News and HOT TOPICS


Register of Deeds Martin Elected to Property Records Industry Association Board

Washington County Register of Deeds, Sharon Martin, has been elected to serve a two-year term on the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) executive board.

PRIA is made up of professionals dedicated to addressing issues of common concerns in the world of property transactions. The Board of Directors includes 5 recorders, 5 business directors and 3 at-large members, representing land record companies, banking partners, and the 3600 recording jurisdictions nationally. Martin will be the first female public official from Wisconsin elected to the Board. (Of Martin will be the only public official from Wisconsin on the Board).

"This is a huge honor for me and I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience from the Washington County property records industry to the national scene," said Martin. "My goal is to continue recommending educational opportunities to members as well as outreach and networking between business partners and government agencies."

Martin worked in the Register of Deeds office for 10 years before elected as Register in 2002. Martin has served in several Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association (WRDA) capacities for 15 years, including district chair, President and Treasurer. She continues to serve on the county Land Information Council, is liaison between WRDA and Internal Revenue Service, and was appointed by the Governor (2-three year terms) to Wisconsin Electronic Recording Council. Martin was instrumental in coordinating with Washington and Racine county to start electronic recording in 2003. Martin also served on committees to pass legislation that enabled Wisconsin to standardize recording fees.

"Sharon is constantly being a team player, working to make government more efficient and contribute to our authentic quality of life," said County Administrator Joshua Schoemann. "She is constantly pushing technology forward and will be a perfect fit for the PRIA Board."



Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial in Kewaskum could be "On the Map"

Senator Stroebel, Representative Ramthun announce legislation to create Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway

Flanked by the family and friends of Andrea Lyn Haberman, one of 2,977 lost on September 11, 2001, Senator Duey Stroebel and Representative Timothy Ramthun announced legislation to create the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway, permit directional signs to the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial in Kewaskum, and place the memorial on official Wisconsin maps.

The event began with a moment of silence at 9:28am - the exact time the north tower collapsed; Andrea was on the 92nd floor.

"With the foresight and support of Senator Stroebel and Representative Ramthum in sponsoring the bill to designate a portion of Highway 28 on state maps as the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway, visitors will be directed to this important touchstone to an event which altered the course of our country eighteen years ago today," said Gordon Haberman, father of Andrea and president of the volunteer memorial organizing committee, Kewaskum Remembers.

Haberman's family story was told in the 2011 book, Just a Few Sleeps Away: A Family's Discovery of Good and Evil in the Aftermath of 9/11, by Milwaukee author Mike Nichols.

"As Americans, it is tremendously important that we never forget the attacks of September 11, 2001," said Representative Ramthun, "With this bill, our goal is increase awareness of a place where people can learn about and reflect on the September 11 attacks and all those impacted. A place not just for Kewaskum or Washington County, but for the entire state as well."

Also speaking at the press conference were Washington County Administrator Joshua Schoemann, Kewaskum Statesman Publisher and Gold Star Father Andrew Johnson, and New York Ground Zero Volunteer and Jefferson County resident Vicki Milbrath. Stroebel and Ramthun are joined by bill co-authors Senator Alberta Darling, Representatives Robert Brooks, Rick Gundrum and Janel Brandtjen.

Wisconsinites may become part of the memorial by buying a brick on the memorial's website: wisconsin911memorial.com.



Washington County releases video depicting need for foster families in our community

In an effort to raise awareness about the need for foster parents in Washington County, the Human Services Department is taking a new approach. The Foster Care Program recruits, licenses and trains foster parents to provide loving and stable homes for children and youth when it is not safe for them to remain in their natural home.

The video highlights the staggering fact that since 2017, the need for foster parents in Washington County has increased by 35%. During that time, 167 children have been removed from their home because of abuse or neglect by a primary caretaker, including 36 children in 2019. Most often, the children in need of foster homes are teenagers, sibling groups, or children with special needs, such as mental health, behavioral, or emotional difficulties.

"Currently, there are no foster homes in our community who are licensed to take placement of teenagers and siblings are often split up and placed into separate homes," said Coral Kline, Children and Families Manager. "This results in kids being placed outside our community where they cannot remain in their schools or near their families."

