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Thursday, November 8, 2012 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Issue No. 45 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

Obama 51.2% Romney 47.3%

RAFD discusses

Our Views

Local voters fight long lines for massive turnout at polls by Ian Stepleton

What would you do ... If your father handed you a handbill in 1964 signed by all the Beatles? Probably hold on to it forever, as this area woman did. See page 4


Ripon helped the President of the United States secure his second, four-year term Tuesday. Amid lengthy waits to vote at times — mostly in Ripon’s District 2 — city residents supported Barack Obama, as it did in 2008. They also followed the state trend by supporting Rep. Tammy Baldwin to take over the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by outgoing U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl. Ripon voters, though, didn’t simply paint their ballots blue. While they pushed Democrats running for most national offices through, Republicans fared better locally. Both incumbent state Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and state Rep. Joan Ballweg, RMarkesan, carried Ripon and their districts as a whole. U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac,

JANE LUEPTOW SIGNS the voting register while husband Matt waits first thing Tuesday morning at Ripon City Hall. Long lines occurred before 8 a.m. for the general election. Ian Stepleton photo tered voters cast ballots (3,789 out the day in this community. won as well. Thousands voted Tuesday in of 4,513) — almost 75 percent of Those long lines in Ripon, though, seemed to be the story of Ripon. In fact, 84 percent of regis- which passed through the doors of


by Aaron Becker

tional image at Ripon College. “Frustrating,” he said of the turn of events. Here’s why: by Ian Stepleton If not for Sandy, perhaps, Hathaway would have been stumping for Obama, and “Superstorm” Sandy. would have come to Ripon Oscar-nominated actress College. Anne HathaBut in what way. likely would A presiFor an editorial related to be the leastdential elecimportant imthis story, see “Solution tion. pact of SuperThese to a dismal campaign: More storm Sandy, factors may debate,” page 4. Hathaway may have played not have been a role in the biggest story to able to get a flight out of New never be written in Ripon. York to Wisconsin. In the process, they also Whether this was the cause, likely gave quite the headache to Ric Damm, director See ACTRESS/ page 17 of publications and institu-

For months, all the national pundits have been analyzing and debating who would win the presidential election. They should have just asked Ripon kids. Students across all three grade levels voted in a realistic but mock election at both Quest charter school and Murray Park Elementary School Tuesday — the same day American voters

by Ian Stepleton

MURRAY PARK Elementary School poll workers Jack Wojahn, bottom, and Todd Ostrander register a line of young voters in a mock election. Aaron Becker photo

April 9, 2012 *

by Ian Stepleton

April 9, 2012 *

Feb. 23, 2012

April 9, 2012 *

* Dates listed with an asterisk represent withholding tax payments ; without an asterisk are sales taxes

April 9, 2012 *

March 23 2012

March 23 2012 Feb. 23, 2012

Feb. 10, 2012 *

Jan. 12, 2012 *

Dec. 8, 2011 *

Feb. 10, 2012 *

Dec. 23, 2011

Jan. 26, 2012

Jan. 26, 2012

Dec. 23, 2011

Nov. 10, 2011 *

Nov. 25, 2011

Nov. 10, 2011 *

Oct. 25, 2011

Oct. 11, 2011 *

Sept. 23, 2011

Aug. 25, 2011

Sept. 9, 2011 *

Aug. 11, 2011 *

Aug. 11, 2011


July 8, 2011 *


Nov. 25, 2011


Oct. 25, 2011 *

Sept. 23, 2011


Aug. 25, 2011

July 25 2011

See DISPUTE/ page 15


June 23 2011

For the second time in 2012, the Department of Revenue has placed a lien for unpaid taxes against property owned by a principal for downtown developer Boca Grande Capital LLC. This time, however, it involves many more delinquent tax warrants than the first time. Thirty-four delinquent tax warrants were issued Sept. 20 in the name of James Connelly — compared with two issued from last winter. In both cases, the address listed is 102 Watson St., home of Roadhouse Pizza. That address is just one of many properties owned by Boca that Connelly agreed to rehabilitate in a developer’s agreement with the city of Ripon. Connelly, meanwhile, said he sees the state’s decision to file the warrants as a way to gain le-

Unpaid property taxes, payments to city up to about $400,000

Disputed bills for sales & withholding taxes


May 26 2011

Remember this former Ripon hoopster? Three years after graduating here, the college senior hopes to lead her UWMadison team to victory. See page 21

See KIDS/ page 20

Alleged dispute between Boca, state leads to tax warrants

Tiger tracks

See LINES/ page 16


That’s what one recreational vehicle mechanic shop discovered after it moved out to West Fond du Lac Street. See page 12

City Hall Tuesday, rather than voting early. Bucking the national trend, fewer Riponites voted early (by absentee ballot) than four years ago. “I have 842 absentee ballots,” City Clerk Ann Schommer said at the close of business Friday. “I did not have the requests to mail out ballots like I did in 2008 and in-person absentee voting was only 2 weeks instead of 30 days, as it was in 2008. These could be some of the reasons why I do not have as many absentee ballots as in 2008.” Turnout also proved the heaviest Ripon has seen in recent memory. Voter turnout surpassed even other presidential elections, including in 2000 (73 percent), 2004 (80 percent) and 2008 (73 percent). This meant a hectic day for

Who did kids want? Obama

Ripon almost a stop for actress backing Obama Superstorm sunk Hathaway’s plans

Location matters

Ripon, WI 54971

How did Ripon vote?


Merging? The town of Brooklyn, city of Green Lake may want to join the Ripon Area Fire District — which will consider the idea. See page 3

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin News ly Single copy — $1 pa Thursday, November 8, 2012 of th per e Year

Sales and withholding taxes appear to not be the only taxes being sought from Boca Grande Capital LLC and the related development company, Ripon Renew LLC. The downtown developer owes a combined total of about $400,000 to the city of Ripon and Fond du Lac County. S p e c i f i c a l l y, i t o w e d $256,332.07 in unpaid property taxes to the county as of late October — a figure that has only increased now that the calendar has rolled into November.

See TAXES/ page 16

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - Page 15


DISPUTE/Boca expects sales, withholding tax issues to be resolved by end of the year WHAT IS A DELINQUENT TAX WARRANT?

verage in a dispute between Boca and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (WDOR) over how much Boca owes. “In 2011 and 2012, [we have paid] well in excess of $200,000,” Connelly stated via a memorandum to the Commonwealth explaining that Boca has been paying taxes. Regarding the liens, he went on to describe a “dispute” with the WDOR regarding some “open issues” that have led to the current situation.

The fact that delinquent tax warrants have been filed in Connelly’s name means the WDOR has filed a lien against property owned by Connelly. This occurs only after unsuccessfully attempting to get the debt paid through other means. “A tax warrant is a lien on property,” Patrick said, while offering background on how tax collection works (she could not comment directly on the Connelly case). “It does not mean the department is sending someone to court.” What it does mean is the state has exhausted other, less forceful measures of trying to collect the back taxes, she explained. “Generally, the department sends a bill with a due date. Once the due date passes, the department will then send a notice of overdue tax that includes potential next steps, including the possibility of filing a tax warrant,” Patrick said. “The department tries to work with the taxpayer to pay their account in full, and if this is not possible, we will allow an installment agreement.”


The first time delinquent tax warrants were filed was Jan. 19, 2012. Two such warrants were filed in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court for unpaid sales taxes (including penalties and interest) of $3,103.01 and $3,907.61. By the time the Commonwealth reported on them Feb. 9, they had been paid — a fact the WDOR attested to at Connelly’s behalf at the time, though it was not apparent in online records at that point. And for seven months, no further delinquent tax warrants were filed — until Sept. 20. On that date, 34 warrants were filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. This time, the warrants weren’t just for allegedly unpaid sales tax. A review of online court records reveal they encompass both sales and withholding taxes. As was the case last winter, each count is pegged to Roadhouse Pizza’s address. Grand total of alleged unpaid taxes is $20,174.12. Warrants range in size from $233.48 to as much as $1,407.18. The judgement/lien dates go back as early as May 26, 2011. These dates refer to the date the original tax bill was mailed, according to Laurel Patrick, spokesperson for the WDOR. “This date does not correspond to either the tax period or the actual due date of the tax period,” she said, later adding, “A tax warrant ... indicates a tax bill was not paid.”


Connelly stated, meanwhile,

the taxes in question remain [sic] with respect to a number unpaid due to a dispute between of proposed WDOR increases, Boca and the WDOR regarding which have been strongly contested by Boca Grande Capital various tax bills. “As with many other Wiscon- and various Boca Entities.” Connelly went on to explain sin businesses, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (‘WDOR’) Boca and its related businesses will, from time to time and at “have been engaged in the disrandom among various Wiscon- pute discussion, resolution, or sin employers, undertake reviews negotiated settlement of various withholding, of and propose sales and use adjustments taxes, and unto the tax reot infrequently, WDOR e m p l o y m e n t ports filed by, and amounts is in error (and more taxes improppaid by, vari- than occasionally in serious er- erly assessed by the WDOR. ous employers At this point, in connection ror) ...” approximately with such reJames Connelly 40 to 50 perports,” Concent of the taxnelly wrote. “In 2011 and 2012, various es disputed by Boca Grande and Boca Entities [referring to its Boca Grande entities have been related businesses] were subject resolved or a settlement amount to review of taxes filed and paid, agreed to. “Boca Grande continues to and in a limited number of cases, proposed adjustments, (including discuss and seek to resolve or increases) in certain taxes were settle all remaining disputed proposed. amounts in good faith with “Not infrequently, WDOR WDOR; Boca Grande believes is in error (and more than oc- all disputed amounts will be casionally in serious error) settled and appropriate amounts [emphasis provided by Connelly] paid prior to Dec. 31, 2012. Some as to additional sums, (taxes, of the remaining open issues penalties and interest) sought by have become unduly compliWDOR from the employer. Such cated because of WDOR’s lack was the case in 2012 and 2012 of understanding of the full im-


from here, however, will not be made public. The WDOR has a policy on not discussing individual cases, and Connelly promised not to offer further comment. “This Memorandum constitutes the only comment that Boca Grande Capital and the Boca Entities will be making to the Commonwealth or anyone else with respect to this matter, now or at any time in the future,” he wrote. As of press time, online court records indicate none of the 34 delinquent tax records have been satisfied.

