Over-engineered and Over Budget

Senator Marklein nails it. The “fix” for the transportation budget isn’t a massive single fix. It is making thousands of smaller decisions in a smarter way.

In fact, most of our county highway commissioners feel that many DOT projects are over-engineered and over-designed, which add significant costs. A bridge project in the town of Sylvan in Richland County is a good example of this issue. The design and oversight costs of this project were 37 percent of the total project cost of $362,094.94. We spent $47,306.48 for design, $15,000.00 for design oversight and $70,000 for construction oversight. The actual construction cost is $229,788.46.

Let’s face it, the roads in southwest Wisconsin are in poor condition. We know that right now, we could spend millions to fix the roads in our communities without a multitude of studies to assess need. Our highway commissioners know where our priorities should be and are poised to recommend projects that will have an immediate, positive impact on our communities and local economies.

Overall, I think there are opportunities in the findings of this audit. We have the opportunity to be more efficient in planning, design and actual construction. We spend an unbelievable amount of money before we ever put a shovel into the ground. While planning is necessary, the amount of planning is unreasonable. The DOT is planning for projects that are 25 years into our future, while we can’t afford the projects that we already have on the books.

This audit also shows us that despite the amount of money and time spent in planning, the DOT hasn’t been taking important factors into consideration as they plan. What good is planning if it is incomplete?

And the MacIver Institute set out to actually show us the bridge that Senator Marklein referenced. It is really hard to look at that bridge and justify why the DOT spent $362k on it.

Homeowner 3; Goblins 0

Good for the homeowner defending himself and his home from these armed home invaders.

(Reuters) – An Oklahoma man shot and killed three suspected teenage burglars with an assault rifle when they broke into his home, and the 23-year-old is unlikely to be charged based on initial evidence, authorities said on Tuesday.

The three had forced their way into the house near the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow on Monday when the homeowner’s son opened fire with an AR-15 military-style rifle, Deputy Nick Mahoney, spokesman for the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office, said by telephone.

The male intruders were wearing all-black clothing, masks and gloves, while one was armed with a knife and another had brass knuckles, according to authorities.

“This is a pretty uncommon thing for Wagoner County,” Mahoney said of the shooting.

Two of the youths were 16 or 17 years old while the third was 18 or 19, Mahoney said. Two died inside the house and the third collapsed on the driveway.

Neither the resident or the three intruders were named by authorities.

The trio’s suspected getaway driver, Elizabeth Rodriguez, 21, has been charged with three counts each of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Under state law, a person who commits a felony when a death occurs can be charged with felony murder.

Discussing the WRS

I’ll be on Wisconsin Public Radio at 0700 to discuss my column regarding tweaking the WRS. I’ll be on for half an hour and then someone who disagrees will be on for the remainder of the hour.

Tune in!

Tim Cullen Not Running for Governor

A candidate who couldn’t get any support has decided to not run for governor. News at 11.

Former state Sen. Tim Cullen announced Wednesday he won’t seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, citing the hefty amount of necessary fundraising as a deterrent.

Cullen, 73, announced his decision in the Capitol Press Room alongside his daughter and a handful of supporters. He said the decision came in response to being told by others who have run for statewide office that he would need to spend three to four hours a day calling potential donors.

State Treasurer Proposes Measure to Save Taxpayers $33.75 Million

From the email.

Adamczyk Proposes to Save Taxpayers $33.75 Million

Plan would have BCPL Pay Cash to Avoid Bonding for new DOJ Crime Lab

MADISON… Today, Wisconsin State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk released the following statement regarding the proposed Department of Justice (DOJ) crime lab:

“When the state builds a new building it costs more than the actual construction costs due to interest on borrowed money.  As a commissioner of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) I want to help the state avoid bonding costs for some specific projects.  The BCPL is a state agency with a trust fund mandated to earn interest to give back to Wisconsin public schools.

