County Board - August 13, 2019

By Steve Sharp:

JEFFERSON — For the past several years, the Jefferson County Circuit Courts have been receiving very high rankings statewide for their timely processing of cases and 2018 was no exception.

According to the Director of the State Courts Office, Jefferson County continues to be ranked among the best of Wisconsin’s 72 counties in terms of the way it moves cases through its system. These efficiencies have their origins in the administration of former presiding Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick and are continued today by the man in the same position, Branch II Circuit Court Judge William Hue.

Hue delivered his annual report to the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors Tuesday evening at that panel’s regular session for August and discussed the county court’s workings.

“Unlike many other Wisconsin counties, case backlogs are not a problem in Jefferson County,” Hue said. “Our case assignment and processing system ensures that high-quality justice is consistently delivered without undue delay, that public safety is prioritized, and that taxpayer-funded system resources are used wisely and sufficiently.”

Hue also talked about the county’s Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court, and the need for ongoing physical maintenance of the courtrooms themselves, which see hard use by the public and court staff.

“The Jefferson County Court System continues to be a leader statewide by delivering justice in a timely and cost-effective manner,” Hue said. “All four judges appreciate the support we receive from the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors. We look forward to continuing our positive, cooperative working relationship with you as we strive to maintain and enhance the high quality of life that we all enjoy in Jefferson County.”

Jefferson County Highway Commissioner Bill Kern then delivered his annual report and his summary of 2018 included discussion on work his department performed on County Highway P near Ixonia last year, as well as reconstruction on County Highway Y, which included work on the last segment from Johnson Creek north to Watertown. Kern said this latter project addressed an older segment of roadway that needed draining and culvert installation along with normal surface work. This was concluded in 2018. Also finished by the highway department in 2018 was work on County Highway CW near Ixonia.

“So those were the three projects last year,” he said.

The largest projects undertaken this year include maintenance on four segments of County Highway B from the Jefferson/Dane county line to the point where Jefferson County meets Waukesha County to the east. Kern called this one of the longest projects ever performed in one summer by the highway department.

Kern said the project on Highway B has gone “extremely well, with the renewed stretch from Johnson Creek to Concord now open to all traffic. Also open is the reconstructed stretch from Lake Mills to Dane County.

“All 23 miles of the project should be open by the end of the season, weather-permitting,” Kern said.

This fall, Jefferson County’s Highway A south of Lake Mills will see some fairly complex work, but Kern said he hopes his crews can have that done by the end of the 2019 construction season.

The commissioner went on to tout his department’s relatively new salt brine delivery system for treatment of snow- and ice-covered roadways. He said it is helping save the county thousands each year in road rock salt-application costs.

“We had a lot of success last winter and we are looking to repeat that,” Kern said, adding, in general, his staff is “finding efficiencies” in many different areas to stretch taxpayer dollars.

Amy Listle, the new director of the Jefferson County Fair Park , began her annual address to supervisors by discussing the mission statement of the park. She said the facility, which is recognized for its quality nationwide, is “a county-owned facility for all citizens where young and old can gather to display their talents, accomplishments and celebrate their cultures, thereby promoting education, entertainment and economic growth in Jefferson County.”

Annual fair park events include antique and collectibles auctions, dog shows, flea markets, the gem and mineral show, gun shows, horse shows, the county fair, Madison Classics Car Show and Swap meets twice a year, rabbit shows and the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. Listle said the fair park hosts more than 200 events per year, with more than 220,000 people visiting the park annually.

There is also considerable interdepartmental use of the facility for meetings, classes and other events. Many local charities raise money by hosting events at the park.

Listle discussed recent facility updates that in 2018 included expanded Wi-Fi connectivity to all gates and the grandstand area to accommodate electronic ticketing, replacement of a portion of blacktop in the Activity Center parking lot and seal coating the remaining area, four new aluminum bleachers and the demolition of the west swine barn.

In 2019, the new west swine barn was built and the fair park added recycled blacktop to fair park roadways.

Total attendance at the fair in 2019 was 38,831, which was down a bit from 2018, when 40,185 people attended.

According to Listle, goals of the fair include the increase of community relationships to attract more sponsorships, marketing of the fair outside the county to gain tourism, development of new revenue streams and creation of a strategic plan. Updates of the master plan and feasibility study are ongoing.

Among its resolutions Tuesday, the county board approved one that will allow for the creation of a condemnation commission to address eminent domain matters. According to state statute, each county must have such a commission that consists of six members. These people must reside within the respective county. This resolution was forwarded to the full county board after review by the executive and finance committees. The lone dissenter in the vote Tuesday was Greg David of Watertown.

Supervisors also approved a low bid of $225,400 from Kone, Inc. for the modernization and improvement of the courthouse elevator.

A resolution recognizing Walter Grain Farms of Grellton for its hosting of the 2019 Farm Technology Days was read by Supervisor Lloyd Zastrow and was unanimously approved by the board, as was an in-memoriam resolution for former Jefferson County Board Supervisor Carlton Zentner