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Town of Port clerk decides to stay on the job PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 19:49

Port Washington Town Clerk Cheryl Karrels will keep her job for the next year.

Karrels said she told the Town Board last week she would accept the one-year contract they offered her on Dec. 5.

Karrels, who has been town clerk since July 15, 2015, is paid $35,100 annually.

Karrels said she was “a little shocked” that the board did not offer any sort of salary increase. When she accepted the job as clerk, she noted, she had no experience but she has gained skills and expertise in the 18 months since then.

“I’m a little bothered by that,” she said.

When the board agreed to extend Karrels’ contract, Supr. Mike Didier noted that, according to a 2014 survey by the Towns Association, the Town of Port offered the highest salary for a part-time clerk among similarly sized townships in the state.

That, he said, was the reason he declined to suggest a salary increase for the coming year.

Karrels’ contract was set to expire on Dec. 31.Daily Press

Town of Port may have to hire a new clerk PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:31

Port Washington Town Clerk Cheryl Karrels was expected to announce Wednesday whether she would continue to hold her post for another year.

“I’m still contemplating it,” Karrels said Monday.

Last week, the Town Board agreed to extend Karrels’ contract for another year at the same pay rate, but Karrels did not accept the offer immediately.

“I guess I’ll think about it,” Karrels told the board.

Karrels, who has been town clerk since July 15, 2015, is paid $35,100 annually.

Her contract runs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.

Supr. Mike Didier noted that is the highest salary for a part-time town clerk among similarly sized townships in the state, according to a 2014 survey by the Towns Association.

That, he said, is the reason he declined to suggest a salary increase for the coming year.

Karrels told the board that when her first contract was approved last year, she asked that there not be a salary increase, primarily because she had much to learn.

“Now, I have election experience,” she said. “That was a big part of my job that I’ve learned. I’ve been through a recall.”

And, she added, the onus in elections falls far more on clerks than it did in the past. The county used to handle many more of the duties, Karrels said, but today those have been turned over to the townships.

Karrels also told the board that she believes it will take her time to learn all there is to do during tax time.

“That’s going to be a learning curve for a while,” she said.

The board set a deadline of Wednesday, Dec. 14, for Karrels to decide whether to accept the contract, setting a special Town Board meeting for 7:15 p.m. that night.The Town Board on Tuesday also approved a three-year snowplowing contract with Dave’s Excavation & Grading. 

The contract, which runs through the 2020 season, calls for the rates to remain the same for the first two years, then increase 2% in the third year.Daily Press

‘Senseless’ fight leaves bartender injured PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:29

Port police searching for suspects after drinking game leads to late-night tavern brawl

The Port Washington Police Department is continuing to try to identify the suspects in a “senseless” bar fight early Saturday morning that left a bartender injured.

Police are seeking four or five African-American men, three of whom were involved in the incident at Schooner Pub, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Monday.

“We do have a couple of leads, and I’m hopeful they’ll lead us to identify them and eventually make an arrest,” Hingiss said.

That’s contrary to what Hingiss called a “misinformed and misleading” report on social media that said police had ended their investigation because the bartender didn’t know the names of those involved.

“Nobody was ever told we’re not investigating because we don’t have names,” he said. “That’s not how we work. People should know better than that.”

The incident occurred about 1 a.m. Saturday when one of the men apparently bet another customer at the upstairs bar that he could drink more than the man, but he lost the wager, Hingiss said. When the other customer sought his winnings, they got into an argument.

The bartender, Trae Mittnacht, got between the men and separated them, Hingiss said, and things seemed to cool down. The suspect involved in the bet headed down the stairs, but then ran back up toward the other customer.

Mittnacht again stepped between them, and the man started punching him until he fell to the ground, Hingiss said. Even after Mittnacht was on the ground, the man continued to hit and kick him, and was eventually punched by one of the man’s friends as well.

“Sometime during this time, he was knocked unconscious,” Hingiss said.

Another of the man’s friends tried to join the melee, but was restrained by a second bartender, Kal Gahan, Hingiss said. The man who began the fight then punched the Gahan in the face twice.

The group then left the bar, he said.

“By the time we got there, all the suspects were gone,” Hingiss said.

The bartenders and customers in the bar told officers they had not seen the men before that night, Hingiss said.

Police and deputies from the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department searched unsuccessfully for the men, he said.

Hingiss said Mittnacht was treated by the ambulance crew but refused transport. He later sought medical treatment on his own.

Gahan did not seek treatment, he said.

Hingiss said Mittnacht told him that the men, accompanied by a woman, came to the bar earlier in the evening, Hingiss said. The man who later was involved in the fight ordered a round of shots, paying for it with a $100 bill. When he tried to pay for a second round with another $100 bill, the bartender questioned whether it was counterfeit and asked him to pay with a smaller bill.

The man then accused Mittnacht of short-changing him, Hingiss said.

Hingiss said police have a recording of the incident taken by cameras at the bar and are using it in their investigation.

“We’ve got some leads we’re working on,” he said, adding that anyone with information about the men is asked to call police.

“That would be a big help,” he said.

Anyone who wants to anonymously provide information may text 847411 and use the keyword PWPDTIP.Daily Press

Roadwork compromise: PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 18:20

Works Board agrees with residents’ request to not widen Harrison Street but decides to add walks on both sides

Residents of Harrison Street won a partial victory Tuesday when the Port Washington Board of Public Works recommended to keep the road at its current 26-foot width when it is rebuilt next year.

However, the board agreed to build sidewalks along both sides of the street, something many residents opposed during a public information meeting on the 2017 street projects held last week.

