December 01, 2016
Don Scherer, a member of the Lake Geneva United Methodist Church, 912 Geneva St., will give a presentation Wednesday about his experiences during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Chappell: 'Big Brother. What's up with that?'December 01, 2016Two surveillance cameras will surmount the traffic lights on Main Street at Broad and Center streets.
The Lake Geneva City Council on Monday voted 5-2 to give the Business Improvement District permission to buy the cameras.
To start out, each intersection will have one camera, under a proposal presented to the council. The BID, which represents downtown business owners, will pay the $8,000 for the cameras.
According to information provided in the council's information packet, the BID may be considering as many as four cameras at each intersection, with sight lines that would cover not just the intersection, but up to a half block in any direction from the intersections as well.
The traffic lights already have cameras.
Those cameras control the traffic signals. But these cameras will be for security, said Alderman Bob Kordus.
Installation and maintenance of the cameras will be up to the city.
"Why are we going to do this?" asked Alderwoman Cindy Flower.
Police Chief Michael Rasmussen said the BID is asking for the cameras to be installed because there was vandalism damage after Oktoberfest.
"The idea is to start with these two (intersections) and see how they work," added City Administrator Blaine Oborn.
Kevin Fleming, a member of the BID board, said the camera proposal came about after some reported incidents that coincided with bar-closing time.
Some minor vandalism was reported on Broad Street after hours, Fleming said. During Oktoberfest, some hay bales were thrown around and some pumpkins were smashed.
During the summer, there were other minor vandalism, such as tables being overturned.
"It's a way to help police," Fleming said of the cameras.
This would be the first phase. Fleming said the goal is to eventually have four cameras at each of the intersections to give an all-around view of the streets, north, south, east and west.
He said the BID is also considering putting at least one camera at the corner of Broad and Geneva streets.
December 01, 2016
The recount of the 2016 presidential election results in Wisconsin is centered on the county clerks’ offices.
But municipal clerks have their roles to fulfill, said Lake Geneva City Clerk Sabrina Waswo.
“We have to provide additional documentation to the county,” Waswo said in a telephone interview on Monday.
The recount in Walworth County starts at 9 a.m. Dec. 1. The audit and recount is expected to run straight through to Dec. 11.
Results must be certified and turned in to the state elections commission by Dec. 13, Waswo said.
The recount was requested by the Green Party. Presidential candidate Jill Stein raised more than $5.4 million to pay for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Those three states were surprise upsets for Donald Trump.
County Clerk Kim Bushey was in meetings Monday, and did not get back to the Regional News before deadline.
The documentation includes poll books that record the numbers and names of voters.
There are two sets of poll books at each polling place, one for the county and one for the city, Waswo said.
The county gets voting books with names and numbers, while the city retains the book with numbers only.
However, Waswo said she scans the book with the names so the city has a copy as well.
Clerks must also do a reconciliation, adding up the votes, making sure the numbers of voters and numbers of votes cast match.
This year, the city’s voter numbers exceeded the actual vote total by two, Waswo said.
A double check showed that a number had been handed out for a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are not to receive a number. And a voting number was handed out twice.
Waswo said she was relieved when the numbers of voters and votes were found to be equal.
In the past, there were errors with the absentee ballots. This year, no errors were found, she said.
Applications for absentee ballots must be submitted in proper alphabetized order.
Results tapes, tally sheets and a count of provisional ballots handed out during the election must all be provided to the county clerk, she said.
In addition to ballots, the test declaration which records the results of tests done on the municipal ballot machines must be turned over to the county clerk.
The voting machine and ballots are tested pre-election to make sure all properly marked names on the ballot can be counted by the voting machine, Waswo said.
And then, to prove that the test ballots won’t be counted once the election is underway, the election produces a zero tape, showing all candidates starting at the same level, zero votes, which must be signed by the election inspectors, Waswo said.
If any ballots were remade, they will have to be reviewed in the recount, Waswo said.
Some mail-in ballots were done in pencil, she explained. They might have marks that were partially erased. If the machine detects partially erased marks, it might invalidate them.
If it is clear who the voter intended to vote for, the ballots are redone under the watchful eyes of two election inspectors, to make sure the remade ballot reflects the intent of the absentee voter, Waswo said.
She said she and her deputy clerks were prepared for a possible recount.
“We always conduct our elections as if there will be a recount,” she said.
