Local News Archives for 2024-02

Tim Algiers Recognized For 33 Years of Service

Hartford Common Council met Tuesday night, February 27 at Hartford City Hall.

The new library director of Hartford's Jack Russell Memorial Library was introduced. Vanessa Taylir told council members she is excited to join the library.

The Mayor's Report involved a presentation with a proclamation which recognized Tim Algiers for 33 years as the City of Hartford's Prosecuting Attorney. The report also involved consideration of appointing Kim Schumacher to the Police and Fire Commission. Hartford Mayor Tim Michalak addressed council members regarding the appointment.

"When trying to get an appointment to any of the commissions or committees that the mayor is responsible for, it's important to look around and see who would be appropriate for something. The Police and Fire Commission is very important to us. Both of the chiefs stepped forward and suggested Kim's name for the appointment."

Schumacher is from Hartford, and worked for over 20 years for the FBI. 

The Hartford Common Council unanimously approved the appointment of Kim Schumacher to the Police and Fire Commission. 

 

A Pursuit in West Bend Ends With An Arrest

A West Bend Police Officer recently observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed on Washington Street, at Veterans Avenue in West Bend. The officer tried to catch up and saw the vehicle crash into the median at Washington Street and Schoenhaar Drive. The driver then fled from the car on foot. Officers located items in the car belonging to a 25-year-old West Bend man. An Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department K-9 assisted in tracking the man toward a business on Schoenhaar Drive. A short time later Washington County Sheriff's Deputies tried stopping a vehicle on Highway 41, and the driver fled. The vehicle belonged to the business the K-9 had tracked earlier, relating to the man in question. The vehicle tires were spiked, and the driver was found to be the 25-year-old man.

The investigation determined the man stole the vehicle he originally crashed, from downtown West Bend and then stole a different vehicle from the business on Schoenhaar Drive. The man was placed in jail for multiple charges, including 2nd offense operating while intoxicated, fleeing and auto theft. 

Welcome to the Dodge County Sheriff's Office

A special gathering took place at the Dodge County Sheriff's Office for a special swearing-in and recognition ceremony. It was a chance to welcome and congratulate everyone. 

Justin Kontny, former patrol deputy, was promoted and sworn in as detective. Justin Kontny started with their agency in 2010 as a correctional officer at their jail, he then joined the patrol division in 2013.

Carmen Micale was sworn in as patrol deputy. Carmen is returning to the sheriff's office, after previously working for the sheriff’s office for 19 years, both as a correctional officer and patrol sergeant.

Curtis Deboer was sworn in as Public Safety Administrative Support Specialist. Curtis comes to the Dodge County Sheriff's Office from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office where he has served in the jail since 2005.

Communications Sergeant Jeramy Grossman, Communication Officer Tammy Gebhardt, and Communication Officer Michelle Weber all received a Letter of Commendation and a Lifesaving Award. Dodge County Communications received a 911 call from a female reporting she was having a heart attack. Sergeant Grossman's team worked seamlessly to prove immediate lifesaving measures. Deputies were dispatched within seconds giving them critical information that they recognized agonal breathing on the 911 call. After CPR and AED shocks, the patient was conscious and alert before being transported to the hospital.

 

HUHS Board Members Approve A Community Survey

Monday night, February 26 the Hartford Union High School Board of Education voted on a community-wide survey, which would provide additional feedback to the district.

Hartford Union High School Superintendent Jeff Walters recently discussed the item with WTKM News.

"A citizens advisory committee, which is a board appointed committee in this case, has been digging through the audit of our facilities for the past months. They presented to our school board regarding possible scenarios in what they have identified as our facility needs. Each of those scenarios certainly are a possible facilities referendum, depending on the needs of the board supports of the committee. Regarding infrastructure, regarding learning spaces and regarding exterior athletic and outdoor spaces as well. In this case, they have those three important buckets and it's not just about outdoor facilities. It's about infrastructure...the backbone of our district."

Mr. Walters went on to say that it's time for those improvements.

"It is time and it's not easy. Costs continue to go up, and needs continue to rise and that's a bad equation. I believe that in some point in time, the district is going to have to decide where to put our resources. We believe that where we have landed now is a good balance between talking about learning spaces, talking about the backbone...the infrastructure of what we need and also talking about keeping up with other districts who have significantly improved outdoor facilities compared to what Hartford Union High School has, so it's an important conversation. It's driven by members of our communities across our 225 square miles."

Hartford Union High School Board of Education members unanimously approved the community-wide survey.            

Dodge County Dairy Brunch Set For This Summer

The Dodge County Dairy Promotion Committee announced this year's Dodge County Dairy Brunch hosts: The Hafemeister Family Farm of Hustisford!

Dave and Kathleen Hafemeister, along with their children Alayna and Ethan, will be hosting this year's Dodge County Dairy Brunch on Sunday, June 2, 2024.

Dave and Kathleen milk 135 Holsteins with two Lely Robotic Milkers they installed in 2014. They also raise 120 heifers on the farm and grow their own corn, wheat, alfalfa and soybeans on 300 acres to feed the animals. They have one full-time employee, Mike Roe, who also keeps a few of his own registered Holsteins in the herd.

Dave's parents, Richard and Gloria, purchased the farm in 1978. They also hosted the Dodge County Dairy Brunch in 1982. In 2010, Dave and Kathleen purchased the farm from Richard and Gloria.

Photo by the Dodge County Dairy Promotion Committee.

Monthly Report By West Bend Police

West Bend Police Chief Tim Dehring released a statement, stating that because the West Bend Police Department serves all the citizens of West Bend, he intentionally does not publicly engage in partisan politics. 

The West Bend Police Chief respects everyone’s right to express their opinions, and he is grateful for the elected officials willing to serve, and believe strongly in the democratic process. Reluctantly, however, Chief Dehring believes a recent editorial exchange regarding a critical component of the police department’s operations requires some clarification.

West Bend Police Chief Tim Dehring continues:

Just like some of you, I read the editorials and recognized a stark difference in perspective. One candidate pledged to seek input from citizens and officials, while the other indicated their approach was to inform the public of government operations. It is not appropriate as Police Chief to comment on which approach to democracy I prefer. I believe the consent of the governed is determined by the voters in our elections and referendums. Please be part of that process by exercising your right to vote and voting for the candidates and platforms that align with your values.

It is, however, within my role as Police Chief to provide information to our elected officials as they work on behalf of the citizens. In the editorials, a county supervisor who represents West Bend citizens stated the City of West Bend should relinquish its responsibility to dispatch emergency services to our community. Some of the points made are open for interpretation, some are differences in opinion, and some were inaccurate. While this issue has too many dynamics to be fully discussed in this message, I would like to clarify a few of the points made in the editorials to honor my pledge to be responsive and accountable to our community.

The editorial suggested that the county would take over West Bend’s dispatching duties for “free”. I assume “free” means at no cost to the taxpayer. The City of West Bend spends $513,691 in salaries to maintain a minimum staffing level of dispatchers. While the county’s dispatchers are extremely competent and professional, West Bend’s volume of calls for service would require additional positions be added. The city would also need to create new positions at the Police Department for the supplementary duties completed by our dispatchers. To state as fact that relinquishing our dispatching duties would save the taxpayers $1 million is not an accurate statement.

