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Juneau County Board Member James Koca reviews documents at the Dec. 19 meeting.

JAKE EKDAHL/Star-Times

Tax delinquent properties in Juneau County are finding new owners at a record rate. Juneau County Chairman Alan Peterson called the Dec. 19 County Board meeting “one of the biggest days we’ve had in sales.”

Collectively, the sales produced $96,506 for the county. The properties had failed to pay a total of $40,613.22 in taxes. Sales from Lyndon brought in the greatest share at $24,000, followed by Clearfield at $18,025, Wonewoc at $14,551, the Town of Necedah at $13,020, Marion at $10,700, Armenia at $7,950, Lisbon at $7,000, Germantown at $1,060, and New Lisbon at $200.

15 properties were sold in all. Five from the town of Necedah, two from Wonewoc, two from Lyndon, one from Armenia, one from Clearfield, one from Germantown, one from Lisbon, one from Marion and one from New Lisbon.

Western Technical College presentation

The County Board also heard a presentation from representatives of Western Technical College.

Western Technical College President Roger Stanford emphasized the “true value” of a degree from WTC. An associate degree from WTC costs approximately $10,000. Oftentimes an associate degree can cost $25,000 to $30,000.

Stanford also presented on the Sparta public safety training facility. “We serve a lot of police and fire and paramedic,” Stanford said. WTC is currently working on constructing a training tower and shooting range. Providing emergency management training is important part of WTC’s mission, Stanford said.

Director of Regional Learning Centers Jennifer Brave presented on the Mauston branch of WTC. “It’s really a nice facility,” Brave said. “We’ve added on three separate times to this building.”

Stanford said he hates to see students not finish and then be burdened with debt. “Every time someone quits… that hurts our employers,” Stanford said. “We need to focus and continue to work on enrollment… We need skilled labor more than ever in our counties.”

Making attaining a college degree more practical was emphasized in the presentation. Stanford said his experience as a veteran who earned a degree as an adult has influenced that view. “I had to start over on too many things,” Stanford said.

Designing degree requirements to be efficient and suited to the individual is an important focus for WTC.

In addition to adult education, WTC is making connections with students at the younger end of the spectrum. “Students can be in high school and they’re earning college credit at the same time,” Stanford said. “That’s a great win-win for taxpayers.”

WTC also virtually connects students across different locations to enable more class options.

New Appointments

The county board reappointed Terry Taft to the drainage board, Steven Thomas to aging and nutrition and Mike Kelley to the winding rivers board.

In a series of unanimous votes, the board authorized the hiring of a full-time comprehensive community services facilitator in the department of human services, a full-time community service facilitator, and a full-time children long term support waiver social worker.

Holiday compensation changes tabled

The county board had planned to approve amendments regarding holiday compensation. Changes were to be made to last paragraph of section 8.4 in the Juneau County personnel policy.

Telecommunicators would receive a lump sum payment for holiday compensation at the end of the year. Additionally, vacation days for telecommunicators would only be used when a vacancy created by the vacation was filled by employees who volunteer to fill the vacancy. Telecommunicators who worked holidays would be paid time-and-a-half.

At the previous personnel committee meeting, Human Resources Director Terry Kleifgen said the telecommunicators’ vacation time pay had become a problem. Kleifgen said the current system could be taken advantage of and in one case a telecommunicator was gone for a week and got paid overtime when she returned. “When she finally came in to work one day, she got paid eight hours of overtime for that one day,” Kleifgen said. The proposed change was to make vacation pay a lump sum.

Before the proposed changes were voted upon, Telecommunicator Craig Scheel came forward and spoke. “All of us got together and went over everything, and we just found some discrepancies that we would like to have added,” Scheel said. He was accompanied by others.

County Chairman Alan Peterson asked them why they didn’t come to the executive committee first.

“I was just informed that if we had anything, any discussion, we should come here and state our case,” Scheel replied.

The board decided to table action regarding holiday compensation until the executive and personnel committees could meet on Jan. 8.

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl