Village, OSD candidates speak at forum

Photo by Scott De Laruelle. Incumbent Oregon School Board member Steve Zach speaks during last Thursday’s Oregon Village Board/School Board candidate forum at the State Bank of Cross Plains – Oregon.

With election day on April 7, drawing ever closer, voters got a bit more information last week to help make their decisions on two contested village races.

Three of four candidates for three Oregon Village Board seats and both candidates for an opening on the Oregon school board addressed an Oregon Chamber of Commerce forum last week. Village board terms are two years in length; school board terms are three years.

Incumbent candidates Jeanne Carpenter and Darlene Groenier joined newcomer Ben Cowan at the forum. Incumbent Eric Poole did not attend. Village president Steve Staton, who is running unopposed, attended and spoke at the beginning of the meeting.

Oregon School Board member Steve Zach and challenger Marilyn McDole also spoke at the forum, with the winner to represent the Village of Oregon. Jeff Ramin, who is running unopposed to represent the Town of Oregon on the OSD board, did not attend.


Village Board, district might team up on pond

Oregon School District representatives Monday discussed the possibility of partnering with the village in developing a regional stormwater pond south of the Oregon Ice Arena.

OSD business manager Andy Weiland met with the Village Board and said the idea of expanding a stormwater pond that’s south of the ice arena had “just come up in the past couple of weeks.”

He said the idea, which is only a concept at this point, would be to eliminate two of three existing detention ponds and expand the size of the one near the ice arena. 

The school district would reconfigure a stormwater conveyance system near the high school and direct runoff away from the neighborhood west of the school, sending it south of the ice arena instead of its current flow pattern west to a concrete culvert along Oak Street.


DOT study: Hwy. 138 doesn’t need four lanes

A Wisconsin Department of Transportation study of the State Hwy. 138 corridor between Oregon and Stoughton has concluded the road does not require more lanes or additional right-of-way.

The DOT presented its conclusions to local officials at a Feb. 10 meeting in Stoughton. The study arose from public comments at a similar meeting in the fall of 2012 that drivers were traveling too fast on Hwy. 138 – especially given its frequent use by farm equipment.

“There’s no plans for four lanes in the near future,” Oregon public works director Mark Below told the Observer.

The DOT studied a 6.5-mile stretch from the interchange with U.S. Hwy. 14 in Oregon to the Silverado/Hoel Ave. intersection in Stoughton and found there were slightly more crashes than normal for roads of similar size in the state (75 accidents per 100 million vehicle miles traveled versus 71 on average).


Candidate forum is Thursday

The State Bank of Cross Plains (lower level) is hosting a candidate forum for Oregon Village Board and Oregon School District races in April.

Invited Oregon School District candidates are incumbent Steve Zach and challenger Marilyn McDole. Incumbent village board candidates Eric Poole, Darlene Groenier and Jeanne Carpenter, and challenger Ben Cowan were invited to the event. 

The event is open to the public. Lunch is available for $7.

For reservations, call the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce office at 835-3697.


Alcohol license policies get more ‘business friendly’

The Village Board last week amended two ordinances relating to liquor licenses and alcohol sales in order to make them more “business-friendly.”

The board reduced fees for businesses that hold a liquor license and file for renewal after the April 15 deadline and also for “deficiencies” in late applications. The fee was reduced from $250 to $50 for late applications and from $250 to $25 for deficiencies in applications after April 15.

Village president Steve Staton explained the board felt the fees were too high.

“It was in the interest of our businesses to bring those fees back to a reasonable amount,” he told the Observer.


App aims to save lives

Cardiac arrest? There’s an app for that.

A new mobile app in Dane County could help save a person’s life by alerting others nearby to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The app – PulsePoint – was brought to Dane County through a partnership with Meriter-UnityPoint Health and Dane County Emergency Medical Services departments.

The app was introduced Feb. 6 and local EMS departments have begun to encourage their members to download and use the app. The goal is to have anybody trained in CPR use the app to respond to emergencies in public places.

Oregon EMS director Tony Antoniewicz said the department has encouraged all members to download the app and that people who take CPR classes through the department have been told about it, too.


Rail crossing bid less than expected

Village officials unsealed the only bid received last week for installing railroad crossing gates and electronic signals at the Braun Road entrance to the Alpine Business Park.

Public Works director Mark Below said the bid was submitted by CDL Electric, out of Kansas, in the amount of  $183,054.

The village has $225,000 budgeted for the project, which a hearing examiner for the Office of the Railroad Commissioner ordered over the village’s objections. 

Funding for the work will come from tax-increment financing, in the village’s TID 2 account, meaning it won’t affect the tax levy in the near future. 


Board hires consultant for police chief search

The Village Board on Monday authorized the village to hire a consultant to assist in the search for a new chief of police. 

The board voted unanimously to hire Sue Riseling, of Decision Makers LLC, to lead the search for a new village police chief. Riseling, Chief of Police at University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1991, runs her consulting business on the side.

Her contract with the village is effective March 2-Dec. 31, 2015, although village administrator Mike Gracz said he hopes the village will have a new police chief in place by mid- to late summer.

Riseling will charge $125 per hour for her services. The contract caps the fee at $5,000.


Board funds hotel TIF analysis

The thought of bringing a full-service hotel to Oregon continues to generate interest.

On Monday, the Village Board approved funding to analyze the potential for taxpayer assistance for a hotel to be built on Park Street on the village’s south side, near the Hwy. 14/138 interchange. 

Developer Michael Lindner, of GrandStay Hotel and Suites, did not appear at the board meeting but has been discussing the possibility of building a hotel with village officials and Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Judy Knutson for nearly a year.

The board agreed to pay half of the $2,500 cost and Lindner has offered to pay the other half to have the village’s financial adviser determine if the hotel would pass the “but for” test for tax-increment financing before discussing the project with the Village Board.


Welcome center on track for spring debut

There’s been more progress at the village’s historic pump house in the past year-and-a-half than in the previous 100 years. And it’s just a few months from being ready for the public.

Built in 1899 and on the state and national Registers of Historic Places, the pump house in downtown Oregon was neglected for years before Randy Glysch moved to here more than two years ago and began a campaign to raise funds and restore the small, two-room building.

Last year, Glysch proposed turning the structure into a welcome center – an idea the village’s Historic Preservation Commission and Board of Trustees fully endorsed.

His initial goal was to raise $40,000 for the restoration. Glysch has now raised more than $56,000 and has lots of ideas to continue the campaign.