For a dispatch center to remain effective, it must transition to the Next Generation 911 system. This technology utilizes GPS to decrease emergency service response times by routing cell phone calls directly to the appropriate dispatch center. The editorial correctly pointed out that the state has an exclusionary grant program aimed at encouraging dispatch “consolidations” that will not allow West Bend to seek funding for the Next Generation 911 system transition. While disappointed by the decision and its dismissal of the “home rule” philosophy, I understand that grant money is limited and must be guarded to prevent overspending. Every taxpayer should listen carefully whenever grant money is presented as “free” and remember it is your hard-earned money being spent!

Knowing it was critical to implement Next Generation 911, we looked for other ways to secure funding. Like all of you do in your households, we prioritized our needs, delayed “wants”, made hard decisions, and funded this project in a responsible manner. While we did not qualify for the specific Next Generation 911 grant, the State of Wisconsin has been very supportive financially of growth and development in West Bend. The Police Department received a significant law enforcement grant in 2022 that was used to fund the first phase of the Next Generation 911 transition. The second phase of the transition was approved in last year’s budget and will be implemented in 2024.

Some of you may ask why it is important for West Bend to maintain its own dispatch center. It is a fair question. Your dispatchers are not just “someone on the other end of the phone”, they are an integral part of your public safety team. Communication is a critical component to everything your police department does. Your dispatchers are the first contact with our citizens in need, they direct our initial emergency response, and become the center of Incident Command in all levels of critical calls within the city. In addition to the Police and Fire Departments, they monitor and dispatch all the other services provided by the West Bend team that makes this city a great place to live.

I view our dispatch center and dispatchers as a critical foundation of our operational effectiveness. I am firmly against giving up control over such a vital element of our public safety team. A true “consolidation” is resource-based and involves shared governance, joint policy creation, and agency level accountability. That is not the model being implemented in our county. While I have the upmost respect for our partners at the Sheriff’s Office, the size of our organization and the community we serve requires we maintain both the responsibility and oversight for our community. We will, however, also continue our strong collaborative relationships with all of our public safety partners.

One of the last points the editorial made was the fact that many municipalities have relinquished their dispatching responsibilities. The writer cited there were “only about 25 communities” in the state that maintain their own dispatch. West Bend is the 26th largest city in Wisconsin and therefore it would make sense that we may be one of those communities. While we don’t ignore trends and industry benchmarks, we also don’t rely solely on them. Our operational decisions are based on what allows us to best Protect and Serve our community, provide excellence in policing, and keep our officers safe.

The West Bend Police Department and its members are committed to Protect and Serve the City of West Bend. We pledge to provide excellence in policing, remain accountable to our citizens, and will be responsive to the needs of the community. You have our word on that.

Tim Dehring

Chief of Police

Firefighter and EMT of the Year Announced in Hartford

The Hartford Fire and Rescue Department held its annual appreciation banquet on Friday, February 23. 

Two members were recognized for outstanding service during 2023. Andy Brooks received the award for Firefighter of the Year, and Elaine Daly received the award for EMT of the year. Both members consistently put the needs of others before their own, and the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department recognized and thanked them for their dedication.

Please congratulate these members when you see them!

Photos by the City of Hartford.

 

 

Teenagers Involved In Police Chase

A Watertown Police Department officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop early Saturday morning, on February 24 at 12:16 a.m. It involved a vehicle in the area of N. Church St. at Rock St. for a defective headlight. The vehicle initially stopped, but then drove away from the officer. The officer pursued the vehicle through the city. Speeds ranged from 40 to 60 mph with minimal traffic throughout the pursuit.

The vehicle eventually stopped on Clovercrest Ct. off of Oconomowoc Ave. The driver and two occupants fled on foot from the vehicle. One other occupant, a 15-year-old female subject, immediately got out of the vehicle with her hands in the air and complied with the officers. Officers were able to apprehend all other occupants.

Located within the vehicle was a loaded revolver, cocaine, THC products and open intoxicants. The driver, a 15-year-old male, was transported to the hospital for a severe ankle injury from falling from a retaining wall. A 17-year-old male was transported to the Jefferson County Jail for encouraging the felony eluding and for bail jumping. A 16-year- old male was turned over to a guardian. None of the subjects involved reside in Watertown.

This case remains under investigation pending additional charges.

Hustisford Firefighters Respond To Structure Fire

Saturday afternoon, February 24 around 2:00 p.m. the Hustisford Fire Department and EMS, along with their automatic aid departments which include the Neosho Fire Department and Iron Ridge Fire Department were dispatched to Hazelwood Rd. in Hustisford for a structure fire.

A single-story residence had smoke showing from the attic vents.

The Engine 61 crew found a kitchen fire with extension into the attic.

The fire was extinguished by 2:13 p.m. Additional crews assisted with fire extension mitigation, ventilation and overhaul.

Estimated property loss is $20,000 while the estimated contents loss is $10,000.

No one was home at the time and no injuries were reported.

 

New Director For The Jack Russell Memorial Library

The Jack Russell Memorial Library, in the City of Hartford has a new director.

Monday, February 19 was the first day for Vanessa Taylir. 

Vanessa's experience includes working for the West Bend Municipal Library, and prior to that was at both the Slinger School District and Village of Slinger Library. Vanessa Taylir is looking forward to moving the Jack Russell Memorial Library forward with all of the great assets and programs it already provides to their patrons.

The City of Hartford encourages you to please stop in and welcome Vanessa Taylir to the Jack Russell Memorial Library.

Hartford's K-9 Flash Locates Attempted Homicide Handgun

Wednesday morning, February 21 around 1:34 a.m. a 31-year-old Racine woman was dropped off at a hospital in West Bend with a gunshot wound to the neck. An unknown male subject immediately left the scene after dropping her off. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department responded to the hospital, obtained a description of the vehicle involved and learned the shooting occurred at an unknown residence in the City of West Bend.

The vehicle was located by a West Bend Police Officer a short time later, with the driver trying to walk away. The 38-year-old man from Milwaukee was taken into custody without incident.

Information was obtained regarding the firearm. It had been thrown from the suspect's vehicle in the vicinity of Hwy 45 and Paradise Dr.

Officer Parker and K-9 Flash of the Hartford Police Department were requested to conduct an article search to locate the firearm. The team began the search near the on- ramp for Hwy. 45 near Paradise Dr. After extensively searching the ditch line for approximately one mile, K-9 Flash showed several behavioral changes indicating he found the human odor and began sprinting southbound. After several hundred feet, K-9 Flash placed his nose to the ground and laid down right next to a handgun. It was recovered and estimated to have been in the grass for 13 hours.

Several witnesses were located and interviewed. The man has been placed in the Washington County Jail for attempted first degree homicide and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The woman remains hospitalized and is expected to recover.

The investigation is ongoing. 

Jackson Police Encourage You To Protect Yourself Against Scams

The Jackson Police Department released valuable information regarding scams. 

In this case, important tips about the elements of a scam. Every scam has three elements that produce red flags.

