Sound Off: Academy of Sound eviction fight part of a shift in Oregon’s historic downtown

Photo by Jacob Bielanski. The Academy of Sound, currently housed on the 2nd floor of the building at 101 S. Main Street, faces eviction for claims that its drum lessons violate its lease by disturbing customers in Holstein Kitchen, a business located beneath it.

In 2006, Jerry Thiel was Erin Chisman’s savior. 

The owner of the Academy of Sound, Chisman (then Erin Peterson) had been worried about her neighbors, who were registered sex offenders. The two men had no restrictions on being housed next to her business, despite the fact that it dealt primarily with children. 

Anxious to move, Chisman was referred to Thiel. She ultimately backed out of a deal on his and his wife’s building on Market Street and dealt with the issue on her own.

Chisman, however, could not have known that in nine years, she would end up as Jerry and Bonnie Thiel’s tenant, anyway. 

And now, as their tenant, Academy of Sound has been facing eviction for making too much noise.


Trustees mull response on road transfers

Village of Oregon and Dane County officials are not seeing eye-to-eye on the details involved in a planned transfer of two county highways to village jurisdiction sometime before 2020.

The county plans to transfer Hwys. MM and CC – known locally as North Main Street, Janesville Street and Jefferson Street – to the village in coming years, but before that happens, village officials want the county to fix problems with the streets. At last week’s Village Board meeting, village attorney Matt Dregne informed the board the county is resisting several proposals the village included in a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the jurisdictional transfer.


Board OKs OSD stormwater plan

People living in neighborhoods around Oregon High School should see some relief from occasional flooding under a plan the Village Board approved Monday.

Oregon School District officials have been working with the village on a plan to reduce stormwater runoff by separating runoff generated at the high school from water coming from village property, as well as 128 acres north of the village in Fitchburg. OSD business manager Andy Weiland met with the Village Board in March and again Aug. 24 to discuss the district’s plan to improve the area’s stormwater conveyance system.

The idea is to divert stormwater from the high school and parking lots into existing pipes; one of which would convey the water south to a “regional” detention pond the district plans to build near Badfish Creek. 


Another year of investing in streets

The Village of Oregon spent more than $600,000 on street projects this year and expects similar spending for street improvements in 2016.

That’s the biggest discretionary item likely to get a serious look in the 2016 budget, which has some room for growth this year but has much of its available spending already accounted for.

The Board plans to meet at least three times in October to discuss spending priorities for next year before adopting a final budget in November. Village administrator Mike Gracz told the Observer he’ll present trustees with a proposed budget in early October.

So far, can’t-wait items, must-fund for shared departments and typical cost increases leave only a little room for him to maneuver.


Brothers disappointed at shutdown of 'House of Terror'

Photos by Scott De Laruelle. From left, Dustin and Brandon Lang kneel next to a “Rest in Peace” gravestone in front of their family home at 290 Waterman St., marking the end of a nine-year run of the “Lang Family House of Terror” haunted house due to zoning concerns.

It may be deceased, but like any good ghoul, that doesn’t mean it can’t come back to life again someday; perhaps in another place, in another form.

But for now, the Lang Family House of Terror is “dead” in what organizers were ironically planning to be its last year there, anyway.

The family had hoped to come up with a compromise after village officials shut it down earlier this month due to zoning issues. But after a few weeks, the Langs gave up that effort last week, and they now have until Oct. 15 to remove the structures covering the driveway and backyard at the family homestead at 290 Waterman St.

It had been nearly complete after work had been ongoing at the site since May. 

“We’re just going to put it to rest,” a disappointed Brandon Lang told the Observer Monday. “We might have some things up our sleeve later down the road, but nothing’s really popped out yet.”


DPI chooses contractor for new state exam

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction selected an exam provider to replace the statewide Badger Exam. 

The “Wisconsin Forward Exam” will be administered in spring 2016 in place of the Badger Exam, used for the first time last year to test Common Core standards. 

The Republican-controlled state legislature prohibited the use of the Badger Exam in the state budget. Critics questioned the Common Core standards it was aligned to, which were originally adopted by almost every state but have faced backlash in the last year around the country. 

According to a DPI news release, the state will contract with Data Recognition Corporation, which has a Wisconsin office, for “the development, administration and reporting of results” for the new assessment. 


Dyreson Bridge almost ready

Photo by Samantha Christian. Construction of the Dyreson Bridge is shown from East Dyreson Road on Sept. 15. Closed for more than three years, the bridge is being restored at a cost of almost $1 million. Dunn officials expect the historic bridge to be reopened in November.

Town of Dunn officials anticipate reopening the historic Dyreson Bridge in early November after closing it in more than three years ago over concerns about its structural integrity.

Town chair Ed Minihan told the Observer Monday steel I-beams supporting the historic bridge had rusted to the point that their flanges could be bent by hand.

Town officials had hoped to rebuild the 118-year-old bridge long before now, but a bid in 2012 to perform the work came in higher than expected and from a company that did not have the requisite experience, Minihan said.

“We finally got a bid from a company that knows how to do the work,” he said.

The state Department of Transportation closed the bridge in May 2011 at the town’s request. A DOT report indicates that about 75 vehicles passed over the bridge each day before it was closed.


Board extends Gro-Mor financing deadline

Photo by Samantha Christian. A new building will be located at 120 N. Main St. between Firefly Coffeehouse and Pizza Pit.

The Oregon Village Board unanimously approved a request to extend a deadline in a financing deal for a new downtown building.

In March, the Village Board approved a $60,000 tax-increment finance grant for Jeff Groenier and Mark Mortensen, who together own a vacant lot at 120 N. Main St. in downtown Oregon. The men plan to build a two-story, 4,000-square-foot building in the lot next to the Firefly Coffeehouse. 

The construction deadline for the building to be substantially complete had been Dec. 31 this year; the pair asked to have the deadline extended to April 30, 2016. 


Deputy clerk resigns abruptly

The Village of Brooklyn is looking for a new deputy clerk-treasurer after Kim Brewer resigned in August.

Brewer submitted a letter of resignation to village officials on July 30, but her letter did not cite any reason for her departure.

“I appreciate being given the opportunity to serve the residents in Brooklyn over the last eight years,” Brewer wrote in the letter.

Her resignation took effect on Aug. 12. According to minutes from the Aug. 10 Village Board meeting, village President Pat Hawkey asked Brewer if she needed different hours or more money, but Brewer stated she did not want either.

The deadline for applications was Sept. 11, and clerk Carol Strause said in an email to the Observer there were 26 applications.

The interview committee will include a resident, a retired deputy clerk-treasurer and the village’s insurance agent.


Oregon Parks neighborhood maps forwarded

One of the last steps in approving the wooded addition to the Oregon Parks Neighborhood made its way through the village Planning Commission last week. 

The preliminary and final plat maps for the neighborhood were forwarded to the Village Board at the commission’s Sept. 3 meeting.

The Village Board will vote on the maps at its Sept. 21 meeting, village administrator Mike Gracz said. 

The plat maps show where roads, utility easements and lots will be placed within the 21-acre subdivision. The lots are being marketed as wooded lots and roughly 70 percent of mature trees on the property will have to be maintained or replaced as the parcels are developed. 

The subdivision will include 32 single-family lots and 12 duplexes on the remaining lots. The yet-to-be-built street will have drainage swales, rather than traditional curb and gutter.



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