Reduce, reuse or recycle?

Photos by Mark Ignatowski. The City of Stoughton may soon look at regulating single-use plastic bags in order to reduce the burden on the environment. Some companies, like Pick’N Save, are already encouraging shoppers to bring their own bags – customers get a five-cent refund for each reusable bag.

The common question of “paper or plastic?” at the store could be a phrase of the past as Stoughton officials look to curtail the number of single-use plastic bags in the city.

The city is looking into a possible plan to eliminate or reduce the number of these bags used by retailers in Stoughton. No proposal has been developed yet, but the city’s public works committee is reviewing options and gathering public input on the issue.

Public works director Karl Manthe said a resident brought the issue to the committee in November and staff and members have been looking into how the city might approach the subject.


Write-ins don’t win seats but vow to stay active

Photo by Kimberly Wethal. David Erdman, right, helps first-time voter Michael Janisch register before casting a ballot in last week’s election.

None of the four write-in candidates for city government in last week’s election registered a victory, but most felt entering the race was a good use of their time and said they would continue to be involved.

Perhaps the most surprising election outcome was the fact that Ross Urven, whose name was on the ballot for a Common Council seat representing Dist. 4, won against write-in candidate Jeff Bach. That was despite Urven having moved out of the district and was therefore ineligible to be seated on the council. Added to that irony is the fact that he is a relatively new resident to the city, whereas Bach has lived in Stoughton some 15 years.

Bach said it illustrates the power of having your name printed on the ballot versus running as a write-in.


OWI patrol is next weekend

Stoughton’s third round of high-visibility drunken-driving patrols is next weekend.

So when drivers take to the streets next Friday night, April 11, they’ll likely see 17 or more police cars from agencies all over the county patrolling Main Street and other high-traffic areas. Normally, a busy night has two or three officers out on patrol.

The “Capital Area OWI Task Force” has considered expanding to two or more patrols each year since its inception in 2012, but it has instead expanded the number of agencies involved, growing to 14 this year.

This year’s program kicked off last Saturday in DeForest, where it all began. It’s the brainchild of De Forest Lt. Dan Furseth, who started running high-visibility patrols there several years ago to deter drunken driving and found that arrests decreased as they used them more.

The idea of the patrols, he has said in multiple interviews with the Hub, is not to catch drunken drivers so much as prevent them.


Two men try to rob Subway

Photo submitted. Stoughton police are looking for two men who attempted to rob the Subway restaurant March 25.

The Stoughton Subway became victim to a robbery attempt on Tuesday, March 25.

Two men walked into the restaurant, located on the 1300 block of Hamilton Street, at 9:11 p.m. and demanded money from the employee on shift.

Despite the rumor that the robbery was armed, employee Josh Wichern, who was working during the time of the attempted robbery, didn’t see a weapon.

“They didn’t pull a gun on me,” Wichern said. “Honestly, when they walked in with the masks on, I figured they were going to try to rob me.”

The two suspects ordered sandwiches and when it came time for them to pay, the suspects demanded money from the cash register.

“I said, ‘Just the chips?’ and asked if they wanted anything else, and that’s when they asked for the money,” Wichern said. “They tried to grab me, I backed away, and they threatened me. I sat there for about a minute, and nothing happened.”


Council puts hold on KPW approvals

The proposed Kettle Park West development on the city’s northwest side is stalled for the time being, in part because of “setback” issues with the state and in part, the Common Council agreed last week, because an economic impact analysis of the project has not been conducted.

At setback is the distance a building must be from a road right-of-way or property line, and the analysis is a required component of the city’s big box ordinance.

Recognizing those problems, the Common Council unanimously decided last Tuesday not to create a tax-increment financing District and to ask the Plan Commission not to approve a specific development plan for KPW until the city has received an independent economic impact analysis for the project.


Incumbents keep seats

The four write-in candidates for positions in city government were shut out in Tuesday’s election.

