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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

 
Catalog work slows library systems merger PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 19:59

Combining card inventories means temporary limits on some services for patrons of Ozaukee County facilities

The merger of two library systems will provide Ozaukee County patrons with access to nearly double the materials, but combining the card catalogs into one is requiring some downtime.

Eastern Shores Library System, which covers Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties, and Mid-Wisconsin Federated, which covers Washington and Dodge counties, are merging Jan. 1.

In preparation, electronic card catalogs won’t be available at those four counties’ libraries from Dec. 8 to Dec. 14, including searching from home computers. Come Dec. 15, patrons will have access to 1.1 million items from the combined libraries.

Transactions at the W.J. Niederkorn Library in Port Washington will be done on paper during that time, which has caused Library Director Tom Carson to limit each patron to check out five books at a time.

At Grafton’s library, Director John Hanson said staff will assist people in the interim. No limits were set on checkouts.

The combined card catalog called Monarch will continue to use the software already in Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties, Eastern Shores Director-turned-Monarch System director Amy Birtell said. The catalog’s software will be new for Washington and Dodge counties.

“For the patrons for Sheboygan and Ozaukee, things will look the same and sound the same,” Birtell said.

Existing library cards will work in any library in any of the four counties, she said. Materials may be ordered from any of the counties’ 31 libraries, almost double the Eastern Shores selection.

Impetus for the merger, the first like it in state history, was flat state funding. Birtell said library aid dropped from $640,000 in 2011 to $578,000 in 2012 and hasn’t increased since.

“We’ve taken a step to preserve us so we can continue offering services to our libraries,” Birtell said. “We’ve been flat funded for a number of years, and there doesn’t appear to be new money from the state so we have to continue to look at other ways to continue offering services to the libraries.”

Efficiencies from the new system are estimated to be $100,000, Birtell said. That allows the system to take on Mid-Wisconsin’s information technology employee and a public information representative and hire back a part-time employee after cuts were made years ago.

“We’re trying to be very fiscally responsible and looking for what we can provide to libraries,” Birtell said.

No changes will be made to the Bookmobile, as it will remain on its regular schedule.

Birtell said the merger was successful in part because a third-party facilitator helped with negotiations and communications. WiLS (formerly Wisconsin Library Services), a nonprofit membership group that facilitates projects to save libraries money, was hired as a consultant.

County boards in all four counties approved the merger this year.

Merger discussions have been in play the past several years.

In 2014, four of the five directors of the Eastern Shores libraries — not including Cedarburg — asked the County Board to examine leaving the system to join the Waukesha or Manitowoc-Calumet County systems.

About two years before that, Eastern Shores considered the same move. It was determined joining Waukesha would cost too much. Talks with Manitowoc-Calumet halted after Gov. Scott Walker vetoed funding for a state study on possible library system mergers.Daily Press

 
Christmas on the Corner to brighten Port Saturday PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 18:38

Annual holiday celebration will return to downtown with variety of family-friendly activities from 3 to 7 p.m.

“The Music and Magic of Christmas” is the theme of Port Washington’s Christmas on the Corner celebration, which will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

The event includes a wide variety of family-friendly activities, including special events and sales at downtown merchants, the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree at the foot of St. Mary’s Hill, the holiday parade and a fireworks show over Rotary Park.

“The weather looks like it will be extremely nice, and we’ve got a lot planned for families to do,” said Cathy Wilger, co-director of Port Main Street Inc., which sponsors the event.

“I think it’s going to be a really nice way to kick off the season.”

During this year’s event, parking on Franklin Street will be prohibited. 

“Safety was a concern with the number of pedestrians downtown,” Wilger said. 

Eliminating parking on Franklin Street “will make it easier for drivers downtown to see the pedestrians,” she said.   

This year’s Christmas on the Corner will feature the popular Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt for children ages 12 and younger, who are invited to visit designated downtown shops to find the hidden Elf on the Shelf, then turn in sheets denoting their finds for a drawing. 

Visitors may catch a horse-drawn wagon at the corner of West Grand Avenue and South Wisconsin Street and enjoy a ride through the heart of the city.  There is a $5 per person and $20 per family fee for the rides.

Children can write their holiday letters and mail them to Santa at Blue Heron Artisans Gallery during the festival, decorate cookies at Dockside Deli and then take festive photos at a decorated sleigh next to the restaurant.

Youngsters can also stop at the Lakeview Community Room, the former Wilson House, to visit with Santa and have their pictures taken with him.

Anna and Elsa, the princesses from “Frozen,” will pose for pictures with visitors at Biever Travel, and Olaf, the “Frozen” snowman, will wander Franklin Street, chatting with shoppers. 

Live reindeer will be on Main Street near Franklin Street, where people may have their pictures taken with the animals.

At the Port Exploreum, children can make ornaments and help decorate the tree, and at La Tulipe they may listen to holiday stories.

The high school’s Skilled USA Team will sell chili outside the Holiday Inn Harborview, 

Port Washington High School students will collect new toys for the Kapco Kids 2 Kids drive at Pear and Simple throughout the event.

Music is also a part of the festival. The saxophone quartet Fourth Dimension will perform at Yummy Bones, and the Port High Choir will sing carols downtown beginning at 5 p.m.

The choir will also perform at the base of St. Mary’s Hill for the 6 p.m. tree lighting.

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 Wisconsin 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.Daily Press

 
Dec. 6 meeting to discuss city plans for 2017 street projects PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 18:35

Informational session to provide overview of work that will include replacing roads, sidewalks, utility mains

A public informational meeting on six street projects planned in the City of Port Washington next year will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6.

The meeting will be held at City Hall, with a presentation at 5:15 p.m. by city officials and representatives of Gremmer and Associates, the design consultant.

The planned work includes road replacements, replacement of sidewalks where needed, construction of new sidewalks where there are none, water main replacement and storm and sanitary sewer improvements.

  Information on the design proposals affecting the width of the streets and parkways will be provided.

No right-of-way acquisition is anticipated for the projects, and no special assessments — except for sidewalks in areas where there are none — are planned.

Homeowners interested in replacing their sanitary sewer laterals or constructiung new storm sewer connections as part of the project may make arrangements for this work at their expense.

Maps showing the proposed improvements will be on display and there will be information available for those attending to take home.

Comments received at the meeting will be used in making final decisions on the projects.

Work is planned on:

• Harrison Street between Jackson and Dodge streets;

• Dodge Street between Webster and Wisconsin streets;

• Pierre Lane from 200 feet west of Montgomery Street to Wisconsin Street;

• Montgomery Street between Dodge and Walters streets;

• Walters Street betweeen Holden and Wisconsin streets;

• Holden Street between Walters and Jefferson streets.

In addition, the city will be doing work on an alley that runs between Webster, Montgomery, Dodge and Van Buren streets and another that runs between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Walters streets and Pierre Lane.

Anyone who cannot attend the meeting but would like to comment or receive information on the projects is asked to email Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call him at 284-2600.Daily Press

 
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