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plications of the closures of Dos Amigos [sic] and Suds within the past 12 months.” Connelly also described the WDOR’s actions as a way to improve its position in the alleged talks between Boca and WDOR. “In order to secure payment of any sums properly and legally due it, WDOR has filed, as it does in nearly every case where it is engaged in protracted negotiations, a warrant lien against Boca Grande and/or various Boca entities to secure payments, and further, frankly, to enhance its bargaining position in on-going negotiations,” he wrote. Where such negotiations go

continued from page 1

Page 16 - Thursday, November 8, 2012


TAXES/City, county still wait on payments Unpaid taxes include sums from 2010 as well as 2011. Meanwhile, Ripon Renew owes another $126,854.15 to the city of Ripon ($123,168.65 plus interest). This payment, originally due Jan. 31, was aimed at covering costs the city has incurred that are supposed to be covered by property taxes — but aren’t, since Boca’s properties aren’t generating enough property taxes (regardless of whether they’re being paid). Mayor Gary Will confirmed Boca is well informed of this debt — and that nothing has come of repeatedly billing the developer for it. “No, there haven’t been any discussions on it [with the developer] other than he needs to get that paid,” Will said. “He owes the county money, he still owes us ...” Two messages requesting comment were left with Connelly. While he did send a written re-

sponse to the Commonwealth, it addressed only the issue of the sales and withholding taxes (see main story on the front page), but did not address issues of property taxes or the reimbursement to the city. CITY WAITING FOR PAYMENT

To understand how much the developer owes the city, and why, requires a bit of math. Boca — under the name Ripon Renew — entered into a developer’s agreement in October 2009 to rehabilitate numerous downtown buildings. To do so, it was granted up to $8.6 million from a tax increment finance district (TID). Those dollars from the city of Ripon, though, were supposed to be repaid as property values increased on the affected properties, and therefore taxes received by the city

increased. Boca, in fact, guaranteed those property values would increase by a given amount on each property, and even agreed to pay the difference if taxes generated by the properties didn’t meet expectations. Taxes generated by the property values failed to meet the anticipated amounts. So the city is billing Ripon Renew for five different projects that have not brought in the expected revenue — in several instances because the projects have not occurred. “These funds will be used to help make the TID No. 11 debt service payments,” City Administrator Lori Rich said in February, referring to the TID the city created in 2009 that funded the loans made to Ripon Renew. “Every month we’re sending

continued from page 1 out a new bill,” Will said this week. “We bill every month, and we’re charging interest.” In June, though, Connelly issued a press release stating he was working toward bringing in a third party to help complete the cornerstone project: a top-tier hotel. He also identified a handful of other projects that would follow as well. Since that time, however, no visible work has occurred. Will explained the last time he heard from Connelly was at the time of the Ripon Medical Center ground-breaking, which occurred Sept. 24. Last week, Will said at a public panel discussion that city officials met with another investor/developer in early October to explore putting a hotel into the space now occupied by the old Mapes Hotel. He characterized as “true and accurate” the news release Con-

nelly issued in June, stating the developer had identified three possible hotel development partners. Will added “hopefully by the end of the year we can share [the hotel developer’s identity] with the public and business community.” He reiterated that optimism this week. “We’re still in discussions with the developer,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have [good news].” PROPERTY TAXES STILL UNPAID

News from Fond du Lac County, however, is not good. Boca is moving toward having the county foreclose on property it owns under various LLCs. According to Julie Hundertmark, Fond du Lac County treasurer, “Fond du Lac County would start foreclosure proceedings on the 2010 taxes on Sept. 1, 2013,” assuming the 2010 taxes aren’t

LINES/Long lines persisted throughout the day for District 2 pollsters at City Hall. Lines began right at 7 a.m., with voters right out the front door of City Hall. Such lines, as a general rule, did not continue. But District 2 — home of Ripon College — proved an outlier in this area. Ripon College students in particular turned out heavily throughout the day, and many were registering as first-time voters in Ripon. This led to lengthy delays as poll workers handled the extra paperwork. One such poll worker even joked about how two children fell asleep on the floor of City Hall’s Council Chambers while waiting for the line to move early in the voting process. Frequently, voters passing through the front door of City Hall were greeted with a packed lobby. City employee Karen Engel spent much of Tuesday in the hallway directing voters, letting many know the lines they saw weren’t necessarily for them. The many first-time registrants for District 2 also led to City Hall reporting its unofficial results a little later than usual. “District 2 especially didn’t get a chance to run their absentee ballots until after 8 p.m. due to the steady stream of voters throughout the day,” Schommer said Tuesday night after she finally was able to send the results a little after 10 p.m. So, how did Ripon vote? Obama carried three of the four districts within the city of Ripon, falling behind in only District 1. Overall, the president garnered 51.9 percent of the vote (1,926 votes to challenger Mitt Romney’s 1,780) in Ripon. Baldwin, though, finished with a narrower lead locally, leading by just 18 votes (1,780 to 1,762, or 50.2 percent) over Thompson. Petri also won his race with 58.1 percent support over Princeton resident Joe Kallas (2,027 to 1,461). Statewide, the 72-year-old won handily to extend his 33-year streak of representing Wisconsin. Meanwhile, in state races, both incumbent state Sen. Luther Olsen (58.4 percent) and Rep. Joan Ballweg (57.6 percent) carried Ripon. Olsen beat Margerete Worthington 2,071 to 1,473, while Ballweg beat Sorenson 1,947 to 1,428. Both went on to earn another term in their districts (District 14 for Olsen, District 41 for Ballweg). In other local election news, four individuals running for Fond du Lac County offices each swept their races as they ran unopposed. Winning without opposition were Eric Toney for district attorney (2,452 votes), Lisa Freiberg for county clerk (2,758), Julie Hundertmark for county treasurer (2,666) and Patricia Kraus for register of deeds (2,690).

by Tim Lyke

The GOP birthplace’s preference of a Democrat for president is not unprecedented. In fact, Ripon’s selection of President Obama marks the fifth time the city has preferred the blue candidate over his red rival. In each instance except in 2008, the Democrat was an incumbent seeking reelection. It happened most recently four years ago, when Ripon sided with Obama in a 2,042-1,715 win over U.S. Sen John McCain. In 1996, Ripon went with President Clinton for a second term. In that election, it favored


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time Ripon favored Roosevelt. Four years earlier, Ripon gave the nod to Herbert Hoover over Roosevelt 982 to 901. In 1940, Ripon went back to

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the incumbent with 1,380 votes over U.S. Sen. Bob Dole with 1,175. Also a factor in that election was Reform Party candidate and Texas businessman H. Ross Perot, who garnered 349 votes from the city. Another instance of Ripon voting for a Democrat presidential candidate was in 1964, when it gave President Lyndon Johnson a four-vote edge over U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater in a 1,334 to 1,330 cliffhanger. And in 1936, Ripon voters preferred incumbent President Franklin Roosevelt to Kansas Gov. Alf Landon in a 1,148 to 1,125 vote. By the way, that was the only

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paid by then. Exactly how unusual it is to have a property owner be this far behind in its payments is hard to say. According to Hundertmark, “Boca Grande is a prime example of why we are unable to determine how they rank within the county. All parcels owned by Boca Grande are not listed under Boca Grande. “We have other owners that have similar situations. It all depends on how the deed is filed with the Register of Deeds department.” Regardless of whether other county property owners are in a similar situation, Will said last week during the panel that he wishes to see Boca’s obligations met. “We’re working with the developer,” he said, “to remedy that situation.”

