By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor
This past year has been eventful in this area, so fitting the biggest stories into just 10 spots was challenging.
There were several issues that dotted the front pages of the Clinton Herald for several weeks that just missed the cut for the top 10 biggest stories of 2013.
There was no bigger drama in early 2013 than what transpired with the Clinton Humane Society and the city of Clinton.
In January 2013, Humane Society officials approached the city, requesting a $120,000 subsidy, up from the previous $65,000 subsidy.
Much discussion ensued, but eventually, the full council approved the subsidy. Then things got a bit more dramatic.
Mayor Mark Vulich vetoed the agreement, leaving the city without an animal impoundment provider. The city sought proposals from other establishments to take the city’s impounded animals, but nobody bit on the offer.
Only the Humane Society submitted a proposal, this time seeking a $105,000 subsidy.
Although still on hold, the announcement of a group intending to buy the Wilson building invigorated downtown Clinton.
The company Frantz-Hobart (now Hobart Historic Restoration) made its intentions clear in early 2013 that they intended on making the Wilson building a 28-unit apartment complex.
The plans are for the building to house 28 apartments and offer a street-level commercial space. However, a split in the original company, Frantz-Hobart, has slowed the purchase of the building, but officials with Hobart Historic Renovation still plan to purchase the building and make the complex feature upscale units.
In addition to new businesses opening downtown, a Clinton couple, Patrick and Julie Lonergan, renovated the former Patrick’s Steakhouse to make a modern office building.
The building has sat empty for years, but the renovations, costing approximately $250,000, have made the building open for business.
Andy Cole sentencing
The man charged in the murder of a Sabula woman in 2008 entered a plea agreement in 2013.
Andy Cole was sentenced to 10 years on one count of voluntary manslaughter and five years for assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse in the death of Alysia Marburger.
Cole was charged in 2012 with first-degree murder in connection with Marburger’s death but entered an Alford plea to the lesser charges.
An Alford plan means the defendant agrees a jury would likely convict during a trial, but it is not an admission of guilt.
Marburger’s body was found in a ditch near Rock Creek Cabin off U.S. 67 in 2008. Cole was later charged in 2012 and he was sentenced in July 2013.
Cuts to state funding and regionalization of shelters in the state left the YWCA’s domestic violence and sexual assault center with few options for funding.
But that didn’t stop YWCA officials from making their case for funding to several councils and boards during 2013.
The YWCA had a goal of $100,000 to be raised, and through donations from eight other cities, Clinton and Jackson counties, businesses and individuals, the organization reached its fund-raising goal before the city of Clinton pledged $15,000 to the organization.
Clinton was one of 12 shelters that lost funding.
Ashford University received its sought-after accreditation and students were able to rest much easier with the news.
The approval brought to close a year-long accreditation battle that started in 2012 when Western Association of Schools and Colleges denied Ashford’s initial accreditation due to what it said was the university’s focus on student recruitment rather than student success.
HLC, Ashford’s accrediting body, put the university on notice with a warning to either change or face losing accreditation.
In the end, though, Ashford made changes and WASC found the university was now in substantial compliance with commission standards.
Ashford also celebrated the opening of a new multi-purpose building at its south campus. The building contains athletic locker rooms, public restrooms, an athletic training room and a concessions facility.
ADM property tax settlement
The end of a years-long property tax dispute between ADM and area government organizations came to a close.
Archer Daniels Midland will received more than $2.5 million in tax credits as part of a settlement in the property tax dispute with the Clinton Board of Review.
As part of a settlement, ADM will receive $2.1 million in tax credits against future property tax liabilities on the co-generation facility to account for ADM’s overpayments resulting from erroneous assessments on the facility.
The property in question became an issue in 2008 when the property was labeled a utility plant. Several incidents happened after 2008, leading to the settlement in 2013.
The settlement resulted in a loss of projected property tax dollars for Clinton County, the city of Clinton and the Clinton Community School District.
The apartment complex on the north end was sold through a sheriff’s sale, had a ceiling collapse forcing the displacement of 20 people and recently had water issues.
During the sheriff’s sale, court documents indicated the complex owed $3.3 million in unpaid mortgages, $353,110 in interest, $180,619 in late charges, $13,500 in attorney fees and $516 for service and filing fees and title searches.
In December, a Wisconsin bank purchased the property for $450,000. The total was a fraction of the $3.3 million that was being sought.