Lawsuit Thrown Out
A federal judge in Green Bay threw
out a lawsuit yesterday from U-S Senator Ron Johnson, who claimed that an
Obama-care rule forced him to treat his staff members differently. Judge William Griesbach ruled that the Wisconsin
Republican and his aide Brooke Ericson did not have legal grounds to file the
suit, because they did not prove they were hurt personally. Johnson was challenging a requirement that
lawmakers and their official staff members use the Obama-care exchanges to get
their tax-subsidized health insurance.
Those who are not official office staff still get their previous
employee health benefits. Johnson said
the rule forced him to choose which staff members are official and which are
not. He also said he was being forced to
take part in a program he believes is illegal, and he would look bad to voters
because his staff would get tax subsidies the general public does not
receive. Griesbach says Johnson's
beliefs about the legality of Obama-care are not enough to win his lawsuit --
and neither was the claim that voters would see him in a negative light. Johnson said it was unfortunate that the
judge dropped his lawsuit on a technicality, without going into the legal
merits of it. His office says Johnson is
consulting with lawyers before deciding whether to appeal.
Campaign Paid Legal
Governor Scott Walker's campaign
donors paid over 320-thousand-dollars to defense lawyers in the first half of
the year, as Walker fought off a second John Doe probe. A state report filed yesterday showed that
the Republican Walker gave 213-thousand dollars from his campaign account to
the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin, 83-thousand to the Biskupic-and-Jacobs
law firm of Mequon, and 25-thousand to Milwaukee attorney Michael Steinle. The governor has spent a total of almost
million dollars in the past three years on a pair of John Doe investigations --
one dealing with embezzlement and illegal campaigning by former aides during
his time as Milwaukee County executive -- and the other dealing with alleged
illegal coordination of his and other Republican recall campaigns with outside
conservative groups. Prosecutors said
the governor himself was not a target in either investigation. Earlier, it was reported that Walker raised
more than twice as much campaign money as his major Democratic challenger Mary
Burke in the first six months of the year.
Walker also had three times as much cash on hand as Burke as of July
Former Lodge Sold
A former lodge for utility
employees is being sold in far northern Wisconsin. Integrys, the parent company of the Wisconsin
Public Service utility, is selling 200 acres of its former Awassa Lodge along
Lake Content in the Vilas County community of Saint Germain. Kerry Spees (speez) of Public Service said
the site was a retreat for employees -- but the firm decided a couple years ago
that neither the lodge nor the acreage was needed. The land has since been sub-divided into 23
lots, most along the lakefront. A firm
began marketing the property last week, and an auction will take place
September 18th in Saint Germain. Also,
Integrys is negotiating with a single buyer for another 235 acres of the lodge
site that's not adjacent to the lake. Spees said the land could have been sold a few years ago, had it not
been for plunge in the real estate market during the Great Recession. There's also a small amount of land on Big
Saint Germain Lake. For more
information, go to the company's Web site at IntegrysGroup-Dot-com.
Dozens of residents returned home
in Slinger this morning, after two trains collided and derailed. Officials in the Washington County village
evacuated more than 100 homes last night. That was after a freight train struck cars on another train at an
intersection of two tracks owned by separate railroads. Three engines and ten cars of both trains
derailed. Two crew members suffered
non-life-threatening injuries. Patrick
Waldron of the Canadian National Railway said one of its trains -- with three
southbound locomotives and three cars with frac-sand -- derailed and hit cars
from a Wisconsin-and-Southern train that had lumber, steel, and plastic
pellets. Hanke said some of the lumber
spilled. Homes south and east of the
derailment were evacuated as a precaution. Hanke said there were concerns that the spilled diesel fuel would start
on fire -- which it didn't. Slinger is a
village of over five-thousand residents, about 30 miles north of Milwaukee.
A 134-year-old school bell was returned
to a central Wisconsin village over the weekend. About a hundred people attended a ceremony
where the bell was rung to dedicate a new community center in Birnamwood, 25
miles east of Wausau. The bell dates
back to 1880. It summoned youngsters to
Birnamwood High School until it closed in the 1970's. Since then, a teacher from that school kept
the bell at her home in Antigo. A couple
other people stored it later, and residents say they're glad it's now back
where it belongs.
A northern Wisconsin man was let
off with a warning for lighting illegal fireworks -- and it's just as well,
since he had vehicle damage as a result.
Lincoln County authorities responded to a pick-up truck fire late
Saturday night at a business near Tomahawk. A neighbor had already put out the fire with an extinguisher before
fire-fighters could get to work.
Investigators said the man admitted firing bottle rockets -- and one of
them landed in the bed of his 13-year-old pick-up truck. The bedliner caught fire -- and it caused
damage to the box, tailgate paint, and tail-lights. No one was injured.
Stickiest Day Yet
Much of Wisconsin will have its
stickiest day of the summer. Heat
advisories will be in effect through this evening in parts of the northwest --
where some places could get their first 90-degree days of the year. The National Weather Service says the heat
index could reach 100 in the Saint Croix River valley. Lots of people will try to find swimming
holes to cool off -- but that could be a problem on the east shore of Door
County, where the Weather Service has issued a beach hazard statement for
dangerous swimming conditions on the shores of Lake Michigan. Waves of 2-to-4-feet are possible along the
Eastern Door through nine tonight.
Things are expected to cool off tomorrow, after a low-pressure system
brings thunderstorms to the northwest half of Wisconsin tonight. Highs tomorrow are expected to drop to the
70's-and-low-80's, but another round of storms is due in late tomorrow -- and
the Weather Service says those storms could be severe.
The Powerball jackpot is back at
40-million dollars, after a ticket sold in California won 60-million on
Saturday night. A Wisconsin player won
the ten-thousand-dollar third prize, by matching four regular numbers plus the
Powerball. Lottery officials have not
said where that ticket was sold. Almost
84-hundred Wisconsin players won smaller prizes ranging from four-dollars to
200. Saturday's numbers were 10, 17, 25,
45, and 53. The Powerball was nine, and
the Power Play multiplier was two. The
jackpot was growing since July 9th, and it rolled over just three times. It returns to the minimum for the next
drawing on Wednesday night. In Mega
Millions, the top prize is 58-million dollars for tomorrow night.
Two freight trains have collided
in Slinger, causing a derailment and a fuel leak that forced over 100 homes to
evacuate. It happened around 8:30 last
night near an intersection of rail lines owned by the Wisconsin-and-Southern
and Canadian National railroads. About
five-thousand gallons of diesel fuel spilled from one of the engines. The collision took place in the central part
of Slinger, a village of about five-thousand residents located 30 miles north
of Milwaukee. Folks to the south and
east of the crash site were evacuated.
Slinger Fire Chief Rick Hanke said three engines and ten cars jumped the
tracks. Two people were treated
non-life-threatening injuries. Patrick
Waldron of the Canadian National said it appeared that a southbound train
struck cars on the other train. There
was no immediate word on what caused the mishap. The Slinger Middle School served as a
temporary shelter during the night. A
number of people stayed with other relatives, or went to a hotel in nearby
Buy Propane Now Urged
With summer in full swing, winter
heating options are the last thing on the mind of most consumers. But energy
experts are advising consumers to plan ahead for their propane needs this
winter by looking at options now and buying early. To assist Wisconsin
consumers, DATCP is offering a new fact sheet explaining propane options,
including questions to ask when comparing offers.
The new DATCP fact sheet includes
background on common delivery options and pricing structures to help consumers
weigh their options when buying propane. It also includes key questions for the
consumer to ask, aimed at allowing the consumer to compare contracts. Download
the fact sheet from the DATCP website
(http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Factsheets/index.aspx) or request a copy by mail
by calling 1-800-422-7128.
Other tips include:
Pricing agreements. Budget plans,
pre-pay plans, and fixed-price plans can offer consumers savings when compared
to buying at market price. Knowing your tank size and your typical propane
usage can help you get the best price and avoid over- or under-buying.
Delivery arrangements. Some retail
marketers offer to deliver propane automatically to refill your tank. Others
allow you to monitor your usage and call when you need a delivery. Make sure
you know how much advance time your retail marketer needs to schedule a
Ask about fees and other charges.
When you compare between retail marketers, don’t ask only about per-gallon
cost. Retail marketers may charge a variety of add-on fees, including trip
fees, after-hours delivery charges, weekend fees, partial fills and inspection
fees. Those fees can have a major impact on your total out-of-pocket costs.
Get a signed and dated contract
and keep copies of receipts for at least a year. No matter what kind of
agreement you reach, a written contract sets out the rights and
responsibilities of both the buyer and seller. Receipts are handy to have if
there is a dispute between you and your propane supplier.
For additional information or to
file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov,
call the Consumer Information Hotline at 1-800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to
Tougher To Prosecute
A recent change in Wisconsin's
drunken driving laws is making it harder for prosecutors to pursue criminal
charges for some drunken crashes.
Wisconsin Act 224 went into effect
April 10 and is aimed to create mandatory minimum penalties for drunken car
crashes that cause substantial injury and for seventh to 10th offense drunken
Reports indicate that while
drafting the bill legislators cut text from existing laws.
Dodge County District Attorney
Kurt Klomberg says the amended legislation prevents prosecutors from pursuing
criminal charges for simple injury crashes.
He says their legal weapons are
limited to a simple OWI, which isn't a criminal charge for first offenders.
Klomberg says investigators will
also need to spend more time proving serious injuries.
The Wisconsin Department of
Revenue says some lottery winners have yet to claim their prize in the state.
According to the department, roughly three-point-four million dollars in lotto
winnings remain unclaimed from last year. While a majority of the unclaimed
winnings are in the four-dollar to 100-dollar range, officials say there is a
small number of 10-thousand dollar and up tickets that remain uncashed.
Unclaimed winnings go towards property tax relief that shows up as a credit.
On July 2, 2014 Eau Claire Police
responded to armed robberies at the Holiday Gas Station, 2205 Eddy La, and at
the Mega Holiday, 2308 E. Clairemont Av. On July 11, 2014 Eau Claire Police
responded to a third armed robbery at the Mega Holiday, 2119 Cameron St. The
investigation of these armed robberies by the Eau Claire Police Department
Detective Division identified similarities between these cases as well as armed
robberies in other jurisdictions. By actively gathering evidence and following
up on leads, the Eau Claire Detective Division identified a vehicle that was
linked to these armed robberies. This information was shared with other
regional law enforcement agencies in hopes of identifying the suspects and
connecting other crimes in the region.
On July 16, 2014, the Rice Lake
Police Department responded to a bank robbery in its jurisdiction and took
Jesse G. Sweeter into custody with assistance of the Barron County Sheriff’s
Office. The vehicle that had been identified by Eau Claire Police Detectives was
located near the scene of the bank robbery. Due to the proactive information
sharing between law enforcement agencies, the Eau Claire Police Department was
contacted and responded to Rice Lake.
Investigators from multiple law
enforcement agencies worked collaboratively and identified two additional
suspects, Ricky D. White and Kyle W. Langner, who were involved in the three
armed robberies in the City of Eau Claire. Investigators obtained physical
evidence, video surveillance footage, and admissions linking these three
suspects to the City of Eau Claire robberies. Eau Claire Police Detectives
believe there are no additional suspects involved in these three convenience
store robberies. All three suspects are in custody related to these
These cases remain under
investigation by the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's
Office has been informed by the Menomonie Police Department that Joseph Albert
Briske was found deceased in the Red Cedar River Thursday afternoon. The St.
Croix County Sheriff's Office and the Menomonie Police Department will continue
to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Briske's disappearance and
The St. Croix County Sheriff's
Office would like to thank the Menomonie Police Department, Menomonie Fire
Department, Dunn County Sheriff's Office and the Wisconsin DNR for their
assistance in locating Mr. Briske.
The Barron County woman accused of
bringing kids back to her home for a man to sexually assault them will spend
the next 14 years in prison.
Online court records show Tiane
Anderson, 34, was sentenced Thursday. She will also be on extended supervision
for ten years after prison.
The criminal complaint says from
2003 to 2006 she would bring kids back to her house where David Anderson, 46, would
then sexually assault them.
It says they did this for multiple
years to a number of kids.
Duck Stamps Online
Wisconsin is one of eight states
where hunters can buy federal duck stamps online -- and four others are about
to join them. Wisconsin and neighboring
Minnesota were chosen earlier to sell federal "E-stamps." Starting August first, duck hunters can also buy
them online in neighboring Michigan -- as well as in Missouri, North Carolina,
and Virginia. The U-S Fish-and-Wildlife
Service has links on its Web site to all the states that offer E-stamps -- and
hunters throughout the country can use them. Buyers are told to print temporary stamps from their computers, and
they're replaced with permanent stamps which are mailed out within 45 days.
Governor Scott Walker says he
wants lawmakers to repeal the Common Core education standards adopted by all
but a handful of U-S states. The
Republican governor issued a one-sentence statement yesterday, calling on the
next Legislature in January to replace Common Core with standards "set by
people in Wisconsin." Walker was
among several G-O-P leaders condemning Common Core last weekend at a meeting of
the National Governors Association. He
told that group he doesn't want people outside Wisconsin "telling us what
our standards should be." The
Badger State endorsed Common Core several years ago, but the debate over it
didn't heat up until last year -- when tea party conservatives feared it would
lead to a national education system.
Other critics say Common Core departs from traditional methods of
teaching math, it relies too heavily on student test scores, and smaller schools
may not have the technology to administer the new online tests that are due to
begin next spring in Wisconsin. Supporters say the tougher standards are needed to get students ready
for a more complex world. Joe Zepecki, a
spokesman for Walker's main challenger Mary Burke, called the governor's
statement a "desperate election-year move" to boost what he called
Walker's "extreme right-wing base." Burke, a Madison School Board member, supports Common Core.