But this will be Waswo’s first real recount since becoming city clerk.
Results from the towns and villages will be done first.
Waswo said she was told to expect the Lake Geneva results to be recounted by the end of next week, perhaps starting Thursday or Friday.
December 01, 2016
There was an option to drop the rate to $5.92 per $1,000. But the city decided that the $48,000 collected by the higher rate would be needed in the city’s reserve fund.
The city will levy about $7 million this year, about the same as last year, according to City Administrator Blaine Oborn.
In 2017, the city plans to use $4.7 million in property taxes to pay for general fund expenses. (That’s up by $117,510, or 2.6 percent, from 2016.)
For comparison’s sake, that means a home valued at $150,000 paid $906 in property taxes for city purposes this year, while a home valued at $150,000 would pay $894 in 2017.
But they might not be the same house.
The city went through a revaluation in 2016, and residential valuations increased an average of 5.4 percent, according to city figures.
However, the city’s overall property value assessments, after revaluation, increased 4.36 percent, in part because commercial valuations did not increase as much as residential.
Tax base increased
Overall, the city’s 2016 tax base was valued at $1.14 billion for 2016 tax year. The valuation for this year’s levy will be about $1.19 billion.
Council members have met several times over the past month to review budget proposals and hear department requests for funding.
The proposed general fund budget is $8.7 million, up from $8.5 million last year.
(In real numbers, that’s $8,734,487 for 2017, compared to $8,492,456 for 2016, a difference of $242,031, or about 2.8 percent.)
The city’s general fund pays for most public services.
The city’s property tax levy, however, covers just 54 percent of the total cost of the general fund.
The remaining 46 percent comes from grants, reimbursements and payments from other governments, fees, assessments, fines, permits, interest earnings, carryovers from last year and fund transfers, particularly from the lakefront and parking funds, to the general fund.
In the general fund, the largest expenses are for public safety, which includes police, fire and emergency management.
The public safety budget is expected to increase by 3.1 percent, from $3.6 million to $3.8 million.
(In real numbers, from $3,677,235 to $3,792,716, an increase of $115,481.)
The proposed police department budget for 2017 is $2.8 million, up by $70,144, or 2.5 percent over this year’s budget.
The proposed fire department budget for 2017 is $960,052 up $74,595, or about 8.4 percent over this year’s budget of $885,457.
Public works plans to spend less in 2017, (about $1.56 million) down 2.5 percent from this year ($1.6 million.)
In addition to streets, the public works budget includes garbage pick up, the city arbor service, and composting and recycling.
While a majority of the city’s property tax collections goes to the general fund, it isn’t the only fund that receives support from city taxpayers.
The 2017 budget shows $1.07 million in property taxes going to city debt service fund, the same as this year.
The library fund will receive $441,800 in city property taxes, and the cemetery will get a property tax infusion of $135,000 in 2017, down from $150,000.
Oborn said the problem cities face is that their income remains fairly flat while the costs of operations increase.
December 01, 2016After David Scotney received permission from the Lake Geneva Plan Commission to remodel his Oakfire restaurant, 831 Wrigley Drive, the project ran into a serious problem.
Engineers hired to do the modernizing and remodeling of the building said the design wouldn't work with the existing structure.
Scotney said it was determined that it would be cheaper and faster to tear down the existing building and build new on the site.
Scotney and his architect, Peter Jurgens, Lake Geneva, brought that change back to the Lake Geneva Plan Commission Nov. 21.
After a review of the plan, the plan commission decided that smaller and newer was acceptable and approved the plans for the new Oakfire.
On Monday, the Lake Geneva City Council agreed with the plan commission recommendation and approved the precise implementation plan for the new restaurant on a 6-1 vote. Only Alderwoman Cindy Flower voted no. While she praised the restaurant's food, she said she didn't think the proposed architectural appearance of the building fit in with the city's lakefront.
Jurgens explained that by building new, the front of the building will be slid back to create more space for outdoor dining which will include a fence.
To cut costs, the new building will be smaller, providing more exterior room in the back for four dumpsters.
A proposed third level will be eliminated and the proposed height of the building will be cut from 38 to 33 feet. A mezzanine was also removed from the plans.
The reduction in square footage also removed the need for an elevator.
Architect Peter Jurgens, Lake Geneva, proposed a start date of Jan. 2, 2017 with completion by May 1.