The issue of restricting parking to one side of the street, either seasonally or year-round — another proposal the residents opposed — will be left up to the city’s Traffic Safety Committee, the board agreed.

The Common Council will consider the board’s recommendations when it meets Tuesday, Dec. 20.

The board reviewed plans for the seven street projects slated for next year — all of which are recommended to be narrowed — but spent most of its time discussing Harrison Street.

The street is in “terrible condition,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said, adding that an average of 122 cars a day travel on the road. 

The road is “quite narrow,” he said, and the street department sometimes has issues navigating plows and salters around the many cars that park on the roadway.

Vanden Noven said he recommended narrowing the street to 22 feet, which would allow for wider parkways, giving residents room to pile snow in winter and space for parkway trees to grow.

Limiting parking to one side of the street would retain enough room for traffic on the street, he said, and make the road feel wider.

In keeping with the city’s policy of installing sidewalk when rebuilding streets, Vanden Noven also recommended adding walkways on both sides of Harrison Street.

“It is a sidewalk gap,” he said. “It shouldn’t surprise people if the gap is filled.”

At last week’s public informational meeting on the 2017 street projects, numerous Harrison Street residents told Vanden Noven that narrowing the road is the wrong move.

“It’s going to be narrowed four feet — that’s a lot,” one woman said. 

“I wish the city would cut down the hill and make the street wider,” one man said. “It’s very tight.”

That’s cost prohibitive, Vanden Noven said, noting retaining walls would be required. By limiting parking, he added, there is more room for traffic.

Residents living on the north end of the street said parking is an issue, noting that customers at The Patio on adjacent Dodge Street frequently park in front of their houses. 

On the south end of Harrison Street, they said, it’s a tight turn for motorists coming off Jackson Street.

Several residents also expressed concern that emergency vehicles would not be able to navigate a narrower roadway, but officials said they take care to ensure this does not happen.

Others noted that homes along Harrison Street have small front yards, arguing that this is a reason for the city not to add sidewalk.

But Vanden Noven noted that if the road is narrowed, it will increase the size of the parkway and their yards.

Board members spent roughly an hour debating the street, going so far as to consider eliminating the project from the 2017 schedule since residents don’t want any changes.

But Vanden Noven noted that this doesn’t solve the issue.

“You’re just kicking the can down the road,” he said.

Because the road is so narrow, the board agreed to keep the width as is.

Members split on the parking issue, particularly because of overflow parking from The Patio, ultimately deciding to leave that decision up to the Traffic Safety Committee.

But they agreed that sidewalks should be added, noting that the walkways are used by everyone and are important to the community.Daily Press

City poised to expand INFOS safety system to south beach PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 20:04

The INFOS Port Washington system, a real-time beach safety measure that lets people know whether dangerous rip currents are off Port Washington’s north beach, will likely be expanded to south beach next year.

Mayor Tom Mlada on Tuesday called the system “a difference-making investment” before accepting a $15,000 check from the We Energies Foundation to bring the INFOS system to the south beach.

The check will cover a quarter of the $60,000 cost of expanding the system, he said. “We would effectively have all our beaches covered,” Mlada said.

The INFOS system, developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Chin Wu, was implemented in Port Washington near the end of the summer season in 2015. 

At the peak of the summer season this year, as many as 30,000 people viewed the INFOS website, Mlada noted. “It’s incredibly important information,” he said.

The INFOS website, which can be accessed via an app or computer, includes information on such things as wave height, water temperature both at and below the surface and wind speed. 

The website system offers a map of Port’s lakefront that models real-time currents and tells users whether the risk for rip currents is low, moderate or high.

A camera at the wastewater treatment plant provides real-time images of the breakwater and north beach.

The system was one of the safety measures implemented by the city after 15-year-old Tyler Buczek died off the Port shore in 2012 after being caught in a rip current.

“We want to make our waterfront as safe as possible,” Mlada said.

Since Buczek’s death, the city has increased signage on the beaches explaining the risks of rip currents, installed life rings on the beaches and life jacket stations and held educational programs, Mlada said.

Mlada noted that the city has applied for a $30,000 Coastal Management grant to help fund the rest of the south beach INFOS system, adding he is also working with businesses and others to obtain the remainder of the needed funding.

“We still have some work to do,” he said.Daily Press

Man accused of collecting unemployment while employed PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 20:02

Grafton resident faces felony charges for receiving $5,000 in benefits despite having two jobs

A 51-year-old Grafton man was charged last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with claiming and receiving more than $5,000 in unemployment benefits while he was collecting paychecks from two employers.

David M. Brinkman is charged with felony theft and misdemeanor unemployment compensation fraud.

According to the criminal complaint, for 16 weeks beginning on April 22, 2015, Brinkman filed claims with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Unemployment Division stating he was not working.

But a comparison of unemployment benefit payments and employer wage records revealed Brinkman was employed by two companies that paid him a total of $5,537 during the time he collected $5,207 in unemployment benefits, the complaint states. People who do not disclose hours worked and wages earned are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.

A state investigator wrote to Brinkman to schedule an interview for Nov. 11, 2015, to allow Brinkman to explain his unemployment compensation claims. Brinkman failed to respond to that request, as well as a follow-up letter giving him until Aug. 22 to contact the department, according to the complaint.

On Sept. 28, the investigator made personal contact with Brinkman, who refused to speak with him about the claims but said, “Just do what you got to do. I’m going to be late for work,” the complaint states.

Brinkman owes the state $7,289, which includes the benefits he was paid plus $2,082 in penalties, according to the complaint.

Felony theft is punishable by a maximum three years in prison and three years of extended supervision. Unemployment compensation fraud carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a fine of between $100 and $500.

Brinkman is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Jan. 3.Daily Press

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