???? Pretense: They have to appear to come from a person or business that is legitimate.

????Problem/Prize: They are very creative when they craft their stories. They will try to convince you that a family member needs help, or their is child porn on your computer, a fraudulent transaction on your account, etc. Whatever it is, it is going to sound bad!

????Pressure: They want you to feel like if you do not do something NOW, that things will get even WORSE or you might MISS OUT! Examples: do not worry about calling the police, we already notified the FBI or if you do not "protect" your account, you could lose all of your money.

? Don't click links

? Don't open attachments

? Don't call phone numbers provided by pop-ups

? Don't believe someone just because they know your name, address, or anything else. That information is relatively easy to find online.

? Disengage, hang up!

? Delete the email or text message.

? Check your security settings and change passwords periodically.

? Trust your bank teller!

? Still not sure, call someone you know you can trust.... even if the scammer says that you can't trust AnYoNe!

The Jackson Police Department encourage you to please share the information. 

 

Maple Syrup On The Way!

The dedicated staff and members of the Richfield Historical Society were busy in the Richfield Historical Park recently hauling and boiling sap to make their delicious, award-winning maple syrup. With the warmer temperatures this week and it still being cooler overnight, this should be a good production week!

Interested in learning more about the maple syrup making process? Stop on out to the "Sugar Shack" any morning when the “sap is running” and make sure to mark your calendars for March 23rd for Maple Syrup Family Day!

Fun fact, it takes about 50 gallons of collected sap to be boiled down into 1 gallon of syrup!

Creative Ice Sculptures Featured At Hartford's Iced on Main

The annual Iced on Main event in downtown Hartford is Saturday, February 24.

This event not only showcases some beautiful ice sculptures and displays, but also gives you a great reason to check out all of the new and not so new businesses that grace their downtown. 

It's a great family friendly event. 

New Hartford Police Officers Sworn In

New police officers have joined the Hartford Police Department.

Hartford City Clerk Shanna Kreilkamp recently swore in two new officers for the Hartford Police Department. Geoffrey Radtke and Sean Schmidt were official sworn into action, after spending the last few months working with on-the-road training. Officer Schmidt was a transfer officer from Waukesha County Sheriff’s Dept while Officer Radtke is a local product of Hartford Union High School and graduate of the Fox Valley Technical College law enforcement program.

This now brings the Hartford Police Department up to the status of being fully staffed.

Nationwide AT&T Outage

AT&T has sent out a nationwide notification to all 911 centers about a nationwide outage impacting the ability of customers to make voice calls and data calls. This will likely impact the ability for AT&T customers make 911 calls on anything that uses AT&T’s network (FirstNet, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, Straight Talk, FreedomPop, Tracfone, etc.). The first email to the Washington County Emergency Communications Center came through at 3:26AM with the most recent update at 5:38AM.

AT&T technical teams have taken steps to mitigate the issue and some services have been restored. WIFI calling should be an option for most phones, but it must be enabled on the device and have a WIFI connection.

The Washington County Emergency Communications Center is still receiving landline 911 calls normally and all 911 calls from other cell phone vendors.

We will send out an update when notified by AT&T when the nationwide issue is fully resolved.

Area Chapters Celebrating National FFA Week

It’s National FFA Week.

It’s all about celebrating the incredible impact of agriculture, science and the essential role FFA plays in shaping the future of farming and leadership.

Hartford Union High School is celebrating with fun events and dress up days. Wednesday, February 21is dedicated to jeans, boots and flannel.

Agricultural Science Teacher Kim Yohn told WTKM News that students and teachers get involved with FFA Week every year.

"Every year, we have dress up days and students and faculty get involved. It's fun...and they can collect FFA Bucks for getting involved, and then on Friday they can exchange it for ice cream." 

By dressing up, students collect FFA bucks to cash in for an ice cream treat on Friday.

For National FFA week last Monday, February 19 the Slinger FFA members were out and about on their annual Bun Run. Every year during FFA Week, they travel around Washington County handing out donuts to our local farmers to show their appreciation for everything that they do.

Columbus Area Death Investigation

A Columbus Police Officer was dispatched to Prairie Ridge Health, at 1515 Park Avenue in Columbus Monday morning, February 19 around 6:20 a.m. for a report of a man outside the entrance area with a gun. The officer arrived on the scene, and it was reported that the man had shot himself in the emergency room waiting area. Medical aid was immediately attempted by medical staff but not viable, as he had already passed away in this case.

Columbus Police Officers requested that Dodge County Deputies respond to the individual’s residence, in the Town of Elba, to check on the status of the individual’s wife.

Dodge County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived around 7 a.m. at an address on Oak Grove Dr. and located a female subject deceased in the home. The sheriff’s office immediately began a joint law enforcement investigation into this incident and the case is still open and under investigation. 

The investigation to this point has led them to believe that David Zittel, age 85, shot his wife, Susan Zittel age 81. He then went to Prairie Ridge Health, entered the lobby and shot himself. No other individuals are believed to be involved in this incident.

With this incident occurring inside of a hospital, the Dodge County Sheriff's Office feel it is important for the public to be aware that this is an isolated incident, and that the community is safe. They would like the community to also know that Prairie Ridge Health responded as they should have, and immediately went into lock down until mid-afternoon. They also diverted all ambulances temporarily until it was determined safe to resume operations. They resumed normal operation after the law enforcement investigation was completed on Monday, February 19.

The Columbus Police Department and the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office have been in contact with the family, and they respectfully request privacy as they mourn the loss of their loved ones.

No other information will be available for release in this incident until the investigation has been completed.

Primary Election Results

Hartford Joint 1 School Board

inc. Ed Behnke  491  29%

Barbara Lindert  341  20%

Terrence Perfect  338  20%

Ian Gronbeck  335  20%

 

Town of Erin Supervisor

inc. Michael Stapleton  208

Ken Priesgen  197

Elaine Gonya  184

Pat Landon  177

 

Dodge County Supervisor

inc. Kevin Burnett  43  43%

Steve Rydzewski  42

Jared Landsee  15 

It's Election Day

It’s Election Day.

It’s the Spring Primary Election.

Five candidates are running for two open seats for the Hartford Joint 1 School District.

The list of candidates includes Terrence Perfect, Ian Gronbeck, Tristan Johannes, Barbara Lindert and Ed Behnke.

The Town Board Supervisor race in the Town of Erin has five candidates that are running. You will vote for no more than two candidates.  

The list of candidates includes Ken Priesgen, Pat Landon, Bob Bruha, Michael Stapleton and Elaine Gonya.

Winners will appear on the April 2 ballot.

Death Investigation Continues in Dodge County

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation on Oak Grove Drive, in the Town of Elba. Sheriff’s office detectives are investigating. 

The Columbus Police Department is investigating a death that occurred in the Emergency/Urgent Care lobby of Prairie Ridge Health, on Park Ave, in Columbus.

While the investigations are still ongoing, it is believed that both incidents are related.

There is no risk to the public or the hospital.

They will notify their families, but further details are expected to be released today.

 

Questions may be directed to Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt or  the Columbus Police Department.