Must meet plans
At the plan commission meeting, Ken Robers, Lake Geneva zoning administrator, said Oakfire will still have to meet all the planned unit development requirements of the original proposal.
He said Oakfire will have to notify all the surrounding property owners and the police and fire departments when Wrigley Drive will be blocked.
At the end of the working day, the street and the alley will have to be passable.
Also during the plan commission meeting, David Quickel, who represented Popeye's restaurant, which is next door, asked how long Wrigley Drive will be closed.
Jurgens said that Oakfire has set aside $13,000 to pay for the city to bag the parking meters on the beach side of Wrigley so the street will always be open, even when work is being done.
A construction crane will be kept entirely on the sidewalk area if possible, Jurgens said, and construction fencing will be used to set off the work area.
He said workers will use the four parking stalls in front of Oakfire and, with agreement of their neighbor, Barrique, four neighboring stalls.
Kupsik asked what affect this would have on Winterfest traffic.
Jurgens said the metered parking spaces will be open on Friday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays.
In other business:
A proposal to remodel the retail building at 640 W. Main St. into an eight-bed commercial indoor lodging called The Downtowner is apparently dead.
At the Nov. 21 plan commission meeting, FYF LLC of Fort Atkinson withdrew its request for an outside design review of proposed exterior siding and fence rail design.
During the October plan commission meeting, the commissioners approved a conditional use for the property to be used as a commercial lodging for wedding parties and family reunions.
The remodeled building was to feature modern architectural design, exterior decks and a garden terrace overlooking the White River and Donian Park, which is in the building's back yard.
The petitioners for the property were to buy the property from Kocourek Property Holdings, Lake Geneva.
However, the property was apparently sold to another party, said Robers.
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December 01, 2016The weather was warm, the sidewalks crowded and the Lake Geneva shop owners were smiling as customers browsed over their goods on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26.
Looking over Regional News archives, the last time a story was run on Small Business Saturday was in 2012, and that day was a lot colder, rainier and drearier, both outside and inside the downtown shops.
How much have things improved since then?
"Two thousand eighty-nine percent," said Kevin Fleming, a member of the downtown Business Improvement District and owner of Fleming's Limited, 711 Main St.
"Just kidding," he added.
But things are better.
Friday is Big Box store day, said Fleming. But the following Saturday is when visitors and locals flock to the neighborhood stores.
And this Small Business Saturday store owners were happy about being flocked.
"It took a while for it to come back," he said of the local business.
"The election is over and people are feeling good," he said. "Or at least relieved."
"Today is busy, yesterday was busy," said Melissa Reuss, owner of Geneva Gifts, 150 Broad St. "This is just like summer."
She was talking about the crush of customers in her store, not so much about the weather. And, she said, the buyers are more concentrated because her store hours have been cut back for the winter.
At the Lake Geneva Spice Co. 255 Broad St., co-owners Jeff and Kati Schoo were busy meeting with customers.
"The weather is good. Business is booming," Jeff said cheerfully, as he directed customers to free samples of new, flavored coffees brewing in pots near the door.
"I've had a few big sales," said Linda Longwell, owner of Leather Accents and Gifts, 717 W. Main. Longwell has been in business here for 40 years. She's seen years like 2012, and she's glad for years like this one.
"We're lucky to be here in this town," Longwell said of Lake Geneva. "I'm hearing that they're sick of the big boxes," she added about her customers. " They appreciate the small shop."
Shari Strawb, owner of Strawberry Fields 707 W. Main St., said she thought that the unseasonably warm weather was bringing out more people this year. And that unseasonable warmth may be fueling a generous spirit in consumers.
"This year I feel that people are in the Christmas shopping mood." Strawb said.
And people weren't forgetting their furry friends, either.
Business at Paws for Treats, 851 W. Main St., was going "gangbusters," said Jo Strobel, who was behind the counter helping customers pick out dinner dishes and squeaky toys.
The store is owned by David and Shelly Bergsma.
"People are spending on their pets as never before," Strobel said.
Root Beer Revelry, 729 Main St. wasn't in Lake Geneva in 2012.
Opened just this past summer by owner Reed Andrew, it's almost like the summer didn't end, said Sal Garcia, who was behind the counter.
"It's busier than we expected," Garcia said. "Usually, when it gets colder, things slow down, but on the weekends, it's been pretty good."...subscribers>>
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December 01, 2016
ELKHORN — A man who manufactured methamphetamine in his car received six months in jail and six years of probation.