Funds To Tech
Wisconsin's 16 technical colleges
will get 28-million state tax dollars to train about 49-hundred people for jobs
in fields with high demand. Governor
Scott Walker announced the allocation of the Fast Forward grants today. The funding will increase capacities for
about 100 technical college programs throughout the state -- thus accommodating
more students for training in fields like health care, transportation,
manufacturing, and more. Each technical
college will find out how much it will get within the next couple of
weeks. The funding was approved by the
state Legislature in March, when 35-million dollars were approved for the Fast
Forward training program.
Unemployment in Wisconsin held
steady last month. Workforce Development
officials said today that the seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for June stood
at five-point-seven percent. That's the
same as in May, and it's still below the national rate for the month of
six-point-one percent. Officials also
said Wisconsin lost an estimated 12-hundred private sector jobs during
June. However, the figure is based on a
small survey of employers -- and it's often heavily-revised later. The state's unemployment remains the lowest
since October 2008, when the financial markets plunged and the nation just
started feeling the effects of the Great Recession.
More Time Given
A federal judge is giving all
sides three more weeks to decide which documents should be kept secret in the
now-halted John Doe probe into the state's recall elections. The Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the
targets of the John Doe, said it needed more time to pore over thousands of
documents in the case. Judge Rudolph
Randa had granted a two-week delay earlier.
Yesterday, he agreed to move up the deadline again -- this time to
August seventh. The Club for Growth,
state prosecutors, and two unnamed parties have been trying to decide which
documents should be made public. That's
after five media groups asked for all the records to come out. Judge Randa halted the John Doe several weeks
ago, and prosecutors are still appealing that move. The two-year-old probe was looking into
allegations that Governor Scott Walker and other top Republicans illegally
coordinated his own recall election campaign and others with a dozen outside
groups. Walker has denied wrongdoing,
and no one has been charged in the matter.
Rice Lake Bank
On Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at
approximately 12:17 p.m., Rice Lake officers were dispatched to a bank robbery
at Sterling Bank on the city's north side.
It was determined that a lone male
entered the bank, displayed a handgun and fled on foot from the bank with an
undisclosed amount of money.
Within minutes of the call, with
the assistance of the Barron County Sheriff's Department and Wisconsin State
Patrol, the 19-year-old suspect was taken into custody. The money and handgun
were both recovered by law enforcement. No one was physically injured during
The case remains under
investigation. Additional information about this incident is expected to be
released at a later date.
Gas Prices To
If you’re seeing a pleasant
decrease in the price at the pump you’re not imagining things.
The U.S. average retail price of
gasoline has fallen below $3.60/gal for the first time since April 10, 2014.
Prices have been on an 18 consecutive day streak where the current price was
less than the price from the previous day, and it’s the highest number of consecutive
down days since the period between April 4, 2013 and April 19, 2013, when
prices fell 11.8cts/ gal from $3.63 to $3.52. The U.S. average, now $3.59/gal.,
has dropped by 5 cents in the past week.
Worm On Campus
For the first time in Wisconsin,
the invasive Asian crazy worm has made itself at home -- and it picked a
beautiful target at the U-W Madison arboretum.
Officials said the eight-inch worm known as "Amynthas
Agrestis" (a-min-thus uh-gres-tis) survived the rough winter. The arboretum's Brad Herrick tells the
Wisconsin State Journal that the worms devour nutrient-rich soil at the forest
floor. Erosion occurs, and native plants
have a harder time surviving. Invasive plants
often grow in their place. U-W employees
found the worm last October while showing night-crawlers to visitors. The Asian worm is called "crazy"
because it wriggles heavily when it's handled.
Until now, the pest had been spotted in the Eastern and Southeast U-S
for about the last half-century.
Right to ban?
We could find out today whether
the University of Wisconsin system had the right to ban a frequent protester
from its campuses. The State Supreme
Court is expected to rule on a case involving former Stevens Point student
Jeffrey Decker. He was barred from
university property in 2011, after he attended meetings of the U-W Board of
Regents and various campus bodies to protest policies on student fees. Decker believed that U-W officials had
illegally blocked access by students to the fees they pay for various programs
and facilities. A Dane County judge
issued a restraining order against Decker, but the Fourth District Appeals
Court struck down a year-and-a-half ago.
The appellate judges said Decker's factions were not harassing, and his
behavior was legitimate because it was related to protests. Jeffrey Decker is a son of former Senate
Democratic Majority Leader Russ Decker.
Two state lawmakers have each
raised over 300-thousand dollars to try and win Wisconsin's only open U-S House
seat this fall. Campaign reports filed
yesterday show that state Assembly Republican Duey Stroebel of Saukville raised
368-thousand dollars from April through June -- and all but 27-thousand came
from his own pocket. Senate Republican
Joe Leibham (ly'-bmm) of Sheboygan raised about 303-thousand dollars. Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend
raised about half as much as the others, and he put in about ten-thousand of
his own money. Grothman was the first to
join the race, before incumbent Tom Petri of Fond du Lac said he would
retire. The lone Democrat in the race,
Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, raised around 37-thousand dollars. Leibham had 277-thousand-dollars on hand as
of June 30th -- Strobel 176-thousand -- Grothman 70-thousand -- and Harris
25-thousand. The Republicans are
squaring off in an August 12th primary. Leibham said he was "honored and humbled" by the support he
has received from residents of the Sixth Congressional District. Strobel defended using his own cash by
saying, "I'm willing to spend my own money in an effort to stop Washington
D-C from spending all of yours."
Plant Not For Sale
A Chicago area company wants to buy
the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant that closed just over a year ago in eastern
Wisconsin. But the current owners say
it's not for sale. R-G-A Labs still
plans to make its pitch to area officials and residents tomorrow night. R-G-A president Robert Abboud tells W-B-A-Y
T-V in Green Bay that his firm would pay millions in cash for the nuclear
plant, and re-start the production of electricity. Dominion Resources of Virginia closed the
Kewaunee plant after utilities which had bought the facility's power found it
cheaper to make their power using natural gas.
Dominion has been busy preparing to move spent fuel from inside the
plant, and proceeding to a new stage of decommissioning the facility.
Madison is the latest Wisconsin
city to consider housing some of thousands of unaccompanied children entering
the U-S at its border with Mexico. Mayor
Paul Soglin tells the Wisconsin State Journal the federal government is looking
for about 90-thousand square feet of space that can be leased. It has to be available immediately, and have
adequate security. Soglin says there
does not appear to be any disadvantages to the idea. It would house up to 250 unaccompanied
children for 30-to-60 days, while hearings determine whether they'll stay with
relatives in the U-S, or go back to their home country. Last week, the Federal Emergency Management
Agency made a similar request to Catholic Charities' leaders in Milwaukee. Over 57-thousand unaccompanied children have
arrived at the U-S-Mexico border since last October. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador, and
New Richmond Police Officer Tony
Milliron was put on administrative leave last week. It is now known that
Milliron was arrested Thursday night for an alleged domestic abuse incident
involving his wife. She told police he struck her about six times on the head
and arm, and placed his hands around her neck during an argument in his truck.
Officials say she had visible
injuries, but did not seek medical attention. Police say Milliron denied
hitting her, but admitted grabbing her. Milliron posted bond and was released
from jail, with orders not to have any contact with his wife or their home.
Police say he violated that rule
and went to the home when he was released, so he was arrested again. He is due
in court on both cases next month.
Conflicting gun interests are
uniting against a plan by Wisconsin House Republican Jim Sensenbreenner to
eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports
Foundation says the A-T-F's "high-profile missteps" are not enough to
warrant the agency's disbanding. On the
other side, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says new A-T-F director
Todd Jones should be given more time to correct the problems. Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican,
says it's proper to disband the A-T-F in the wake of some botched enforcement
operations. That includes the storefront
in Milwaukee that was supposed to round up gun-toting criminals -- but instead
was burglarized, arrested the wrong people, and had a machine gun and sensitive
records stolen. The Journal Sentinel
says the National Rifle Association has not weighed in on the idea to have the
F-B-I and other agencies split up the A-T-F's current duties. Sensenberenner says he's getting support from
lawmakers of both parties. House Budget
Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville says he wants to look for ways to eliminate
duplicated efforts by the A-T-F and other agencies. Ryan, the Republicans' vice-presidential
nominee in 2012, says he looks forward to seeing the bill that Sensenbrenner
plans to bring forward.
Waiting List Grows
When responsibility for the return
of unclaimed property was switched from the Wisconsin Treasurer’s Office to the
Department of Revenue there were about 12-hundred requests waiting. Now, that
number of claims is estimated to approach 73-hundred – six times as many. The
backlog has built while the revenue department has worked on a new computer
system to speed responses in the future. It’s estimated to be at its highest
level since the 1990s. State residents make claims through the property program
on money or assets left behind by themselves or relatives. Nearly 23-million
dollars worth of cash and property has been returned in the last 12-months by
the state Revenue Department.
Tax Breaks Restored
The Wisconsin Economic Development
Corporation announced Monday it is reviving tax breaks for some historic
preservation projects. W-E-D-C halted the tax breaks three weeks ago after the
amount of tax credits handed out hit 35 million dollars. The figure was well
above the initial estimated economic impact of four million dollars for the
first year of the program. Critics of the move argued W-E-D-C should continue
awarding the tax breaks though, because the projects they are encouraging have
the potential to create hundreds or thousands of jobs. Several lawmakers and
the governor supported putting a hold on the tax breaks, saying the state
should proceed with caution. W-E-D-C Secretary and C-E-O Reed Hall says
Monday’s decision will result in the agency awarding tax breaks to projects
involving buildings that meet the standards of the State Historic Preservation
Officer and the National Park Service of historic buildings. Hall says that
process for Certified Historic Buildings “is very rigorous” and should result
in the focus shifting to larger projects that have community and investor
involvement behind them. The moratorium will remain in place for buildings that
do not have a historic designation.
It can be a nice gesture when a
cousin offers a car ride to you – unless he’s nine-years-old. Last weekend in
Washington County, two cousins from West Bend were driving rural roads. It was
the second time in less than a month. The two stole the car from the older
boy’s stepfather Sunday morning. The children told deputies they had wanted to
go to a park. Their ride ended in a ditch six miles away. The nine-year-old
driver wasn’t able to control the car and a nearby motorist called 9-1-1. A
sheriff’s deputy caught up with the two when they hit the ditch. Neither was
injured and the car wasn’t damaged. The cousins had gone for another joy ride June
14th. That car was stolen from a worker at a boat dealership in Barton. No
charges will be filed in either incident.
If you plan to hunt for wolves, or
catch that elusive sturgeon, you have a deadline coming up. The state D-N-R says folks have until August
first to apply for a host of sporting licenses for the fall and winter. That includes the wolf season which begins in
mid-October -- plus seasons for turkey, bobcat, fisher, otter, and sturgeon on
the up-river lakes from Lake Winnebago.
License applications are available at D-N-R service centers, licensing
facilities in sport stores, on-line at the D-N-R's Web site, and by phone. Here's the toll-free number for that --
West Nile Closer
Neighboring Iowa has recorded its
first human case of the West Nile virus this year -- and Wisconsin and
Minnesota might not be far behind. As of
late last week, Wisconsin still had one probable human case of the mosquito-borne
disease, that being in Saint Croix County. Trempealeau County recorded its first West Nile case last week in a dead
bird. Six other birds previously
acquired the virus in Dane, Dodge, Sauk, Portage, Waupaca, and Rusk
counties. Dave Neitzel of Minnesota's
health department said the recent warm weather sped up the creation of
disease-spreading mosquitoes, and the virus is pretty much on schedule compared
to past years. Wisconsin had 16 human
cases last year. Four state residents
died from West Nile in 2012, when an unusually large outbreak struck most of
the nation's mid-section.
The National Weather Service said
straight-line winds of up to 100-miles-an-hour caused a three-and-a-half mile
path of damage near Kenosha. The storm
hit late Saturday night about three miles southwest of Kenosha. The Weather Service surveyed the area
yesterday, and found widespread tree damage and numerous house fences blown
down. Some roofs and power lines also
fell. Southern Wisconsin also had
another round of heavy rains Saturday night and yesterday. Milwaukee had just over three inches of rain,
and Milton in Rock County had close to two inches. We Energies reported no weather-related power
outages this morning. Meanwhile, a
massive cold front is moving into Wisconsin today -- and parts of the state
might not hit 70 today. Highs are
expected to be in the 60's-and-70's the next few days, with isolated showers
today and a slight chance of rain tonight and tomorrow. A gradual warm-up is due to begin on
Drunk In Minnesota
Authorities in Saint Paul
Minnesota said a Wisconsin woman drove drunk and endangered her three young children
when she flipped her mini-van. It
happened on Friday in the Gopher State's capital. An eight-year-old child was taken to a
hospital with a facial injury. The other
two kids, ages four and 12, escaped injury. Their mother, 34-year-old Christal Luellen of New Richmond, faces
charges of criminal vehicular operation, endangering children, and driving
while impaired. Officials said her blood
alcohol content from a breath test was point-one-seven-six -- more than twice
the legal limit of point-zero-eight in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Scientists at U-W Madison want to
find out if cranberry growers can attract native bees to pollinate their crops,
and rely less on bee-keepers to bring in honey-bees. A team led by entomology professor Claudio
Gratton is about to study whether planting things like flowers in the cranberry
fields would attract native bees. The
goals are to increase pollination and produce more berries, while reducing
their reliance on bee-keepers that are getting more expensive to hire. Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin State Cranberry
Growers Association says it's a "significant cost" for growers -- and
it's been rising in the wake of recent declines in commercial honey-bee
populations. Jeremy Hemberger, a U-W
graduate student who's performing the research, says cranberry growers appear
to be optimistic about using native bees.
However, they point out potential problems like weed growth. It's also possible that the wildflowers might
lure the bees away from their intended pollination cranberry targets.
