Local News Briefs Tuesday 12/31/13

Smoke ended a church service prematurely in Fond du Lac late Sunday morning. Fire Department officials say the Church of Latter Day Saints at 347 North Country Lane was near the end of its service when the church began filling with smoke. The church was evacuated. The smoke was due to a faulty furnace, which ended the service and activities scheduled afterwards.

Name Released In Fatal Columbia County Snowmobiling Accident

The Michigan man killed in a snowmobiling accident near Cambria last Friday afternoon has been identified. Department of Natural Resources officials say 36-year-old Jeremy Geertsma was snowmobiling on private property in the Town of Randolph when the accident occurred. They say speed and snowy conditions factored into the snowmobile crash.

Ripon Resident Puts Truck Through Ice

(WBEV-Beaver Dam)-A Ripon resident may be the person who drove a truck that went through the ice on Lake Emily last weekend. DNR officials are now looking for the owner of the truck. Authorities were called Saturday morning to the Town of Fox Lake around 11am. The truck went through the ice about 300 yards west of Schaumburg Supper Club. There were no apparent injuries. A towing service was contacted to recover the truck and was advised to call authorities when and if the owner tried to claim the truck.

Johnson Looks To Improve Affordable Care Act

(Wisconsin Radio Network)-One of Wisconsin’s U-S Senators hopes the New Year will bring some changes to the Affordable Care Act.  Senator Ron Johnson of Oshkosh says Obamacare is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean Congress should not look to improve the law in the coming year. Johnson says lawmakers should consider passing reforms when they return to Washington this month, such as permanently removing the individual mandate.

FDL County Works With Manufacturers

Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel says the County does what it can to financially assist its manufacturers. He points out a revolving loan fund administered by the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation this year helped with projects by Wells Vehicle Electronics, Alliance Laundry Systems and others. He says Wells and Alliance both got half a million loans. He says within the next month or two Alliance will also be getting a $6 million loan from the County for an expansion that could create up to 150 new jobs.The loan will be for eight years. Although the County helped Mercury Marine with a $50 million loan to stay in Fond du Lac the County Board turned Mercury down this fall when it requested another $10 million loan. Buechel says he hopes Mercury will pursue that $30 million expansion sooner rather than later.

Franklin School A Good Facility For STEM Programs

The superintendent of the Fond du Lac School District says the Franklin School has served them well as the center for two charter school STEM programs. Jim Sebert says the school was remodeled at first for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM Institute and later the STEM Academy. He says the facility services staff did a great job with the old school. He says previous administrators and school boards should also be credited for holding onto the school and maintaining it. Sebert says it’s hard to believe how well their partnership with Mercury Marine has worked out with the STEM programs.

Drive Sober

North Fond du Lac Police Chief Darren Pautsch is urging area residents to make plans to have someone sober drive them home from New Year’s Eve parties. He says law enforcement officials will be out to make sure people are driving sober and are buckled up. He says it’s a matter of having a plan and taking advantage of taxi services, designated driver or safe ride programs. The state’s Department of Transportation says a Drive Sober app is available at the Zero in Wisconsin web page that has a blood-alcohol estimator, can help people choose a designated driver, and locate nearby taxi and mass transit services. 

FCEDC Annual Evening Highlights Achievements

The president of the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation says they will highlight some of their achievements during the corporation’s annual evening next month at the UW-Fond du Lac. Steve Jensen says the event on January 30th also celebrates their 25th anniversary. Jensen says the results of a seven year study show the FCEDC is worth every dollar that’s invested in it. He says they have created 2,832 new jobs, retained 1, 950 jobs or 4,782 combined jobs which equated to $464 million in new capital investment and tax base. He says the return on investment is also substantial at 247 to 1 for capital investment and direct payroll created and retained 125 to 1. He adds the total economic output is 1,169 to 1 and retail sales created as a result 95 to 1.

Government Offices Close Early Today

Fond du Lac City and County offices will be closing early today for observance of the New Year’s holiday. Offices at the City-County Government Center will be closing at noon. Other County offices will also be closed for the holiday. The City’s Municipal Service Center and the Sherriff’s Office Lobby Window will close at 11 this morning. City transit will operate until noon. The library will close at 4 p.m. Refuse and recycling normally picked up on Wednesdays will be collected on Thursday along with that day’s normal collection.

DMV Service Centers Closed Today And Tomorrow

The state’s Department of Transportation is reminding residents that DMV service centers across Wisconsin will be closed today and tomorrow for the New Year’s holiday. The official Wisconsin DMV web site is available 24/7 and many DMV transactions can be handled online at their website