Office of County Administrator
County of La Crosse, Wisconsin
County Administrative Center
400 4th Street North • Room 3300 • La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601-3200
(608) 785-9700 • Fax (608) 789-4821

Memo To:  La Crosse County Board of Supervisors

From:  Steve O’Malley, County Administrator

Date:  December 3, 2009


Re:  December Monthly Report to the County Board

Attached is the December  Monthly Report to the County Board, providing monitoring information about department activities to the full County Board instead of reporting only to governing committees.  


REMINDER   Monthly Reporting by roughly half the organization every other month.  While you will receive this report each month, the reports do not cover every department each time

 February, April, June, August, Oct. & Dec.   January , March, May, July, September, November
Planning, Resources & Development
Public Works & Infrastructure
Judiciary & Law Enforcement
Corp Counsel & Child Support
  Health & Human Services
Aging & Long Term Care
County Clerk, Finance
 IT, Printing, Personnel, Treasurer



Biogas Utilization Feasible at La Crosse County Landfill  With the leadership of our Solid Waste Director and Sustainability Coordinator, Foth Company completed a feasibility study of alternative uses for Biogas at the landfill.  The study paid for in part by a grant from Focus on Energy, confirms that there are  viable alternatives to utilize the Biogas from the landfill for energy production.  The County has been approached by Gunderson Lutheran indicating they might be interested in collaborating on this project, based in part on their experience with Biogas from the La Crosse Brewery.  County staff will advertise a Request For Interest (RFI) to seek if there are any other organizations interested in working with the County to develop this resource.   Staff will report to the committee and board of next steps if a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process is appropriate (multiple responders), or some form of negotiations (single responder). 


La Crosse County H1N1 influenza status report    To date there have been no deaths related to H1N1 in the county and the number of hospitalizations has been low.  Absentee rates in school and businesses have dropped in recent weeks.  Together, the health care providers in the county including Franciscan Skemp, Gundersen Lutheran,  La Crosse County Health Dept. and others have immunized about 10,000 people so far this fall.  Significant joint will efforts continue to assure provision of the vaccine to more people  as it becomes available.   If the spread of H1N1 continues as expected that there will be an increase in the rate of illness in the county depending in part upon how many people are able to be immunized.


The Health Dept is closely monitoring expenditures on H1N1 related activities to assure that they will be within the over $200,000 that has been given to the County through a contract with the State of Wisconsin.  This contract is expected to be sufficient to cover related expenses.  The Health Dept is using existing and contracted staff as well as volunteers to implement the local public health emergency response plan.  The contract with Logistics Health Inc. to assist with larger clinics in the future is expected to be signed by early in the week of Dec. 7.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail.

County Administrator direct line:   785-9789,   cell phone  608-385-3316

                                                  or e-mail




Planning, Resources & Development Committee

December 2009



Metropolitan Planning Organization


Since my last report, more progress has been made on the regional bicycle plan, scheduled for completion in early 2010.  At this point we are designing a system of “regional” and “local” bike routes that will make it easier and safer for bicyclists to travel between area destinations, such as between downtown La Crosse and downtown Onalaska.  Once the routes have been determined by the Bicycle / Pedestrian Advisory Committee and other advocates, they will be displayed on a user-friendly GIS map and a system of on-road signage will be developed.


As you may remember from earlier reports, we are working with the City of La Crescent and other partners to develop the “Wagon Wheel Trail” between Minnesota and Wisconsin.  In discussing this trail with the Minnesota office of rail and freight, it was determined that grade crossing signals would be required at the proposed trail crossing at Main and Sycamore Streets in La Crescent.  Fortunately, we identified a federal safety grant source and I was able to secure $202,500 in funding at the latest Mn/DOT District 6 Area Transportation Partnership meeting.  In other positive funding news, although final notification has not been granted, I believe we will receive $55,000 to fund the 2010 aerial photography for La Crosse County.  So, December looks like a Merry Christmas to the La Crosse area from the LAPC!



