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Sinkhole has city worried about creek seawall PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 21:37

Revetment near Fisherman’s Park is in danger of failing without repairs that could cost $100,000

A sinkhole has opened up near the entrance to the Fisherman’s Park bridge in Port Washington — a symptom perhaps of serious deterioration of the seawall along the north side of Sauk Creek, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said Tuesday.

This is the second sinkhole to have sprung up along that stretch in the last two years, Vanden Noven told the Board of Public Works. 

Daily PressLast year, a sinkhole was discovered immediately northwest of the north abutment for the bridge. City crews patched the seawall and filled the sinkhole with concrete.

“It’s been holding up,” Vanden Noven said.

But a couple weeks ago, crews discovered the newest sinkhole, he said.

“It’s a cavern underneath the sidewalk,” he said, likely caused by an opening in the seawall and scouring action by the rising lake levels.

Vanden Noven said he does not believe the sinkhole poses a problem for pedestrians using the bridge — one of the last king post truss bridges in the state.

“It’s an extremely low risk,” he said. “It’s a pedestrian sidewalk. Any settlement is going to be incremental. There would be larger signs if there were to be any type of major failure.”

The easy and temporary fix would be to have crews excavate the sinkhole and fill it with concrete to stabilize the walkway and wall, Vanden Noven said.

While that’s something city crews will do as soon as possible, he said, it’s not a permanent solution.

“Clearly, looking at the wall, it’s obviously not getting any better,” he said, showing the board members photos of the wall. “It’s all in very poor condition. The way to properly repair it is to replace the whole wall.

“Eventually the whole wall’s going to fail. Now’s the time to prepare ourselves to plan a more permanent solution.”

Vanden Noven noted that several engineering firms  are expected to be in the city next week to look at deadmen and tiebacks in the north marina slip parking lot, and he will ask them to look at the Sauk Creek wall as well.

The city only owns a portion of the seawall along Sauk Creek. Bob Pfeffer, 132 S. Wisconsin St., said the condominium owners whose property stretches west along Sauk Creek from the city land, asked if they could form a partnership with the city to repair the entire wall.

“We’re trying to avoid a total failure of the wall,” he said. “We would like to be proactive in shoring up that wall. If there’s something we could do as a joint venture ...we would be interested.”

Vanden Noven said he would seek proposals from the engineering firms that encompass the entire wall as well as just the city’s portion.

Ald. John Sigwart, a member of the board, suggested the city consider building a form along the wall and pouring concrete there. That, he said, would fill any voids in the existing concrete wall and prevent future undermining of the soils behind it, although it would not help support the wall.

“I think we have to do something now,” Sigwart said. “That hole (sinkhole) kind of amazes me, how big it is.”

Vanden Noven estimated it would cost about $2,000 for the city to excavate and fill the sinkhole, and $50,000 to $100,000 to design and build a new section of the seawall.

Work on a permanent solution likely wouldn’t be done until winter, when water levels are lowest, if funds are allocated in the 2018 budget, he added.

Vanden Noven said he hopes to bring estimates from the engineering firms to the board in June or July.

Man charged with reckless race through school zone PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 21:08

Port driver who is accused of speeding away from cop, forcing cars off road in Fredonia faces two felonies

A 32-year-old Port Washington man accused of leading a deputy on a chase, then forcing other drivers off the road as he sped through residential neighborhoods and a school zone in Fredonia last week has been charged with two felonies in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Erik H. Pantle faces counts of attempting to flee an officer and second-degree recklessly endangering safety. Because Pantle was convicted of a felony in 2011, he is now charged as a repeat offender and would face additional penalties if convicted.

PantleAccording to the criminal complaint, at 7:25 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, Ozaukee County Sheriff’s deputy Matthew Haas was driving on Highway H between Port Washington and Fredonia when he saw a speeding Dodge Grand Caravan heading west.

Haas, whose radar indicated the minivan was traveling at 81 mph in a 55 mph zone, turned around and began following the vehicle, which he later learned was driven by Pantle. The deputy said Pantle accelerated to more than 100 mph as he followed him with his emergency lights and siren on, the complaint states.

Pantle entered the Village of Fredonia on Martin Drive, blew a stop sign at Highland Drive and sped past the Northern Ozaukee School District campus at 45 mph, according to Haas, who stopped chasing Pantle because they were in a residential area and school zone.

Haas lost sight of the minivan, but as he continued driving west he saw several vehicle that were forced off the road by Pantle.

At about the same time, authorities received 911 calls from several drivers, including one woman who recorded the license place of the minivan and said the driver was a white man with a gray sweatshirt with the hood covering his head.

Authorities traced the minivan to Pantle’s finacee, who lives in Port Washington. She said Pantle, who usually takes Highway H to his landscaping job in Kewaskum, is the only person who had access to her vehicle, the complaint states.

At the request of Haas, the woman called Pantle, then had him talk to the deputy. Pantle admitted he was driving the minivan that morning and said although he typically takes Highway H, he took a different route that morning, according to the complaint.

