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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Evansville Park Board Agenda--2-28-2006 6PM

City of Evansville, Wisconsin

Park and Recreation Board Regular Monthly Meeting

Evansville City Hall Council Chambers
February 28, 2006, 6:00 PM

PLEASE NOTE REVISED DATE; NOT THE USUAL “THIRD MONDAY”

Agenda

1. Call to Order and Roll Call

2. Approval of minutes of January, 2006 meeting.

3. Citizen appearances other than listed Agenda items.

4.Lake Leota Draw-down Update

5. Franklin Park Design Update

6. Skate-Park update, if any

7. Initial Discussion of West-Side Park work for 2006

8. Initial Discussion of Countryside Park improvements for 2006

9. Aquatic Report (discussion of staffing of park store, etc.)

10. Improvements and Maintenance Report

11. Old Business

12. New Business

13. Adjourn



Fred Juergens,
Park and Recreation Board Chair

Planning Commission Minutes--2-6-2006

Plan Commission

Regular Meeting

Monday, February 6, 2006, 6:00 P.M.

City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, WI

MINUTES
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Ringhand at 6:00 PM. Present were: Mayor Ringhand, Ald. Hammann, Cheryl Dickert, Gil Skinner, Dave Sauer, and Jeff Vrstal. Ald. Aikman was absent. Staff present: Tim Schwecke, City Planner; Bill Connors, City Administrator; and Jim Beilke, Clerk/Treasurer. Ald. Cothard and Sornson were present in the audience.

Approval of Agenda.

The Agenda was approved after moving the following items to follow citizen appearances: 8(A) D&D Development Annexation, 7(A) Site plan for Evansville Community Bank (Application #2006-1), and 7(B) Larson Acres annexation Petition (Application #2006-2).

Approval of Minutes.

Motion by Hammann, seconded by Sauer, to waive the reading of the January 3, 2006 Minutes and approve them as printed. Motion passed.

Citizen Appearances Other Than Those Agenda Items Listed. None.

Preliminary Development Presentations (taken out of order)

Bob Fleischacker representing D&D Development stated the proposed annexation of some of his client’s land was initiated by the additional right of way needed on the south side of USH 14 for a drive-by lane opposite of J Lindemann Dr. There is a real potential for development for this area now because the market is right. Their plan is to develop over 200 acres over a period of time. The initial phase would incorporate about 74 acres with a commercial zone buffered by a light industrial area. Roger Berg, 75 Exchange St., reported that this development is consistent with the City of Evansville Smart Growth Plan.

New Business (taken out of order)
Bill Albright from Evansville Community Bank presented the new site plan and building design for Evansville Community Bank on the corner of Exchange Street and Main Street (Application #2006-2). The new site plan displays significant changes in elevations and a more historical look to the building, which has features similar to the nearby railroad depot.

Mr. Schwecke recommended several conditions for approval as listed in his report. The height and size of the building are consistent with dimensional standards for the B-2 district.

Mr. Sauer asked the applicant submit a stormwater plan with the new site plan before approval. He also reported that the old site plan showed a drive-through lane in a different location that did not interfere with the now standing streetlight.

Motion by Hammann, seconded by Sauer, to approve the application, with conditions contained in the staff report.

Motion by Sauer, seconded by Skinner, to amend the motion, requiring the applicant to move the drive-through lane or pay for the cost to move the streetlight. Motion passed.

The original motion, as amended, passed.

Mr. Berg presented the Larson Acres annexation petition (Application #2006-2). The two parcels totaling 88.51 acres on the north side of Porter Road on the City’s west side are covered by the annexation petition. The annexation is being requested to facilitate residential development, including single-family and multi-family. A portion of the property will be used for a regional storm water detention basin that would serve the new Westfield Meadows Subdivision and other, already existing subdivisions to the south.

Mr. Schwecke recommended several conditions for approval as listed in his report.

Mr. Sauer reported that the existing box culvert (bridge) would have to comply with city standards. Now it is a town road that is 18 feet wide. City standards require 41 feet. The new bridge would be longer and wider to carry the sidewalks and curve and gutters. As of today, the bridge is in need of improvements. Town of Union Board President Kendall Schneider reported that this bridge is currently a No. 3 on the township’s list of short span bridges (under 20 feet long) that need to be repaired or replaced, and it would cost the approximately $100,000 to bring it up to the city standards.

Ald. Hammann reported the only reason the land is being annexed is because of stormwater management in this region, which is part of the Smart Growth Plan. Mr. Connors reported that if the city denies annexation, the developer is entitled to reimbursement for the cost of the 7 acres of land for the detention pond, cost of the construction of the pond, cost of the engineering the pond, and the cost of improving Porter Road.

Mayor Ringhand opened the public hearing at 7:05 PM. Ald. Sornson raised the issue of grants for the bridge improvements. Mr. Sauer reported the state funds bridge improvements grants through the county. If requested annexation were granted, three quarters of the bridge would be located in the city and one quarter in the town. Thus, the town, city, and county would apply for a state grant for the bridge improvements. Kendall Schneider said the Town of Union opposes the annexation at this time because of environmental concerns and urban sprawl. The Town of Union is agreeable allowing the developer to build the pond and dedicate it to the city while the land remains in the Town of Union, like they have done in the past with other city projects. Elvin Francis, 17347 W County Rd C, opposed the annexation because farmland would be converted into wetland, which is presently farmed. Mr. Francis asked if this detention pond could be located more north of the city. Mayor Ringhand closed the public hearing at 7:12 PM.

Mr. Sauer reported that they addressed all known concerns regarding ground water flow and the city needs to manage the stormwater flow in this region. The Plan Commission has been working on solving the drainage in this region for years and agreed the city needs control of maintenance of the pond and bridge because it affects the city.

Motion by Hammann, seconded by Sauer, to recommend to Council the adoption of Ordinance #2006-2 with recommendations from the staff report and to include the applicant agrees to enter into an agreement with the city that requires the applicant to pay for the cost of repairing the bridge on Porter Road if it is deemed unsafe by a qualified engineer or when the subject property is developed for residential purposes, whichever is earlier. Motion passed.

Unfinished Business.

Mayor Ringhand noted the letter from Whiteman, Osterman, and Hanna LLP, which stated unreasonable restrictions on the use of outdoor wood furnaces would deprive citizens of an affordable means of home heating without producing any appreciable environmental benefit. Neighbor complaints about outdoor furnaces can and should be addressed by adopting the Best Burn Practices of the industry and by requiring appropriate stack heights in situations where neighbors are in relatively close proximity. Mr. Arndt, President of R.A. Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., reported that the City of Fort Atkinson banned outdoor furnaces based on a bad study regarding the amount of British thermo units (BTU) produced by outdoor furnaces. Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) has refuted the study by noting errors in the study’s testing methods. Mr. Arndt recommended the city follow HPBA Best Burn Practices and require certified outdoor furnaces, so that citizens are allowed an alternative fuel source to heat their homes. Commissioners instructed staff to draft an ordinance regulating outdoor furnaces.

The Plan Commission reviewed the goals and objectives of the Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan to ensure that the implementation of plan’s nine elements are understood in their totality over the life of the plan. Part of this effort will also include addressing conflicts that may arise between the nine elements.

Chris Eager, Chairperson of the Large-Scale Commercial Development Study Committee, reported on the activities of the Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to ensure that large retail projects are consistent with city’s general community character and surrounding area; would contribute to a diverse and sound economic base; and would prevent urban blight due to vacant retail stores. They have invited and listened to speakers from surrounding communities who dealt with large retail projects, so that the Committee can form a consensus regarding regulations on large retail projects. Then they would present a proposed ordinance to the public for refinement before it comes to the Plan Commission. The proposed ordinance should contain requirements in developer agreements between large scale development and city, site plan approval requirements, long-term maintenance requirements, landscaping plan requirements, lighting requirements, architectural standards, and building size, traffic impact studies, etc.

Mr. Schwecke led a discussion regarding the adoption of a resolution revising the fee in lieu of parkland dedication consistent with Sec. 110-192 of the Municipal Code. According to the City’s subdivision regulations, the Plan commission has the responsibility of recommending a resolution to the Common Council that would set a new amount for the fee in lieu of park dedication. As stipulated in Section 110-192 (6), the amount is automatically adjusted based on the percent change in the assessed value of land in the city form year to year. Last year, the city increased the fee 11.7 percent. This year the increase is calculated at 82.4 percent increase, in large part due to the property assessment reevaluation in 2005. Based on this index, the fee for a single-family dwelling would increase from $587.67 to $1,071.67 and for a multi-family dwelling unit the fee would increase from $440.73 to 803.72. Anticipating there would be discussion on this large increase, Mr. Schwecke provided some different approaches for the Plan Commission to consider from a survey on how other communities are dealing with this issue. Mr. Schwecke suggested the Plan Commission and Park Board should review the rationale behind some for the park dedication requirements.

Ald. Hammann favors an ordinance that makes the new residents pay for the new parks and not the current residents, noting that parkland dedication fees cover 25% of the cost of new parks. He stated the $587.67 parkland dedication fees are too low and does not favor capping increases. Mr. Connor noted that park impact fees are design to cover the cost to build new parks. The city does not have park impact fees. Parkland fees are designed to buy only land for new parks. After discussion of different approaches of raising the parkland dedication fees, the Commissioners asked Mr. Berg what are his thoughts. Mr. Berg favored a simple formula, so that all the money raised in parkland dedication fees goes to the Park Board to buy land and not to studies, appraisal, etc. Mr. Schwecke noted that the annual adjustment in parkland dedication fees does not equal the change in cost of land. Commissioners instructed staff to enact a rolling three average in a new ordinance with Ald. Hammann and Ald. Sornson sponsoring.

Mr. Schwecke led the discussion regarding amendment of the shoreland zoning ordinance relative to wetlands, lot widths, and building set backs. Rock County ordinance requires 15,000 square feet lot size and a minimum 100 feet lot width. The State Statues requires 10,000 square feet lot size. Mr. Schwecke recommended the city ask Rock County if they would be amicable to amend their lot size restrictions that carry forward into the city, which is allowed by state statutes. If the city were to require a 35 foot buffer strip along all navigable waters, Rock County could then reduce the lot size requirements to a minimum of 10,000 square feet. Whatever the city does, it is always under Rock County ordinance. Thus, Mr. Schwecke recommended the city approach Rock County for amendments.

Report of the Evansville Redevelopment Authority.

Mr. Connors distributed a revised Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District #5 Economic Development Fund Program Description and Applications, which is attached to the minutes. Mr. Connors noted the new criteria for financial assistance and investment listed on page 5.