David Virgin, 55, was charged with multiple felony meth charges.
Prior to the sentencing hearing, he pleded guilty to a third offense OWI and two felony meth charges.
Defense attorney Ashley Renz and prosecuting attorney Matthew Leusink made a joint recommendation to the court for Virgin to serve six months in jail for the OWI, along with a $1,500 fine.
For the two felony charges, they recommended he serve three years of probation on each count.
Renz said probation over additional jail time would be the best option to get Virgin help for his drug addiction.
“With his relatively small criminal history, I think this would be the appropriate sentence,” she said. “This way he can get the help and treatment as needed.”
Judge Kristine Drettwan agreed with the joint recommendation, but also reminded Virgin of the severity of what he had done.
“Protecting the public is paramount,” she said. “And you made meth in your car. Have you seen how they clean that up? They have to wear hazmat suits. It is dangerous and a big risk to the people around you.”
She also said that because meth is a dangerous drug and Virgin’s crimes perpetuate drug abuse, she was borderline on incarceration.
Drettwan said though his crimes were grave, she wanted him to have the chance to correct his drug problem.
Virgin will serve six months in jail, pay $1,500 and have a 27-month interlock device installed in his vehicle for his third OWI.
For his two criminal charges, Virgin was sentenced to three years of probation for each count.
Additionally, he must attend a victim impact panel, maintain full time employment and is not allowed to possess meth precursors.
December 01, 2016
Lake Geneva’s main water storage tank on Host Street is going to require about $558,000 in repairs, according to a report from a water tank engineering firm.
The Lake Geneva Utility Commission heard the report during its Nov. 17 meeting.
It took some of the commissioners by surpise.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this,” said Mayor Al Kupsik, who sits on the commission.
According to the report from Dixon Engineering Inc., Hales Corners, the tank inspection was done May 2015 and the report was prepared July 2015.
The 1.5 million gallon water tank, completed in 1997, provides water to about 85 percent of the city, according to Jeff Ecklund, city water superintendent.
Tower inspections are done every 10 years by the state DNR, Ecklund told the commissioners. Dixon Engineering was recommended by the city’s engineers at Kapur & Associates, he said.
James Orr, project manager, represented Dixon at the meeting.
Orr said that during an inspection five years ago, the DNR determined that the tower was in fair condition, Orr said.
However, since then, rust has structurally compromised part of the tank. The interior epoxy is flaking and there is some interior corrosion, he said.
Part of the problem isn’t what’s inside the tower, but what’s on the outside.
Orr said antennas are a great source of revenue for the city, but those who install the cell phone and internet connection towers on the water towers make it difficult for maintenance work.
The contractors who install the antennas also drill into the tower structure, sometimes accelerating corrosion.
While the antenna situation at the Host Street tower is a problem, Orr said the antenna situation at the Dodge Street tower was worse. The Dodge Street tank holds 200,000 gallons.
Ecklund said that the interior of the Dodge tower is also in fair condition.
A third city tower, on Center Street, built in 2006, is in good shape, he said.
He showed a picture of a tower antenna from the Dodge Street tank which had tangles of cable surrounding an access hatch in the tower.
“Right now, this is an OSHA violation,” said Orr. “Climbing out of that tank is dangerous.”
Orr recommended putting a rail around the tank. The antennas can be attached to the rail without damaging the tank, he said.
The antennas will have to come off before work on the tower can proceed.
City Administrator Blaine Oborn said all agreements between the city and antenna companies have removal clauses. Essentially, the companies must remove their equipment to allow the city to do maintenance.
They will post their equipment on temporary towers, Orr said.
Orr said he would look at a redesign of the antenna arrangement on the tower.
Dennis Lyon, president of the utility commission, said that going forward the city would have to establish a program of rules for installing antennas on city towers and regular inspections.
Orr said there will be a six-month lead in before work can get started. The actual work can be done in 60 days.
“All of these antennas have got to come off to paint this tower,” said Orr. Getting the antenna companies to comply with a deadline will be difficult, he said. “It’s like herding cats.”
The tower will be out of operation for the 60 days it takes to repaint, re-epoxy and repair, Orr said.
He said the sections weakened by rust can be reinforced. To get the project at least started in 2017, bids will have to go out no later than January, he added.