“I have a hypothetical scenario for you,” Pantle told the deputy. He went on to say that if he had been driving the minivan and sped away from the deputy, he would be “going away for a long time” since he is on probation, the complaint states.

Pantle was arrested later that day at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections probation and parole office in Saukville.

During a court hearing last week, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams set Pantle’s bail at $5,000.

Attempting to flee an officer carries a maximum penalty of 1-1/2 years in prison and two years of extended supervision. Second-degree recklessly endangering safety is punishable by five years in prison and five years of extended supervision. 

If convicted, Pantle would face an additional four years for each count because he was convicted of a felony in July 2011 for using his grandfather’s charge card to make more than $10,000 in purchases, according to court records.

Council acted properly when electing leader, attorney says PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 21:01

Biggs named president before other nomination made

Port Washington Ald. Doug Biggs remains president of the Common Council.

City Attorney Eric Eberhardt on Tuesday told aldermen that, after reviewing Robert’s Rules and consulting with a professional parliamentarian, he found that the Common Council did not violate the rules when electing Biggs to the position last month.

“It is clear that in the nomination and election process used to fill the office of Common Council president, there was no infringement on the basic rights of any individual council member,” Eberhardt said. “The council president was lawfully elected to office.”

Biggs, who has been an alderman for five years, was elected council president April 18 on a 5-2 vote, with new aldermen John Sigwart and Mike Gasper dissenting.

Sigwart tried to nominate Ald. Mike Ehrlich for the post, but before a second could be recorded, Eberhardt said aldermen were to vote on the initial nomination of Biggs first.

At the end of the meeting, that procedure was called into question by resident Kenny Mitchell, 622 W. Pierre La., who said Robert’s Rules of Order calls for all nominations to be accepted and considered.

Sigwart said Tuesday that he was stunned when Ehrlich’s nomination wasn’t considered on April 18, adding, “I wanted him to be considered.”

Eberhardt cited 19 rules in Robert’s Rules of Order in making his decision Tuesday, and added, “the custom of this body is to do precisely what was done.” 

BiggsThe only exception, he said, is that the mayor did not specifically ask if there were further nominations before the vote.

Eberhardt also noted that no alderman challenged the election results at the meeting, and noted that citizens cannot issue such a challenge.

On Tuesday, Mitchell told aldermen he believed they should hold a second election for council president.

“This council has a perception problem. By not taking action, you’re furthering that perception problem,” he said.

Pat Tearney, 334 W. Eva St., suggested that the city review its rules to ensure all potential candidates are considered in the future.

A retired reporter, Tearney said he couldn’t remember a time when a government body didn’t provide the opportunity for a number of people to be nominated for a position.

“I don’t doubt this is how it was done in the past,” Tearney said. “But it just cuts against the grain of what we think of as democracy and representative government.”

Port Pirate Fest organizers recruiting volunteers PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 20:53

Help needed for June event that will include boat races, run, parade, music

Arrr matey, Port Pirate Festival isn’t looking to take prisoners but instead find volunteers to help out at its annual celebration next month.

“We need volunteers for pretty much anything,” said Lisa Rathke of Port Festivals Inc., which sponsors the event. 

Volunteers are needed for everything from staffing the information booth to setting up and monitoring parking, she said, noting shifts can run from two to four hours.

The second annual Pirate Festival, which will be held from June 2 to 4 on Port’s lakefront, is adding several new attractions this year, Rathke said.

The cardboard boat races, once part of Maritime Heritage Festival, will be held at the marina at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 3.

Sponsored by the Port Washington Yacht Club, the races have traditionally drawn a crowd to the lakefront. 

Rathke noted that organizers had hoped to bring the race back last year, but ran into last minute issues that caused it to be cancelled.

Registration for the races can be done online at

The first Harbor View 8k run, sponsored by Lighthouse Events, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The race will start at Coal Dock Park, go through the festival grounds and up the bluff before returning.

Organizers plan to cap the participation at 600 runners, Rathke said, and roughly 400 people have already signed up.

To register, visit

The schooner Denis Sullivan will be in Port for the weekend as well, offering sails and deck tours throughout the weekend and ambience for the festival.

The festival will also be bringing back old favorites, including pirate invasions on Saturday and Sunday mornings, breakfast with the pirates at NewPort Shores Restaurant, the pirate parade at noon on Sunday, games, a bounce house and human-sized hamster balls.

Daily Press

There will be costume contests for adults and children, music at stages at the end of the north slip marina and Rotary Park, and a food court in the parking lot behind Duluth Trading Co.

Last year’s Pirate Festival — under new management and the first since the fest was abruptly cancelled three years earlier — was a success and organizers hope to build on that, Rathke said.

“We’re just going to pray for good weather again this year,” she said.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help at the festival is asked to call Tracy Ripple at 323-6612 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Information is also available on the festival website,

County revives Clean Sweep program to target waste PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 21:10

Most residents will be able to dispose of hazardous materials during June event

For the first time in years, Ozaukee County will host a Clean Sweep event to give its residents an affordable and environmentally responsible way to dispose of household hazardous waste and used tires.