 

Crossing Signals Installed Along The Rubicon River Trail

A higher level of safety was recently implemented at the Rubicon River Trail, in the City of Hartford.

New pedestrian crossing signals were installed on North Grand Avenue. 

When you press the crosswalk button, it will activate the LED flashing lights on both sides of the road to make it safe for pedestrians to cross. Once the push button is activated, you will have 45 seconds to cross. Please use extreme caution when the light is flashing.

Arrests Made In Connection To Home Invasion

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has made two arrests in connection with the armed home invasion that occurred in the Town of Hustisford on January 28, 2023. 60-year-old Robert L. Ledbetter of Palmyra, Missouri, and 45-year-old Anthony Smith of Monroe City, Missouri are currently in custody in the State of Missouri and are facing extradition back to Wisconsin for their initial court appearances. Throughout the past year, the Dodge County Criminal Investigations Division worked diligently to identify those involved in this home invasion by using nearly every investigative tool possible. Over the last month, we sent two of our detectives to southern Illinois and Missouri to conduct interviews and work with local police agencies in attempts to locate Robert Ledbetter, as Anthony Smith was already in custody on non-related charges. Subsequently, Robert Ledbetter was taken into custody on February 13, 2024, on the Dodge County warrant as a result of our investigation.

The following charges have been requested and sent to the Dodge County District Attorney:

Robert Ledbetter

1. Robbery armed with a weapon - 943.32(2)

2. Burglary to building or dwelling - 943.10(1m)(a)

3. Impersonating peace officer - 946.70(1)(a)

4. False Imprisonment - 940.30

5. Criminal trespass to dwelling - 943.14(2)

6. Intimidation of victim - 940.45(3)

Anthony Smith

1. Robbery armed with a weapon - 943.32(2)

2. Burglary to building or dwelling - 943.10(1m)(a)

3. Impersonating peace officer - 946.70(1)(a)

4. False Imprisonment - 940.30

5. Criminal trespass to dwelling - 943.14(2)

6. Intimidation of victim - 940.45(3)

Sheriff Dale Schmidt would like to commend the entire criminal investigative division of the sheriff’s office for their work on this case as it was very challenging and began with very limited information. They followed the leads and made a solid case against the perpetrators in this case. Also, in closing this case they were able to obtain justice for the victim.

Finally, as a reminder, all persons are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Assisting the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office was the Palmyra and Hannibel Police Departments in Missouri.

The home invasion occurred on January 28, 2023, at approximately 6:31 a.m.

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an armed home invasion at a residence on Indian Road, in the Town of Hustisford. The victim reported that two male subjects came to his house and forced their way inside. The suspects told the victim that they were law enforcement officers looking for a homicide suspect.

One suspect remained with the victim while the other suspect began searching the house and asked where the victim’s valuables were located. Once the suspects completed their search of the house, they fled in a white pickup truck. 

Hartland Firefighters Respond To Structure Fire

The Hartland Fire Department was dispatched to a possible structure fire at 372 Millington Dr. on Saturday, February 17 around 6:19 p.m.

The windows in unit 368 Millington Dr. were black in color, due to smoke.

With the assistance from the Hartland Police, they were able to enter the unit and discovered heavy smoke conditions on the second floor living space. Heavy smoke and fire were found in a kitchen and quickly extinguished.

No one was home at the time of the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Assistance was provided by the Hartland Police Department, and area fire departments including Merton, Lake Country, Western Lakes, Lisbon, Sussex, Brookfield, Menomonee Falls, Mukwonago and New Berlin.   

New Hartford Fire and Rescue Chief Introduced

The new assistant chief was appointed on Tuesday Night, February 13 at the Hartford City Council meeting.

Dean Kirley, on behalf of the Police and Fire Commission, made the recommendation to the Hartford City Council to appoint Tony Burgard as the new Assistant Hartford Fire and Rescue Chief. This appointment was approved unanimously by the Council. Tony is now an assistant chief of the Hartford Fire & Rescue Department and will assume the role of Chief upon the retirement of Paul Stephans in early May of 2024.

On Monday night, February 12 during their normal monthly meeting, the full staff of the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department welcomed Tony to his new role.

Hartford Emergency Communications Center Merger Effective Monday, February 19

An update was released by the Hartford Police Department regarding their emergency communications center merging with the Washington County dispatch center. This coming Monday, February 19, dispatching services will be fully merged with Washington County dispatch and their former emergency communications center, now their administrative front office, will have new hours. Staff will be available Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During those hours, you can call the non-emergency line 262-673-2600 and a Police Support Specialist will be available to assist you. If they are on another line, you may be routed to the auto attendant. You can still walk into their lobby and talk to a Police Support Specialist in person during normal business hours, as you have in the past.

After hours, whether you call the non-emergency line 262-673-2600 or walk into their lobby and pick up the phone, you will be routed to the auto attendant to choose the option of where you would like to be directed. If you are calling for an emergency, you will be directed to hang up and immediately and dial 9-1-1. If it is non-emergent, you will be given the option of being forwarded immediately to the Washington County dispatch center where a dispatcher will send a Hartford officer to assist you. Just because you are calling and speaking with a dispatcher from the Washington County dispatch center does not mean they are going to send a Washington County deputy instead of a Hartford officer to assist you. Hartford resources whether police, fire, or EMS will still be dispatched to your call for service.

Currently when you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone, the Washington County dispatch answers your call. If you are calling about an emergency in the City of Hartford, your call is transferred to the Hartford emergency communications center and we dispatch police, fire, and/or EMS services. This will change. Instead of Washington County dispatch transferring the call to Hartford, they will immediately dispatch Hartford emergency services (police, fire, EMS) to the call, thereby shortening the time emergency services can respond. Currently if you call 9-1-1 from a landline, the call will be answered by the Hartford emergency communications center. The Washington County dispatch center will be answering those landline emergency calls as well, and dispatching emergency services. The only difference is another agency, other than Hartford, is answering the call. The caller will still be communicating with a trained professional who will be able to assist them.

A tremendous amount of effort and collaboration between the Hartford Police Department, Hartford Fire and Rescue, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was necessary to ensure a transition like this was, and continues to be, successful. This was no small undertaking. It is an understatement to say I appreciate the efforts of staff from both agencies who are working to ensure the continuity of operations, and the continued delivery of professional services to the City of Hartford. They will continue to notify the public of other changes that may relate to this transition as this is still a work in progress until it comes to fruition.

A huge thank you goes out to the Hartford Police Department dispatchers, now and over the years, who have provided professional services to the Hartford community for well over 60 years.

Monthly Tornado Siren Testing in Watertown

The City of Watertown's Tornado Siren Testing is conducted on the first Wednesday of every month, at 11 a.m. by the Watertown Police Department Communication Center at the direction of the Watertown Fire Department. 

A test may be delayed by several minutes or even hours if the Communication Center is dealing with complex emergency calls at 11 a.m. And of course, if the weather on a particular test day would lend itself to actual tornados, the testing would be delayed to another day.

The City of Watertown has nine tornado siren locations. If you notice that a siren is not operating, the Watertown Fire Department would appreciate receiving that information, by calling the Communication Center at 920-261-6660.