La Crosse County UW-Extension


  • Over 50 people, attended a presentation by UW-Extension’s Entomologist Dr. Chris Williamson to learn about insecticide options and methods for controlling the destructive emerald ash borer in their communities.  Over 30 teachers/after school staff/childcare workers participated in a garden initiative program entitled “Got Dirt?” to learn how to create school vegetable gardens and to encourage greater vegetable consumption and exercise for youth. (JC)
  • More than 30 youth and adults participated in a fall beef selection workshop offered by UW-Extension and Livestock Committee at the Mike and Holly Smith Farm.  Youth learned how to select quality beef animals for the fair and the roles that youth and adults should have in that process.  Proper vaccination and castration procedures were also demonstrated. (SDH)
  • 4-H received a $1,000 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Training Grant. Twenty people from the School District of La Crosse and the Boys & Girls Club participated. This training focused on 4-H S.E.T. (Science, Engineering and Technology) curriculum as well as how it fits into afterschool programs and ways to create S.E.T.-rich environments. These participants will use the knowledge this training provided to reach over 600 youth in La Crosse during the 2009-2010 school year.(JH)
  • Over 100 4-H youth, grades K-13, were recognized at the 4-H Achievement Night for their exceptional growth in outstanding project work, involvement in activities, and leadership they displayed during the past year. Some of the skills that youth involved in the process learn are writing, organization, goal setting and recordkeeping skills. (RM)
  • Over 225 individuals attended one or more of the thirty-six financial presentations offered during “Money Smart Week”, October 11-17.  Consumer Surveys for each of the sessions are being tabulated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and will be available after the first of the year. (MMS)
  • Forty-two (56%) of the seventy-four members of one or more of the counties ten Process Improvement teams completed evaluations of the teams outcomes, recommendations, improvements, and time savings.  A composite of team results will be finalized in December. (MMS)
  • Five nutrition sessions were presented for 4th graders and highlighted the USDA MyPyramid food groups, physical activity, and safe food handling. Eighteen students indicated that they are now reading food labels at home and 20 students stated that they tasted a new food (such as hummus, spinach and black beans). (SH)
  • WNEP reached 36 individuals through the Wisconsin Well Women program and provided one-on-one discussion, demonstrated how to stretch food dollars, and informed them of other available nutritional classes. (SH)
  • Presented research comparing municipal assessed values to sales data to over 50 La Crosse County local elected officials; elected officials learned how falling average assessment ratios can create conditions of property tax inequity between taxpayers within a municipality.(KG)
  • Co-convened and facilitated the Preservation of Agriculture Conservation Easement (PACE) Committee through a series of meetings in order to set up a list of qualification criteria for a La Crosse County PACE program.(KG)


JC – Joyce Cieleki, Horticulture Educator                   

JH – Jenny Holm, 4-H & Youth Assistant         

KG – Karl Green, Asst. Prof., Dept. of Comm. Resource Dev., Community Resource Dev. Agent

MMS – Mary Meehan-Strub, Prof., Dept. of Family Living, Family Living Agent / Dept. Head        

RM – Robert Matysik, Prof., Dept of Youth Dev., 4-H & Youth Agent

SH – Sheila Harding, Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program Coordinator

SDH – Steve Huntzicker, Asst. Prof., Dept. of Agriculture, Ag Agent     



Register of Deeds


  2009 statistics


Birth Certificates

Real Estate Documents

Total Revenue























































Land Conservation


With the onset of colder weather and snow, most area builders and contractors have applied for their remaining erosion control permits of the year for construction of one and two family homes. In November we experienced an increase in the number of erosion control permits above what is typical for this time of year. Even with the small jump in permits for November, the total permit revenues for the year will be short of expectations.


Discussions with builders and contractors about prospects for 2010 have been mixed. Some report that they are finding work to keep their businesses running at full staff and others are struggling to find enough work to keep busy. No one is projecting a strong turn around in the home building industry for next year therefore erosion control permit issuance will probably remain flat as well for 2010.


The Department of Land Conservation is gearing up to assist county farmers for participation in the State’s new Working Lands Initiative that is scheduled to begin on January 1st, 2010. The new initiative will provide more tax credits to farmers who agree to protect farmland from non-farm development and to remain in compliance with the state’s agricultural performance standards and prohibitions. It will also provide financial assistance to local governments and non-profit organizations to develop a Purchase of Agriculture Conservation Easements (PACE) program to compensate participating farmers for limiting development on his or her farmland. Participants in the PACE program must also be in compliance with the state’s agricultural performance standards and prohibitions.


