9 - The Courier Hub - Focus on Stoughton - June 26, 2014

Focus On

Stoughton
‘Together, we’ve accomplished a great
deal and we’ll need to work together to
continue that work to keep Stoughton
vibrant.’
Tim Onsager
Stoughton Area School District superintendent

Referendum
breathes new
life into schools
District would
have been lowestfunded in county
File photos

The Stoughton community has made progress in a number of social, economic and educational categories during the past year. Clockwise,
the Stoughton Area School District passed a funding referendum, while commerce and art have been boosted downtown. Stoughton’s history
got a renewed look with the opening of the Luke Stoughton House along the river, in addition to a new park near city hall.

Scott De Laruelle
Unified Newspaper Group

After asking for and
receiving the trust of
district voters during the
successful April referendum, the Stoughton Area
School District (SASD)
has gained a bit of breathing room in its uphill
battle against declining
enrollment.
The district, which had
been in danger of being
the lowest-funded in the
county, received a substantial shot in the arm
with approval of the fouryear, $20 million recurring referendum April 1
on nearly a 2-to-1 margin
(3,773 to 2,212). Still,
with no end or solutions
in sight for stemming
declining enrollment - the
lifeblood of a school district – there is still work
to be done to maintain its
recent academic improvements.
The referendum
replaced two approved
in 2010 that expired this
month. According to
the district, it will cost
the owner of a $200,000
house an additional $105

per year during the next
four years. Had it failed,
taxpayers would have
seen a $325 reduction
next year, but the district
would have faced a $3.1
million shortfall, and
around $1.5 million for
the 2015-16 school year.
Despite the success of
the referendum, district
officials have maintained
they must continue to
keep a leash on spending,
evidenced by continued,
though slight, staff reductions for the upcoming
school year. SASD superintendent Tim Onsager
said the district has built
into its upcoming budget projections a need to
reduce at least two fulltime employees in each
of the next four years due
to declining enrollment,
projected to be around
30 less students for the
2014-15 school year.
The referendum did
raise the funding “floor”
for the district, however,
preventing a “worst-case
scenario” district officials had worked out in
case of a failure, including the likely cutting of
the equivalent of 33 positions, reducing buildings
and grounds services,
increasing class sizes and
freezing pay for all staff

Turn to SASD/Page 14

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June 26, 2014

Focus on Stoughton

Courier Hub

ConnectStoughton.com

Summit Credit Union
opens on city’s west side
Summit Credit Union’s
new, eye-catching branch
in Stoughton opened its
doors earlier this month.
Summit partnered with
Madison-based Strang,
Inc., to construct the sustainable building which
features energy-efficient
lighting, heating and air
conditioning, reflective
roofs, sustainable landscaping and a storm water
containment system. Summit broke ground on the
new, 3,100-square-foot
facility, located at 2105
McComb Road, in October
2013.
The new branch employs
eight employees, six of
whom were new hires who
reside in the area, two of
whom reside in Stoughton. In addition to the eight
employees, the branch has
a business lending officer and a financial adviser
available by appointment
to offer members a full
spectrum of services.
“We have heard from so
many of our members how
excited they are to have a
branch in Stoughton,” Kim
Sponem, CEO/president of
Summit Credit Union said
in a news release. “We’re
eager to bring them a very
convenient full-service
location, partner with them
in commitment to the community and bring Summit
value to their friends and

Photo submitted

Summit Credit Union opened its doors earlier this month.

neighbors, too.”
The credit union – based
out of Madison – has nearly 30 locations in the Madison and Milwaukee area.
The company wanted to
add a Stoughton office to
serve members already living in the area.
“We already have a
well-established membership base in Stoughton,
and members have been
asking for a branch in this
community,” Sponem said.
“We are excited to have a
more convenient location
for these members, and we
also hope to serve members in nearby Oregon and
McFarland.”
Established in 1935,
Summit Credit Union is
a member-owned financial cooperative open to

Summit
Credit Union
Photo submitted

2105 McComb Road
summitcreditunion.com
Lobby hours: Mon. – Thu.
8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fri.
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sat.
8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Drive-up: Mon. – Fri. 7:30
a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.
– 1 p.m.

First Saturdays combine Stoughton’s vibrant arts scene and its downtown merchants to give shoppers
entertainment and arts while they browse stores.

Events give downtown a boost

anyone in Wisconsin.
Summit holds $2 billion in
assets and has more than
136,000 members throughout the Madison and Milwaukee areas.
For more information,
visit summitcreditunion.
com.

