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This sunset view of Jefferson’s Milwaukee Street pedestrian bridge, as seen from the new northern riverwalk, was captured Thursday evening.

Fading sunset

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City puts out notice for Town Square RFPs

Watertown’s Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Alex Allon put out public request for proposals Friday, seeking construction services for the Town Square park development.

Through this RFP, the RDA intends to choose a construction management firm that can partner with the RDA and the RDA’s design and engineering contractor for the project.

The RDA is an economic development organization formed to focus redevelopment efforts into the Watertown’s downtown central business district. The RDA also sponsors projects that improve the downtown experience adding to the vitality, excitement, activity, vibrancy, diversity and attractiveness of our entire community.

The RDA acquired and demolished six buildings on the south side of the 100 block of West Main Street. The RDA has contracted with a design and engineering firm which has produced a set of 95% complete plans and specifications for the Town Square.

The anticipated RFP timeline states:

• Oct. 5: Deadline to submit questions (no later than 5 p.m.)

• Oct. 14: Proposal submission deadline (no later than 3 p.m.)

• Oct. 15-19: Initial screening of proposals

• Oct. 19-22: Potential interviews with selected firms (if needed)

• Oct. 25: Recommendation to RDA board

Allon said earlier this year the Town Square space will transform into a “world class” park. He said the Town Square is a piece of the puzzle that is community development.

He said the Town Square’s riverfront will feature an accessible boat and kayak launch, landscape seating areas and a paved riverwalk, which expands down the banks of the Rock River.

Allon said the Town Square will also offer a performance plaza with an open air stage and lush green spaces for visitors.

The Town Square will also have a community plaza where “placemaking” will come alive. Placemaking are public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.

“The community plaza serves as the main year-round gathering place with multiple areas that offer a variety of seating options,” he said. “There are picnic tables on the paved plaza, tiered seating encircling the plaza and natural stone blocks nestled under trees to entice visitors to linger and enjoy.”

He said the Town Square is a “festive gathering place,” which is ideal for showcasing vendors, exhibit booths, food trucks and pop-up farmers’ markets.

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Dog park calendar means much to pooch lovers

JEFFERSON — It’s been about a decade since the first Jefferson County Dog Park Calendar was published and the document continues to grow in popularity.

It is a useful way for the county to earn funds to support the popular park located south of Johnson Creek.

The county’s dog park has been a labor of love that has been supported, in part, by sales of the dog park calendar.

The people and their pets who enjoy the park on state Highway 26, ambitiously support the calendar by purchasing it and proudly presenting their pets within its monthly pages.

According to Mary Truman of the parks department, the calendar has been available since 2012.

“Much to my surprise, they sold for $10 in 2012 and are still selling for $10 in 2021,” Truman said, adding the publishers of the calendar have included a Rainbow Bridge page to pay tribute to the pups that passed during the last calendar year.

Truman said the county tries to be “all inclusive” when it tries to determine what dogs will be depicted in the calendar.

“The 2022 calendar has 160 pups in it,” she said. “We will find a spot for any photo submitted, as long as the photos are good enough quality for printing. And each year we try hard to avoid placing the same pups from the last year’s calendar in the prominent photo spots for the current year. We like to try to offer everyone a chance to take the spotlight.”

Design and printing of the calendar are all done, in-house, by the county.

“As a department, we look forward to putting the photos together to create the completed product,” Truman said. “The photos are a combination of owner submitted photos and photos taken by our dog park ranger.”

The calendars are more than just a fundraiser for the Jefferson County Dog Park.

“As dog owners, so many of us love our dogs and we treat them like they are our kids and part of the family,” Truman said. “The dogs and parents who regularly visit the park have created a community. Both the dogs and the parents look forward to the social aspect of the park. When they buy calendars, they search the calendars with excitement to find their ‘kids,’ and the ‘kids’ of their friends.”

The Jefferson County Parks Department and the Friends of the Jefferson County Dog Park recognized several local businesses for their support of the 2022 calendar.

These include Nestle Purina with a $500 sponsorship; Custom Grooming, a $225 sponsorship; Blains Farm & Fleet, Jefferson Veterinary Clinic and Sullivan Veterinary Service for $150 sponsorships; and Lake Mills Veterinary Clinic, Pidder Padder Paws, and Theisen’s with $75 sponsorships.

Calendars are $10 each and are available for purchase in person at the Jefferson County Parks Department in the county courthouse Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

They are also available from the dog park attendant at the Jefferson County Dog Park or on-line at https://jeffersonco.seamlessdocs.com/f/daakhzlju1un

Fort Community Credit Union has been recognized as Juntos Vanzamos and held a proclamation ceremony at the Unity Project’s Fall Fiesta. A5

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Dodge County begins broadband feasibility study

JUNEAU — Dodge County landed a feasibility study to examine how to address its broadband deficiencies that exist within the county.

“We’ve had some successes to improve the broadband infrastructure in some areas of the county,” said Nathan Olson, planning and economic development manager for Dodge County. “However, more needs to be done to improve broadband service across our 900-square-mile region.”

