6/29/16 - The murder trial of a man accused of killing an 18-year-old Racine County woman in 1990 has ended with no verdict. Judge Gary Sharpe discharged the jury Wednesday after it was unable to reach a verdict. The jury said it was deadlocked Tuesday, but resumed deliberations Wednesday morning before indicating that they remained deadlocked. Sixty-two-year-old Dennis Brantner was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Berit Beck. Beck was traveling from her home in Sturtevant to Appleton for a work seminar when she disappeared. Her van was found a few days later, and her body was later found in a ditch near Waupun. Authorities who re-examined the cold case say they matched fingerprints on evidence recovered from Beck's van to Brantner.
6/29/16 - The Beaver Dam Community Development Committee last night approved changes to the city’s Downtown Facade Grant Program. The program currently pays up to 33-percent of the cost for a downtown business to spruce up the exterior of their building, for repairs ranging from $2000 to $15-thousand. One of the resolutions that is headed to the common council in July will be to reduce the minimum cost of a project to $1000 for reimbursement eligibility. That’s part of an effort to expand the pool of applicants. As part of that effort, the council will also have to decide if it wants to allow grant dollars to be used for improvements with paint, which is currently not allowed. The paint would have to be limited to walls facing public property that have already been previously painted, which is meant to discourage a fresh coat on unpainted brick. The only buildings eligible would be ones identified by the building inspector as being in need of a good paint job; a letter would be sent detailing the opportunities available through the façade grant program. If the council adopts the paint resolution, that would also allow Downtown Beaver Dam Inc. and its supporters to request funding for a mural festival planned next year. However, if city leaders vote against the use of grant money for painting projects there is a separate ordinance expected to be on the agenda that would allow grant funding for murals but not general beautification.
6/29/16 - Less than one year from now, roughly 200 artists from around the world will converge on Beaver Dam. A mural-painting group called the Walldogs will take part in the ‘Decorate the Dam’ festival next June 28 through July 2. Jessalyn Braun of the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association says roughly 15 murals will be painted on downtown buildings during the five days. The city already has two murals from previous years, on the sides of the Richard’s Insurance and Interquest buildings. Braun, who is a Walldog, says the murals are part of a revitalization effort to boost tourism in the community. She says other communities that have held festivals have seen a 40% increase in tourism. On yesterday’s edition of WBEV’s Community Comment, Braun said planned mural topics include: education, banking, and parks as well as murals aimed toward veterans and children. Braun says it will take roughly $100,000 to fund the mural designs and cost of housing the Walldogs. Half that amount has been raised. Information on how to donate is on today’s homepage at wbevradio.com.
6/29/16 - The deadline is tomorrow for those seeking grant money from a new non-profit fundraising group in Columbia County. It is called Rooted as One and is intended for individuals and families in the Columbus, Fall River or Rio communities facing a home tragedy or serious illness. People interested in becoming a 2016 Rooted as One recipient should contact the Savanna Oaks Community Center.
Information on the application to become a recipient can be gained by calling (920) 484-6257 in Fall River. Friends and neighbors can also get an application on-line at: www.savannaoakscenter.com. All applications are confidential and are due by June 30th.
6/29/16 -Horicon’s City Council voted last night to start the process of repairing one of its alleys. Residents have complained about the condition of the alley between West Lake Street and West Walnut Street. The city recently sent out a survey to the nine property owners adjacent to the alley. Of the six that responded, five support the project. City policy states the nine residents would be responsible for the total repair cost, which is estimated between $10,000 and $15,000. The idea is to lay a new surface on the entire 900 foot alley. The city will look into construction estimates ahead of a public hearing. If approved, city officials hope the project would be complete by mid-October.
6/29/16 - Horicon’s City Council approved a water/wastewater rate study contract last night. The city will pay Baker Tilly $14,000 to look into what they are currently charging residents. Horicon’s council approved a three-percent water increase last year that went into effect in February. Public Works Supervisor Dave Magnussen says that was not enough as the city’s rate of return was 3.5-percent in 2015 when the Public Service Commission requires 7-percent. For a rate increase to go into effect in 2017, Magnussen says the council needs to approve it by the end of July. He says the number of vacant homes and smaller households in the city has caused water sales to drop in recent years.