Report of the Evansville Historic Preservation Commission.

Sandy Decker reported the first portion of survey is completed, and the results will be presented at the next Historical Preservation Commission meeting on February 15, 2006.

City Planner’s Report.

Mr. Schwecke reported on the Common Council actions relating to Plan Commission recommendation, which was distributed at this meeting (attached).

Adjournment.

Motion by Hammann, seconded Sauer, to adjourn, carried. The meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM.

Prepared by:

James A. Beilke

City Clerk/Treasurer

The Minutes of the Plan Commission are not official until approved by Plan Commission.

President Bush reflects on Power of the "blogsphere."; Impact in refuting "memogate."

Click on the post for an article covering the discussion of President Bush regarding the decline of the mainstream media and the rise of the alternative press. He particularly goes over the blog role in the "memogate" issue of Pres. Bush's National Guard service and in the forged documents that Dan Rather presented.

Click on the post and enjoy.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Lincoln--the Blogger--the rest of the story

this is an audio post - click to play

What Would Elvis Do?

The other night my mother in law came to Evansville on her way down to Florida for a month stay. In the living room of The Observer, we took a short break from breaking news to offer the couple a toast: " To being 80, healthy, and driving down to Florida."

After a few sips, we happened to mention the fact that we were really enjoying our Sirius Satellite Radio. In fact, I offered that The Elvis Channel, #13, was one of my favorites. My wife then teased her mom about that famous Ed Sullivan Show appearance in the late 50's when Elvis, "the pelvis" was brought on stage and many families, including her's were banned from watching the sinful goings on.

Her mom just smiled in the memory of it. She never admitted she might have been wrong about rock n roll. We never pressed the point. We just sipped the manhattens and smiled. Knowing smiles.

It is just the same with the current blog and internet media fuss in Evansville. Oh no, hourly news and not just once a week. What a terrible thing! Oh what a threat to civilization itself!

I just have to wonder what "The King" himself might do if he were in my place. Yes, he might just be sipping a manhatten. And smiling as I told him the story. Then he might ask what song I would like to hear. That would be tough. So many to choose from.

I would probably have to go with "Poor Little Fool." But then there's "Jailhouse Rock" or "All Shook Up." It's so hard to decide.

What song would you ask him to sing? You make the call.

Special Meeting--Big Box---Thursday, March 2, 2006--6:30PM

Evansville Large Scale Commercial Development Committee

Thursday, March 2, 2006, 6:30 PM

Special Meeting

City Hall, 31 S. Madison St., Evansville, WI

AGENDA
Call to order.
Roll call.
Review a draft of proposed ordinance.
Discussion on possible public hearing on proposed ordinance.
Other business.
Motion to adjourn.
Chris Eager, Chairman

Please turn off all cell phones while the meeting is in session. Thank you!

Worshippers fill Footville Church to Capacity for Confirmation Retreat; Observer surprised by unexpected reading; Reflections on" The Referral Close"

Sunday morning sleepy confirmation candidates and their parents packed St. Augustine Church in Footville for the 8:30AM service. The students were slated for a full day of retreat in preparation for their coming confirmation. Parishners from St. Paul's and their students were there also and thus the place was as packed as opening night at a theatre stageshow.

Right in the middle of political season. Right in the midst of students getting references for future college applications. Right in the midst of a life of job applications and references, came the reading and short sermon that was a total shock to The Observer.

One of the classic sales techniques is called "The Referral Close." It is probably the most powerful of all sales techniques. The salesman says, "I just sold xxxx to your neighbor xxxx and he/she loves it." Or, in the political arena, it is more subtle. It can be a yard sign. It can be in our everyday life, the fact that my friends wear "Ann Taylor" sweaters or drive Lexis cars or yes Dodge Ram pickups etc. etc.

Anyway, it was just a short reading by St.Paul, who it seems was having a little controversy about credentials. He simply says that it is not the letters of recommendation that are the key to determining whether a minister is the proper one for the congregation, but just a very simple thing---- the life you lead.

The Observer was totally shocked. After all the writing. All the campaigning. All the careful purchasing of politically appropriate stuff, it really comes down to a pretty simple deal. Both my long term and short term memory had failed to recall this short epistle. What a nice total shock!

Best wishes to the Confirmation class of 2006 of St. Paul's and St. Augustine parishes.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fontana Corner: FROG( Fontana Residents for Open Government) settle dispute with city--two referendums scheduled--Is Evansville Next?

Click on the post for the news article from Fontana. The FROG group, Fontana Residents for Open Government, had obtained a court ordered injunction to prevent the city from proceeding with projects under their TIF district which the city had engineered to be under the 1 million dollar limit that by city ordinance had to go to referendum.

What are your thoughts on the Fontana dispute? Should projects that exceed 1 million in gross project cost be subject to referendum here in Evansville? Should this ordinance issue be put to a direct legislative referendum?

You make the call.

"Onion" Corner: The deeper meaning of the thermostat wars

It's not just about the thermostat. The Observer salutes The Onion for a deeper look at this eternal problem of everyday life.

Click and enjoy.

Windmill Projects Sprout up everywhere---Iowa takes the lead

Click the post for an article in USA today about how Mason City, Iowa is taking the lead in wind energy projects and has allowed windmills in residential as well as commercial and industrial zoned areas.

Spirit Lake, Iowa has been a leader for years, with windmills providing the energy for their school system.

It would have been nice for Evansville, with its history of windmills to be among the leading pack.

Click on the post and enjoy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Is Bus Service Coming to Evansville? Survey of interest under way

Click on the post for an article in the Oregon Observer about the prospects for bus service for neighboring communities.

Enjoy.

Rising Snowmobile Deaths raise interest in regulation

Snowmobile deaths in Wisconsin have risen. Other states, such as Minnesota, have added regulation.

Click on the post for the opinion article in the Wisconsin State Journal. What are your thoughts on this controversy.

You make the call.

Wisconsin Schools may get flexibility on schedule, hours

Click on the post for the article in the Janesville Gazette. This proposed legislation would give schools flexibility in adjusting to community needs.

Click and enjoy.

Re: Georgia Duerst-Lahti writes: Explains status of Windmill

--- Georgia Duerst-Lahti <duerstgj@beloit.edu> wrote:

> Dear Brian,
>
> Fred is an energetic new Council member who probably
> should have talked
> to the mayor before you. The mayor is very much
> involved in this process.
>
> Fred doesn't know that we are in the final stages of
> negotiation with
> major private donors in town, a delicate moment.
> He's correct in that
> we have not yet found a spot on current parkland
> that is suited to house
> such a prize for Evansville. We are pursuing other
> options presently.
> We will make good on our promise to display it well
> in a protecting
> structure, you can rest assured. (We have
> commitments in concept for
> design work and "at cost" for building the
> structure. All from private
> sources.)
>
> Also you should know that we do intend to display it
> (indoors) at the
> Earth Day celebration you attended last year as part
> of building "buzz"
> about this wonderful treasure. Baker has also
> agreed to store it
> carefully until such time as its proper permanent
> home can be located
> and completed. Peter Sears, the CEO of Baker and a
> collector of Baker
> artifacts, remains very interested in the Monitor.
>
> The mayor, Janis Ringhand, will phone you later
> today to answer your
> concerns. We will all talk to Fred, who has been in
> Mexico for a month,
> to bring him up to speed. We apologize for any
> concern Fred's message
> might have caused.
>
> Thank you for your continued patience with us.
>
> Sincerely,
> Georgia Duerst-Lahti
> Coordinator, Evansville Initiative
>
>

Monroe School Corner: Jefson Q&A: No administrative cuts; Virtual School enrollment plans to DOUBLE

The Virtual School segment of Monroe Schools has contributed $180,000 to the other educational areas, and in light of this past success, the Monroe School district plans to aggressivly market this segment and DOUBLE enrollment. Click on the post for the story in the Monroe Times.

Also, Supr. Jefson discusses the fact that current cuts do not include any administrative cuts. He explains that these cuts were made last year.

Click on the post and enjoy.

Election Corner: "Fred" reviews history and current election status

Click on the post for "Fred's" review of the history of our Evansville City council, how they were elected and by how many votes, and the level of participation by citizens and what this might mean.

Enjoy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Lincoln Towncar-- a true story

Last week, after returning from getting our 1996 Mazda 626 repaired at Utzig Carstar Center in Janesville, I was pretty enthusiastic about the quality of the workmanship of their shop. So enthusiastic in fact, that I began dreaming of restoring my 1989 Lincoln Towncar.

You may remember the story. I had lent it to my oldest daughter who lives in Madison while the title for her Mazda was sorted out. That took almost a year, and in the meantime, that old Blue Lincoln was fit into the parking place the size of a small Honda. The resulting picture was not pretty.

My daughter had a very strict car repair budget. In fact, it was zero. Like many new college grads, it was not a real high priority. The drivers side door did not open properly, and I noted this as she returned the car to me. "Well," she said, "I don't really consider it a problem till one has to crawl in from the back." That is one tough minded budgeter.

So, I went over to the now famous Carstar branch office in the Brown Seed Building on Water Street,(882-0807) and spoke with Jim. I told him of the larger restoration dream and of the immediate problem--the drivers door.

When he asked me how many miles it had on it, I replied, "209,000." He smiled.
"Let me be direct with you, Mr. Woulfe," he said, "Do you think you are emotionally attached to this car?"

The question was a bodyblow. I replied, "Of course I am." I then reeled off a whole litany of why restoration was in order. First, it was a minister's car. It even had the religious symbol on the left rear window. And it had the true test of a minister's car---the premium stereo system that is so necessary for soothing the nerves of one called to the higher estate. Furthermore, I elaborated, I was really trying to be a proper role model for conservatism and was trying to give back to the community. O.K. maybe that argument was going too far.

"Well," he said, "Let's begin with the drivers door."

I got the estimate. Left a satisfied camper. I know I will have to let the car go. The slipping transmission is a sign that the end may be near. It just is so hard to let go sometimes. Hard to let junk be junk. The decision is so clear when you have to pay cash for the repairs.

My neighbors have suggested that I should apply for the Lincoln to be restored under TIF #5. I just can't get the nerve to fill out the application. It seems such a big strech of interpretation of "real property" to include my Lincoln. Just think of the precedent. There would be just as much tax increment as some of the proposed improvements, but still...O.K. it would be serious negative increment short term, but long term...in 20 years...the numbers just might work out...maybe.

O.K. I need to be realistic.

I need to let junk be junk. I will deal with the prestige...

