Board begins search for police chief

The Village Board Monday authorized village administrator Mike Gracz and acting police chief Dale Burke to conduct a search process for a new chief of police.

Gracz and Burke will work with the village’s Police Commission in searching for candidates for the village’s top law enforcement position.

The board also approved a requirement that the new chief live within 15 miles of the village.

Prior to the vote, Gracz explained the board had the option of hiring a recruiter to begin the job search or having Burke and himself perform the task. 


Walsten back in the election

Village of Brooklyn 

Village of Brooklyn President Nadine Walsten will run for re-election next spring after originally deciding not to.

Walsten told the Observer Monday she had reversed her decision after being made aware of some potential changes to timing on grants related to the Brooklyn Business Park.

The village broke ground on the park in late 2013, but it has yet to have any businesses move in. 

Unless a business or businesses with at least 27 jobs materializes January 2016, the village will have to return a grant from the Community Development Block Grant program. Originally, that deadline had been thought to be July 2016, according to minutes from a Nov. 19 special village board meeting. 


Village trustees plan to run

With the fall election a little more than a month in the past, it might be hard to think ahead to the next election.

But those interested in running for public office in the spring election have just a few weeks to get their name on the ballot. The deadline to file a declaration of candidacy and collect signatures for office is Jan. 6. 

Locally, some incumbents have announced that they will be on the ballot, but some seats will be open for the April 7 general election.

All incumbents on the Oregon Village Board plan to run for reelection. 

Steve Staton will seek another term as president, while Eric Poole, Darlene Groenier and Jeanne Carpenter will seek to run as trustees.


DCSO plans holiday OWI patrols

Sheriff's offices in Dane and nearby counties will be adding patrols this holiday season in order to reduce unsafe driving that could lead to traffic fatalities. 

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk County Sheriff’s, have an additional $40,000 to spend on overtime enforcement. The money – provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation – will be used as part of a new Sheriff’s Traffic and OWI Patrol (STOP) program.

"Throughout the holiday season, deputies will be patrolling the highways that connect these four counties to stop drivers that are speeding, driving aggressively, and who choose to drink and drive," DCSO spokesperson Elise Schaffer said in a news release. "Drive the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, and drive sober.  Drink and drive in our counties and our deputies will show you some new bars." 


Taxes drop $87

Village of Oregon

The owner of an average home in the Village of Oregon will pay about $87 less in taxes this year than in 2013 despite gaining in value.

Village residents’ taxes will get an overall drop this year of $1.28 per $1,000 in assessed value. The overall cut of 5.8 percent is the biggest in several years, though an increase in average property values neuters its impact significantly.

Tax bills will be mailed late this week or early next week, and the majority of the change in residents’ taxes is a result of a $406 million influx of state money to the technical college system, something that was a major point of emphasis for legislators this year. Madison College’s tax rate dropped 49 percent, reversing a trend of several years of increases after a successful 2008 referendum.


Municipal court will join with Belleville

Village of Brooklyn 

The Village of Brooklyn board voted to join the Village of Belleville’s municipal court beginning in May 2015.

The Nov. 19 vote at a special meeting followed an advisory village referendum in which a majority of voters expressed a preference to maintain the court solely in Brooklyn.

The problem, however, has been in finding a qualified judge for the court and the potential costs of upgrading records systems if the village were to continue to have its own court. 

The board voted 3-1 at the meeting, with Trustee Pat Hawkey voting against the change and trustees Sue McCallum and Dorothy Frandy absent from the meeting.


OPD to increase erratic driving traffic stops Dec. 12-20

Drivers in Oregon will want to avoid any erratic driving Dec. 12-20 as the Oregon Police Department will focus its enforcement on those behaviors.

The department won’t have any extra patrols for the statewide “Booze and Belts” campaign, Sgt. Dave Elsner told the Observer, but officers will focus their traffic enforcement on behaviors that can indicate impaired driving.

Those behaviors include crossing the centerline or other unusual behavior.

The emphasis won’t just be at night, Elsner noted, and officers will also focus on ensuring drivers are wearing their seat belts.

OPD chief Dale Burke said in a news release the state is “making progress” on limiting preventable traffic deaths in Wisconsin, but still has work left.


OPD officer resigns amidst investigation

A six-year veteran of the Oregon Police Department resigned in November amidst a second investigation into her conduct this year.

The Village Board unanimously approved Nicole Stropich’s resignation agreement Monday night.

Stropich was suspended earlier this year after the department determined she falsified a report to cover for an earlier mistake, acting OPD chief Dale Burke said.

She was also under investigation related to allegedly being late for an overtime assignment in mid-September, Burke said.

Burke said given the two incidents, it was “best” that Stropich had resigned.


Sports Club tenants: ‘premier’ soccer club

Photos by Scott De Laruelle. The Union Sports Club is undergoing renovations after recently changing hands. Jose Calixto was busy hauling out old floor matting Monday afternoon.

An athletic facility with a troubled past is on the verge of a comeback.

The building previously known as the Union Sports Club, 155 Braun Road, will soon be home to the Madison 56ers, the area’s “premier soccer club,” in the words of coaching director Tony Wright.

He and Tim Hanson, president of the club’s board of directors, said they signed a 10-year lease with the facility owners in mid-November.

The soccer organization is in the process of renovating about two-thirds of the building, which they’ll use as an indoor training center for as many as 600 youth soccer players, ages 10-17.

They’ll have 16,000 square feet of playing court.


Towns, Village of Brooklyn approve budgets

Voters in the towns of Oregon, Rutland and Dunn and the Village of Brooklyn approved their municipal budgets at public hearings in November.

The mill rate dropped slightly for the Town of Rutland, remained nearly the same for the Town of Oregon and rose in the Town of Dunn and Village of Brooklyn.

Town of Oregon

Just two residents showed up to the Town of Oregon’s Nov. 25 public budget hearing.

Town clerk Denise Arnold said the residents and town board voted to approve the town’s budget with a mill rate of $2.29 per $1,000 of assessed value from the town. That is the same rate as last year.