Ecklund said the utility would use booster pumps to maintain pressure while the tower was closed, drained and repaired.
Kupsik said the city needs a proposal and a structural report on the Host Street tower and a maintenance plan.
Alderwoman Cindy Flower, a commission member, said the utility needs to have a capital improvements plan. “It can’t be, ‘Here’s a catastrophe, let’s fix it,’” she said.
And not just for the water towers, she added, but the whole water system.
Orr said the tower cannot be kept in operation while exterior painting is being done because of condensation which appears on the exterior of the tank. The condensation would damage the paint.
“We can’t have sheets of paint falling off,” Orr said.
Among the recommended repairs:
ò Clean, repaint and recoat the exterior of the tank.
ò Clean the entire dry interior of the tower access tube and line with epoxy.
ò The wet interior lining is delaminating and blistering. The company recommends cleaning the entire wet interior to metal and then reline with epoxy.
ò Install a chain link fence around the tank for security.
ò Trim or remove trees from the site to prevent damage to the structure.
ò Coat the foundation to prevent further deterioration.
ò Install a painter’s rigging rail outside the existing handrail.
ò Replace the damaged aviation lights photo cell.
ò Ask antenna owners to correct deficiencies in cable mounting and routing.
ò Replace a roof vent.
December 01, 2016The Lake Geneva Fire Department wants residents to help keep its wreath red.
Fire station number 1 on Marshall Street has hung a red wreath above the apparatus doors to remind residents to practice fire safety during the holidays, said Lt. Dennis Detkowski of the fire department's Fire Prevention Bureau.
The wreath features red lights. For each fire during the holiday season, a red bulb will be replaced with a white one.
Detkowski said the department doesn't want to see a single white bulb on its solid red wreath.
Some of the Fire Prevention Bureau's suggestions for holiday fire safety are:
" Do not place your tree close to a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.
" Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or woodburning stove.
" Dry trees should be discarded promptly.
" Inspect holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
" Follow directions when linking light strands. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet
" Decorations should be nonflammable or flame retardant and placed away from heat vents.
For more information about keeping the Lake Geneva Fire Department's wreath red by practicing fire safety during this season, contact Detkowski at (262) 248-6075.
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December 01, 2016
Lake Geneva will continue to have a utility commission, but the relationship between the commission and the Lake Geneva City Council will most certainly change.
“We’ll keep the commission for a while,” said Mayor Alan Kupsik at a joint workshop between the council and the Lake Geneva Utility Commission on Nov. 17.
In June the council tabled a proposed resolution to turn the utility commission into a city council committee, essentially ending its independence completely.
Instead, changes discussed at the workshop would bring more of the utilities’ operations under city council oversight.
The meeting was intended for the two bodies to talk about coordination between the council and the commission.
The most noticeable change may be in the composition of the board. Now the seven-member commission is comprised of four citizens, two aldermen and the mayor. (All are by mayoral appointment.)
That will probably change. The council is considering replacing one of the citizen appointees or one of the aldermen with the city administrator.
The council seems to prefer reducing citizen membership by one.
In the past, the commission operated independently from the council in matters of personnel, extension of water and sewer lines outside the city limits and expenditures on plant and maintenance.
The council is proposing that maintenance would remain under the commission’s control. But the city council wants final approval on any plan to extend water and sewer lines beyond the city limits. New construction and capital improvements by the utilities would also have to be reviewed by the city council’s Public Works Committee and the council.
The utility departments’ personnel have already been made a part of the city’s employee compensation chart and are under an employee manual similar to that of city employees.
Alderman Chris Gelting expressed his concern about a lack of planning by the utility commission and that it did not produce annual budgets.
In the past, the utility commission ran operations on a monthly basis, spending money for repairs and improvements as needed from cash on hand. The commission operates on fees collected from water and sewer utility customers. It is not a part of the city’s tax levy.
Gelting said he’d like to see a utility budget for 2017.
Jeff Ecklund, water superintendent, said that the water and sewer utilities have been working shorthanded for years, and Utility Director Dan Winkler and Water Superintendent Kent Wiedenhoeft have since retired.
“We could throw something together in a few weeks, but I don’t know if that’s what you want,” Ecklund said.
“We have been running short staff for two years,” added Ken Bauman, a waste water plan employee.
In defense of the department, Lyon said the utility department had provided service competently and the two departments are debt-free.