Prestige Salvage that is.

Re: How Decisions are Made--Daughter Writes; Questions Observer "Duck" Theory vs. Practice

--- Julie Woulfe < wrote:

> I love it.(the duck theory) But if we're just
supposed to go with
> it, how did we become such big decision discussers
> in our household. Are you sure we're really as
> mellow as you represent dad?
>
> xoxox
> Julie
>

Re: Union/Evansville Smart Growth Meeting This Evening Is Cancelled

--- Jim Beilke <jim.beilke@ci.evansville.wi.gov>
wrote:

>
> The meeting this evening of the Town of Union / City
> of Evansville Smart
> Growth Implementation Committee has been cancelled.
> The next meeting will
> be on Thursday, March 16.
>
> Bill Connors
> Evansville City Administrator
> 31 S. Madison St.
> P.O. Box 76
> Evansville, WI 53536
> (608) 882-2263
> fax: (608) 882-2282
>

Eager Free Library--Trustee meeting--Minutes--2-8-2006--Family Leave Policy addressed--Rolek Leave Approved

EAGER FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
BOARD OF TRUSTEES SPECIAL MEETING
8 February 06

1. Call to Order
V. President Rich Banton called the meeting to order at 5:35pm. Board members present: Rich Banton, Wally Shannon, Gwen Clendenning, Kim Miller, and Bridget Rolek. Absent: Heidi Carvin and Eloise Eager.

2. Modification of Personnel Policy- Section H
The section of the personnel policy for non-union library staff pertaining to the use of sick leave for family leave was unclear. Although the board discussed sick leave and family leave during recent meetings, it was not clearly defined in the final policy. Based on wording from the City employee policy and from the Dept of Labor Family and Medical Leave Act, R. Banton moved to modify Section H of the personnel policy by adding the following paragraph: “When the leave requested is a “family leave” for the purpose of caring for a seriously ill or newborn/ newly adopted or foster child or a seriously ill spouse or parent, or a “medical leave” due to the illness of the employee, current sick leave provisions may apply and, as such, may be substituted in part or in whole for leave provisions afforded by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Law. In instances where accrued sick leave benefits do not apply or where accrued sick leave is insufficient to cover the duration of leave, the provisions and conditions of the Federal Family and Medical Leave law apply.” K. Miller seconded the motion. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried.

3. Approval of Family and Medical Leave for Bridget Rolek
The request is to use 12 weeks of sick leave for post adoption leave starting 16 Feb 06 to 11 May 06. B. Rolek and the Board discussed how her duties and activities would be covered during that time. Tina Kakuske, the Adult Services Librarian, is the back up person in B. Rolek’s absence. She will shift some of her duties to cover the librarian activities and other staff will spend additional time at the circulation desk and other areas as needed. Some infant, teen and senior programs will be cancelled until mid May. Meeting attendance will be on an as needed and staff availability basis. There are several contingencies in place with staff at Eager Free Public Library and Arrowhead Library System in Janesville to cover library activities during the librarian’s absence. R. Banton requested a written summary be provided to the Board. D. Eager moved to approve the tentative leave request to use 12 weeks of sick leave as post adoption leave starting on or about 16 Feb 06 to 10 May 06 if the adoption occurs as planned. K. Miller seconded the motion. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried. R. Banton requested B. Rolek inform T. Kakuske that the board recognizes that she will have additional work and it will likely be stressful at times and that she should feel free to contact the Board President or Vice President so that we can be aware of how things are going and can help in anyway possible to resolve any problems or concerns that may arise.

W. Shannon moved to adjourn the meeting. G. Clendenning seconded. All in favor, none opposed. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 6pm.

Global Warming Forum: Point and Counterpoint

Click on the post for a forum in the Wisconsin State Journal on Global Warming. It has some lucid posts on the controversy. Enjoy.

Business Owners Rally against Sick Pay benefit

In 1970 the standard sick pay benefit for companies, at least as I recall it, was 1 day sick leave for every month of employment. Today, 35 years later, we see argument over a sick pay benefit of 9 days per year for full time employment. This benefit is seen as hurting the global competitivness. Like local Madison owners are competing with China slave shops for the sub or coffee shop business. HUH?

How do you come down on this issue? Does this sick benefit threaten the existence of small business in Madison? Is the sick leave an essential part of a workers benefits? I leave it up to you. Click on the post for the full story in the Wisconsin State Journal.

You make the call.

"Grumps Speaks" on Significance of GW Port Deal Flap

"Grumps" has spoken on the meaning of the flap over the ports deal that has pundits buzzing.

Click and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fred's Back---RIP--Not---; Rumors of his blog demise are premature

Fred Juergens has returned. Like Mark Twain, he has announced that rumors about the death of his blog are premature.

Click on his post for a full discussion of the use of email by alders and the use of blogs. Very helpful discussion on how this all relates to the 1st amendment rights that Fred plans to keep.

Click on the post for the scoop.

Minutes- Evansville Police Commission--2-20-2006

EVANSVILLE POLICE COMMISSION

Meeting Minutes

Common Council Chambers, Third Floor, City Hall

Evansville, Wisconsin

February 20, 2006

4:00 p.m.

1. Roll call. Commissioners in attendance: Scott Brummond, John Decker, Steve Hagen, Barbara Jacobson, Wally Shannon.. Also present: Chief Scott McElroy, Lt. Art Phillips, City Attorney Mark Kopp.

2. Approval of minutes. Minutes of the Commission's meeting of January 24, 2006 were reviewed. Motion by Jacobson to approve the minutes as distributed, seconded by Shannon. Approved by voice vote.

3. Citizen appearances, other than on agenda items listed below. None.

4. Chief's report. Chief McElroy distributed a written report bearing date of February 20, 2006. Chief McElroy provided an overview and chronology of the current recruitment process and furnished a letter proposal from M. Kaye, Ph. D., relative to psychological examinations of recruits. Chief McElroy spoke in favor of requiring psychological examinations as part of the hiring process. City Attorney Kopp reported on Dr. Kaye's favorable reputation as a psychologist in Rock County. Motion by Brummond to retain Dr. Kaye to provide psychological examinations of persons to whom conditional offers of employment are made as Patrol Officers, seconded by Shannon. Following discussion, approved by voice vote.

5. Approval of new eligibility list. Chief McElroy discussed the proposed new eligibility list contained in his written report. Motion by Jacobson, second by Decker, to approve the eligibility list as furnished by Chief McElroy. Approved by voice vote. Chief McElroy also requested th Commission's acceptance of the resignation of Patrol Officer Andrew Mueske. Motion by Decker, second by Hagen to accept such resignation. Approved by voice vote.

6. Approval of appointment of full-time patrol officer(s). No action requested at this time.

7. Approval of appointment of part-time patrol officer(s). Chief McElroy requested the Commission's approval of extensions of employment, conditioned on successful completion of psychological and physical examinations and drug screens, to Justin Mahan-Strupp, Donald Sparby, Jason Grooms and Dave Sleeter as part-time patrol officers. Motion by Brummond, second by Jacobson to approve such offers. Following discussion, approved by voice vote.

8. Discussion of potential school liaison position. The Commission discussed with Chief McElroy and Lt. Phillips the current status of police involvement with the Evansville schools, including the volume and nature of calls.

9. Motion to convene in closed session. Brummond moved, second by Jacobson, to convene in closed session pursuant to Wis. Stat. sec. 19.85(1)(g) to confer with legal counsel who are rendering written and oral advice concerning strategy to be adopted by the Commission with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved. On roll call vote, the Commissioners unanimously voted "aye."

10. Adjournment. Motion to adjourn sine die by Hagen, second by Jacobson.. Approved by voice vote at 5:41 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

John R. Decker

Secretary

Note: Minutes of the Commission are not official until approved by the Commission at a meeting called and noticed for that purpose.

Gazette Corner: Evansville Mayoral Candidates Reflect on Contest

Click on the post for the article written by Gina Duwe of the Janesville Gazette. All three candidates reflect on the great voter turnout and the result.

Enjoy.

Re: Resolutions for the April 4, 2006 Ballot

--- Jim Beilke <jim.beilke@ci.evansville.wi.gov>
wrote:

> CITY OF EVANSVILLE
> NOTICE OF RESOLUTIONS
> APRIL 4, 2006
>
> NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that an election to be held
> in the City of
> Evansville, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, April 4, 2006,
> the following resolutions
> will be submitted to a vote of the people pursuant
> to Section 9.20 of the
> Wisconsin Statutes.
>
> RESOLUTION 1
> “It is hereby resolved that the people of the City
> of Evansville, Wisconsin,
> request that the United States Government
> immediately begin an orderly and
> rapid withdrawal of all its military personnel from
> Iraq, beginning with
> National Guard and Reserves.”
>
> EXPLANATORY PARAGRAPH ON RESOLUTION 1
>
> A “yes” vote would indicate that you agree with and
> approve of the content
> of Resolution #1. A “no” vote would indicate that
> you do not agree with and
> do not approve of the content of Resolution #1.
>
> RESOLUTION 2
> “We, the citizens of Evansville, Wisconsin USA,
> while not necessarily fans
> of war, nor supporting or understanding every
> decision of this war, do
> desire to express by public referendum our strong
> support for our honorable
> President’s leadership, and to express to our
> honorable men and women in
> uniform our great esteem and appreciation of their
> dangerous sacrifices on
> our behalf, as they labor without rest to protect
> our freedoms, and our way
> of life against the unfathomable wickedness of the
> forces of terror, and we
> desire our President and troops to not quit this
> fight until unquestioned
> victory is clearly won.”
>
> EXPLANATORY PARAGRAPH ON RESOLUTION 2
>
> A “yes” vote would indicate that you agree with and
> approve of the content
> of Resolution #2. A “no” vote would indicate that
> you do not agree with and
> do not approve of the content of Resolution #2.
>
>
>
> Jim Beilke
> Evansville Clerk/Treasurer
>
>

Althouse Corner: Blogging and Scholarship--Evansville Corner--Blogging and Writing Development

Tension is mounting in Evansville. No. Not about the election. About the number ONE academic goal of the 2005-2006 school year at Evansville Schools. Do you remember what it is? Yes-----to improve student writing competence. Lack of it has been clearly identified as one of the areas to remedy.

So--How are we doing? I have asked for some leadership from the blogging community in Evansville. They have stepped up to the plate. You are the judge. It does seem to me that more folks are involved and the quality of the prose on the posts and the comment line indicate that the public is doing their very best to be proper role models for the school system here in our fair city. Traffic on the sites has skyrocketed also. People are reading even if they are not writing. Also good, since improving reading is the second goal of the academic year.