Toning It Down
Scott Walker is not the only
Republican governor toning down his rhetoric against gay marriage. At a weekend meeting of the National
Governors Association in Nashville, both Walker and Iowa Governor Terry
Branstad both said the G-O-P is better off focusing on economic and fiscal
issues. The Associated Press calls it a
"dramatic turn" for a party that has long been defined by social
conservatism. It appears to stem from a
report drafted after the 2012 presidential election, which called on the G-O-P
to be more "inclusive and welcoming" -- especially on issues involving
the "treatment and rights of gays." Walker said gay marriage remains an important issue, and he's defending
a state constitutional amendment for one-man, one-woman marriage voters
approved seven years ago. National and
state polls since then show support for gay marriage, but it still goes against
the G-O-P's platform. On Friday, the
federal appeals court in Chicago combined similar appeals from Wisconsin and
Indiana of district court rulings which struck down their respective states'
gay marriage bans. Another group of
cases is also heading toward the U-S Supreme Court. That includes an appeal of Kentucky's gay
marriage ban. That state's governor,
Democrat Steve Beshear, is also playing down his rhetoric. He says he just wants the Supreme Court to
settle the issue once and for all.
Gay Marriage Ban
Wisconsin's attorney general has
asked a federal appeals court to continue the state's ban on gay marriage. J-B Van Hollen filed an appeal of last
month's ruling from Federal Judge Barbara Crabb, who said the ban was
unconstitutional. The state had until
July 21st to file its appeal with the Seventh Circuit appellate court in
Chicago -- but Van Hollen acted sooner than he planned yesterday, after the
same court agreed to speed up its consideration of a similar case in Indiana. Van Hollen said he wanted to make sure
Wisconsin was on an equal legal footing with Indiana, and that the state's case
gets timely consideration. Over 550
same-sex couples got married in Wisconsin after Crabb threw out the gay
marriage ban, and before she put the ruling on hold while it's being
appealed. The main plaintiff in the
case, the A-C-L-U, has asked Crabb to drop her stay and allow same-sex
marriages to continue for now. She has
not ruled on that request. Yesterday,
A-C-L-U attorney John Knight said he was disappointed that the state's still
fighting to stop "loving committed couples" from marrying. Governor Scott Walker is a defendant in the
case, so he technically joined Van Hollen in the appeal. However, the Republican Walker is trying to
keep the issue out of his re-election campaign, by saying his past opposition
to gay marriage no longer matters because it's in the courts' hands.
Gogebic Taconite has asked state
officials to renew permits for exploratory drilling at the company's proposed
iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. The
D-N-R granted the drilling permits a year ago, and the firm wants them
continued for another year. The state
has until next Tuesday to respond. One
permit would allow Gogebic Taconite to drill six new holes at its site in
Ashland and Iron counties -- plus another hole the firm wanted to dig over the
past year but did not. The other permit
would allow more investigation into the groundwater at six holes which have
already been dug. Officials say the
holes are about two-inches in diameter.
Wisconsin's attorney general says
high school students who take U-W courses cannot be charged tuition. In a legal opinion issued today, Van Hollen
addressed concerns about a state budget item that lets prep students enroll in
up two courses from state colleges and universities -- with the school
districts paying the costs. Concerns
were raised about that. So in May, the
U-W said it would cover the first year's total tuition costs, estimated to be
around a million dollars. Van Hollen
said the law requires the state's K-to-12 school agency to determine who pays
for the classes. D-P-I spokesman John
Johnson says the university needs to work with school districts to figure out a
way to pay for the classes that's the most cost-effective for both systems.
Tauscher In Media
Former Green Bay Packer Mark
Tauscher is going deeper into the media business. He's one of three partners who have
purchased Isthmus Publishing Company of Madison -- which puts out the
alternative weekly newspaper "Isthmus" and "The Daily Page"
Web site. The seller is Vince O'Hearn,
who co-founded Isthmus in 1976 with Fred Milverstedt. Tauscher's partners are Craig Bartlett, most
recently with Adams Outdoor Advertising -- and Jeff Haupt, who has headed
regional operations and sales for The Onion. Tauscher is originally from Auburndale, east of Marshfield. He starred as an offensive lineman with the
Badgers, and with the Packers in the N-F-L for 11 years ending in 2010. He's now a commentator for both Packer and
Badger radio broadcasts -- and there's another reason he's no stranger to the
media. His late father Denny Tauscher
spent many years as a sportswriter for the Marshfield News-Herald, and was
later a broadcaster for W-D-L-B and W-O-S-Q Radio and Marshfield Community
Television on cable.
Train To Hunt Wolves
A state appeals court has thrown
out restrictions on training dogs to hunt wolves. A group of humane societies sued the state in
2012, saying the use of dogs would result in violent confrontations with
wolves. A Dane County circuit judge
ruled that hunters could use dogs during the controversial wolf hunting season
each fall and winter -- but those dogs could not be trained for that purpose
any other time of the year. Today, the
Fourth District Appellate court in Madison found that the training ban had no
legal effect. That was after the
Legislature and the D-N-R failed to include any restrictions on hunting dogs
when they first set up the wolf hunt early in 2012. Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney for the
humane societies, says the ruling makes it incumbent on the new Legislature to
ban wolf hunting dogs after they return to session next year January.
It's been awhile since we've had a
dry-and-sweltering day in Wisconsin.
Many parts of the Badger State still have not seen 90-degrees this
summer -- very unusual for this time of year. Yesterday, Rhinelander set a new record for the coldest reading on
record for July ninth -- 42 degrees, which broke the old mark of 43 set in
1963, 1997, and 2009. It was 42 in Eagle
River at seven o'clock this morning, while most other parts of Wisconsin were
the 50's and low-60's. The National
Weather Service said a strong high pressure system moved into the state
yesterday, and it's making things a bit warmer.
A sunny day is in store throughout Wisconsin, with highs around 80 in
most places. Forecasters said it will be
about 10 degrees warmer tonight than last evening, with lows down to the
upper-50's in the north and the 60's elsewhere.
Moderate temperatures remain in the forecast at least through Monday,
with a chance of rain each day.
A coalition of church groups is
calling for drastic reforms in the Wisconsin Corrections Department. Over 100 members of the umbrella group WISDOM
demanded yesterday that the state release up to three-thousand prisoners who
are eligible for parole. They were
sentenced before the state's no-parole law took effect in 2000, and the group
contended that many have been behind bars much longer than their sentencing
judges intended. Those releases could
save the state 96-million dollars a year. The group also wants to end over-crowding in the state's prisons, and to
put an end to solitary confinement. The
group held a news conference to unveil its new campaign called "Reform
Now." They then crowded a meeting
of a state criminal justice advisory board.
Members said they were frustrated, because the state has not made much
progress in their call from 2012 to reduce the state prison's population in
half, to around 11-thousand inmates by 2015. Corrections Secretary Ed Wall told an A-P reporter that a committee in
his agency is looking at solitary confinement issues -- and he believes his
department and WISDOM can find agreements on other subjects.
Rough Winter Gone,
The rough winter is long gone, but
some rougher side effects will be felt for some time to come. Iron ore shippers on the Great Lakes are the
latest to feel the pain. Their loads at
the end of June were 17-percent less than a year ago, due mainly to the thick
ice on the Great Lakes that took a longer time to melt. Glen Nekvasil of the Lake Carriers
Association says a warm summer and fell would help carriers make up for at
least some of their lost tonnage -- but he says it will be tough for the
industry to catch up. The
colder-than-normal waters on the Great Lakes produced less evaporation. That, plus heavy rains and snows, caused
water levels on Lake Superior to rise by over a foot in recent weeks.
Woman Faces Charges
A woman faces homicide charges
after she was accused of being drunk when she hit and killed a pedestrian with
Jeanne Fisher, from Frederic, was
arrested in January after she hit and killed Chad Hansen. The Polk County
Sheriff's Office says Hansen was walking in the traveled portion of Highway 35
when he was hit.
Fisher told investigators she was
unable to stop because of heavy snow on the road. Detectives say she also told
them she had consumed four drinks and a shot at a bar, and was on her way to
another bar when the crash happened. She is now charged with homicide by drunk
driving. Investigators say her blood alcohol level was about 1 1/2 times the
legal limit to drive.
The Powerball jackpot was won in
Ohio last night. One ticket sold in the
Buckeye State matched all the numbers to win 124-point-nine million
dollars. Nobody from Wisconsin won
anything more than 200-dollars. Six
tickets got that by having the Power Play multiplier of two, and matching
either four regular numbers or three-plus-the-Powerball. Almost 97-hundred Wisconsin players won
smaller prizes. Last night's numbers
were 9, 25, 42, 55, and 57. The
Powerball was 14. The jackpot was
building since June 11th. It rolled over
eight times before it was claimed. The
top prize returns to 40-million dollars for the next drawing on Saturday
night. In Mega Millions, the jackpot
stands at 32-million dollars for tomorrow night.
Questions On Cost
The Marshfield Clinic's director
said its decision to scrap a new school to train dentists came down to
questions of cost and service. The
clinic said yesterday it would not build a new 20-million dollar school to
prepare dentists to practice in rural areas, which was on the drawing board
since 2010. Marshfield will return a
ten-million dollar grant from the state for the project, plus another
ten-million allocated by the clinic's Security Health Plan. The Wisconsin Dental Association opposed the
project, and so did the state's only other dental training school at
Marquette. Marshfield Clinic executive
director Brian Ewert said the decision came to down whether the new dental
school would have been a prudent use of its resources -- and whether it would
have best served its central and northern Wisconsin service territory. Marshfield and other health systems have been
cutting costs amid a recent decline in patients. Ewert said the clinic had looked for six
months at various options to meet dental training needs. Among other things, six dental clinics opened
by the Clinic's Family Health Center have areas to train students -- and
Marshfield has started a post-graduate residency program which can handle up to
ten candidates. Ewert said the clinic
would also be open to training fourth-year students in partnership with a
Should Burke Chip In
The latest financial figures in
the Wisconsin governor's race sparked a debate over how much Democratic
challenger Mary Burke should chip in.
The former Trek Bicycle executive put up 400-thousand dollars of her own
money soon after she announced her bid last fall. Yesterday, the Burke camp said she has not
had to put up any more since then -- because she raised three-point-six million
dollars from others during the first half of the year. Joe Zepecki of the Burke camp says she's had
"tremendous support," but state G-O-P director Joe Fadness said she's
either not willing or able to spend more on what he called a "losing
venture." Zepecki said Burke would
contribute more before the race is over.
Republican incumbent Scott Walker raised more than twice as much as
Burke, with eight-point-two million between January and June. Going into July, Walker had seven-point-six
million dollars in his war-chest, while Burke had two-and-a-half million. Both campaigns released new figures
yesterday, well before the state's deadline of July 21st.
New foreclosure cases in southeast
Wisconsin are finally down to what they were before the 2008 recession
began. Just over 28-hundred-50 new cases
were filed from January through June against homeowners delinquent on their
mortgages in Milwaukee and six other counties. That's the lowest six-month total since 2006 -- and it's less than half
the peak of foreclosure cases during the recession. Almost 63-hundred new cases were filed in a
six-month period in 2009 in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Racine,
Kenosha, and Walworth counties. The
housing market had a glut of buyers about a decade ago -- many of whom apparently
assumed that their investments would keep rising. But experts said too many bought homes they
couldn't really afford, and the market eventually crashed -- helping contribute
to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930's. U-W Whitewater professor Russ Kashian said
foreclosure rates were so high for so long, that he was concerned that
homebuyers would accept them as normal -- and it was nice to see that they
didn't. Kashian tells the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel the problem could return if interest rates rise, and people
take too much financial risk again by going to adjustable-rate mortgages to buy
more expensive houses.
Lunch W/1st Lady
A 12-year-old Appleton girl will
have lunch with Michelle Obama at the White House next week. Sarah Ganser was the Wisconsin winner of the
third annual "Healthy Lunchtime Challenge," a recipe contest put on
by the First Lady's "Let's Move" program. She'll join winners from other states,
Washington D-C, and three U-S territories at the July 18th White House
lunch. Ganser's recipe is for an African
sweet potato stew. It was among
15-hundred entries in the First Lady's contest. Ganser's recipe will be featured in a free cookbook that can be
downloaded by the end of July from the program's Web site at Letsmove-Dot-Gov.
No Policy Statement
Governor Scott Walker said his
19-year-old son Alex was not making a policy statement when he served as a
legal witness to a gay marriage last month. The Republican Walker, a long-time opponent of same-sex marriage,
confirmed yesterday that his son was a witness at the June 9th wedding of
Shelli Marquardt and Cathy Priem. Marquardt is the first cousin of Walker's wife Tonette. The wedding was among 550 which occurred in a
one-week period in Wisconsin, after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb found the
state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. She later put her ruling on hold while the state appeals it. The governor said his family's wedding
involved a member they love dearly, and he had no problem with his son acting
as a witness. Walker said his son
doesn't need his blessing "to do anything he does." Walker downplayed his opposition to gay
marriage when he hit the campaign trail, saying his opinion no longer matters
now that the issue is in the courts.
Owes Back Taxes
A man who co-founded three
self-help companies in Madison has been sentenced to a year in prison for not
filing federal income tax returns. Forty-two year old Eric Plantenberg of Bend Oregon said he made an
"epic mistake" when he failed to pay taxes from
2006-through-'08. That was when he
co-owned Personal Freedom Development, I-Kinetic, and Freedom Professional Services,
all of Madison. Plantenberg failed to
pay taxes on one-point-three million dollars he made during the three-year
period. His attorney asked for
probation, but Milwaukee Federal Judge Lynn Adelman said Plantenberg needed to
go to prison to discourage others from running tax scams. Prosecutors said he shuffled money from a
dozen accounts to avoid paying taxes. His attorney said Plantenberg could owe almost a-million dollars in back
taxes, penalties, and interest once his past-due returns are filed. The Wisconsin State Journal says Plantenberg
and his wife are selling a beverage company in Oregon to help pay what he owes.