The conservation compliance requirements for the new Working Lands Initiative program will most certainly increase the Department of Land Conservation staff workload over the next five years. Farmers who currently are participating in the Farmland Preservation Program will have a five year window, starting in 2010 through 2015 to be in compliance with the state’s agricultural performance standards and prohibitions. All new applicants, beginning in 2010, must already be in compliance with those standards and prohibitions before being accepted into the program. The state’s agricultural standards and prohibitions are as follows;




1. All cropland acres must be farmed to meet established soil erosion rates for all cropped    soil types

2. All new manure storage facilities must built in accordance with accepted standards and specifications

3. Manure storage facilities that have not been used for more than 24 months must be properly abandoned

4. Failing and leaking existing manure storage facilities must be upgraded, replaced or properly abandoned.

5. All crop producers and livestock producers who apply manure or other nutrients to crop fields must do so in compliance with an approved nutrient management plan.

6. All livestock producers within a water quality management area (300 feet from a stream or 1000 feet from a lake) shall divert runoff from contacting feedlot, manure storage areas and barnyards.




1. A livestock operation shall have no overflow of manure storage facilities.

2. A livestock operation shall have no unconfined manure pile in a water quality management area.

3. A livestock operation shall have no direct runoff from a feedlot or stored manure into the waters of the state.

4. A livestock operation may not allow unlimited access by livestock to waters of the state in a location where high concentrations of animals prevent the maintenance of adequate sod or self sustaining vegetative cover.


Burr Oak Watershed Project


1 ea          Barnyard Runoff Control System with Roof Runoff Management

150 ft       Underground Outlet

1 ea          Grade Stabilization/Rock Chute

3 ea          Cattle Crossings

1 ea          Machinery Crossing

839 ft       Grassed Waterway

230 ft       Cattle Lane

2,926 ft    Protective Fencing


Gill’s Coulee Creek Watershed Project


5,773 ft      Stream bank Protection Rock Rip Rap

500 ft         Stream Crossings

4 ea            Rock Lined Outlet

2 ea           Grade Stabilization Structures with Diversions

1 ea            Plunge Pool

4,060 ft      Protective Fencing

310 ft         Cattle Lane

49 ea          In-Stream Vortex Weirs


Soil and Water Resource Management Program


1,075 ft      Grassed Waterway

1 ea            Rock Machinery Crossing

1 ea            Rock Cattle Crossing

2 ea            Grade Stabilization/Rock Chute

134 ft         Underground Outlet


All of the above conservation practices were cost shared using funds from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the La Crosse County Environmental Fund.



Zoning, Planning and Land Information Department


We have a current Farmland Preservation Plan that was adopted in the mid 1980’s.  This plan along with our zoning ordinance must be updated and recertified by the Department of Agriculture, trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).  This will ensure that local farmers remain eligible to claim farmland preservation tax credits. 


Beginning January 1, 2010, a person who requests rezoning of their land to another use must pay lacrosse County, a conversion fee equal to three times the per acres value of the highest tillable cropland in that community.  The average value is $225, three times that value is $675 per acre rezoned out the Exclusive or Transitional Agriculture Districts. 


On Wednesday, November 18 the Department of Revenue presented, during what they are calling statewide town hall meetings, their proposal to completely change the way real and personal property are assessed.  Secretary Roger Ervin and staff presented a 2 hour discussion.  There we some County Board members, local elected officials, assessors from around the tri-county area, County Administrator and press in attendance.


This new process to be called Countywide Assessing or some form of Countywide Consortium would involve funding from the county along with new county staff, this meeting was highly noticed.  The goal is for the state to get rid of it’s 2 tier assessment system.  That would mean getting rid of the local assessor and the states equalization process.  Currently the state has 1851 assessment districts which the states says in unmanageable.  They would like to see 72 districts, one for each county.  The DOR has also gone from 1,400 employees to less than 900, of which over 2/3 could retire anytime.  The state has no regulatory power over the assessor.  Currently they provide minimum over site by doing testing, certification, and administer the annual assessors school.  The DOR also points out the current system is inequitable – all communities are not assessed at the same level, contracts do not call for the same level of service.  Streamlining and taking outdated paper appraisal cards to automated and digital data record keeping is needed.   I have attended many meetings indicating the need for this transformation.  I’d be happy to share my notes and findings with nay group.