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Thursday, December 13, 2012 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Running 4 for School Board It won’t just be incumbents on the ballot next spring, when three Ripon School Board members go up for election. See page 3

Our Views

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin News ly Single copy — $1 pa Thursday, December 13, 2012 of th per e Year

Issue No. 50 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

Ripon, WI 54971

Digester permit pulled on ‘technicality’ UW-Oshkosh Foundation will resubmit so focus is less on Rosendale Dairy by Ian Stepleton

A permit that would have enabled a biodigester be built at Rosendale Dairy has been withdrawn on a technicality — but it will return again soon. Nevertheless, because this permit application now is null and void, a

public hearing set to occur on the issue Friday in Ripon will be cancelled. According to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation, the original air pollution permit application was worded too broadly. Alex Hummel, spokesperson for the university, said the permit didn’t make it clear enough the project is to be built and owned by the foun-

dation, and that its only association as “kind of a technicality.” “The question is, would the existwith Rosendale Dairy and its owner, ing permit look Milk Source, is more broadly at that it’s on the Milk Source,” he dairy’s land. For an editorial related said. “I think it’s “This hapto this story, see “Biodia matter of fopens to be a cus, if you will.” stand-alone proj- gesters: Better option for big News of the ect,” Hummel withdrawal of said Tuesday. dairies,” page 4. the permit de“We need to refile to make sure the permit applica- veloped rapidly, and only days before a public hearing on the issue. tion is specific to the biodigester.” It was Monday afternoon when Hummel described the problem


the UW-Oshkosh Foundation contacted the Wisconsin DNR, which is in charge of the permit process, and cancelled its application. The biodigester — technically a “wet” biodigester — is to be built and owned by the UW-Oshkosh Foundation on the Rosendale Dairy campus, located south of Pickett off County Road M. Plans call for manure created by the 8,400 cattle at Rosendale Dairy

See PERMIT/ page 14

Boca will close America Restaurant by Ian Stepleton

Ready to retire After more than four decades leading Ripon’s wastewater treatment plant, this Riponite is stepping away. See page 4


Next week, America Restaurant will serve customers for the final time. Citing poor customer support, owner Boca Grande Capital LLC has set America’s final day as Friday, Dec. 21. The closure means 11 employees — two full-time and nine parttime — will lose their jobs that day. This marks the third of the four restaurants run by Ripon Restaurant Group — an affiliate of Boca — to close. Early last year, Suds on the Square and Dos Gringos discontinued operations. Opened in 2008, America aimed to be the most upscale of Ripon Restaurant Group’s offerings, but one meant to appeal to residents community-wide. That desire to appeal to all, however, did not translate into steady service, restaurant management said. “From a customer-support standpoint, America hasn’t been doing too well, so yesterday we announced to our staff that, as of Dec. 21, America will close,” Boca principal Frank Cumberbatch said last week Friday. “We had high hopes ...


Israel Ke yes — CA U




See AMERICA/ page 15 ISRAEL KEYES, RIGHT, is interviewed by the FBI — presumably Ripon native Jolene Goeden, left — over the summer. Keyes took his own life last week Sunday. image drawn from video released by FBI

Ripon native helped nab serial killer by Ian Stepleton

He committed suicide in his cell last week Sunday. It later came out his 18-year-old victim’s death A young-ish, female FBI agent sits at an interview was only the last in a string of rapes/murders dating table. back more than a decade. Across the desk is a rather average looking man, According to an FBI press release, “... Keyes is describing horrible deeds. believed to have committed multiple kidnappings In an unsettlingly calm voice, and murders across the country he spins a tale of murder. Of planbetween 2001 and March 2012.” ning and executing horrific acts He admitted to eight such To listen to a portion of an that would haunt most people’s murders during that time, but — interview Keyes did with nightmares. as Jolene said — “Based on other All the while, the FBI agent the FBI, visit www.RiponPress. things he told us we believe the listens, learning from the killer. total number to be around 11 but com and click on the online A scene from “Silence of the it could be more.” version of this story. Lambs?” Maybe. MAKING THE WORLD BETTER But in this story, it’s not Jodie While this was a special case, it’s one of many Foster who’s at the table. investigations Jolene has worked in the nine years or It’s Special Agent Jolene Goeden, a 1991 graduate so she’s been a federal agent. of Ripon High School who led the team that helped She joined the FBI after eight years working with catch Israel Keyes. sexual offenders in a prison. Keyes, 34, of course, was the man whom the “It’s a natural fit [for me],” she said, noting she FBI says raped and murdered an Anchorage, Alaska loves the opportunity it offers. “[The job] is differbarista in February. ent every day. I work primarily in violent crime offenses ... and kidnapping. “I enjoy working cases where I feel like I make a difference. And the puzzle — working a criminal case and putting the pieces together.” Don’t confuse Jolene’s job for the ones you see on TV or the movies, though. “There’s a lot more paperwork than they show on TV,” she laughed. “On TV, everything is quick and they solve things quickly, and they have all this great technology, which [only] some of it exists.” Normally, though, she spends as much time at her desk doing paperwork as out in the field. JOLENE GOEDEN RECEIVES her badge nine years ago when See KILLER/ page 16 submitted photo she joined the FBI.

Helping hand A little pizza, a pat on the back and a lot of cooperation helped bring two Ripon businesses closer together this fall. See page 12


CELEBRATING THE ONE-year anniversary of America Restaurant in 2009 were Kayla Hielke, manager of America, Ian Stepleton photo and Michael Zink, general manager.

Merit-based raises being considered for city staff City also may restrict parking on Hall Street by Ian Stepleton

Making the point What do you get when you multiply two times 1,000? You get two of Ripon College’s most prolific scorers in history. See page 17

In the future, city employees may have the opportunity to earn raises through hard work. The Common Council agreed at its Tuesday meeting to form a committee to investigate the concept of merit-based raises. The issue originally was raised at the council’s final meeting in December, when Ald. Annette Klein objected to giving a flat, 2-percent pay hike to city employees. “I feel this is a disservice to our employees,” Klein said at that time, noting not all employees work equally hard. Most other council members, however, urged it to be passed, viewing it as a cost-of-living increase. Ultimately that raise was OK’d unanimously.

When the issue resurfaced Tuesday, it wasn’t as a look at 2013 pay levels, but to structure a plan at how to offer raises 2014 and beyond. “After last meeting, I had the opportunity to talk to several members from the public works department,” Ald. Howard Hansen said. “They are not against the merit system ... Some even are encouraging it.” To create such a system, though, wouldn’t be a simple process. Within the city of Ripon staff, few positions have more than one person working within a given classification. “There are a lot,” City Administrator Lori Rich said. “Each is pretty much separate.” “There could be 42 classifications for 42 people,” Ald. Jim Werch said. City staff, though, are not discouraging of the idea.

See RAISES/ page 16


Thursday, December 13, 2012 - Page 15

News AMERICA/Goodbye party being planned for last day

Ripon Medical Center is offering a free support group for those living with a variety of cardiac concerns Tuesday, Dec. 18. The group will meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Green Lake Room on the hospital’s lower level. The “Healing Hearts” Cardiac Support Group is focused on helping those living with a chronic heart condition, or after a heart attack or heart surgery. The group is also open to anyone interested in reducing their risk of heart disease and is free of charge. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, there are things people can do to help reduce their risk for heart concerns. “Healing Hearts” meetings are designed to offer emotional support and education for patients, families and anyone whose life has been touched by heart issues. For more information about the program, call 748-9174.

Nonprofits may apply for grants for seniors Nonprofit organizations that serve the needs of the older population from Ripon and beyond may apply for grants from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. To be considered for funding, applicants must show that programs will improve the health and wellbeing of low-income residents age 55 and older in the Oshkosh area. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded in April 2013. Larger grants for capital campaigns also will be considered. Support for this grant program is provided by the Ladies Benevolent Society: Advocates for Older Adults Funds, a field of interest fund with the Community Foundation. Applications are due by Feb. 1, 2013. Apply online. For more information, call director of programs Amy Putzer at 920-426-3993 or The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization created by and for the people of Winnebago County, Waushara County, Green Lake County and Ripon.

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he said. “That may be someone coming in and purchasing it outright; it may even include us taking some time and stepping back and looking at it, at what its future may be. “But we’re hoping that a restaurant — we don’t know in which form — a restaurant will continue in that space, because we believe choice [is important].” Cumberbatch added no particular action or event led to America Restaurant closing now, as opposed to weeks ago or years from now. There was no “final straw,” he said. “It’s a decision based

Express & Press

on, we wanted the opportunity to step back from it. If it keeps going as it is ... it doesn’t allow you to explore options for it” such as selling or leasing the building. The decision wasn’t reached capriciously, either, he explained. “Alisa [Zabel of Ripon Restaurant Group] and I spent a lot of time analyzing and thinking about what we’re going to do,” Cumberbatch said. “It’s not a simple decision. We thought about it for quite a bit. “It was extremely [difficult] because we do not take lightly the people we have working for

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been,” she said, adding hours will remain the same through Dec. 21: Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to close. America also plans to have one last shindig for its customers. “We did decide we will treat the last day of business as a customer-appreciation event,” Zabel said. “We want to say thank you to a lot of loyal customers,” Cumberbatch said. “They deserve a formal thanks from us.” Details on what that will entail have not yet been set. “We want,” Zabel said, “to end on a positive note.”

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us — all the staff. People who ... wake up every day and know they have a place to work. This was extremely difficult for us to do.” Staff were told last week Thursday prior to opening. “It was somber,” Cumberbatch said. “Our staff is a loyal bunch. We have guys in that conversation there almost since day one.” Those with holiday parties scheduled should not worry about losing their bookings, Zabel explained. “We do have a couple Christmas parties booked and all will ... be treated as they would have

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He added closing America has no effect on any Boca development or plans either. “No ripple effects at all,” Cumberbatch said. “Completely mutually exclusive of any other events or projects.” America Restaurant never was a part of the developer’s agreement Boca entered into with the city of Ripon for downtown redevelopment, and therefore its closure will not have any aftereffects elsewhere. Closing it, Cumberbatch explained, enables Boca to make decisions about what is best for that property moving forward. “By closing it, it allows us to think about what’s next for it,”

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“It saddens us deeply. Our staff at the restaurant have been extremely loyal. I still believe, and our loyal customers proved it, the establishment served great food, in a great space.” This leaves Roadhouse Pizza as the final restaurant owned by Boca to continue operating. Cumberbatch emphasized Boca has no intention of closing it. “The action that we took at America has absolutely no bearing on Roadhouse — Roadhouse is doing well,” he said. “We are very happy with our staff, our service, our food and most importantly with the support of the community.”

continued from page 1

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Search For superintendent The search firm retained by the school district held a session Monday to gather information from the public. What was missing? The public. See page 3

Our Views

Issue No. 4 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin News ly Single copy — $1 pa Thursday, January 24, 2013 of th per e Year

