Truck shop plan returns

Oregon businessman Marty Verhelst returned to a meeting of the Village Board last week with more details about a plan to build a truck repair facility in the Alpine Business Park.

Verhelst proposed an earlier version of his plan, which would require $180,000 in tax-increment financing (TIF) and other financial assistance, to the board last October. Since then, he has gotten an accepted offer to purchase a little more than nine acres in the business park, at a price of $150,000, from Lycon Inc.

He provided other details last week that village administrator Mike Gracz had said the Village Board would need in order to consider the financing request. Gracz told the board that Verhelst’s application for TIF assistance was a model application and exactly what the board was seeking, but the board has yet to take action.


Village, school officials agree on future projects

The Village of Oregon and the Oregon School District are teaming up to plan the development of a Westside Community Park.

While still in the early stages, the park has been on the Village Board’s radar for years, said Public Works director Mark Below.

He told the Observer on Tuesday that he’s planning to prepare Request for Proposals this fall for planning and engineering.

The park would be developed on about 30 acres west of Lerner Conservation Park.

“It would be basically from Oregon Parks Drive north to Netherwood Road,” Below said.

The village bought about 40 acres in the area years ago, Below said, and the school district was looking for a future site to build a school so it bought 10 acres from the village.


Bike trail construction begins this week

Supporters of the Oregon Bike Trail heard some good news and some bad news at Monday’s meeting of the Oregon Village Board.

The good news is that construction of the trail is finally underway, after what chief promoter and Village President Steve Staton said has been a “three or four year” wait.

Another piece of good news is that the Oregon Rotary Club officially dedicated $10,000 to the project Monday.

On the down side, village administrator Mike Gracz informed the board that the village was turned down in its application for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant through the state Department of Natural Resources.

The village had applied for $205,000 in funding. Gracz said that means the second and third phase of the project won’t get started next year as planned, but will have to wait until 2016 at the earliest.

Construction of the entire 3.1-mile trail is estimated to cost $819,000.


Sno-Hornets, Oregon Sno-Blazers take over Labor Day celebration

File photo. The annual truck and tractor pull, plus all of the other Brooklyn Labor Day events, will continue this year after the Brooklyn Sno-Hornets and Oregon Sno-Blazers took over.

When the Brooklyn Fire and EMS announced on its website that it would no longer host the Labor Day festival in Brooklyn, it was unsure whether another organization would take the reins.

But the Brooklyn Sno-Hornets and Oregon Sno-Blazers have teamed up to continue the annual festival, which includes truck and tractor pulls, live music and plenty of food to go around.

Sheri Arndt, who sits on the Brooklyn Labor Day Truck and Tractor Pull Committee and is a member of the Brooklyn Sno-Hornets, said the group isn’t planning many changes from previous festivals.

“We’re pretty much keeping it the same because we know that that worked,” Arndt said.

The event, which will run Aug. 29-31, includes the usual truck and tractor pulls on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, plus live music Saturday and Sunday nights. There will also be kids games and activities Saturday and Sunday afternoons and food on sale from local organizations.


Police chief retires amid controversy

The Village Board on Monday accepted Oregon Chief of Police Doug Pettit’s retirement with the village. His retirement is effective Sept. 1.

Pettit has been on medical leave since May and is also at the center of internal and outside investigations of the Oregon Police Department.

He began working as a police officer here on Dec. 1, 1975, and has been police chief since May 21, 1985. His current annual salary is $96,000, according to village records.

Village administrator Mike Gracz said Pettit is eligible to convert his “sick leave bank” into health benefits since he’s worked more than 20 years as a supervisor in the village. He also said $3,500 that was overpaid would be deducted from accrued vacation.

In addition to the investigation, Pettit also was the subject of some critical comments by Village President Steve Staton in June, shortly after his leave of absence was announced.


Youth Center fights to stay alive

Photo by Victoria Vlisides. The YMCA has run the Oregon Youth Center since 2004, but with that funding set to end in November, the local manager and the Advisory Board are working to set up a nonprofit corporation to take over.

The Oregon Youth Center is losing its support from the YMCA of Dane County in November and is looking for the village’s help as it attempts to transition to a nonprofit corporation or find another managing partner.

Youth center manager Diane Newlin and two Advisory Board members, Kris Halverson and Tonya Thul-Theis, met with the Village Board Monday to explain the center’s situation.

At one point, Thul-Theis asked village officials to increase village funding for the operation until it becomes more stable and self-supporting.

In a July 14 email to village administrator Mike Gracz, the YMCA’s Mike Denu wrote that the youth center is expected to run at a loss of $13,000-$14,000 this year.

“The YMCA has run the Oregon Youth Center in past years with a loss, but we are no longer able to do that,” Denu wrote.


Ringhand advances to general election

Only about 15 percent of registered voters in Dane County showed up for last Tuesday’s partisan primary, but those who did helped put Democrat Janis Ringhand on the November ballot.

Ringhand will vie for the 15th District state senate seat against Republican Brian Fitzgerald of Janesville.

Ringhand earned 63.5 percent of the vote in Dane County, compared to 20.4 percent for challenger Austin Scieszinski and 16 percent for Mike Sheridan. Throughout the entire district, Ringhand earned 40 percent of the vote, compared to 38 for Scieszinski and 22 for Sheridan.

In a race for state assembly seat 43, Leon L. Hebert narrowly won a Republican primary race with 52 percent of the vote over Herschel Brodkey. Herbert will face incumbent Democrat Andy Jorgensen of Milton.


Redistricting meeting Aug. 14

The Dane County Board of Supervisors will hear from two election experts at a hearing during the Executive Committee this Thursday, Aug. 14, at 5 p.m., and citizens are encouraged to attend and weigh in.

Following the testimony of the two experts, County Supervisors will have the opportunity to ask questions, and a public testimony period will allow citizens to voice their opinions on the topic.

“People need to have confidence that their vote counts just as much as the vote cast by someone across the street or across the county,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan in a news release. “The way we draw our voting maps has to be open, fair and transparent, and we need to think carefully about the process by which we do that. We need to hear what these experts have to say, ask them tough questions, and then heed their advice.”


Water issue could involve obscure drainage district

The problem of flooding caused by stormwater runoff can be difficult – and expensive – to resolve.

One avenue for property owners to consider when their land is subject to such flooding is to petition the Dane County Drainage Board. But that option applies only when the affected property is located within an established drainage district.

There are two such districts within the Village of Oregon – the Badfish Drainage District, formed in 1908, and the Badfish First Addition, which was established in 1917.

The Badfish Drainage District is the larger of the two, encompassing an area that’s roughly bordered on the north by Rutland-Dunn Townline Road, on the south by Hwy. 138, on the east by Flint Road, and on the west by the village’s center.


Polls open Aug. 12 for partisan primary

Voters will be able to cast ballots Aug. 12 during the partisan primary election to see who will be on the final ballot come November.

The biggest statewide race this fall will be for governor. Incumbent Scott Walker will face a challenge from one of two Democrats facing off in the August primary. Mary Burke and Brett Hulsey will be on the August ballot.

Racine Democrat John Lehman and Madisonian Mary Jo Walters will vie for a spot to challenge incumbent lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

Three Democrats are vying to run this fall for the state attorney general: Susan V. Happ of Jefferson, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Jon Richards of Milwaukee.

Julian Bradley of La Crosse will face Gary Beis of Sister Bay in the primary for secretary of state.

There will be a Democratic and Republican primary for state treasurer.

Dane County races