Farm Technology Days will boost county’s economy

Posted by DAVID BRETL on May 8, 2013

I am adding a trip to Dallas to my vacation itinerary this summer. Fortunately, I won’t have to battle through the oppressive Texas heat, because the Dallas I am planning to visit is located in Barron County, Wis. As much as I enjoy the Northwoods, I probably wouldn’t be stopping ...
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Volunteers enhance county services, quality of life

Posted by DAVID BRETL on May 2, 2013

If you thought you had your hands full just getting your taxes filed on time this year, imagine what it would be like preparing 467 returns. Twelve Walworth County volunteers were able to do just that, sorting through mountains of W-2s and 1099s during this past tax season. Helping residents ...
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Digital age brings new questions to records law

Posted by DAVID BRETL on April 10, 2013

I always jump the gun on spring. Frustrated by months of snow and cold, I do my best to bring about spring through a combination of neglect and positive thinking. My driveway, which becomes narrower throughout the month of January, is an example of the former. Around Valentine's Day I ...
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Citizens lend expertise to county in myriad ways

Posted by DAVID BRETL on March 5, 2013

If you’ve ever thought about serving in county government, but aren’t ready to take on the commitment of elected office, there are still plenty of ways to contribute. Through membership on committees, boards and commissions, citizens play an important role in helping the county board carry out its responsibilities. Overseeing ...
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Public records requests evoke, enlighten debate

Posted by DAVID BRETL on February 20, 2013

Two interesting cases were decided recently by the Wisconsin Supreme Court regarding our state’s public records law. Both decisions came down in favor of public access to records kept by local government. I have come to regard almost any court decision interpreting the public records law as a good thing. ...
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In county government, board debate is always brewing

Posted by DAVID BRETL on February 6, 2013

I am often asked if I ever run out of ideas for writing columns. While some of my more critical readers have suggested that this happened sometime in 2005, in reality, I always have been able to come up with a topic that is related to county government. Fortunately, whenever ...
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Making sense of tax bill can be a challenge

Posted by DAVID BRETL on January 7, 2013

I hate to end the year writing about tax bills, but I have received more calls on the subject this year than I have in a long time. For every call I get, I’m sure there are many other taxpayers with the same questions on their mind. Not every call ...
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Planning commission provides enlightening data

Posted by DAVID BRETL on December 27, 2012

The annual report of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission landed on my desk the other day. With the end of the year approaching, I assumed the report recapped 2012 accomplishments. Upon closer examination, the report, or more accurately, book, actually covered 2011 activities. Given the scope of the project, ...
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Coming around? Roundabouts can drive you crazy

Posted by DAVID BRETL on December 10, 2012

I’ve sat through enough public meetings over the years to know that if you really want to fill up a room, propose a major change or sometimes even a minor change, to a street or highway. While there are other topics that folks are passionate about, roads are in a ...
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Friends with Facebook? Sometimes technology can’t be denied

Posted by DAVID BRETL on November 26, 2012

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had more than his share of bad news this year. In addition to seeing the share price of his company drop by more than half since its initial public offering in May, he now faces the almost certain prospect of his social media network being ...
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Lost in translation? Sister counties view travel costs differently

Posted by DAVID BRETL on November 14, 2012

We had an impromptu visit from our German sister county Oct. 23. That day members of the string orchestra at the Christian-Rauch School in Bad Arolsen, Germany, performed a concert at Badger High School. Bad Arolsen is a community located in Walworth County’s sister county or “Landkreis,” Waldeck-Frankenberg. The German ...
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Comparing notes can be dicey when it comes to counties

Posted by DAVID BRETL on October 30, 2012

As the father of three, I have sat through my share of sporting events over the years. My favorite spectator sport, hands down, is cross country. Regardless of whether our team is winning or losing, wandering around a park or a golf course on a crisp autumn day is hard ...
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Range of possibilities: Firearms training worth investment

Posted by DAVID BRETL on October 18, 2012

I recently took a field trip to Dane County with our sheriff, Dave Graves. The purpose of the trip was to look at that county’s outdoor firearms range near Waunakee as well as to tour an indoor police training facility run by the city of Madison. Our 2013 budget proposes ...
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Sluggish economy weighs on 2013 county budget

Posted by DAVID BRETL on October 3, 2012

Walworth County’s 2013 budget process is under way. On Sept. 6, I released the first draft of next year’s spending plan known as the county administrator’s budget. The proposed budget freezes the overall tax levy at the 2012 level, which for the record, stands at $60.8 million. The proposal represents ...
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Borrowing from the past: County debt strategy has changed

Posted by DAVID BRETL on September 21, 2012

I think even Charlie Grant would be happy with this budget. Charlie passed away a few years ago, but from 1988 to 2002, he represented the town and part of the city of Delavan on the Walworth County Board. Charlie was a frugal man, but his views on fiscal restraint ...
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Count on county workers to keep roads safe

Posted by DAVID BRETL on August 27, 2012

I was just about to complain about the heat this summer when our annual road salt contract crossed my desk. Between county government and municipalities that obtain their salt through the county’s contract, the order was about $1.2 million. Our record-setting heat has kept public works crews busy this summer ...
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New public works director has plenty on his plate

Posted by DAVID BRETL on July 23, 2012

Our new public works director, Kevin Brunner, started this month. Brunner replaces Shane Crawford, who left in January to work in what has turned out to be the much cooler climate of Madeira Beach, Fla. Brunner is no stranger to Walworth County. He served as Whitewater’s city manager for the ...
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Tourism vital to county's economic welfare

Posted by DAVID BRETL on July 13, 2012

I was enjoying spring so much this year that I almost hated to see the first official day of summer arrive. Eighty degree temperatures in March were bonus days to me and diminished the sense of urgency that I normally feel to take advantage of any day that you don’t ...
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Common sense required when analyzing any data

Posted by DAVID BRETL on June 28, 2012

One of the many negative side effects of the intensely partisan environment that exists at all levels in our country is our increasing inability to solve problems based on statistical evidence. An important way to diagnose problems, at least when it comes to local government, is to compare relative statistics ...
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County’s big-ticket purchases receive careful scrutiny

Posted by DAVID BRETL on June 11, 2012

It didn’t seem like it was that many years ago that visits to the garage or a veterinarian were pretty straightforward transactions. The dog was de-wormed or the “U-joint” replaced, and I got a receipt showing me the work that had been done. The mechanic usually handed me one of ...
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