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Port Washington


Senior center relocation delayed by remodeling PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 17:27

Move to former church not expected until June; parking plan sparks debate

The Port Washington Senior Center probably won’t move to its new location in the former St. John’s Church until after Memorial Day, City Administrator Mark Grams said Tuesday.

“We were hoping they (contractors) would be finished the middle of next week,” he told the Common Council. “They’re a little behind, so it looks like they won’t be able to move until June.”

Even as the city prepares for the move, debate continues around the issue of parking at the new senior center.

The city is considering changing some of the on-street parking to angle parking, something sought by the seniors, Grams said, and asked neighbors for their opinion on whether this should be done on Webster Street or Foster Street.

To accommodate this, some of the streets around the senior center would have to be made one-way, Grams said. Foster Street is likely to be the preferred option, he said, because Webster Street is narrower and less able to accommodate angle parking.

Several area residents told the council they are concerned about the possible changes.

“We’ve never had an accident, and I don’t know why there’s a safety concern at this point,” said Donald Knuth, 234 S. Webster St. “The parking has been adequate. We’re quite concerned about this.”

Chad Austin, who lives on Foster Street, told aldermen that they need to take not just the concerns of the seniors into account but also residents when deciding the issue.

The city’s Traffic Safety Committee is expected to make a recommendation on the matter when it meets at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 19.

It will be a little while before the senior center settles into its new home, officials were told.

The biggest thing yet to be done is installation of the elevator, Grams said, noting that the work is expected to take a week.

Ald. Mike Ehrlich said the elevator was supposed to be delivered on May 11, but was not.

“It got tied up,” he said. Crews are expected to work over the weekend on the senior center, and a final inspection has been tentatively scheduled for May 31.

Aldermen on Tuesday did an about-face and agreed to hire Lakeside Movers to relocate the senior center from its current site at 102 E. Pier St.

Two weeks ago, they approved a contract with Mr. Mover for the work, but City Administrator Mark Grams said he later discovered that this contract did not include reassembly of the center’s pool tables.

If the city wanted Mr. Mover to do this work, it would have cost an extra $525, bringing the firm’s cost for the move to $3,515, he said.

Lakeside Movers had bid $3,045 for the work, including assembly of the pool tables, Grams said.

The city is looking at the options for the sale of the current senior center once the facility is relocated, Grams said.

Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, has been talking to people who have indicated an interest in buying the building, Grams said.

If enough people are interested, the city may set a minimum price and seek bids on the property, he said.

Most of those interested plan to use the building for commercial endeavors, primarily as office space, Grams said.

Tetzlaff said he’s knows of seven people who have expressed interest in the building, and three have shown concrete interest.

 
Port council OKs ordinance outlawing fake pot PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 17:39

Fake marijuana — aka K2, Spice, Genie, Yucatan Fire, Blaze and any number of other names — is now illegal in the City of Port Washington.

With little comment last Wednesday, the Common Council unanimously approved an ordinance making it illegal to possess, sell or purchase the faux drug, which is often sold as incense.

“It seems to be the new trend right now,” City Administrator Mark Grams said of the faux drug. “Now, they won’t be able to buy it, smoke it or even have it in Port Washington.”

Port Washington joins communities such as Cedarburg, Waukesha and Eau Claire in outlawing the synthetic drug, which officials said has become more common in recent months.

Most recently, police officers confiscated 26 grams of fake marijuana from a group of seven teens, five of them 15-year-olds, while investigating a complaint.

Officers confiscated the substance but could not ticket the teens for possessing it because there is no law against it, officials said.

The new ordinance allows for the chemical to be confiscated and calls for a fine of between $100 and $500 for possession of fake marijuana and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for the sale, display, delivery or distribution of the substance.

 
Planting boom shows Port’s Tree City side PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 17:36
APPROXIMATELY 400 TREES were planted in Port Washington, many along city streets, during the past month by members of the city’s Street Department. As they planted, Gerard Lanser (left) shoveled soil around a sapling held by Bill Carroll.
                                                  Photo by Sam Arendt

Addition of 400 trees along streets this spring part of beautification effort

Port Washington earned its title as a Tree City USA, planting 400 trees along city streets during the past month.

Many of those trees were along streets that were constructed or reconstructed last year — South Wisconsin, Division and Chestnut streets and Sunset Road west of Highway LL, to name a few, Street Commissioner Dave Ewig said.

