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Town of Linn officials moving forward with a new focus


Controversial police issues 'yesterday's news,' says acting chairman



Another issue remains from Bollweg's tenure as town chairman — a proposal to improve response times for fire and EMS personnel in a region along Highway 50, including the village of Williams Bay and the towns of Linn and Geneva. On May 17, Linn Acting Chairman Jim Weiss said he plans on working with Town Fire Chief Tim Rasch and officials from the town of Geneva on a new proposal. Last year, officials discussed building a substation along the highway. However, Williams Bay officials opted not to participate after the three communities paid for a feasibility study. Weiss said although former Linn Chairman David Bollweg had contact with leaders from Williams Bay and the town of Geneva, he was on the joint committee which discussed the issue. "That is something we will be revisiting shortly to determine what is the best course of action" to improve services in the region, Weiss said.
May 26, 2010 | 09:20 AM
Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series about the changing of the guard in the town of Linn. After longtime chairman David Bollweg resigned, the Linn Town Board appointed Supervisor No. 1 Jim Weiss to fill the position until it expires next April. The first part of the series, which was a story about Weiss and the board's decision, appeared in last week's Regional News.

By Steve Targo

steve@lakegenevanews.net

Linn — It would appear the controversy surrounding the Town Police Department has ended, or at least died down for the moment.

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That's the controversy that began after news broke about the town police chief selling to a relative of his department's police detective a lawn mower recovered as evidence in a theft case. That's what led to the chief being suspended for three days, then the suspension and demotion of a former police lieutenant. Then, the town and that lieutenant reached a separation agreement which will cost the town $75,000.

Then, a town resident read off a list of allegations against Police Chief Dennis Wisniewski at the annual town meeting in April — one day after Supervisor No. 1 Jim Weiss read a statement about the Town Board's new commitment to improving communication at a regular meeting.

But now that Weiss is the town's acting chairman, what is his take on all this controversy?

"That's yesterday's news," Weiss said May 17. "This board and all the personnel of the town of Linn are committed to looking forward."

That means working closer with all town departments.

"We as a board feel that communication can improve in all areas of the town of Linn, not just the Police Department," Weiss said.

However, that's an area of concern for some residents.

At the regular April board meeting, Weiss read a statement from the board in response to the situation with former police Lt. Terry O'Brien.

"Better lines of communication between the officers, the chief and the board need to be established," the board stated. "Going forward, this board is committed to the above task."

According to the statement, the board sent out "anonymous surveys" to Police Department members asking them how to improve the department.

On May 17, Weiss said those surveys have been received and currently are being assessed. He said board members are contemplating how to move forward based on the survey results.

As for the allegations of misconduct, resident Jim Keeler made against Wisniewski at the April annual meeting, Weiss said he is unaware of any official complaints being filed against Wisniewski at this time.

"These issues are behind us. Ö The key right now is communication," Weiss said.

He said he believes all town officials and employees should strive to improve in this area. Weiss also said the building inspector, the people in the town clerk-treasurer's office and members of the Highway, Fire and EMS and Police departments all are good people.

"We just all have to make sure we know what's going on with each other," he said. "We all have to be informed (and) better communicate."

Weiss said the thought also is to encourage people to "work smarter, not harder."

He gave a couple examples.

The Town Highway Department currently does a good job identifying which road repairs need to be done and when, Weiss said.

Now, he said the department also is looking even further ahead and taking care of culverts and tree trimming.

That way, if there's a road surface which is exposed and a culvert near that road needs to be replaced, the department can kill two birds with one stone — and keep costs low.

Weiss also said last budget season, the board implemented a 10-year plan for every town department to identify future expenditures.

These departments are expected to submit this plan this year, he said.

But as board members are ready to put the past behind them and focus on the future, Weiss issued a sensible reminder to town residents.

"We are really in our infancy with this change here in the town of Linn," he said.

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