The final evidence of an extremely
snowy winter has just now disappeared in northwest Wisconsin. The Superior-Douglas County Chamber of
Commerce ran a contest in which folks were invited to guess when the final remnants
of snow would melt away. They called it
the "Snowpocalypse" contest. The judges ruled that the final snow disappeared Monday from the huge
pile of snow that was removed from the city streets during the winter. Gerry Olson of Superior guessed the correct
date. She won a basket of prizes.
No Mental Exam
A 12-year-old Waukesha girl will
not have to undergo a third mental exam, before she enters a plea to charges
that she helped stab a classmate 19 times. Circuit Judge Michael Bohren has halted an order he issued last week for
a state exam that's designed to determine whether Morgan Geyser could raise a
credible insanity defense. Bohren
approved the state's request for such an exam last Thursday, after two more
limited exams showed that she was not mentally competent to stand trial. The more formal state exam normally occurs
after a criminal defendant pleads insanity. Therefore, defense lawyer Anthony Cotton said the order for the exam
came too early, since no pleas have been entered yet. Cotton also said the exam might force Geyser
to give details that could eventually be used against her, thus violating her
Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Geyser and 12-year-old Anissa Weyer are
charged as adults in the May 30th stabbing of a 12-year-old classmate. The defendants told police they did it to
honor of the fictional horror character Slender Man. They're due back in court August first. The stabbing victim continues to recover at home.
John Doe Details
We could soon learn a little bit
more about the state's John Doe investigation into the recall elections against
Governor Scott Walker and G-O-P senators. Yesterday, federal appeals Judge Diane Wood ordered the release of about
14 pages of documents that the Wisconsin Club for Growth wanted to keep
secret. It's not known when the records
will come out -- or what they might disclose. They concern the group's lawsuit which sought
to strike down the John Doe probe for violating the group's free-speech
rights. Milwaukee District Judge Rudolph
Randa said he agreed with the group, and he halted the probe twice this
spring. State prosecutors continue to
appeal the latest move. Over 250 pages
of documents have already been released from the John Doe -- including a
prosecutor's theory that Walker and two G-O-P operatives illegally coordinated
with a dozen conservative groups to run the recall campaigns as a joint
effort. Walker strongly denies it, and
the prosecutor later clarified it was nothing more than conjecture.
The state is under federal orders
to pay back a 12-point-three million dollar grant it received in 2006, to help
drug-maker Abbott Laboratories build a plant in Kenosha County that never
materialized. Governor Scott Walker's
campaign unveiled a T-V ad yesterday that slammed his Democratic election
opponent Mary Burke, for wasting a grant she arranged while she was the state's
commerce secretary. The ad mentioned
nothing about the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development's ruling that
the grant was for a speculative project and therefore improper. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
the state was told a year ago to pay back around six-million in cash, and give
up another six-million in future block grant funds. Both state officials and the Burke camp disagree
with the finding. The paper said the
funding bought land that prevented a truck stop from going on the Abbott
sites. A Walker housing official said it
eventually helped Uline (you-line) build its new corporate headquarters in
Pleasant Prairie. Burke's camp said she
disagrees strongly with HUD's finding, and she would officially challenge it if
she's elected governor in November. Her
camp said Abbott -- the Illinois drug giant -- made a major land investment in
2006, and it included taxpayer protections. The village of Pleasant Prairie was given the grant funds, which
eventually went to Abbott. The company
has not commented.
Another Drowning Victim
A man who drowned in the Saint
Croix River near Hastings Minnesota was from nearby Wisconsin. Washington County sheriff's officials said
40-year-old Juan Diaz of Prescott was swimming with his family on Sunday, when
he went into the river near Point Douglas Beach and did not resurface. His body was found about an-hour-and-a-half
later. At least three other people died
in drowning incidents in Wisconsin during the July Fourth weekend -- including
former Milwaukee Wave soccer player Brett Wiesner, who failed to resurface from
Oconomowoc Lake on Saturday.
Election Close Now
The Wisconsin governor's election
is 17 weeks from today. Both candidates
have been criss-crossing the state to fire up their party bases, and attract a
relatively small percentage of undecided voters. Republican Governor Scott Walker is back on
the campaign trail today, with stops at powder-coating plant in Oregon and a
maker of specialty wristbands in New Berlin. Democrat Mary Burke is touring a farm in Mazomanie that produces beer
hops. She'll also visit the Food
Enterprise Center in Viroqua. Burke, a
former Trek Bicycle executive and state commerce secretary, faces a primary
challenge from long-shot Representative Brett Hulsey of Madison. The fall partisan primaries are five weeks
from today, on August 12th.
Banks & Money
Wisconsin community bankers met
with the chairman of the F-D-I-C in Wausau yesterday. Martin Gruenberg heard concerns from smaller
locally-owned banks on how a number of federal regulations affect their ability
to compete. Gruenberg said many of the
rules came in response to the "too big to fail" banks which almost
collapsed and spurred the Great Recession and its related housing bubble. Wausau House Republican Sean Duffy, who
arranged the visit, said Washington must be careful not to over-regulate
community banks -- and the pendulum has swung to the conservative side. River Valley Bank hosted the meeting. Its C-E-O, Todd Nagel, said the
regulatory-and-compliance department is one of his bank's fastest-growing
sectors -- when in reality, he said the lending department should grow
faster. Both Nagel and Gruenberg said
banks have plenty of money to lend -- but the demand is not there because
businesses remain conservative in their post-recession growth. Nagel says companies have held onto their
cash reserves -- and now is the right time for firms to expand and buy new
equipment, since interest rates are low and money is available.
Here’s another reason to go to a
baseball game….especially at Target Field in the Twin Cities………..
Target Field is now giving beer
lovers more of an opportunity to control how much they drink. The home of the Minnesota Twins debuted the
DraftServ machine Sunday which is a self-serve beer station. It is the first time a machine of its kind
has been used at a MLB game. There will
be an employee on hand to check IDs Fans
are limited to 48-ounces of beer every 15 minutes.
48 ounces of beer every 15
minutes! Doesn’t that seem like asking for trouble?
If you get an e-mail offering you
a job to ship and re-ship products to Russia, it might be a scam. The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin says
companies which call themselves "Send It Off" and
"Pick-and-Send" are recruiting people to work-at-home, but they don't
get paid. The bureau says the scammers
are using a downtown Milwaukee office address, and three local phone numbers
which are voice-over-Internet numbers.
The consumer agency said it could not reach company personnel through
any of those numbers. Those who take the
bait could be at risk for identity theft.
The bureau said people in Missouri and Kansas who took jobs as shippers
were required to send copies of their drivers' licenses. They were then sent things like I-Pads to
send to Moscow, with a promise of 17-hundred dollars a month in wages that were
never paid. Also, job applications had
spelling and grammatical errors. The
Better Business Bureau says to watch for those when you apply for a job -- and
you should never accept a post that doesn't require a face-to-face interview.
A convicted murderer killed
himself in jail, less than two months before he was to be sentenced to life in
prison for raping and killing a Plover woman.
Thirty-three year old Jose Flores-Aca was found strangled late Sunday
night in his Portage County jail cell. Sheriff John Charewicz said Flores-Aca used a strip of bed linen, and a
two-inch screw that was not part of the jail's hardware. The sheriff wants to know how the prisoner
obtained it. The Stevens Point Police
Department is acting as an outside investigator in the jail incident. Flores-Aca struck a plea deal last week. He pled guilty to first-degree intentional
homicide and sexual assault. A third
count of hiding a corpse was dropped. Flores-Aca was to be sentenced September 30th. Prosecutors suggested life in prison plus 20
years for the sexual assault conviction. Authorities said Flores-Aca got angry with his 36-year-old apartment
neighbor Jamie Koch last August. He then
strangled her with her bra, wrapped her in a bed sheet, and drove her to
neighboring Waupaca County where he burned her car to try and dispose of Koch's
Own Term Limits
All four Republican candidates for
the open U-S House seat in eastern Wisconsin said they would impose their own
term limits if they're elected. This
comes about two weeks after a report that the man they hope to replace --
36-year incumbent Tom Petri -- raised his family in Washington and spent only a
third of his available free time back in his home district. Yesterday, State Assembly Republican Duey
Strobel of Saukville issued a column promising he would serve as a
"citizen legislator" like the Founding Fathers intended. Strobel later said he would serve no more
than ten years in Congress, which would make him 64 if he serves that long. State Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of
West Bend then said he, too, would impose a ten-year term limit, which would
make him 69. Senate Republican Joe
Leibham (ly-bmm) of Sheboygan vowed a 12-year term limit, serving to age
57. Oshkosh Republican Tom Denow
(dee'-no) said he'd also agree to a term limit.
Self-imposed term limits don't always work. State Assembly Republican Scott Krug of
Nekoosa is running for a third two-year term this fall -- even though he
promised to serve just two terms before he defeated 40-year incumbent Marlin
Schneider in 2010.
Wisconsin's limit on medical
malpractice awards will apparently be tested, after a jury awarded 25-million
dollars to a Milwaukee woman who lost all four of her limbs. Jurors agreed yesterday that doctors never
found a strep infection in 53-year-old Ascaris Mayo. It led to "septic shock" which caused
both her arms and both her legs to be amputated in 2011. Jurors awarded 15-million dollars for
pain-and-suffering, and one-and-a-half million for her husband's loss of
companionship. Both are well above the
750-thousand-dollar limit for non-economic malpractice damages set by majority
Republicans in the first session after Governor Scott Walker took office. Attorney Daniel Rottier (ro-teer'), who
represented Mayo and her husband, expects the case to end up in the State
Supreme Court. Jurors did not say that
Doctor Wyatt Jaffe and his assistant Donald Gibson were negligent. They said both failed to give Mayo
alternative diagnoses which could have caused her to seek other types of
treatment. Jaffe was ruled 65-percent at
fault, and Gibson 35-percent.
Last month was one of the soggiest
on record in Wisconsin. The National
Weather Service said Madison had about nine-and-a-half inches of rain in June,
the fifth-highest on record. Also, there
was at least a trace of rain during 20-of-the-30 days of June in Madison -- the
second-highest in Weather Service annals.
Milwaukee had its 14th-wettest June, with just over six-inches of
rain. That city also had 20 rainy days
last month, tied with 1969. The faucet
was turned off at least long enough for most of us to enjoy our July Fourth
weekends. The northwest half of
Wisconsin had rain early yesterday, and it spread during the afternoon. Those storms are gone, but more are due in this
afternoon and evening.
Close to 300 people die each year
in Wisconsin by abusing prescription pain-killers which have a synthetic form
of opium. State figures obtained by
Gannett Wisconsin Media show that 297-to-329 people each year have died from
opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin from 2006-through-2012. All but six counties have recorded such
deaths. The highest death rates per
capita include counties of all sizes -- larger places like Milwaukee and
Kenosha, and smaller counties like Adams and Langlade. The drugs contain the core ingredient in
heroin, and that's why they're considered stepping-stones to heroin abuse. Victims include teens looking to get high,
but they also include older pain sufferers who become addicted to their
medications. Dorothy Chaney of the
Wisconsin Community Health Alliance tells Gannett that most households have
prescription narcotics at some point -- and that's where the addictions often
begin. The State Crime Lab has seen its
opioid cases rise from 170 in 2004, to 640 last year.
The Powerball jackpot is at
122-million dollars for Wednesday night.
Nobody won the top prize on Saturday, and Wisconsin players didn't win
anything more than 400-dollars. Two
tickets won that much by having the Power Play multiplier of four, and matching
either four regular numbers or three-plus-the-Powerball. Just over 10-thousand-300 tickets in the
Badger State won something. Saturday's
numbers were 24, 34, 36, 57, and 58. The
Powerball was 11. Wednesday night's cash
option is almost 71-and-a-half million dollars.
In Mega Millions, the jackpot for tomorrow night stands at 25-million
Owners of the former Kewaunee
Nuclear Power Plant are speeding up a transfer of used fuel, to address
concerns from local residents. Dominion
Resources shut down the plant in the spring of last year. Under its latest plan, the spent fuel rods
would be moved from a large storage pool in the reactor to two dozen concrete
casks which stand 18-feet tall. The move
is set to be completed by the end of 2016. The firm hired an Atlanta company to build the casks and fill them.
Kewaunee has said it would take the full 60 years allowed by federal law to
decommission the plant. Officials in the
nearby town of Carlton are worried that it would hurt efforts to bring in new
jobs. Dominion spokesman Mark Kanz tells
the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the fuel-rod transfer is the only activity
being moved up -- but it could set the stage for an earlier decommission down
the road. The Kewaunee reactor operated
for 39 years until the utilities which bought the plant's electricity found
cheaper alternatives with plants that burn natural gas. Nuclear plants are hanging onto their spent
fuel because the federal government has not found finalized a national plan to
store them. Wisconsin reactors have an
estimated 14-hundred-30 tons of spent fuel. That's around two-percent of the U-S total.
A federal judge in Green Bay will
hear arguments this morning in a lawsuit from U-S Senator Ron Johnson on
Obama-care benefits for his colleagues and staffers. The Wisconsin Republican said the
administration overstepped its authority, by granting federal tax subsidies for
congressional personnel to use the Obama-care purchasing exchanges regardless
of their incomes. Johnson filed his
lawsuit in January, saying the subsidies amount to special treatment that's not
afforded to other Americans. Federal
Judge William Griesbach is presiding over today's hearing, in which the
government will seek a motion to drop the lawsuit while claiming that Johnson
had no legal right to file it. Johnson
insists he has legal standing to sue, because he's being harmed by having to
take part in program he believes is illegal.
The government disagrees, calling the subsidies a fringe benefit that
Johnson and his staff do not have to accept. The health reform law required lawmakers to use the exchanges, so they
could know what their constituents were going through.