Governor Walker’s capital budget calls for the construction of a new DOJ crime lab in the Milwaukee area.   The building is budgeted to cost $75 million.   If the Legislature and the Governor approve the construction of a new crime lab, that $75 million building would end up costing taxpayers $108.75 million.    This is due to the bond interest payments, which would total $33.75 million over 20 years.

The decision on how to best build a new crime lab is a legislative decision, but I would encourage the state to save money by having the BCPL own it.   The BCPL is a trust fund that has about $1 billion in assets.  The BCPL has cash available, earning almost no money, because short-term interest rates are so low.  The BCPL could easily write a check for the $75 million purchase price and then rent the building to the DOJ.

Any rental income profits the BCPL receives must constitutionally flow back to all K-12 public schools yearly on a per pupil basis.  Thus, all taxpayer money for rent would flow back to the same taxpayers that paid the rent.

This is a win-win for the schools and the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin.  Taxpayers would avoid paying $33.75 million in bond interest.  Furthermore, if the BCPL built the building, it would be a great investment that would satisfy its need for more safe income earning investment options.”

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For more information Treasurer Adamczyk’s plan, please click here.

Local Legislators Sign On To Constitutional Carry

This bill is quickly gaining momentum.

The Right to Carry Act introduced Tuesday morning would do away with licensing and training requirements to carry a concealed weapon and lower the age requirement to own a gun, and has support of politicians in the State Legislature from throughout the county.

The bill is co-authored by area legislators Sen. Duey Stroebel, Rep. Dan Knodl, Rep. Bob Gannon, Rep. Rob Brooks and Rep. Jesse Kremer. Wisconsin would be the 13th state to allow concealed carry without a permit, and information sent out with the bill indicates the new legislation will restore constitutional rights.

“It doesn’t go as far as some states have gone,” Gannon said. Another 20 states are working on similar laws, he added.

Knodl said people shouldn’t have to pay for their Second Amendment right.

House GOP Looks at Repeal Plan B

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Washington (CNN)Republicans insisted they had no “Plan B” for their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. But a few days later, after crashing into what might be the new third rail of American politics, Republicans are talking publicly and privately about … Plan B.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke with several House members over the weekend to discuss a path forward, a senior administration official and Republican official with knowledge of the discussions told CNN. And House Speaker Paul Ryan — despite saying Friday that “Obamacare is the law of the land” — appears ready to keep going as well.

Trump himself isn’t giving up.

“I know we’re going to make a deal on health care, that’s such an easy one,” Trump told a bipartisan group of senators and spouses at a White House reception Tuesday night.

Spiders Could Eat Us All

Yum.

Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer published their estimate in the journal the Science of Nature earlier this month, and the number they arrived at is frankly shocking: The world’s spiders consume somewhere between 400 million and 800 million tons of prey in any given year. That means that spiders eat at least as much meat as all 7 billion humans on the planet combined, who the authors note consume about 400 million tons of meat and fish each year.

Or, for a slightly more disturbing comparison: The total biomass of all adult humans on Earth is estimated to be 287 million tons. Even if you tack on another 70 million-ish tons to account for the weight of kids, it’s still not equal to the total amount of food eaten by spiders in a given year, exceeding the total weight of humanity.

In other words, spiders could eat all of us and still be hungry.

Wisconsin Could Save $60 Million By Self-Insuring

Do it.

The proposal that is currently subject to contract negotiations revises the plan structure to provide a more limited number of plan administrators over larger regions of the state than the current structure of multiple insurance coverage plans. The board estimates that providing coverage on a self-insured basis and utilizing vendors to administer the plans will save $60 million in GPR over the 2017-19 Biennium from reduced administrative fees, reduced insurer risk fees, and improved discounts. The board also estimates that an additional $30 million per year could potentially be saved in fees under the ACA.

Tweaking the WRS

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

The Wisconsin Retirement System is a great example of government working well. Thanks to decades of prudent management by both Democrats and Republicans, it has provided an ample retirement income to generations of Wisconsin’s public employees and remains one of the only fully funded public pension systems in the nation.

