EMS confronts budget shortfall

The Stoughton Area EMS lost money in 2013 and appears to be doing even worse this year.

Officials learned in June, after an audit of EMS finances, that the department had a shortfall in 2013 of more than $100,000. The loss for 2014 was estimated at $130,000, and officials are planning to begin billing municipalities that receive the service next year.

The topic will be discussed next week at an annual meeting of city and township officials.

“The EMS needs support from the city and the townships in order to be a viable service,” said Stoughton finance director Laurie Sullivan in an interview with the Courier Hub. “It’s a new reality, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to turn around.”

EMS director Lisa Schimelpfenig presented the department’s budget woes to the Common Council at its Sept. 9 meeting.


Ken Wahlin named Trustee of the Year

The Wisconsin Hospital Association has named Ken Wahlin the recipient of its 2014 Trustee of Year award.

Wahlin, chair of the Stoughton Hospital Governing Board and Executive Committee, received the award in a surprise presentation Monday during the Governing Board’s regular meeting at the hospital. The award is presented to only one community hospital board trustee and one health system board trustee in Wisconsin annually.

Wahlin is completing a seven-year tenure on the board this fall. Per board bylaws, this will be his last year on the board.

Wahlin was nominated for the award in August by hospital President and CEO Terry Brenny.

Wahlin “has demonstrated and exercised broad vision into the healthcare needs of community residents and businesses and has insisted the hospital respond effectively and responsibly to the same as prescribed in our Strategic Plan,” Brenny wrote in nominating him.


Telling Her Story

Video still from Stephen Lyons has given more than 70 interviews on behalf of the family of a 12-year-old girl who was stabbed multiple times by classmates in Waukesha this summer. Lyons will appear Friday on ABC’s 20/20.

It was Fourth of July weekend, but instead of a casual day filled with a grill out and fireworks, longtime Stoughton resident and crisis communication adviser Stephen Lyons was squeezing a meeting with HBO producers into his already busy schedule.

He told the producers he didn’t have time to chat, but they insisted on a quick meeting. So Lyons met them at Stoughton’s Sunrise Family Restaurant and over a piece of pie the producers pitched a movie idea about Lyons’ client – the 12-year-old “Slender Man” stabbing survivor from Waukesha.

This was just one of 70-plus interviews Lyons has had regarding the incident, including Good Morning America, CNN, ABC, Dr. Drew, Fox News and a host of others.  

This Friday, Lyons will once again be talking about the young girl who was stabbed 19 times by two of her friends in May. Only this time the identity of the survivor will be revealed as part of the hour-long season premiere of ABC’s 20/20 at 9 p.m.


St. Ann’s Fall Festival is a sure sign of autumn’s arrival

It’s the third full weekend in September, which means time for St. Ann’s Parish’s annual Fall Festival.

This year’s festival is set for Saturday Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 21, with activities including a 5K run/walk, a variety of youth events, carnival games, inflatables, a country store, cornhole tournament, concessions, antique car rides, a cake walk and more. The community is invited to join in the fun.

Saturday will feature the run/walk and “Youth-A-Palooza,” for kids in grades 6-12, including a DJ and water balloon battles. On Sunday, a country café and store event will be held in the gym, serving fruit, desserts and coffee. People are invited to sit and chat, play cards in the café or just relax. There will be plenty of food and beverages for sale, including a pie contest Sunday morning.


LaFarge brings old-time ‘variety show’

Photo courtesy Chester Simpson. Pokey LaFarge’s Central Time Tour headlines the Stoughton Opera House Saturday, Sept. 20.

Pokey LaFarge and his band are bringing some fellow old-timey and Americana artists along when the Central Time Tour stops at the Stoughton Opera House on Saturday.

The Central Time Tour is designed as a variety show, and opens the Opera House’s new 70-plus show season.

LaFarge’s concerts have become an annual event at the Opera House since he and his band first appeared there in 2010.

This year, LaFarge has organized the Central Time Tour and will bring three bands new to the Opera House. Also joining the tour as Master of Ceremonies is Dom Flemons, founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops (who return next week for two shows).