Overfishing In ND
Five Wisconsin anglers are in some
hot water for alleged overfishing in North Dakota. According to the North
Dakota Division of Game and Fish, the men caught 100 walleye over the state’s
limit of10 per person. Each angler faces fines over 17-hundred dollars, a court
date is set for August 18. The men were fishing and staying at a rental home at
Third Owi With Baby
An Arkansaw man has been arrested
in St. Croix for this third OWI, with a baby in the car.
The Wisconsin State Patrol says
just before 6:30 Thursday night, a trooper stopped 33 year old Jesus Martinez-Agustin
on I-94 in St. Croix County, he was going 84 in a 65 mile per hour zone.
The trooper arrested him for
operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, third offense. There was an eight
month old baby in the vehicle along with the child's mother who did not have a
valid driver's license.
Agustin is currently being held at
the Saint Croix County Jail.
Federal officials want tougher
standards for warning the public about water contamination on beaches in
Wisconsin and elsewhere. Shahla Werner with the Sierra Club in Wisconsin notes
that a recent ranking found Wisconsin's beaches the eighth worse in the nation
for water quality. The EPA says swimmers can make their own choices but should
be informed about risk of illness. But Werner notes states which don't
implement the tougher standards run the risk of losing money to test beach
water quality. The recent report from the Environmental Defense fund said 14
percent of Wisconsin’s water samples failed to meet Environmental Protection
Agency standards for safe beach swimming waters.
Walker Mining Fears
Republican Governor Scott Walker is concerned that the
Democratic Obama administration will put a crimp into the Gogebic Taconite
mining project for political reasons. Yesterday in Rhinelander, Walker said he hoped the E-P-A would not step
in, and evaluate the environmental effects of the project before other
state-and-federal agencies can act on permits for it. Six Chippewa Indian tribes asked the E-P-A to
step in late last week. If it does, the
agency could veto other governmental decisions on things like dredging, and
digging close to waterways. The nearby
Bad River tribe fears that the mine would hurt water supplies on-and-around the
reservation near Ashland. Walker said
Wisconsin laws offer strong environmental protections, which he and the
Legislature weakened a year ago to try and accommodate the mine and boost jobs
in the north. Walker says he's committed
to a "safe and environmentally sound mining process," and he said the
E-P-A would agree if it bases its decisions on science "as opposed to
Walker Believes No Penalty
Governor Scott Walker says he believes voters will not
penalize him for failing to keep his 2010 campaign promise to create a
quarter-million private sector jobs. The
Republican Walker told reporters in Rhinelander that voters would give him
credit for what he called "aiming big." Democrats have said that Walker's record on
job creation would be their main point of attack this fall, as the party tries
to win back the executive branch it lost to the G-O-P four years ago. Just over 100-thousand private sector jobs
were created since Walker took office at the start of 2011. The federal government said Wisconsin had the
nation's 37th-slowest job growth during 2013. Walker has often said that he's had to make up for 133-thousand jobs
lost during Democrat Jim Doyle's eight years in office -- which included the
near national financial services collapse and the subsequent Great Recession.
A former Abbotsford high school math teacher has pleaded
innocent to having sex with two students, and contacting one of them after he
was charged. 25-year-old Andy Follen of
Spencer entered his pleas to five Clark County felony charges of sexual assault
by a school staffer -- plus later counts of intimidating a victim, and two charges
of bail jumping. No further court proceedings
were immediately scheduled. Authorities
said Follen had sexual relationships with two 17-year-old girls last October,
and one was a volleyball player. A month
after his original charges, prosecutors said Follen claimed to be with an Eau
Claire softball team when he urged the girl to call the D-A and ask that his
charges be reduced. That resulted in his
three latest charges. Follen resigned
from Abbotsford in January, while the case was being investigated.
June 2014 Safe Month
Last month was the second-safest June on Wisconsin highways
since 1946. Preliminary numbers from the
state D-O-T show that 49 people died in traffic crashes in the Badger State
last month. That's 12 fewer than last
June, and nine less than the average for the past five years. For the first half of 2014, Wisconsin
recorded 215 traffic deaths -- down eleven from a year ago. D-O-T safety director David Pabst said he was
concerned that motorcycle deaths are up from a year ago. Thirty-five bikers were killed from
January-through-June. That's five more
than the same period last year, even though it was cold and rainy for most of
Gay Marriage Appeal
The state Justice Department says
it will file an appeal soon to Federal Judge Barbara Crabb's decision that
Wisconsin's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck also
reaffirmed the attorney general's contention that the same-sex marriages
performed in the state last month are "uncertain." J-B Van Hollen still contends that county
clerks did not have the authority to issue close to 600 same-sex marriage
licenses in the days after Crabb's ruling -- which she later put on hold while
it's being appealed. Yesterday, the
A-C-L-U said it would file a lawsuit to try-and-validate the Wisconsin
marriages, if the state presses the issue in the federal appeals court. Molly Collins of A-C-L-U said the state's
refusal to recognize the same-sex marriages violates the couples' due-process
rights to stay married. The A-C-L-U is
the main plaintiff in a suit that seeks to strike down the 2006 state
constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.
Skeletal remains found near
Rhinelander are those of a convicted arsonist whom state parole officials have
been trying to find for 14 months. The
body of 54-year-old Steven Boron of Oneida County was found Monday by a person
walking in a wooded area near Lake Julia, about five miles south of
Rhinelander. He was identified yesterday
with the help of dental records from the state Corrections' Department. Oneida County chief deputy Dan Hess said
Boron was released from prison and failed to report to his parole agent. Hess said the man was most likely dead for
more than a year. He was not reported
missing. Foul play is not suspected, but
a cause of Boron's death has not been determined. Investigators are still
waiting for toxicology test results on the remains.
The Powerball jackpot is above
100-million dollars again. It's at
101-million for Saturday, after nobody won the top prize in last night's
drawing. A ticket sold at Westby in southwest
Wisconsin won the game's third prize of 10-thousand dollars. It matched all but one of the five regular
numbers, plus the Powerball. Almost
86-hundred Wisconsin players won prizes ranging from four-dollars to 200. Last night's numbers were 8, 18, 45, 53, and
58. The Powerball was 35, and the Power
Play multiplier was two. The current
jackpot has been building since June 11th, when a Tennessee player won almost
260-million dollars. Saturday's cash
option is just over 60-million. In Mega
Millions, the top prize is 20-million dollars for tomorrow night.
John Doe Probe
All sides in the John Doe probe
into the state's recall elections will have two more weeks to recommend which
documents should be unsealed.
Prosecutors, a target of the probe, and two undisclosed parties have
been poring over three-thousand pages of secret records, after 266 pages were
released in June. Today was the deadline
to finish the new review, but Federal Judge Rudolph Randa extended it to July
17th. Five media groups asked Randa to
release all the documents in the John Doe. Prosecutors have asked for the same thing, saying the need for secrecy
no longer exists. The Wisconsin Club for
Growth, one of the targets, says its proprietary data should be kept under
wraps. The undisclosed parties said the
previous release of records was unfair to Governor Scott Walker and others --
and they want all the files kept secret. Judge Randa halted the two-year-old
John Doe probe in May, saying prosecutors violated the Club for Growth's free
speech rights by keeping the group quiet.
In the previous document release, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz put
out a theory that Walker and two other G-O-P operatives headed an illegal
coordinated effort to win his and other recall elections, with the help of 12
outside groups. Walker insists he has
done nothing wrong. An attorney for
Schmitz later made it was clear that the governor himself is not being
Voters in Crandon will decide July
29th whether to recall their mayor.
Incumbent Rob Jaeger will run against Dennis Rosa, who filed nomination
papers by yesterday's deadline. About
200 people signed petitions to force the recall vote -- but the City Council
didn't want to hold it originally. They
voted against an election last week, but state officials said Crandon had no
choice but to proceed with the vote. They
went along this week, with one alderman still voting no. Recall organizers have accused the mayor of
trying to fire certain city employees, going around committees, and not letting
people speak at public meetings. City
Clerk Cindy Bradley says it's a new concept for Crandon, partially because the
mayor's term was recently lengthened from two years to four. State law requires elected officials to serve
at least one year before being eligible for recall. That means those serving two-year terms would
be up for election anyway, almost in the amount of time it might take to complete
a recall petition and voting process.
July 2, 2014
Leave Fireworks Home
Leave your fireworks at home. That's what the D-N-R is telling campers at
Wisconsin state parks and forests over the Fourth-of-July. The D-N-R says most fireworks are illegal in
park facilities. Sparklers and snakes
are allowed, but rangers are discouraging their use as well -- because they're
fire hazards. The D-N-R says those who
caught with illegal fireworks can be fined up to 200-dollars. Also, those who start wildfires are liable
for the damages, and the costs of sending fire-fighters out -- and if kids
cause the fires, their parents will get the bill.
Heroin abuse in Wisconsin has
escalated for the last six years, and it shows no signs of abating. That's according to a statewide assessment of
the problem, conducted over the past year by the F-B-I and other agencies. The report says drug dealers have found
heroin to be a cheaper alternative to prescription drugs. Most heroin enters the U-S from Mexico and
South America -- and it reaches Wisconsin through Minneapolis, Chicago, and
Rockford Illinois. Users are generally
white men, age 21-to-25 who start out abusing opiates like Percocet and
Vicodin. The report says one hit can
cost around 15-dollars in Milwaukee, but twice that much in Green Bay due to
supply and demand. Local police officials
have mentioned that before. The F-B-I's
John Kumm (koom) says Wisconsin is the only state that has done a statement
assessment -- but he cautions that it's not complete. That's because data is not available in all
parts of the state. For example, the
report found 187 heroin overdose deaths in Wisconsin in 2012 -- but some death
certificates only list "drug abuse" as a cause of death, and those
are not counted in these figures. Still,
the ones that we do know of are about three times the 67 heroin deaths reported
A funnel cloud was spotted north
of Wausau last evening. It didn't touch
down, but it still marked the fourth day in the last five in which Wisconsin
had at least some type of tornadic activity. The National Weather Service reported no storm damage where last night's
twister was spotted -- and the Wisconsin Public Service utility reported no
power outages in the Wausau area this morning.
The same cannot be said for southeast Wisconsin, where almost 54-hundred
We Energies are still in the dark after high winds on Monday. The utility expects everyone to have their
power back by tonight. Meanwhile, the
Weather Service now confirms three tornadoes in Iowa and Dane counties late
Sunday night. Two twisters landed at the
same time north and northwest of Dodgeville at 10:30 p-m. Both were rated F-Twos, causing numerous
building and tree damage. This morning,
Wisconsin Power-and-Light reported 140 customers still without electricity in
Iowa County. An F-One tornado landed
north of Oregon in Dane County just before 11:30 Sunday night, causing heavy
It's been 14 years since Wisconsin
baby whooping cranes have migrated to Florida each winter, to try and raise
populations of the endangered bird in the Eastern U-S. However, experts say adult cranes have still
not been able to produce enough chicks that survive as adults. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says almost
250 cranes have been released into the wild in Wisconsin since 2001 -- but only
95 are now living. The Whooping Crane
Eastern Partnership, a group of public and private agencies, said a record 13
cranes hatched in the wild this past year -- but ten have died, apparently from
predators. The partnership notes that no
whooping crane re-introduction has ever truly succeeded, and all of them are
fraught with challenges. New strategies
have been tried which increases baby cranes' natural time with adults. Supporters say it should take 3-to-5 years to
see if the new efforts succeed. If not,
it remains uncertain whether the project might be shut down. A similar crane reintroduction effort to the
west has fared better. Officials say a
connection between Alberta and Texas has resulted in 300 living cranes.
Changes in dairy
Has the change in month triggered
a change in the dairy markets? After staying strong throughout June, cash
cheese, butter, nonfat dry milk and Class III futures all declined on Tuesday,
July 1st. The market was pushed by the Global Dairy Trade auction which, after
increasing two weeks ago, saw the average price fall 4.9 percent. The biggest
decline in the average price since the April 1st sale, the ninth decline in the
last ten auctions and the lowest average price since February 5, 2013.
Tim Hunt, Global Dairy Strategist
with Rabobank says China has built-up an inventory of dairy products thanks to
steady imports and increased domestic production. As a result, China will not
need to buy that much over the coming months. That combined with expected
increasing production in the U.S. and the European Union in the coming months
is pushing prices down.
Rabobank issued their latest
Global Dairy Outlook last week projecting increased production and lower prices
in the second-half of 2014. And while the current record milk prices will
back-off, profitability will remain strong for dairy producers thanks to
declining feed prices. This week’s U.S. Plantings Report contributing to that
scenario. “As such, 2014 is probably going to go down as one of the best years
on record for dairy farmers.”
Hunt’s advice to dairy producers
is to take advantage of the current prices as best they can by utilizing the
various options available to them.
A search continues for a man
suspected of stealing at least a half-dozen vehicles in central and western
Wisconsin since he left prison on June 10th.
On Monday night, authorities said 38-year-old Eric Hall was hiding out
at a friend's house near Vesper in central Wisconsin. Wood County sheriff's deputies were called,
and they said a male resident claimed Hall wasn't there. That was when Hall was said to have stolen
the man's pick-up truck. That man was
arrested for obstructing an officer.
Yesterday, Jackson County authorities said Hall took another vehicle in
Merrillan (marilyn). Officials were not
sure where he went after that. Hall is
now facing a warrant for violating probation. Last month, authorities said he may have stolen up to four vehicles in
western Wisconsin, just days after leaving prison. One vehicle had a shotgun and a rifle, plus
hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Another belonged to a volunteer fire-fighter with an emergency light and
siren inside. Authorities consider Hall
armed and dangerous. They warn people
not to approach Hall if they see him -- and instead to call 9-1-1 immediately.