Ripon, WI 54971

Board flips, gives Hoh 2 more years Principal denied OK to live out of town last month, but now given go-ahead until 2015 by Aaron Becker

Just one month ago, members of the Ripon Area School Board sent a message to middle school Principal Tom Hoh: Either move to the district, or else you’re likely gone at the end of this school year. That’s because the board had recently created an official “residency requirement” for adminis-

trators, and then rejected Hoh’s request for a permanent waiver (with Hoh living in Oshkosh). Now things have changed. In closed session Monday, the board switched course and gave Hoh a contract extension with a “temporary extension of nonresidency.” Basically, this decision allows Hoh to keep his position until at least June 2015, without having to live in the Ripon Area School

District. This, district officials s a y, w i l l minimize administrative turnover and offer steady leadership for a young charTom Hoh ter school and staff at the middle school, rather than having to search for a new principal and superintendent at the same time. Board members granted the residency extension on a 5-3 vote,

with David Olson, Dan Zimmerman and Heather Hartling in opposition. In favor of granting the residency waiver were President Andy Lyke, Tom Stellmacher, Gary Rodman, David Scott and Barb Schultz. This residency waiver is listed as “temporary,” meaning it ends when Hoh’s contract expires in 2015 — although a future board could still decide to extend this further or eliminate the residency policy altogether. “The intention is this will be the end of [Hoh’s ‘rolling grace period’], but the board can’t say

that definitively because any future board could do whatever they wanted to do,” Superintendent Richard Zimman said. Hoh was hired in 2009 with the understanding that he’d move to the district, but the board has granted a year-by-year “rolling grace period” to account for his housing situation. In a news bulletin emailed Tuesday, Zimman outlined this week’s decision: “After denying a permanent residency waiver last month for

See HOH/ page 13

Apartments could be built near downtown by Ian Stepleton

Street and the chamber (as well as housing its water department there). Ripon may be on the verge of No longer. getting a new apartment building “We do have a party interjust outside downtown, though ested [in that site], so in order city officials aren’t yet prepared to sell it to this entity, we need to discuss many specifics of the to declare it surplus,” City Adpotential development. ministrator Lori Rich said at last But the likelihood of its con- week Wednesday’s Plan Comstruction has encouraged the mission meeting. city to tell its water depart“We are getting ready for ment, the Ripon Area Chamber the potential sale of property of Commerce in the future,” and Ripon Mayor Gary e do have a party inter- W i l l s a i d . Main Street that they may ested [in that site] so ... “This gives us need to find the OK to conwe need to declare it surplus.” new homes. tinue to move Lori Rich, city administrator f o r w a r d [ i n Each of those entities discussions use space in with the decity-owned buildings at 123 veloper].” and 127 Jefferson St. Those are Officials, though, are offering buildings donated to the city few details about the identity by Smucker’s when Smucker’s and nature of this development. vacated its downtown offices “It would be residential apartfor newer space in the city’s ments,” Rich said, noting 24 industrial park. units are planned. For the past seven years, the It’s being proposed by a decity made money off the buildings by renting them to Main See APARTMENTS/ page 15

Half a century That’s about how long Ruth Hebbe packed cookies at the cookie factory without missing a day of work. See page 4


Farewell ... As Green Lake readies to say goodbye to its chamber director, it’s taking steps to find out who is the right person to fill her shoes. See page 7



Boca pays off liens to state by Ian Stepleton

A downtown Ripon developer has paid in full more than $20,000 in back sales and withholding taxes owed to the state of Wisconsin. Last fall, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (WDOR) filed 34 liens against Boca Grande Capital LLC for these unpaid taxes. With penalty and interest, the total came to $20,174.12. At the time, Boca principal Jim Connelly — in whose name the liens were filed — explained Boca was in the midst of a “dispute” with the WDOR regarding some “open issues” that have led to the situation. Though Boca may have disputed the charges, it ended up paying the full amount owed over a series of dates in December and January. The majority of those payments came Jan. 10 and 14. Delinquent tax warrants are liens against property. This occurs only after the state has exhausted other, less forceful measures of trying to collect the back taxes, according to the WDOR. “Generally, the department sends a bill with a due date. Once the due date passes, the department will then send a notice of overdue tax that includes potential next steps, including the possibility of filing a tax warrant,” said Laurel Patrick, spokesperson for the

See BOCA/ page 15

Kindred spirits on the court RIPON STUDENTS HAD a chance to experience life with a disability during a program at Barlow Park Elementary School and Ripon Middle School last week. It was a presentation put on by Ripon Middle School phy ed teacher (and wheelchair basketball Paralympian) Nate Hinze and several of his friends who play the sport. Above, Barlow Park second-grader Ella Weiske is overjoyed to make friends with some kindred spirits, alongside her aide, Barlow Park staff member Katie Ulrich. Right, students try their hand at wheelchair basketball. Gavin Morrison makes a shot with students Emily Voight and Dawson Niemuth looking on. Read the full story and see more photos on page 9. photos by Jonathan Bailey

City began investigating Silver Creek stink two years ago 300! It’s not just a Hollywood movie — it’s an achievement reached by the Ripon College women’s basketball coach. See page 17

by Ian Stepleton

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part story detailing an environmental issue discovered in the city of Ripon. For the past couple years, one smelly stretch of Silver Creek immediately east of Pacific

Street has puzzled researchers. Their study has found why it smells: a gray slime that emits hydrogen sulfide (H2S). But why now? Why would an otherwise healthy stream suddenly turn sour? It’s a question that continues to baffle the DNR, according to Roxanne Chronert, the DNR’s Northeast Region remediation

and redevelopment team supervisor. “Something had to change for these odors to suddenly [appear],” she said. The first reports of a strange odor were made two years ago. According to a timeline put together by the city of Ripon, “[In] November 2010, the Department of Public Works re-

ceived complaints of sewage odors from Silver Creek ... Investigation noted odor and creek bed discoloration issues.” Early on, city crews assumed the issue was related to city sewers. Sewer lines were checked, but no breaks were found in any adjacent lines. Water samples taken also

made it unlikely sewer lines were at issue as no fecal bacteria was found in the water. “The test results were an indication to the city that the issue was not a result of leaking sewage collection or other items within the city’s control,” the city report stated.

See CREEK/ page 16

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - Page 15


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APARTMENTS/No news on plans ’til April veloper from outside the community, she added. “We should know by the end of April” if it’s going to occur, Rich said. “We’ve been in the process [of working with the developer] for a few months,” Will said. Recent Common Council agendas bear this out. The Nov. 26, 2012 council agenda detailed the council going into closed session for the following exemption: “Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties ... whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session: Consider option to purchase city-owned property (123 Jefferson).” An earlier meeting in November also referenced a closedsession discussion about an “option to purchase city-owned property.” WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CURRENT TENANTS?

The current renters of the Jefferson Street buildings will not be out in the cold, though, city officials insist. “We do have plans for an addition to the wastewater treatment plant,” Rich said of where the water department will be relocated. “And the chamber and Main Street are aware there is an interested party. They have an idea of where they want to go.”

BOCA/ continued from page 1 WDOR back in November, when the liens were filed. “The department tries to work with the taxpayer to pay their account in full, and if this is not possible, we will allow an installment agreement.” Connelly, however, had a different take on the situation in November. “As with many other Wisconsin businesses, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (‘WDOR’) will, from time to time and at random among various Wisconsin employers, undertake reviews of and propose adjustments to the tax reports filed by, and amounts paid by, various employers in connection with such reports,” Connelly wrote in a letter to the Commonwealth last fall. “In 2011 and 2012, various Boca Entities [referring to its related businesses] were subject to review of taxes filed and paid, and in a limited number of cases, proposed adjustments, (including increases) in certain taxes were proposed. “Not infrequently, WDOR is in error (and more than occasionally in serious error) [emphasis provided by Connelly] as to additional sums, (taxes, penalties and interest) sought by WDOR from the employer. Such was the case in 2012 and 2012 [sic] with respect to a number of proposed WDOR increases, which have been strongly contested by Boca Grande Capital and various Boca Entities.” Connelly described the liens as a way for the state “to enhance its bargaining position in on-going negotiations.” He went on to add, “Boca Grande continues to discuss and seek to resolve or settle all remaining disputed amounts in good faith with WDOR; Boca Grande believes all disputed amounts will be settled and appropriate amounts paid prior to Dec. 31, 2012.” Regardless of whether they were disputed, Boca paid the exact amount the state sought, though not necessarily by Dec. 31. About 25 percent were paid on Dec. 10, 2012, with the remaining coming in the two weeks after the new year. As of press time, Connelly had not responded to a message to comment on the issue.

“Are the chamber and Main Street OK with moving?” Plan Commission member Steve Riemer asked. “Yes,” Rich said. “They knew the property could be sold eventually.” “I’m not worried,” Main Street manager Craig Tebon said last week Thursday, though he admitted his organization “doesn’t have any definite plans” for its next location. “There have been some discussions with Main Street, and some discussions with the chamber about where is the best location. We probably are a few months out from really addressing that issue. “We have roughly six months; we won’t know until mid-April


This may not be the only big development on the horizon as well. At the end of last week Wednesday’s Plan Commission meeting, Will hinted alluded to at least one more prospective development, describing it as a “good thing happening” for the city of Ripon. Though he was not ready to share what this was, he urged Plan Commission members to be certain they attend the next meeting so a quorum is there to deal with whatever the issue is.


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continued from page 1

plans right now; we’re working with Main Street. We have to see what comes up, but we have nothing concrete in mind.”