The needs in Washington County are aligned with state and national trends that kids are staying in out of home care longer because parents need time to get treatment services and stabilize their ability to access basic needs such as housing or employment. In 2017, The WI Department of Children and Families identified substance use treatment as a significant parental need in 21% of all CPS cases statewide. In addition, children and youth have a higher level of need than we have previously seen or understood. Exposure to trauma (parent's substance use, domestic violence, neglect, etc.) has contributed to mental health and developmental delays that often appear to be behavioral concerns. This creates additional challenges for parents and caregivers who are trying to create safe environments for kids to grow and develop.

"Our greatest need is foster parents who are willing to open their homes for boys of any age, girls ages 7 to 15 and for families who are able to keep sibling groups together."

For information on becoming a foster parent or to support the foster parent community, contact the Washington County Human Services Department at (262) 365-5100 or at FosterCare@co.washington.wi.us

VIDEO LINK


Washington County and FRIENDS, Inc. signed agreement to improve services recognizing the overlap between domestic and sexual violence and child maltreatment

Washington County Children and Families and Friends, Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week to set ongoing expectations of both agencies to the community and to outline the most effective way to provide services and care for the families served.

"Child Protective Services and Friends, Inc. have had a positive, long standing relationship," said Julie Driscoll Human Services Director. "This agreement represented a renewed focus on streamlining communication and ensuring that safety and therapeutic services for kids and families experiencing both child maltreatment and domestic abuse are coordinated to the highest degree possible."

There is a well-established overlap between domestic abuse and the maltreatment of children. Nationally, the reported rate of overlap between violence against children and violence against women in the same family is 30-60 percent. Studies also show that children who witness domestic abuse have dramatic physiological changes to their brain and experience similar trauma to that of physical abuse.

"Yet, there are recognized barriers to providing the best care possible like confidentiality laws," added Friends, Inc. Executive Director Kate Nickel. "We were happy to be one of three partnerships within the state that received an award from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and End Domestic Abuse WI for technical assistance to break down these barriers."

"Partnering to ensure the community's basic needs are met providing care and assistance to improve the circumstances of those at-risk is a high priority for us and through this effort, we believe that we will enhance the safety of our children in their homes," added Driscoll.

The Washington County Human Services Committee will hear from Children and Families and Friends, Inc. at their standing meeting in October.



Over 200 Attend County's Fiscal Health Informational Presentation

County Officials Recommend Dumping POWTS Fee

Following hundreds of public comments to a fee for mandated services regulating septic systems, county officials are responded by scheduling an information session on the county's fiscal health forecast. The session held on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, was attended by over 200 citizens, featured a presentation by County Administrator Joshua Schoemann, and included the participation of many county board members. The meeting follows an August 22, Land Use and Planning Committee recommendation of a "no" on the proposed fee. A final vote by the full County Board is likely to occur in October.

"I will be recommending that the County Board vote no," said County Administrator Joshua Schoemann at last night's informational meeting. Regardless of the vote on the fee proposal, the proposed fee will not be included in the administrator's recommended budget which requires a 2/3 majority vote to pass. "Simply put, an $11 fee is not worth tearing apart Washington County."

The Fiscal Health Informational meeting focused on the county's structural deficit and the challenges caused by annual expenses outpacing property tax limits. The result: shrinking government, seeking shared services with surrounding units of government and discussing revenue diversity. Details were provided about how Washington County is accomplishing these results:

2019 marks the lowest tax rate in 100+ years
2019 property tax levy (the amount collected by the county) is lower than 2009
Total employees have decreased by 6.2% (54) since 2009
Low priority programs have been cut completely
Shared services are being implemented to save taxpayer dollars

The presentation named the county's park entrance fee, solar now initiative, and facility rental program as revenues that have been implemented. Other, less popular, revenues did not move forward. The POWTS fee is another revenue diversification discussion.

"We 'fail fast' in Washington County," added Schoemann. "and we will continue to propose new ideas, seek feedback, implement and repeat." County officials called on constituents to get involved, continue providing feedback and be a part of the solutions.