The department is working in collaboration with the MPO office to acquire new aerial photography which will be flown at the same time the US Census is taken.  From this standpoint we will have photography that is taken at the exact same time as the census which makes future land use comparisons very accurate. Aerial Photography is approved for purchase in 2010, to coincide with the Census Data.  Thanks to significant funding from the La Crosse Area Planning Commission, DOT and Land Records funds.


The 2010 Census continues to move forward.  Jeff Bluske has started a “Complete Count Committee” to promote timely and accurate response from all residents of La Crosse County on the US Census. 


Zoning permits issued through November 30, 2009:




Submitted by,


Jeff Bluske and Charlie Handy



Public Works & Infrastructure

December 2009



Highway Department


  • Crews have been busy performing shoulder maintenance throughout the county. Various areas required added material while other areas were scalped to allow for proper drainage.


  • Crews performing work on the State Highways are working at a substantial joint repair job on Highway 33 (Irish Hill). This in-depth work is being done to extend the life of the pavement until a reconstruction project is completed in 2013.


  • All winter equipment has been mounted on the trucks and salting units have been calibrated. Our early delivery of salt has been completed and our salt storage buildings are full. We have completed our salt/sand mixing and are replenishing our stock pile with dredged sand from the Trempealeau Lock and Dam site. November was good to us with no winter maintenance issues.


  • Our department repaired a storm damage site on Drectrah Road for the Town of Barre. This was an original 2008 FEMA site that slid out again after heavy rains in early June of this year. The Town of Barre will reimburse our costs.


  • Our annual Safety – Snowplow Truck Roadeo was held in early November. Various safety training sessions were conducted as well as a Truck Roadeo where drivers go through a course consisting of  sharp turns, narrow lanes, backing and various curves operating the plow as close to obstacles as possible. Employees look forward to this event each year and it helps sharpen their winter driving skills for the upcoming winter.


  • Preliminary engineering and design work is in progress for a safety project on CTH “OA” with construction anticipated in 2012. Also engineering and design work is in progress for the CTH “YY” bridge also anticipated for 2012 construction.


Dennis  Osgood



Solid Waste


·               Mike Zein and Hank Koch have received Landfill Facility Managers certification from the WDNR.  The Solid Waste Department has three certified facility managers including Jadd Stilwell.

·               Work continues on the new shop construction.  Occupancy of the new shop is expected in February of 2010.  No significant change orders have been received to date.  Soil testing for contamination around the old shop indicates only minor contamination from diesel and gasoline products. 

·               A new container storage and staging area has been developed at the landfill which improves traffic safety, improves the aesthetic of the entrance area, and minimizes wind blown paper.  Positive comments have been received from haulers and the public.

·               Importation of clay borrow materials has been completed.  High quality, tested and verified clay material has been stockpiled at the landfill site.  Approximately 130,000 yards were delivered.  A summary of the project will be provided to the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee. 

·               Three staff members are leaving the Solid Waste Department.  Jeff Gloyd has taken a position with Waste Management, Inc. to advance his career.  Judy Merfeld and Buffie Linberg are transferring to another department within the County.  Temporary assistance will be used to manage the scale and provide secretarial services.  The Finance Department will be providing accounting and billing assistance until the positions are filled. 

·               The annual air emissions test of the landfill was conducted under the supervision of the WDNR.  The test was a significant improvement over past years.  The WDNR indicated that La Crosse County has made improvements to the landfill which enhanced the aesthetic image, performance, and compliance of the landfill. 

·               The agreement between Xcel and La Crosse County to utilize waste from a three week shutdown has been a success.  Xcel was able to complete their repairs on time and the waste was utilized to develop a fluff lift in Phase VII.  This agreement also waived penalties associated with waste volumes not reaching an annual minimum of 73,000 tons.  Because of the recession, it appears that Xcel waste volumes will be slightly less then 70,000 in 2009.