On the famous post called "The secret" I mentioned what each blogger knows to be the key----write every day. Check with your student today to see what he/she has written. The bloggers are doing their best.

Now it is up to the students to do their thing. And WRITE.

P.S. Click on the post to read an article by Althouse on how blogging has changed legal scholarship---formerly it was just a pointy headed vanity press. Now it is the source of active interaction by all legal types. Enjoy.

New Gag rules for NOAA and NASA? Science "wanted "preferred over Science that" is"?

Click on the post for the current article in Science magazine that details how the censorship program in many other areas of life has swept into science---and atmospheric science----- now that science has shown that maybe data on global warming might not agree with some political types and their current theories.

Click on the post and enjoy---all you weather and science types.

How Decisions Are Made: Addendum

Yesterday, The Observer posted an analysis by Althouse on "How Decisions are made," and in the analysis suggested that for complicated decisions it really is best to act like a duck, and that this is more effective than complicated analysis. I did make an exception for the case of automotive, and cited verse and line of my problems with the Lincoln Towncar to support my argument. (Click on the post for the original post)

I would like to add a second exception. Never VOTE like a duck. I hope all readers will take the time for learning about the candidates and their experience, education, position on issues and their vision for Evansville.

For all my dear readers in far flung jurisdictions beyond the Midwest, I deeply apologize. I did not in any way want to suggest to vote like a duck. I hope no national contests were influenced by my post. Your Humble Observer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Primary Results

Sandy Decker came in with 66% of the vote, Karen Aikman has 19% and Michael Anderson has 15% of the vote. Karen and Sandy are the winning candidates. Good Job, Evansville, with a nice turnout for the Primary Vote.

Vote Count News: Evansville Mayoral Race

According to detailed exit polls, The Observer has learned that as of 2:30PM the vote count is about 260.

This has led to anxiety in the blogger pundit ranks as bloggers speculate on the Ambulance forecast. Stay tuned to the Observer for content and much, much more.

ECHO closure is a loss; Hopefully new location will be found

Click on the post for the latest Janesville Gazette article on the closure of ECHO and what it means for the poorest of the poor.

Many local Evansville runners know ECHO because each year ECHO sponsors the TURKEY TROT, the 5k race from the Trinity Episcopal Church that raises funds for their mission. Each year Evansville runners have not only won, but have given back their turkeys they won to the ECHO for their clients.

I read somewhere that this crisis was caused by a $300 a month shortfall. I have a hard time believing that is the story. I wonder whether contributions have maybe just not kept up with the demand over the past few years. This is still a developing story.

No time for Comedy; Or Fish Tales

Recently I have been on the road up to the frozen tundra of Minnesota to visit my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer in Woman Lake. As you may remember, Woman Lake is near the famous Lake Woebegon. (Click on the post for some further info on Woman Lake). There are only a few women in Woman Lake and the only young one works at the Woman Lake Bait Shop. It is a classic bait shop with an exterior made of colored stones that is unique. Stop by if you are ever in the area.

We all met early in the morn for the ice fishing trip to Young Girl Lake just near Woman Lake. It is a smaller lake and perfect for sunfish. Anyway, after getting situated in the massive ice house that was the pride of Herman, I broached the subject of the Jay Leno Show I had stayed up to watch the night before.

"Well," I said, "What did you think of the Jay Leno comedy last night about V.P. Cheney's hunting accident?

The reply was just SILENCE.

Herman was the first to finally respond. "Wolfman (that's what he always called me) you just don't understand. We don't think there is anything funny about shooting old guys. Even by accident. Secondly, we don't do COMEDY up here. We are ALL business. In fact, the municipal ordinance of Woman Lake specifically outlaws comedy and most specifically "satire." You need to be REAL careful up here. It's ok in the ice house, cause we all understand your weakness for humor, but you need to keep it under wraps. There is NO problem with foul language but understand--NO HUMOR."

Then he went on, "Up here it's just a REAL simple life. There is just FISH and BAIT. You are just one or the other. In fact, there are only two kinds of fish, BIG fish and SMALL fish. BAIT is just the tourists. If you took some time off for comedy, you might miss catching the big one. We need to FOCUS up here. FOCUS on the fish.

It sure is good to be back home. Home in our fair city. Free of the simple life of the northern tundra.

Popularity of Virtual Schools Growing; Deadline looms 2-24-2006

Click on the post for an article in the Monroe Times about virtual schools.

At the recent budget hearings in Monroe, a question was raised about the cost of virtual schools. It was quickly answered. Virtual Schools brought in $180,000 to the school system that was used to support other forms of instruction. Discussion ended.

The Observer has previously posted regarding the mix of brick and mortar that school systems are experimenting with all across the country. This mix is working in Monroe.

Minutes: Conflict Resolution Meeting--Evansville and Union--October 20, 2005

City of Evansville - Town of Union
Conflict Resolution Teams Meeting Minutes
October 20, 2005; Evansville City Hall
Call the meeting to order @ 6:00 PM.
Roll Call: Ald. Hammann (Co-chair), Kim Gruebling (Co-chair), Supervisor Don Krajeck, & Kelly Gildner. Absent: Bob James & Chris Eager. Quorum attained.
Minutes of August meeting unanimously approved on a Hammann-Gildner motion.
Citizen appearances – None
Discussion of draft boundary agreement between City of Evansville and Town of Union.
Ald. Hammann passed out a copy of the Intermunicipal cooperation agreement between the city of Watertown and the town of Emmet as an illustration of boundary agreement. The following items were discussed:
Joint Land Use & Transportation Plan – After Union completes it’s Smart Growth plan in the spring, then Evansville & Union will combine each plan into a single set of maps for both communities.
Annexations – The town will not oppose annexations of land within the city growth areas.
Development with city growth areas – Design standards according to smart growth checklists.
Development with town growth areas - The City waives its extraterritorial jurisdiction within the town growth areas.
Intergovernmental Cooperation – joint requests such as Stormwater management, roadways & Blighted areas.
Revenue Sharing
Dispute Resolution
Evansville’s plan commission & Union’s planners will review this document and any necessary changes while both teams wait for Union’s Smart Growth to be completed.
Discussion of City of Evansville’s future land use map, including whether the map should be revised in light of a possible rural residential subdivision development north of Evansville Country Club golf course in the Town of Union.
This development is located outside of the City of Evansville’s future land use map growth area.
Preliminary discussion of Union growth plans.
New business
CTH M speed limit - Union is supportive of reducing the speed limit on both sides of CTH M approaching Hwy. 14 intersection. Evansville’s engineer will provide Union's Town supervisor Kendall Schneider to provide the details of where the speed limit should be reduced and by how much.
Evansville’s Large Scale Commercial Development Committee requested a representative from Union. Kelly Gildner agreed to be the Union Township representative
Changed name of the team to City of Evansville - Town of Union Smart Growth Implementation committee unanimously approved on a Gruebling-Hammann motion.
Changed meeting location to Evansville City Hall old council chambers unanimously approved on a Gruebling-Hammann motion.
Meeting adjourned @ 7:15 p.m.

Next Meeting: December 15 at 6:00 p.m.

Bill Hammann; Evansville, Adlerperson, Co-chairman of City of Evansville - Town of Union Smart Growth Implementation committee

Mailbag: Space Science: Company markets ashes to Space Service---Observer readers respond

The Observer wishes to thank the hundreds of folks who emailed me this morn to offer to pay for the service that hit the news wire this morn---namely of transporting ones ashes to space. The fee ranged from $995 to $5200. (click on the post for the full story) Most of those who wrote me offered to pay whatever it would cost. No questions asked.

I am deeply touched by their generosity.

Since I can't respond to each of you individually, I will just say to all, "Not Now. Maybe later."

Althouse Corner: How Decisions are Made

Click on the post for the latest from the Althouse Blog on how decisions are made--most particularly complex decisions.

If you are a little older, you might have had the time to reflect--reflect on the decisions and choices you have made and the consequences of those decisions. If you go a little further though as to the complex decisions, you will be tempted to reflect on the "why" and the "how" of the decision.

I like to tell my daughters that it is like how a duck swims. " A duck just swims. A duck does not analyze how to move his feet. Go and do likewise. "

My readers may be surprised that The Observer would have such a simple approach, but I have had the chance to go back and review-----and if you would ask me to detail why I really liked that brunette girl at the sock hop when I was 13, I have no more of a clue now than I did then. And I do not seek to know. Being a duck is fine with me.

Cars are a different deal. I really liked Lincoln Towncars, but am able to be flexible now that they have consistently exhausted my AAA towing benefit. I was right about my quick purchase of a 1965 Mustang, but have been consistently wrong ever since. I am reverting to a more detailed analytical approach on cars. I will use the duck approach for everything else.

Click on the post for the full analysis by Althouse. Remember. If it's a difficult decision----don't think too much.

Primary Election Day in Evansville----Vote Today---

Don't forget that today is Primary Election Day in Evansville. Because low turnout is predicted by some pundits, your vote might be the difference.

Blog later. Vote now.

The Observer was #2 this morn. I am free to blog now.

Monday, February 20, 2006

St. Croix housing market sinks 22% in 4th quarter; Overall Wisconsin remarkably strong

Overall Wisconsin real estate stayed strong as 2005 ended but Western St. Croix County was the exception.

Click on the post for the details.

Stoughton School Beat: Increase in Student Fees has some unintended impact

Click on the post for a full discussion of the pros and cons of increased student fees that were implemented at the Stoughton Schools.

In one case, an increased student parking fee has resulted in students parking in nearby residential areas and increasing traffic congestion.

All schools seem to be pondering increasing fees. Click on the post for the news from Stoughton. Enjoy.

Monroe School Corner: Supr. Jefson Q&A--Changes coming in budget reporting, athletics, much more

Click on the post for a Question and Answer session between the Monroe Times and Supr. Jefson of the Monroe School System.

The fact was revealed that in prior years, the audit firm only reported to the Supr. and not the entire school board. In addition, it appears that the school board was not intimately involved in the budget process. It appears that all this has changed. That is good news.

Click on the post for the full discussion. Enjoy.

Evansville Observer Sign Caper Resolved

The issue of the Evansville Observer sign has been resolved after discussion with the City Planner, and The Observer will be getting a sign permit and using a 3x3ft sign, unlighted.

I want to thank those who have written, called and stopped by to indicate their concern and let them know that all is well.

Janesville Gazette predicts "terrible" turnout in primaries

Click on the post for the latest from the Janesville Gazette.

