News

Mon
31
Aug

Budget listening session set for Sept. 1

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will host listening sessions next week to allow residents to provide their input for his 2016 budget proposal.

Two sessions will be held – one in Fitchburg and one in Sun Prairie. The Fitchburg session takes place from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Fitchburg Public Library, 5530 Lacy Road. The Sun Prairie meeting will be held Sept. 2.

 Dane County’s budget is more than $500 million annually with 30 departments and 2,100 county employees. More than half of the budget goes to human services departments. County departments are working on submitting their budget requests to Parisi for his review.  

Fri
28
Aug

Oregon crash injures 2, cuts power

A 45-year-old Brooklyn woman and her teenage daughter were injured in an early-morning crash Wednesday on Cty. Hwy. MM in Oregon.

According to a release from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, the woman fell asleep at around 12:15 a.m. while driving her 2010 Nissan Sentra southbound on the highway, crossed the center line and struck a utility pole on the opposite side of the road before rolling over. The driver was pinned in the vehicle and was extracted with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

The sheriff’s office said in the release that the woman’s 15-year-old daughter sustained minor injures, and that EMS took both to UW Hospital for treatment.

Fri
28
Aug

Board swears in new police chief


New police chief Brian Uhl is sworn in Monday night.

After Monday night’s board meeting, the Oregon Police Department is no longer led by an “interim” leader.

Accompanied by much of the OPD force and his family, Brian Uhl (pronounced “Yule”), 45, was sworn in by Village President Steve Staton as the department’s official chief of police. Uhl replaces interim chief Dale Burke, whose last day was Aug. 26, two days after the swearing in.

Uhl previously served as the second-in-command of the Whitewater Police Department since 2007. He said he hopes to get the department accredited by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group, an organization to which Uhl is a manager and assessor.

The new chief told the Observer last week he grew up in an Iowa town similarly-sized to Oregon, and that he felt the community was a “fit” for his wife and three children.

Fri
28
Aug

OWI patrol set for Saturday

The Oregon Police Department will have a little extra help patrolling for potential drunken drivers Saturday.

For the third time in just over a year, the Capital Area OWI Task Force will put additional officers from several jurisdictions on Oregon roads from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. as part of a “high visibility” enforcement of OWI laws. 

Police will post large signs and keep a close eye on high traffic areas, particularly around the Oregon stretch of Hwy. 14 as well as the “main stretches” of Janesville and Jefferson Streets. Sgt. Matt Wagner of the Oregon Police Department, who is leading the effort, warned that the effort will be village-wide.

Thu
27
Aug

Cancer claims former police chief’s life

Former Oregon police chief Douglas Pettit succumbed to gastric cancer in his home Aug. 20.  He was 61 and had led the department for 29 years before retiring last September.

“He was a great man and a natural leader of men,” wrote Dennis Geske, who claimed to have served under Pettit for 30 years, in a message through the funeral home. “I will miss him dearly.”

In addition to his role as police chief, Pettit also served in various leadership roles in his nearly 40 years with the department, including a stint as president of the Wisconsin Police Chiefs Association. He led a charge in 2012 on the group’s behalf to reduce the effects of gun violence by expanding background checks to private gun sales. 

Thu
27
Aug

Ice Arena holds off beer request

Representatives of the Oregon Ice Arena on Monday withdrew their controversial application for a license to sell beer during Wisconsin Whalers’ hockey games with an eye on reintroducing it in the future.

The decision came hours before the Village Board was set to discuss it and one day after rink manager Ben Cowan was arrested in the village for alleged drunken driving – what would be his fourth offense and a felony.

Interim police chief Dale Burke informed the Observer of the arrest Monday via email.

Mark Miller, a member of the arena’s board of directors, sent village administrator Mike Gracz an email Monday afternoon asking that the request for a beer liquor license “be removed from tonight’s meeting as we feel it is in the best interest of all parties to revisit the application and presentation.” 

Fri
21
Aug

New chief Uhl accepts deal, starts Monday

The village will have a new chief of police starting Monday.

The Oregon Police Commission formally offered Brian Uhl the job after interviewing him on Monday morning this week and voting unanimously to hire him. The commission had chosen him from among 13 candidates in late July and then began the process of a background check.

Uhl, 45, has been a captain and second-in-command with the Whitewater Police Department since 2007. His starting salary in Oregon will be $96,000, said village administrator Mike Gracz, the same as that of his predecessor, Doug Pettit. The Village Board will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, to swear-in the new chief.

Sun
16
Aug

Village officials take steps toward a civic campus


Photo by Jim Ferolie. Village officials are contemplating ways to create a “civic campus,” possibly in the two-block area that contains Village Hall, the senior center, public library, fire station and post office downtown.

The Village of Oregon is fortunate to have most of its municipal buildings in a two- or three-block area in the center of the community, all within walking distance of each other.

Not far from the Spring Street location of Village Hall – which houses administration offices and the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce – are the public library, senior center, fire station and youth center in what already almost amounts to a civic campus.

Village officials are early in the process of planning for an actual civic campus. No one knows yet what it would look like, but with a growing and aging population – as well as aging buildings that are too small and inefficient for their purposes – the village is outgrowing its public facilities.

Thu
13
Aug

Family of Oregon man shot by MPD to receive $2.3 million

The City of Madison will pay $2.3 million to the family of a man shot and killed by a police officer in 2012, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Paul Heenan, who was 30 at the time he was killed, was a graduate of Oregon High School. He was shot by a Madison police officer who responded to a report of a burglary. The resulting scuffle led Madison police officer Stephen Heimsness to shoot Heenan – who was unarmed – three times in the upper torso. Heimsness said Heenan lunged at him and reached for his gun.

The family filed a civil rights lawsuit that same year, alleging that Heimsness used excessive force and blaming the department for not thoroughly handling complaints of excessive force in separate incidents.

Thu
13
Aug

Wolfe St. closed at Janesville St. through late August


Photo by Mark Ignatowski. Construction along Janesville Street and Wolfe Street has shifted to the northern two lanes. Work is expected to last through late August, with Wolfe Street closed while crews remove and replace the pavement at the intersection.

Drivers will need to take the long way home now that construction along Janesville Street at Wolfe Street has switched to the other side of the road.

Work to repair and improve the intersection began in July. The first phase reconstructed the northern part of the road. 

Work switched to the other side of the street Aug. 10, meaning access to Wolfe Street from Janesville Street is closed.

Crews will remove the pavement and install a new surface during the next few weeks. Construction is expected to be completed by late August.

Drivers who planned on using Wolfe Street are asked to use Hwy. 14 to Hwy. 92 in Brooklyn to avoid the closure.

Business access along Janesville Street is expected to be maintained, officials previously told the Observer.

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