·               The HHM program is finishing a successful year of collection both at the permanent facility and through the mobile program.  The HHM staff weathered the State budget storm and was able to complete collection events in five partnering counties while accepting record numbers of La Crosse County users and businesses. 

·               Diversion of waste material from the La Crosse system is being discussed on a strategic level.  Meetings have occurred in Wabasha and Houston County and discussions with the City of La Crosse and Onalaska.  An inspection of the transfer stations was made without definitive results pertaining to waste diversion.  Methods to improve waste security through enforcement action and/or positive incentives are being explored. 

·               Discussion on a Solid Waste Assessment to enhance recycling throughout La Crosse County is occurring.  The Assessment will look at organizational alternatives for recycling and explore funding possibilities other than tax levy for solid waste services.  A proposal for the Assessment, in accordance with the Sustainability Plan and in collaboration with the recycling study being preformed by Dale Hexom, City of La Crosse, is expected to be delivered in late December or early January of 2010. 

·               The Gas-to Energy Feasibility Study is complete.  The County is putting together an RFI looking for partners to help develop landfill gas into energy.

·               The La Crosse Sustainability Commission is currently meeting and is now looking for four members from the private sector.

·               A grant application was submitted to the Office of Energy Independence for some of the federal stimulus monies available for renewable energy projects. The County is applying for the maximum amount of $225,000 for two solar water heating projects one for the Law Enforcement Center and one for the Lakeview Health Care Center.


Respectfully Submitted,


Henry A. Koch, PE




Judiciary & Law

December 2009



Emergency Services 


The Emergency Medical Commission had its first two meetings (October 28th and November 24th).  This commission has 10 voting members (3 from City of La Crosse; 2 from La Crosse County; 1 from City of Onalaska; 1 representing the villages; 1 representing the townships; 1 representing Franciscan Skemp; and 1 from Gundersen Lutheran.  In addition, each hospital provides a physician that is a non-voting member). 


The duties of this commission are to establish standards and contract for emergency medical services in the county.   These duties will include developing standards for paramedics, response times, communications and quality assurance.  Also, the commission has the authority to approve ambulance services and the EMS Medical Director; develop vehicle and equipment requirements; establish insurance requirements for the providers and develop requirements for data collection, reports and records.


The first order of business for the commission is to begin working on a future ambulance service agreement.   The most recent agreement with Tri-State Ambulance expired on December 31, 2007.   Currently, the Towns of Bangor and Burns as well as the Villages of Bangor and Rockland have ambulance service agreements with Sparta Ambulance and those contracts end June 30th, 2010.


Public-Safety Communications



Telephone Calls

9-1-1 Calls       2,343 (average of 78 per day)              

          Answered within 10 seconds:      96.0%

          Answered within 20 seconds:      99.7%

          Answered within 40 seconds:       100%

     * 0 calls more than 40 seconds


Total Calls     25,532 (average of 851 per day)


Calls for Service

          Law Enforcement      10,146

          Fire Fighting                    177

          Emergency Medical         490



Telephone Calls

          9-1-1 Calls       2,297 (average of 74 per day)

                   Answered within 10 seconds:    95.5%

                    Answered within 20 seconds:    99.7%

                   Answered within 40 seconds:    99.9%

     * 1 call more than 40 seconds


                   Total Calls     23,996 (average of 774 per day)


Calls for Service

          Law Enforcement        8,889

          Fire Fighting                    202

          Emergency Medical         577


National Emergency Number Association Standards:

§         90% within 10 seconds (during the busy hour)

§         95% within 20 seconds.



Emergency Management (Keith Butler)