[if the apartment development is occurring].” Though no future location is set, Tebon said Main Street “can be anywhere; we have a surplus of vacant buildings.” Cost, he explained, will play heavily into that decision. “We don’t have a huge budget, so we have to figure out what we can do economically,” Tebon said. The chamber is in the same boat. “We always knew this was not going to be a permanent home for us,” said Paula Price, executive director of the chamber. “We appreciate the city accommodating us for as long as they have. “We don’t have any specific

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Thursday, February 14, 2013 - Page 1

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin News ly Single copy — $1 pa Thursday, February 14, 2013 of th per e Year

❤ INSIDE Boca payments fall further behind Trial

Starts Tuesday Lee Stellmacher, accused of trying to hire someone to commit murder, goes on trial starting Tuesday, Feb. 19. See page 3

Our Views

Issue No. 7 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

Developer now owes more than $500k to city, county by Ian Stepleton

A downtown developer has fallen another year behind — more then half a million dollars worth — in payments due to both the city of Ripon and Fond du Lac County.

All told Boca Grande Capital LLC now owes the city of Ripon more than $300,000 for two grantreimbursement payments missed, and hundreds of thousands of dollars more to Fond du Lac County for several years worth of unpaid property taxes.

“Those have not come in,” City Administrator Lori Rich said. The developer, meanwhile, says it intends to make good on the payments, though it has not told the city when. “We met with the developer, and we continue to meet with him and try to encourage projects to move forward in any way we can,” Rich said, noting she met with Boca principal Jim Connelly as recently as last week Wednesday. “... Yes, they do

still intend to pay those amounts and have identified a couple of sources that could help them come up with funds to pay these. “They did not give a timetable.” The Commonwealth attempted to contact Connelly for comment as well, but found he retired from his position as a partner at the Milwaukee offices of Foley & Lardner as of Feb. 1. A secretary there who works with retired partners forwarded on

Ripon, WI 54971

the message to Connelly, and later returned the following message with a demand from Connelly that it run exactly as written: “Despite repeated attempts by The Ripon Commonwealth to portray Boca Grande Capital in the worst possible light, the City of Ripon leadership, recognizing the challenges inherent in the worst economy in more than 75 years, has worked

See BOCA/ page 18

Divisive politico visits Ripon

Officer nearly injured during recent pursuit by Ian Stepleton

A moving story A move to Indiana last fall for the Rev. Mark West came right when he needed it: just in time for him to get a new doctor, who found cancer. See page 4


Plenty to give The Webster Foundation board shows it can be fun to give away tens of thousands of dollars to the community. See page 14


Tourney time The Tiger boys’ basketball team is charging into the tournament strong with another victory in its pocket. See page 19

A Ripon Police officer is lucky to be alive after a Milwaukee man allegedly almost ran him over as the suspect fled authorities. Now Kevin A. Taylor, 20, is being charged with multiple counts in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court. Meanwhile, Kevin A. Taylor individuals at a Ripon home also may face drugrelated charges after the chase for Taylor led to a search warrant served at a Ransom Street home. For now, however, the charges against Taylor include: ‰ First-degree recklessly endangering safety-repeater (a felony), ‰ Attempting to flee or elude a traffic officer-repeater (a felony) ‰ Possession of marijuanarepeater (a misdemeanor), and ‰ Possession of drug paraphernalia-repeater (a misdemeanor). If convicted on all four counts, he could face a maximum penalty of $36,500 in fines and more than 30 1/2 years in prison. Additionally, he could lose his driver’s license for as many as 10 1/2 years. “[The officer is doing] good — he wasn’t injured at all,” Ripon Police Capt. Bill Wallner said of officer Timothy Schroeder’s condition after nearly being gravely injured during the chase. “It’s fortunate because it very well could have ended up with him being injured or having to use deadly force.” He later added, “The charges this kid [Taylor] is facing are appropriate. He was charged as a repeater — that goes to show this is not his first go-around.” HIGH-SPEED CHASE INTO CITY

The alleged incident began last week Wednesday at 1:50 a.m. when Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department deputy Laura Halfmann pulled over a vehicle she’d witnessed travelling at 71 mph along Highway 23 near County Road C west of Fond du Lac. According to the criminal complaint, “Halfmann [asked Taylor] if he had any form of identification and the male said he did not ... Halfmann smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and directed the driver to exit the vehicle. “... The driver put his vehicle in drive and sped away.” The pursuit flew through Rosendale, with the vehicles reaching 75 mph in the 25 mph zone, according to the complaint, which added, “A northbound semi had to stop at the intersection to allow the suspect vehicle through.” Once past Rosendale, speeds increased to nearly 100 mph, even

See OFFICER/ page 16

KARL ROVE VISITS Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse last week Wednesday prior to speaking at Ripon College. Pictured are, from left, Rove, Ripon College senior Jacqui Michalak, Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Paula Price, Ripon College first-year student Logan Soich and Ripon College Professor Lamont Colucci. Ian Stepleton photo

Rove touches on economy, 9-11, more in talk at college by Tim Lyke

Karl Rove encouraged Ripon College students last week to follow his lead: “Participate in the great drama of America’s democracy.” The campaign strategist and White House advisor to President George W. Bush told the 325 gathered in Harwood Memorial Union last week that politics is meaningful, exciting and seriously fun. During his almost 90-minute appearance, he discussed: ‰ How President Obama won last November; For an editorial related ‰ Why he’s “bullish” about the GOP’s future; to this story, see “U.S. de‰ The moment when, listening in mocracy stinks of cash cows,” to a call President Bush received on page 4. 9-11, he realized that America was in grave danger; ‰ How the Affordable Care Act already is proving to be more expensive than the White House had predicted; ‰ Why the Tea Party’s future is “durable;” ‰ The precautions interrogators must make to assure their captives are not tortured; ‰ Why more Latinos should vote Republican; ‰ Media that mask their liberal bias behind claims of objectivity. Open to college students, staff and faculty as well as the greater Ripon community, Rove’s visit was sponsored by Ripon College Republicans and


See POLITICO/ page 17

KARL ROVE SPEAKS to a crowd of about 325 at Ripon Aaron Becker photo College’s Harwood Memorial Union.

Experts sought to solve Silver Creek mystery by Ian Stepleton

Why does Silver Creek stink near Pacific Street? The DNR still doesn’t know, but it’s taking steps to reduce the odor — as well as find out what’s going on. And those steps may mean bringing in a company from out of state to do some work. Last week, the DNR received

the results of tests it had the State Laboratory of Hygiene run on two samples it took from Silver Creek: one from the surface of the creek, and one directly from a “seep” where groundwater is flowing into the creek. What did the results tell the DNR? Essentially that it needs more information before identifying the true nature of the problem. That doesn’t mean it’s going

to wait the months it will take to officially solve the mystery before it does something about the stink, though. DNR officials will be moving forward on two tracks, the second being finding a way of mitigating the problem currently as it seeks the overall source. BACKGROUND ON THE ISSUE

It’s been a long road for those investigating the odor already.

The search began two years ago, when neighbors around the Pacific Street area started complaining of a sewer-like smell. Later, the city of Ripon found a gray slime had appeared at a rocky outcropping adjacent to the creek just east of Pacific Street. The slime, otherwise known as sulfur-reducing bacteria, is emitting hydrogen sulfide (H2S)— a

See CREEK/ page 16

Page 18 - Thursday, February 14, 2013


BOCA/Payments were due Jan. 31 cooperatively with Boca Grande in addressing thoughtfully and proactively these matters. Boca Grande Capital, LLC has kept City of Ripon leadership fully and continuously apprised as to its positive progress under the Development Agreement with the City. As the City is well aware, it is the clear intent of Boca Grande Capital that all outstanding payments, interest, and penalties currently due to the City of Ripon and to Fond du Lac County will be addressed and paid in full not later than September 1, 2013.” He then concluded his note with the following message: “This statement must be utilized by you and the Commonwealth exactly as it appears above, without editing or modification of any kind. Boca Grande Capital, LLC will have no other written or oral comments to you or the Commonwealth on these matters at any time.” PAYMENTS MISSED TO CITY

This is the second-straight year Boca has failed to make its grantreimbursement payment to the city of Ripon. This payment is meant to help the city make debt-service payments for tax-increment finance district (TID) No. 11 — a district the city created in 2009 that funded the loans made to Boca Grande. Boca, meanwhile, is obligated to make grant reimbursement payments under the terms of the development agreement it signed at that time with the city. As a part of that agreement, the city took out more than $10 million in loans so it could provide Boca with $8.6 million for its development work. The city’s ability to pay for those loans, though, was tied directly to the amount of additional property taxes the city expected to collect from the properties involved. So, in the developer’s agreement the city and Boca signed, each project has an expected payback schedule. This schedule represents how much the city must bring in to pay for interest-only payments early on, and later principal and interest payments on the loans. Regardless of whether a project moves forward or whether its value reaches projected levels, the developer’s agreement obligates Boca to cover these amounts. Projects have not moved forward

as expected, meaning this clause in the developer’s agreement has come into play, and Boca must make grant reimbursement payments. Last year, Boca missed a payment of $123,168.65. With interest, that figure now has grown to $128,096.15. Then, on Jan. 31, a second payment was missed: $183,636.91. This brings the total Boca owes to the city to $311,733.06. “At this point, it’s not creating a problem,” Rich said of how the city does not yet need to take money from the tax rolls to offset the dollars Boca is supposed to be paying to the city’s loans. “There are four other TIF districts ... that are sharing with TID No. 11, so that helps prevent a shortfall. “Even if we assumed no increase in [property] values with the TID, it would be more than five to 10 years before a problem occurred, and any development in the downtown TID ... creates additional increment [to pay off the loans].” Meanwhile, Rich explained the city is optimistic at least one change could be coming downtown as well. “Jim Connelly is continuing to work with another developer, and there seems to be some movement forward, albeit slowly,” she said, referring to a new developer taking over the flagship project Boca proposed: a downtown hotel. “The next step is for him to request an amendment to the developer’s agreement [that would allow someone else to do that work].” Whether that has occurred yet is unclear; the Common Council met Tuesday night in closed session to discuss “Conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written evidence concerning strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved — re: Ripon Renew Inc. Development Agreement.” Ripon Renew is another Bocarelated entity created for downtown development.