The operative word in the phrase “prudent management” is “management,” and that is what state legislators need to continually do. Making sensible small changes in the present makes massive sweeping changes unnecessary in the future.

Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Rep. Tyler August (RLake Geneva) have reintroduced a bill that would raise the minimum retirement age for most new public employees from 55 to 60 and from 50 to 52 for public safety workers. Doing so would add solvency to the WRS and reduce pension contributions by the taxpayers by an estimated $59 million now and millions more in the future.

Most public employees in the WRS can receive their full retirement benefits beginning at 65, but they can retire early at 55 and take a fraction of their retirement based on their years of service. For example, if a public employee begins working at 25 and takes early retirement at 55, that employee would receive about 90 percent of their full retirement benefit. If that same worker only had five years of employment, his or her retirement benefits would be less.

What Stroebel and August are proposing is simply to slightly raise the minimum age at which an employee would be eligible for early retirement. Retirees would still be able to retire early if they are eligible and retire with their full benefits at the same age. And it would only apply to new employees. Current employees would not be impacted.

The reasoning is simple. People live longer. In 1960, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 69.77 years. In 2012, it was 78.74 years. In other words, retirees are receiving many more years of retirement income than they used to. And more of those retiring early at 55 are spending more time in retirement than they worked. It is not only fiscally sensible to raise the minimum retirement

age, it is fundamentally fairer to the taxpayers — most of whom will not retire in their 50s.

Opponents of the bill argue that raising the minimum retirement age will make it more difficult to hire new workers. While that is theoretically possible, most 20somethings are not looking hard at the minimum retirement age of the pension system when considering a job. And if they are, they are probably not the kind of employees that the taxpayers want.

The opponents also argue that raising the minimum retirement age would increase government spending because the taxpayers would have to pay an older employee for longer at the higher end of the pay scale instead of being able to replace them with younger, cheaper employees. This argument neglects the fact that the taxpayers also funded the retirement of the outgoing employee. Thus, the taxpayers are on the hook for the current employee, the recent retiree, and perhaps even the retiree who had the job before both of them. No, it is a better deal for the taxpayers to hold onto a seasoned employee for a few years longer and pay them for the value they provide the taxpayers.

Stroebel’s and August’s bill is the smallest of possible tweaks to the WRS to help keep it solvent and fair. Also, since it only applies to new employees, any incoming employee will be able to decide for themselves if it is enough for them to turn down the job. Frankly, the state should go farther by raising the normal retirement age and perhaps indexing it to life expectancy. Or if state Republicans are really interested in longterm reform, they should move to a defined contribution system for new employees.

Constitutional Carry Introduced in Wisconsin

Yes, yes, and more yes.

Jay Weber has a good FAQ about the bill being introduced today to bring Constitutional Carry to Wisconsin. Essentially, it would allow people to carry a weapon without a permit. 14 states – some very liberal and some very conservative – already have Constitutional Carry and haven’t had any problems with it. The reason is simple… bad guys already carry weapons whether the law allows it or not. The only thing restrictions do is prevent law-abiding folks from doing the same thing.

This is the kind of serious reform I was looking for in this legislature. From a political point of view, this comes at a good time for state Republicans. The national Republicans have severely damaged the Republican brand and frustrated the base with their failure to repeal Obamacare. If state Republicans want to avoid what us likely a Democratic landslide in 2018, they need to demonstrate that they can move important and substantial conservative legislation. This is a good steep in that direction. (Repealing the state income tax would be another good step)

Let’s get it done.

Trump to Roll Back Climate Change Regulations

Excellent!

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump will sign a sweeping executive order Tuesday at the Environmental Protection Agency, which looks to curb the federal government’s enforcement of climate regulations by putting American jobs above addressing climate change.

