‘One More Tool’

Photo by Jeremy Jones. A Stoughton police officer wears a VieVU body camera in the non-recording position. The Stoughton Police Department has had the cameras for the past nine months.

Nine months ago, Stoughton police acquired six tiny, body-worn cameras that clip to officers’ uniforms. Ten more are on the way in 2015, enough for each patrol officer.

The battery-powered cameras are smaller than a pager and capture high-quality video and audio of cops’ interactions with the public, said police chief Greg Leck.

“There are a ton of uses,” Leck said. “Patrol officers are regularly using them on field interviews. It’s nice to have that initial report verified with the video.”

Unlike in Madison, where the police chief and mayor this month held a press conference to announce they might begin using cameras in early 2016, Stoughton’s cameras have sparked little discussion locally.


Commission reviews northside senior facility

Plans for 40 senior living units drew no opposition Monday and will head to the Common Council for initial review later this month.

The facility would be located on Lincoln Avenue near County Hwy. B on the city’s north side. 

Milestone Senior Living is proposing to rezone and build two facilities with 40 total units. The Monona-based company submitted plans for 20 “community-based residential” units and 20 “residential care” apartment units. The two types of units would have different levels of care for aging adults. 

Company president Mark D. Burish told the commission that the facility would not provide extensive medical care, but rather a continuum of daily living help, including memory care.


Council seat will be open

With the fall election a little more than a month in the past, it might be hard to think ahead to the next election.

But those interested in running for public office in the spring election have just a few weeks to get their names on the ballot. The deadline to file a declaration of candidacy and collect signatures for office is coming up Jan. 6. 

Locally, four Common Council incumbents have announced that they will be on the ballot, but one seat will be open for the April 7 general election. 

With the council deadlocked on Kettle Park West-related votes, the spring election could be a busy one with candidates vying to represent the city on the Common Council. At least one seat will have a new alder after current Ald. Tricia Suess (D-3) announced she is not seeking re-election. 


Holiday OWI patrols planned in area

Sheriff’s offices in Dane and nearby counties will be adding patrols this holiday season in order to reduce unsafe driving that could lead to traffic fatalities. 

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk County Sheriff’s, have an additional $40,000 to spend on overtime enforcement. The money – provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation – will be used as part of a new Sheriff’s Traffic and OWI Patrol (STOP) program.

“Throughout the holiday season, deputies will be patrolling the highways that connect these four counties to stop drivers that are speeding, driving aggressively, and who choose to drink and drive,” DCSO spokesperson Elise Schaffer said in a news release. “Drive the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, and drive sober.  Drink and drive in our counties and our deputies will show you some new bars.” 


Stoughton woman dies in Fitchburg crash

A 55-year-old Stoughton woman died Friday night in a two-car accident in Fitchburg.

The Dane County Medical Examiner identified the woman Sunday as Janet Grady.

Fitchburg police responded to the 2500 block of County Hwy. MM at approximately 6:40 p.m. and pronounced Grady dead at the scene.

According to a news release from the Fitchburg Police Department, a car traveling north on the highway with two passengers crossed the center line and hit Grady's vehicle, which was traveling southbound.


Hear ye, hear ye

Madrigal Dinners start this weekend

Three nights of seven-course meals, English Renaissance-themed costumes, music and storytelling can mean only one thing – it’s time for the annual Stoughton High School Madrigal Dinners. 

The school choir program, led by Ryan Casey, puts on the events every December, creating an old-time atmosphere of joy, festivity and conviviality of the English Renaissance holiday celebrations in the manors and castles. The dinner is presented for three nights, with a seven-course meal served each evening.  

Along with the meal, the students provide theatrical entertainment, storytelling and music.  Casey said more than 150 students and as many parents and community members put in hundreds of hours each year cooking, decorating, serving, performing, promoting and sewing to help put on the shows


Taxes rise by $58

The average homeowner in the City of Stoughton will pay about $58 more in taxes this year than in 2013 despite a state tax cut from the technical school system.

That change is mainly owed to the city’s first increase in property values in six years and a successful school district referendum. As a result, city and school taxes each increased close to $100 this year on the average home.

Tax bills will be mailed late this week, and city residents’ taxes will get an overall drop this year of 57 cents per $1,000 in assessed value, or 2.5 percent. But while that is the biggest cut in a while, its effect is overshadowed by the 4 percent increase in residential property values.


Stoughton police to watch for traffic violations

The Stoughton Police Department aims to improve traffic safety this coming week as part of a statewide effort to reduce traffic deaths.

Stoughton police Sgt. Patrick Frisch said the department will focus on stopping unsafe driving behaviors like drunken driving and driving without seatbelts. 

“To save lives and prevent injuries, we will be out in force – day and night – to crack down on drunken drivers and unbelted motorists,” Frisch said in a news release.  

The enforcement is part of the statewide “Booze and Belts” traffic safety program coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Stoughton will participate from Dec. 12-20. 

Drivers can help prevent traffic fatalities by remembering to buckle up and by avoiding drunken driving situations. 


Park plan heads to council

The city’s five-year Parks and Open Space plan will be up for approval later this month. 

No major changes have been made to the plan due to stagnant residential growth, but the plan is updated every five years to allow the city to apply for state and federal grants.

A public hearing last month drew no comments, parks director Tom Lynch told the Hub. An online survey on the plan also only had half a dozen responses. 

Lynch said the city does a good job of gathering public input earlier in the process, so changes at the last minute are unlikely. 

Earlier this year, the city had roughly 600 responses to a survey that asked about current and future park and open space useage. 


Towns approve budgets

Voters in the townships surrounding Stoughton approved their municipal budgets at public hearings in November.

The mill rate dropped slightly in Pleasant Springs and Rutland, while Dunkirk and Dunn residents will pay slightly more.

Town of Dunkirk

Town of Dunkirk electors approved with no changes the town’s 2014-15 budget at the annual budget hearing Nov. 17. The tax levy will be $549,349 with a mill rate of $2.80 per $1,000 of assessed property value, up slightly from this year’s levy of $538,353 and mill rate of $2.75.

Town of Pleasant Springs