Parent Information Sessions Learn about the new Journey Charter School and Barlow Park Elementary School

continued from page 1

ceived any property taxes from Boca Grande in years. Delinquent taxes remain from both the 2010 and 2011 tax years — and now 2012 has been added to that list. Exactly how much Boca owes to the count, however, is not clear. As of late Tuesday morning, Fond du Lac County Treasurer Julie Hundertmark told the Commonwealth her office was running into software issues that prevented her from pulling up an accurate number. As of Nov. 30, 2012, however, she’d told the Commonwealth Boca owed $256,332.07 in back taxes, penalty and interest. That number, however, has grown substantially since then. The total would need to add on property taxes for all its properties for 2012, as well as additional penalty and interest for past years and for February of this year.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Weather White-out driving Blowing snow Tuesday led to numerous accidents throughout the Ripon area as drivers had a difficult time seeing. See page 3

Our Views

20 Wisc 11 on Week sin Single copy — $1 News ly Thursday, February 21, 2013 pa of th per e Year

Issue No. 8 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

33 freight cars Attorney: He was set up stole her legs

Trial gets underway for area man accused of trying to hire a hit man by Aaron Becker

(But they gave her so much more)

Spell-bound This Ripon kid proves it isn’t easy trying to bee the best speller — especially when your rivals keep getting tossed softballs. See page 4

Plenty to give For the past year, this Ripon kid has toured the area educating kids about FFA. So, what has he learned? See page 9


Locked in This Tiger grappler secured a trip to the state wrestling tournament this weekend with his third-place finish See page 19

The defense attorney for a Green Lake County man who allegedly tried to hire a hit man maintains her client was set up. That’s the argument made for Lee H. Stellmacher when his trial began Tuesday in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court. Stellmacher, 62, N6860 Forest Ridge Road in rural Green Lake, is accused of attempting to hire a hit man in an alleged plot to kill a nemesis from Indiana (Rick Parks) and have a local man beaten up (Jason Garrett). In 2011, at the time of these alleged plots, Stellmacher was involved in legal disputes with both men. Parks and Garrett sat in the courtroom Tuesday, with Garrett taking the stand as the opening witness late in the day. Parks also is likely to testify. Stellmacher’s two-person defense team, led by attorney Robin Shellow of Milwaukee, wasted no time laying a foundation. “My client was set up,” Shellow told the court during morning jury

See TRIAL/ page 16

KRISTEN ANDERSON DESCRIBES how her seemingly perfect life darkened after she lost Tim Lyke photo three friends and her grandmother within 18 months, and was then raped.

Woman tells how she turned around her life by Tim Lyke


Ripon, WI 54971

She lost her legs but gained a soul. That’s how Kristen Anderson looks back on her attempted suicide on a railroad track as 33 freight cars raced at 50 miles per hour over the lower half of her body. She was 17 years old then, back in January 2000. The 30-year-old lived to tell an almost full Ripon High School auditorium last week of her journey from the depths of depression and despair to being lifted up by a God she has come to know and trust, personally and completely. Her appearance was sponsored by Ripon and Green Lake area churches and a few individuals.

Board sets pay range for next district superintendent by Aaron Becker

Ripon’s new school superintendent — whoever that may be — likely could earn significantly less than Superintendent Richard Zimman, at least to start. Monday evening, members of the Ripon Area School Board agreed to post the salary range at $117,000 to $135,000 after about a 10-minute discussion. Zimman’s 2012-13 salary is $146,768, plus benefits of about $31,000, according to an openrecords request made this week. Zimman recently announced his retirement effective June 30, after 40 years in education and nine years heading the Ripon Area School District. The School Board is undertaking a search process. Monday, board member David Scott opened the discussion by suggesting the board post a range of $117,000 to $130,000 for Zimman’s replacement. Board member Gary Rodman seemed to agree with the wide span. “I believe it’s in the board’s interest to give as broad a range

See RANGE/ page 14

Heidi Viars of Terrace Shores Church initiated the event. Anderson explained that she enjoyed a “normal childhood” until five deaths over 18 months interrupted her relatively carefree adolescence. During her junior and senior years in an Illinois high school, she lost friends to a car crash, motorcycle accident, brain tumor and a suicide. Also, her grandmother died. In addition, she was stalked by two young men and raped by another. “I spiralled into a deep, deep depression,” she said. Anderson began skipping school, smoking, drinking and violating curfew.

See LEGS/ page 18

LEE STELLMACHER TAKES a seat during the outset of his trial Tuesday in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court. Aaron Becker photo

Fire district taps Ill. man as chief by Ian Stepleton

If Riponites had one complaint about their last fire chief, it was that he didn’t stay long. The Ripon Area Fire District’s (RAFD) next chief, Tim Saul, does not plan to make the same mistake. “I don’t want to be the chief here for two years, five years,” he said Monday, when his was announced as Ripon’s top firefighter. “I want to be chief here 10 years, 15 years. I want to be a part of the community, and

See CHIEF/ page 17 TIM SAUL leans against the command vehicle he soon will be driving for the Ripon Area Fire District. Ian Stepleton photo

If taxes unpaid, Boca foreclosures start Sept. 1 by Ian Stepleton

Last week, a downtown developer stated he planned to get caught up on several years of back taxes as of Sept. 1. According to Fond du Lac County, Boca Grande Capital LLC must — at least if it doesn’t want to lose its properties to foreclosure. “Fond du Lac County will begin foreclosure on the outstanding 2010 taxes on Sept. 1, 2013,” said Julie Hundertmark, county treasurer. The former Mapes Hotel, which Boca had planned to raze and build

part of its Ripon Inn & Spa, is not among the properties at risk of foreclosure this year. “We will not foreclose on [one] parcel ... in the name of 301 Watson Street LLC because the taxes were omitted on the tax roll for that year and the certificate wasn’t issued until Sept. 1, 2012,” she said. But many other properties are eligible for foreclosure. Hundertmark’s office calculated the total Boca now owes on those properties in back taxes late last week: $446,549.89. That’s the amount Boca now owes, including interest and penalty,

assuming it pays by Feb. 28. Technically, Boca Grande Capital LLC isn’t the only entity that owes these taxes. Because of how Connelly set up ownership of the various properties that were to be developed downtown, there actually are five LLCs at play: ‰ Boca Grande ‰ Bulldog Capital LLC ‰ Ripon Inn & Spa Land LLC ‰ 301 Watson Street LLC ‰ 303-305 Watson Street LLC. Connelly, however, could avoid foreclosure at these properties without paying off the full amount.

“If they pay off the oldest debts each year, they will avoid foreclosure activity,” Hundertmark said. The Commonwealth did not contact Boca principal Jim Connelly for comment on this story at his request. Last week, Connelly stated in a written response to the paper, “Boca Grande Capital, LLC will have no other written or oral comments to you or the Commonwealth on these matters at any time.” Boca also continues to owe the city of Ripon $311,733.06 for two grant-reimbursement payments missed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press



20 20 Wisc 12 Wisc 11 onsin on Single copy — $1 Week Week sin l y News News ly Thursday, April 11, 2013 pape pa r of th of th per e e Year Year

Issue No. 15 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

Who will be superintendent? Decision likely made today; check for latest

One dies in incident A Rosendale man died last week Friday by his own hand after he apparently set fire to his downtown home on purpose. See page 3

by Aaron Becker

A decision on Ripon’s choice for a new school superintendent could be made late this morning (Wednesday), after press time. New information will be posted at A closed-session meeting of the School Board was scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Meanwhile, the two finalists both visited Ripon schools and held a meet-andgreet with community members last week, on separate days. They are Kyle Ransom and Mary Whitrock. Both appeared with their spouses. Ransom is superintendent of the 615-student Gillett School District, located northwest of Green Bay. Whitrock is the chief academic officer for the nearly 21,000-student Green Bay Area School District. The search process comes as Ripon’s superintendent, Richard Zimman, will



Mary Whitrock

Not so nice An impromptu ice storm surprised Riponites this morning (Wednesday), as power lines and tree limbs fell all over the community. See page 6


Not small ball For local kids such as this Ripon girl, there’s no better way to enjoy a school day than to be pelted by an orange ball. See page 10


New conference? It’s really early in the talks, but Ripon could end up in a new conference, facing some old friends. See page 19

Ripon, WI 54971

Kyle Ransom

City is seeking How To Collect Evidence grant to tear down with Investigator Lindsey Michels Boca’s Mapes Hotel by Ian Stepleton

The Ripon Common Council hopes to schedule a special meeting for early May to consider whether to Five years ago, the former Davis allow city staff to apply for a grant Hotel was to be the cornerstone of from the Wisconsin Economic DeBoca Grande Capital LLC’s plans to velopment Corp. (WEDC). rehabilitate downtown Ripon. The council will meet Thursday Plans called for it to be part of at 7:30 a.m. at City Hall, at which a grand hotel and spa, touted to be time it plans to schedule a speamong the best cial meeting for in Wisconsin. Tuesday, May 7 Now, the city e would be request- at 7 p.m. for a may be on the public hearing ing $500,000.” verge of acquirand a vote on ing 300 Watson City Administrator Lori Rich whether to apply St. — and tearfor the grant. ing it down. The grant is offered by WEDC’s It’s currently owned by Boca. public infrastructure, community But such an action would only be facility and downtown redevelopthe first step toward a different de- ment program. veloper creating a hotel on that site. “We would be requesting “It’s something we’ve been work- $500,000,” City Administrator Lori ing on for a while,” Mayor Gary Rich said. Will said. The money would be used for Between now and then, however, acquisition of the site by the city, remains one formidable hurdle: the See HOTEL/ page 18 state.