Others were planted to replace trees that had to be removed or to fill in gaps in the tree line along city streets, he said.

The city has been planting between 300 and 500 trees annually for the past several years, said Ewig, with a goal of creating a canopy over the streets.

“I think most people value trees,” Ewig said. “I think they understand the value of the shade and the cooling effect.”

The benefits of trees are well known, ranging from the removal of pollutants in the air and the slowing of stormwater runoff. They are an aesthetic feature of a community that also increase property values.

Port city crews completed this year’s tree planting last Friday, Ewig said. It’s a month-long process that starts with digging holes for the trees — something that by itself takes a week — and ends with mulching around the newly planted saplings.

The city will monitor the weather conditions and, if it gets too dry this summer, will water the saplings two or three times, Ewig said.

Port Washington, like many communities around the state, lost its elms to Dutch elm disease decades ago and is on the cusp of losing its ash trees to the emerald ash borer.

But the city has learned its lesson and no longer depends on only one type of tree. It has diversified its trees, and this year planted several varieties of maples, lindens, elms, Kentucky coffee tree, ginkgo, flowering crabs and even a few evergreens, Ewig said.

The city doesn’t typically plant evergreens, he said.

“This year, we just felt there were a couple locations suited to that type of planting,” he said.

Those include an area along Spring Street between Third and Fourth streets and an area off South Wisconsin Street near the We Energies power plant, he said.

If people ask for a specific type of tree, the city will try to honor their request, Ewig said.

And in the few instances when someone asks that a tree not be planted, the city will consider the request on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Roughly 90% of the saplings planted by the city are bare-root trees. They not only cost significantly less than those that are balled-and-burlaped, they are easier to handle and faster to plant.

Through the years, they city has gotten the process down pat, Ewig said, with a success rate of more than 90%.

“We’ve learned a lot of little things about how to plant them,” he said. “We think that’s a pretty high rate of success. We’re pleased.”

The city budgets about $3,000 annually for replacement trees. The cost of trees planted along reconstructed streets is built into the project cost.

 
New Port law will take aim at fake pot PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 17:58

Aldermen cite need for ordinance in taking steps to ban possession, use of chemical

Fake marijuana — aka K2, Spice, Genie, Yucatan Fire, Blaze and any number of other names — has just started to make inroads in Port Washington, but aldermen on Tuesday took steps to make possession, use, purchase, sale and delivery of the substance illegal.

The Common Council had its initial hearing on an ordinance outlawing the chemical, which is often sold as incense, following in the footsteps of communities such as Waukesha, Eau Claire and Cedarburg.

Police Officer Kurt Knowski told officials that the substance was unheard of in the city until last September. Since then, he said, it has played a role in three incidents.

In one, he said, the driver of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident was under the influence of fake marijuana.

On April 20, he said, officers investigating a complaint at the Country Inn & Suites confiscated 26 grams of fake marijuana from a group of seven teens, five of them 15-year-olds. Two of the seven were cited for possessing paraphernalia.

Officers confiscated the fake marijuana but could not ticket the teens for possessing it because there is no law against it, Knowski said — a fact that’s likely to spread quickly among youths

“It’s a grey area,” he said. “It’s starting to get more prevalent.”

The substance is most popular among young people, Knowski said.

“They feel it’s not illegal so it’s safe,” he said. “They’ll tell us, ‘It’s not marijuana, it’s K2.’”

The substances look similar, Knowski said, but often smell different.

Fake marijuana has no THC — the active ingredient in marijuana, but it does have a more intense effect, City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said.

“You can smoke a lot less of this substance and still get the same high (as marijuana),” he said. “This substance has a tenfold greater kick.”

Knowski agreed, saying fellow officer Jerry Nye has said that while marijuana makes a person mellow, fake marijuana has the opposite effect on users.

“He finds them more aggressive, more belligerent and much more hard to control,” he said.

There is no test currently available to detect K2, Knowski said.

Police are hampered in trying to deal with the substance because it is not considered a drug, Knowski said.

“We’re asking the city to give us a tool to handle this appropriately,” he said, noting that the state has not yet enacted legislation outlawing the substance.

The proposed ordinance would call for a fine of between $100 and $500 for possession of fake marijuana and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for the sale, display, delivery or distribution of fake marijuana.

