Kettle Park West extension comes with contingency limit

The Common Council’s approval of a 60-day extension of the Kettle Park West development agreement last week appeared to be necessary for the project to continuing moving forward.

But another council decision at the June 9 meeting created a significant obstacle.

The extension had a familiar 6-6 deadlock, including a yes from Ald. Eric Hohol (D-4), which enabled Mayor Donna Olson to pass it. 


Details emerge in embezzlement case

Chart by Jacob Bielanski. This chart shows year-by-year the amount of money investigators claim Braaten took from the two victims beginning in 2009. Braaten faces 12 felony charges related to the amount taken each year.

A late payment notice for T-shirts last fall sparked an investigation that led to one Stoughton woman being charged with embezzling nearly $300,000.

According to a criminal complaint filed June 4, suspicions began when Stoughton Wrestling Club president Scott Model received a notice last fall for payment on an order for shirts that was 90 days past due. He told investigators he then asked Deanna Braaten, the club’s treasurer, about the notice, but she “gave him the runaround.” 


Public pressure leads to delay on herbicides

A public outcry against applying an herbicide at Gazebo Rotary Park has persuaded city staff to hold off at least until after a popular summer music series has ended.

Sustainable Stoughton members Sylvia Lawrence and Sara Downie raised concerns in late May and early June with Stoughton Streets and Parks supervisor Karl Manthe about plans to treat the park with a product called Tri-Power to control weeds.

Lawrence and Downie are two of the founding members of Naturally Stoughton, which rallied support against using herbicides on city properties in the spring of 2013. The city later adopted a turf management plan, which includes conducting annual weed and turf assessments of the city’s parks and playing fields.


Stoughton, McFarland, Oregon join forces against cancer during Relay for Life

According to the American Cancer Society, more than four million people in more than 20 countries raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer through the Relay For Life movement each year. 

In southern Dane County, three communities have been teaming up for the past few years to hold Relay for Life events. Though they are neighborly rivals on the prep and amateur sports scenes, Stoughton, McFarland and Oregon are all on the same side when it comes to raising money during the relay, which will be held at Mandt Park in Stoughton, from 6 a.m. Friday, June 19 to 7 a.m. Saturday, June 20. 

According to unofficial results posted by the American Cancer Society, the Stoughton-McFarland-Oregon Relay for Life group has 26 teams already signed up, and has raised more than $31,000.


Wal-Mart, developer get extension

The Common Council maintained its split over the Kettle Park West Tuesday, deadlocking 6-6 on whether to grant the project developer a 60-day deadline extension in an amended development agreement.

That allowed Mayor Donna Olson vote in favor of the extension.

The amended agreement requires Forward Development Group to receive construction bids for public improvements leading to the westside, Wal-Mart-anchored commercial development up to the city’s borrowing of roughly $4.6 million for the work. Bids received last month came in about $1 million more than anticipated, and the developer is in the process of rebidding parts of it.

The agreement also requires anchor tenant Wal-Mart to open its new supercenter by Dec. 31, 2017, and have an assessed value of at least $12 million by Jan. 1, 2018.


Planning Commission gives nod to daycare

The City of Stoughton Planning Commission approved several items at its Monday meeting.

Group day care

The commission gave its support to a daycare facility at 1425 E. Main St. The site had previously been used for the same purpose, but had not been in use for over a year prompting the need for a new conditional use permit.

A public hearing drew no comments and the commission recommended approval to the Common Council.

Senior living

Milestone Senior Living was back in front of the commission seeking re-approval of site plans for a 40-unit senior living facility on Lincoln Avenue near Hwy. B. The developer had moved a few walls several feet and changed some roof lines, city zoning administrator Mike Stacey said.


Troll Beach slated to open June 14

File photo. Troll beach in 2012.

If you're looking for a place to cool off, the city's Troll Beach is slated to open in June.

Troll Beach, formerly known as Mandt Park Pool and the Mud Hole, will open to the public June 14. The beach will be open every day from noon until 5 p.m., weather permitting.


Wal-Mart asks to deal with Stoughton

The Common Council’s discussion Tuesday about the Kettle Park West development agreement was trumped by a surprise proposal from Wal-Mart, the anchor tenant of the proposed commercial center.

City attorney Matt Dregne told alders attending a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday that an attorney for the giant retailer had contacted him on Monday, June 1, with a request to enter a contract directly with the city. The proposed deal would guarantee completion of public infrastructure improvements leading to the west-side development in the event of the developer defaulting on the project.


State administrators concerned about new education proposal

As the clock ticks down before Gov. Scott Walker signs Wisconsin’s 2015-17 biennial budget as expected in the next few weeks, education administrators around the state are sounding the alarm. 

The state’s Joint Finance Committee passed a decision 12-4 last week on a straight party-line vote that restores Walker’s proposed $150-per-pupil cut in public school districts, but could have several negative effects on Stoughton, including prohibiting districts from raising taxes to replace state aid lost from private school vouchers in their district. The measure would also eliminate “Common Core” standards, provide a new teacher licensing system with less qualifications that currently required, and allow privately run charter schools to open new schools under conditions specified by the Legislature. 


Stoughton woman arrested for embezzlement

The Stoughton Police on Thursday booked a Stoughton woman on charges of embezzling approximately $86,000 from the Stoughton Vikings Wrestling Club.

Police allege Deana R. Braaten, 49, embezzled the money between 2009 and 2015 while serving as treasurer for the club. According  to the release, the embezzlement had “depleted the club’s financial accounts.” Club president Scott Model declined comment on the investigation, but told the Courier-Hub that the club had “enough (money) to operate for now." He added that he wouldn't give a speicifc number, but noted that the account balance was “very low.”  


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