The order represents a clear difference between how Trump and former President Barack Obama view the role the United States plays in combating climate change, and dramatically alters the government’s approach to rising sea levels and temperatures — two impacts of climate change.
A White House official briefed on the plan said Monday the administration believes the government can both “serve the environment and increase energy independence at the same time” by urging the EPA for focus on what the administration believes is its core mission: Clean air and clean water.
More important than regulating climate change, the official said, is protecting American jobs.

Vegas Raiders

This should be quite a spectacle.

The Oakland Raiders will be the first NFL team to play in Las Vegas after their relocation was approved.

Thirty one of the NFL’s 32 club owners voted in favour of the move at the league’s annual meeting in Phoenix.

The Raiders will play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017, 2018 and possibly 2019, as their new $1.9bn stadium is not expected to be ready until 2020.

Iran Sanctions Oshkosh Corporation

I think Oshkosh Corp. will be fine. It’s almost a badge of honor to be sanctioned by Iran.

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran on Sunday sanctioned what it described as 15 American companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression and Israel’s occupation of land Palestinians want for a future state, likely in retaliation for sanctions earlier announced by the U.S.

The wide-ranging list from an American real estate company to a major arms manufacturer and Wisconsin’s Oshkosh Corp. appeared more symbolic than anything else as the firms weren’t immediately known to be doing business anywhere in the Islamic Republic.

Oshkosh Corp. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of military vehicles, with thousands of its trucks used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company also has produced military trucks for U.S. allies including Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates, Jordan, Oman, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and the United Kingdom.

Barrett Declines Comment

This is curious. Mayor Barrett never misses an opportunity to push for more gun control.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett declined comment on the gun control issue, saying he wanted to keep the focus on five arrests made Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of the housing inspector, Greg Zyszkiewicz.

Verona’s $182 Million School Referendum

Wow.

VERONA — At $162.8 million, a referendum here to build a high school, convert the existing high school to a middle school and complete several other projects is one of the largest in state history.

Yet, if the April 4 ballot measure passes, the tax bite on the average homeowner will be smaller than other recently approved referendums.

That’s because $140 million of the construction costs could be absorbed by a tsunami of new money that flowed into the district this year after Epic Systems Corp. was fully entered on the city’s tax rolls.

Just a note… there’s an additional referendum that gets it up to $182 million.

The circumstances are pretty cool for Verona. They had a TIF that helped with the funding of Epic’s headquarters. Epic is a massive growing company that does EMR software. As Epic has grown, it has also brought in a lot of growth to Verona. It’s all upside. And now the TIF is expiring, thus allowing the property taxes from Epic to flow into the local tax base instead of paying off the TIF. This is exactly how TIFs are supposed to work.

Here are the tax implications:

To get a sense of the opportunity Verona faces, consider this: If the district does nothing, the school tax rate would drop from $11.98 per $1,000 of valuation to $9.45, saving the owner of a $250,000 home $527 a year.

But by tapping the Epic money to complete what district officials say is a much-needed expansion, the school tax rate would rise by 42 cents, costing the owner of a $250,000 home an additional $105 a year.

[…]

The Verona area is booming, too. Since 1989, the Verona School District has seen its enrollment more than double to 5,111 students. In that time, the district has built three elementary schools and two middle schools, but more students are on the way, according to district projections, with 4,400 housing units expected to be added by 2030.

Given the growth in the city, a lot of spending on growing the school district’s facilities is certainly justified. But it sure does seem like they are on a spending spree over and above what is necessary. We’re talking about a swing of $632 per year for a $250,000 home. That’s some real money.

So the TIF worked and brought in a large business that helps take some of the tax burden off of homeowners, so… the homeowners get to pay even more? Isn’t this supposed to work to lower the homeowners’ property taxes?

Time and time again – no matter what Wisconsinites do – it always seems to result in paying more in taxes.

Protecting Our Kids

One subject that I’m a little surprised hasn’t been more of an issue in the race for the West Bend School Board is the issue of allowing firearms in our schools. One of the candidates, Tonnie Schmidt, is the co-owner of Delta Defense, which has been incredibly active in promoting more progressive and realistic means of defending out schools.