Hartford Food Pantry Continues To Serve

The Hartford Food Pantry continues to serve area residents in need.

Lead Volunteer June Krueger told WTKM News that they are fortunate to receive a lot of support. 

"We have been really blessed. The individuals in Hartford have been so supportive of us. The community backs us, and we can't say thank you enough. All the different organizations, individuals and service groups are so giving to us."

The Hartford Food Pantry is open on Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 2:45 p.m.

It's available to all needy residents living in the Hartford Union High School district.

The Hartford Food Pantry is located across from Forte Bank in downtown Hartford.

 

Hartford Union High School Hosts Blood Drive

Hartford Union High School was a busy place on Valentine's Day, Wednesday February 14. 

Great work by HUHS Student Council and Advisor Holly Oleshko for putting together this Blood Drive with Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin. 

The photo was provided by Hartford Union High School.

Top left to right: Brady Senkbeil, Clayton Wagner, Ashley Strupp, Lukas Lichtenwalner.

Bottom row left to right: Maya Almeda, Natalie Corrie, Elizabeth Hanlon, Addison Pfau.

Thanks Abby Kaskimaki, a golden-hearted senior at HUHS, continues to inspire us with her ongoing commitment to the community through her donations. Cheers to senior Cason Boudwine, who stepped up for his first donation. 

Festival Foods and Subway donated food items during the event. 

HUHS senior Parker Smith donated often and junior Luke Gauthier, who didn't mind getting out of class to donate ????and community member Mary Baniel who came into the school to give.

Our community stands strong when we come together like this. Hartford Union High School extends a big thank you to all who donated in the HUHS Student Council Blood Drive!

Photo by Hartford Union High School.

Time For Tree Trimming

Tree trimming starts up again and the process continues in the City of Hartford. 

Now that snow management season has taken a long pause, this gives their public works crews more time to get back to tree trimming. Trimming trees along terraces is an important way to prevent future breakages and damage to passing vehicles. The biggest issues come with tall trucks that travel curbside like garbage, plow and delivery trucks. Tree trimming is a necessary way to manage these trees within the terraces.

This is the time of year the Hartford City Parks staff members like to do some tree trimming. They always try and allow the frost to set in to minimize the damage to our green spaces. Though there is not much frost, they have dedicated plenty of time to address the work that needs to be done. 

The hiring of Luke Bares this past summer has enhanced their ability to keep this work within the departments. Luke has an extensive background in tree maintenance. A lift has been rented, and Luke...along with the rest of the park crew have been working together to take down some trees and have done some trimming as well.

Statewide Grants Benefit Washington County Sheriff's Office

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Corporation and Community Insurance Corporation for awarding the Washington County Sheriff’s Office one of only seven grants statewide.

One of the priorities of the Sheriff’s Office was developing and implementing a co-response crisis program. Our model started in late 2023 and partners highly trained deputies with mental health professionals who directly respond to incidents within our community that involve either mental health and/or addiction issues. In addition to responding directly to incidents, the teams prioritize follow-up in an attempt to keep at risk individuals out of the criminal justice system.

The Sheriff’s Office is grateful for this grant which will be used for advanced training for our teams.

The Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Washington County Human Services, currently has three teams that serve residents seven days a week.

Motorcycle Chase Under Investigation

West Bend police officers attempted to stop a black, sport style motorcycle recently for failing to display registration plates. The motorcycle fled at a high rate of speed and a brief pursuit was initiated. The chase ended due to the reckless manner of operation.

The motorcycle was last observed leaving the city of West Bend southbound on Main St.

The investigation to identify the driver is ongoing.

 

Snow Returns

Snow is back in the forecast, especially for Thursday, February 15.

Weatherology Meteorologist Paul Trambley provides a recent update on the amount of snow which is possible.

"This quick moving system will begin to drop some snow by midnight, and will continue through the early morning hours. It looks like there will be a narrow corridor of some higher snow amounts which could fall in the Hartford area. If this storm moves even a little to the north or south, it could mean a world of difference with the amount of snow. The Hartford area could see around two to five inches of snow. Thursday morning by 9 a.m. this system will exit the area quickly."

This Friday, February 16 look for sunshine and temperatures around 27, with similar conditions on Saturday, February 17.    

Hartford Common Council Welcomes New Fire and Rescue Chief

Hartford Common Council met Tuesday night, February 13.

New police officers were introduced by Hartford Police Chief Scott MacFarlan. It included Sean Schmidt and Geoffery Radtke. The oath of office was administered by the Hartford City Clerk.

In other business, a Resolution was approved to enter a jurisdictional transfer agreement with the Town of Hartford for a portion of N. Main Street from the north city limit, to the proposed residential development.

Hartford Alderperson Justin Webb addressed the item on Tuesday night, to a group of concerned citizens who attended the meeting.

"What is before us is not any new development. It's just a right-of-way agreement and any other new development will come before us at some other meeting. It may or may not happen. Second, I just want everyone who is here tonight to understand, at least personally...I hear you. I understand your concerns and we don't make light of them. I don't like hearing about anyone's property being impacted and I don't think it's growth at all costs. From my perspective, we're looking at a very narrow issue in front of us tonight, which is this right-of-way. My understanding is that the city has tried to work very hard to address the concerns."

The Resolution was unanimously approved by the Hartford Common Council.

In other business Tuesday night, February 13 the Police and Fire Commission appointed Anthony Burgard as the assistant chief of the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department. Burgard will eventually step in as chief, with the retirement of current Hartford Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Stephans.     

West Bend Police Investigation Continues

Tuesday morning, February 13 the West Bend Police Department was assisted by the Franklin Police Department in executing a search warrant at a residence in the City of Franklin. The warrant is a continuation of this ongoing investigation. No one was injured during service of the warrant and West Bend Detectives remain on scene.

On Saturday, February 10 around 5 p.m., the West Bend Police Department responded to a business in the 1300 block S. Main Street for an armed robbery. West Bend Detectives identified the actor as a 50-year-old Cambellsport man. No customers were in the business at the time of robbery.

West Bend Investigators secured a search warrant and the man was located at his residence with assistance from the Fond Du Lac County Sheriff's Department and Campbellsport Police Department. The man was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Washington County Jail for a charge Armed Robbery.

Fire Department Boat Crash on Beaver Dam Lake

The Beaver Dam Fire Department was conducting training operations on Beaver Dam Lake around 7:42 p.m. on Monday, February 12. Three Beaver Dam Firefighters were operating on the fire department air boat in the area of Grape Island. A crash occurred on Grape Island, but the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

All three Beaver Dam Firefighters were injured in the crash, with one firefighter being seriously injured. Specifics related to injuries are not being released at this time nor are the names of the firefighters. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is leading the investigation and will provide additional information on the crash after they conduct their investigation. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and Beaver Dam Police Department are assisting the DNR in the investigation.

Further questions may be directed to the Wisconsin Department of Resources but no additional information will be released at this time. The fire department requests that no inquiries be made to them at this time.

City of Hartford's Waste Water Process Continues

Waste water process in the City of Hartford continues to be updated.

