Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ashley Lukes crowned Miss Baldwin

Ashley Lukes, seated above, was crowned the new Miss Baldwin at the Miss Baldwin 2009-2010 Queen Pageant at the B-W Performing Arts Center Saturday evening during June Bug Days. Others named to the 2009-2010 court include First Princess and Miss Congeniality Emily Veenstra, right; Second Princess Megan Smith, left; Dakota Ramberg, center, Third Princess.

Three students expelled from High School

“School is supposed to be a safe haven for students,” said district resident and parent Mark Grognet in remarks to the school board during the open forum at the regular meeting Monday night.
Grognet told board members that his son was jumped outside the front doors of the high school by three brothers, who are also students at the school. “We had a discussion with the principal a few days before this incident and thought everything was settled,” he said, “I want the board to be aware of the situation. We have had calls from other parents saying their kids are afraid of these same kids who jumped our son.” Grognet said that one of the brothers was involved in the incident at the high school a few years ago when teacher Bill Gillis was kicked in the head as he attempted to break up a fight at school.
“We have pictures, a police report and a hospital report if the board would like to look at them,” continued Grognet, “It’s time this stops and I don’t think it’s necessary for this to happen any more.”
Following a closed session at the end of the meeting to consider possible student expulsions, three students were expelled from the High School until their 21st birthdays, according to Supt. Rusty Helland.
In other business before the board, district employees Tami Linden and Penny Dittman gave a Mentoring Program presentation to the board. According to Linden, the program began 12 years ago at Greenfield Elementary with nine mentors working with nine students. Mentors meet once a week with the same students throughout the school year. They can eat lunch together, play games, read books, talk, just about anything, Linden said.
“We have served as many as 50 kids a year,” said Linden, “and over 6,000 hours have been donated by the mentors.”
Dittman worked on expanding the program to Viking Middle School this year. “We had 12 students and 12 mentors,” she said. They hope to introduce the program to the high school in the near future.
High School Principal Eric Russell led a discussion about proposed advanced placement exam guidelines. Presently, the district pays $85 for each Advanced Placement exam for courses offered by Baldwin-Woodville.
“Most of the AP courses are teacher driven at B-W, but classes are changing and we want to be proactive,” Russell said.
Russell suggested that if a student chooses to take an Advanced Placement exam for an online class, for example, the student would pay for the exam and the district would reimburse the student if the student receives a passing grade of 3 or better.
“About 85 exams were taken this past year,” said Russell, “so it adds up.” Students receiving a passing grade also get college credit he added.
“How about all the tests be reimbursed if the student earns a 3 or better?” asked board member John Hinz.
“These are our best and brightest students,” commented board member Mike Bondarenko. Paying for the AP exams is part of the Gifted and Talented program at the High School he added.
Board President Jeff Campbell recommended the proposal be sent to the Policy Committee, which it was.
In other action, the board approved high school teacher J.R. Dachel as the new Dean of Students/Athletic Director/Transportation Director to replace Wake Labecki, who recently resigned. “Nine people served on the interview committee,” said Supt. Helland. “We had 29 applicants for the position and interviewed five,” he said.
The board approved an early graduation request from Mallory Precht, who just finished her junior year. “Mallory’s family is moving to New York for a new job and she has enough credits to graduate, which is quite an accomplishment,” said Russell. She would like permission to possibly return and participate in graduation ceremonies with her class next spring, Russell added.
The board approved the budget revisions for the 2008-2009 school year. The projected ending fund balance will be $104,432 which is mostly due to lower gas prices and lower heating costs last year, said Helland.
The board approved the first preliminary budget for the 2009-2010 school year. Helland explained that the budget estimates were based on conservative numbers because the final numbers from the state will not be available until October.
“Did you use reduced state aid figures in the preliminary budget?” asked Bondarenko.
“No, not yet,” said Helland. The budget is based on a $274 increase per student in state aid. He said as soon as more information is available from the state, those figures will be incorporated in the proposed budget and the updates will be sent to board members.

Village Board 4-3 vote rezones lot to previous status

Four members of the Baldwin Village Board who voted to rezone a lot in the Creekview addition said they were rectifying a mistake made when the village adopted a new zoning map.
The lot was originally zoned as a zoned for a four-plex and when the rezoning map was created it showed the land as a R-2, which is one and two-family residential. The lot is owned by Scott Plourde.
Plourde said he will not immediately do anything with the lot because a four-plex will not presently cash flow. He said a six plex would cash flow and he originally asked that the lot be re-zoned to accommodate a six unit apartment.
“It’s not an easy decision,” noted Village President Don McGee, who voted with the majority to rezone the lot to R-3, which will allow construction of a four plex at some time in the future if the economic conditions support it. Also voting to rezone the lot were trustees Greg Larson, Kevin Brathol and Duane Russett. Voting against the measure to rezone the property to accommodate a four-plex were trustees Doug Newton, Claire Stein and Willie Zevenbergen.
Plourde said that he believes the housing market is changing from homeownership to rental units. He said he believes that for the next five and maybe up to 10 years there will be more people able to rent housing than can own. He said that without the rezoning he would take a large financial hit because the value of the property is determined by what can be built there.
In other action at the meeting:
-The board voted to charge a second $10,000 fee for a liquor license for The Orchard, but because one $10,000 fee had already been charged for a liquor license that expired, the board voted to rebate $9,500 of the second fee. The $500 difference represents the annual on and off sale license renewal fee. “There was a loophole available in these specific circumstances that may not always be available with other circumstances” said Village President McGee after the meeting. The board also approved a “beer garden” permit for The Orchard. Additionally, the board approved a sign and a 24’ x 40’ new building for the business.
-The board approved engineering and design fees of $34,700 to Ayres and Associates for extending water service to Baldwin’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The board approved a payment of $66,929 to Monarch Paving for recent paving work in the village.
-In his annual maintenance/compliance report, WWTP operator Gary Newton said the plant passed an inspection “pretty much with straight As.” He noted that decreased flows do cause some concern. Newton also told the board that the former Jongquist property, now owned by First Bank of Baldwin, will abandon and cap the wells at the property.
-The board approved a pay request for work done in Baldwin Business Park, the village’s new industrial park, of $465,000. The payment comes from an escrow account.
-The board agreed that it made more sense, and saved about $32,000, to order a refurbished ambulance mounted on a new chassis rather than a new one. A refurbished module, including new wiring, mounted on a new chassis, costs about $60,000. A new one costs about $92,000. Baldwin EMS Director Craig Nelson noted that there was $108,000 in the ambulance fund for the purchase. The refurbished ambulance will replace a 1999 vehicle.

