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Town of Port budget plan cuts spending PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 18:49

Proposed 2017 package that calls for 12.6% reduction in expenditures will go to hearing Nov. 21

Town of Port Washington residents will get their chance to weigh in on a proposed 2017 budget when the Town Board holds its annual hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21.

The proposed budget reflects a 12.6% decrease in expenditures, largely due to a significant decrease in the capital outlay budget, and a 1.8% decrease in spending.

Because of that, officials said, the town property tax is likely to remain the same as last year.

 
Hwy. 33 crash in Town of Saukville kills motorcyclist PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 16 November 2016 18:47

A 66-year-old West Bend man was killed Sunday morning, Nov. 13, after his motorcycle was struck by a car at the intersection of Highways 33 and I in the Town of Saukville.

According to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department, the collision occurred shortly before 11 a.m. as John Tepper was riding his 2009 Harley Davidson Electra-Glide Classic west on Highway 33.

Officials say a southbound Volkswagen Golf driven by 30-year-old Aleksandr Boreesenko of the Town of Fredonia crossed the intersection and into the path of the oncoming Harley.

The accident report says the motorcycle struck the driver’s side of the crossing car.

According to his family, Mr. Tepper was on his way home from attending Sunday services at Open Door Bible Church in Port Washington.

The accident remains under investigation, but Boreesenko was issued a citation for failing to yield the right of way from a stop sign which resulted in death.

The complaint has been forwarded to the Ozaukee County district attorney’s office for review.

Authorities reported that traffic was diverted from the crash site for about four hours.Daily Press

 
Town of Saukville woman charged with growing marijuana PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 18:58

A 46-year-old Town of Saukville woman faces drug charges after the Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force discovered a marijuana growing operation on her Highway Y property.

Heidi S. Johnson was charged on Oct. 28 with felony counts of  manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a drug-trafficking place, as well as one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. 

According to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, authorities searched the property on Sept. 30 after receiving two text message tips, one of which included photos of marijuana growing on the property on the far north end of the town.

Eleven marijuana plants were found on the property. Some were growing behind a shed and in pots on the back porch. Others had been harvested and were drying in a shed, the complaint states.

The marijuana from the plants drying in the shed weighted more than 5 pounds, according to the complaint.

In the house, authorities found marijuana and marijuana seeds in Mason jars, zip-close bags and a shoebox. They also discovered a digital scale, cigarette roller and marijuana grinder, the complaint states.

Johnson told authorities she was responsible for planting, cultivating and harvesting the marijuana, which she used, according to the complaint.

Johnson is scheduled to make her initial court appearance on Nov. 15.

Manufacturing marijuana carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and three years of extended supervision. Maintaining a drug house is punishable by a maximum 1-1/2 years in prison and two years of extended supervision.Daily Press

 
City to cut back on curbside wood chipping PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 18:56

Port Works Board agrees to reduce crews’ time at homes, charge residents when services take longer than 14 minutes

Anticipating that there will be “an explosion” of dead ash trees due to the emerald ash borer in the coming years, the Port Washington Board of Public Works on Tuesday decided to reduce the time it will spend chipping wood at homes before residents are charged.

Beginning next year, the city will chip wood outside homes for as long as 14 minutes with no charge, the board agreed. After that, residents will be charged $1.83 a minute, with a minimum of five minutes ($9.16), plus a $10 administrative fee.

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven recommended the change, saying he wants to discourage people from hiring a contractor to take down their dead trees and then placing the wood at the curb for the city to handle.

“I can see that overwhelming our staff next year,” he said. “We’re not trying to make money on this, but to encourage homeowners to have their contractors take care of the chipping.”

Too often, Vanden Noven said, “contractors will tell the homeowner it’ll be $1,200 to take down your tree but only $1,000 if we don’t have to chip it.” 

J.D. Hoile, who will become the city’s street commissioner later this month, told the board some contractors will cut the bill by half if they don’t have to chip the wood.

“We have to discourage them from saying, ‘Let’s have the city do it,’” Hoile said. “It’s going to be an issue. We can see it now.”

Board members were initially wary of the change, saying they did not want to penalize people who trim the trees at their home and need to get rid of the resulting brush.

“That’s a really nice service the city offers,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich, a member of the board, said.

Street Commissioner Dave Ewig said that it won’t affect most people.

“Our crews can chip an awful lot of brush in 15 minutes,” he said.

City arborist Jon Crain agreed, saying, “It’s not going to affect the average person who trims their trees. You almost have to have a full tree removal (to incur a charge).”

Board member Jason Wittek questioned who times the crews when they chip. Ewig noted that the crews are good at estimating the time it will take when they arrive at a home, and if they suspect it will take a great deal of time they keep track.

Vanden Noven said the change will also  help the city keep its expenses low. Currently, when the crew spends more than 20 minutes at a house, a staff member checks to see which workers are there and calculates the exact cost to the city.

The new policy charges a flat fee based on the average wage paid to the full-time street department crew and the summer help, he said.

The board also approved spending $56,431 to buy 617 trees to be planted by the street department next year. Of those, 417 will be planted in spring and 200 in fall.