Mayor Donna Olson prevailed over write-in challenger Dennis Kittleson in a 2,042 to 1,318 vote. Incumbent alders retained their seats, along with the three Stoughton Area School District board members.

City clerk Maria Hougan said the municipal vote totals are unofficial.

In a four-way race for three spots, SASD board incumbents Liz Menzer (3,279), Brett Schumacher (2,847) and Bev Fergus (3,128) retained their seats, outpolling challenger Allison Sorg (2,689).

Common Council incumbents Tim Swadley (Dist. 1), Paul Lawrence (Dist. 2), Greg Jenson (Dist. 3) and Tom Selsor (Dist. 4) all were returned to the council.


Voters say ‘Yes’ to referendum

They asked for the trust of the voters and on Tuesday, they got it.

After a fairly clear mandate on its recurring referendum, now it will be up to Stoughton Area School District officials to keep a tight financial leash on spending as they strive to maintain recent progress in a changing district.

By a comfortable margin, voters said ‘Yes’ to giving the district up to $20 million additional spending authority in the next four years and permanently raising the funding floor in a district that was on the verge of being the lowest-funded in Dane County.

According to the Dane County Clerk’s office, with 11 of 12 precincts reporting, the vote was 3,773-2,212 in favor of the referendum, a roughly 63-37 percent margin. According to the Rock County Clerk’s office, both precincts voted in support.


Residents honored for 25-year county service

Stoughton residents Barbara Daubner and Dennis Havey were recently honored  for their 25 years of service to Dane County.

Both Daubner and Havey received a plaque of appreciation and official recognition from County Executive Joe Parisi and the County Board Chair.

Daubner works for the Dane County Department of Human Services and Havey works for the Department of Public Works, Highways and Transportation.

“The county’s dedicated public servants have my deepest thanks for the work they do every day for Dane County,” Parisi said in a news release. “Their work supports and strengthens families, protects our residents from harm, and helps keep our roads and communities safe every day of the year.”

Daubner and Havey are among the 41 county employees that received recognition for their service this year.


Full slate on April ballots

As voters head to the polls April 1 to cast ballots, they’ll be doing so on new election machines.

Tuesday’s races make for one of the biggest local elections in recent years.

All voters in the Stoughton Area School District will weigh in on whether to allow the district to go forward with a recurring spending referendum.

Voters in the SASD will also cast ballots for board seats held by incumbent board president Liz Menzer and members Brett Schumacher and Bev Fergus. Challenger Allison Sorg is running for a seat, as well.

The top three vote-getters will earn seats on the board.

All City of Stoughton voters will chose between incumbent mayor Donna Olson or write-in challenger Dennis Kittleson. The mayor will serve for four years.

Several council seats are contested, as well:

• Newcomer Mike Dickman will challenge incumbent Tim Swadley for the Dist. 1 seat.


Candidates offer differing views on Kettle Park

Photos by Scott Girard. Six of the seven candidates for city council attended the candidate forum Wednesday, March 19. From left, Greg Jenson, Tim Swadley, Jeff Bach, Phil Caravello, Tom Selsor and Paul Lawrence.

A public forum last week at Stoughton High School queried the views of six Common Council candidates, the two candidates for mayor, and one for the Stoughton school board.

Allison Sorg was the only one of four school board candidates to appear at the forum. The other three– incumbents Liz Menzer, Brett Schumacher and Bev Fergus – had a communications committee meeting at the same time.

Mike Dickman, a write-in candidate for Common Council, was the only city candidate not to appear.

The forum was moderated by Cheryl Daniels of the League of Women Voters of Dane County.

After Sorg fielded a series of questions, Mayor Donna Olson and her write-in challenger, Dennis Kittleson, squared off for a round of five questions prepared by the Stoughton Courier Hub. The council candidates – incumbents Paul Lawrence, Greg Jenson, Tom Selsor and Tim Swadley, and challengers Phil Caravello and Jeff Bach – then had their turn to provide answers.