Police would also be authorized to seize the substance.

The fine for possession of fake marijuana is the same as the municipal fine for possession of marijuana, said Eberhardt, who noted that a three-gram bag of fake marijuana can sell for $30 to $40.

If fake marijuana is approved for medicinal use, the ordinance would make an exception for that purpose, he added.

“I think it’s very important to get ahead of this,” Ald. Dave Larson said.

Ald. Dan Becker, who asked the city to come up with the ordinance last year, said he would like to make Port’s legislation a model for other communities.

“It’s important we do something here and on the county level,” he said. Aldermen are expected to act on the proposed ordinance when the Common Council meets Wednesday, May 4.

 
Former teacher was accused of not supervising disabled student PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 18:01

PW-S educator who took retirement deal faced firing over alleged incidents

A veteran Port Washington-Saukville School District teacher who accepted a $20,000 retirement settlement was accused by administrators of leaving a 7-year-old student with severe cognitive disabilities unattended outside on several occasions, according to documents recently released by the district.

Jean Gorski was suspended with pay in January and retired on March 7 after administrators recommended she be fired for failing to properly care for a disabled student.

Gorski challenged the recommendation and requested a hearing before the School Board in March. That hearing, however, was cancelled when Gorski and the board agreed to a settlement.

Pending at the time was a claim Gorski filed with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division accusing the district of discriminating against her because of her age and disability.

The district denies it discriminated against Gorski and stated, “The district investigated Gorski’s conduct and performance in her position with the district and has concerns with respect to her conduct and performance,” according to the settlement
document obtained by Ozaukee Press through an open records request.

Gorski denies any “unacceptable conduct or poor performance,” according to the settlement.

Contacted last week at her Fox Point home, Gorski declined to comment on accusations she did not properly care for students. The latest document obtained by Ozaukee Press details the accusations against Gorski, who was hired by the district
in 1994 and was assigned to two special-education students at Lincoln Elementary School when she was suspended.

Gorski was accused of leaving one of her students unattended on three occasions beginning in September despite instructions from Principal Eric Burke that the student was not to be left alone while walking between the school bus and his classroom.

The 7-year-old student has cognitive disabilities and functions at the level of a 2 or 3-year-old, according to the district’s investigative report.

On Jan. 6, Gorski left the student unattended in the hallway and was reminded by Burke that the child was not to be left alone, according to the report.

The next day, Burke found the student, who appeared confused, alone outside on a sidewalk near one of the school’s parking lots. The temperature at the time was 14 degrees with a wind chill of 1 degree, cold enough that outside recesses were cancelled that day, the report states.

When confronted by Burke, Gorski did not offer an explanation and apologized, according to the report. But in a voice mail message left for Burke the next day, Gorski said she arranged to have a paraprofessional make sure the child got on the bus safely.

The paraprofessional said she didn’t speak to Gorski about the child and was in Burke’s office talking to him when the alleged exchange with Gorski took place, which Burke confirmed, according to the report.

Gorski’s attorney, Thomas Lenz, declined to comment on the case but directed Ozaukee Press to the discrimination complaint his client filed against the district on Oct. 19.

In that complaint, which has been dismissed because of a lack of proof, Gorski, 64, accused the district trying to force her to retire because of her age and disability. She had a knee replaced and suffers from arthritis, the complaint states.

Gorski said she requested an “accommodation” from the district in 2008 to comply with her doctor’s order to “avoid unusual high risk activities such as restraining violent or disruptive students who could easily kick her in the knee,” according to the complaint.

Following that request, Gorski claimed, the district repeatedly asked her to retire and shuffled her to different schools.

State investigators determined Gorski failed to show probable cause she was discriminated against and closed the case on April 11.

According to the settlement:

The district will pay Gorski $8,588 for attorney’s fees, $6,411 in wages and $5,000 to be converted into sick days that will be used as payments toward her dental benefits. The money will come from funds that were budgeted to pay her salary and benefits, Supt. Michael Weber said.

The district will provide Gorski with one year of family health insurance coverage and three years of Medicare supplemental insurance as called for under the 2009-11 master contract agreement.

The district will also “provide a mutually agreeable factual letter of reference.”

Weber said the board agreed to the settlement to avoid paying additional attorney’s fees and to end a dispute that was usurping administrators’ time.

 
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