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Building inspector back at work after being injured in fall PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 19:53


    Rick Fellenz, the building inspector for the towns of Port Washington and Grafton who was seriously injured in an accident last month, attended last week’s Town of Port meeting.
    “Even though there’s not much to report I feel fortunate I can report,” Fellenz told the board during the “building inspector’s report” portion of the Dec. 4 meeting agenda.
    “You look pretty contained in there,” Town Chairman Jim Melichar said, noting the body and neck braces the building inspector wore and the cane he carried.
    “But it’s good to see you up and about.”
    Fellenz told officials he’s “OK.”
    “Hopefully in a couple weeks I can get rid of the brace — at least the neck thing,” he said.
    Fellenz was seriously injured in a fall from a ladder at his Town of Port home Oct. 27, suffering a torn aorta and several fractured vertebrate.
    In other action, the Town Board agreed to renew its contract with Clerk Heather Krueger, who took the job as an interim clerk on Jan. 21 and was appointed clerk in March.
    The board is expected to approve a salary increase for Krueger when it meets in a special meeting before the Plan Commission on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
    Melichar said the board is expected to bring Krueger’s salary up to the maximum $42,000 earned by former clerk Jennifer Schlenvogt — a base pay of $39,000 plus $50 per diem for as many as 60 meetings annually. Daily Press

 
City scales back planting as ash borer infestation nears its peak PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 19:51

Port to plant 326 trees next year, continue cutting dead ash in public areas

    Port Washington will plant 326 trees along its streets next year —far fewer than the 617 planted this year, officials learned last month.
    “I’m scaling back a little to put an emphasis on pruning,” City Forester Jon Crain told the Common Council Nov. 21.
    Of the trees being planted, 220 will replace trees along the city’s streets, many of them victims of the emerald ash borer.
    “I think after this year we’re over the hump,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
    Crain said that the city is in about year nine of the emerald ash borer infestation.
    “In the next several years, everything’s going to be dead,” Crain said, “if it hasn’t been treated.”
    The city has treated 546 ash trees along the streets, he said, only losing about 6% of those treated.
    “I’m extremely happy with the success rate,” Crain added.
    Eventually, when the borer population is small enough, Crain said he will stop treating the ash trees.
    Right now, he said, the city needs to concentrate on taking down dying ash trees in natural areas, such as along the bike path, so they don’t fall and injure pedestrians.
    That work will likely begin next momth in the area near Guenther Pond, Crain said.
    The remainder of the new trees will be planted along streets that are being reconstructed and in new subdivisions, he said.
    The city is planting 20 varieties of trees next year, Crain said, from such traditional species as maples, oaks and elms to flowering trees like lilacs and pear trees.
    A few of the trees are more unusual, Crain said, such as the musclewood tree, a low-growing species ideal to grow under wires.
    The number of trees species has increased considerably in recent years, Crain said.
    “We’ve got almost 60 varieties planted just on the streets,” he said.
    This year, he said, street department crews will be planting bare-root and container-grown trees. The container-grown trees will be planted in fall, Crain said, and the bare-root stock in spring.
    The $29,547 needed to purchase the trees will come from the city’s operating budget, funds paid by developers of new subdivisions and the street reconstruction borrowing.
    Next month, Crain said, he will seek to buy about 500 trees to plant in the nursery being developed by the city. Daily Press

 
Street plan will likely rekindle debate over Port sidewalks PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 20:48

