Local

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. 

Sat
27
Feb
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NCAT Offers Free Tutoring to Elementary Students

MIDDLETON–Middleton High School juniors Elaina Jones and Molly Warholic said that they decided to open Next Chapter Academic Tutoring (NCAT) when they began to see an increasing need in the community.

“The school’s been doing a good job during COVID-19, but virtual learning poses a big challenge in our community,” said Jones, and said NCAT encourages teachers to become involved.

NCAT is a free service that relies on high school student as volunteers and offers tutoring for students in K-4. Warholic said, “We have 88 students interested tutors and 77 students interested kids.”

The service offers both one on one and small group sessions as well as a crafts area at their storefront location, 2532 Allen Blvd. The women said the spot has multiple rooms to help in social distancing and the majority of sessions are individual. Before they opened their doors in January, they began online tutoring in December. 

Tue
23
Feb
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Police Cars Hit by Alleged Drunk Driver While Officers Arresting Another for OWI

MIDDLETON–Two Middleton Police Department squad cars were damaged early Sunday morning when they were hit by an alleged drunk driver, while they had another car pulled over and were arresting the driver for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

Officers performed the traffic stop on Feb. 21, at approximately 1:25 a.m. on North Gammon Road near Fiskdale Circle and the driver was arrested for OWI. Both fully marked Middleton squad cars were parked on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. After the driver was taken into custody the officers made contact with the passenger. While both officers next to the stopped vehicle, an intoxicated driver crashed into the back of one squad car, which was pushed into the other. There was significant damage to one squad and minimal damage to the other. The arrested subject was in the back seat of the front squad and was later evaluated for injury and released from a local hospital.

Fri
12
Feb
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Price Tells Hub Leaders Summer Day Camp Plans Underway

MIDDLETON–Rebecca Price Middleton Public Lands, Recreation and Forestry Assistant Director outlined the city’s plan to have a Summer Day Camp in 2021 after a one year hiatus due to COVID-19. At the Feb. 5 Middleton Good Neighbor Hub meeting, she said that the main goals of the program are health and wellness, conservation and equity.

The program only enjoyed one year in existence and was born out of the Summer Swimming Program when it became clear that the swim program was some kids’ only opportunity for recreation all summer. Price said most participants were people of color or indigenous.

“They didn’t want it to end,” she told community leaders, even though many did not go in the water or have swimming skills.

“It got us thinking about how important these activities are to the entire community,” she said.

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