Council divided over quorum rule

The Common Council took about an hour’s detour from its agenda last week when it got into a disagreement over what constitutes a quorum to conduct business. 

The discussion came up during a vote on Scott Truehl’s application to fill a vacant council seat in District 4. Three of 10 alders present abstained from casting a vote on seating Truehl, who was the only applicant for the seat.

Following a 7-0 vote with three abstentions, Ald. Tom Selsor (D-4), pointed out that he did not believe the council could seat Truehl because it lacked a quorum – making the vote invalid.


Kettle Park West: Council OKs short-term borrowing

The Common Council last week approved borrowing up to $4.8 million to fund infrastructure improvements leading to the Kettle Park West commercial development. At its Tuesday, Sept. 22 meeting, the council voted 10-1 to approve the borrowing for a three-year period. After three years, the city will refinance its loan using either General Obligation Bonds or General Obligation Notes – depending on the term of the borrowing. Notes are used in borrowing for a period of less than 10 years and bonds are used for borrowing longer than 10 years.

The cost of borrowing is the same with each, said Joe Murray, the city’s financial advisor.

He said the city “received the highest rating for short-term borrowing” from Moody’s credit rating agency because of its financial stability, relatively low debt and proximity to Madison.


Council appoints Truehl to Dist. 4 seat

The Common Council last Tuesday appointed a member of the Planning Commission and Redevelopment Authority to fill a vacant seat on the council.

On a 7-0 vote with three abstentions, the council chose Scott Truehl to represent District 4 on the city’s west side until an election is held next April. Truehl was the only applicant for the seat, vacated when former Ald. Eric Hohol resigned after moving out of the city in July.

Truehl’s bid for the seat was supported by Alds. Paul Lawrence, Sid Boersma, Mike Engelberger, Ron Christianson, Sonny Swangstu, Pat O’Connor and Greg Jenson. Regina Hirsch, Tom Selsor and Tom Majewski abstained.

Majewski told the Hub he didn’t vote in favor of Truehl’s appointment because the vote had little meaning without other applicants in the running.


Lake levels to drop for winter

Dane County will start to prepare the Yahara Chain of Lakes for the upcoming winter season this week.  Lakes will be lowered to summer minimums beginning Oct. 1 and transition to winter operating levels starting on Nov. 1. The annual winter lake level drawdown is intended to prevent shoreline ice damage and allow for flood storage capacity after the spring runoff.

Dane County annually places more than 160 buoys in the Yahara River and lakes to aid boaters with navigation and help to identify hazards. The removal of buoys will also start Oct. 1 and be complete by Nov. 1. With this in mind, lake users are asked to use caution and be on the alert for underwater hazards that may damage watercraft.


New charges for accused embezzler

A Stoughton woman who stands accused of embezzling nearly $300,000 since 2009 now faces new charges of welfare fraud from the same time period.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court, Deanna Braaten now faces three additional felonies for misstating her income on BadgerCare and food stamp applications.

A Dane County Department of Human Services worker began investigating Braaten in June after learning of the embezzlement charges, according to the complaint. The investigator said Braaten had filed applications for BadgerCare medical assistance and food stamps during that same period of time but did not report the income that was being allegedly being stolen.


Tiger Lily Seeds owner Romine to be honored

File photo by Jeremy Jones. Brittany Romine (left) and vocational assistant Angie Riker tend to plants as part of Romine’s micro-enterprise business, Tiger Lily Seeds. Romine graduated from Stoughton High School’s transition program in 2010. Her business will be honored at the Developmental Disabilities Network’s “Bringing Innovation to Light” program next week.

Stoughton entrepreneur Brittany Romine is among a group of developmentally disabled business owners who’ll be honored at an event next week in Madison.

Romine, 24, is a Stoughton High School graduate and owner of Tiger Lily Seeds, a business she began three years ago with the help of the Developmental Disabilities Network. The network has been so impressed with Romine’s accomplishments since launching her business in 2011 that they’ve chosen her story to be one of a few highlighted in a program called “Bringing Innovation to Light.”

Romine grows and harvests thousands of delicate wildflower “plugs” she sells to wholesale purveyors of native wildflowers. Since starting Tiger Lily Seeds, Romine has worked a strip of city-owned land between the Elven Sted housing development on Dunkirk Avenue and the Yahara River. 


Affordable housing, subdivision plans forwarded

The City of Stoughton Planning Commission approved and forwarded a handful of items following several public hearings at its regular meeting held Monday, Sept. 14. 

Affordable housing

A group of three multifamily buildings totaling around 23 units could get some renovations after the commission voted to allow the Dane County Housing Authority to purchase and rehabilitate the Park Vernon apartments. 

The goal is to improve the affordable housing stock, according to documents filed with the city.

Dane County would take over ownership of the properties and make them more ADA-accessible and energy-efficient. The authority plans to make interior improvements like new cabinets, flooring and appliances, but tenants would continue paying Section 8 housing rates, limited to 30 percent of their income. The rest is covered by the federal government.


Dyreson Bridge almost ready

Photo by Samantha Christian. Construction of the Dyreson Bridge is shown from East Dyreson Road on Sept. 15. Closed for more than three years, the bridge is being restored at a cost of almost $1 million. Dunn officials expect the historic bridge to be reopened in November.

Town of Dunn officials anticipate reopening the historic Dyreson Bridge in early November after closing it in more than three years ago over concerns about its structural integrity.

Town chair Ed Minihan told the Observer Monday steel I-beams supporting the historic bridge had rusted to the point that their flanges could be bent by hand.

Town officials had hoped to rebuild the 118-year-old bridge long before now, but a bid in 2012 to perform the work came in higher than expected and from a company that did not have the requisite experience, Minihan said.

“We finally got a bid from a company that knows how to do the work,” he said.

The state Department of Transportation closed the bridge in May 2011 at the town’s request. A DOT report indicates that about 75 vehicles passed over the bridge each day before it was closed.


Evansville, Stoughton team up to prevent youth substance abuse

A national organization recently awarded an Evansville group a grant to help prevent youth substance use in Stoughton by strengthening the Stoughton Wellness Coalition. 

Building A Safer Evansville is one of 697 recipients of the Drug-Free Communities Support Program grants (totalling $86 million), which provide local community coalitions funding to prevent kids from using prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. 

BASE will receive $150,000 over two years to mentor SWC (a partnership of the City of Stoughton, Stoughton Area School District and Stoughton Hospital) to involve and engage the community in these efforts. 


Heron heist: Store owner seeks stolen statue

Photo submitted. A bird similar to the one taken Sept. 11 from Diakonos Designs on Main Street is still at the store. Herbie the heron was stolen from the downtown gallery between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. last Friday.

A missing sculpture has ruffled a few feathers downtown and adds to a string of thefts from Diakonos Design on Main Street.

Herbie the Heron – a roughly four-foot tall metal sculpture – was taken sometime between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, said owner Ed Guzman. The bird sculpture was at the bottom of a shared stairwell, Guzman said, and is “very, very unique.” The piece is different than the crane sculptures sold at the store in that Herbie has a ruffling comb of feathers on his head and some feathers on his under belly.

“There might be a dozen of them in circulation from this artist,” Guzman told the Hub, adding that the gallery hasn’t sold a heron since last year. “This would be the only one brought home on Sept. 11.”


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