Proposal that includes walkways in north bluff area to be presented Dec. 12

    The familiar debate over when to install sidewalks along existing streets in Port Washington is likely to reignite next week when the Board of Public Works holds an informational meeting on upcoming road reconstruction projects.
    Several of the streets being rebuilt next year are in the north bluff area — including Hales Trail, Brentwood Court and Crestview Drive — near Upper Lake Park, a popular pedestrian destination.
    “The plans that will be exhibited will include sidewalks everywhere,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said. “The policy and the code for subdivisions requires sidewalks everywhere. It’s my job to propose sidewalks there.”
    Sidewalks would be installed only where streets are being rebuilt, he noted, not where they are simply being resurfaced.
    “If we’re just resurfacing, we’re not doing any work behind the curb,” Vanden Noven said, who noted that when streets are rebuilt they are typically narrowed, providing more room for sidewalks.
    The proposed design also would narrow many of the streets, including Hales Trail, Whitefish Road, Crestview Drive and Lakeview Avenue, Vanden Noven said.
    “We build the streets according to the traffic demand, and these are all low volume streets,” he said.
    The meeting, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, will not include a formal presentation on the street projects. Instead, it will follow an open house format with residents able to view the plans and talk to officials about the proposed designs throughout the meeting.
    “The purpose of the meeting is to obtain information from residents we’re not aware of that could affect the project,” Vanden Noven said. That could include such things as drainage issues, he said.
    “We’re very early in the design process,” he added. “We’re going to design the roads to fit the needs.”
    Officials from the city and Gremmer & Associates, its design consultant, will be on hand to discuss the plans with residents.
    The street projects include:
    n Crestview Drive from Noridge Trail to Briarwood Lane.
    n Brentwood Court from Crestview Drive to the cul de sac.
    n Noridge Trail from Sunrise Drive to the south end.
    n Whitefish Road from Lakeview Avenue south to Lakeview Avenue north.
    n Hales Trail from Whitefish Road to Kaiser Drive.
    n Lakeview Avenue from Douglas Street to Whitefish Road.
    The projects include sanitary sewer lining, storm sewer improvements, water main replacement and reconstruction work.
    Vanden Noven noted that the city does not anticipate needing any right of way for the projects, and the only special assessments that are likely to be charged are for sidewalks installed where there currently are none.Daily Press
   

 
Public asked to weigh in on wheel tax Jan. 9 PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 20:22

Proposed $20-per-vehicle levy estimated to generate $200,000 annually for roads to be presented at meeting

    Port Washington officials will seek the public’s input on a proposed wheel tax during a 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, meeting at City Hall.
    The meeting, which will follow the Board of Public Works meeting at 5:30 p.m., will open with a presentation on the wheel tax, with residents invited to provide their opinions after that.
    Ald. John Sigwart asked the Common Council to consider holding the meeting in the library’s community room, but City Administrator Mark Grams noted that it could not be televised then.
    Although the meeting is tentatively set to last one hour, it could be extended past that time, officials said.
    The $20 annual wheel tax was proposed by Mayor Tom Mlada last month as a way to supplement the city’s road repair efforts.
    Everyone acknowledges that street repairs are a priority, Mlada said, but costs continue to increase while the city’s budget is lean, state aids are declining and levy limits mean the city can’t tax more for roadwork.
    The city borrows about $800,000 annually for road construction, while officials estimate they need $1 million annually to keep up with its roadwork.
    The $200,000 Mlada estimated the city would collect annually would make up that difference, he said, paying to resurface two-thirds of a mile of street, resurface and replace the curb along one-third mile or completely reconstruct almost two city blocks.
    The $20 per vehicle fee would be collected by the State Department of Transportation when drivers renew their license plates each year.
    While Mlada had urged the Common Council to enact the wheel tax as soon as possible when he introduced the idea last month, aldermen were not as enthused about the concept.
    According to the Department of Transportation, 19 communities and six counties in the state charge a wheel fee. They range from small communities such as Gillett and Lodi to large cities like Sheboygan, Beloit and Milwaukee.
    Communities determine how much the wheel fee is — it ranges from $10 in Tigerton, Iron Ridge and Kaukauna to $30 in Milton and Milwaukee County — and whether to set a sunset date for the tax. Daily Press
   

 
County will join lawsuit against drug makers PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 20:20

Legal action seeks to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for costly opioid addiction epidemic