Ultraviolet Light Disinfection is the final process at the City of Hartford's Wastewater Treatment Plant, prior to the water discharging to the Rubicon River. When microorganisms are exposed to UV light, they are instantaneously rendered incapable of reproducing and infecting. Removal of the 25 year-old UV unit continues. 

Installation of the new unit should be completed in 3-4 weeks. This is a major expense for the plant but needed to make sure we are doing everything to return water to the river, which is actually cleaner than water naturally flowing through the river.

Help For Homeowners Application Deadline Approaching

Since the launch of Wisconsin Help for Homeowners (WHH) on March 7, 2022, the program has provided nearly $70 million in financial assistance to over 8,600 homeowners who were facing a mortgage foreclosure or other financial difficulty related to the pandemic.

Due to the amount of assistance requested, and limited remaining funds, the Help for Homeowners program will stop accepting new applications at 11:59 p.m. CST on March 8, 2024. The Neighborly application portal as well as the WHH website will be updated accordingly.

Homeowners that have begun but not yet completed an application will need to submit their completed application by the deadline to be considered. Homeowners who submit an application by the deadline will have their application reviewed. Actual award assistance will be based on eligibility and availability of funds, and funding is not guaranteed.

Homeowners who are facing foreclosure and have experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic may email the WHH Program at whh@wisconsin.gov or contact our call center at 1-855-2-HOME-WI (1-855-246-6394) for more information about alternative programs that may be available. The call center is anticipated to close on April 30, 2024.

Germantown Firefighters Respond To Garage Fire

Germantown firefighters were paged out on a working still level for a garage fire at N114 W16769 Royal CT. It occurred around 10 a.m. on Sunday, February 11.

Mutual aid companies assigned to 17-1-1 included: MFFD, Slinger, Richfield, Jackson, Lisbon, Southern Ozaukee Fire District, Hartford, Sussex, Grafton. All units were canceled... other than Lisbon after a quick knock down and extinguisment was completed.

At the time of the fire call, half of the on duty staff was on a rescue call (at 0946) on the southern end of the village.

The Germantown Fire Department would like to thank all the departments that were available if needed.

Campbellsport Man Faces Armed Robbery Charge

On Saturday, February 10 at 5 p.m., the West Bend Police Department responded to a business in the 1300 block of South Main St. for an armed robbery. West Bend Detectives identified the actor as a 50-year-old Cambellsport man. No customers were in the business at the time of robbery.

West Bend Investigators secured a search warrant and the man was located at his residence with assistance from the Fond Du Lac County Sheriff's Department and Campbellsport Police Department. The man was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Washington County Jail for a charge Armed Robbery.

Pay Pal Fraud Alert

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has received two similar fraud complaints in the month of February, of 2024. The scammer sends a fake e-mail spoofed as being from Pay Pal, while neither victim had a Pay Pal account, which prompts the individual to call the number after receiving that email. The scammer then convinces the individual to download an app where they can gain control of their electronic devices. In both of these incidents, the scammer was about to gain access to the victim's bank account information. In one of these cases, the scammer convinced the victim to purchase Bitcoin and Target gift cards.

Please stay alert to these types of scams as they are becoming more and more common. In most instances, these scammers will tell you that you cannot hang up your phone while you are speaking with them. This is their way of preventing you from calling someone for help or asking if you're being scammed. Keep in mind, that any legitimate company or legal process requesting money from you will never require you to pay your “bills” with Bitcoin or any crypt-currency, or gift cards. If you have the feeling that you might be getting scammed, there is a good chance you are. Take the time to reach out to your family or law enforcement before you provide any personal or financial information.

June 2 For The Dodge County Dairy Brunch

The Dodge County Dairy Brunch is Sunday, June 2, 2024.

Dodge County Dairy Ambassador Brenda Conely told WTKM News that Dave and Kathleen Hafemeister, along with their children Alayna and Ethan, will be hosting this year's Dodge County Dairy Brunch. 

Dave and Kathleen milk 135 Holsteins with two Lely Robotic Milkers they installed in 2014. They also raise 120 heifers on the farm and grow their own corn, wheat, alfalfa and soybeans on 300 acres to feed the animals. They have one full time employee, Mike Roe, who also keeps a few of his own registered Holsteins in the herd. Dave's parents, Richard and Gloria, purchased the farm in 1978. They also hosted the Dodge County Dairy Brunch in 1982. In 2010 Dave and Kathleen purchased the farm from Richard and Gloria. . 

Dave and Kathleen milk 135 Holsteins with two Robotic Milkers they installed in 2014. They also raise 120 heifers on the farm and grow their own corn, wheat, alfalfa and soybeans on 300 acres to feed the animals.

They also hosted the Dodge County Dairy Brunch in 1982.

 

Polar Spray Benefits Special Olympics

The third annual Special Olympics Polar Spray is happening on Saturday, February 10  in the City of Hartford at 9 a.m. The event is held at Bernd Park.

Jackie Infalt is one of the organizers, and told WTKM News that the event, which benefits Special Olympics, is open to anyone.

"This is open to anyone...anyone ages two to 100! We arrive at the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department between 8:30 and 9 a.m. We turn in our pledges. We ask people to try and get donations for Special Olympics, and anyone who collects $100 in donations will get a special Polar Spray t-shirt! You don't have to donate, you can just come and participate. The last two years we have raised over $8,000."

Last year, the Polar Spray event reached their goal of $5,000 and two years ago $7,600 was donated to Special Olympics.                                             

All of the donated funds go toward the Special Olympics programs.

Photo by the Hartford Police Department.

Absentee Ballots Available

Early in-person absentee voting for the February 20, 2024 spring primary started on February 6, 2024 and runs until February 16, 2024. The only race on the ballot for this election is for a school board member for the School District of Hartford Joint No. 1.

Voting an absentee ballot in person has proved to be a popular option. 

You may request and vote an absentee ballot in the clerk's office or other specified location during the days and hours specified for casting an absentee ballot in person.

Shanna Kreilkamp, City Clerk 262-673-8201

109 N Main Street, Hartford, WI 53027

Monday – Friday, 7:45 am to 4:15 pm

The first day to vote an absentee ballot in the clerk’s office is February 6, 2024, 7:45 am.

The last day to vote an absentee ballot in the clerk's office is February 16, 2024, 4:15 pm.

You will need to show your acceptable photo ID for voting when voting by in-person absentee ballot.

Patrick Blaesing Joins Hartford Fire and Rescue Department

The Hartford Fire and Rescue Department is excited to welcome Patrick Blaesing to its full-time staff. Patrick brings a very vast skill set to the department. His background and experience include numerous deployments as a flight medic/sergeant with the Army National Guard, Eagle Scout, ACLS, PALS, Firefighter and EMT-Paramedic certified. Patrick resides in Wauwatosa but has strong ties to the Hartford Community. Patrick’s parents, Geof and Joanne Blaesing, reside at Druid Lake. The department was fortunate enough to connect with Patrick when Chief Stephans met Patrick’s father at a local grocery store. The connection was made at that time and the rest is history. Patrick has already been involved with numerous life-saving incidents. Please help us in welcoming Patrick Blaesing to the department.

Hartford Common Council Updates

The Hartford Common Council recently released details regarding the priority road projects in the City of Hartford. 