“We’re planting more trees than ever,” Vanden Noven said. “With the emerald ash borer, we have quite a few more trees to replace.”

In addition, the city has taken on the task of planting trees in two subdivisions — the developers of each has paid the city for this service — and to replace trees along the streets when roads are rebuilt.

Crain told the board that the price of trees has increased significantly. The supply is limited, both because of the emerald ash borer and the fact that more people are building homes and landscaping, and that has driven up the price.

“It’s incredible the increase in price,” Ewig said, noting that about five years ago the city paid $50 for a Kentucky coffeetree. Today, the price is $100 or more.

Crain also noted that the city will be purchasing some trees grown in containers, something that hasn’t been done in the recent past. The price is comparable to other trees, he said, and they are easier to handle.Daily Press

 
Wall of Honor event at Port High School to mark Veterans Day PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 18:46

Veterans Day will be celebrated with the annual Wall of Honor ceremony at Port Washington High School Friday, Nov. 11.

The ceremony will run from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. in the school auditorium, and the public is welcome to attend.

Four veterans are being named to the Wall of Honor. 

Nominated by  the Landt-Thiel American Legion Post in Saukville are Richard Schoenfeldt and the late Roger Staton.

Staton, 55, an Army veteran, was in the Army Reserves when he died on June 11.

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post nominated Craig Heatwole and the Van Ells-Schanen American Legion Post in Port Washington nominated John Jacque.

The ceremony will include musical presentations by the Port High Symphonic Winds and the Concert Choir, as well as the playing of taps by Lilly Pankow.

In addition to a welcome by Principal Eric Burke, there will be an address by Student Council President Ann Nuedling before Nick Blank introduces the honorees.

There will be a rifle salute and reflections following remarks by the honorees and their representatives.Daily Press

 
Former Blue Heron official charged with embezzlement PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:44

Saukville resident accused of using group’s investments for unauthorized purchases

A 45-year-old woman who served on the board of directors of Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary in the Town of Saukville was charged last week in connection with the embezzlement of tens of thousands of dollars from the organization.

Saukville resident Lynette R. Whitford was arrested on Oct. 25 after organization officials and authorities determined that $142,000 had been transferred from the group’s investments to its bank account and that unauthorized charges totaling $85,533 were made to Blue Heron’s credit card account to pay for expenses that ranged from pricey vacations and shopping trips to medical and insurance bills, according to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Whitford is charged with one count of felony theft, punishable by a maximum five years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

An investigation by the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department began Sept. 15 when Blue Heron President John Kelm reported that the organization’s accountant informed him that tax returns had revealed discrepancies in the group’s financial records.

Kelm told authorities that in addition to being a Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary board member, Whitford had helped her mother Barb Bogatzke, who was the organization’s treasurer, manage the group’s accounts before Bogatzke died in March 2015, the complaint states.

Kelm added that Whitford was also paid $20 per hour to do maintenance and groundskeeping work at the preserve and had access to the organization’s credit card to purchase gas and supplies.

Authorities learned that Blue Heron had a TD Ameritrade investment account, a Port Washington State Bank account and a US Bank credit card account. 

After Bogatzke died, Blue Heron officials requested receipts and other financial information from Whitford. It took her more than a year to turn over the information, which according to authorities revealed that records of transfers from the investment account to the bank account were falsely recorded, according to the complaint. Authorities also determined that credit card payments and balances were not recorded accurately, according to the complaint.

A representative of Global Value Investment, the firm Blue Heron paid to manage its investments, told authorities that Whitford had made several requests for money to be transferred from the organization’s investment account to its bank account. According to the firm, the total amount transferred was about $142,000, the complaint states.

A review of credit card records by Blue Heron officials revealed 200 unapproved and improper charges made between December 2015 and July.

The charges include thousands of dollars worth of purchases at stores such as Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, Shopko, Game Stop and Target. A single purchase at Dick’s Sporting Goods was for $1,109, while another at Best Buy was for $1,847, according to the criminal complaint.

Travel-related purchases included airline tickets, hotels rooms and car rentals. One purchase listed in the criminal complaint was for three American Airline tickets for Whitford, her husband and another family member for $1,968. Authorities said Whitford spent more than $11,000 for a family trip to the 2015 Daytona 500.

Other purchases charged to Blue Heron’s credit card account were made at various salons, Victoria’s Secret, a liquor store, Fanatics NASCAR and Packers Pro Shop. Accounting services were also charged to the credit card.

When confronted by authorities, Whitford admitted to using Blue Heron’s credit card improperly and transferring money from its investments to pay for the charges, the complaint states.

Whitford said she expected her inheritance from her mother’s estate would more than cover the amount of money she charged on the organization’s credit card.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland set Whitford’s bail at $3,500 and ordered her not to leave the state.

This is not the first time a Blue Heron official has been accused of  embezzling from the organization. In 2007, Cheryl Gaszak, the former president of Blue Heron, was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing nearly $1 million from the organization and its founder, Sally Stefaniak, between 2002 and 2005.

Stefaniak, who died in 2003, established a foundation to create and maintain the 92-acre preserve along the Milwaukee River off Highway O.Daily Press

 
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