common Council on Tuesday took the rare step of rejecting bids for the next phase of improvements to the structure.
    The city had received two bids for the work, with the low bid coming in at about $705,000, City Administrator Mark Grams said. The budget for the project was $550,000.
    Grams said the city had its consultant, Foth Infrastructure and Environment, look at the plan to see how it could be altered to meet the city’s needs, but even after these changes the project was still about $56,000 over budget.
    After consulting with City Attorney Eric Eberhardt, Grams said, the decision was made to rebid the project, redesigning as necessary before seeking the new bids.
    “Hopefully we’ll get more bidders,” Grams said, noting two or three other contractors said they wanted to submit bids but could not meet the city’s time schedule for the work.
    The city had hoped to start work on the gateway project in August, with work continuing through the remainder of the year.
    Even with the rebidding, Grams said, officials hope that work on the gateway project, including construction of a fishing platform and facilities to make it handicapped accessible, can begin late this year.
    The second phase of the gateway project, which includes improvements to the land surrounding the breakwater, is expected to be done next year.
    Mayor Tom Mlada said that the delay will mean that pedestrians will be able to access the breakwater longer than expected this year.
    Officials had expected that the breakwater would be open from July 4, when the current project wraps up, until the gateway project began in August.
    Now, Mlada said, the breakwater will be open throughout August and at least into September.
    The Army Corps crew currently working on the breakwater project has completed repairs to 11 of the 22 steel cells, Mlada said. The work should be completed in 10 to 12 days, as long as the weather holds.
    “It’s exciting that it’s almost at a close,” he said, adding that the delay in the gateway project “will give people the chance to get out there and see the great job the Army Corps of Engineers has done.”
    The Common Council on Tuesday also approved a grant application for the final phase of the breakwater project — repairing the structure from the steel cell section east to the lighthouse.
    The city is seeking $2.4 million from the Harbor Assistance Grant Program for the work, which would be matched by a $600,000 contribution from the city.
    The city has received a Harbor Assistance grant for the current work, Grams told aldermen.
    The city is also seeking money from the Army Corps of Engineers to complete that portion of the project. Mlada sent a letter to the Corps of Engineers this spring asking it to contribute $2 million to $3 million to complete that work.

School tax rate expected to hold steady PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 21:58

Preliminary PW-S budget calls for 1% decrease one year after referendum-driven hike

Port Washington-Saukville School District property taxes are expected to stabilize after spiking last year as the district adjusts to life with $49.4 million in referendum debt to repay.
    The School Board on Monday approved a preliminary 2016-17 budget that calls for a 1% decrease in the tax rate, expected to save the average taxpayer $9.
    That’s coming off a year in which the tax rate shot up 13.9%, costing the average taxpayer about $240, due to the first referendum debt payment and a $1 million cut in state aid, part of which was because of referendum borrowing.
    Shortly after voters approved the April 2015 referendum, which authorized funding for a $45.6 million Port Washington High School renovation and $3.8 million elementary school addition and parking lot project, the district sold municipal bonds to finance $33 million of the work.
    Even though work on the schools would not begin for about another year, officials wanted to take advantage of low interest rates, unaware of     the impact borrowing would have on the more than $13 million in equalized state aid the district receives annually.
    Municipal bonds sold to finance two-thirds of the projects were purchased by investors at a premium rate, in other words for more than their face value, which is not uncommon when interest rates are extremely low.
    The difference between the par value and the premium resulted in about $2 million in proceeds for the district, and without an offsetting cost in that school year, that made the district wealthier under the complex state aid formula and cost it $440,000 in aid. The district then refinanced $440,000 of referendum debt to lessen the impact on taxpayers.
    State aid is expected to rebound by $872,367 in the next school year, which starts July 1.
    Also working in the district’s favor, its health insurance premium will decrease by 1.8%, saving roughly $50,000, and benefits for several retirees are expiring.
    But challenges persist. According to early predictions, the district will have 31 fewer students, which affects the state aid it receives, its property and casualty insurance premiums are increasing and it has no room to increase spending under the state levy limit.
    “There are not too many changes from the previous year,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said. “Some people would say that’s a good thing, but it’s not a great thing. The district won’t have much more money to spend in this budget.”
    He said the decline in enrollment is expected to be a temporary trend caused by the graduation of several larger high school classes. Enrollment in the elementary school is strong, Froemming noted.
    The district will make a $1.6 million referendum debt payment in the 2016-17 school year. That amount will increase annually, hitting $2.6 million in the 2021-22 school year before tapering off slightly. It is expected to take 25 years to repay the debt.
    The district will also make payments of $236,954 for its Wisconsin Retirement System debt and $191,880 for its energy efficiency project debt, which according to the district resulted in a $20,000 savings this school year.
    The budget calls for a tax levy of $15.9 million, an increase of $74,307, or 0.47%. But because equalized property values in the district are expected to increase by at least 1.5%, the tax rate is expected to decrease slightly.
    The budget, which is approved in June to allow the district to begin spending from it in July, is preliminary. The final budget and tax levy will be approved in October after equalized property values are set by the state.

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