Your vote tomorrow in the primary is important.

"Customer Service" the Key at Dave's Ace Hardware

Click on the post for a well deserved article in the Janesville Gazette on the customer service creed at Ace Hardware. Enjoy.

"Ambulance" stuns crowd--covers Theatre; Observer notes news desk error

It was a just a fluke of the news assignment game. One bewildered reader wondered why "Ambulance", the legal guru, would be covering theatre and The Observer, would be attempting to cover "The Junk Yard Con" or better known as "The bona fide purchaser for value con".

It is hard to explain, except that occasionally one wants to have an easy story to cover, and Ambulance wanted to cover the play since he felt that since it dealt with the law, he had first dibs on the coverage.

Naturally, there have been lots of readers that have felt that it should have been covered by The Observer.

Click on the post for the full theatre review. This looks like a great play to attend.

"Grumps" speaks; Thinks Anderson has a chance if turnout very low;

Click on the post for the thoughts of "Grumps."

The time of the pundits is coming to a close. It is your time to vote. Remember to vote TOMORROW.

Audible Althouse #37: On Dick Cheney; On Oversensitivy as Power Manipulation and More

Click on the post for the latest of Audible Althouse---#37 . No additional software is needed. Click on the link and on the title to load and play.

She covers toward the end of the session how oversensitivity is the major tactical weapon in the battle of the cartoons as a way of destroying the very essence of freedom of speech. Very interesting and timely.

Automotive Corner: Observer Celebrates "Carstar"

This morning I took our 1996 Mazda in for some repairs to Utzig Collision Center in Janesville. They are part of the national "Carstar" network of collision centers that serve about 40 insurance companies nationwide. They fixed our Maxda after my wife hit a deer in December. Utzig "Carstar" has an appraisal office right here in Evansville in the Brown Seed Building. (Click on the post to see the national Carstar site.)

The Utzig collision folks on Court Street are the best folks I have ever dealt with in collision matters, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I have met quite a few during my days with American Family Insurance.

I may have mentioned the car-deer incident previously. Much of the accident claim form was filled with my wife's detailed description of exactly how the deer looked and felt at the moment of impact. At the end of the lyrical description, the claims adjuster said, "Ok, Mrs. Woulfe, now could you tell me if anyone else was injured?"

I had the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Utzig himself this morn, and mentioned that Evansville was just a little short in the automotive repair area at this time and that I would love to see one of his facilities here in Evansville. He smiled and said that it took about 1.5 million dollars to build a collision center and that the population density here was not enough to make the numbers work.

Anyway, I still love the folks at Utzing Collision Center. If you stop by, tell them The Observer sent you.

P.S. I am pleased to report that MY driving record is clear, valid and no restrictions. My dad did get one warning ticket back in 1955. It was for driving too slow. Seems the speedometer in the 1949 Buick Roadmaster was broken and the shocks were shot and to avoid my sisters car sickness he slowed down more than was needed. O.K. How about that for full disclosure?

Mayoral Corner: Battle of The Signs Intensifies

Each Saturday night over the past few years, The Observer has gathered with some politicos from local haunts to analyze the news. One of the topics of discussion this week was on what exactly the formula for victory might be in various election contests...and specifically ----- the Evansville Mayoral Primary Election.

One of the principals of these discussions is one who has a deep math background. He was working on the proper formula. He postulated that V= S + I + L +E + P - TS Where V is victory, S is Signs, I is IDEAS and L is LEADERSHIP and E is EXPERIENCE and P is PROMOTION and TS is Sign Theft.

As soon as this equation was out of his mouth, a furious argument erupted. First, the issue of sign theft was discussed and whether this really was being investigated for the serious matter that it can be in local elections.

The second issue that was debated hotly was whether values assigned for "signs" and "ideas" were equal. Some thought that 1 idea was worth several signs. Others thought not. Some even were so bold to say that ideas were only 1/2 of 1 sign value. One participant was so out of line as to suggest that ideas counted as zero in Evansville.

He further suggested that signs have become a substitute for ideas and hence the color of signs is VERY important as well as the typography---in short it is a battle between blue and white in BOLD ROMAN versus red and white in BOLD ROMAN versus one candidate who has mixed BOLD ROMAN and "italic" in a daring move and chosen brown and white as the color scheme.

So there you have it. Now it is up to you. The election is tomorrow. Be sure to vote. And---the comment line is open. What do you think is the proper formula for victory? Ambulance has predicted that a total of 300 ballots will be cast. What is your prediction? Will it be about signs? What color do you think will get the most votes?

You make the call.

Grassroots Forums

Through www.edemocracy.org one can access public discussion and moderated forums on topics from A to Z.

Click on the post to access Grassroots, and try one of their online discussion groups. Enjoy.

Cap Times Corner: Cap Times Salutes UW defense of Free Speech;

In an opinion article, The Capital Times has explained why it salutes the actions of the UW in defending the student journalists of the Badger Herald in publishing a cartoon that has been the center of controversy around the world.

Click on the post for the full article.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Fire Underwriter; Or, Why the Building Inspector might be your best friend?

Some years ago, I was a casualty underwriter for a major insurance company. Most of the work I did was in auto underwriting, but every once in a while, I would have the task of reviewing the losses...fire losses for the past year. The purpose was to see if in any way I had missed something in the underwriting process that I could learn from in the future.

One partuicular loss I still do remember. It was a rambler fire. The owner had done a lot of the construction work himself. He had done some additions to the garage and had done some rewiring and had done this himself. He also had added the garage after the initial construction of the home. He had NOT gotten any required permits or inspections.

To make a long story short---- I was looking at the stark black and white photo of a burnt out rambler. The fire had started in the faulty electric "billy bob" that he had done in the garage. Because he had not bothered to do the barrier up to "code" between the garage and home, it had spread like wildfire and killed all three of his children.

Ever since---BEFORE, I do anything, I have called our local building inspector and talked the project over with him first. There are only a couple of us in town that do this. It has always SAVED me at least $200 per telephone call or visit.

There is a reason for building codes. They are for YOUR protection. I hope you never have to see pictures like I had to see with your family in a burnt out home. Just think. The building inspector might just be your best friend. What a surprise.

"Ambulance" notes excitement; Makes Prediction

In the tradition of Carnac the Magnificant, "Ambulance" has gone out on a limb and predicted the turnout for the upcoming Primary election on Tuesday.

Click on the post to enjoy and to enter what your prediction is.

Dateline Monroe: Monroe Schools receive $50,000 gift to study wind towers

In an effort to spur Monroe Schools to examine how wind turbine towers could provide renewal energy for the schools, Dr. Frantz has given $50,000 to the schools.

Click on the post for the full story in the Monroe Times. What a wonderful role model Monroe is in its effort to attain energy independence. Bravo.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Newspaper Corner: Newspapers note their future is DIGITAL

Click on the link for the latest from Yahoo news on the recent earnings reports for newspapers nationwide. While ad revenues are down for print media, when one combines print and digital editions the circulation is up. Most newspapers realize that the future is DIGITAL.

Click on the post for the full story. You make the call.

"Audio Observer "Coming----

Following the example of the famous law professor at the UW, Prof. Ann Althouse and her audio blog, The Evansville Observer will be using audio to enable the citizens of Evansville to listen to Evansville City Council members at their properly noticed open meetings. This practice follows in a long tradition of regular print media reporters that cover the city, such as the Janesville Gazette.

The Observer was returning to Evansville on Tuesday with the new technology but got lost in the instructions for installation and was unable to be present at the historic meeting of Tuesday last.

Finally----this audio recording can be treasured by all those future historians that want to write about the truly historic happenings of our fair city.

The Weightroom; #26; Or, The B-2 Bomber and You

Several weeks ago on PBS, as part of a special series, they touched on the B-2 Bomber. Mr. Bronchauccio asked the question of viewers as to where they thought the B-2 Bomber was made? My answer was California. The real answer? Yes, The Observer was wrong. The real answer is in EVERY state in the union. Why? The real answer is that whenever there is an attempt to kill the B-2 bomber, every state in the Union refuses because it has an investment it it's success. That distribution of manufacturing was intentional.

The other night in the weight room, I heard the head honcho describing the weight room. He mentioned the list of volunteer supervisors, about 75, of them that volunteer to supervise the weight room so it can be open seven days a week for the community. He also mentioned that due to VOLUNTARY contributions, the weight room is not dependent on taxpayer funding for its success. And, the range of participation of students is huge. Kids from middle school to the age of 77 are in the weight room weekly. Yes, the guy in his seventies is a champion weight lifter and has been in our local newspapers for his national awards.

The bottom line: When a program is loved by a large majority of the people, and it is funded by donation and volunteers step forward to administer it, NOTHING can destroy that program.

In the future budget woes of cities as well as institutions such as schools and health facilities, The Observer believes that the lessons of the weightroom will be instructive.

Yes...You heard it here. The Theory of the Weight Room.

Make a note of it. You make the call.

The Junk Yard Con

Over the past five years, in Minnesota and Wisconsin, there has been a change in the way car titles have been handled that has virtually eliminated the business of "rebuilding" autos. You may wonder why. The following is my understanding of the change and why this has happened.

Years ago, there were three "status" classifications of auto titles, "clear", "junk" and "salvage." The "clear" title has never been in a accident. The "junk" title was reserved for a car that was in an accident and after inspection by an auto adjuster, was totaled, and MUST go to the junkyard and could only be used for parts. The third classification, or "salvage" title is what this post is about.

The "salvage" title is a car that is in an accident but the car is deemed to be able to be repaired and put on the road. Usually, it is necessary for the state in question to "inspect" these cars prior to service. The rules about this "inspection" varied from state to state. Once the car previosly deemed "salvage" was inspected, the title was deemed "cured" and the word "salvage" was removed from the title.

I think you can see where this might cause problems. Let's say the car was a new 1990 car that was in an accident and not the "salvage" word was removed. Now the owner wants to sell that car to an innocent third party buyer. It is represented as a 1990 car and the value of the "Kelley Blue Book" is quoted. However, Kelly Blue Book pricing is NOT applicable to salvage repaired cars. Once a car has been through salvage, the value NEVER can be returned to the Kelley Blue Book numbers.

So---states like Wisconsin have ruled that once a car has been rebuilt, if they were deemed salvage, they will always have the word SALVAGE on the title.

SO--the Days of the Junk Yard Con are over.

O.K. now some of you are wondering--------- wondering whether this applies to real estate as well as cars. I will let YOU make up your mind on that question. However, if a property is worth 1.2 million and party A agrees with party C, a city, that it will be worth 2.0 million, and taxed accordingly forever, is it ever possible for that property to be transferred to an innocent third party purchaser?