CHN may follow RMC’s lead, merge with Agneisan by Ian Stepleton

Before joining with Agnesian HealthCare, Ripon Medical Center (RMC) and Community Health Network (CHN) explored merging a few years ago. Nothing came of it — yet in a few months, t h e y could become sister organizations anyway. CHN and Agnesian have entered talks that could lead to an affiliation — but one CHN officials say would be markedly different than the one RMC entered into with Agnesian. “It’s very early [in the discussions], quite honestly,” said John Feeney, president and CEO of CHN. “This is not an affiliation like you saw ... in Ripon. This is not where they are coming in and buying our organization. “What we’re considering as a board is allowing Agnesian

to come in and invest into our organization.” He said this would give Agnesian “up to 50 percent” equity in CHN. If both sides are amenable, the affiliation could be complete within the next six to 12 months. “We believe, if we combine our resources to serve our communities, w e w i l l provide better health care close to residents in Ripon, Berlin and the surrounding communities than we can do on our own,” said Steve Little, president and CEO of Agnesian HealthCare. Regardless of whether such an agreement is reached, though, it’s not expected to negatively impact health-care offerings in Ripon. Actually, according to both organizations, an affiliation could lead to more traffic at RMC.

See MERGE/ page 17

Participants in the Ripon Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy learned last week Wednesday how to collect evidence and investigate crimes from Investigator Lindsey Michels (pictured above). Here are a few tips on how to bag evidence. To find about other investigative techniques learned by the students, visit and select “Ripon Police Citizen Academy” from under the “News” drop-down menu.


Bag and label the evidence Jon Heatley fills out an evidence bag after “collecting” a piece of evidence during last week’s class at City Hall.

Seal it up Citizen Academy students Lori and Gary Will work on sealing their evidence bag with “duct tape”-style evidence tape.


2 photos and graphic by Ian Stepleton

Name a guilty party? This is almost the correct way of signing off on an evidence bag. The officer collecting evidence is supposed to date and number the bag over the edge of the evidence tape. But it’s supposed to be initialled — and not say, “Gary is Guilty.”

For more tips,visit

HOTEL/ continued from page 1 demolition of the historic hotel building and for utility issues surrounding the work. Dollars are awarded as a matching grant, though it’s not yet determined how much the city would be responsible to match, Rich explained. “We have some idea where the funds would come from — most likely the TIF [tax increment finance district], but that’s not formulated yet,” she said, referring to the funding mechanism the city used to give loans and grants of about $7 million to Boca back in 2009. The amount allocated for Boca was $8.6 million, but the city held some of that back to see if progress would occur on the Ripon Inn & Spa. Since no work has occurred, the final $1.75 million were not awarded. Instead, some of the interest accrued from holding on to those funds has been used for legal fees dealing with Boca over the past couple years. Then, $1.5 million was returned to the bank when the loans the city took out were refinanced. About $250,000 still remains available from the district, from which the city may draw the matching funds. There’s no guarantee, however, the city will ever reach the point of needing the funds. Multiple issues remain: ‰ The other developer has not yet agreed to do the project, and is awaiting several things first — that issue remains the subject of negotiations; ‰ The Common Council first must approve applying for the grant; ‰ WEDC must approve the grant, and ‰ The Common Council likely would need to agree to modify the developer’s agreement with Boca, which required Boca to complete the Ripon Inn & Spa. “We won’t be changing anything on that developer’s agreement unless it puts the city in a better position — financially and for the future,” Will said. It’s also not clear whether Boca has agreed to sell 300 Watson St.; when asked, Rich said she could not comment on that aspect of the situation. “This is in preparation in case something moves forward,” Rich said of why the city will discuss applying for the grant. “... As you know, [Boca principal] Jim Connelly has given us the OK to work with another developer. To assist this other developer with the project, this would be part.” “Anything that can happen there and create any kind of tax base and create revenue is better [than where the city is at now],” Will said of needing tax revenue from improvements on the property. How this would impact the existing developer’s agreement, however, is not clear. Rich described that issue as being “very much closed session.” And there is no guarantee the city can obtain the grant as well. “The WEDC has encouraged us to apply soon because there are more grant requests than funding, so the state is considering a moratorium on future applications, so they want us to get our application in as soon as possible,” Rich said. If the city is able to get its application in before a moratorium is placed, it likely would be a 60-day process for the WEDC to consider it. “Our initial discussions with WEDC is that we would be eligible, so we are hopeful,” Rich said. Before any decision is reached, though, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the topic. “We will hold a public hearing,” Rich said, noting this would be required. Though it’s not yet set — especially since the city has not yet agreed to apply for the grant — it’s expected the hearing would occur on Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. Assuming the council agrees to hold the meeting that night, it will begin with a public hearing, at which time the public can speak about the possible grant application. Then, the council would consider whether to apply for the grant. Will, however, remains hopeful the state would approve the grant. “I’m pretty optimistic about it,” he said. “There’s been plenty of contact with Madison ... about this, so I’m hopeful.”



Puppets, magic return for Children’s Fair Fun, free and educational. The Children’s Fair, set for Saturday, April 20, will have something for everyone all under one roof. Organized by Ripon Noon Kiwanis and targeted at children up to 8 years old and their parents, the Children’s Fair runs from 9 a.m. to noon at Barlow Park Elementary School’s gym, cafetorium and music room. The morning festivities will be both a resource for parents, and a great time for local children. Kids can lose themselves in such activities as a bouncy castle, painting, games for prizes and other youth fun. New this year will be a fun, active presentation by Ripon Medical Center’s healthYouth program. Several local mascots will add to the fun as well. Also returning will be the Scott Street Puppetteers and a magician. While the kids are off having a good time, parents can discover the riches Ripon has to offer local families at one of the many booths or presentations at the Children’s Fair. Eighteen community organizations will be on hand with helpful tips and useful information about the services they offer. Another favorite activity from past years, the Clothing Swap, returns

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Applications available for United Way funding The Ripon Area United Way is accepting funding applications from non-profit agencies that serve Ripon and the surrounding communities. Applications for 2013 funding are available upon request and due for consideration no later than Friday, May 15. To receive a funding application packet, call Tonya Alling at 748-6468 or Jeff PuhlmannBecker at 748-3136. Organizations that received funding during the last funding cycle will automatically receive an information packet. Donations to Ripon Area United Way are accepted yearround. To contribute, mail a donation to Ripon Area United Way at P.O. Box 71, Ripon, WI 54971.

ERIC WIPIJEWSKI, 8, Ripon, plays with some goo at the Children’s Fair. Ian Stepleton photo this year. Note: a new drop-off location has been arranged for 2013. Parents may drop off clothes in the weeks prior to the fair at BMO Harris Bank, located at 333 Blackburn St., and then in trade choose “new-toyou” clothes at the Children’s Fair. This event is sponsored by Ripon Noon Kiwanis. For more information, “like” the event’s Facebook page at

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Thursday, May 9, 2013 - Page 1

Ripon Commonwealth Press


Umpire Attacked at game A New London man is being referred for charges after he allegedly struck an umpire after a Ripon College baseball game last month. See page 3

Our Views

20 20 Wisc 12 Wisc 11 onsin on Single copy — $1 Week Week sin l y News News ly Thursday, May 9, 2013 pape pa r of th of th per e e Year Year

Issue No. 19 Serving the Ripon community since 1864

Ripon, WI 54971

City applying for $$ to demolish Davis But applying for grant doesn’t lock city into tearing down downtown building by Ian Stepleton

The Ripon Common Council agreed Tuesday night to apply for funds that could lead to the demolition of the Davis Hotel (Mapes House) — and a new developer building a hotel in its place. It did so despite hearing from several Ripon residents who urged aldermen to vote against the concept.

Zimman will take consulting post after Ripon

Council members, though, explained they support applying for the grant because applying does not commit the city to following through with a project — it just gives them more options. “There is a potential developer looking to build a hotel,” Mayor Gary Will said. “[Applying for the grant] does not mean the Davis Hotel has to come down [if another developer steps forward]. But, to this date, nobody has done that.”

Will described the developer as “a very reputable developer.” The city will find out in the months ahead whether it will be approved for the grant. At that time, the city then may choose whether to accept the grant dollars and possibly move forward with working with the unnamed developer. The grant in question is a community development block grant. The city is applying to Wisconsin

Economic Development Corp. to receive $500,000 in federal funds. City Administrator Lori Rich explained Tuesday such dollars are earmarked “for blighted areas.” In the past, she’s explained the grant could lead to acquisition and demolition of the building that was to be Boca Grande Capital LLC’s biggest project: the Ripon Inn & Spa at 300 Watson St. Acquisition of the grant dollars could pave the way for a yet-to-

be-named third-party developer taking over construction at the site. As a matching grant, the state could agree to pick up no more than 40 percent of the project. A table provided in the meeting agenda showed the total project cost as being $1.47 million, with the remaining $975,000 needed coming from tax increment finance district (TID) No. 11.

