'Great year' for Sussex
The Mammoth Springs groundbreaking in Sussex took place on Monday, June 24. Pictured (from left): Anchor Bank Vice President Doug Menne, Horizon Construction Vice President Ryan Alvin, Developer Arthur Sawall, Kevin Sawall (son) and Waldemar Sawall (father). Photo by: Scott Ash
Village of Sussex — "With the great year we had in the Village of Sussex, how could there be any disappointments."
Village President Greg Goetz's assessment of 2013 is more than a politician putting a positive spin on the annual year-end question of what were the major accomplishments and the biggest disappointments. Goetz's response borders on fact.
As he pointed out, in 2013, Sussex was booming while some of its neighboring communities were still struggling with economic recovery after the Great Recession of 2008.
About the only disappointment was the village's inability to reach an agreement with the Town of Lisbon over funding of the Pauline Haass library and disagreements with Lisbon have almost become so common place they are no longer news.
Here are the top 10 news stories for 2013, as selected by the Sussex Sun staff. The criteria for a Top 10 story includes an event or story that had a long-range impact on the Lisbon-Sussex community; an event that resulted multiple news story; or and an event or story that generated public interest.
1. Dream come true
A nearly 20-year dream of village business and community leaders became a reality in 2013 thanks to the persistence and patience of computer software entrepreneur Art Sawall. Sawall worked his way through banks and bureaucracies to gain financing and approval to build a residential and retail complex at the corner of Waukesha Avenue and Main Street — the former Mammoth Springs Cannery Co. site — that community leaders hope will have a positive impact on the village for decades.
2. From corn to groceries
At the opposite end of the village from Mammoth Springs, the Grand Rapids Michigan-based Mejier Company began construction on a 200,000-square-foot grocery and household retail store on farmland at the intersection of Highway 164 and Highway K. After a series of public hearings and regulatory approvals, community leaders are optimistic they have a regional development on the edge of the village that will not threatened downtown businesses or the village's quaint small town ambiance.
3. Village monopoly
Although it did not attract as much attention as Mammoth Springs or Meijer's, the Glen at Seven Stones is a unique story about partnership between a developer and local government. The Village helped finance the condominium project and is gaining five percent interest on each condo sold and millions of dollars tax base since more than two thirds of the 50 units have been sold.
4. Save the library
Village President Goetz, with support of the Village Board, announced the village is prepared to take over library operations if the negotiations over a new funding formula failed. Village Administrator Jeremy Smith began developing a fiscal contingency plan included in the 2014 budget that would assist the village in maintaining existing levels of library services, if the negotiations failed.
5. Field of dreams
The Halquist Stone Co. announced it would donate $200,000 for the construction of a soccer and softball complex on land adjacent to Hamilton High School. The donations came three years after the company had to discontinue "Dozer Days" because of rising insurance costs and federal regulations. The event had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the Hamilton School District Foundation.
6. Build it, they will play
Hamilton High School officials unveiled plans for a $4.8 million, 42,000-square-foot athletic training facility that they anticipate paying for with existing revenues. School officials say the facility is necessary because there has been a 33 percent increase in student athletic participation in the past 10 years and the existing training facilities are inadequate and deteriorating.
7. Farmland redux
The Meissner family reacquired the 370 acres of farmland they owned for generations near the intersection of Highway 164 and Silver Spring Road. The family had sold the land in 2000 to developers. However the development plans were never implemented and a bank repossessed the land and sold it back to the Meissner's who say it will remain farmland for the foreseeable future.
For much of the year, the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex unsuccessfully negotiated over a new long-term funding agreement for the Pauline Haass Library. Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke insisted that the town's share of library operating expenses should be reduced because town residents use the library less than village residents.
9. Pauline's perils
The above mentioned library funding negotiations came to a screeching halt when the Pauline Haass Library Board decided to sue the Town of Lisbon over "custody and control" of 65 acres of land that Haass donated to the town to be used for library purposes. The library board said state law requires they have control of the land. The town board rebutted the library board did not legal authority to sue a municipality that helped create it.
10. Porn in the morn
Butler Police Chief Michael Cosgrove and some of his deputies spent some mornings viewing pornography while on duty with village computers, according to an investigation conducted by the Waukesha County Sheriff's office. Cosgrove also condoned sexist and racist attitudes within the department, according to the report. However, many Butler village residents came to the defense of the department. "After all, they are only men," suggested one woman.
Top stories from the Lake Country area. Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings.
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