7/23/16 - The Beaver Dam Unified School District accomplished all but one of this year’s goals from its four-year strategic plan. That’s according to Superintendent Steve Vessey who said at the last board meeting that 52 of 53 monthly milestones were met. Director of Student Services Donna Pivonka says a planned all-staff survey was delayed since the district already had employees complete multiple other surveys this year. Pivonka says the results of those surveys showed teachers primary areas of concern are mental health offerings, programs that monitor student behavior, and classroom management initiatives. Pivonka says the district will look to address those areas moving forward. All 53 milestones fit into one of nine key performance objective areas, including expanding technology offerings, bolstering district-wide safety, and improving communication within the district. Vessey says one of the district’s biggest accomplishments last year was expanding the virtual academy into the middle school level, with grades seven and eight. School officials, parents, teachers, and community members spent two years identifying goals for this strategic plan, which focuses on student achievement, staff effectiveness, facility needs, and community involvement. The district’s planning committee will meet Monday to draft a list of performance objectives for the coming school year.
7/23/16 - The Waupun Area School District hopes multiple taxpayer breaks allow them to maintain staff funding. During a recent appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, Superintendent Tonya Gubin said the district is projected to receive an additional $678-thousand dollars in state aid than it did last year. Gubin says those savings will be taken off the amount the district levies for in 2016-17. She says a recent bond refinancing also saves the taxpayers $300-thousand dollars. Gubin expects those levy reductions could drop the mill rate from $10.35 last year to $9.65 this year. Gubin projects a $1-million dollar budget deficit going into 2016-17. That is after the district began 2015-16 with a $600-thousand dollar deficit which dropped to $120-thousand by the end of the school year. Gubin says the school board would rather face a deficit than cut staffing or programming. The district increased its literacy and manufacturing instruction in recent years. She says the district’s fund balance is sitting comfortable at 20%, when it is recommended to be between 13-percent and 15-percent. Gubin says multiple positions were added in the last year, including a literacy specialist at Meadowview Primary School and multiple elementary teachers to drop class sizes, which were around 30 students per classroom. Waupun’s school board passed the district’s preliminary 2016-17 budget last month ahead of fall’s public hearing and final adoption.
7/23/16 - The Dodge County Board adopted an ordinance at its meeting this week that replaces one green-lighted in March regarding ATVs on county highways. The main change is who approves the ATV routes. The initial ordinance gave that power to the county’s Highway Department. Per Wisconsin DNR requirements, the new ordinance shifts that power to the county board. Sheriff Dale Schmidt was our guest on WBEV’s Community Comment this week and says there are some concerns with allowing riders on county roads such as the increased likelihood of severe crashes. However, Schmidt says certain safeguards, such as an ATV speed limit no higher than 35 miles per hour, can help law enforcement in its efforts to patrol the highways and keep them as safe as possible. He also urges riders to obey all traffic laws, have a valid driver’s license, and wear a helmet. The ordinance allows ATV and UTV riders to petition the county to use a certain county road. The county board must deem the highway safe for riding, and the petitioning group would pay the cost of installing and maintaining proper signage for the first ten years. Township ordinances already permit ATVs on certain roads in the Towns of Portland and Elba.
7/22/16 - A Dodge County judge found probable cause Thursday for a Beaver Dam man to proceed to trial on charges that he robbed a Town of Beaver Dam gas station. Joshua Benson was bound over on charges of felony counts of Armed Robbery, Identity Theft, Retail Theft, and Possession of Burglarious Tools, along with two felony counts of Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud in a separate case. The 33-year-old reportedly had a weapon when he stole cash from the BP station in December. Benson is also accused of breaking into a Beaver Dam house in February to steal prescription medications and a checkbook, which he allegedly tried to cash. He also reportedly stole nearly $1,000 in liquor from the same BP station in May. If he is found guilty on all counts, Benson faces up to 65 years in prison. He will be arraigned next month and remains jailed on a $5000 cash bond.
7/22/16 - A Waupun alderman is decrying the process that led to the hiring of a full-time city administrator following a series of closed session meetings. Alderman Pete Kaczmarski was the only city official to vote against the hiring of Kathy Schlieve following the latest in a series of closed session meetings on Wednesday. Schlieve has been the city’s economic development director since last August and the two positions will be combined. The vote came on the heels of an announcement by current mayor Kyle Clark that he would be stepping down at the end of the month due to health concerns. Clark had been the city administrator prior to his becoming mayor in 2014 and the administrator position was left vacant. Kaczmarski says the public should not have been shut out of the process. He says the lack of input really cut the people of Waupun short. “This was a rush job, it didn’t have to be done this way, the people of Waupun deserve better,” he says. Kaczmarski says the responsibilities of a city administrator are already being handled by current city staff and the move is not necessary. He says the agreement ties the hands of future elected officials. As part of the compensation package, Waupun taxpayers will pay for Schlieve to obtain her master’s degree. Kaczmarski says he does not know if the citizens would support the decision because they were not involved in the process. The council will discuss and possibly take action Tuesday on the mayoral vacancy. Calls to Schlieve and Clark for comment were not immediately returned.
7/22/16 - A Beaver Dam man made his initial appearance in a Dodge County courtroom yesterday on charges that he used the threat of a gun and a bomb to rob the State Bank of Reeseville in Watertown last week. Adam Raney is charged with felony Armed Robbery with the Threat of Force, Bomb Scare and Terrorist Threats, all as a repeat offender. Prosecutors say the 37-year-old flashed a black handgun to the teller and ordered the drawer be emptied. The teller told investigators that he recognized Raney and he had been on the lookout for him anticipating that Raney may try to cash a forged check. The suspect said he was leaving a bag with a motion activated bomb and no one would be hurt if everyone stayed still for ten minutes. Cash bond was set at $100-thousand dollars yesterday and a judge will decide in September if there is enough evidence to order a trial. If convicted, Raney faces a combined maximum of 61 years in prison.