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Janesville Boardtracker Harley-Davidson dealership closed

JANESVILLE

Monday would have been a beautiful, if chilly, day for Milton resident Matt Scheurman to ride out of Boardtracker Harley-Davidson dealership on his motorcycle.

But that wasn’t an option.

On Monday, Boardtracker was shuttered—a decision dealership staff learned Saturday, a man calling himself a “now former employee” told The Gazette. A sign on the door Monday gave notice: “The dealership is closed.”

Boardtracker’s service department had Scheurman’s bike, a 2006 Harley-Davidson Electric Classic, in for repairs for about three weeks. Initially, the shop said, Boardtracker needed to wait for a parts shipment to get a main drive belt the bike needed.

Now, Scheurman’s Harley is locked up inside Boardtracker’s dealership, and Scheurman said he has no idea how he can get the bike, repaired or not.

Gazette phone calls to the dealership on the city’s north side were answered Monday by a machine with a recorded message: “You have reached Boardtracker Harley-Davidson. The dealership is closed.”

Boardtracker has been in a legal fight this year after Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. filed a lawsuit in federal court in February. The lawsuit alleges the dealership’s registered owner, Sara Pomeroy of Boardtracker Harley-Davidson and Iron Town Harley-Davidson, was selling motorcycles but not paying back Harley-Davidson’s creditor for money the dealerships had borrowed to acquire motorcycles and other products.

The creditor had sought to get Boardtracker’s sales shut down, arguing Boardtracker had committed breach of lending arrangements and fraud by continuing to sell motorcycles even as it repeatedly bounced checks or failed to make payments on loans from Harley-Davidson.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in March allowing Boardtracker to continue selling motorcycles as long as it began to repay Harley-Davidson under its credit agreements.

In a set of new filings last week, Harley’s creditor urged the court to completely block Boardtracker from selling motorcycles, alleging recent audits show Boardtracker’s owner has continued to sell motorcycles without repaying Harley.

The creditor claims Boardtracker’s owner had sold about $1.9 million in motorcycles without paying loans to the creditor and an additional $102,000 since the March court order.

The creditor in its suit does not name the dealership’s management or sales employees and does not blame customers who bought motorcycles Boardtracker didn’t pay creditors for.

As of Monday, it doesn’t appear the court had decided on the creditor’s new request to block Boardtracker’s owner from making sales.

Boardtracker’s owner has indicated in court filings that it has been trying to sell its New Berlin and Janesville locations. In a court filing last week, Boardtracker’s ownership claimed a recent check to the creditor bounced because dealership staff evidently “failed to move money from our main checking into the ACH (automatic payment account) during all the month end cleanup.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Boardtracker’s closure is tied to recent court filings by the creditor, but on Monday morning the Janesville dealership and its used vehicle sales and customer storage facility next door were closed. It appeared no one was inside either location.

On Monday, The Gazette was unable to reach Boardtracker’s owner by phone, and Harley-Davidson’s attorney in the lawsuit against the Boardtracker owners declined comment.

Eric Thompson sat in the Boardtracker dealership parking lot Monday morning. Thompson was wearing a striped Boardtracker work shirt with a patch on the pocket that reads “staff.”

Thompson, who said he’s from Elkhorn, said his “main job was picking up and dropping off motorcycles” for Boardtracker.

“Until Saturday, it was,” Thompson said.

Thompson said employees were told Saturday the dealership was being shuttered. He said he didn’t get much other information.

He drove to the dealership Monday, he said, “out of curiosity” and to share what he knew with any customers who might have shown up expecting to pick up a motorcycle.

Thompson said Boardtracker’s on-site general manager, who handled the final paperwork on sales, and an office manager, who handled payroll, both quit within the last week for jobs elsewhere.

He said the 20 or so remaining employees had been paid as of earlier this month, and about “90 percent of them” already have new jobs lined up.

Thompson said after the Harley creditor’s lawsuit, operations at the Janesville dealership had begun to grind down and staff had begun to seek different jobs.