While development on
the city’s western edge
drew most of the headlines during the past year,
it needs to be noted that
efforts to boost the city’s
core business district are
also underway.
Special shopping events
– Third Thursdays and First
Saturdays – have been set
up to bolster downtown
foot traffic and commerce.
Third Thursdays

- sometimes called Business After 5 - got started
in October by a group of
downtown merchants. More
than 10 businesses keep
their stores staffed extra
hours on these nights to
draw in customers who are
downtown for other events
like concerts at the Rotary
Park or shows at the Opera
House or Village Player’s
Theater.
First Saturdays has been

going for a few months
and capitalizes on Stoughton’s thriving arts scene.
Local artists and musicians
take to the streets from 10
a.m. until noon on the first
Saturday of the month.
Shoppers can meet the artists outdoors and stop into
shops along Main Street.
– Mark Ignatowski

BECOME A MEMBER OF
SUMMIT CREDIT UNION
WE’LL GIVE $50 TO YOU
AND ANOTHER $50 TO
YOUR COMMUNITY*.

WE’RE OPEN!
2105 McComb Rd

Summit Credit Union is known for helping people reach
their financial goals. And $50 is a great way to get you
started. At the same time, you’ll be doing something
good for the community. Because we’ll also give $50 to
Stoughton Area Community Foundation, Public Library
or School District. Just tell us which one. And don’t forget
to come by for the celebration. You could win a $500
gift card to the Kalahari Resort in the Dells and we’ll be
serving treats from local businesses all week. It’s good to
be a member of Summit. And Stoughton.

* New members only. Membership requires a primary savings account. Minimum to open $5. Annual Percentage Rate (APY),
as of May 28, 2014 is 0.05%. Rate may change at any time. Minimum balance to obtain APY is $25. $50 cash bonus will
be deposited to your account at account opening. Cash bonuses are considered taxable income and are subject to 1099
tax reporting. Offer expires June 28, 2014. Federally insured by NCUA.

Focus on Stoughton

ConnectStoughton.com

June 26, 2014

Courier Hub

11

Kettle Park West plans approved, but still in limbo
Council waiting for
impact analysis
Bill Livick
Unified Newspaper Group

The proposed Kettle Park
West commercial development continues to be debated
in the community and at the
Common Council.
Plans have been stalled
since March, when the Common Council voted to put
further approvals on hold
until an economic impact
analysis has been completed.
The analysis is a required
component of the city’s big
box ordinance, and the Forward Development Group
has yet to provide the firm
conducting the analysis with
information it has requested
for the study.
“Economic impact study
materials have still not been
delivered to Maxfield,” the
firm the city has hired to do
the analysis, said planning
director Rodney Scheel.
“The development group,
including their retailers,
have not supplied the information requested yet.”
The Common Council still
has to create a tax-increment
financing district. It asked
the Plan Commission not to
approve a Specific Development Plan for KPW until the
city has received an independent analysis for the project.
The council approved a
development agreement with
the Forward Development
Group in late January.
Some of the controversial
project’s strongest supporters have said they will not
support moving forward
with the KPW development if an impact analysis
indicates it would harm the
city’s economy. Supporters
doubt that will happen, however, while some opponents
believe it could have a negative effect on some existing
businesses.
The development agreement approved by the
council Jan. 28 calls for

KPW timeline
• June 2011: Urban
Service Area amended
• Sept. 2011: Traffic
impact analysis submitted
to state
• June 2012:
Comprehensive plan
amended
• June 2013: Annexation
of 142 acres
• Nov. 2013: General
development plan
approved
• Jan. 2014:
Development agreement
approved
• Feb. 2014:
Reconsideration of development agreement failed
• March 2014: Council
approves moratorium on
creation of TIF district until
economic impact analysis
is completed
• April 2014: Council
chooses firm to conduct
economic impact analysis
building four retail/commercial buildings, including a 153,000-square-foot
Wal-Mart SuperCenter, on
35 acres at the northwest
corner of U.S. Hwy. 51 and
state Hwy. 138. The plan
includes $5.1 million in taxincrement financing for the
project.
TIF is a form of taxpayer
assistance that is used as a
subsidy for redevelopment,
infrastructure and other
community-improvement
projects. It combines revenues from all taxing jurisdictions on projects that would
not exist “but for” the use of
the TIF.
Forward Development
Group began to assemble the
proposed 325-acre development in late 2009. The first
phase of the project involves
a 35-acre commercial development, with Wal-Mart
Inc. as the anchor business.
FDG’s plan also calls for a
bank, a convenience store
and a restaurant, although