From the Exchanges
    Interesting News Items from
        Surrounding Communities

THE COURIER-WEDGE (DURAND): A rural Durand couple have filed a lawsuit in Pepin County court in an attempt to block usage of the former Milwaukee Railroad tracks owned by Xcel Energy and leased by the Chippewa Valley Motor Car Association. They were scheduled to appear in Pepin County Circuit Court June 9. Helen and Robert Kees claim that the railbed which abuts their farmland is theirs by adverse possession and have also filed a Temporary Injunction to prevent further work on that section of the tracks by the Association. The Kees reside at W6754 Simpson Lane in rural Durand. The railroad runs diagonally through their farm. According to court documents, they claim they possess the railroad right-of-way which involves fencing their livestock, hunting year round, hiking, berry picking, mushroom hunting, watercress harvesting, predator control, wood cutting, use of same pathway to their neighbors and to town, mowing, horseback riding, horse and cutter route, henhouse, 4-wheeling, planting and other uses and improvements. This is the culmination of a ten year old dispute over ownership of the railbed. On January 28, 1979, Northern States Power Company purchased the railbed of the Milwaukee Railroad including the 14 + miles from Durand to Trevino. The conveyance was done via quit claim deed and was recorded in Pepin County records. In May of 1995, the Chippewa Valley Motor Car Association was formed and signed a License Agreement with Northern States Power Company (now Xcel Energy) for operation of railroad motor cars on the Xcel owned railbed extending some 14+ miles south from Durand through Pepin and Buffalo Counties. The License Agreement has been in effect without interruption since 1995 and is still in effect today.

BURNETT COUNTY SENTINEL: Three Minnesota teens are in custody following a high speed chase which started in Grantsburg and ended in Pine County, Minnesota, Monday evening. “The three teens, two are 14 and one is 15, are in custody in Pine County,” Burnett County Sheriff Dean Roland reported Tuesday morning. “They went on a spree in Pine and Burnett counties stealing at least three cars – maybe as many as five cars, racing them, crashing them and stealing another.” He said the juveniles also stole a gun. The beginning of the end came about 10:20 p.m. in Grantsburg when sheriff’s deputy Trevor Thiex saw a suspicious vehicle, ran the plate, it popped up as a stolen vehicle and the pursuit was on. “They started in Burnett, went into Polk County, back into Burnett, and then into Minnesota,” Roland said. “We tried to spike them (road spikes) several times but they drove around them. The sheriff said the chase covered 56 miles and the speeds ranged from 75 to 120 miles an hour. The chase ended about 11:15 p.m. in Pine County when the driver failed to negotiate a “T” intersection. “They ran out of road,” the sheriff noted. “One of the juveniles was just released from a facility in Iowa for stealing cars,” Roland added.

THE SUN (OSCEOLA): A 22-year-old Roseville, Minn., man was killed early last Friday after falling off a cliff in Wisconsin Interstate Park. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that Skylar Francisco and five of his friends had entered the park after hours and were in a restricted area when Francisco who had been sitting near a cliff edge fell approximately 40 feet. Rescue personnel from the St. Croix Falls Fire Department reached Francisco via watercraft and transported him to St. Croix Regional Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries. No deaths have been reported in the park since cliff jumping into the river was banned in 2000. The incident remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office, the Interstate Park Rangers and the Polk County Medical Examiners Office.

HUDSON STAR-OBSERVER: Two boys using a magnesium stick and a knife to strike sparks started more of a fire than they intended to Thursday afternoon June 4. The sparks ignited a cluster of cottonwood seeds on a sidewalk next to the Ronald and Marian Sake residence at 1808 Willow Drive. From there, the fire quickly spread to the dry grass in the Sakes’ backyard, set a brush pile ablaze, exploded a five-gallon gas can and continued on to the house. An hour later, the split-level house that Sakes have called home for many years stood in ruin. Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen said Tuesday that the 13 and 7-year-old boys who started the fire won’t be charged with a crime. “It wasn’t arson. It wasn’t intentional. They were just being kids, and being a little careless when they were doing it,” said Jensen. He indicated that a lawsuit will likely result from the fire, however. “Obviously, it will be something that the Sakes and the parents of the (boys) will have to take care of he said.