Government

Wed
07
Aug
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Ald. West Introduces Substitute Resolution On Civic Uses In Middleton Hills

The Middleton Common Council on Tuesday night approved a resolution reaffirming deed restrictions on civic lots in the Middleton Hills neighborhood, but it wasn’t the resolution detailed in last week’s newspaper. The new resolution was authored by council president Susan West and it differed from the one authored by ald. Hans Hilbert and former common council member Andy Lewis, which was included in the meeting’s agenda.

West’s resolution includes updated assessments of acres designated for civic land use, an indication that the Middleton Hills Neighborhood Association is now comprised solely of Middleton Hills residents, and other language about encouraging discussion surrounding appropriate civic uses for lots in question.

The city received a petition including more than 350 signatures in favor of deed restrictions, but a letter from Alan Hembel, Corporate Secretary for Middleton Hills, Inc., called the resolution “unnecessary.”

Fri
02
Aug
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City Says Goats Were The Right Prescription For Invasive Species Control

Those who frequent the Pheasant Branch Conservancy are used to seeing an array of flora and fauna as they travel the preserve’s meandering paths. But earlier this summer they encountered something entirely new: goats.

A herd of 82 animals came and went as part of the City of Middleton Public Lands and Forestry Department’s plan to manage invasive brush in Bock Forest. This approach, called prescribed grazing, harnessed the goats’ appetite for brush to help reduce invasive species populations.

Prior to the mid 1800s, much of the Middleton area was oak savanna, oak woodland, prairie and wetland. Naturally occurring fires and blazes set by Native Americans kept the “understory” open. The open area allowed a diverse community of grasses and wildflowers to flourish.

Today, two species of invasive brush - buckthorn and honeysuckle - are shading out the understory vegetation and reducing plant diversity and the habitat value of the woodland.

Wed
24
Jul
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Town Board Unloads On EMS Director

Members of the Middleton Town Board called City of Middleton EMS Director Steven Wunsch on the carpet Monday for an alleged lack of communication.

“The meeting tonight is about you. The staff is among the finest in the country but there’s a level of arrogance from you is how I see it,” said board supervisor Tim Roehl.

Town chairman Milo Breunig recalled being “shocked” when he said without notice the city doubled the town’s EMS bill by $90,000 in 2009 when a new ambulance and crew were added.

Roehl called it “unacceptable.”

“Please accept my sincere apology…I’m pledging to you to better communicate with you,” Wunsch said.

The town board began considering ending its decades-long relationship with the Middleton EMS when Ryan Bros. Ambulance Service recently opened a facility in Middleton. 

The board heard from Patrick Ryan last month and Wunsch, who’s been EMS director since 1994, appeared before the board Monday for the first time.

Mon
15
Jul
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Former Senator Turns Sights To Africa

One sweltering summer day in 1982, a young Middleton resident picked up a clipboard, walked out his front door and embarked on a political career.

He climbed into his Chevy Nova, the busted trunk of which was secured by a swath of tape, and drove out to Black Earth. There he went door-to-door, telling people why he wanted to serve in the state legislature.

Thirty-one years later, Russ Feingold – sitting in his backyard on another hot summer day – is preparing to set out again. This time, however, he’s embarking on his new job – one with the State Department. Feingold has been appointed and confirmed as special representative for the Great Lakes region of Africa. His goal is to bring peace to the war-torn region commonly associated with the terror of Idi Amin, Rwandan genocide and bloodshed in eastern Congo.

Wed
10
Jul
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City Council Approves Ordinance Requiring Contractors To Provide Benefits To Domestic Partners

Most contractors who want to do business with the City of Middleton will have to provide health insurance to the same-sex domestic partners of their employees, following a recent vote by the common council.

The city’s own health insurance plan already covered domestic partners.  According to assistant city administrator John Lehman, the city wanted to ensure that “contractors doing business with the city also offer the same coverage to their employees since they are acting on [Middleton’s] behalf.”