Hartford City Engineer John Griffin addressed the council regarding one of the projects.

 

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation needs to see that a resolution is in place that supports the project as a priority. 

The second project is a paving proposal to restore the pavement on North and South Wacker Drive, from the Rubicon River Bridge south, to West Monroe Avenue. The estimate is $480,000 and the City of Hartford is looking for 50 percent support from the DOT.

It was unanimously approved by the Hartford Common Council. 

The City of Watertown Assists Area Businesses

The City of Watertown is reaching out to assist area businesses.

It's conducted through the Business and Expansion Retention Program, which is made up of the the city's Development Coordinator, Mayor and Chamber of Commerce. 

They make their way around and visit area businesses in Watertown to see what they need. They keep track of what they are doing well and what they can improve on in each case.

Watertown Mayor Emily MacFarland discusses the success of one particular business.

The businesses in Watertown have been very forthcoming during their visit, and helpful during the process. 

More information can be found on the Watertown website. 

City of Hartford Welcomes Tony Burgard

The City of Hartford welcomed Tony Burgard to the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department. Tony formerly served as Chief of the Richfield Fire Company. Tony will be formally appointed by the Hartford Common Council on February 13 as Assistant Chief, which he will serve until May 4, 2024 at which time he will take over as Chief of the department upon the retirement of current Chief Paul Stephans.

Burgard was recommended by the Police and Fire Commission. The formal recommendation was issued to the Hartford City Council.

Tony Burgard served as the Fire Chief of the Richfield Volunteer Fire Company for the past four years. He has been with the Company a total of 19 years, beginning in 2004.

Burgard earned a bachelor's degree in fire and emergency response from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. 

The Police and Fire Commission received over 12 applications and conducted six interviews with qualified applicants.

Photo provided by the City of Hartford.

Escaped Huber Inmate

The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office is seeking help from the public to locate inmate Jennifer Patricia Petersen. She is an inmate with court ordered Huber privileges, which allow certain inmates to leave the facility for work and medical appointments.

45-year-old Jennifer Petersen left the jail before midnight for an approved medical visit, and the last known confirmed sighting of her was in the parking lot of Marshfield Medical Center in Beaver Dam. The vehicle she was believed to be traveling in was seen a short time later heading back into Juneau, but she failed to report back to jail.

Jennifer Petersen was picked up for the appointment by an approved driver, 46-year-old Matthew Reszel, of Milwaukee, in a red, 2007 Ford Edge with Wisconsin plate AJA2190.

If anyone has information about where she may be, or has recently been, please contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number 920-386-3726. You may also contact us through our app and website. Deputies are actively trying to locate her, however she does not have any known permanent address, and has previously had ties to various areas in the county, as well as the Madison, WI area among other parts of the state.

Photo provided by the Dodge County Sheriff's Office. 

Mental Health Awareness

The West Bend School District will be holding Mental Health Awareness Parent and Community Sessions. They’ll feature panels of speakers including parents, students, and community resource professionals. There will be an in-person and virtual option for participation. Please share this with anyone who could benefit.

• Session 3, Parenting Strategies for Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health, Wednesday, February 12, 2024.

Theme: Providing tips for parents to support their children’s mental health, while also taking care of themselves. Parents often spend all of their time and energy caring for their kids, which can leave them emotionally and physically drained. Discuss the importance of self-care for every family member in order to maintain positive mental health.

 

Final session in series in March:

• Session 4, Coping Strategies, Hope, and Resilience, Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

 

Hartford's Fire Chief Ready To Retire

Hartford Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Stephans announced his plan to retire.

Chief Stephans will be retiring on May 3, 2024.  

Stephans has served the city of Hartford for over 25 years. 

Hartford City Administrator Steve Volkert told WTKM News that Chief Stephans will be missed.

"Paul did a phenomenal job. He was the first full-time fire chief the City of Hartford ever had, and we are in the process of finding someone new. He will be missed."

One of many great accomplishments for Chief Stephans happened two years ago. It included moving the Hartford Fire and Rescue Department into a Paramedic level of service. The application and operational plan was approved by the Division of Public Health - Office of Preparedness and Emergency Health Care - Emergency Medical Services. This elevated status provides residents with the highest level of service from the operations of an ambulance.

Thanks to Hartford Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Stephans for being a great friend to WTKM.        

The City of Hartford welcomed Tony Burgard to the Fire and Rescue Department. Tony formerly served as Chief of the Richfield Fire Company. Tony will be formally appointed by the Hartford Common Council on February 13, 2024 as Assistant Fire and Rescue Chief which he will serve until May 4, at which time he will take over as Chief of the department upon the retirement of current Chief Paul Stephans.

Woman Faces OWI Charge After Attempting To Pick Up Her Boyfriend

A 33-year-old City of West Bend woman was arrested for second offense OWI after she drove to the sheriff’s office to pick up her boyfriend, who was arrested for OWI only hours before.

The incident started Wednesday evening, January 31 at 10:57 p.m. when a Washington County Sheriff's deputy stopped a vehicle for traveling 58 mph in a 45 mph zone on County Highway P north of Pleasant Valley in the Town of Polk. The driver, a 29-year-old City of West Bend man, showed signs of impairment and was arrested for OWI third offence. A preliminary breath test revealed a .21 alcohol content. He was turned over to the jail staff and held on $850 cash bond.

At 2:03 a.m. Thursday morning, February 1 the girlfriend, who was in the vehicle during the initial stop, drove to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to pick up the boyfriend. After being notified by jail staff, a deputy located the woman in the public sheriff’s office jail parking lot. She advised the deputy she drove from a local tavern to pick up her boyfriend. She also showed signs of impairment and was arrested for second offense OWI. She was turned over to the jail after the arrest.

City of Hartford Celebrates Staff Members

The City of Hartford shows their appreciation for their great employees.

Various anniversaries were celebrated during a special Employee Appreciation Dinner. The city staff were recognized for their hard work over the last year, during this annual event and those celebrating major anniversaries were recognized. Major anniversaries in 2023 included:

Celebrating 5 Year Anniversaries

a. Cheryl Teichmiller Eng./Waste Water/Public Works

b. Eric Strunsee Police Dept

c. Kali Reiman Police Dept

d. Tim Puestow Streets

e. Dustin Pocernich CDA

f. Cole Parker Police

g. Julie Jensen Library

h. Matt Breuer Utilities

Celebrating 10 Year Anniversaries

a. Cori Whipple Police Department

b. Chris Scholtes Water

c. Ann Schmirler Library

d. Brad Klein Water

e. Brad Behringer Waste Water

Congratulations to all those celebrating 20 Year Anniversaries

a. Josh Krick Police

b. Laura Jossart Police

c. Tim Holzhauer Fire & Rescue

Congratulations to all those celebrating 25 Year Anniversaries

a. Keith Priesgen Utilities

b. Paul Beyer Engineering

c. Julie Hanrahan Administration/HR

Congratulations to all those celebrating 30 Year Anniversaries

a. Brian Rhodes Utilities

b. Patrice Moratz Police

A Busy Election Year

It’s a busy election year. 