Thompson said the dealership in the last few months had done brisk business, averaging sales of “just under 40 motorcycles a month.” But he said Harley-Davidson had only shipped Boardtracker parts once in the last four months, and he said it’s been “several months” since Harley shipped the dealership any new motorcycles.

“The handwriting has been on the wall,” Thompson said. “Things just kept getting worse to where we’ve just had less and less ability to do things with customers. People here were getting it from customers nine ways to Sunday.”

Thompson said the owners’ New Berlin dealership is slated to be sold to another dealership owner, and he said that sale is about “60 percent done.” He said the New Berlin store remained open Monday.

A woman who answered the phone at the New Berlin dealership on Monday said the business is open and now “kind of separate” from the Janesville dealership.

Behind Boardtracker’s locked showroom doors and in the used vehicle facility next door, Thompson estimated there were still about 60 motorcycles. Some are motorcycles people were storing at Boardtracker over winter, but some others, Thompson said, have been sold to customers and were awaiting delivery or pickup.

Thompson wasn’t sure what arrangements are being made for customers to get their purchased or stored bikes.

Scheurman said he left a message at Boardtracker on Sunday asking about his motorcycle. He said it was after he heard the dealership was shuttering. He said as of Monday afternoon, nobody had called him back.

Scheurman owns the motorcycle. He said the title is was sitting on his dresser. He hadn’t even bought the bike at Boardtracker; he was just getting it serviced there.

He said he feels like he’s in a crossfire between corporate lawyers who are fighting over a credit issue. All he wants to do is have access to ride a motorcycle he owns.

“It’s a frustrating thing. I could see if I financed the thing through Harley or something like that. But it’s paid off. I own it. I just needed a drive belt replaced. They didn’t tell me anything different when I dropped the bike off.”

Scheurman said he called Harley-Davidson’s customer service hotline about his dilemma. He said Harley-Davidson told him it is Boardtracker’s responsibility to reach out to its customers over the dealership closure.

On Monday, a man who said he’s from Eau Claire pulled a white Chevrolet SUV into Boardtracker’s parking lot. The SUV had an empty motorcycle trailer hooked to the back.

The man, who declined to give his name, said he came to Janesville to pick up a used Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle he recently bought from Boardtracker. He said he had no idea Boardtracker was closed, and he didn’t know when, or if, he would be able to get his motorcycle.

“I guess you can say I’m a little disappointed. I can’t afford to go out and buy another bike,” the man said.

“This is the one I bought.”


Diana Ayanna 

Flames and smoke rise as the spire on Notre Dame cathedral collapses in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Diana Ayanna)


Thibault Camus 

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)


Angela Major 

Craig's Gavin Kilen (12) watches the ball while batting against Parker on Monday, April 15, 2019, at Riverside Park in Janesville.


Obituaries and death notices for April 16, 2019

Phyllis Vivian Allison

Marjorie J. Betthauser

Marvin J. Boss

Melvin “Mike” Bouton

Carol A. Brown

Gwendolyn “Gwen” Daluge

David Karl Dykeman

Janette R. Earleywine

Larry J. Ewing Jr.

Shirlee K. French

Karen E. Hamlett

Joan P. Norby

John E. Nottestad

Daniel P. Sheridan

Gary A. Sorenson

Gene Allen Tiegs

Beverly A. Westwood


Paul Sancya 

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday, March 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Education
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Milton School Board locks in financial audit, owner's representative

MILTON

The Milton School Board on Monday hired Huffman Facility Development as an owner’s representative to oversee projects in the $59.9 million referendum voters approved April 2.

And after a nearly two-hour closed session, board members also identified the scope of an upcoming financial audit by accounting firm Baker Tilly.

The board last week hired Baker Tilly to perform an audit of stipends issued in the district over the last nine years to determine which classifications have been used and how stipends should be classified moving forward.

Attorney Lori Lubinksy recommended the board hire an auditor to look into the use of stipends after an investigation into employee compensation in February.

Baker Tilly will submit a report to the board when the audit is complete.

The firm’s costs will be covered by the district’s insurance carrier, district legal counsel Shana Lewis has said.

