Man killed in Town of Pleasant Springs crash

A single-vehicle crash last week on Door Creek Road has left a Stoughton man dead.

Chad J. Burress, 25, died from injuries sustained in the Feb. 20 crash, according to a news release from the Dane County Medical Examiner. 

“Deputies believe the driver was traveling northbound on Door Creek Road in the Town of Pleasant Springs and drove through a T-intersection at Hwy. MN, striking a tree head-on,” Dane County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Elise Schaffer said.

The vehicle was found by a passing driver around 7 a.m., Friday, Feb. 20.

“It’s unclear what time the crash actually occurred,” Schaffer said.

Authorities say the investigation is ongoing and that anyone with information related to the crash is asked to call the Dane County tip line at 284-6900.


3 referendums will make ballot

A petition drive launched in December by a group of activists hoping to thwart the development of a taxpayer-assisted commercial center met with partial success Monday.

In a special meeting Monday, the council voted unanimously to ask Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell to place three advisory referendum questions related to Kettle Park West on the ballot. And his office told the Hub on Tuesday that he’ll grant the request.

But the council rejected forwarding a question that, if adopted, could become a new city ordinance on tax-increment financing.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 17, a group calling itself Stoughton Forward submitted petitions to City Hall that contained two advisory referendum questions and one direct-legislation question.


Engelberger, Gilbert advance to April race

Incumbent Common Council president Mike Engelberger will move on to the April election and face challenger Mike Gilbert after last week’s District 2 primary election.

Engelberger took 55.1 percent of the vote with 157 ballots in his favor. Gilbert earned 41.4 percent of the vote with 118.

Challenger Ross Urven, who had formerly been appointed a vacant to District 4 seat before moving to another part of the city, took 3.5 percent of the vote with a total of 10.

The biggest issue this election season is the debate surrounding Kettle Park West.

Gilbert said he’s directly challenging Engelberger to unseat him. He previously told the Courier Hub, “I think I can do a better job than he’s doing” in representing District 2 constituents.

Gilbert, 63, recently retired from a career at Cummins Inc. and Nelson Global Products and has lived in Stoughton for most of his life.


Finance Committee: Use notes for borrowing

Kettle Park West opponents are describing it as a “bait and switch,” while proponents of the development say it makes financial and political sense.

The city’s Finance Committee met last Tuesday and voted to recommend that the Common Council consider using Bond Anticipation Notes to finance on-site and off-site infrastructure work at KPW instead of General Obligation Bonds.

Doing so would prevent opponents of the project from forcing a referendum on the borrowing. But the city’s financial adviser said there are other benefits, as well.

The Common Council is expected to consider the change at its Feb. 24 meeting.


Stoughton attorney suspended for misconduct

Attorney James Hammis will be barred from practicing law for 90 days, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled.

Hammis, who last practiced law in Stoughton but now works in construction, was determined to have committed nine counts of personal misconduct. Hammis had his license suspended in 2011 for personal misconduct, as well, but claimed the last ruling was “clearly erroneous.” 

“This is not the first time that Attorney Hammis has been found to have committed professional misconduct,” court documents read. “Some of the behavior in this case mirrors the misconduct that resulted in his four-month license suspension back in 2011.”


Local rail crossings will get signal upgrades

Photo by Scott De Laruelle. The Office of Commissioner of Railroads ordered flashing lights and gates installed at two intersections in the city of Stoughton and three in the town of Dunkirk due to Wisconsin Southern Railroad increasing the speed of its trains on this route in recent years from 25 to 40 mph.

Faster train speeds have prompted the state Office of Commissioner of Railroads to order flashing lights and gates installed at two rail crossings in the city of Stoughton and three in the town of Dunkirk.

The crossings at Williams Drive and Veterans Road in the city and Hannerville, Hammond and Leslie roads in the town currently either have flashing lights or cross buck stop signs. Those warning devices were deemed inadequate as speeds of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. trains have increased from 25 to 40 mph in recent years, according to the OCR order issued Feb. 9.

The railroad had input into the need and timing of the safety grades and has until Dec. 31, 2016, to complete work at the five crossings. Ken Lucht, the railroad’s director of government relations, did not return a call asking when the railroad planned to make the changes. 


Signatures in, but too late?

Photos by Mark Ignatowski. Volunteers work to collect signatures for a referendum about KPW last Friday along Main Street. Buzz Davis urges passersby to turn in signatures.

Activists opposed to developing the Kettle Park West commercial center on the city’s west side presented city officials with petitions Tuesday designed to place three referendum questions on the April 7 election ballot.

But despite all three meeting organizers’ 900-signature goal, it appears unlikely any will reach the ballot this spring.

Two of the referendums would be advisory, and the third would become a binding city ordinance if approved by a majority of voters.

The binding referendum would ask voters if the city should adopt an ordinance requiring it to conduct a referendum when the city proposes borrowing more than $1 million for a tax-increment-financing district.


Special meeting will review KPW petitions

The referendums have a chance to get on the April ballot, after all.

The Stoughton Common Council has announced it will hold a special meeting next week to discuss petitions for two advisory referendums and one direct legislation referendum relating to the Kettle Park West commercial development. It begins at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, in the council chambers at the Public Safety Building, 321 S. Fourth St. 

A group of activists opposed to developing KPW – and using a city subsidy through tax-increment financing to help fund infrastructure improvements in the development’s first phase – began collecting signatures Dec. 24 and filed the petitions with city clerk Lana Kropf on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

The direct legislation petition included more than 970 signatures of city residents, said activist Buzz Davis, chief organizer of Stoughton Forward.


‘Building on record of achievement’

Stoughton Hospital continued to accumulate accreditations and state and national recognition for patient satisfaction in 2014.

As in 2013, the hospital was again recognized with awards for patient satisfaction in both general hospital services and its emergency department, and also as a healthy workplace for employees.

The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation recognized the hospital’s commitment to improving the quality of life by enhancing standards of care.

The National Rural Health Association again named Stoughton Hospital among the top 20 critical access hospitals in the nation for patient satisfaction.

The American Heart Association recognized the hospital as a Gold Fit-Friendly Company for a healthy workplace for employees.

Those are just a few of the accolades the hospital received in the past year.


Engelberger faces primary challenge in District 2

Voters living in Aldermanic District 2 will have a choice of three candidates for Common Council in next week’s primary election.

Former alder Ross Urven and political newcomer Mike Gilbert are challenging council president Michael Engelberger in the primary. The two top vote-getters will face off in the April general election.

Most voters are aware that one of the hot-button issues here has been the Kettle Park West development and whether the city should help subsidize the project through the use of tax-increment financing.

Engelberger has been staunchly opposed to using TIF to support the development, while Urven and Gilbert have said they support it.