“The idea was to put together a variety show of American roots music, with bands being from the Midwest and every band being different from the others,” LaFarge said in a telephone interview from his home in St. Louis.


Cooksville Lutheran Church to hold annual Fall Festival on Sunday

The Cooksville Lutheran Church fall festival is this Sunday.

The public is invited to attend Cooksville Lutheran Church’s 19th annual Fall Festival, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 21, rain or shine. The day will include a worship service, meal, music, wagon rides and games for the whole family.


Wine tasting fundraiser aims to raise money for scholarship

The fourth annual Stoughton Chamber of Commerce Grape Expectations fundraiser will be take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Stoughton Country Club.

Guests can enjoy an assortment of wines including reds, whites, sparkling wines and ports paired with a selection of gourmet entrees, artisanal cheeses and chocolates.

Enjoy nearly a dozen stations to pair different wines with food selections.

There will be a silent auction featuring original works produced by area artists. Additional works by these artists will be available for purchase.

The event typically draws about 150 people throughout the course of the evening.

Proceeds from this event will help fund the Rae Ladd Volunteerism Scholarship given to a graduating Stoughton High School senior. Tickets are $50, available through the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, call the chamber at 873-7912.


Stoughton Public Library book sale set for next week

If you’re planning on curling up with a good book this fall, you may want to check out the Friends of the Stoughton Public Library’s biannual book sale coming next week.

From popular fiction books to non-fiction books about gardening, crafting, quilting and cooking, the book sale has something for nearly every reader. The fall sale will have several years of various woodworking journal issues.

There will also be children’s books, CDs and DVDs for sale, and special attractions not sold online will be available.

The preview sale kicks off the four-day event on Wednesday from 6-7 p.m. for Friends of the Library members only. Memberships are available at the door, which allow people special discounts and coupons.

The book sale opens to the general public on Thursday at 9 a.m. and will continue through Saturday.

Materials left at the end of the sale are cleared out, usually given to another non-profit organization.


Doing battle with disease

Uw-whitewaterphoto/craigschreiner photos. 2008 Stoughton High School graduate Michelle Storage is shown here working earlier this year in a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she graduated in spring with a double major in chemistry and cell biology. Storage recently won a scholarship worth more than $300,000 for a doctorate degree program at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Ebola. Anthrax. Tuberculosis.

With deadly communicable diseases like these still on the loose, this increasingly interconnected world can certainly be a scary place.

And that’s where Michelle Storage comes in.

The 2008 Stoughton High School graduate recently won a research scholarship worth more than $300,000 to pursue her dreams of earning a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary biomedical sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee this fall. When she graduates, she wants to pursue a career with the national Centers For Disease Control, developing vaccines to fight diseases that can kill thousands, if not millions of people if unchecked.

Storage, who double-majored in cell biology and chemistry at UW-Whitewater, graduating this spring, will receive around $61,000 a year for the next five years as she works her way toward her goal.


Karaoke Queen

Photos by Bill Livick. As she sometimes does, Blue Moon Karaoke owner Renee Johnson joins in with another singer during a show last month at Cully’s.

It’s 9:45 and a slow Saturday night in the city. Downtown Stoughton resembles a ghost town. Despite it being a warm summer night, there’s no one on the street, and it’s eerily quiet.

Quiet, that is, until you turn off Main Street, head down Water Street and pull up in front of Cully’s Cocktail Lounge.

That’s where Renee Johnson’s Blue Moon Karaoke is in full swing. Inside the small bar, there’s a crowd of 15 to 25 singers, along with a few onlookers, having an absolutely great time. You can feel the energy immediately.

Cully’s is where KJ (karaoke jock) Renee and her crowd of singers gather almost every weekend to sing, dance and enjoy each other’s company.

It’s obvious that the followers of Blue Moon Karaoke are well acquainted. After each singer finishes a song, the crowd erupts in applause. Johnson gives the singer a hug, and then calls up the next performer.

She’s been doing this since starting her business 10 years ago.