Last year I attended a forum sponsored by Delta Defense where the panelists discussed the varying benefits and worries about allowing firearms into our schools. The basic premise is that gun-free zones are targets for deranged lunatics. A more rational response is to allow people the defend themselves just like they can across the street from the school. That might mean just allowing anyone who is already licensed to carry a weapon to also do so in schools. It might mean just allowing willing teachers and staff to be armed. It might mean some other flavor of armed deterrence and defense. The point is that there is no rational basis for not allowing adults to protect themselves and our kids with access to lethal force should the worst happen. As I said in my column about this subject:

Banning the same people who safely carry a concealed weapon into grocery stores, banks, restaurants, parks and many other places from carrying that same weapon into a school is nonsensical. The ban is based on an irrational fear of guns that has been debunked everywhere else in society. And for many CCW parents, like me, it is ludicrous to disarm parents precisely at the time when they are with the people they most want to defend — their children.

Perhaps if Schmidt is elected to the School Board, this is an issue she could champion. Many of us would be 100% behind her if she did.

Putin’s Enemies Dropping Like Flies

He learned from the best.

An outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was shot dead in broad daylight in Kiev Thursday, just two days after a lawyer for the family of a slain Russian whistleblower was injured in a mysterious fall from his fourth-story apartment near Moscow.

Denis Voronenkov was a former Russian Communist Party member who’d become increasingly critical of Putin’s policies after fleeing to Ukraine in 2016. In light of his murder, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called an “act of state terrorism by Russia,” the Washington Post’s Moscow Bureau Chief David Filipov compiled a list of nine other Putin critics “who died violently or in suspicious ways.”

As it has after similar incidents, the Kremlin swiftly rejected any suggestion it was involved in Voronenkov’s murder. Still, Filipov argued, the people on his list had more in common than simply disapproving of the president.

Venezuela Asks UN for Help with Healthcare

This headline is a bit more chilling today than it was a few days ago. America faces a long future with socialized medicine. This is where it leads.

(CNN)President Nicolas Maduro said he has asked the United Nations for help in dealing with Venezuela’s medicine shortages, which have grown severe as the country grapples with a crippling economic crisis.

[…]

The country is lacking roughly 80% of the basic medical supplies, according to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela.
Hundreds of health care workers and other Venezuelans staged protests this month demanding better access to medicine and health treatment. Many of the protesters brought prescriptions for medicines that they said they can’t buy at local pharmacies.
Last year, the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela declared a “humanitarian crisis” in the health care system.
CNN visited a hospital in Caracas and found that health care workers believed medicine was being swiped to be sold on the black market. Government rationing of medications has made even basics, such as pain relievers, hard to come by.
For years, Venezuelans have had to hunt for penicillin and other remedies at pharmacies, often without success. Public hospitals are in no better shape, with people dying due to the scarcity of basic medical care.

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

New floral business moving into downtown West Bend

It didn’t take long for the building at 136 S. Main Street in West Bend to acquire a new tenant. The triangular two-story on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main, formerly home to Hemauer Paint and then Century Farmhouse Soap will now host a florist.

“I feel really, really blessed to have such a fantastic location in downtown West Bend,” said Amanda Strassburg, owner of Consider the Lilies.

For over six years Strassburg has operated her business of her home and her historic barn in Barton. She said she was drawn to the shop on S. Main and its brilliant interior.

“The gorgeous lime green tin ceiling is my favorite thing,” Strassburg said. “I love the color lime green and it’s appropriate this year because the Pantone Color Institute, based in the United States, projects color trends of the year for home interiors, floral and clothing design. This year the color for 2017 happens to be greenery. Plus I’ve used green a lot in my marketing and branding and when I saw the ceiling I instantly knew.”

