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Ellsworth sex offender rules set in emergency meeting

ELLSWORTH — In an emergency meeting Friday, the Ellsworth Village Board unanimously passed a law to establish child safety areas, preventing designated sex offenders and certain other offenders from living or being present in those zones.

“The village is looking out for the best interest of the children in the community and the village residents,” Police Chief Eric Ladwig said. “The village was notified that a violent sex offender was being released from prison and wanted to reside in the village of Ellsworth.”

According to the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry, 10 registered sex offenders live in the 54011 ZIP code.

“With this ordinance in place it still is possible for a sex offender to reside in Ellsworth,” Ladwig said. “If this offender still chooses to and is able to establish residency in the village of Ellsworth, I will follow up with a community notification letter for public safety and would release his name and address of residency at that time.”

The ordinance lists several stipulations for sex offender residency.

According to the ordinance, child safety areas, also called child congregation areas, are places where children congregate or play, including publicly and privately owned areas with public accommodations that cater to children and/or privately owned areas where and when children are present.

There are two types of child safety areas: no presence areas, where no designated sex or other offender may be present within 250 feet of a property; or no residence areas, where no designated sex or other offender is allowed to have a temporary or permanent residence within 1,500 feet of any child congregation area.

No presence areas include:

•Public or private schools that include students in grades of high school or below

•Public park

•Public swimming pool

•Public library or bookmobile

•Public playground or park

•Pierce County Fairgrounds

•Any day care facility for children, licensed or unlicensed

•Athletic fields used by children

•Public aquatic facilities or swimming pools

•School bus stops identified by the Ellsworth Community School District transportation director, verified by village clerk

•School primary walking routes identified by the Ellsworth Community School District, verified by village clerk

•Facilities used for school or community recreation/education programs or service groups (for example, Boy Scouts)

•Community centers which have or sponsor programs for kids

•Recreational facilities, used for such things as roller skating, ice skating, climbing, skateboarding, playground areas in restaurants and other facilities

•The yard of a private residence in or upon which kids are present, unless both of the following conditions are met: 1. The offender’s permanent residence or temporary residence is located within 250 feet. 2. The offender remains inside his/her private residence while children are present in the yard or the offender is accompanied by a law enforcement officer who is responsible for controlling the offender

A map depicting child congregation areas is available at the Village Hall.

There are exceptions, such as an offender traveling in a vehicle, the offender having legal custody of a child authorized by the Department of Corrections or Department of Health Services and attending a house of worship.

The ordinance will be enforced by monetary fines and/or court action, Ladwig said. Each day a violation continues will be viewed as a separate offense.

On Feb. 29, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that creates uniform restriction on where violent sex offenders can live. While local ordinances will remain enforceable, the law bars violent sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of any school, day care, youth center, church or public park.

Also, sex offenders who committed crimes against children cannot live next to children. If an offender committed a crime against an elderly or disabled person, he or she cannot live within 1,500 feet of a nursing home or other assisted living facility.

For more information about the village ordinance, contact Village Clerk Peggy Nelson at 715-273-4742 or Ladwig at 715-273-3275.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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