The library lease
The Platteville Common Council entered into an agreement to build a new library on Nov. 24. Everybody there — everybody in Russia and China and all but one person in Iraq — agreed that Platteville needed a bigger library.
The City of Platteville has entered into an agreement with Miners Development LLC, which is not from Wisconsin; therefore this corporation’s only reason to build this library and motel is to make money for its investors.
This agreement requires the City of Platteville to pay $2 million up front; I assume this money will have to be borrowed. Next the city will pay $18,333 per month for a total of $3.5 million over seven years plus the old library building and the land given to Miners Development, LLC valued at $575,000. The library might be given back to the City of Platteville. (This information was given to the 50 or 60 people who attended the Nov. 24 Common Council meeting.)
When the public was allowed to speak everybody from the Library Board told us how much we needed a new Platteville library. Bankers present talked about how hard it was to do their jobs, and the downtown businesses owners told us how much more money they were going to make because of the motel would bring them new customers. Sounds like this is something Platteville could be really proud of? Wrong!
According to the handout, the agreement allows an extra year of additional lease monies at $18,333 per month for the new library. This additional year will be spent hashing out a new lease agreement because there is no guarantee that the new library will be given to the City of Platteville. (Remember what I write —- you don’t think it’s true, make me prove it.) Yes, I wrote there is no guarantee that the library will be given to the City of Platteville.
If I live eight more years, I’ll bet you a steak dinner that the library will never be given to Platteville because it is a “cash cow.” If I were a Miners Development LLC investor the last thing I would allow is to give back the “cash cow” called the Platteville library. This was done with only one public hearing when our former city manager told us that the library would only cost us $1 per year and given back to us in seven years.
What passed Nov. 24, in my opinion, will mean that in seven years (1) the motel will become student housing and (2) the rent for the library will be set by Wall Street, not Platteville. For all the readers that were there Nov. 24 who claim that statement is not true: At the end of seven years there is a clause that says a realtor will set the rent per month for that much space in the building. The clause does not specify who picks the realtor. If he or she is from Madison our rent for the library will go up by 15 to 20 percent. This means for the ninth year of the contract the rent will be more than $20,000 a month. In the 10th year of the lease agreement for the library, Wall Street will set the rent and it will not be based on what is fair. It will be based on how much it would cost the City of Platteville to build a new library. Because there will only be three choices —pay the new rent set by Miner’s Development investors, build a new Library, or have no library at all. I hope that what I have just wrote is not true. I hope that I live to be in my 80s and I have to buy someone a steak dinner because I was wrong.
The Common Council passed this without public input. In 12 to 15 years the City of Platteville might not be able to afford to pay the rent on the new Library. If you have money, invest or buy stock in this company. They were masters at selling our Common Council on how Platteville would get a new library and downplayed that in years to come Wall Street will be setting the amount of rent we will have to pay each month for a new library.
For seven years no changes can be made to this agreement or the money will go away. If I would have been on the Common Council I would have demanded that a contract be entered into setting the amount of rent to be paid or the library would be given back after eight years. This agreement would not have affected the first agreement because it would not become valid until the first agreement had expired by a year.
I congratulated the young man who represented Miners Development LLC on how well he did his job and told him he could send his bonus check to me. He is an employee of Miners Development LLC and his job is to make sure the investors make a larger return on their investment. If he did what was best for Platteville, he would be fired. The Platteville Common Council was supposed to do what is best for Platteville’s taxpayers but they failed.
Remember: In God we Trust; everybody else you get it in writing. I don’t think you would buy a house not knowing what your payments would be after eight years and not be able to shop for a different lender to control the amount of your payments.
Call your council person, ask them if I have lied to you like we were lied to last January when we were told it would cost $1 per year and the library would be given to Platteville in seven years.
St. Augustine University Parish recently outlined plans for a new church and college dorm. In a recent letter to the parish, Fr. John outlined how this would be done through private financing. I am familiar with this bond market. It is small with high fees. It is unrated and riskier than CDs, so the returns are better. It is usually done for nursing homes, assisted living and hospitals and is often tax-free. It is often done by warm and fuzzy institutions, like stable and established Lutheran churches.
Here lies the problem: The Platteville Catholic churches are less than warm, fuzzy and stable. The finances are not controlled by an independent board, but by the priests. The number of parishioners is steadily declining because of dissatisfaction. There is dissatisfaction with the clergy. If you can believe, there is dissatisfaction by the clergy with parishioners who are knowledgeable and dissent, who are asked to leave. They are deemed not good enough Catholics. Pillars of the church for decades are deemed unworthy.
You may also have heard that the church choir quit en masse. The other choir dissolved as members departed. Has anyone ever heard of a choir quitting because of the clergy? This is clearly a church in chaos. This has resulted in decreased contributions and increased deficit. This is not something the bond market likes to see.
Because of the mismanagement, Platteville is the largest community southwest of Madison without a Catholic school. Platteville is behind Lancaster, Cuba City, Dickeyville, Potosi, Kieler, Bloomington, Dodgeville, Hazel Green and Darlington. The K–8 school was closed by the current clergy. Much of the remaining cash of the $2 million in funds raised to buy O.E. Gray were turned over to cover the St. Mary deficit.