Strassburg gravitated to downtown West Bend because of the variety of shops, restaurants and locally-owned establishments.  “People from outside the community seem to really want to come and explore the downtown,” she said.

Originally from Menomonee Falls, Strassburg got her start working weddings and events. “I did not go to school for floral design,” she said. “I got a lot of my education through the industry, working different seminars and conventions and traveling around the country.”

The style of Consider the Lilies is described best by Strassburg as “modern floral art.”

“I like to take the flowers and materials people are used to seeing and design them in a different way; something you haven’t seen before,” she said.

An example would be using garden mesh in a floral arrangement. “I want people to look at it and say, ‘I know what that is but I’ve never seen it in a floral arrangement before,’” Strassburg said. “I love getting that response.”

Planning the move from a larger space to a triangle interior is more inviting than intimidating for Strassburg. She gushes about the windows and the well lit front room.

“The beautiful natural light; flowers look best in natural light. They will really pop with the white background and the green ceiling,” she said.

And the storefront windows, according to Strassburg, are like a built in stage. “People really enjoy seeing artists of all type and I’m excited to put my workbench right in the window and create,” she said. “If people want to stand on the sidewalk and watch that would be great, if they want to come in and ask questions I welcome that as well.”

During a walkthrough of the empty building, Strassburg quickly laid out the back area as her primarily work area to process flowers and get arrangements for events.  The storefront will be for displays and customer consultations; modern floral books will be available so customers can sit and learn.

The space is also inviting for classes. “It’s one part of my career as a floral designer that I absolutely love,” she said. “I love teaching design and holiday decorating and being able to host classes and parties.”

Another form of education Strassburg will feature involves introducing a unique flower a week. “Then I’ll focus my displays on that flower along with some different containers and plants so when people walk in they’re not bombarded with too much going on but they really get excited with the things on display,” she said.

Consider the Lilies is expected to open by the end of April. “I’ll have limited hours to start but I’ll be fully open in May,” Strassburg said. “I’m very excited; we have lots of plans for different things the shop will offer and to get involved in the community.”

On a side note: The name Consider the Lilies is faith based. “A friend of mine suggested it to me long before I even started my business,” said Strassburg. “It comes out of scripture but I love the thought of considering the lilies; remembering the flowers. Every occasion in life is a great opportunity to celebrate with flowers and I have to remind people of that.”

Former Sears building for sale

The old Sears building, 102 S. Main St., in downtown West Bend is for sale. Paula Becker with Re/Max posted the listing this week for $269,000. Prime location in the heart of downtown West Bend. Historic building once housed Peters General Store, the very beginnings of Amity Leather Products Co, Sears Roebuck, and most recently Generations Christian Fellowship Church. Over 13,400 square feet of space, zoned B-2 which allows for a multitude of uses. Large windows along Main St. and Hickory would be ideal for retail. Property has an apartment with full BA, roughly 15 multi-functional rooms, 4 restrooms and a 4,200-square-foot basement. Sold AS-IS.

Records in the city assessor’s office show the bank took the building in 2017 at $161,800.  The building is partially assessed at $157,600.

Last week to vote in-person absentee before April 4 election

Friday, March 31 is the last day to vote in-person absentee before the April 4 election. West Bend city clerk Stephanie Justmann said 50 people vote in-person since Monday, March 20.

Couple from Hansen’s Piggly Wiggly die 12 days apart

The couple that started Hansen’s Piggly Wiggle has died.  Doris Ansay met Jack Hansen during WWII. They were working at the Wisconsin Chair Factory together. The war ended, the couple married and settled in Saukville. Jack was a traveling salesman but soon grew weary of the job and moved his family to Hubertus where they ran a tavern and grocery store. Years later the family operated several Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in Washington and Ozaukee County under the name of Hansen’s.

On March 10 Doris died and on March 22 Jack died at the age of 92. The obituary read, “Jack joined Doris in heaven, she preceded him in death 12 days prior.” The couple had been married 70 years.