Olson said the goal is to bring improved broadband services to households and businesses in Dodge County.

He said the study will analyze existing broadband assets, including those offered by local telecom service providers, cable companies and government organizations, which provide communication services through schools and first responders.

“The study will also evaluate the types of broadband services available and broadband use patterns and gaps in existing coverage,” he said.

Olson said Dodge County officials hired Design Nine, a firm that specializes in broadband planning, to develop recommendations and a strategic road map for better service in the region.

The cost of the study, which was approved by the Dodge County Board in July 2021, was $74,625 and paid for using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The study is scheduled to be completed by November’s end and will serve to guide the implementation of a modern broadband network.

Olson said a key part of the study includes a broadband survey for both businesses and residents over their current connections.

Paper surveys are already being sent out and surveys can also be completed online.

Olson said these surveys will provide detailed broadband usage and coverage data needed to complete the study.

Residential Broadband/Internet Survey: https://projects.designnine.com/survey/dodge-residential

Business Broadband/Internet Survey: https://projects.designnine.com/survey/dodge-business

For more information, visit https://www.co.dodge.wi.gov/departments/departments-e-m/land-resources-and-parks/community-development/dodge-county-internet-resources.

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, to be freed from oversight

A federal judge said Monday that John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan four decades ago, can be freed from all remaining restrictions next year if he continues to follow those rules and remains mentally stable.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington said during a 90-minute court hearing that he’ll issue his ruling on the plan this week.

Since Hinckley moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, from a Washington hospital in 2016, court-imposed restrictions have required doctors and therapists to oversee his psychiatric medication and therapy. Hinckley has been barred from having a gun. And he can’t contact Reagan’s children, other victims or their families, or actress Jodie Foster, who he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting.

Friedman said Hinckley, now 66, has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, no violent behavior and no interest in weapons since 1983.

“If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago,” the judge said. “But everybody is comfortable now after all of the studies, all of the analysis and all of the interviews and all of the experience with Mr. Hinckley.”

Friedman said the plan is to release Hinckley from all court supervision in June.

A 2020 violence risk assessment conducted on behalf of Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health concluded that Hinckley would not pose a danger if he’s unconditionally released.

The U.S. government had previously opposed ending restrictions. But it recently retained an independent expert to examine Hinckley and took a different position Monday, with attorneys saying they would agree to unconditional release if Hinckley follows the rules and shows mental stability for the next nine months.

Kacie Weston, an attorney for the U.S. government, said it wants to make sure Hinckley can adapt to living on his own for the first time in 40 years.

He recently moved out his mother’s house, which sits along a golf course in a gated community in Williamsburg. She died in July. Attorneys did not say where Hinckley is currently living.

“Mr. Hinckley does have a history of turning inward, and toward isolation,” Weston said.

Another concern is the impending retirement of one of Hinckley’s therapists and the looming end to a therapy group, which has provided much support and social interaction. Weston said Hinckley will likely face challenges finding a similar group in the future.

“All we have to do is wait a few more months and see,” Weston said. “And we’ll have actual hard data. We’ll have information in real time to see how Mr. Hinckley adapts.”

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute said in a statement that it was “saddened” by the court’s plan.

“Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release,” the foundation said. “Our hope is that the Justice Department will file a motion with the court leading to a reversal of this decision.”

Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded the 40th U.S. president outside a Washington hotel. The shooting paralyzed Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014. It also injured Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty.

Hinckley did not attend Monday’s hearing.

But Barry Levine, his attorney, said Hinckley wanted to express his “heartfelt” apologies and “profound regret” to the people he shot and their families.

as well as to Foster and the American people.

“Perhaps it is too much to ask for forgiveness,” Levine said. “But we hope they have an understanding that the acts that caused him to do this terrible thing (were caused by) mental illness.”

Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis. When jurors found him not guilty by reason of insanity, they said he needed treatment and not a lifetime in confinement.

Such an acquittal meant that Hinckley could not be blamed or punished for what he did, legal experts have said. Hinckley was ordered to live at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.

In the 2000s, Hinckley began making visits to his parents’ home in Williamsburg. A 2016 court order granted him permission to live with his mom full time after experts said his mental illness had been in remission for decades.

Friedman, the judge, has loosened some of Hinckley’s restrictions over the years. For instance, Hinckley was granted the right to publicly display his artwork and allowed to move out of his mother’s house. But he’s still barred from traveling to places where he knows there will be someone protected by the Secret Service.

Hinckley must give three days’ notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles (120 kilometers) from home. He also has to turn over passwords for computers, phones and online accounts such as email.

In recent years, Hinckley has sold items from a booth at an antique mall that he’s found at estate sales, flea markets and consignment shops. He’s also shared his music on YouTube.

“I would hope that people will see this as a victory for mental health,” Levine, Hinckley’s attorney, said Monday. “That is the real message in this case — that people who have been ravaged by mental disease, with good support and access to treatment, can actually become productive members of society.”