Put another way, if three of you agree that the sky is red, if a fourth person says it is blue, does that make the sky red? In the matter of junk titles, the State of Wisconsin thinks not. How about in the case of real estate? I will leave that up to you.

You make the call.

Mailbag: Dateline Minnesota: Minneapolis Star: John McCain speaks on "Earmarks"

Congress pressured to cut back on pork
Rob Hotakainen, Star Tribune

WASHINGTON - Congress' pork-barrel spending practices are getting a good grilling in the early days of the 2006 session, denounced by a growing number of critics as an embarrassment that could have a big effect on elections this fall.

And while Minnesotans in Congress are offering ideas on changing the system, in fact, as a group they haven't had much success in playing the pork game. Minnesota ranks near the bottom among states in how much money it has received for special projects known as earmarks.

Pork is the derisive term for earmarks, which are usually tucked into bigger spending bills, often during late-night sessions with little or no public debate.

Since 1994, the number of earmarks has nearly quadrupled, going from 4,126 to 15,268 last year. Many members say the system of granting favors to homegrown projects -- often with lobbyists pulling strings behind the scenes -- has spiraled out of control.

Dealing with the use of earmarks has become part of the agenda as ethics and corruption scandals have swept into Congress in the past several months.

Last year, Minnesota ranked 46th in the nation -- up from 48th in 2004 -- in the amount of per-capita pork, according to a study by Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group. Alaska ranked first, and Texas was last. Alaska's success in winning earmarks was ridiculed by many last year when the $452 million so-called "bridges to nowhere" funding became common knowledge.

Over the years, Minnesota has had two veteran players in the House -- both Democrats -- who have led the way in bringing home the bacon for the state: Rep. Jim Oberstar, the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, and Rep. Martin Sabo, the only Minnesotan on the House Appropriations Committee. In the Senate, where seniority is measured by decades, both of Minnesota's senators are in their first terms, lacking the experience to get appointed to conference committees, where earmarks are often added to bills.

"I've gotta tell you: I'm too low on the seniority pole to be involved in those conference committees," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

As Congress prepares to vote on new ethics proposals in the next few weeks, Republican Sens. John McCain, of Arizona, and Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma, want to force separate votes on every earmark, a plan that could guarantee some very long floor sessions.

"This is out-of-control spending ... and it's got to stop," McCain said at a hearing of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee last week. He said Americans "are holding us in very low esteem because of the way that we do business."

Coburn said the public is beginning to connect the dots between members of Congress, earmarks, lobbyists and campaign contributions.

"Pork as we know it today didn't exist 20 years ago," he said, noting that then-President Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill in 1987 because it contained 121 earmarks. "As the majority party, my fellow Republicans have to make a choice -- our majority or our pork."

Coleman said that voting on every earmark is not realistic and that earmarks are not "inherently evil." He wants Congress to assure more transparency in the process to build public confidence. "That's the issue with earmarks: Are they being traded in the dead of night because of favors?"

'A good starting point'

A bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., would allow a senator to object to any earmark added to an appropriations bill during the final stages of negotiations. Sponsors of the project would then have to get at least 60 votes to prevail.

Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., called the legislation "a good starting point" but said it doesn't go far enough. Dayton said he wants Congress to approve an open-meeting law, similar to Minnesota's, that would require conference committees to meet in public.

Many Republicans, including Coleman, are predicting Congress will act quickly on earmarks, but some Democrats are skeptical.

"Already we are hearing the sound of furious backpedaling in the corridors of power," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. "People even seem to be having doubts about something that a few weeks ago seemed like a done deal, a ban on privately funded travel."

Coleman expressed concern that Congress will go too far in reining in earmarks.

"I was able to get one little earmark for some work on Duchenne muscular dystrophy," Coleman said. "If your kid has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he's going to die. ... And the ability to put some money in things where we can make a difference, that's a good thing."

Pork, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and in Washington a pork project is always in the other guy's district. In its annual "Pig Book," Citizens Against Government Waste took aim at a long list of Minnesota projects, even though the group found far more examples in other states. It listed $250,000 to build a Liberian cultural center in Brooklyn Park, $100,000 for the Minnesota Humanities Commission to pay for an English literacy initiative and $2.5 million for a bridge in Richfield.

Many members of Congress say their constituents expect them to fight for those kinds of earmarks and measure their success by their ability to bring home the pork.

Minge just said no to pork

As the head of the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition, former Rep. David Minge refused to play the pork game, and he figures it's one reason why he's no longer in Congress.

Minge, a four-term Minnesota Democrat from the Second District who was defeated in 2000, refused to vote for a big transportation bill because he said it contained too much pork. That prompted plenty of resentment, with one local official joking that he'd erect a statue of Minge at a congested intersection. Minge's vote became an issue in his reelection race, and he lost by 155 votes.

In an interview with the National Journal in 2004, Minge said some of his constituents "resented the fact that I would not sell my political soul to obtain the federal dollars to remedy their local problem of traffic congestion."

"This stand may have cost me my seat," Minge said.

Minge, now a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, declined to comment on the debate in Congress or his old battles over earmarks, saying it would be inappropriate for a judge to interject himself in a political debate: "I don't think I need to resurrect all these things. ... There's no statue -- that's all I can say."


Washington Bureau correspondent Aaron Blake contributed to this report. Rob Hotakainen is a Star Tribune Washington Bureau correspondent.

Evansville Municipal Code Now Online

Evansville Municipal Code is now online for all citizens to research. It is unclear to The Observer whether it is up to date, however. If you have questions, contact city hall to be sure the section is the most current.

Enjoy.

The Cold Weather Rule---A Public Service Announcement

"The Cold Weather Rule" is the law restricting the right of utilities to disconnect natural gas and electricity from tenants or owners of property during the period from November 1 to April 1. These rules differ from state to state.

The disconnection of heat during this period can cause destruction of property and loss of life. Minnesota is a state that has a strict cold weather rule. I am not sure of the status of Wisconsin. Many times it is required that customers that are disabled or in a medical emergency status or homes where there is a newborn, that homeowners contact the utility to advise it of their status before they are elegible for protection under the rule.

I am aware of a home in our fair city that due to a burst water pipe that was unattended to caused the complete distruction of the home. In Minnesota each year, there is usually a case of a person that dies that should not have if they had properly notified the utility.

Check with your utility if you have questions regarding the "Cold Weather Rule."

Friday, February 17, 2006

On Time for the 1st Amendment; Or, Althouse on Badger Herald and cartoons

Prof. Althouse has the time to discuss the first Amendment. Lucky her.

Click on the post for the discussion on the decision of the Badger Herald to publish the cartoon that has enraged the world. Click on post and enjoy.

The Valentine's Day Massacre

Recently I have been on the road up to the frozen tundra of Minnesota to visit my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer in Woman Lake. As you may remember, Woman Lake is near the famous Lake Woebegon. (Click on the post for some further info on Woman Lake). There are only a few women in Woman Lake and the only young one works at the Woman Lake Bait Shop. It is a classic bait shop with an exterior made of colored stones that is unique. Stop by if you are ever in the area.

I stopped by unnanouced, and Herman said to me," Well, Wolfman (that's what he always calls me) you really missed all the excitement."

"What Happened?", I said.

"Well," he said, " As you know, it is Valentines Day and Louise who works at city hall has been going with Harvey who is also employed there. Anyway, Harvey was going to call Louise on the phone and wish her "Happy Valentines's Day" but decided he could not do it LEGALLY."

"Whatever do you mean, Herman?", I said.

"Well, " he went on, 'They are VERY strict up here on the "Open Meetin Law" and Harvey was worried that the two of them talking might constitute an ILLEGAL meeting."

" I find that a little strange," I replied. "There is so LITTLE law and order up here in Northern Minnesota, why would it matter anyway.?"

"Well, that's true. You just don't understand, Wolfman----There is NO law up here and all we have to really treasure is snowmobiling, whiskey and the Open Meetin Law. So----we have REAL strong feelings about all three. "

I was just dumbfounded.

It sure is good to be back home. Thank goodness I don't have to deal with the folks of the northern tundra and their funny ideas.

The Power of Volunteers

A long time ago, I was in a meeting in the hospital setting and we were talking of some weighty matter and had expected the head administrator to have lunch with us for the meeting. The word came that he had to meet with the volunteers instead. We were a little disappointed and someone said so. Whomever made the comment lived to regret it. The Director of Nursing overheard the comment and launched on a ten minute monologue on the structure of health care itself as we knew it in the mid-seventies and how it was built on volunteers......

There were high school students that wheeled patients to and fro, there were the messengers, and the phone bank ladies and the gift shop and coffee shop ladies and the surgery lounge folks. In all, in that one hospital there were over 200 volunteers. Without them, we were in deep trouble. When you think of it, the economy of a lot of institutions--whether fire, hospital, nursing home...etc. was deeply affected by the volunteers. To make all those services paid for has changed the face of many instutitions.

Each year, our fair city has a short program called "Just Desserts" that happens in the atrium of the high school that honors volunteers of the community. It is one thing to work for money---it is another whole world to work for nothing but the pleasure of helping. There is a whole generation of folks that have been very dedicated to the volunteer work and they have made a huge impact here. Gradually we are seeing a changing of the guard as the new must step forth to take their places.

So. Do not hesitate. Step forward. It makes all the difference in the world.

Re: K12now Notification from Evansville School District

--- K12now System <noreply@bounce.k12now.com> wrote:

>
> The fifth grade music concert has been re-scheduled
> to Friday, 2/17 at 1:30 and 7:00 PM in the high
> school performong arts center.
>
> ----
> Message sent from Evansville School District by
> K12now.
> To manage your K12now subscriptions visit
> http://my.k12now.com
> ----
>

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Walton" Speaks: A Double Negative: Why Two "NO's" are the proper choice in Evansville war referendums

Click on the post for the latest from "Walton". He is calling for a "double negative." He feels that both referendum choices are flawed.

Click on the post and enjoy.

Abraham Lincoln, The blogger.

Recently in our fair city, there has been an explosion in the number of bloggers. For some, this seems like a very new trend. However, it is not. The use of "handles" goes back as far as the very first paper in England in 1711. It was called the "Spectator" and it was published by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. So, for those who feel a bit uncomfortable with such a structure of media, it is a bit late for surprise. Like 300 years late for a sudden surprise. I still remember when I ordered the four volume set of Spectator Papers from Everyman Press some 40 years ago.