    Ozaukee County supervisors on Wednesday decided to join a growing number of Wisconsin counties suing pharmaceutical companies that make and market the drugs blamed for the national opioid addiction epidemic.
    The County Board voted 24-0 to sign on to a lawsuit that seeks to hold large pharmaceutical companies responsible for the epidemic that is sapping the local, state and federal agencies tasked with battling the drug dealers who feed addiction and help those whose lives have been shattered by opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.
    Supr. Karl Hertz of Thiensville abstained from the vote after expressing concern that the lawsuit would not target the root of the addiction epidemic — illegal drugs like heroin — and could deter doctors from prescribing needed opioid pain medication.
    Ozaukee County is now one of 52 Wisconsin counties suing pharmaceutical manufacturers.
    “Opioid addiction is a significant driver of what we now do, and it constitutes a significant portion of our budget,” County Administrator Jason Dzwinel said. “It’s an unfortunate area of growth, some of which is really unseen by the public.”
    Ozaukee County and other plaintiffs will not bankroll the legal effort. Instead, the law firms representing the counties — the Milwaukee-area firms of van Briesen & Roper and Crueger Dickinson and the national firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy — would bear all costs of litigation and be reimbursed only if there is a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.
    The only cost to the county would be  the staff time needed to help lawyers document the cost of dealing with opioid addiction, which in addition to assisting with the lawsuit will help illustrate the extent and impact of the local addiction epidemic, Dzwinel said.
    “Hopefully we can quantify the impact of addiction, which should shed more light on the epidemic for the public,” he said.
    The Wisconsin Counties Association is coordinating the lawsuit against so-called Big Pharma, the pharmaceutical companies that, according to background information distributed to supervisors, “flooded the market with highly addictive drugs claiming they were safe and efficacious for long-term use, manufactured studies to support these false claims and knowingly misrepresented the addictive nature of these drugs.
    “As a result of these misrepresentations, millions of American lives have been impacted or destroyed. The opioid epidemic has in turn imposed huge costs on both county and state governments around the country ....”
    The goal of the lawsuit is to “hold Pharma responsible for their role in creating the opioid epidemic and return to the counties the money spent battling the epidemic at the expense of other critical programming,” according to county documents.
    Among those on the front lines of the battle against the epidemic is Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol, who said opioid addiction is not only responsible for an increase in drug crimes but a surge in property crimes committed by those who steal to finance their addiction.
    “Certainly we see a lot of possession of heroin and possession of opioid cases, but what we’ve really seen an increase in is burglaries, thefts from cars and retail thefts,” he said.
    For years, the District Attorney’s Office filed about 150 felony cases a year. About a decade ago, that number spiked into the 300s and last year reached 389 cases, and drugs had a lot to do with it, Gerol said.
    “We set a record last year and are on track to set another record this year,” he said, referring to felony cases filed.
    “If we could go back to the days before drug addiction and just deal with alcohol and bar fights, we wouldn’t be as busy.”
    While opioids alone are not responsible for the drug addiction epidemic — “We have people who are just slamming Xanex,” a prescription drug used to treat anxiety, Gerol said — the connection between opioid painkillers and addiction that has fueled the market for illegal drugs like heroin is clear. In several of the cases Gerol has prosecuted, the stories are similar — a defendant who is prescribed an opioid pain medication by his doctor becomes addicted, and when his supply of medication is cut off, he turns to the illegal drug market to satisfy his addiction.
    “Very few people start out saying they want to be a heroin addict,” Gerol said. “They start out taking oxycodone, Vicodin or Percocet. That’s what they want, but eventually they can’t get it. Then we have this explosion of heroin, the cost of which hasn’t gone up in 10 years. We are just swimming in this drug.”
    Left to help people whose lives have been shattered by drug addiction is the Ozaukee County Human Services Department, and in many cases that means protecting the most vulnerable victims of the epidemic — children.
    “From our perspective, we see the impact of drug addiction everywhere,” Human Services Director Liza Drake said. “And the most highly affected by addition is often children and families.”
    Between 2012 and 2013, the number of children placed by the department outside of their homes because of drug abuse by their parents or other guardians jumped from the single to double digits, where it has remained since. Drug abuse, along with neglect and child behavior problems, both of which can be related to drug use in the house, are the leading reasons children are removed from their homes in Ozaukee County.
    And ensuring children are in a safe environment is often just the beginning of the department’s work. Counseling is a key component of helping children and families whose lives have been upended by drugs, Drake said.
    “Removing children from their home is pretty traumatic,” she said. “And in some cases, the children were completely exposed to their loved ones when they were using drugs.”Daily Press
   