Wisconsin's largest grocery chain
will close its distribution center in Stevens Point, putting almost 200 people
out of work. Roundy's told state
officials yesterday that most employees would be released by the end of August,
and the shutdown would be complete by the end of September. The company blames the closure on the sales
of more than two dozen Roundy-owned stores in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul areas,
which obtained its grocery items from the Stevens Point facility. The firm said it would move the center's
operations in phases to similar facilities in Oconomowoc and Mazomanie. Media reports said Roundy's plans to
revitalize its grocery business in southeast Wisconsin, where it has
Pick-N-Save and Metro Market stores. The
firm also plans to grow in the Chicago area. Roundy's operates a total of 174 supermarkets and 110 pharmacies in
Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota.
State Property Sales
The state Administration
Department has announced ten state-owned properties that could eventually be
sold. The current state budget allows
the administration to sell facilities which are under-used, or could make
profits for taxpayers. The list includes
the former Knapp House governor's mansion on the U-W Madison campus -- the
former Ethan Allen boys' detention center at Wales -- the Northern Wisconsin
Center for the developmentally-disabled at Chippewa Falls -- an airplane hangar
at Madison's airport -- and heating-and-cooling plants which serve state facilities. Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch (hipsh)
stressed that the properties would only be sold if it's "prudent and
logical." Seven firms will analyze
the properties and their possible sale value.
The sales would occur in the next two-year budget period starting in
2015, with a goal of reducing the state's debt. Some properties could be sold outright, while others might have
lease-back arrangements for users.
Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison said the lease-back concept does
not make economic sense. In his words,
"It just creates a layer of middlemen who cash in on the taxpayer
Starting next month, Milwaukee
will no longer have the nation's largest Indian casino that doesn't have its
own hotel. The Potawatomi Tribe said
today it would open its new 381-room hotel on August 18th, in Milwaukee's
industrial Menomonee Valley between downtown and the Miller Park stadium. A private ribbon-cutting event is set for
October first. The 19-story hotel will
have a direct walkway to the casino. The
tribe expect to expand its customer drawing area from a 25-mile radius, to
around a 100-mile radius. Right now, the
casino attracts an estimated six-million visitors each year. Officially, the hotel will not be on tribal
land. That means it will pay property
taxes, and its users will pay Milwaukee's room tax.
Bands Traveling To
Two Wisconsin high school bands
are heading to the nation's capital to march in the National Independence Day
Parade on Friday. About 15 bands from
throughout the country will march -- including students from Green Bay East and
Hortonville high schools. Youngsters
from both schools will see some of Washington's top attractions -- including
the U-S Capitol, the Smithsonian, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a number
of national monuments. The Hortonville
band also plans performances at the Armed Forces Retirement Center and the
National World War Two Memorial. Green
Bay East band director Karen Iken says it might be the only chance for some of
the youngsters to visit Washington -- and it will be important to put their
best feet forward for both their school and themselves.
July 1, 2014
Families of three Wisconsin
victims in a 2006 traffic crash linked to General Motors' faulty ignition
switches have yet to decide whether to take a company settlement. Ken Rimer says the families will meet with
their lawyer tomorrow, after G-M announced a compensation fund yesterday. Eighteen-year-old Natasha Weigel and
15-year-old Amy Rademacher were killed when their car stalled, veered off a road,
and slammed into trees in rural Saint Croix County in far western
Wisconsin. The driver, 17-year-old Megan
Phillips, suffered brain damage. G-M has
admitted that one of the girls died directly from the ignition problem, because
an air bag in front of her had not deployed. Yesterday, G-M said all passengers
in such crashes would be eligible for compensation, after refusing to
compensate back seat riders previously.
The three Wisconsin families have a lawsuit pending. Rimer says he'll need to know more before
deciding whether to drop the suit and accept G-M's compensation. Amounts have
not been disclosed, but company settlement administrator Kenneth Feinberg said
families would know the offers before having to decide whether to take them.
More Severe Weather
For the second day in a row, heavy
thunderstorms caused flooding and widespread damage in southern Wisconsin. Madison's downtown and east side had
two-and-a-half inches of rain in 30 minutes late yesterday afternoon. A number of places in the Madison area had
street flooding. We Energies said 114-thousand
electric customers in southeast Wisconsin lost their power -- the most for a
single incident since 2005. Almost
17-thousand of them were still out as of three this morning, mostly between
Waukesha and West Allis. In southwest
Wisconsin, a funnel cloud was spotted near Livingston in Grant County late
yesterday afternoon. It didn't touch
down. Nearby Lancaster had winds up to
78-miles-an-hour. The National Weather
Service also said a pole-shed was blown up to 300 yards into a farm field at
Rewey in Iowa County. Numerous trees,
power lines -- and in some cases, utility poles -- were blown down across the
southern part of the Badger State. Meanwhile, the Weather Service has now confirmed two tornadoes from
Sunday night -- an E-F-Two twister north of Dodgeville, and an E-F-One tornado
in rural Dane County. Trees and
buildings were damaged in both cases, and no injuries were reported. More rain and possible thunderstorms are in
today's forecast throughout Wisconsin.
Wisconsin farmers planted a record
amount of soybeans this year. They also
planted more corn, bucking the national trend of a decrease. The U-S-D-A said today that farmers in the
Badger State planted four-point-two million acres of corn this spring. That's 100-thousand more acres than a year
ago, and it's the nation's seventh-highest corn crop. Soybean acreage totaled one-point-eight
million in Wisconsin, way up from the one-million 580-thousand acres planted in
2013. Nationally, farmers planted a record
amount of soybeans, with almost 85-million acres. That's eleven-percent more than last
years. Analysts had expected some
farmers to devote more of their acres to soybeans, due to a drop in corn
prices. The U-S corn crop of 92-million
acres is down four-percent from the previous year -- but it's still the
fifth-largest corn total planted since 1944.
The Green Bay Symphony Orchestra
did make a profit a couple times in recent years -- but its director said it
was not enough to avoid shutting it down after the upcoming season. The Green Bay Press-Gazette said the symphony
made money in two of the last three seasons. Director Dan Linssen calls that a "fluke," caused by the fact
that donors had to be approached in desperation due to the orchestra's dire
finances. Linssen said "donor fatigue"
set in. He said the management was
privately meeting with musicians who thought that not enough was done to raise
funds. The Press-Gazette cited tax
recrods showing that the Green Bay Symphony made profits of five-thousand in
2011, and almost 12-thousand last year. It lost 32-thousand in 2012.
A Stevens Point woman thought she
lost her wedding ring for good five years ago -- but as it turned out, it never
left. Lois Matykowski's dog Tucker
vomited a Popsicle he stole -- stick and all -- and it turned out that Lois's
ring was in that mess. That happened a
couple weeks ago. Matykowski tells
W-A-O-W T-V in Wausau that she searched her house high-and-low back in 2009,
but she couldn't find her wedding ring. Her veterinarian says the Popsicle stick might have dislodged the ring
inside the dog. An "X"-ray showed
no other hidden treasures in the animal -- much to the chagrin of friends who
were hoping the dog wound cough up more diamonds.
Gas Prices For 4th
If you plan to travel to see the
Fourth-of-July fireworks, plan on paying the highest gas prices for the holiday
in six years. The Wisconsin
Triple-"A" said the average price was 3.70-and-a-half this morning
for a gallon of regular unleaded. That's
22-cents more than at this time last July Fourth. Normally, gas prices go down in the weeks
leading up to Independence Day -- but ongoing violence in Iraq and its
speculation over oil production has kept you paying more at the pump. However, today's average Wisconsin fuel price
is two cents less than a week ago -- and it apparently won't keep a lot of
folks home for the holiday weekend. The
Triple-"A" expects about 872-thousand Wisconsinites to travel at
least 50-miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday. The Fourth itself is on Friday.
June 30, 2014
New Book Release
A new book will be released this
summer about Steven Avery -- the Wisconsin man who spent 18 years in prison for
a rape he didn't commit, only to kill a woman two years after he was
freed. Manitowoc County prosecutor
Michael Griesbach (grees-bock) was involved in Avery's exoneration in 2003. His book is called "The Innocent
Killer," and it focuses on his original rape case. Griesbach suggests that Teresa Halbach, whom
Avery and his nephew killed in 2005, might be alive today if it wasn't for
Avery's wrongful conviction. He said the
prison time exacerbated Avery's "sociopathic tendencies." Griesbach tells the A-P that he hopes
authorities can learn from the case.
Griesbach accuses the Manitowoc County sheriff and a prosecutor at the
time of ignoring strong evidence that Gregory Allen was actually the one to
rape a woman along a beach in the mid-1980's.
Avery had become the prime suspect after he was previously suspected of
exposing himself to a deputy's wife, and burning a cat. The rape victim pointed to Avery in a lineup,
and was never given a lineup that included Allen. Griesbach tells the A-P that several law
professors around the country have asked for copies of the book, published by
the American Bar Association. It's due
out August seventh.
Wisconsinites who install solar
energy systems could lose part of their savings on their reduced electric
usage, if they haven't already. The
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says some of the state's largest utilities are
beefing up their fixed charges -- the amount which all customers pay,
regardless of their energy usage. We
Energies has asked the state for permission to raise its fixed charge from
nine-dollars a month to 16. Wisconsin
Public Service proposes a doubling of its fixed charge to 25-dollars a home for
home customers, and a tripling to 35 for businesses. Also, We Energies and Wisconsin
Power-and-Light want to reduce what they'll pay customers for solar power
starting next year. The Journal Sentinel
says falling prices and better technology have made solar energy a much better
bargain than it used to be -- and the higher fixed charges on electric bills
are designed to have those customers pay their fair share of things like power
lines and sub-stations.
High Gas Prices
North American oil prices have
advanced by just a few pennies since Iraqi violence put a question mark around
the future stability of supply, but U.S. consumers will still see the most
expensive July 4th gasoline prices in six years, GasBuddy predicted Friday.
“Fear about what could happen if
Iraqi exports fall prey to violence has altered the calculus for summer oil
prices,” observes GasBuddy chief oil analyst Tom Kloza. U.S. oil production is
as high as it has been since October 1986 and gasoline should be well supplied
in all states during the holidays, “but big sellers will probably stay on the
sidelines until it’s clear that Middle East exports aren’t threatened,” Kloza
Despite much ado about higher
prices of late, the average U.S. gas price for the first half of 2014 will be
the cheapest number in the last four years. GasBuddy sees a $3.52/gal
January-through-June average this year compared to $3.57/gal last year;
$3.64/gal in 2012; and $3.53/gal in 2011. (In 2010, the first half of the year
produced an average price of $2.76/gal, but that occurred as the U.S. was
recovering from the worst recession of the automobile age.)
“Hot spots” with expensive
gasoline show up most frequently in California and Washington, but also in
Michigan, Ohio, and especially Kentucky. In all cases, the higher numbers are
not attributable to Iraq, but instead are tied to regional refinery issues.
Southern California, the Puget Sound, and portions of Ohio and Kentucky have
all seen unanticipated refinery downtime in recent weeks. Kentucky finds
average gas prices more than 30cts/gal above last year.
A Cedarburg man will get back
48-thousand dollars seized by state troopers in Nebraska in 2009. Twenty-two year old John Nelson was stopped
for following his R-V too closely. He
was caught with a half-ounce of marijuana -- and when troopers found the cash
in a backpack, they figured it was going to be used for a major drug
purchase. A federal magistrate sided
with the officers, but the Eighth Circuit federal appeals court overturned the
confiscation on Friday, and ordered that Nelson get his money back. Milwaukee attorney Patrick Brennan, who
represented Nelson, won his argument that the government's only evidence was
theory and conjecture. Brennan said
Nelson was planning to move from Cedarburg to Colorado -- but he returned after
a few weeks, because his new city restricted ownership of a pit bull he owned.
Food Stamp Work
Food-stamp recipients in far
southeast Wisconsin will be the first ones to have to work in order to keep
getting their benefits. The requirement
takes effect on January first statewide -- but it's getting a head-start
tomorrow in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties so the bugs can get worked
out. Majority Republicans passed a requirement
last year that Food-Share recipients must either work, or be enrolled in an
employee-training program to keep getting the food cards. In general, the change will affect adults age
18-to-49 with no children in their home who are physically able to work. The Racine Journal Times says it includes
two-thousand of Racine County's 17-thousand total Food-Share recipients. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau
estimates that about half the affected recipients will not be able to fulfill
the new requirements -- and they'll be booted out of the food stamp
program. Federal law requires childless
healthy adults to work 20 hours a week to get food stamps. Wisconsin had a waiver from that requirement,
until the state ended it.
Another Twister Touchdown
An apparent tornado touched down
near Highland in Iowa County, as southern Wisconsin had another bout of severe
weather late last night. The National
Weather Service said the twister landed around 11 p-m, and caused a "swath
of damage" from Highland to near Dodgeville. Brian Hahn of the Weather Service said
straight line winds could have also been the culprit. There were no reports of injuries. Elsewhere, a grain elevator fell near
Oregon. Officials reported a mudslide on
Highway 60 in Crawford County.
Pardeeville in Columbia County had up to one-and-three-quarter inches of
rain in just 20 minutes. Baraboo in Sauk
County had up to two-feet of street flooding. Trees and power lines fell near Fennimore in Grant County. A flash flood watch is in effect until this
evening for much of southwest Wisconsin.
The Weather Service said the ground was so saturated in that region, it
could cause already-high rivers and streams to go over their banks. The overnight storms were leaving Wisconsin
around four this morning. Forecasters
said another round of heavy thunderstorms is due in this afternoon and evening.
A report from the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel shows medical malpractice lawsuits have plummeted over the
last several years. According to the paper, there were only 140 lawsuits filed,
a 50-percent drop since 1999. Experts believe state laws in favor of hospitals
and doctors are to blame for the decrease, but medical groups say it’s because
they are now better at their jobs. The state’s insurance fund is also doing
well… the report indicates it’s grown over one-point-15-billion dollars. That’s
well over than the overall payout in the fund’s 39-year history.
