Council approves festival beer garden

For the first time, the city’s annual Syttende Mai celebration will include a beer garden.

At its Feb. 10 meeting, the Common Council approved Syttende Mai coordinator Laura Trotter’s request for a temporary license to sell beer at a parking lot on Jefferson Street owned by Uniroyal.

The council approved the plan on a 7-3 vote, with Alds. Ron Christianson, Paul Lawrence, Tom Majewski, Greg Jenson, Pat O’Connor, Tricia Suess and Tim Swadley voting in favor.

Alds. Sid Boersma, Tom Selsor and council president Mike Engelberger voted against.


Jorgensen listening sessions

State Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) announced this week he will hold budget listening sessions in 20 communities throughout the his district in March, including two stops in the Stoughton area on March 9.

“My job is to represent the people of the 43rd Assembly District, and to do that well, I have to understand what’s important to them. That’s why I’m always ready to listen,” he said in a news release.  “As I’ve done in years past, this budget cycle, I will hold listening sessions all across the district.  I want to make it easy for folks to let me know what they think of the governor’s proposal and to share their ideas on how we can move Wisconsin forward.”


Open house meetings set for I-39/90 expansion

Interstate highway users will have a chance to learn more about the planned expansion of I-39/90 between Edgerton and the Illinois state line next week.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has scheduled two open house meetings for the north and central segments of the I-39/90 Expansion Project. An open house meeting for the south segment is currently planned for late March/early April 2015 with no date set yet. 

These informal meetings will provide updated design plans and current construction schedule information for each segment.

The meetings will take place from 3-7 p.m., at the WisDOT Southwest Region Project Field Office, 111 Interstate Blvd. in Edgerton. The central segment meeting is planned for Wednesday, March 4, while the north segment meeting is slated for Thursday, March 5.


Man killed in Town of Pleasant Springs crash

A single-vehicle crash last week on Door Creek Road has left a Stoughton man dead.

Chad J. Burress, 25, died from injuries sustained in the Feb. 20 crash, according to a news release from the Dane County Medical Examiner. 

“Deputies believe the driver was traveling northbound on Door Creek Road in the Town of Pleasant Springs and drove through a T-intersection at Hwy. MN, striking a tree head-on,” Dane County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Elise Schaffer said.

The vehicle was found by a passing driver around 7 a.m., Friday, Feb. 20.

“It’s unclear what time the crash actually occurred,” Schaffer said.

Authorities say the investigation is ongoing and that anyone with information related to the crash is asked to call the Dane County tip line at 284-6900.


3 referendums will make ballot

A petition drive launched in December by a group of activists hoping to thwart the development of a taxpayer-assisted commercial center met with partial success Monday.

In a special meeting Monday, the council voted unanimously to ask Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell to place three advisory referendum questions related to Kettle Park West on the ballot. And his office told the Hub on Tuesday that he’ll grant the request.

But the council rejected forwarding a question that, if adopted, could become a new city ordinance on tax-increment financing.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 17, a group calling itself Stoughton Forward submitted petitions to City Hall that contained two advisory referendum questions and one direct-legislation question.


Engelberger, Gilbert advance to April race

Incumbent Common Council president Mike Engelberger will move on to the April election and face challenger Mike Gilbert after last week’s District 2 primary election.

Engelberger took 55.1 percent of the vote with 157 ballots in his favor. Gilbert earned 41.4 percent of the vote with 118.

Challenger Ross Urven, who had formerly been appointed a vacant to District 4 seat before moving to another part of the city, took 3.5 percent of the vote with a total of 10.

The biggest issue this election season is the debate surrounding Kettle Park West.

Gilbert said he’s directly challenging Engelberger to unseat him. He previously told the Courier Hub, “I think I can do a better job than he’s doing” in representing District 2 constituents.

Gilbert, 63, recently retired from a career at Cummins Inc. and Nelson Global Products and has lived in Stoughton for most of his life.


Finance Committee: Use notes for borrowing

Kettle Park West opponents are describing it as a “bait and switch,” while proponents of the development say it makes financial and political sense.

The city’s Finance Committee met last Tuesday and voted to recommend that the Common Council consider using Bond Anticipation Notes to finance on-site and off-site infrastructure work at KPW instead of General Obligation Bonds.

Doing so would prevent opponents of the project from forcing a referendum on the borrowing. But the city’s financial adviser said there are other benefits, as well.

The Common Council is expected to consider the change at its Feb. 24 meeting.


Stoughton attorney suspended for misconduct

Attorney James Hammis will be barred from practicing law for 90 days, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled.

Hammis, who last practiced law in Stoughton but now works in construction, was determined to have committed nine counts of personal misconduct. Hammis had his license suspended in 2011 for personal misconduct, as well, but claimed the last ruling was “clearly erroneous.” 

“This is not the first time that Attorney Hammis has been found to have committed professional misconduct,” court documents read. “Some of the behavior in this case mirrors the misconduct that resulted in his four-month license suspension back in 2011.”


Local rail crossings will get signal upgrades

Photo by Scott De Laruelle. The Office of Commissioner of Railroads ordered flashing lights and gates installed at two intersections in the city of Stoughton and three in the town of Dunkirk due to Wisconsin Southern Railroad increasing the speed of its trains on this route in recent years from 25 to 40 mph.

Faster train speeds have prompted the state Office of Commissioner of Railroads to order flashing lights and gates installed at two rail crossings in the city of Stoughton and three in the town of Dunkirk.

The crossings at Williams Drive and Veterans Road in the city and Hannerville, Hammond and Leslie roads in the town currently either have flashing lights or cross buck stop signs. Those warning devices were deemed inadequate as speeds of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. trains have increased from 25 to 40 mph in recent years, according to the OCR order issued Feb. 9.

The railroad had input into the need and timing of the safety grades and has until Dec. 31, 2016, to complete work at the five crossings. Ken Lucht, the railroad’s director of government relations, did not return a call asking when the railroad planned to make the changes. 


Signatures in, but too late?

Photos by Mark Ignatowski. Volunteers work to collect signatures for a referendum about KPW last Friday along Main Street. Buzz Davis urges passersby to turn in signatures.

Activists opposed to developing the Kettle Park West commercial center on the city’s west side presented city officials with petitions Tuesday designed to place three referendum questions on the April 7 election ballot.

But despite all three meeting organizers’ 900-signature goal, it appears unlikely any will reach the ballot this spring.

Two of the referendums would be advisory, and the third would become a binding city ordinance if approved by a majority of voters.

The binding referendum would ask voters if the city should adopt an ordinance requiring it to conduct a referendum when the city proposes borrowing more than $1 million for a tax-increment-financing district.