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Andrew Harnik 

Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor, right, accompanied by Career Foreign Service officer George Kent, left, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


Local
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Dodge County EMS Forum planned Dec. 4

KEN THOMAS

kthomas@wiscnews.com

JUNEAU – The Dodge County Office of Emergency Management is hosting an EMS Community Forum Dec. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Dodge County Administration Building first floor auditorium, 127 E. Oak St.

According to Dodge County Emergency Management Director Amy Nehls, in January 2019, the county township unit meeting hosted a presentation on the need to find a sustainable solution for Emergency Medical Services coverage. According to the original presentation, EMS is struggling in Dodge County and throughout the nation to sustain its current model for some of the following reasons:

Diminishing levels of volunteer personnel (employment & family obligations)

Inability of workers to leave work to respond to calls

Budgetary constraints

Increasing demands in professional standards and education for licensure

“Several stakeholder meetings were held and it was noted that the endeavor to find a sustainable EMS solution for all the municipalities should be a partnership between the EMS and their respective municipalities and Dodge County,” said Nehls. “A steering committee formed to begin looking at options.”

According to Assistant Director Joe Meagher, after several meetings the steering committee sent a letter requesting Dodge County assist in performing a third-party study to identify the strengths/weaknesses, resources, best practices and short/long-term sustainable solutions for high-quality EMS care across Dodge County.

“In August 2019, the Dodge County board of supervisors approved a study to be completed in 2019 by Strategic Management Consulting LLC,” said Meagher. “The study began promptly in September and has been gathering data and interviewing emergency medical response agencies.”

On Dec. 4 Dodge County Emergency Management and Strategic Management Consulting will host an EMS forum and encourage community leaders and citizens to attend. There will be an EMS presentation to discuss the process and progress of the study, with the ultimate goal of finding a sustainable EMS solution for all communities and citizens in Dodge County.

“We value input to help meet the challenges ahead, and want to hear from those who have ideas they want to share,” said Meagher.

Questions may be directed to Nehls at (920) 386-3999 (e-mail anehls@co.dodge.wi.us).


Education
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Plans for Jefferson Elementary in Beaver Dam underway

A larger commons area will be added at Jefferson Elementary School before next fall when students from South Beaver Dam Elementary School will be transferred there.

Nick Kent with Plunkett Raysich Architect spoke to the Beaver Dam Unified School District board of education on Monday about the changes the school will undergo before being ready for the additional students. South Beaver Dam is closing at the end of this year.

Kent said they started examining how the spaces at Jefferson Elementary School were utilized a few weeks ago and realized that there are enough core classrooms in the school. Jefferson, which will be 70 at the start of next school year, was renovated after the district’s 1976 referendum to include the northern wing of the school.

Kent said an additional commons space could be added to the 1976 wing of the building to allow for additional programs and move the lunch periods out of one of the school’s gyms.

“We will be able to group three classrooms for each grade throughout the building,” Kent said. “The commons area will be about 4,000 square feet and seat just over 200 students for lunch.”

Jefferson Elementary currently houses about 280 students. The closing of South Beaver Dam will add about 120 students.

Kent said the commons addition would have new bathrooms and the kitchen would be moved there. It also could be closed off for community events so the entire school would not be needed to be open to the public.

The school will have three large assembly areas with the commons and two existing gyms.

In addition, there will be rooms needed for support staff and updates through the school including opening up the library in the school so it is more inviting for students.

“We want to make spaces where kids want to be,” Kent said.

Outside of the school, there will be expanded parking along with efforts to organize student drop off.

“There will also be a fence around the play area with three different play areas,” Kent said.

Additional projects in 2020 include moving the tennis courts and new bleachers and press box at Beaver Dam High School.


Local
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Waupun approves budget with 3.25 percent rate hike: Debate continues on ATV/UTV use on city streets

WAUPUN — Waupun City Council approved its 2020 budget of $7.15 million with little fanfare, but failed to give approval for the use of ATVs and UTVs on city streets after three tied votes Tuesday night at City Hall.

Accountant Michelle Kast and City Administrator/Director of Economic Development Kathy Schlieve presented the 2020 budget.

General fund revenue and expenditures total $5.9 million. The tax levy to balance those figures totals $3.1 million, up $100,000 (3.25 percent) from 2019. An increase of 3 percent is projected through 2024 including total levy, debt levy, levy excluding debt, levy limit and levy capacity. Debt levy will increase from 2021 onward to meet rising capital improvement and other needs.

Expenses will increase nearly $76,000. Wages and benefits will increase $103,000 (2.74 percent overall). The recent switch in insurance plans will save $22,000 in health insurance costs. Non-wage and benefit (operating) expenses will decrease by $27,000.

Challenges ahead, according to Schlieve, include funding for roads and infrastructure, workforce attraction and retention, slow growth, aging population, reliance on volunteers for fire services, managing debt service, levy limits and large swings in the levy rate. The majority of the projected levy increase is for general fund expenses, debt payments and equipment.

The basic tax rate stands at $7.60 per $1,000 of assessed value in Dodge County and $7.70 per $1,000 in Fond du Lac County. As approved, the city’s equalized (considering a 5 percent rise in equalized values) tax rate stands at $7.37 per $1,000 of equalized assessed value, two cents lower than last year. That is the actual rate paid by Waupun taxpayers.

“We’re the second lowest among our surrounding communities, with Horicon being the highest and Lomira being the lowest,” said Kast. “It illustrates how Waupun is an affordable community to live in, and how continuing with small annual increases in the levy keeps these rates stable.”

Schlieve highlighted the ongoing struggle to maintain roads and other infrastructure.

“If you look at what’s happening with road construction costs, they far outpace what we’re seeing with inflation. Hence you saw us take on a debt strategy in 2019, and you’re going to see that as an ongoing part in how we think of funding those things in the future.”

The budget was approved unanimously.

There was no such luck for a proposed ordinance change to allow use of ATVs and UTVs on city streets.

Members of the Marsh View Riders first questioned allowable hours of operation (from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Waupun versus midnight to 6 a.m. on other trails), and the proposed banning of passengers on ATVs inside the city.

A motion to skip a first reading led to a 3-3 tie

“I had numerous calls and emails come over the last week,” said Nickel before casting her vote. “I wanted to give everyone this opportunity to be able to come forth and explain why they are for or against, to get the whole picture of how this can work. I wanted our department heads to do their due diligence, which everyone has done. I’m voting on what I have heard from the citizens of Waupun. In this case I’m voting no. The time limits and noise are a big factor. People are also opposed to having these vehicles on all city streets.”

Following a second tie-breaking nay, Alderman Mike Matoushek proposed accepting the first reading and delaying final approval to allow more citizen input. With that proposal Nickel broke the third tie with a “yes” vote.

With some kind of positive vote Waupun could be connected to the nearby Wild Goose Trail, which is open to ATV/UTV use following winter (or fall) ground freeze. Director of Public Works Jeff Daane warned, however, that Fond du Lac County has tabled all of its access proposals until next year.

Waupun could also limit use to certain streets or roads, and not allow city-wide access. A final proposal will be considered Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.


KELLY SIMON/Daily Citizen 

A farmer works through snowy and windy conditions Wednesday morning in the town of LeRoy. Harvest continues at a slow pace across Wisconsin this fall due to heavy October rains and early winter weather. Monday's USDA Crop Progress report showed only 21% of the state’s corn has been harvested compared with the five-year average pace of 51%.