Rendering courtesy JSD Professional Services

Kettle Park West plans call for commercial, office and residential spaces along U.S. Hwy. 51 and state Hwy. 138. The Common Council is
seeking additional information about the economic impact of the development before moving forward.

the developer has declined to
say specifically which businesses it’s working with.
In the development agreement narrowly approved by
the council, the developer
is required to construct offsite projects, estimated at a
cost of $3 million, including
improvements to U.S. Hwy.
51, state Hwy. 138 and Jackson Street east and west.
The developer is also
obligated to construct public stormwater management
infrastructure, estimated to
cost $1.59 million. FDG is
also required to provide a
letter of credit in the amount
of $2.5 million.
The developer is to guarantee that the city will
receive sufficient actual
tax increment, beginning in
2017, to fund all city debt
service on city borrowing
for stormwater management
reimbursement and 70 percent of city debt service on
city borrowing to pay for

off-site improvements reimbursement.
And the developer is
required to provide documentation that three lots,
apart from Wal-Mart, the
anchor tenant, have been
sold to commercial enterprises. Those businesses are
obligated to substantially
complete construction by
Oct. 31, 2015.
The city borrowed $2.3

million earlier this year for
the project to meet its part of
the development agreement.
The city is also required to
reimburse the developer for
off-site improvements, up
to $2.99 million, and reimburse up to $1.5 million for
stormwater improvements at
the site. It also has pledged
to reimburse the developer
up to $550,000 for grading at
the site.

Mayor Donna Olson said
the city built many contingencies into the agreement
that, if not met, would have
the effect of negating the
development agreement. But
she’s been a strong supporter
of the project as a way to
stimulate economic development, which all agree the
city badly needs.

Building and Sustaining
Neighborhoods…

The New Gazebo at Stoughton Rotary Park.

…While Helping Support Our Community
We Don’t Skip the Details.

File photo by Kimberly Wethal

Framing Stoughton’s heritage
Construction of the city’s new Norwegian Heritage Center is well underway this year. The building is being constructed by the Bryant Foundation. When it opens early next year, the two-story,
15,000-square-foot center will house a genealogy library, lounge, auditorium and spaces for both permanent and temporary exhibits related to Norwegian culture.

3185 Deer Point Dr., Stoughton, WI
(608) 877-1131
Visit our website www.shawbuilders.com

12 - The Courier Hub - Focus on Stoughton - June 26, 2014

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ConnectStoughton.com

Focus on Stoughton

June 26, 2014

Courier Hub

13

Party in
the Park
Gazebo part of the
changing face of
downtown
Bill Livick
Unified Newspaper Group

Volunteers from the
Stoughton Rotary Club
deserve much of the credit
for the new gazebo in Rotary Park, next to the Stoughton Fire Station.
Octagonal in design with
a 20-foot diameter, the
gazebo was completed early this spring and has been
getting plenty of use on its
.7-acre parcel.
The project was “a joint
effort of largely Rotary
labor,” said Rotarian Doug
Benham. “It’s really a citywide effort.”
The Rotary Club initially estimated the cost to
build the gazebo, put down
pavers and do landscap- A little rain thinned the crowd a bit during the last concert at Stoughton Rotary Park. The new park is home to a summer concert series.
ing would come to about
$86,500. The club worked
at raising funds over last
summer to keep down the
cost. Benham said funds
left after the project was
completed would be used to
enhance the park.
With its central location
on the same block with City
Hall, the gazebo will be in
a perfect location for weddings, family gatherings,
city band performances and
the like. In fact, a series of
concerts has been scheduled for Rotary Park this
summer, including what
promises to be an enormous
turnout for the Catfish River Music Festival during the
July 4 weekend.
The gazebo, as well
as the creation of Rotary
Park, didn’t cost taxpayers a dime. The gazebo is
welcome to the public to
use and can be reserved by
contacting the city parks
department or calling City
Hall.

Photos by Mark Ignatowski

Photo by Bill Livick

Work on the gazebo at Stoughton Rotary Park started last year and was completed early this spring.
Located next to the fire station and city hall, the park will host a music festival the weekend of the
Fourth of July.

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Ryan Casey entertains a crowd during a show at last week’s Gazebo
Musikk concert series.