You may not have known, but Abe Lincoln, President Lincoln, when he was a young lawyer traveling on the circuit, stayed in coach houses just like our own Coach House in our fair city, and spent the evenings writing "posts" under assumed names to the papers back in Springfield, Illinois.

It was one of the most popular pastimes in Lincoln's time. One problem though was that because of the time delay, the answers and posts did not always match and misunderstandings were frequent. Lincoln and Mary Todd were frequent posters and in fact due to a misunderstanding, they had to have a special sit down negotiation prior to their nuptial agreement to iron out some very seriously hurt feelings. To this day, historians are debating what it was all about. It is a matter of deep scholarship.

There are several wonderful books on Abe Lincoln in our own Eager Free Public Library. Expore the life of one of the most famous bloggers of history---- Abe Lincoln.

Rep. Lansee explains "Grandstanding" charge re Gov Doyle Special session---.

Lasee’s Notes
February 14, 2006
Heating Homes
The Governor needed an issue – something that would catch the public’s imagination,
and end the tough couple months he’s been having.
He picked one – home heating assistance. Keeping people warm in the winter is a
noble cause, and Governor Doyle is a little late to the party.
Wisconsin already has a program to help lower income people pay for home heating, if
they need it. It’s partly federal funded, partly state funded through the Public Benefits
Fee – an extra charge (a fee, not a tax) you’ll find on your electricity bill every month.
This year, we’ll spend about $70 million on home heating assistance. Last year, we
spent $54 million (a nearly 30% increase), meaning each eligible family is already
receiving more assistance.
And we’ve already tried to increase it further: a bill authored by Rep. Honadel and Sen.
Cowles (both Republicans) will increase the program to $80 million – a nearly 50%
increase over last year – if it is ever signed into law.
Many states don’t spend anything other than federal money on home heating
assistance. In Wisconsin, we can never do enough.
That bill passed the Assembly in December (oddly, over the no votes of most
Democrats), and now awaits action in the Senate. Perhaps Governor Doyle could urge
action on that, instead of re-inventing the wheel.
Governor Doyle’s plan is to spend $6 million (instead of $10 million) from the PECFA
fund – the fund used to clean up petroleum-contaminated land – instead of alreadyexisting
heating assistance funds.
Plus, he wants to increase the eligibility levels. Currently, only those at or below 150%
of the federal poverty level – about $30,000 for a family of four – are eligible. He would
raise this to 206%. Families earning up to $41,200 will be eligible.
Six million dollars isn’t enough to cover all those new applicants, meaning that his plan
will take heating assistance away from the poor, and give it to the middle class. All part
of his “affordability agenda.” We’ll take more from you, so you’ll feel better about paying
taxes and taking what the ` Wisconsin government gives you.
And he wants all this right now. This week. Governor Doyle demanded that the
Legislature hold a special session this week to authorize that money.
He could have demanded it last week, when we were already meeting. He could
demand it next week, when we’re scheduled to meet again.
As a matter of fact, he could have demanded it six months ago, after Hurricane Katrina
woke us all to the reality of rising gas and fuel prices. That was in August – we’ve
known ever since then (if not before) that heating our homes was going to cost more
this winter. Higher energy costs aren’t a new phenomenon – except, it seems, in the
Governor’s office.
In both of his budgets, Governor Doyle has robbed the Public Benefits Fund to support
other spending. In the 2005-07 budget, he took (and, to be fair, the Republican
legislature approved) over $35 million out of the $130 million fund, and transferred it to
the General Fund.
If we needed more money for home heating assistance, we could simply have used the
Public Benefits Fund, instead of sending it to the General Fund, and now looking for
another source to rob to make up for our lack of foresight.
In the end, this is simply another attempt at grandstanding – just another meaningless
attempt to look good.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Supr. Carvin writes: Explains "Comprehensive High School" and Board meeting comments

Subject: RE: Evansville Observer: The Story of Monroe Schools; Unplanning vs The Power of Purpose
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 12:36:11 -0600
From: "Carvin, Heidi"
To: "Richard Woulfe" The Evansville Observer

........
"It would be more accurate that I question the future of our ability to
be a comprehensive high school. I don't recall saying something about a
variety of missions. Specifically, if we look at some of the materials
prepared nationally to set standards, our mission in the area of Career
and Technical Education can be sharpened. Many of these
skills/standarads are, can and should be addressed in the "core"
curriculum classes. If we need to pull back on the variety of courses
we
can offer, that is, how comprehensive can we actually be, we will need
to make sure we consciously do as well or better at integrating these
skills across the curriculum.

As a sample, attached is a form used when we place a student with an
employer. These items were also of high priority when we met with local
business reps as to what they want students who interview with them to
exhibit."

School Beat: Nancy Kress Announces Retirement Plans

After 36 years of service to the Evansville School District, Nancy Kress announced her intentions to retire after the 2005-2006 school year.

The Observer joins with others in the Evansville community to celebrate her career in teaching here in Evansville. She has been instrumental in the adjustment of curriculum for many students----I know personally of her skill and committment to excellence.

Few know that she was one of the very first of the ESL teachers that was certified. Many of the students that she knew well during the school year, I had the pleasure of instructing in the summer at the Eager Library several years ago.

As a teacher, one is in the business of starting fires---Of LEARNING. One never really sees the huge forest fires of excitement that those learning fires become. Let me assure you that her students will never forget her years of service and what it meant for their lives.

Thank You, Nancy, for all your faithful service.

NEWSFLASH: The New Ace is completed; Inventory to be transferred from Milton Store; Opening in a month

Drive by the new Ace. It is completed. It looks beautiful. It looks beautiful. O.K. The Observer did want some more brick. I am now humble. I was wrong. It looks wonderful. O.K. Did I say it O.K.?

The Grand Opening should occur in a month. This is a huge effort of inventory transfer from the Milton store. This should occur in time before the upper East Main street is closed.

Stay tuned to The Observer.

"Walton" Speaks on Wisconsin Legislature passing on Heating Assistance

Click on the post for the latest from Walton's blog on the Wisconsin Legislature and it's refusal to confont the despair and desparation of many confronting the energy crisis.

"Walton" will be linked shortly on The Evansville Observer.

"Ambulance" reports on City Council meeting

Click on the post for the latest from the Evansville City Council as reported by Ambulance Fugo.

Do not despair. We can still debate about the weather. And the Packers. It was not freedom of speech that our relatives died for in battle. It was just the right to talk about the weather. O.K. ?

"Grumps" weighs in on jails--If we build them will they come?

"Grumps" is feeling better. Bravo. Click on the post for his latest reflection on jail space.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"Pro Bono"

Every young law student in America during his/her law school days participates in some "pro bono" legal work. It is part of the training of the legal profession. It is also a training as to the mission of serving that the legal profession has prided itself in over the centuries.

Sometimes this "Pro bono" work is introduced to law students BEFORE they even enter law school. Sometimes they are informed of this aspect of their law studies in the very FIRST orientation session conducted by the admission department.

Click on the post for a link to the American Bar Association that describes this mission.

After extensive search in the vast resources of the local libraries, the only reference to this "pro bono" concept in our fair city that can be gleaned from ancient historical records is that once upon a time a long time ago, a distinguished law practitioner was heard to say, " We never thought of "pro bono."

Weather Corner: The Deeper Analysis by WXMAN--The Politics of Global Warming---Controversy over Weather Looms--Will Free Weather Speech be Restricted?

--- WXMAN the Mystery Weatherman wrote:

---------------------------------
Well, will we finally get a little winter here? After
the warmest January since 1880, it'll be a welcome
sight to see some white on the ground and some cold
temperatures! Actually, I was wondering if Observer
readers are making connections between our warm
weather and global warming, as after Hurricane
Katrina. It's beginning to be a bit of a political
and polarizing issue, even among researchers. There's
a group of pro-warming hurricane researchers who will
literally not attend a conference or meeting if a
certain other group of non-believers is planning to
attend. How did we get ourselves into this mess?

I will confidently assert that we cannot ascribe our
current lack of winter to global warming. On the
other hand, if it were to happen 15 out of the next 20
years, well ... The place to look for evidence of
human-induced climate change is in the Arctic. The
apparent changes there make for interesting reading if
you get a chance.

In the meantime we finally have an interesting
meteorological event coming up here for Wednesday
night into Thursday. Here's the word from the
National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MILWAUKEE/SULLIVAN
HAS ISSUED A
WINTER STORM WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY
MORNING
THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING.

HEAVY SNOW WITH ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 9 INCHES IS
EXPECTED ALONG
AND NORTH OF A LINE FROM MONROE IN GREEN COUNTY...TO
WEST BEND IN
WASHINGTON COUNTY. THE HEAVIEST ACCUMULATIONS WILL BE
IN
SAUK...COLUMBIA...MARQUETTE AND GREEN LAKE COUNTIES.
IN
ADDITION...THE SNOW MAY BE MIXED WITH FREEZING RAIN
AND SLEET
SOUTH OF A LINE FROM LONE ROCK TO JUNEAU TO SHEBOYGAN.

All the weather weenies will be thrilled if it comes
to pass!

Wxman

---------------------------------
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precise MSN Search - try it now!

Agenda: Redevelopment Authority; February 2006

Evansville Redevelopment Authority
Regular Meeting
Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 7:30 PM
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, Wisconsin

Please note the change in date and time of the meeting.


AGENDA

Call to order.

Roll call (Chairperson Hagen, Vice-Chairperson Eager, Ald. Aikman, Ald. Anderson, Betsy Ahner, Dean Arnold, and John Decker).

Approval of agenda.

Motion to approve minutes of January 19, 2006, regular meeting as presented.

Citizen appearances other than agenda items listed.

Public hearings (not applicable).

Unfinished business.

New business.
Discussion and possible motion regarding provision in redevelopment agreement with Triple B Investments LLC for return of a portion of the grant for enhancements to the Badger Coach building at 133 N. Madison St. if the full market value of the improvements was not as much as provided in the agreement.
Discussion and possible motion regarding request to modify the Redevelopment Authority’s policy to require any commercial building to be or become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as a perquisite for receiving tax increment financing assistance through the Redevelopment Authority.
Discussion and possible motion regarding request to modify the Redevelopment Authority’s application form to provide space for the executive director to calculate the net present value of the anticipated stream of tax increment from the proposed project.
Discussion and possible advisory motion regarding the preliminary plans for reconstructing Main St. in 2007.
Upon the proper motion and approval vote, the Redevelopment Authority will convene into closed session pursuant to Wis. Stats. Sec. 19.85(1)(e), deliberation or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reason requires a closed session, and will not reconvene into open session. During the closed session, the Redevelopment Authority will discuss possibly pursuing the purchase of or acquisition of options to purchase property located within TID No. 5, subject to approval by the Common Council.

