Lawrence elected council president

Aldermanic District 2 remains the home of the Common Council president, but another alder will be taking a turn.

Ald. Paul Lawrence unseated Michael Engelberger last week for the leadership position. Mayor Donna Olson cast the tiebreaking vote, allowing Lawrence to win the seat after the council deadlocked twice at 6-6.

The council president helps the mayor set the council meeting agenda and runs meetings in the mayor’s absence. The president also conducts meetings of the whole and would serve as mayor in the case of a resignation or inability to perform mayoral duties. 

Engelberger, first elected to the council in 2012, finished his first term as council president and was nominated by Ald. Tom Selsor (D-4) to retain the position.


Miller named deputy fire chief, fire marshal

Mark Miller, a volunteer firefighter on the Stoughton Fire Department for almost 30 years, was promoted to deputy chief/fire marshal on April 1. He took over the job that was vacated when Scott Wegner was named the department’s fire chief in February. 

The police and fire commission conducted interviews and selected Miller as deputy chief from a field of candidates. Miller became volunteer assistant fire chief 12 years ago and the captain of Company 1 eight years ago. He is a longtime Stoughton resident and has been a leader and advisor for all firefighters, and an officer for duty crew shifts who’s run incident command. He also has assisted chief Wegner with investigations. 


Harmony, unity on downtown redevelopment

In what could only be described as a harmonious event, about 55 people turned out last Thursday for a public forum on redeveloping the city’s downtown and riverfront areas.

The forum was organized by the grassroots organization Sustainable Stoughton and attended by many of its members and supporters, along with a host of city officials, including Mayor Donna Olson and her husband, Randy, and about a half-dozen members of the Common Council.

Of note was the absence of rancor or controversy – and the fact that the name Kettle Park West was never uttered. Instead of focusing on the Wal-Mart Supercenter-anchored project that has polarized the city for more than a year, activists and officials alike talked about their hopes and plans for redevelopment in Stoughton.


Stoughton woman killed in crash identified

The 30-year-old Stoughton woman killed following a crash in Madison last week has been identified by the Dane County Medical Examiner’s office.

According to a news release from the office, the woman who died is Amanda (Amy) J. Hanneman.

Hanneman was born in Waukesha and graduated from high school in Adams-Friendship, according to her obituary. The mother of three lived in Stoughton with her husband, and was scheduled to begin training as a nurse in the fall.

According to a news release from the Wisconsin State Patrol, emergency responders were called around 5:20 p.m. Monday, April 20, to the eastbound on ramp from the Beltline to southbound I-90 for a single-vehicle crash. Authorities said a 2008 Mazda left the road and struck a tree, causing fatal injuries.

Funeral services were held last weekend. The investigation into the crash is ongoing. 


Future of KPW development in jeopardy

The viability of the Kettle Park West is in doubt.

The developer of the proposed west-side commercial center asked for a change in the development agreement with the city last Tuesday, April 21, and a key alder who had previously supported the project indicated he won’t support the change.

The Common Council has been deadlocked for months on votes about KPW, with six alders supporting the development and six opposed. The mayor has broken tie votes many times in favor of moving ahead with the 35-acre development, which would be anchored by a 153,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter.


First of two patrols this weekend

Stoughton’s first high-visibility OWI patrol of the year is this weekend. 

From 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, 10 patrol cars from seven jurisdictions will cruise the streets of Stoughton in a high-profile display to dissuade people from considering operating while intoxicated. 

This is the third year for Stoughton in the “Capital Area OWI Task Force,” a state grant-funded program that continues to add new wrinkles in its fourth year. It has grown from a half-dozen agencies to 14, adding more visual elements and this year splitting most patrols in half and will accompany some of them with a police car that’s been repainted to look like half-taxi, half-squad car.

Half the traveling officers will be in Stoughton this weekend, and the other half will be in Oregon on the same night. The two will again share the patrols in July.


Stoughton woman killed in I-90 crash

A 30-year-old Stoughton woman was killed following a crash in Madison Monday.

According to a news release from the Wisconsin State Patrol, emergency responders were called around 5:20 p.m. Monday April 20, to the eastbound on ramp from the Beltline to southbound I-90 for a single-vehicle crash.

Authorities said a 2008 Mazda left the road and struck a tree, causing fatal injuries to the lone occupant. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the news release.

The identity of the victim had not been released as of press time Tuesday, pending notification of family members. The investigation is ongoing.


Council rejects homing pigeons

Homing pigeons apparently are not like chickens.

Over the objections of Dist. 1 Ald. Sid Boersma, who cited research that cities allowing homing pigeons don’t show related health or nuisance problems, the Common Council last week rejected a request to allow up to 50 of the birds to be kept on a single property.

The 7-4 vote puts an end to a saga that began in October with a request by city resident Rosalie Bjelde to keep homing pigeons – also known as racing pigeons – in a loft at her property on Broadway Street.

Alders showed some initial support for crafting an ordinance despite two negative recommendations by the Planning Commission – noting that the city allows residents to keep chickens – but in this case, they declined to follow through.


Council’s MillFab offer: $700K

The Common Council last week approved an offer to purchase the former MillFab property that the city’s Redevelopment Authority had recommended in March.

The city is offering $700,000 for the 6-acre property, which officials see as part of a redevelopment strategy for land along the Yahara River near downtown Stoughton.

MillFab/Holley Mouldings Inc. ceased operating the facility on the site in September, and the property is in receivership.

The offer to purchase is contingent on results of testing the property for environmental contamination and requires the sellers to remove any hazardous substances and petroleum products from the site at 433 E. South St., including electronics waste.


Votes indicate no silent majority

Last week’s Common Council election had the appearance of shaking up of the status quo. Two candidates who have been critical of the Kettle Park West approval process prevailed over opponents who had voiced support for the project.

And the results of three KPW referendum questions suggest that residents strongly support downtown and Yahara Riverfront redevelopment, but there’s less than majority support for developing Kettle Park West, especially if it means city borrowing to support the effort.

Still, it’s difficult to say anything definitive about public sentiment overall when just 33 percent of registered voters went to the polls.