“I can’t say that the past budgeting led to disastrous consequences,” said Lyon. “I’m not saying we don’t need a budget, what I’m saying is we’re not all screwed up.”
Kupsik said that in his opinion, it would not be wise to rush a budget through. He said once the new director is in place, he could work out a budget.
The commission is now interviewing new utility director candidates.
Alderman Rich Hedlund came to the defense of utility department employees.
“I don’t think we can hold the new people to what was done before,” he said. “I think we should cut them a little bit of slack.”
“Operationally, you guys do a great job,” said Gelting. “We still have to do what we have to do.”
What’s clear is that the city utilities will be facing some expenditures down the road. Repairs needed by the city’s major water tower on Host Street was discussed.
Bauman said that the waste water plant was built in 1985 and has gone through several upgrades.
Nothing major is broken, but there will be expenses coming down the road, he said.
Kupsik asked where the city’s sewer capacity was at.
“We’re at half capacity,” said Scott Tesmer, waste water plant supervisor. The city’s capacity is officially at 2.5 million gallons, but he said because of the age of the equipment, the city system wouldn’t be able to handle that.
Alderwoman Cindy Flowers, who sits on the utility commission, asked about chlorides in the city’s wastewater.
“It’s an on-going issue,” Tesmer said. The city’s waste water permit expired on June 30. The city had its application in 180 days early, Tesmer said. But the DNR is still working on the new permits. New regulations may be a part of the new permits, he said.
What would solve the chloride problem, Flowers asked.
“Ban road salt and water softeners,” replied Tesmer. “That will take care of it.”
Recent Lake Geneva News
City EMTs rescue train with ballistic gearNovember 24, 2016Firefighter/EMTs are used to running toward fire rather than away from it.But one kind of fire they’ve traditionally not trained for is gunfire.That’s changing.With an increase in active-shooter situations, EMTs are now sheathing themselves in the same kind of protection usually seen on SWAT team members.It’s equipment that no one wants to see used.But if it’s needed, Lake Geneva Fire Chief John Peters and Police Sgt. Dan Derrick want to make sure it’s available.The Lake Geneva Fire Department recently took possession of three sets of ballistic gear for EMTs.Lake Geneva EMTs started training last year with a set of the ballistic equipment bought with donated funds, Peters said. He said the department plans to buy two more sets of ballistic gear, for a total of nine sets. Each set costs about $900, he said.The Lake Geneva department is the first in Walworth County to have its EMTs trained in tactical gear.But other communities are now catching up, and Lake Geneva police and firefighters have been training with other communities in the use of the equipment and the tactics needed to deliver essential medical services during an active shooter event.The equipment includes a ballistic vest, a military-style helmet and an emergency medical kit, along with a bag of emergency medical supplies carried by one of the three-man teams.The teams are called Rescue Task Force (RTF) units. They will follow patrol officers into an active shooter situation, providing emergency medical services where needed.Since the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, law enforcement agencies have been revising their tactics in dealing with shooters.Wait for SWATIn the past, police would secure an area and wait for SWAT teams to stop the shooting. The medical teams would not move in until a scene was completely secured.But it takes time to organize SWAT teams, said Derrick, who is a member of the Walworth County SWAT Team.In the meantime shots are being fired and people’s lives are in jeopardy.Patrol officers are now being trained to immediately hunt down and confront the shooter.And that means there will be a need for immediate EMT response as well.“This is not a SWAT function, this is a patrol function,” Peters said of the RTF units. “This is for the immediate responders.”SWAT teams have their own medics who wear SWAT armor and are prepared to render medical aid to victims, police officers and even the shooters, when they’re taken down.Peters is one of seven SWAT medics in Walworth County.RTF units will provide patrol officers with the same sort of medical support that SWAT medics provide SWAT teams, Peters said.Like the SWAT medics, RTF will operate only the “warm” zones immediately behind the police “hot” zone, Peters said.According to a report provided by Peters, the hot zone is where bullets are flying. The warm zone is where bullets may fly.The “warm” zone is described as “two turns away from the bad guy,” Peters said.