Motion to adjourn.

Bill Connors, Executive Director

Minutes: Planning Commission: February 2006

Plan Commission
Regular Meeting
Monday, February 6, 2006, 6:00 P.M.
City Hall, 31 S. Madison Street, Evansville, WI

MINUTES

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Ringhand at 6:00 PM. Present were: Mayor Ringhand, Ald. Hammann, Cheryl Dickert, Gil Skinner, Dave Sauer, and Jeff Vrstal. Ald. Aikman was absent. Staff present: Tim Schwecke, City Planner; Bill Connors, City Administrator; and Jim Beilke, Clerk/Treasurer. Ald. Cothard and Sornson were present in the audience.

Approval of Agenda.
The Agenda was approved after moving the following items to follow citizen appearances: 8(A) D&D Development Annexation, 7(A) Site plan for Evansville Community Bank (Application #2006-1), and 7(B) Larson Acres annexation Petition (Application #2006-2).

Approval of Minutes.
Motion by Hammann, seconded by Sauer, to waive the reading of the January 3, 2006 Minutes and approve them as printed. Motion passed.

Citizen Appearances Other Than Those Agenda Items Listed. None.

Preliminary Development Presentations (taken out of order)
Bob Fleischacker representing D&D Development stated the proposed annexation of some of his client’s land was initiated by the additional right of way needed on the south side of USH 14 for a drive-by lane opposite of J Lindemann Dr. There is a real potential for development for this area now because the market is right. Their plan is to develop over 200 acres over a period of time. The initial phase would incorporate about 74 acres with a commercial zone buffered by a light industrial area. Roger Berg, 75 Exchange St., reported that this development is consistent with the City of Evansville Smart Growth Plan.

New Business (taken out of order)
Bill Albright from Evansville Community Bank presented the new site plan and building design for Evansville Community Bank on the corner of Exchange Street and Main Street (Application #2006-2). The new site plan displays significant changes in elevations and a more historical look to the building, which has features similar to the nearby railroad depot.

Mr. Schwecke recommended several conditions for approval as listed in his report. The height and size of the building are consistent with dimensional standards for the B-2 district.

Mr. Sauer asked the applicant submit a stormwater plan with the new site plan before approval. He also reported that the old site plan showed a drive-through lane in a different location that did not interfere with the now standing streetlight.

Motion by Hammann, seconded by Sauer, to approve the application, with conditions contained in the staff report.

Motion by Sauer, seconded by Skinner, to amend the motion, requiring the applicant to move the drive-through lane or pay for the cost to move the streetlight. Motion passed.

The original motion, as amended, passed.

Mr. Berg presented the Larson Acres annexation petition (Application #2006-2). The two parcels totaling 88.51 acres on the north side of Porter Road on the City’s west side are covered by the annexation petition. The annexation is being requested to facilitate residential development, including single-family and multi-family. A portion of the property will be used for a regional storm water detention basin that would serve the new Westfield Meadows Subdivision and other, already existing subdivisions to the south.

Mr. Schwecke recommended several conditions for approval as listed in his report.

Mr. Sauer reported that the existing box culvert (bridge) would have to comply with city standards. Now it is a town road that is 18 feet wide. City standards require 41 feet. The new bridge would be longer and wider to carry the sidewalks and curve and gutters. As of today, the bridge is in need of improvements. Town of Union Board President Kendall Schneider reported that this bridge is currently a No. 3 on the township’s list of short span bridges (under 20 feet long) that need to be repaired or replaced, and it would cost the approximately $100,000 to bring it up to the city standards.

Ald. Hammann reported the only reason the land is being annexed is because of stormwater management in this region, which is part of the Smart Growth Plan. Mr. Connors reported that if the city denies annexation, the developer is entitled to reimbursement for the cost of the 7 acres of land for the detention pond, cost of the construction of the pond, cost of the engineering the pond, and the cost of improving Porter Road.

Mayor Ringhand opened the public hearing at 7:05 PM. Ald. Sornson raised the issue of grants for the bridge improvements. Mr. Sauer reported the state funds bridge improvements grants through the county. If requested annexation were granted, three quarters of the bridge would be located in the city and one quarter in the town. Thus, the town, city, and county would apply for a state grant for the bridge improvements. Kendall Schneider said the Town of Union opposes the annexation at this time because of environmental concerns and urban sprawl. The Town of Union is agreeable allowing the developer to build the pond and dedicate it to the city while the land remains in the Town of Union, like they have done in the past with other city projects. Elvin Francis, 17347 W County Rd C, opposed the annexation because farmland would be converted into wetland, which is presently farmed. Mr. Francis asked if this detention pond could be located more north of the city. Mayor Ringhand closed the public hearing at 7:12 PM.

Mr. Sauer reported that they addressed all known concerns regarding ground water flow and the city needs to manage the stormwater flow in this region. The Plan Commission has been working on solving the drainage in this region for years and agreed the city needs control of maintenance of the pond and bridge because it affects the city.

Motion by Hammann, seconded by Sauer, to recommend to Council the adoption of Ordinance #2006-2 with recommendations from the staff report and to include the applicant agrees to enter into an agreement with the city that requires the applicant to pay for the cost of repairing the bridge on Porter Road if it is deemed unsafe by a qualified engineer or when the subject property is developed for residential purposes, whichever is earlier. Motion passed.

Unfinished Business.
Mayor Ringhand noted the letter from Whiteman, Osterman, and Hanna LLP, which stated unreasonable restrictions on the use of outdoor wood furnaces would deprive citizens of an affordable means of home heating without producing any appreciable environmental benefit. Neighbor complaints about outdoor furnaces can and should be addressed by adopting the Best Burn Practices of the industry and by requiring appropriate stack heights in situations where neighbors are in relatively close proximity. Mr. Arndt, President of R.A. Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., reported that the City of Fort Atkinson banned outdoor furnaces based on a bad study regarding the amount of British thermo units (BTU) produced by outdoor furnaces. Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) has refuted the study by noting errors in the study’s testing methods. Mr. Arndt recommended the city follow HPBA Best Burn Practices and require certified outdoor furnaces, so that citizens are allowed an alternative fuel source to heat their homes. Commissioners instructed staff to draft an ordinance regulating outdoor furnaces.

The Plan Commission reviewed the goals and objectives of the Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan to ensure that the implementation of plan’s nine elements are understood in their totality over the life of the plan. Part of this effort will also include addressing conflicts that may arise between the nine elements.

Chris Eager, Chairperson of the Large-Scale Commercial Development Study Committee, reported on the activities of the Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to ensure that large retail projects are consistent with city’s general community character and surrounding area; would contribute to a diverse and sound economic base; and would prevent urban blight due to vacant retail stores. They have invited and listened to speakers from surrounding communities who dealt with large retail projects, so that the Committee can form a consensus regarding regulations on large retail projects. Then they would present a proposed ordinance to the public for refinement before it comes to the Plan Commission. The proposed ordinance should contain requirements in developer agreements between large scale development and city, site plan approval requirements, long-term maintenance requirements, landscaping plan requirements, lighting requirements, architectural standards, and building size, traffic impact studies, etc.

Mr. Schwecke led a discussion regarding the adoption of a resolution revising the fee in lieu of parkland dedication consistent with Sec. 110-192 of the Municipal Code. According to the City’s subdivision regulations, the Plan commission has the responsibility of recommending a resolution to the Common Council that would set a new amount for the fee in lieu of park dedication. As stipulated in Section 110-192 (6), the amount is automatically adjusted based on the percent change in the assessed value of land in the city form year to year. Last year, the city increased the fee 11.7 percent. This year the increase is calculated at 82.4 percent increase, in large part due to the property assessment reevaluation in 2005. Based on this index, the fee for a single-family dwelling would increase from $587.67 to $1,071.67 and for a multi-family dwelling unit the fee would increase from $440.73 to 803.72. Anticipating there would be discussion on this large increase, Mr. Schwecke provided some different approaches for the Plan Commission to consider from a survey on how other communities are dealing with this issue. Mr. Schwecke suggested the Plan Commission and Park Board should review the rationale behind some for the park dedication requirements.

Ald. Hammann favors an ordinance that makes the new residents pay for the new parks and not the current residents, noting that parkland dedication fees cover 25% of the cost of new parks. He stated the $587.67 parkland dedication fees are too low and does not favor capping increases. Mr. Connor noted that park impact fees are design to cover the cost to build new parks. The city does not have park impact fees. Parkland fees are designed to buy only land for new parks. After discussion of different approaches of raising the parkland dedication fees, the Commissioners asked Mr. Berg what are his thoughts. Mr. Berg favored a simple formula, so that all the money raised in parkland dedication fees goes to the Park Board to buy land and not to studies, appraisal, etc. Mr. Schwecke noted that the annual adjustment in parkland dedication fees does not equal the change in cost of land. Commissioners instructed staff to enact a rolling three average in a new ordinance with Ald. Hammann and Ald. Sornson sponsoring.

Mr. Schwecke led the discussion regarding amendment of the shoreland zoning ordinance relative to wetlands, lot widths, and building set backs. Rock County ordinance requires 15,000 square feet lot size and a minimum 100 feet lot width. The State Statues requires 10,000 square feet lot size. Mr. Schwecke recommended the city ask Rock County if they would be amicable to amend their lot size restrictions that carry forward into the city, which is allowed by state statutes. If the city were to require a 35 foot buffer strip along all navigable waters, Rock County could then reduce the lot size requirements to a minimum of 10,000 square feet. Whatever the city does, it is always under Rock County ordinance. Thus, Mr. Schwecke recommended the city approach Rock County for amendments.



Report of the Evansville Redevelopment Authority.
Mr. Connors distributed a revised Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District #5 Economic Development Fund Program Description and Application (attached). Mr. Connors noted the new criteria for financial assistance and investment listed on page 5.

Report of the Evansville Historic Preservation Commission.
Sandy Decker reported the first portion of survey is completed, and the results will be presented at the next Historical Preservation Commission meeting on February 15, 2006.

City Planner’s Report.
Mr. Schwecke reported on the Common Council actions relating to Plan Commission recommendation, which was distributed at this meeting (attached).

Adjournment.
Motion by Hammann, seconded Sauer, to adjourn, carried. The meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM.

Prepared by:
James A. Beilke
City Clerk/Treasurer

The Minutes of the Plan Commission are not official until approved by Plan Commission.