See DAVIS/ page 17


by Ian Stepleton

Graduation day After six weeks of Ripon Police Citizen’s Academy, the firstever class graduates with a few lessons under their belts. See page 4


Net gains Find out why these and hundreds of other adult walleyes are being scooped up out of Big Green Lake. See page 7


When Superintendent Richard Zimman finishes his last day at the Ripon Area School District June 30, it would be a misnomer to say he’s retiring. In fact, even Ripon’s superintendent of nine years admits he might be working, more or less, full time by the end of the summer. The difference? Zimman will be the master of his own schedule after he leaves Ripon’s school district. “I’ve accepted a position with a private-sector educational consulting firm — actually, two firms,” Zimman said. “I’ll be doing some part-time consulting with school districts. They’re loRichard Zimman c a t e d p r e dominantly in the southeast section of our state.” He could not offer details of exactly what that work would entail, though. Yet Zimman explained he is looking forward to the change of pace as this means he’ll no longer be required to work a traditional school calendar or even work day. “It will take up as much time as the customer demands, and I want to devote to it,” Zimman said. “It’s not meant to be a 9-to-5 job, but I expect to be very busy. “I’m not ready for the rocking chair yet.”

See ZIMMAN/ page 16

RIPON HIGH SCHOOL adopted a “Star Wars” theme for its prom last weekend. Because the date was May 4, the theme was, “May the Fourth be With You.” Crowned prom king and queen at the conclusion of the grand march Saturday afternoon in the Ripon High School auditorium were, at left, Peter Vander Galien and Julia Wagner, who are congratulated by Bailey Hoch. Above right, John Lyke and Aubrey Schoff display their light sabres before briefly doing battle while being introduced to the audience. For more prom photos, see page 10 and go to Tim Lyke photos

Top prognosticator will speak Sunday at RC by Aaron Becker

Nate Silver apparently messed up big time when he only called the outcome of 49 of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election. So this past November, he got them all right. Silver — the man CNN calls “a mathematical genius” — is becoming a household name for his political analysis and prognosticating. In what the Washington Post has dubbed one of the 18 biggest commencement speeches of this spring, Silver will serve as commencement speaker Sunday at Ripon College. A statistician and commen-

tator, Silver will become the latest big name to visit the college in recent memory. He joins political guru Karl Rove, singer/songNate Silver writer Carole King, political journalist Fred Barnes, adventurer Steve Fossett, former CIA Director George Tenet and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Ripon College’s 147th graduation will take place Sunday, May 12 at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn in the center of campus, weather permit-

Report,” Messitte said. ting. “He’s definitely in the mainRain location is Wyman Gymstream, and someone who speaks nasium at the Storzer Center. Silver will address the theme to multiple generations,” Messitte of data and decision making in said. “The fact that our students know who he is — and their parhis speech. ents and grandRipon Colparents know lege President who he is — is Zach Messitte For an editorial related sort of a testacalled Silver “a to this story, see “Silver ment to his role pioneer in the will be a golden speaker for in the field.” field.” While Silver “ I t ’s ve r y RC,” page 4. uses mathematexciting, and it came together nicely,” he said. ical predictions in commentary “[Silver is] really on the rise. He’s from everything to sports to the Academy Awards, he’s perhaps an up-and-comer.” Silver appeals to a variety of best known for his political calgenerations, appearing on such TV culations. shows as “The Daily Show with See SPEAK/ page 18 Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert


Proposals sought for future use of current RMC facility by Jonathan Bailey

Run around More than 200 runners, joggers and walkers turned out Saturday to use their two feet to survive runs between 5k and 13.1 miles. See page 22

With work beginning on the new Ripon Medical Center (RMC), the future of the old one remains up in the air. Not a lot of progress has been made in determining the future use of the current hospital building. The site will become the city’s responsibility after RMC moves to its new location off Highway 23 and Douglas Street. The hospital currently is located between Newbury and Metomen streets on Ripon’s southeast side. Despite the lack of progress,

Ripon Community Development it’s a big project for somebody. Authority (CDA) president Joan We’re still hoping to stay on time. Karsten is hopeful the city will We still have a year and a half to have a handle on what to do with go.” The CDA, which is in charge it by the time the move happens. of figuring The target out what to do date for the new with the current hospital to open For a letter to the editor building, has is September related to this story, see sought the help 2014. of colleges and “We know “Turn RMC site into public universities. it’s going to be It issued a a longer pro- pool,” page 5. formal request cess,” Karsten said. “In the perfect world it would for proposals (RFP) to schools be great to have someone ready with architecture and planning to take over when Ripon Medical programs and considered proCenter vacates that property, but viding a cash gift of $500 to the


winning program for use as a scholarship. Proposals were due last week Wednesday. The CDA’s next meeting is not scheduled until the end of May, but Karsten figures the committee will examine the proposals before then. “It’s being driven by the FCEDC [Fond du Lac Economic Development Corp.] and Steve Jenkins,” Karsten said of the RFPs. “So we’re looking for his guidance in the process.” Karsten also has been in touch with a developer to see if they would be interested in coming to the hospital to suggest different

uses or taking on the project. One major hurdle that the CDA is faced with — and an issue it addressed from the beginning of the process — is the building’s age. The oldest section is more than 76 years old. Several other sections have been added onto it and updated throughout the years. “Remodeling it for something is probably one of the biggest challenges anybody would have with that building, hence the hospital building [a] new [facility] and not remodeling [the existing building],” Mayor Gary Will said.

See RMC/ page 15

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - Page 17


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lican House?” Thiel agreed, saying, “Once it’s gone, you never get it back.” Ripon Main Street Inc. Manager Craig Tebon later disagreed. “It pains me to admit it, but I am in favor of tearing down Mapes House,” he said. “The building may not look bad on the outside ... but it is falling apart [particularly on the first and second floors]. We can agree to disagree, but it’s time to move on. The building, unless we find somebody willing to spend $1 million or $2 million, it’s going to fall down.” Will also pointed out the building was coming down, no matter what, anyway — the demolition was included in the alreadyapproved plans by Boca. “The agreement already says to tear down the building,” he said. “So it’s nothing new.” Will also emphasized the need to get a project done from a financial standpoint. He explained the city needs the

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tax revenue from projects within the downtown TID to help pay back the dollars Boca borrowed in 2009. “What happens 10 years from now?” he asked. “We all will be paying for it if the TID does not pay for itself. If nothing happens there now and the TID does not pay for itself, we will be in trouble.” Some confusion also occurred between city officials and residents in terms of how the building would leave Boca ownership and become a city-owned property. “The city of Ripon is not purchasing the building; the city of Ripon will be acquiring the building,” Will said, noting a distinction between the two terms. “There are many ways we could acquire the building.” He later added, “We are not buying the building from [Boca principal] Mr. Connelly. We are

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THE FIRST FLOOR of the former Davis Hotel is in disarray. Local leaders have said the building may need to be demolished.

getting the building from another party.” Regardless, residents were not pleased with the concept of the city acquiring the property and tearing the Davis Hotel down. “This is starting to sound like your agreement with Boca Grande,” Mike Musha said. “... As people who spend our money, please be careful.” “I’m against [applying for the grant],” resident Michael Levenhagen said. “I also think developing a hotel is beating a dead horse.” He added the city already has too many hotel rooms. The city will consider this when it decides whether to accept the grant dollars, should it receive the grant, City Attorney Lud Wurtz said. Following the public hearing, the Common Council voted 6-1 in favor of applying for the grant. Voting in favor were Alds. Joel Brockman, Rollie Peabody, Deano Pape, Howard Hansen, Dennis Miller and Al Schraeder. Absent was Ald. Jim Werch, while Ald. Annette Klein voted “no.” “Because I feel we’re putting the cart before the horse, and because I feel there are too many ‘ifs,’” she said. Others, though, said it’s worth applying to at least give the city that option. “Just because we’re applying for the grant does not mean we are going to get it,” Hansen said. “We are just asking for the opportunity to obtain these funds.” “[Applying] for the grant is not a commitment to [accept the grant],” Schraeder said. “This is just one piece of the puzzle,” Will said.


Uses for these dollars include: ‰ Acquisition: $500,000 ‰ Demolition: $100,000 ‰ Utilities: $155,000 ‰ Site/paving demo: $95,000 ‰ Grading/prep: $254,675 ‰ Asphalt: $150,000 ‰ Curbing: $54,200 ‰ Sidewalks: $46,125 ‰ Retaining Walls: $120,000 “We’ve applied for $500,000, but it does not mean we are going to get $500,000,” Will said. “We could get $300,000, $200,000.” Residents who spoke, however, did not wish for the city to even apply for the grant. Most noted dissatisfaction with the progress made on promised developments by the hotel’s current owner, Boca Grande. “I consider myself to be a person ... who always gives people a chance, and I wanted to give Boca a chance,” resident Judy Thiel said. “[But] it’s been a huge disappointment with Boca.” Julie Mathias said she felt applying for money to tear down the Davis Hotel would set a dangerous precedent of demolishing buildings owned by Boca that have fallen further into disrepair. “The Republican House building is falling down before our eyes; the Benkoski building is falling down before our eyes,” she said. “We need to come together as a community and get over the Boca Grande agreement and get back to the goal of historic [preservation].” The Davis Hotel, Mathias said, isn’t to the point of needing to be demolished. “It is truly salvageable,” she said. “... Tearing down the Davis Hotel is not the solution.” She later added, “What’s next? Applying for a grant to tear down the Benkoski building? Applying for a grant to tear down the Repub-

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