Community

Tue
13
Apr
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Former MHS star Molly (Toon) Lillard killed in murder-suicide

A member of one of Middleton’s most beloved families died tragically Sunday. Molly Elizabeth Lillard, who grew up here as Molly Toon, was shot to death by her husband in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to police.

She was 28 years old.

According to a statement issued by the Scottsdale Police Department, just prior to 5 p.m. on Sunday officers responded to reports of a shooting at a residence in the 8600 block of East Thornwood Drive. On arrival, officers discovered a female subject “to the front of the residence with obvious gunshot wounds.”

She was quickly extricated from the scene and transported to an area hospital. She did not survive her injuries.

Police said at the same time, it was learned that the male shooter, who was the victim’s husband, had gone back into the house. Barricade procedures were initiated by police.

Fri
09
Apr
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City to Store Solar Generated Energy

MIDDLETON–The City of Middleton was awarded a state grant that will allow the electricity generated by solar panels on the roof of the Middleton Police Department Building to be stored in the building’s basement, the Public Service Commission (PSC) announced last week.

The city will use the $212,000 Energy Innovation Grant to purchase and install batteries that will store power from the 100-kilowatt solar installation on the roof of the biggest city-owned energy user, according to the grant application.

“(T)his will be our first battery storage project, but hopefully not the last,” Kelly Hilyard, the city’s sustainability coordinator wrote in an emailed reply to a reporter’s questions.

Fri
02
Apr
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Farm to Foodbank Gets Funding Increase, 12-Month Extension

DANE COUNTY–Residents in Dane County that have relied on pantries for food and farmers who have been providing fresh, local produce will benefit from an extension of the Farm to Foodbank program, which started nearly a year ago in response to the pandemic. The program, which is managed through Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, will add $10 million dollars and 12 months to the program, County Executive Joe Parisi said at a press conference Monday. 

“This partnership recognizes that as we navigate the final phases of this difficult year gone by, recovery won't come as quickly for some and there are basic needs to be met for many families in the months ahead,” Parisi said. “Few things done in the course of the past year rival the success we have seen by linking Second Harvest with our local farmers. These dollars will not only help keep people fed but also ensure markets remain as our local growers bounce back from this pandemic as well.”

Fri
26
Mar
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Festival Announces Theme

MIDDLETON–Thanks to the increased availability of vaccines and lower rates of community spread, the Good Neighbor Festival (GNF) Board of Trustees feels optimistic about the prospects of holding an in-person event on August 27-29.

Trustees have selected “All Together Now” as the theme for the 2021 festival to recognize the ways in which people have helped each other over the past year and to help inspire Middleton’s path forward as we recover from the pandemic.

This year will mark the 58th Annual Good Neighbor Festival. Since the 2020 event could only be held virtually, Mark Opitz will serve as Festival President again in 2021, with Courtney Reichard continuing as President-elect. 

Fri
19
Mar
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Szeci, Statz Help Find Missing Child

TOWN OF PERRY–Night was not far away. And night, out in the country, surrounded by woods and cornfields, where the coyotes’ howls bounce off of the ancient driftless landscape and seem to warp creation, can be a scary time for a lost two-year-old. It can be an absolutely terrifying time for his family as they call out his name and search for clues as to where he has gone. 

As loved ones and first responders scoured the landscape in the Town of Perry late Friday afternoon, they came across what a police officer called “one little boot print” in a small patch of quickly-melting snow in a cornfield. Soon after that, Szeci, the hulking police dog that was running over the soggy ground, following the boy’s trail, did something that made his handler stop in his tracks. 

“He had a really dramatic head snap and looked north to the woods,” says officer Howard Statz, who was called in with his dog from Middleton Police Department to take part in the search. 

Fri
19
Mar
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Cross Lutheran Church Breaks Ground on Building

MIDDLETON/TOWN OF WESTPORT–Cross Lutheran Church celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony March 13 after an “arduous” and “convoluted” process to construct a church building in the Bishops Bay neighbored off of County Hwy M. 

The church has been holding service in the Bishops Bay clubhouse since 2016 and struggled to find a site for construction within Middleton that provides a municipal sewer connection. The church considered several sites and solutions before finally getting a building plan approved from the city in summer 2020.

The developer of Bishops Bay, T. Wall Enterprises, stepped in to help the church by revising the Bishops Bay building plan with the city to relocate 13 single family lots making room for the church.

Because Bishops Bay is in both the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport all plans had to be approved by both municipalities.

Fri
12
Mar
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Ruesga Reflects on First Year as Cross Plains Police Chief

CROSS PLAINS–Village of Cross Plains Police Chief Tony Ruesga Jr.’s first year on the job coincided with a sharp increase in the number of incidents his seven-person department responded to, but that hardly means that the village is a less safe place to live.

The number of service calls and traffic incidents increased from 1,676 in 2019 to 2,324 last year, however, Ruesga attributed that to the pandemic, a growing population, and assigning the school resource officer to patrol duty.

More people working from home during the pandemic no doubt contributed to the spike in complaints about noisy neighbors.

“Noise complaints almost tripped from years past and that comes from people trying to work from home and their next-door neighbor isn’t being quite a quiet as they would like,” Ruesga said.

Fri
12
Mar
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Hibner Looks Back on Time at MCPASD

MIDDLETON–In the 10 years since Perry Hibner began his position at Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD), he has become much more than just a communication director. Hibner has been a coach, volunteer and visible part of the Middleton community, but in June he will retire from the position, leaving big shoes to fill. 

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said of his post retirement plans. “We plan on staying in Middleton.”

His wife, Sheila, who retired from Monona Grove in 2015 is a Middleton native, the couple has three children in the area, so his roots run deep in the community. He added that though he’s retiring he may take another job, but after a decade in a high pressure position, he is ready for a change.

Sun
07
Mar
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Updated: Former Middleton Resident Charged in Sexual Assault Case

MADISON – A Mount Horeb man was formally charged Tuesday with four child sex offenses and ordered released from jail on a signature bond with conditions.

Brian R. Henige, 53, formerly of Middleton, was arrested and jailed Saturday after police investigated a tip that Henige had been sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female and showing her pornography during the past several months.

Assistant District Attorney John Black asked for a $10,000 cash bail saying the allegations against Henige are “extremely serious” and occurred up until a week ago.

“There were more incidents reported than what was charged. According to the victim, the defendant told her that he would kill her and they would never find her body if she reported what happened,” Black told Court Commissioner Daniel Floeter.

Black called Henige a flight risk and said a cash bond is necessary to ensure his appearance at future court proceedings.

Fri
05
Mar
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PHMDC Adjusts Metrics, Issues New Order

DANE COUNTY–Janel Heinrich Director of Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) told reporters on at a virtual press conference Tuesday that officials in Dane County are cautiously optimistic about COIVD-19 data in Dane County. 

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been anticipating the impact of COVID-19 on this community,” she said, and added that the county is “seeing signs of hopeful progress.”

That is due to mitigation measures and vaccinations, and Heinrich said over 100,000 people in Dane County have been vaccinated. Statewide, nearly 1.5 million doses have been administered, 500,000 of those second doses. 

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