County Board reverses property sales, forced to give back money       By Ron Naab

The Washington County Board passed four resolutions this month that rescinded property sales made in February.

There were six resolutions passed by the County Board in February to sell six properties. The county had taken possession of the parcels because no taxes had been paid on them for five or more years. Daisy Hill Properties LLC, from Hartland, purchased most of the properties.

On March 14 the board was forced to rescind the sale of three properties to Daisy Hill Properties and another to Steve and Michelle Brandt for a total of $128,034.

According to Supervisor Tim Michalak, city of Hartford, there was an oversight by the County Treasurer’s Office in doing complete and thorough research for any liens or mortgages on the properties.  Michalak filed a request with the Human Resources Department to inquire how these four errors occurred.   Supervisor Chris Bossert thanked County Clerk Ashley Reichert and her staff for doing diligence and finding this problem.

Michalak state it appeared the four buyers were no longer interested in purchasing the properties and the county is out a fair amount of money due to the error.

The County Treasurer’s Office and County Administrator Joshua Schoemann referred all comments to County Attorney Bradley Stern. “In light of the County Board’s action, I am reversing the tax deeds, so we’re conveying the properties back to the property owners,” said Stern. “Additionally, the successful bidders will receive refunds.  For the Treasurer’s part, she is going to resend the Notice for Application of Tax Deed to the necessary parties to start that part of the process over again.”

Stern qualified the mistakes during the title searches as “simply the result of human error.”

Moving forward, the county indicated once the title searches are completed and clear of any mortgages, etc., the properties will again be listed for sale.

Therese Sizer resigned from the West Bend School Board.

Therese Sizer has resigned from the West Bend School Board. Sizer, a clerk on the board, read a prepared statement following a vote on policy 511.1 which related to nepotism within the district.

The board passed the policy on its second reading with a 6 – 0 vote; Sizer abstained as she has a daughter that works in the West Bend School District.

The policy essentially made clear that a board member cannot vote on a measure that affects a direct relative. After the measure passed Sizer read a 3-page statement and left the meeting.

“I didn’t take it that she was upset,” said board member Ryan Gieryn. “She made clear that she didn’t try to do anything that would have an effect on her daughter and she’s always been very ethical.”

Gieryn described Sizer’s statement as “eloquent.” During her statement Sizer mentioned how the nepotism policy would only allow her to vote on minute amounts and she’d have to recuse herself so much that she could not fulfill her responsibilities on the oath she took to perform her duties on the board.  At the close of Sizer’s statement she mentioned “do not go around spreading rumors about each other.”

Sizer chose to refrain from making any comments after the meeting. Sizer had one more year left on her term. Gieryn will fill in the next meeting as board clerk.

The board will also review the process to fill the seat during its next meeting April 3.

In other action the board named Jeridon Clark the new principal for the West Bend High School.  Clark is currently the Executive Director of Information & Technology in the Mequon-Thiensville School District. Clark will take over for interim principal Tracy Conners who will return to her position as Director of Elementary Education.

Side note: Replacing Therese Sizer on the school board cannot be completed in the April 4 election. Those ballots have already been printed and in-person absentee voting is already underway. There are three seats that will be filled in the April 4 election.

Gieryn said the current school board will not make a motion to fill the seat. He said that will be up to the new board.

New executive director of activities at Washington Co. Senior center

There is a new executive director of activities at the Senior Center in Washington County.  Mary Russell is stepping out to help with her husband’s business and Paula Hader will take over. Hader has extensive work with senior citizens as she held a long-time position as activities director at Cedar Community.

Updates & tidbits

West Bend Deputy Chief Chuck Beistle, Firefighter/Paramedic Alec Hakes, and Firefighter/Paramedic Jake Lodl participated in the annual American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb. Last weekend all three successfully climbed the 47 floors of the US Bank Center building in Milwaukee, while wearing full turnout gear and an air pack.

The Downtown West Bend ArtWalk is Saturday May 13 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. The event will feature free admission to MOWA and a silent auction of banners.

