Local News Briefs Friday 1/17/14

Ripon city officials hope that the remains of two fire-ravaged buildings on Watson Street will come down soon. City Administrator Lori Rich says there isn’t much left of the buildings at 310 and 312 Watson that were destroyed by last month’s downtown blaze. A structural engineer has determined the buildings are unsafe and that they need to come down. She says everyone is in agreement about the need to take down the buildings, which she says is blocking access to the 300 block of Watson Street and their downtown businesses. She says the final inspection of the buildings will be next week on Thursday and demolition should occur shortly after that.

ThedaCare And Community Reach Preliminary Agreement On Affiliation

Officials with Community Health Network in Berlin and ThedaCare™ this week agreed to the terms of a letter to affiliate. The ThedaCare Board of Trustees met Monday and the Community Health Network Board Tuesday, and agreed on the core elements of an affiliation. John Feeney the CEO and President of Community Health Network says, “It makes sense to come together.” Dr. Dean Gruner the President and CEO of ThedaCare says, “ThedaCare has successfully affiliated with other community healthcare organizations in New London, Waupaca and Shawano and we are honored that we will now work with Community Health Network to provide expanded service options for their patients.”

Dodge County Emergency Management Job Swap

There could be some shifting of titles in Dodge County Emergency Management. The county Executive Committee this week advanced a proposal to voluntarily switch Deputy Director Amy Nehls to the top post. Director Joe Meagher would then become the Deputy Director. Meagher approached Nehls about the change. It comes following the recent birth of his son Oscar, who was born pre-mature but otherwise perfectly healthy, though will require a little extra quality time with dad. Nehls says the change in titles will not be noticeable to local residents or agency partners and will essentially boil down to her attending a few more evening meetings. The resolution will go before the Dodge County Board next Tuesday and, if approved, with take effect on January 25.

Sheboygan Falls Players Suspended Over Gang Gestures

(WHBL-Sheboygan)-The ACLU of Wisconsin is looking into the controversy surrounding the suspension of two Sheboygan Falls’ basketball players due to a recent picture in the Sheboygan Falls News.  Jordon and Jamal Jackson will not play in today’s game against Plymouth due to a picture showing them with hand gestures that were connected to gang symbols. Executive Director Chris Ahmuty said district officials have overreacted, and have put in a public records request to determine if the district is complying with rules regarding discrimination.  He said the situation is also a sign that the district is not prepared to properly deal with incidents regarding racial diversity. He also hopes the district will end the suspensions before today’s game, and can use this situation in the future as a learning tool for how to properly handle issues with diversity and discrimination.

Sheboygan Falls School District Reaction To Gestures Controversy

(WHBL-Sheboygan)-The Sheboygan Falls School District said they followed district procedures regarding a recent photo in the Sheboygan Falls News that led to the suspension of two boys’ basketball players.  Superintendent Jean Born said a police-liaison officer brought to their attention a picture of Jordon, Jamal, and Juwaun Jackson that has questionable hand gestures.  She said they asked Sheboygan Falls Police to investigate, and found the gestures were gang symbols. This resulted in the suspension of Jordan and Jamal.  Born could not say how long the suspensions are due to confidentiality.  Falls Police Chief Steve Riffel and News editor Jeff Pederson have said the gestures in the picture was not meant to be a threat, but rather something done for a goofing around picture.

Oshkosh Police Training Exercise

Oshkosh Police will be holding a training exercise at the Christine Ann Center from 1 to 3:30 p.m. today. The training exercise will be primarily inside of the building. The training exercise will be used to assist staff at the center in the event of a police emergency. It will also help police officers familiarize themselves with the building. The Christine Ann Center is a domestic abuse service provider.

Fire Safety Reminders To Be Distributed In FDL Saturday

Fire safety door hangers will be distributed in Fond du Lac Saturday through a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service project being put on by the American Red Cross. Fond du Lac firefighters and volunteers from the Girl Scouts will be distributing the fire safety reminders from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Troy Haase is the Division Chief of Fire Prevention for the Fond du Lac Fire Department. He says they will be concentrating on areas of the City that are considered at higher risk of having a fire. He says it’s a little different than the canvass they do of neighbors after a fire. He says those also includes visiting the home to do a fire safety check and checking for working smoke detectors and providing them if the home doesn’t have them. Similar efforts will also be conducted in Ripon and Mayville Saturday.

Parking App Will Be Convenient For FDL Residents

The manager of the City of Fond du Lac Information and Technologies Service Department says a phone application will soon be available that will allow residents to pay for metered-parking on their credit card. Dave Zitlow says the PassPort Parking app will be convenient for people like himself who don’t carry around spare change. He says people will be able to scan the sticker on parking meters and decide how much time they want to pay for. Zitlow says he’s tried out the application and they work well. He says it will also offer the convenience of putting more time on the meter with out having to run down to it and put in more change.

MPTC Hires Director Of College Advancement

Moraine Park Technical College has a new director of college advancement. Dana Knebel joined MPTC about 6 weeks ago. She will be working with the college and Moraine Park Foundation to raise scholarships for students and offset the cost of education for them. She says the Foundation awards quite a bit of scholarship money, but can’t fulfill all the requests that they get. Each year the Foundation awards about $140,000 in scholarships, but they have to turn away about 40 percent of the requests they get. She says they also help students with costs that make it easier for students to attend college. Knebel says their goal is to feed skilled workers into the workforce in the communities that MPTC serves.

Congressman Petri Town Meetings Scheduled

Congressman Tom Petri of Fond du Lac will hold town meetings at 12 locations across the 6th Congressional District over the next week. The first two meetings will be in Sheboygan and Mequon on Saturday. The meeting in Sheboygan will be at the Mead Public Library from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the one in Mequon will be at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon there is a meeting at the Ripon Public Library from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Other Meetings will be held in Two Rivers, Saukville, Redgranite, Oshkosh, Mayville, Columbus, Wisconsin Dells, Montello and Green Lake over the course of the week. The federal lawmaker from Fond du Lac says, “There are many items Congress will be considering in the New Year that directly affect individuals, families, and businesses in our state.  I encourage all residents to come share their thoughts.” For a complete list of times and locations visit the Congressman’s website.