  • The month of October began with the first ever cancellation of the Oktoberfest Torchlight Parade due to threatening severe weather.  Contingency planning for large scale events always includes weather awareness, but circumstances rarely require invoking protective measures.
  • On October 2, two important meetings required teleconference participation from home (planning for the statewide Long Term Power Outage Workshop and Exercise program and the Homeland Security Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan Workshop).
  • The County Communications & Command Vehicle was deployed to the Onalaska Fire Department Open House on Saturday, October 3 and was toured by dozens of citizens.
  • The County Fire Officers Association met at the West Salem FD on Monday evening, October 12 and members were presented with information regarding the formation of a MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) Division in La Crosse County.
  • The Tactical Interoperable Communications Workshop was held in the County Emergency Operations Center on October 13 and 14.  A comprehensive plan for radio communication was developed through the efforts of nearly 25 participants.
  • The Emergency Management Coordinator assisted with a HazMat tabletop exercise in Arcadia on Monday evening, October 19 and attended the Wisconsin Emergency Management West Central Region monthly meeting in Eau Claire on October 20.
  • The Statewide System Management Group for the Wisconsin public safety radio system met in Oshkosh on October 21.  Keith Butler serves as the Wisconsin Emergency Management Association representative and participated in the meeting via a teleconference call.
  • Onalaska Fire Department hosted the final MABAS informational meeting on Wednesday evening, October 21.
  • La Crosse County Emergency Management hosted a planning meeting for the Long Term Power Outage Workshop and Exercise program on October 22.
  • The new Clark County Emergency Management Director traveled to La Crosse on October 27 to learn about public safety radio communication. 
  • The Facilities Department met with Emergency Management on October 28 to discuss campground evacuation plans.  The final SkyWarn (storm spotter) meeting for the 2009 storm season was held on Wednesday evening, October 28.
  • La Crosse County Emergency Management hosted a River Gauge Workshop presented by the National Weather Service on Thursday, November 5.  Nearly 70 people from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin attended this excellent presentation regarding flood warning systems.
  • The County Emergency Management Coordinator completed a public/private sector cooperative efforts course in Madison on Monday, November 9 followed by the annual Homeland Security Exercise Planning Workshop on November 10.  The annual Wisconsin Emergency Management Association Conference was held on November 11 which was followed by the annual Wisconsin Emergency Management “All-Hands” meeting on November 12.
  • The new Viterbo University Security and Safety Director requested a meeting with County Emergency Management on November 16.
  • The West Central Region County Emergency Management Directors met with the new Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator, Ed Wall, in Eau Claire on November 17.
  • The Local Emergency Planning Committee met on November 18 and prepared a media release regarding the implications of the proposed change to the La Crosse Fire Department and the impact on the Regional HazMat Team.  This resulted in two television interviews on November 20.
  • The first La Crosse Area Radio Group organizational meeting was held in the Courthouse on November 19 in an effort to develop and coordinate the short and long term public safety radio system changes.



Clerk of Courts


In August, La Crosse County was the pilot county for the State for processing substitute judge requests.  CCAP created an interface with the District Court Administrators software and the Court software to allow the process to be done electronically.  The pilot is going very well and should be used released to the rest of the state soon.


In September, the Seventh Judicial District, which includes La Crosse County, started the interpreter pilot program for the State of Wisconsin.  The District Court Administrator is now coordinating the district in scheduling and paying for interpreters.  The hope is to reduce expenses for each of the counties by coordinating resources.  This pilot is also going very well. 


During the last couple of months, the courts have been running business as normal.  We have had students visiting, jury trials held, enhancements to our bond program, and court hearings as usual. 



Sheriff’s Department


The Sheriff’s Department will have two retirements at the end of November.  Rick Griffin is retiring after 30 years as a jailer and Edward “Butch” Konetchy is retiring after 22 years as a jailer.  The Sheriff’s Department would like to thank both Rick and Butch for their years of service and wish them well in their retirement.  Both of them were presented with a career achievement award at the Department awards ceremony in May.


Through grant funding the Sheriff’s Department was able to purchase a state of the art Total Station device.  This computer system is used for documenting and reconstructing accident and crime scenes.  What once was done with paper and pencil can now be done through computer technology and the end product is scientific data that can be used in criminal cases and litigation cases.  The system also allows for animation and realistic diagrams and drawings which can be used to present evidence in court.  The Sheriff’s Department hosted the training which had numerous officers from throughout the Midwest in attendance including the La Crosse Police Department who will use the same equipment along with our Deputies.


In general the Sheriff’s Department has been very busy in the patrol division.  Calls for service are on pace to be 5.25% higher than 2008.


The jail transition team is busy with the planning for the new facility.  As of late they have been working on various policies and procedures as well as working with the jail building contractors on installation of equipment in the new facility.