Hartford City Clerk Shanna Kreilkamp told WTKM News how to register to vote.

"You can register to vote any time of the year at the municipal clerk's office. You need to bring along your proof of residence and fill out a voter registration application. You can also register by mail. You have to complete and sign a voter registration application and then submit it to us with a proof of residence. Please keep in mind, that we need to receive it at least 20 days before the election. You can also register on election day at your polling place location."                                                  

Four elections are scheduled. The first one is scheduled for February 20. It’s a spring primary. The second election this year is the spring election and it’s the presidential preference primary, which is set for April 2. 

The partisan primary is August 13. The general and presidential election is November 5.

Residents can register at their polling location on election day. You will need to fill out a voter registration application and provide a proof of residence. The rule is that you would have had to have lived at your current address for at least 28 days prior to the election. Otherwise, you would have to vote at your former polling location.

Absentee is also an option. If you want the ballot mailed to you, you can fill out a form. It’s available at the clerk’s office or at myvote.wi.gov.   

New Slinger Fire Chief Continues To Serve

Greg Koehler steps in as the new Slinger Fire Chief.

For the past 16 years, Chief Rick Hanke honorably served the communities of the Village of Slinger, Town of Polk and the Town of West Bend.

He has dedicated himself to saving lives and further the emergency services and cutting-edge equipment for the firefighters. He has led the Slinger Fire Department through the increasing demands of community growth and volunteer needs in an ever-changing fire service.  

Looking Forward to the Mega Rummage Sale

The Washington County Humane Society is staying busy.

Dates were recently announced for one of their largest fundraising events, the 13th annual Mega Rummage Sale. It will run from Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 2. It will be held at Washington County Fair Park's Zeigler Building.

The items are donated throughout the community.

You will have the opportunity to shop from over 250 tables that will be filled with items, including everything from clothing to dinnerware and from holiday decor to sporting goods.

Communication Specialist Joe Poczkalski told WTKM about where the funds go. 

"All the proceeds go to our Emergency Animal Medical Fund, which provides quick care to animals that need it most. Last year we raised around $100,000 and all of it went into our Emergency Animal Medical Fund. We can react to medical situations with our animals that we don't have the capacity in house to take care of. If an animal needs a high amount of care, this fund enables us to take them elsewhere in the community to receive that care."   

The funds from the Mega Rummage Sale have made a difference in helping animals in need.

They have raised $454,577 for pets in need.

The Washington County Humane Society served a total of 2,609 animals last year, while 1,425 animals were adopted in 2023.  

Dispatch Services Merging

The City of Hartford has a proud history of providing dispatch services to the community since 1967. There have been, and continue to be, many technological advances in 9-1-1 answering services over the years. The most recent change in technology they are facing is the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 services. These services allow the caller in an emergency to text, send a picture, and/or send a video to a 9-1-1 dispatcher. As you can imagine, providing these types of services will require additional staffing and a significant upgrade in current technology. To implement this new way of 9-1-1 services, our communications center will need to double the staff in this area. Recruiting dispatchers is a challenge and has been made increasingly difficult following the COVID-19 pandemic. There are fewer individuals that seek a very technical, stressful, job that requires them to work in a rotation, around the clock, and on weekends and holidays. The move to Next Gen 9-1-1 will also require a technology upgrade to the current 9-1-1 system to allow it to accept and store new types of data, update the GIS, and the physical area where the dispatchers currently work to include additional workspace for staff.

Hartford dispatch answers all wireline 9-1-1 calls, but Washington County Sheriff’s dispatch center answers all the wireless 9-1-1 calls. This equates to between 80% to 90%of all 9-1-1 calls and continues to grow as fewer individuals and businesses use wireline for their phone service. The second service standard would require us to double our staffing as our minimum is always currently one dispatcher on duty with occasional overlap for a few hours every so often. The hiring of additional staff to comply with this requirement would come at great expense and would require an increase in the tax levy.

In addition to the language regarding allowable expenses for Next Gen 9-1-1 implementation in the grant solicitation, was language about consolidation. Activities to consolidate some or all functions of two or more PSAP’s were considered allowable expenses. The grant funds must be used in the direct support of the Designated PSAP’s consolidation of some or all functions of another PSAP. This language made it clear to us that even at the state government level consolidation was being encouraged. There is no path to grant funding for Hartford to implement Next Gen 9-1-1 services, therefore, the entire cost would fall on the Hartford taxpayers. The Washington County Sheriff’s department is the only PSAP eligible for the grant funding within the county and in fact has already received funding toward the implementation of their Next Gen 9-1-1 service.

Hartford dispatch could choose to stay the course and not move to the Next Gen 9-1-1 service, but in doing so, it would provide a lower level of service than all other residents in Washington County would experience in their respective communities. The decision to merge was based on the factors and considerations outlined above and was not an easy one. It was not based on the current or past performance of the staff in the dispatch center, who we know work diligently every day, around the clock, to provide the best service for our citizens. The pressure to consolidate is coming increasingly from the State of Wisconsin. We are not unique in this as other PSAPs in neighboring Ozaukee County made the same decision recently to merge their services with Ozaukee County. This is where the industry is headed, and where the resources are being directed.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts to the process of merging two dispatch centers, but we have planned it in a way that leverages the timing of normal attrition such that none of the staff will lose their employment with the City of Hartford because of the change in operations. There will of course be a change in city services in several areas that relate to the dispatch center, but every effort is being made to mitigate any foreseeable issues during the planning and implementation phases.

Many are wondering how their interaction with Hartford Police services will be because of this change in operations. The administrative phone line (262)673-2600 still be answered during the day by Police Support Specialists if the (new) auto attendant does not meet the caller’s needs. Citizens that visit our lobby will still be greeted during the day by a Police Support Specialist that can help them with their needs. After hours, they can pick up the phone to be in contact with a dispatcher at Washington County dispatch center that can connect them to Hartford Police services. Remember, between 80% and 90% of the 9-1-1 calls individuals in Hartford make are currently being answered by dispatchers at the Washington County Sheriff’s department. If an officer is requested, a Hartford police officer will still arrive to assist the individual in need. First responders from Hartford Fire and Rescue will continue to service the community. Hartford Utilities have already transitioned to an answering service, like the Village of Slinger uses currently, to answer calls for power outages and other utility issues. We are planning to move third shift dispatch operations over on October 9, 2023, and the remaining shifts by the first quarter of 2024.

Finally, though this change in operations is new to us, it is not new to many other law enforcement agencies with dispatch centers in neighboring counties and throughout the State of Wisconsin. There has been a growing shift in the direction of dispatch centers merging services, and advances in technology have helped to facilitate that change. Over the years we have forged a relationship with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department built on mutual respect, professionalism, and trust, and thus we are confident that throughout this process the best interests of our community will be at the forefront. Decisions like this are never easy. We give a tremendous amount of credit and praise to the men and women who have worked behind the phone and radio since 1967 to provide a high level of service to this community. Following this change in operations, those specialists will continue in their new role to provide professional services to those who chose to reside, work, or recreate, in the City of Hartford.

Information provided by Hartford Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Stephans and Hartford Police Chief Scott MacFarlan.