The bonds might cover the dorm, but how in the world will anyone lend declining parishes money to build a new church it doesn’t need and cannot afford when many are questioning why does Platteville need two Catholic churches? How will the church be able to compete operating a dorm with the State of Wisconsin, which can borrow at much lower interest rates? There is also the question of inclusivity. If this is a Catholic dorm, it won’t fly. If it is not a Catholic dorm, why build it?
Apparently funds are available for feasibility studies. Perhaps it is not realized that people will walk out of your office cash in hand laughing too hard to drive away from the curb. Once due diligence is done by the financiers, they will see their atrocious finances, the mismanagement, the exclusivity and lack of true Christianity and the financial and moral unworkability.
More than being pink
It’s so much bigger than being pink … Our small school, filled with children ranging from the ages of 3 to 7, came together to do something so special, that for the first time I was at loss for words.
My name is Denise Johnson. and I am the 4-year-old kindergarten teacher at Neal Wilkins who got surprised by the teachers and children of our school by having Mrs. Johnson Day Nov. 23.
Since my diagnosis of breast cancer last March the people I work with and the families our school supports have been nothing short of amazing with all of their love and support for me! I have been surrounded by so much love, prayer and strength that I truly believe that this is what has kept me fighting so hard. I am certainly not the first teacher nor unfortunately will I be the last that has had to battle cancer. However, I am one of the luckiest to be surrounded by such giving and supportive people in our small community. My family has been blessed with many meals, cards and gifts throughout my treatments and surgery by my colleagues and families in our school district. We cannot thank everyone enough for your generosity.
Throughout October and part of November while I was off work recovering from surgery all our students and their families took such pride and ownership in a coin collection in my honor to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals. They had challenges with their collections. If they raised $100 dollars, the 4K team — including my long-term sub, Mark Schell, Mrs. Neis, our secretary, Mrs. Greenhalgh, our librarian, and Mrs. Knockel, a teaching assistant — had to dye their hair pink. If the children raised over $250, the entire kindergarten team had to kiss animals, a goat and a bunny! If they reached $500 the entire first grade team had to get pied in the face. If the children raised $1,000 Mr. Brown, our principal, had to endure all three challenges!
The children and families of Neal Wilkins raised over $2,100 in my honor! It was truly amazing to hear the total keep going up and up! My heart is full.
Often people have said to me, “Mrs. Johnson, you are so strong and such an inspiration.” To that I respond that I am only as strong as the people who are supporting me, loving me, and fighting with me. All the staff, children and their families are the true inspiration, helping to raise such an astounding amount of money for children who need our help and for all the support you have given me.
Our community should be so proud of these young children. I know I am. I couldn’t ask for a better place to work, a better job, or a better place to live. I am blessed. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart; you are my inspiration, my strength and most of all my community! God Bless!
Neal Wilkins Early Learning Center, Platteville
How to honor a veteran
It is the morning of Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, and it seems very fitting that I write this. I meet many people through my position at the Platteville Regional Chamber, and meeting visitors is one of the highlights. Last week, I had an experience I will never forget.
An older gentleman, Larry, came into the visitor center looking for some information. He was wearing a World War II veteran’s hat. In talking to him, I found out he was a former Marine, married, lived in a small town in Minnesota and was in town to just spend some time and find out about our history. He was traveling alone — just on a road trip and decided to come here. Years ago he came to the area with his sons and did many outdoor recreational things. He loves the area. I told him about hosting the Vietnam Moving Wall here and our beautiful veterans’ memorial. I gave him some of the mementos from that time and you would have thought I had given him the world.
What a sweet man. He is 87 years old and told me some of his experiences in World War II. He was very engaging and after helping him find the information he needed, I casually asked him what his plans for dinner were. He told me and left to visit the Mining Museum.
Not wanting him to eat alone, I made some calls and John Dutcher, Joe and I “coincidentally” ran into him at dinner and asked him to join us. We had such a good time. He was so complementary about our town — he said everyone treated him like “royalty.” When he checked into his hotel, Mrs. Patel was very friendly and helped him get settled; Jenny at the museum told him to come back tomorrow to finish his visit to the museum because he didn’t have time to see it all; and when he stopped at Badger Bros. for a cup of coffee and was approaching the door, the “barista” rushed over to help open the door for him and when he left, another helped him out.
While we were at dinner, I noticed there was a group of three young men at the table next to us. After they got up and paid their bill, one of them came over to Larry and shook his hand and thanked him for his service. Then he saluted and said “Semper Fi.” You could have heard a pin drop. I really can’t express my feelings in seeing that exchange.
Larry decided to stay another day. John offered to pick him up the next day at his hotel and give him a guided tour of our Veterans Honor Roll. He said “you mean, you’ll actually come and pick me up”? He was very humbled. He stopped back at the visitor center and told me what a wonderful experience he had here.
All that’s left to be said is how proud of my town I am. For any visitor to be treated so kindly, and especially a veteran, makes everything we do at the chamber seem so worthwhile.
Thank you, Platteville, for showing our true colors.
Platteville Regional Chamber
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