The ordinance indicates the requirements “are for the protection and welfare of the public in the performance of all public contracts.”

Ald. JoAnna Richard (Dist. 3) said she was pleased with the change.

Wed
12
Jun
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Middleton EMS Director Responds To Town's Consideration Of Move To Private Ambulance Company

As the Town of Middleton investigates possibly replacing City of Middleton Emergency Medical Service with Ryan Brothers Ambulance Co. next year, Middleton EMS Director Steve Wunsch says the town should compare apples to apples.

“911 service is all we do,” Wunsch said. “We dedicate units 24-7 to respond to 911 calls and that’s expensive.”

Middleton EMS staffs ambulances with two paramedics at all times and paramedics require more than 1,000 hours of training, he added.

Middleton EMS is part of the Dane County 911 System that continually keeps track of public safety units, so the closet unit, not otherwise engaged, is dispatched to the next call.

“All municipalities are tied into an intergovernmental agreement and 911 sends the closest unit regardless of jurisdictional boundary lines, based on the severity of the call,” Wunsch said. “You’re cutting yourself off from a tightly coordinated system if you go with a private [provider].”

Wed
12
Jun
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Alder Shortage Cancels Council

 

Wondering why there’s no coverage of the Middleton City Council in this edition? It’s because last week’s council meeting was called off due to the lack of a legally-required quorum. The agenda items, none of which were time sensitive, will be taken up at the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting.

The city council will also hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in order to appoint Ald. Jim Wexler’s (Dist. 4) replacement to the Middleton Finance Committee. Wexler stepped down from the committee last month after losing his chairmanship to Ald. Mark Sullivan (Dist. 8).

 

Tue
04
Jun
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City, Developer Approve Pre-Annexation Agreement

With the City of Middleton hoping to claim a swath of land from the Town of Middleton for a new development, the town recently started investigating the possibility of incorporating in an effort to protect its borders.

In response, the city moved swiftly to approve a pre-annexation agreement that serves as an early but key step toward realizing the proposed 162-acre Pleasant View Ridge subdivision. The pre-annexation agreement with Erdman Real Estate Holdings, Llc., was approved at a special meeting of the city council on May 14.

Erdman Holdings recently unveiled Pleasant View Ridge, a project that would include 104 single-family lots.

One unique aspect of the Pleasant View Ridge proposal is that it calls for a combination of individual and community septic services, which are typically used by towns, rather than the urban services most developers annex into cities to obtain.

Sun
02
Jun
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Town Considers Leaving Middleton EMS

Calling it “doing our due diligence,” the Middleton Town Board has asked staff to explore alternatives to contracting with Middleton Emergency Medical Service, including Ryan Brothers Ambulance.

While the town has contracted with Middleton EMS for decades the increasing cost, lack of timely information and Ryan Brothers new Middleton location prompted the board to seek options, said Town Chairman Milo Breunig.

“I won’t call it shopping around,” Breunig said last week. “It’s like looking at our engineering services; we just want to make sure the residents are getting the most of their money.”

Two years ago, the Middleton EMS contract “took a huge hike” to about $182,000 annually billed in quarterly installments, said Breunig.

Meanwhile, information on the number of service calls involving town residents has been “hard to get,” he said.

Sun
02
Jun
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City Council Undecided On Domestic Partner Benefits

An ordinance that would require city contractors to provide domestic partner benefits provoked a heated discussion by the Middleton Common Council last week.

Disagreement over the proposed rule’s necessity sparked debate over an issue that carries both social and fiscal significance.

Ald. Mark Sullivan (Dist. 8) questioned the long-term monetary impact this ordinance would have upon the city. Sullivan asked that the matter be referred to the public works and finance committees in order to “analyze the ordinance’s impact” and assess what implications the change might produce downstream.

When advocating for the ordinance, ald. JoAnna Richard (Dist. 3) expressed frustration with Sullivan’s recommendation, saying “the change does not incur additional costs.” Richard said the ordinance would simply enable domestic partners to jump onto already existing benefit plans.

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