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Jefferson’s not kidding around: It’s raising funds for Goat Island

May 15, 2019 GMT

JEFFERSON -- The city of Jefferson goats on Goat Island are “goat-ing outside.”

The Jefferson Common Council Finance Committee last week approved providing $1,000 in “seed money” for a fundraiser to benefit Goat Island and the goats keeping its weeds maintained.

“We intend to use derivatives of various local slogans and customs to promote this event, so expect to hear more bad puns like ‘we’re goat-ing outside’ and ‘it’s goatastic!’” said Jefferson Mayor Dale Oppermann, referring to Jefferson’s motto, “We’re Going Outside!”

In the Finance Committee meeting, Oppermann introduced Heidi Pitzner and Rick Wellner -- both members of the “Friends” group -- to speak about the proposed fundraiser. Both say the goats have really become a community asset.

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“The fishermen love it; the kids love it,” said Pitzner.

Added Wellner, “A lot of people seem to like it, and I haven’t heard many complaints.”

Right now, the plan is for a Sunday, July 7, event from 1-6 p.m. at Rotary Waterfront Park. The public will have a chance to meet and greet the island’s goats -- Buddy, Anna and Elsa -- as well as hear live music by The Van Eskes from 1-3 p.m. and from the Myles Wangerin Band from 3:30-6 p.m.

There will be food and beverages available for purchase (the Jefferson Lions Club will handle beverages and Haferman BBQ the food), as well as a variety of family-friendly fun and games.

The proceeds from the event will be used for the care and maintenance of the goats, and to improve public access to Goat Island, which is located below the Jefferson dam but accessible only by boat.

The Nubian goats have been on the island since 2017, when the city authorized their use to help reduce invasive plant species.

Goats typically eat 5 percent of their body weight daily and are notoriously easygoing about what’s on the menu. They eat a lot of weeds and some of the most problematic invasive species, such as garlic mustard, wild parsnip and Queen Anne’s lace. Using goats is a “natural” option eliminates the need for costly and potentially hazardous pesticides and decreases energy costs compared to using mechanized vehicles.

The goats received a little nationwide press last June when Elsa ended up in the river when waters were high on the Rock River. A video of the rescue by nearby resident Mike Soleska went viral after he took a canoe to rescue the goat from the water and return her to dry land.

“We’re all thankful it was a happy ending,” Oppermann said at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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Pitzner went on to say that the same goats would be used this summer and that the extra year of growth and experience hopefully would prevent any other accidents.

“We’re not putting new babies out there, so they won’t be quite as … reckless,” Pitzner said.

She, Wellner and Alderman Vince Krause are the primary goat handlers, and the goats are owned by Duane and Linda Hummen.

The seed money from the city will cover the music costs for the events, and Oppermann and the Friends of Goat Island are hopeful that the group eventually will become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that will be self-funding for the island’s maintenance.

Other action from the May 7′s meeting included:

-- Doug Beilke of Maas Brothers Construction gave a brief update on the police department construction project. Right now, the total amount of the work cost is at $1,928,572.98, which included a $3,416 change order (the sixth of the project) given to the council Tuesday night.

The latest change order included various small projects around the department, including a kickplate in the squad room, corner guards, replacing an HVAC belt and adding places for five additional security cameras in the department (the largest individual cost at $1,215).

Maas Brothers also repaired motion sensors that weren’t working and added a door button.

City Administrator Tim Freitag praised Maas Brothers for finishing the project ahead of schedule and bringing the project in about its budget of $2.235 million. Right now, of the $65,000 winter contingency fund, about $31,000 remains, and of the $64,802.45 project contingency, about $17,862.24 remains.

The latest change order came out of the project contingency fund.

“I want to say you did a really good job,” Freitag told Beilke.

-- Jefferson Police Chief Kenneth Pileggi spoke regarding 2019 Police Week, and Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jen Pinnow read the mission statement for the chamber, composed by Becky McCray of IdeaFriendly.com.

The Jefferson County Chiefs and Sheriff Association will hold its Law Enforcement Memorial Thursday at 11 a.m. on the northeast corner of the Jefferson County Courthouse lawn, with a rain location of the Jefferson County Fair Park Activity Center.

Jefferson County has lost two officers in the line of duty -- Deputy William Cooper, 49, of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, was killed in the line of duty on Saturday, Feb. 8, 1902; and Patrolman David A. McKee Sr., 38, of the Fort Atkinson Police Department, died in the line of duty on April 9, 1968.

-- The Jefferson Common Council approved a contract with Kuhlman Cleaning Services for $22,800 annually to clean Jefferson City Hall, the police department and the Jefferson Senior Center, as well as a developer’s agreement between the city and Gorman and Company LLC for the Candise Streets Loft development.

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