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14

June 26, 2014

Focus on Stoughton

Courier Hub

ConnectStoughton.com

Luke Stoughton House restored and opened as museum annex
It took 13 years, but a $90,000
restoration of the Luke Stoughton
House was completed last summer.
The Stoughton Historical Society
held a grand opening and ice cream
social in July 2013 to celebrate the
accomplishment.
This June 14, the historical society held a Pioneer Days event to
educate people, coupled with another ice cream social, at the historic
house.
The house was built in 1847 – one
year before Wisconsin became a
state – on what is now Main Street
by city founder Luke Stoughton. At
some point it was moved to Fourth
Street, where the Jenson Furniture
store is now located. In 1974, Jenson bought the land on Fourth Street
with the intention of building its
store, and planned to raze the house.
That’s when the Luke Stoughton
Society was established with the
mission of saving the house. The
organization got the city’s permission to move the house to its present
location at 315 N. Division St., a site
on the Yahara River that everyone
thought belonged to the city.
In 1999, the Luke Stoughton
Society disbanded and turned the
house over to the Stoughton Historical Society. At about that time,
the society learned that the parcel
on which the house rested actually belonged to the Stoughton Area
School District. The historical society attempted unsuccessfully to buy
the land from the school district,
which did grant a 15-year lease for
the property.
The small house had been rented
out as a residence from the mid1970s to the mid-‘90s. By then it
had fallen into serious disrepair.
Dave Kalland, president of the
historical society, said squirrels had

chewed holes in some of the upstairs
walls, and the entire underlying
structure was suspect.
In 2004, the school district
extended its lease of the property to
30 years.
Three years later, Luke Stoughton’s great grandson, Orren Turner,
died and left $100,000 in his will to
the historical society to restore the
city’s first home – if the organization could come up with matching
funds.
The historical society launched a
fundraising campaign and in seven
months was able to raise the necessary funding to accept the grant.
The following year, 2008, the
historical society began Phase 1 of
a restoration. That same year, the
school board decided that it could
grant the land to the historical society as long as the house had an educational purpose.
Some of the major improvements
to the house include a rebuilt roof,
reinforced floor joists in the basement, new windows, exterior repair
and paint. The society also put up
new particleboard and insulated the
house. They also had the home’s
balloon construction structure
“retied.”
Historical society member Nancy
Hagen and Kalland said the house
would be used as a museum annex.
“At this time, we think we’ll have
one room from the 1800 era and
one room for meetings,” Hagen
said. “We’re leaning on the educational aspect for the meeting room
to learn the history of the town and
the house. A third room, the smallest one, will be a reading resource
room.”

File photos by Bill Livick and Mark Ignatowski

The Luke Stoughton House - built in
1847 for the founder of Stoughton was restored and opened to the public
last summer.
The Stoughton Historical Society spent
about $90,000 to complete the restoration. Some of the major improvements
to the house include a rebuilt roof, reinforced floor joists in the basement, new
windows, exterior repair and paint. The
society also put up new particleboard
and insulated the house.
The group will use the home as an
annex to its downtown museum.

– Bill Livick

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Now offering more choices with a variety of health plans:
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File photo by Scott De Laruelle

Voters gave the go-ahead to the Stoughton Area School District to spend an additional $20 million over
the next four years.

SASD: Referendum passed in April
Continued from page 9
members.
“I don’t see Stoughton
schools delivering their
same high quality education without a (successful)
referendum,” Onsager said
in March.

Big picture

StoughtonHospital.com | 873-6611

Earlier this spring, district director of finance
Erica Pickett warned that
a successful referendum
would not be a cure-all
for long-term enrollment
issues, however. According
to the district, this year’s
kindergarten class had
around 100 fewer students
than the ninth grade, numbers that do not bode well
down the road.

“The district will look
different in the future,”
she said. “The high school,
when it was at its largest,
was around 1,300 students.
Cast that forward and it (is
projected to eventually be)
800. That’s a pretty big
change.”
Still, district officials said
they hope the positive result
will help both attract new
students and keep families
who might have left had the
referendum failed.
“Families are looking for
lots of things, but also stability and guarantees, or
least reasonable expectations of programs,” Onsager said in March. “They
don’t want to play this
game of, ‘Will this program
be there tomorrow or not?’”

In the end, the referendum passed with ease, and
Onsager thanked the community, students, staff and
school board for the support.
“Together, we’ve accomplished a great deal and
we’ll need to work together
to continue that work to
keep Stoughton vibrant,” he
said. “Our community has
done its part – they have
really stepped up for us.”
School board member Pat
Volk called the referendum
victory a “huge touchdown”
for the district.
“Now it’s up to us and
(district staff) to make sure
we shepherd these dollars
as responsibly as we can,”
Volk said.

June 26, 2014 - Focus on Stoughton - The Courier Hub - 15

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