June 27, 2014
A Wisconsin man will stay in jail
during his federal court case on charges that he took young women to serve as
prostitutes in the North Dakota oil fields.
Federal Magistrate Judge Charles Miller of Bismarck said no yesterday to
releasing 31-year-old Levell Durr on bond. The judge said Durr is a risk to the community -- and if he's released,
he might flee to avoid future court proceedings. Sheboygan Police were told that Durr took
three women away against their will, and that he used drugs and violence to
keep them in line. Prosecutors said one
woman was kept in a dog kennel for a number of days, after she broke one of his
rules. The F-B-I said Durr also
maintained pit bulls in the Milwaukee area as part of a dog-fighting ring. He was arrested in Bismarck last week.
It's not just farmers who are
getting the state's help to boost their dairy production. Seven processors have become the first to
receive state funding in Wisconsin's Dairy 30-by-20 program -- which has a goal
of producing 30-billion pounds of milk a year by 2020. The current state budget includes grants of
200-thousand-dollars a year for processing firms that explore new technologies
and make a variety of improvements.
Dairyvative Technologies of Markesan (mark'-eh-zan) is using its grant
to carry out a process it created that allows fresh, lactose-free, pasteurized
milk to be distributed without refrigeration. Other processing grants went to facilities at Stratford, Durand,
Belgium, Shullsburg, Reeseville, and Weyauwega.
State Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel has been going around the state
this week to present the grants. Governor Scott Walker described all seven of them in a statement
Federal officials will wait for
another six months to decide whether to protect a bat species that's dying off
from white nose syndrome. Wisconsin's
D-N-R balked at the protections when they were first announced in late April --
and so did natural resource officials in three other states. They said it could hurt the states' forest
products industry, with a possible ban on cutting large areas of timber from
April-through-September. Right now, the
government is simply discouraging those timber harvests with voluntary
guidelines. The U-S Fish and Wildlife
Service was going to decide by October second whether to add the northern
long-eared bat to the endangered species list.
The Wisconsin D-N-R's Erin Crain said agencies need more time to give
their input on how it would be carried out. As a result, a federal decision won't come until at least next
spring. The Fish-and-Wildlife Service is
again taking public comments. The
proposed protections are in response to the growing instance of white nose
syndrome, which has killed almost six million bats in the U-S. The disease was confirmed in Wisconsin for
the first time in April.
Milwaukee County could join others
around the state in holding November advisory referendums on whether Wisconsin
should raise its minimum wage. The
Milwaukee County Board voted yesterday to put the minimum wage issue on the
November ballot -- along with two other advisory referendums on using federal
funds to expand Badger-Care and allowing the state's largest county to have an
appointed administrator. County
Executive Chris Abele (ay-blee) said he would veto all three referendums,
saying they cost too much and the board would do better by simply passing resolutions. Supervisors could then consider overriding
the vetos. The Raise Wisconsin coalition
is trying to get counties and cities throughout the state to hold minimum wage
referendums. They said it would send a
message to state Republicans who refuse to consider a proposed hike from
7.25-an-hour to 10.10. The Dane County
Board okayed a referendum this week. Eau
Claire and Kenosha counties also have the issue on their November ballots. Raise Wisconsin has also filed papers for
municipal referendums in Neenah and Menasha.
Those requests are still pending.
Former West Allis police officer
Steven Zelich is due in court this afternoon, after he was charged in Walworth
County with hiding two women found dead in suitcases. A criminal complaint was filed yesterday. It said the 52-year-old Zelich met both women
online, killed them when he first met them, and put them in separate suitcases
that were found June 5th along a grassy roadside near Lake Geneva. Prosecutors have not filed homicide charges. Zelich has an initial court appearance at
1:15 in Elkhorn on two felony counts of hiding a corpse. Officials said both
Zelich and 37-year-old Laura Simonson checked into a hotel in Rochester
Minnesota last November, and only Zelich checked out. Simonson's family reported her missing three weeks
later, and the new charges said she was found with a rope around her neck and a
gag in her mouth. The A-P said a
detective had long considered Zelich a person-of-interest in Simonson's
disappearance -- but the real break didn't come until after her body was
found. The second woman -- named Jane
Doe in the complaint -- was found partially in a garbage bag, with both her
hands tied behind her back. The
complaint said Zelich hid the unnamed victim's body in his home and his vehicle
for over a year, after he met her in Kenosha County in late 2012 or early last
year. Zelich was a West Allis police
officer from 1989 until he resigned in 2001. The Journal Sentinel said he was
forced to quit after he had an altercation with a prostitute while
off-duty. The paper said he was also a
partner in title company when he was caught embezzling and was let go in
2007. Since then, he's been a private
security officer for Securitas.
River Still High
The Mississippi and Saint Croix
rivers are still above their banks along most of Wisconsin's western
border. The National Weather Service
says the Saint Croix at Stillwater is about five-inches above its flood stage
-- and it's supposed to rise another couple inches before cresting this
afternoon. The Saint Croix might not get
within its banks until Monday night.
That's bad news for northwest Wisconsin commuters with jobs across the
border in Minnesota. The low-sitting
Stillwater Lift Bridge has been closed since Monday due to the flood
waters. There's no word on when it will
re-open. Until then, drivers must use
I-94 at Hudson or Highway 243 at Osceola (ah-see-oh'-luh) to go to-and-from the
Gopher State. On the Mississippi, major
flooding continues at Hastings Minnesota, across the border from Prescott. Warnings continue into next week as far south
as Prairie du Chien.
Sold Winner Ticket
For the second time in a month, a
"Q"-Mart convenience store in the Sheboygan area has sold a
million-dollar lottery winner. State
officials said today that a "Q"-Mart in Sheboygan sold a ticket that
won the second prize of a million dollars in Wednesday night's Powerball
drawing. Another store from the same
chain in nearby Kohler sold the first ticket with the same prize. Both matched five numbers -- but not the
Powerball -- to win their respective prizes. Winners have 180 days to cash in their tickets.
Wisconsin's growing heroin problem
appears to be creating another danger -- users throwing their needles on the
ground, with a risk that whoever touches them could get sick. Concerned citizens in Marinette and
neighboring Menominee Michigan have gone on Facebook to alert others to the
problem. Yesterday, they organized a
cleanup at a Marinette park where they found four used needles. Tina Rupert told W-L-U-K T-V in Green Bay
that she feels sorry for her grandchildren who use a river beach at the
park. Cleanup organizer Benjamin Conley
called heroin a big problem in his community.
Marinette Police Sergeant Scott Ries says the needles could have had
heroin --- or maybe some type of legal I-V fluid. Still, he says they're extremely dangerous
because they can spread disease. Ries
said officers have not targeted a specific part of the area where the needle
evidence is more common than elsewhere in town.
Want to know what it was like to
be an American soldier during World War Two?
The Highground Veterans' Memorial near Neillsville will hold a
re-enactment tomorrow. Event coordinator
Teresa Hebert says five encampments will be on display, each with
fully-uniformed re-enactors who will represent different theaters of
operation. They'll also answer questions
and pose for pictures. Tomorrow night,
the Highground will host a Voices-of-Freedom concert featuring veterans who are
musicians and poets. There will also be
a fireworks show at dusk. The Highground
is located in Clark County, about three miles west of Neillsville on Highway 10.
June 26, 2014
A Powerball ticket sold in
Sheboygan won a million-dollars in last night's drawing. The ticket matched all five regular numbers,
but not the Powerball, to win the game's second prize. Florida had the only other million-dollar
winner last evening. Almost
eight-thousand Wisconsin players won smaller prizes ranging from four-dollars
to 400. The numbers were 10, 20, 25, 50,
and 53. The Powerball was 35, and the
Power Play multiplier was four. Nobody
won the jackpot, so it goes up to 80-million dollars for Saturday night. In Mega Millions, the top prize stands at
33-million dollars for tomorrow night.
For the first time, Hispanics have
become Wisconsin's largest minority group.
The U-S Census Bureau said Latinos made up six-point-three-four percent
of the state's population last year. Almost 364-thousand Hispanics now call Wisconsin home, four times more
than in 1980. African-Americans,
traditionally the state's largest minority, fell to the second-largest. They make up six-point-two-six percent of the
total population. Whites now make up
82-and-a-half percent of the state's total. Overall, the Census Bureau said Wisconsin has just under one-percent
more people than it did in 2010. The
Badger State attracted 53-thousand total residents in the past three years, but
it has fewer young people. The statewide
total for those 19-and-under dropped by two-point-two percent since 2010. However, Hispanics in that age group grew by
five-point-seven percent. U-W Milwaukee
associate professor Enrique Figueroa said Hispanics became the state's largest
minority faster than he expected. He said
a large part of Wisconsin's workforce will be Hispanic in 20 years -- and
schools need to beef up their education and training to Latinos now.
A 52-year-old West Allis man was
arrested yesterday in connection with two bodies found in suitcases along a
roadside near Lake Geneva on June 5th.
Private security officer Steven Zelich is a suspect in the death of
37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington Minnesota, who was reported missing
last November. A T-V station in
Rochester Minnesota said police were trying to find out whether Simonson was
murdered there. The other dead female
has not been identified. She's said to
be 15-to-35 years old with a heart tattoo on her left abdomen. Both victims were in suitcases found while a
highway crew was cutting grass along a roadside in the Walworth County town of
Geneva. Media reports said Zelich is a
former West Allis police officer who ran a Web site which offered legal
advice. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
said an Internet classified ad was placed about Simonson's disappearance which
said she was mentally disabled, and was tortured and enslaved by Zelich. The ad reportedly had a cell-phone number for
Zelich which was the same as his legal advice site -- plus an e-mail address
which was on a master-slave discussion board.
Simonson's father told the Journal Sentinel she had struggled with
mental illness since she was a teen. Simonson was a Girl Scout while growing up, and was a divorced mother
who lost a daughter to an accident in 2013.
Killed Goat InPublic
A 24-year-old man has been charged
with felony animal mistreatment, after he allegedly killed his goat in front of
his co-workers outside a plant in Sun Prairie.
Phillip Pardee, whose address is listed as Niagara in far northeast
Wisconsin, is free on a signature bond. The status of his case is scheduled to be reviewed at a July 21st
conference in Dane County Circuit Court.
Media reports said Pardee did not have a place to keep the goat while he
was working at the Madison-Kipp Sun Prairie plant -- and the animal escaped
from a crate inside the building. He
reportedly struck the animal's head against a curb, after his bosses told him
he could not keep the goat inside the factory.
Injuries At Music
Three people were injured after
they were hit by a truck just north of the Country U-S-A music festival in
Oshkosh. A 23-year-old Waushara County
man was airlifted to a Neenah hospital with life-threatening injuries. A man and a woman in their 20's were also
sent to hospitals, but their conditions were not immediately disclosed. The incident occurred around 10 last night,
as the opening night of the Oshkosh country fest was ending. Police were not immediately certain whether
the injured pedestrians were leaving the festival -- but many departing folks
were on the street at the time. Oshkosh
Police said the driver was questioned. But there was no word on what would happen to that person. The State Patrol is helping Oshkosh Police
Water Level Warning
Folks along Lake Superior should
see their high water levels go down a bit.
That's after a joint U-S/Canadian regulatory board decided to beef up
the outflow through the gates at Sault Sainte Marie at the east edge of Upper
Michigan. The International Lake
Superior Board of Control says the flow-settings at the head of Saint Mary's
Rapids are increasing today. Anglers are
being warned to watch out for the changing levels. The International Joint Commission recently
said Lake Superior's water levels were six-point-three inches above their norms
for early June. That's due to the recent
heavy rains and the brutal winter that delayed the melting of ice. Lake Superior rose eight-inches in May,
reaching its highest average levels for the month since 1997. It was only a year ago when concerns were
raised about the water being too low. The Great Lakes' governing body said levels on Lake Michigan remain
five-and-a-half inches below their average.
The Waukesha girl who was stabbed
in an alleged fictional horror scheme still spends a lot of time with four
specialists who are treating her 19 puncture wounds. But her family says the youngster also runs
errands with her mom, and she recently watched a Disney movie with her
dad. Yesterday, the family released a
photo of the 12-year-old girl from the neck down, as she wore a sign with a
large purple heart which said "Thank You." It also showed some of the thousands of
purple hearts sent from supporters, after international news outlets and social
media spread the word about the May 30th incident in which two of the girls'
friends allegedly stabbed the victim in order to show allegiance to the
character Slender Man. The family's new
spokesman, Steve Lyons, said the victim's family is trying to keep a low
profile while her friends go through the court system. News media have respected the family's wish
to not to publish or air the victim's name. Lyons, a public affairs adviser for a Milwaukee law firm, says the
family is "selective" about what the girl does. He says the child can walk, but not too
fast. Both 12-year-old defendants return
to adult court a week from today. One
will find out whether she'll be ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial in
June 25, 2014
Child Run Over By
A three-year-old boy was severely
injured when he was run over by a riding lawnmower. It happened yesterday afternoon near Lomira
in Dodge County. Sheriff's deputies said
the child was apparently running toward the riding mower, as the driver was
backing it up. Officials said the
operator didn't know the youngster was there. The boy was flown to a hospital.
His condition was not immediately disclosed.
Wisconsin is one of 15 states that
already meet new academic performance requirements for public school students
with disabilities. The U-S Education
Department said yesterday it would tie federal special-ed funding to student
outcomes, instead of just focusing on what schools do to accommodate kids with
special needs. In Wisconsin, special
needs' students perform higher than most on math-and-reading tests -- and they
have higher graduation rates. Still,
groups like Disability Rights Wisconsin says the state cannot rest on its
laurels. Almost seven-of-every-ten students
with special needs graduated from Wisconsin high schools last year -- compared
to nine-of-every-ten without disabilities.