The Allenton Buffalo Feed has been modernized. Come out for a steak dinner on Saturday, April 22 and do some gambling in the casino. Who would have ever thought…gambling in Allenton! The evening is being presented by the Allenton Area Advancement Association.

-Free Easter dinner at the West Bend Moose Lodge on Sunday, April 16. Please call to make reservations, 262-338-8122.

-Tickets are on sale for the 22nd Annual Newburg Lions Big Raffle. The Grand Prize is $5,000. There will only be 500 tickets sold. There will be five $100 “Early Bird” drawings from April – August. Drawing will be held Saturday Sept.9 at 1 p.m. at the Newburg Fire Department. Tickets are $50 a piece. Contact any Newburg Lions member or call 262-338-0432

– The West Bend Korean War Veterans Post 111 will host a brat fry on Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8 at 1421 W. Washington St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Proceeds will go to the Honor Flight Program, The National Flag Day Foundations and other veterans’ programs.

-The city of West Bend will be hosting Loyalty Day in 2017.  The event will feature a parade Saturday, April 29.  Loyalty Day is observed nationally. All VFW Posts are invited to take part.

-The 30th annual Washington County Breakfast on the Farm is Saturday, June 10 at the Golden ‘E’ Dairy Farm on 8262 Orchard Valley Road, in the Town of Farmington.

– The 35th annual Kiwanis pancake-sausage brunch with the Easter Bunny is being held Saturday, April 8 at The Columbian.  Tickets are at Horicon Bank in West Bend, The Columbian and Minuteman Press.

Thecla Richter – life of a West Bend nurse during WWI     By Lee Krueger

Resident historian Lee Krueger is highlighting his great aunt Thecla Richter, who served as a nurse during WWI.  Below are two letters home from Richter dated August 30, 1917 and  Sept. 28, 1917.

Aug. 30, 1917 (received Aug 30)

“Somewhere in France”

Dear Brother….. Will you do me a favor and order some candy at Webers or the Princess for me.  Ask father to give you the money.  I have enough at home.  Put in a standing order for them to send one pound every week and have them send it directly to me so it won’t be any trouble for you.  They could send you the bill with postage each month…..   I don’t want chocolate creams but do want an assortment of hard centered chocolates such as nougats, caramels, puddings, coated nuts, peppermints.  Also some of their assorted caramels.

It is absolutely impossible to buy any sugar. Our foods such as rice, tea and puddings are sweetless….. If they send me one pound a week I will at least get quite a bit and still allow some to Fritz to feed the fishes.

Now for some real news. We had an air raid the other night but not a German air raid.  It was a real wind storm. We had to abandon a great part of our hospital. Fifty-three marques (small tents) were abandoned and are lying in ruins.  That means 1000 beds are out of commission-a loss estimated to be $100,000.

Have many of the boys from West Bend come over? But then I must not go into details because it would all be censored….

…. I do not want any chocolate creams because they do not come in good condition.

Sept. 28, 1917   (received Oct. 17)

Almost a week has passed and I haven’t written but we have been so very busy. When we receive several hundred new patients a day it means that everyone works as hard as they can and all day.  Really it is pathetic the condition of some of these patients are in.  Even at the very worse they try to be cheerful and patient.

Sometimes these cases are sent back to England to recuperate. Many are permanently unfit for service and others whose injuries are not as severe stay at the base hospitals until they are ready to go to a convalescent camp or to their own base camp and then go back into line to do their bit.

The other day I met a man from the same town in Scotland where Miss Wood lived. You remember, Miss Wood was the Evanston girl killed on the boat coming over here. We were glad to see him.  He had visited at Miss Wood’s home only several weeks ago.

Undoubtedly you read about the bombing of hospitals. It is true but fortunately no one was hurt in our camp and I really don’t think it was meant for hospitals and probably won’t happen again.

Judy Steffes, Editor

Washington County Insider

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