“You can’t put a bright line around a warm zone,” said Derrick.Locating warm and hot zones is up to law enforcement. Location of the zones depends on where the situation is happening and what kind of weapon is being used, Derrick said.Police ultimately direct where the RTF can operate, Derrick said.Get out of dangerThe RTF’s goal is to get people out of danger as fast as possible, he said.The Columbine shootings showed that an active shooter situation can create chaos far faster than a SWAT team can confront it. And the wounded can die long before an area is cleared for EMTs to move in, Derrick said.Two subsequent shootings, the 2011 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson, Arizona and the Aurora, Colorado movie house shooting in 2012, in which 12 were killed and 58 wounded, brought home the need for having medical personnel equipped to enter right behind police during an active shooter incident.“During those shootings police were loading the wounded into squad cars and driving them to the hospital,” Derrick said.In Colorado, officers with rifles were assigned to protect EMTs. That did not go over well with the EMTs, Peters said.As firefighter/EMTs have been learning about the use of their new equipment, police have been learning a few tricks from the EMTs, as well, Derrick said.The fire department helped train police on getting wounded out through windows and holes in walls, rather than trying to wend their ways through a danger zone to get to a door.Departments from across the county are learning to work together with the tactical EMTs, Derrick said.The ballistic armor and emergency medical kit carried by RTF members weighs about 30 pounds, less than the 50 pounds of gear carried by SWAT team members.The larger team-carried medical pack, called either an ARC bag or active shooter responder kit, can be opened at the bottom. An RTF member can simply reach back, and pull out First Aid kits as needed, Peters said. The kits are also designed to be do-it-yourself, with instructions so wounded individuals who are still conscious can apply pressure bandages or tourniquets if a medic can’t get to them immediately.Most of the medical supplies are intended to stop or slow bleeding. According to a 2008 study of fatalities in active shooter situations, 85 percent of the deaths were from victims bleeding out.A rope is included in the kit so RTF members can lower the wounded from upper story windows, Peters said.The ballistic vest has the word “RESCUE” in red letters on front and the kit has the letters “MED” in white.There’s no red cross on the helmet. “That’s too much of a target,” Peters said.Derrick said the goals of police and EMTs in an active shooter situation are to “stop the killing; stop the dying.”“As bad guys become more proficient at their craft, so we have to become more proficient in ours,” Derrick said. “We get one chance to do it right.”If the police miss that opportunity, then people die, he said.
City will have an Aldi grocery storeNovember 24, 2016
Aldi has finally formally and officially announced that it plans to open a store in Lake Geneva.
“Thanks for your interest in Aldi,” began a Nov. 15 email from Aldi Oak Creek Division Vice President Atty McGrath.
“We intend to open a Lake Geneva store in the first half of 2017,” the email says in part. “We will be in touch when we have more details to share regarding the grand opening.”
Aldi’s interest in the area has been an open secret since December 2015, when the Lake Geneva Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit for Aldi to remodel the store at 200 N. Edwards Blvd., at that time occupied by Office Max.
However, for months, neither company would admit that one would have to vacate the building so the other could use its conditional use permit.
Office Max finally announced in August that it planned to leave Lake Geneva by Oct. 8.
Work on the building has been proceeding for several weeks. According to Regional News archives, Office Max had been at that location for about 10 years.
Aldi’s arrival will return part of the building to grocery sales. The site was home to a Sentry food store, which moved out in 2006.
In addition to Office Max, a PetCo store and a Sears store moved in after Sentry moved out.
The Sears store has since moved out and was most recently replaced by a HomeGoods store.
According to Wikipedia, Aldi is a German-based grocery store corporation and a leading global discount supermarket chain.
The chain was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946.
In 1962, they introduced the name Aldi, a syllabic abbreviation for Albrecht Diskont. Diskont is German for discount.