Residents will be able to drop off waste and tires at the county Highway Department, 410 S. Spring St., Port Washington, from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 10.

Farmers and small business operators can drop off waste and tires from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, June 9.

There is a $20 fee for each vehicle-load of waste, as well as fees for tire disposal.

Although the event is more than a month away, registrations and payments, which are required to dispose of hazardous waste but not tires, are being accepted.

To register and pay online, go to Residents can also print a registration form on the website and mail it and a check payable to Ozaukee County to the Land and Water Management Department, 121 W. Main St., Room 223, Port Washington, 53074. In addition, forms are available at the department’s office.

Registrations and payments are due June 2. The first 400 residents to register will be able to drop off materials.

The collection is open to all county residents except those from the City of Port Washington, who are able to dispose of household hazardous waste every Monday at the Veolia facility in Port Washington. City residents are, however, able to drop tires off at the county collection.

Andy Holschbach, director of the county’s Land and Water Management Department, which is organizing the event, said the drop-off is designed to be quick and easy.

“People don’t even need to get out of their cars,” he said. “All you have to do is pull into a Highway Department shed and pop the trunk. People from Veolia will be there to take it out of your car and dispose of it properly.”

Generally, materials such as oil-based paint, adhesives, solvents, pesticides and insecticides will be accepted. A complete list can be found on the Clean Sweep website.

Materials that will be not be accepted include latex paints and stains, compressed gas cylinders and propane tanks, motor oil and ammunition.

The county, which in 2016 was among only 18 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties that didn’t have a Clean Sweep collection, resurrected funding for the program by voting last year to include it in the 2017 budget at the urging of then-Supr. Richard Bauzenberger of Mequon.

“The counties that don’t offer Clean Sweep programs are fostering practices that are harmful to the environment,” he said last year.

Bauzenberger said at the time that his constituents asked him why the county doesn’t offer an affordable and safe way for them to dispose of hazardous materials.

The answer was money. Funding for the program had been cut years earlier.

“The program isn’t cheap, but neither is disposing of household hazardous waste,” Bauzenberger said. “If you buy a gallon of oil-based paint and have a little left over, you can spend three times what the paint cost just to get rid of it. That’s a disincentive for people to dispose of household hazardous waste property and safely.”

The program costs $50,000 annually. The county has budgeted $35,000 and received a $14,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

Holschbach noted the county is committed to making the Clean Sweep an annual event.Daily Press

“We want a good, long-term program so people can plan to dispose of their waste responsibly,” he said.

Unexpected aid hike, flat insurance costs buoy school budget PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 21:07

PW-S officials who had projected a $420,000 shortfall now say balancing 2017-18 budget shouldn’t be a problem if state proposal OK’d.

Port Washington-Saukville school administrators who had been gearing up to tackle a projected $420,000 shortfall in the 2017-18 budget said Monday that it now appears the district will only have to make minor spending cuts to balance the budget.

“I think we’re going to be in good shape,” Supt. Michael Weber said after briefing the School Board Finance Committee. “We still have $50,000 to shave off, but we should be able to handle that.”

The preliminary budget assumed state aid would remain the same and health care costs would increase 5%.

Instead, it appears the opposite will happen — state aid will increase and health care costs will remain flat, he said.

A key development since the district began its budget planning process is a $200 per-pupil increase in categorical state aid included in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, which seems to have the support of the state’s budget-writing committee, Weber said.

“It does appear the Joint Finance Committee will support the governor’s proposed increase,” he said. “This would be a significant increase in revenue for us.”

The increase would net the district about $500,000 in additional state aid next school year at a time when, without a state increase, it would begin losing aid because of declining enrollment, Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said.

“With declining enrollment, the increase  in aid decreases our pain as we experience a drop-off in kids,” he said.

Also key to the district’s budget is the fact the district’s WEA Trust health insurance premium will not increase due in part to the health of those on the plan and an increase in co-pays for Urgent Care Clinic visits and speciality prescriptions, Froemming said.

Without a significant deficit to address, the district will be able to provide modest pay increases for most employees, control elementary school class size by hiring two more teachers and maintain educational programs, Weber said. 

The proposed budget includes a half-step pay scale increase for some of the district’s newest teachers, part of a concerted effort by the district to attract and maintain teaching talent in an increasingly competitive market.

“We’re trying to retain the good people we hire,” Weber said. 

And although enrollment is declining districtwide, it’s increasing at the elementary school level. To avoid overcrowded classes, the district plans to add a fourth-grade and kindergarten teacher, both at Dunwiddie Elementary School. Daily Press

“Some years we’ve had to go through a pretty long list of budget reductions,” Weber said. “It looks like we’re going to be OK this year.”

The preliminary 2017-18 budget will be presented during a June 12 hearing, then voted on by the board. 

The final budget and tax levy will be approved in October.


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