Back to sports for complex

Owners of the Braun Road sports complex hope to bring new life to the former Union Sports Club site.

A public hearing for a conditional use permit to have indoor sports and athletics at 155 Braun Road is set for 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11.

Village administrator Mike Gracz said the request is to use the facility for indoor sports. The building had previously housed the Union Sports Club, which had ended its lease Aug. 31.

It’s basically going back to what the property was originally built for,” Gracz said.

Union Sports Club had leased the property for almost a decade until it’s liquor license was not renewed earlier this year. The village discovered liquor violations and other legal issues that prompted village officials to deny the renewal.

The building owner, Pleasant Sunset, LLC of Madison, is seeking the new use permit. Conditions of the agreement limit the use of the facility to indoor sports or fitness uses


OHS coach fired after photo allegations

An Oregon High School assistant tennis coach was fired Wednesday after district officials learned he was charged with two felony counts of sending sexually explicit photos and videos to two underage former students from Stoughton High School.

Brandon M. Amato, 24, a Stoughton Area School District teacher and sports coach last school year, was charged in Dane County Circuit Court with two felony counts of exposing his genitals/pubic area/intimate parts to a child, according to online records. Alleged offense dates are listed as June 29 and Aug. 2 of this year, after he had left the district.


Bringing ‘closure’ to the police department

In its report on a local investigation into police personnel and procedural issues, the Village Board mentioned a number of steps that village officials, and especially interim police chief Dale Burke, have taken.

The local investigation followed a separate state Department of Justice investigation and uncovered several troubling issues beyond what the state was looking into. The report charges that recently retired police chief Doug Pettit violated village and police department policies and deliberately withheld information from the Village Board and the press in order to cover up goings-on at a local nightclub.


Report: Chief’s actions were ‘reprehensible’

Photos by Samantha Christian An investigation into the Oregon Police Department claims that chief Doug Pettit directed his staff to remove incident reports at the Union Sports Club from the police log to prevent village officials and the public from knowing the number of police calls. The reports were held for a month and later placed back in the police log after Observer reporters had checked them, according to a statement released last Thursday.

In a report released last week, village officials charged that recently retired police chief Doug Pettit violated village and police department policies and “betrayed” their trust in his dealings with the Union Sports Club.

The report called Pettit’s actions “reprehensible.”

The 1,900-word report is the result of an internal investigation conducted by attorney Warren Kraft, who specializes in municipal labor relations. The Village Board hired Kraft in April after officials learned that the Wisconsin Department of Justice was conducting its own investigation of Pettit, who was until this month the longest-tenured police chief in the state.

The investigation involved interviewing police department personnel, village officials and village residents, and “entailed reviewing thousands of documents and email communications,” the report says.


Village Board statement on Pettit report

Editor's note: Below is the unedited statement from the Oregon Village Board on the investigation into former police chief Doug Pettit, who retired Sept. 1.

The Village Board of the Village of Oregon has completed its internal investigation involving the Police Department. The Village Board believes it is very important to be open and candid with the public regarding this investigation in order to ensure the public’s strong confidence in the law enforcement capabilities of its Police Department and members.

I.       Why did the Village Board initiate this investigation?


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.