Christmas in the Country returns to Grand GenevaBreakfast with Santa happens each weekendNovember 24, 2016LAKE GENEVA — Santa Claus is coming to town, and he’s making a few stops to the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa along the way.The Grand Geneva’s Christmas in the Country program, which offers Christmas events throughout the holiday season, kicked off last Sunday with the all inclusive illumination ceremony.Merry Christmas to allCourtney Nobilio, the marketing director at the Grand Geneva, said that since it began in 1994, Christmas in the Country has always had an opening ceremony.And it has always been for everyone.“We wanted to do something for the community and our guests to make it another season destination,” she said. “It’s for our guests and the community. We want to invite people out for that first look.”The aptly titled illumination ceremony was free and open to the public, with the only entrance requirement being an unwrapped toy donation to United Way.Regardless of what kind of mood people are in when they enter, Nobilio said everyone leaves in the same mindset.“I think everybody leaves here with even more Christmas spirit than they started with,” she said.TraditionsPart of the appeal of the illumination ceremony are the traditions that have been in place since the event began 22 years ago.Nobilio said that there has always been a fireworks display and tree lighting ceremony at the event.The illumination ceremony also featured a live orchestra, cookies, hot chocolate and, of course, a visit from Kris Kringle himself.The line to see Santa stretched around the entire upper floor of the event, weaving around the displays of gingerbread houses to offer kids a small distraction from the upcoming excitement.People also come with their own traditions.“They want to sing “The 12 Days of Christmas” as they drive in,” Nobilio said. “They have their different spots around the resort they like to take up.”Debby Paver, an attendee at the illumination ceremony, said that this was the fifth year all 20 members of her family had been going to the event.“There are lots of festivities for the kids,” she said. “It’s very family-oriented. We come every year.”
...subscribers>> Area school districts earn passing gradesReek, Woods school districts get top scores in countyNovember 24, 2016
ELKHORN — All 13 school districts in Walworth County received a passing grade according to district report cards on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s website.
In order to obtain a passing grade, a school district’s report card must get at least three stars, which is considered meeting expectations. To fall in this category, a school district must have an overall accountability rating of between 63 and 72.9.
Five school districts in Walworth County fell into this category, with the East Troy Community School District leading the pack with a score of 71.8.
The Lake Geneva Joint District 1 was close behind with a score of 71, followed by the Whitewater School District with a score of 70.2.
Big Foot Union High School District received a score of 68.9 and the Delavan-Darien School District got a score of 63.3.
Lake Geneva Joint District 1 Administrator James Gottinger said he was pleased with the score his district received.
“Overall, 71 is a good score,” he said. “We’d like to exceed expectations, obviously, and get better.”
However, learning how to improve can be difficult with the new system.
“It’s different now,” Gottinger said in regards to the results. “We don’t get the analysis of where kids did well or didn’t, it’s just about how the subset grows.”
Regardless of this, Gottinger said the district will be doing its best to analyze the data and learn what it can to improve for the following academic year.
Six school districts went beyond this to obtain a four-star rating, meaning they exceeded expectations. This category includes an overall accountability rating of between 73 and 82.9.
The Fontana Joint District 8 received the highest score in this category, obtaining a score of 79.3.
Walworth Joint District 1 came in a close second with a score of 79.
The Williams Bay School District received a score of 78.1 and the Elkhorn Area School District had a score of 77.1.
A little further behind were Traver Elementary School in Linn Joint District 4 which received a score of 75.3 and Sharon Community School in the Sharon Joint District 11 which received a score of 74.8.
Williams Bay School District Administrator Wayne Anderson said he believed that, overall, the families in his district were happy with the results.
“I think the report cards show we’re doing well,” he said.
Like Gottinger, Anderson also said the district is looking for ways to improve for the future.
He said that some of these elements are in the district’s control and some are not.
For example, he said that the district is about 90 percent white, but creating racial diversity is not something the district can control.
Two school districts even received the highest rating of five stars, meaning they significantly exceeded expectations. Scores for this category range from 83 to 100.
Reek Elementary School in the Linn Joint District 6 received the highest score in Walworth County with a score of 91.6.
Woods Elementary School in the Geneva Joint District 4 was also in this category and got a score of 88.5.
Though Reek received the highest score, District Administrator Samantha Polek said she is cautious about putting “too much stock into one test score.”
“It obviously is very important to have accountability, and I applaud the state for the number of initiatives over the past few years to help schools be accountable, so I understand the need for the Forward Exam, but I’m cautious about giving too much emphasis to it,” she said.
The Forward Exam is also new this year, she said, which means there is no existing data to compare these results to.
Instead of placing a lot of weight on this one test score, she said Reek does and is more interested in looking at multiple, systematic assessments that are done throughout the year.
She said that the data from these assessments, which are done for both literacy and math, help determine the need for remediation and enrichment.
Late night fire causes damage to city homeNovember 24, 2016A single family home caught on fire Saturday, Nov. 11 at 11:11 p.m. No injuries were reported. The Lake Geneva Fire Department was dispatched to 1133 Madison Street for a reported structure fire. Arriving units found fire in the area of the fireplace chimney and ceiling in an occupied single family home.