In open session at a special meeting Monday, the board approved paying Huffman Facility Development $585,000 to serve as the district’s owner representative for the referendum.

Of that cost, $82,500 will pay for pre-construction and design development. The remaining $502,500 will fund bidding and construction, according to a services proposal from Huffman.

Huffman considers cost management its top job as an owner’s representative, according to the proposal.

The company has done similar work for school districts in Evansville, Sun Prairie and Cambridge, as well as for the Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and other projects across southern Wisconsin, according to the proposal.

Development managers Mike Huffman and Steve Klaven will develop a master project budget that will record project costs and forecast upcoming costs to “ensure the project is timely and cost effective,” according to the proposal.

The managers will work as advocates for the district by overseeing design, schedule management and quality control as referendum projects move forward, according to the proposal.

Huffman and Klaven will oversee project bids. Huffman said Monday that each project will go out to bid and that project manager JP Cullen will have to submit bids for any project it wants to do.

JP Cullen has not been assigned to any contracting projects yet, board President Tom Westrick said.

Huffman told the board he will give construction updates to board members at least once a month. He said he likely will attend board meetings to provide updates and could send newsletter updates to the board, which could be shared with the community.

Board member Brian Kvapil asked Huffman if taking on Milton’s projects will be too much for the company to handle. The company is currently the owner’s representative for the Verona School District’s $162.8 million referendum.

Huffman said Verona is about 50 percent finished with construction, meaning he spends significantly less time on site and leaves much of the work to other full-time employees.

Huffman said he has “no concerns” about adding Milton to the company’s workload.

Board members have said in past meetings that the owner’s representative could be paid for with the district’s investment earnings.


AP
Massive fire engulfs beloved Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

PARIS

A massive fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris’ soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below.

The blaze collapsed the cathedral’s spire and spread to one of its landmark rectangular towers, but Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the church’s structure had been saved after firefighters managed to stop the fire spreading to the northern belfry. The 12th-century cathedral is home to incalculable works of art and is one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, immortalized by Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

The exact cause of the blaze was not known, but French media quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire is “potentially linked” to a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation project on the church’s spire and its 250 tons of lead. The Paris prosecutors’ office ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives and said it was treating it as an accident.

As the spire fell, the sky lit up orange and flames shot out of the roof behind the nave of the cathedral, among the most visited landmarks in the world. Hundreds of people lined up on bridges around the island that houses the church, watching in shock as acrid smoke rose in plumes. Speaking alongside junior Interior Minister Laurent Nunez late Monday, Gallet noted that “two thirds of the roofing has been ravaged.” He said firefighters would keep working overnight to cool down the building.

Late Monday, signs pointed to the fire nearing an end as lights could be seen through the windows moving around the front of the cathedral, apparently investigators inspecting the scene. The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said the significant collection of artwork and holy objects inside the church had been recovered. Remarkably, only one of the about 400 firefighters who battled the blaze was injured, officials said.

The fire came less than a week before Easter amid Holy Week commemorations. As the cathedral burned, Parisians gathered to pray and sing hymns outside the church of Saint Julien Les Pauvres across the river from Notre Dame while the flames lit the sky behind them. Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit invited priests across France to ring church bells in a call for prayers.

French President Emmanuel Macron was treating the fire as a national emergency, rushing to the scene and straight into meetings at the Paris police headquarters nearby. He pledged to rebuild the church and said he would seek international help to do so.

“The worse has been avoided although the battle is not yet totally won,” the president said, adding that he would launch a national funding campaign today and call on the world’s “greatest talents” to help rebuild the monument.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame is the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and one of the most beloved structures in the world. Situated on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the Seine River, its architecture is famous for, among other things, its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses.

Among the most celebrated artworks inside are its three stained-glass rose windows, placed high up on the west, north and south faces of the cathedral. Its priceless treasures also include a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is only occasionally displayed, including on Fridays during Lent.

French historian Camille Pascal told broadcast channel BFM the blaze marked “the destruction of invaluable heritage.”

“It’s been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris,” Pascal said. “Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame.”


Christophe Ena 

People pray as Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)