 
Port decorated and ready to kick off the Christmas season Saturday PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 19:13


    The twinkle lights are on the trees lining Franklin Street in downtown Port Washington, and shop windows are decked out in their holiday finery.
    That’s appropriate, since Port will formally kick off the holiday season Saturday, Dec. 2, with the inaugural Frosty Lighthouse 5 walk and run and the annual Christmas on the Corner celebration, which includes merchant sales, caroling, a tree lighting ceremony, parade and fireworks.
    The day kicks off with the Frosty Lighthouse 5, a run-walk to raise money for the restoration of the Port lighthouse.
    “Our hope is people come down to the race, have lunch downtown and maybe start their Christmas shopping before Christmas on the Corner starts,” Mayor Tom Mlada said.
    The event gives participants a choice of a 5k or five-mile courses that include portions of the Ozaukee Interurban Trail and allow runners and walkers to enjoy views of the lakefront.
    The event will begin and end at Inventors Brewpub, 435 Lake St. Check in begins at 9 a.m. and the races at 10 a.m. Awards will be presented to the winners of both the 5k and five-mile courses.
    Registration for the 5k route are $25 per person or $75 for a family of four in advance or $30 and $100, respectively, on race day.
    The five-mile registrations are $35 per person or $100 for a family of four in advance or $40 and $130, respectively, on race day.
    Advance registrations will be accepted through 8:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 1.
    Recreation Director Kiley Schulte said Tuesday that about 70 people had already signed up for the run-walk.
    To register or for more information, visit www.portwashington.recdesk.com and click on the register now button or stop in at the department office, 201 N. Webster St.
    A silent auction at Inventors Brewpub will be run in conjunction with the walk-run. Among the prizes are a tree to be planted in the recipient’s yard, James Meyer lighthouse photographs, Inventors glassware, Port pool passes and tickets to the Polar Express.
    “A Carol of Christmas” is the theme of this year’s Christmas on the Corner celebration, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m.
    It kicks off with special sales at downtown shops, where merchants will offer refreshments to warm customers on what is usually a chilly evening.
    Youngsters are invited to participate in the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt. Participants will scour designated downtown shops to find the Elf on the Shelf hidden within, then turn in sheets denoting their finds for a drawing.
    Visitors may catch a horse-drawn carriage at the corner of West Grand Avenue and South Wisconsin Street and enjoy a ride through the heart of the city. Rides are $5 per person.
    Children can write their holiday letters and mail them to Santa at the Post Office on East Main Street during the festival, decorate cookies at Dockside Deli, make ornaments at the Port Exploreum and stop at Port Washington State Bank to visit and have their pictures taken with Santa.
    Youngsters can also have their photos taken with Anna and Elsa, the “Frozen” princesses, at Biever Travel.
    Live reindeer will be on Main Street near Franklin Street, where visitors may have their pictures taken with the animals.
    Children’s crafts can be made at the Niederkorn Library, 316 W. Grand Ave., which will also have a book sale and a charitable donation area.
    And the Eghart House, 302 W. Grand Ave., will be decorated for a Victorian Christmas and open for tours.
    A live Nativity outside Hidden Treasures consignment shop on West Grand Avenue will remind people of the reason for the season with a decorated sleigh on the east end of Main Street along the north slip marina, creating a scenic backdrop for families who want to take a festival photograph.    
    The tree lighting and caroling are scheduled for 6 p.m.
    The festival theme will be highlighted during the Christmas parade at 6:15 p.m. The parade will kick off at the corner of Jackson and Franklin streets, head south on Franklin Street to Grand Avenue and proceed west on Grand Avenue to Milwaukee Street, where it will end.
    The parade will feature local celebrities, floats, bands, clowns and more to entertain the crowd. The highlight will be the official arrival of Santa Claus on a sleigh atop the Main Street float.
    Following the parade, the crowd will move toward Rotary Park to view holiday fireworks, the only winter fireworks show in Ozaukee County.
    For more information, call 268-1132 or visit www.visitportwashington.com.Daily Press

 
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