In Milwaukee, just 16-percent of disabled youngsters graduated from the
public school system in four years. Several advocacy groups told state officials in March that more needs to
be done to improve reading instruction for special needs' children. State figures show that 14-percent of
Wisconsin public schools students, or about 120-thousand, have disabilities.
Delayed State Help
The state will help local
governments pay for road damage caused by the clean-up of a massive windstorm
almost three years ago. Yesterday,
Governor Scott Walker gave the D-O-T approval to pay disaster aid to officials
in Burnett, Washburn, and Douglas counties in northwest Wisconsin. It will cover up to 70-percent of damages to
local and county roads, caused by trucks and other equipment that removed
timber from hundreds of thousands of trees that were blown down. Those road damages alone totaled 14-million
dollars. Straight-line winds of over
100-miles-an-hour damaged 130-thousand acres of trees in a half-dozen counties
during the July Fourth weekend of 2011.
An 11-year-old girl was killed by the storm in Spooner. In the enusing months, much of the state
government's concern was saving millions of dollars worth of timber which had
the potential to rot had nothing been done.
Lucky To Be Alive
A central Wisconsin native who
played N-F-L football is lucky to be alive, after a plane crashed into his
brother-in-law's house near Minnesota's Twin Cities. Mosinee High School standout Kole Heckendorf
and his new wife were planning to start their new home, and were staying at
Jeff Hille's house in Sauk Rapids Minnesota when a small plane hit the house
last Friday. Both people in the plane
were killed instantly, along with Heckendorf's dog Storm. Hille was away at a golf tournament, and
Heckendorf said he didn't have time to do much of anything before he jumped out
of a second-story window and escaped unhurt. Much, but not all, of his belongings were at the home -- and everything
inside was lost in an explosion. From
Mosinee, Heckendorf went on to play college football at North Dakota State. The Green Bay Packers signed him as an
un-drafted free agent in 2009. Over the
next three years, he spent time with Detroit, Seattle, San Diego, and
Indianapolis before leaving football without playing in a regular season game.
June 24, 2014
Hard Choice In
A dog owner in Wausau must decide
whether to euthanize the dog or move it from the city after it attacked a woman
and killed her Chihuahua.
The pit bull is under quarantine
at the Marathon County Humane Society Monday
Cindy Ryder was attacked by the
dog as she walked her Chihuahua near downtown Wausau last Thursday. Ryder said the pit bull came
running out of a house, grabbed her arm and pulled her to the ground as she
tried to save her dog, Bartok.
Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel
said Ryder suffered numerous abrasions,
bites, punctures and cuts. He told WAOW-TV it was a vicious attack and one of the worst he's seen. Hardel
says police records show no other incidents involving the dog.
Plane Wreck Removed
The wreckage of a fatal plane
crash was removed yesterday from the deep waters near Duluth-Superior. The body of the pilot, 47-year-old Alexander
Obersteg of Steinfeld Germany, was recovered on June 9th -- two days after the
crash. Officials said the man's
kit-built Lancair Four was heading to Goose Bay in far eastern Canada when it
plunged into Lake Superior, about a half-mile east of a beach in Duluth. Rescue divers from northwest Wisconsin helped
pull Obersteg's body from the water -- but it took two weeks longer to pull the
plane's wreckage from 140-feet below the lake's surface. The F-A-A will examine the aircraft before
determining how the crash occurred. A
medical emergency by the pilot has been ruled out.
Multiple Votes Cast
Prosecutors said a suburban
Milwaukee man voted five times in the recall election against Governor Scott
Walker in 2012. Fifty-year-old Robert
Monroe of Shorewood has been charged with 13 felony counts of election
fraud. He's free at least until his
initial Milwaukee County Circuit Court appearance on July 17th. Prosecutors said Monroe used addresses in
Shorewood, Milwaukee, and Indiana to vote multiple times in four elections. In the 2012 presidential contest, authorities
said Monroe voted absentee in Shorewood on November first -- and then showed a
driver's license to vote in Lebanon Indiana on the November sixth Election Day. Officials said he owned a house in Indiana. His criminal complaint said Monroe also voted
twice in the 2011 State Supreme Court election, and the 2011 recall vote
against Senate Republican Alberta Darling.
Prosecutors said Monroe also cast an illegal ballot in the August 2012
Friends and family gathered at
Kewaskum High School yesterday to remember two students killed in a crash with
a Washington County squad car. Officials
say the small community of four-thousand has had a hard time dealing with the
deaths of Brent Schultz and Travis Trapp, both 16. They were killed last Wednesday. This isn't the first time at least some
Kewaskum students have dealt with a tragedy like this. Not far down the road, three girls from
Campbellsport High School were killed and six others were hurt in a high-speed
hill-jumping crash in 2012. A funeral
service for Brent Schultz is planned today. Travis Trapp's family is having a private funeral.
Summertime is prime-time for
garage-and-thrift sales in Wisconsin -- but before you open the door, you might
want to check with your local government so you do things right. Growing numbers of communities limit the amount
of time garage sales can be held. Rothschild Police Chief Jeremy Hunt tells W-S-A-U in Wausau that sellers
must respect their neighbors -- so home sales are limited to seven days in a
row, and no more than 72-hours at a time.
Marshfield is also considering a time limit for garage sales, to make
sure traffic doesn't bother the neighbors. Signs are another issue. Many
communities ban them from utility poles and terraces next to the streets. Three decades ago, Marshfield Police
confiscated garage-sale signs from terraces -- and then showed piles of them in
the local newspaper to remind folks of that ordinance. It's been a long time since they've done
that, but police in general do say they get complaints about signs blocking
streets and sidewalks -- and Hunt says that's not allowed.
Man's best friend can also be a
war hero, although most of us would never realize it. Yesterday, a memorial was unveiled near
Milwaukee to honor the military dogs who have served our country since at least
World War One. The group "War
Dogs" put up a six-foot-tall gray monument in the Menomonee Falls Village
Park. Dog-handlers from the Vietnam War
came from as far away as Colorado to join dozens of people attending the
ceremony. Group member Jerry Witt told
how his dog Skip was killed by a booby-trap in Vietnam -- but not before
alerting Witt to the danger. He said
military dogs should get credit for saving countless lives in combat, including
Tragic Side Effect
The first weekend of summer had a
tragic side effect in Wisconsin. At
least three motorcyclists were killed in separate crashes that occurred on
Saturday night. Authorities said
36-year-old Todd Hughes of Glenbeulah was ejected from his motorcycle when it
struck a deer near Wisconsin Dells on Interstate 90-94. In Waukesha County, a 21-year-old Pewaukee
man died after his bike left Highway 16 near County Trunk
Double-"J." In central
Wisconsin, a 34-year-old Eagle River man was killed after his motorcycle
collided with another vehicle just west of Auburndale at Highways 10 and 186.
June 23, 2014
An advocacy group is trying to do
something about young Wisconsinites' growing addictions to heroin and
prescription painkillers. Wisconsin
Citizen Action has launched a new project with the goal of getting more
15-to-22-year-olds screened for drugs, with treatment for those found to have
warning signs. Kevin Kane of Citizen
Action says the goal is to find drug problems early, and avoid more costly
problems and treatments later on. Kane
says it's a new form of screening that schools and primary care clinics are
picking up on. A foundation grant has
targeted Wisconsin and four other states to improve insurance coverage for
early screenings and intervention services.
Citizen Action says it will increase the number of places offering those
services, and increase the numbers of screening professionals. The group's also working on a public
education campaign. You can find more
informtion at CitizenActionWI-Dot-Org.
UW Damage A Pattern?
Last week's tornadoes at
Platteville marked the third year in a row that a University of Wisconsin
campus was hit with major storm damage -- and all those storms happened in
mid-to-late June. Two years ago, U-W
Superior had 23-million dollars of damage, when about six-inches of rain
flooded all but one building on that campus. U-W Stout was hit last June, when heavy thunderstorms caused 83-thousand
gallons of water to pour into a basement at the Jarvis science hall. Two other buildings also had flood damage,
which knocked out Internet service for days on the Menomonie campus. Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
published a follow-up story on the damage at Superior, where officials said
they're still recovering. Chancellor
Renee Wachter said the storm came at a horrible time for the school, when
officials welcomed new students and their parents for a campus
orientation. She said employees
pretended that the water damage was not nearly as bad as it really was. Wachter said the students and parents had no
clue, because they couldn't see most of it. The school ended up filing an insurance claim that was the largest for a
state property at that time. At last
word, U-W Platteville was still tallying up its damage, after a twister last
Monday night damaged six buildings and a park on the campus.
Miss Wi Twice
A La Crosse area woman has become
the first to hold the Miss Wisconsin title twice. 24-year-old Raeanna Johnson of Holmen was
crowned during the weekend in Oshkosh. She was the first runner-up in 2011 when the Miss Wisconsin from that
year -- Laura Kaeppeler (kepp-ler) -- went on to become Miss America. After that happened, Johnson fulfilled
Kaeppeler's Miss Wisconsin duties for the rest of that term. Pageant rules allow a contestant who ascends
to the title to compete again, after waiting a year. It allowed Johnson to take part for a second
time, this time as Miss Madison. She
graduated in May from U-W La Crosse in communication and women's studies, and
will represent Wisconsin at the Miss America Pageant in September in Atlantic
City. Johnson replaces Paula Kuiper of
Mount Pleasant at Miss Wisconsin. Miss
West Allis was the weekend's first runner-up, 22-year-old Chelsey Wasielewski
Thousands of western Wisconsin
commuters are finding other ways to get to work in Minnesota's Twin Cities this
morning. The Stillwater Lift Bridge will
be closed indefinitely, after a new flood warning was posted on the Saint Croix
River on the border between the Badger and Gopher states. It's not an elevated bridge. Minnesota's D-O-T says both directions will
be closed until further notice -- even though the Saint Croix was almost a
foot-and-a-half below its flood stage as of late last night. The National Weather Service says the Saint
Croix will go above its flood stage by Thursday, and fall back below its banks
by early Saturday afternoon. In the
meantime, motorists can use Interstate-94 at Hudson, or Highway 243 at Osceola
to cross the Saint Croix. Meanwhile, the
Mississippi River continues to have flood warnings along its entire border with
western Wisconsin. The Mississippi near
Prescott expects major flooding, rising four-feet above its banks at Hastings
before falling later this week. Flood
warnings also continue on the Trempealeau River at Dodge, and the Sugar River
at Brodhead. Both are above their flood
stages by less than a foot. More rain
and scattered thunderstorms are in the Wisconsin forecast for today, with highs
in the 70's.
New Building Opens
Schreiber Foods is opening its new
headquarters in Green Bay today. The cheese manufacturer says the
state-of-the-art facilities will employ around 700 people. Schreiber Foods was
founded in 1945, it has grown to one of the biggest privately owned companies
in the country (employee owned)… bringing in about four-point-five million
dollars in revenue last year. The new building cost 85-million dollars to
build, with 14-million coming from the city.
June 20, 2014
Rimer to Washington
A Hammond man was on Capitol Hill Wednesday, talking about the death of his stepdaughter.
Ken Rimer’s stepdaughter was one of two teens killed in a crash in St. Croix County eight years ago. He believes the crash was caused by a faulty ignition switch. A recent GM internal investigation shows a switch defect linked to 13 deaths. The report found GM failed to understand the potential danger, and blamed a corporate culture that discouraged the flow of bad news. GM knew of the problem for over a decade before issuing a recall in February.
Rimer said "These were not subtle or sublime clues. This was the smoking gun, the key to understanding the issue. This was ground zero yet GM did absolutely nothing,"
Also on Wednesday, one woman spoke about a crash in 2004 that killed her best friend. She thought the crash was her fault and pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. This year, she received a letter telling her the crash was one of 13 linked to GM's faulty ignition switches. She is now suing GM and asking for her record to be cleared.
Since January, GM has issued more than 40 recalls covering some 20 million vehicles. The most recent was on Monday, when the automaker said 3 million cars could have similar ignition switch problems. The automaker said it will begin processing compensation claims by August.
Kraft Foods is recalling Velveeta cheese from Walmart stores in up to 12 states, including Wisconsin. The company said the product did not have the proper amount of a sorbic acid preservative -- and it could cause the cheese to prematurely spoil, and cause food-borne illnesses. Kraft said the affected Velveeta packages were shipped to three Walmart distribution centers -- and it apparently ended up in stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and seven others from Colorado to Ohio. The packages have a date stamp of December 17th of this year. They also have a code with the last three numbers being "6-1-4."
Help Getting Jobs
Hundreds of workers laid off by Wisconsin's maker of military vehicles are getting lots of help in finding new jobs. The Oshkosh Corporation held a job fair yesterday, where 29 companies sought people for a total of 16-hundred openings. In April, Oshkosh announced the layoffs of 700 hourly employees and 60 salaried workers due mainly to the scaling back of U-S military operations in Afghanistan. Now, the company says the total number of layoffs should be around 535 after many employees took early retirement. The job fair focused solely on production workers.
Gov. On tv
Governor Scott Walker was on national T-V this morning to continue his denials of wrongdoing. That's after court documents were released yesterday afternoon, in which John Doe prosecutors wrote that Walker was at the center of a "criminal scheme" connected with his 2012 recall election and those of G-O-P state senators. The documents stated that Walker and Republican operatives R-J Johnson and Deborah Jordahl helped raise money and control recall campaign spending with the help of 12 conservative groups. They reportedly discussed their plans with prominent G-O-P figures, including strategist Karl Rove. Prosecutor Francis Schmitz said they broke multiple election laws, including the filing of false campaign reports. Federal Judge Rudolph Randa halted the John Doe probe last month, before any charges could be filed. State judge Gregory Peterson earlier quashed subpoenas against targets, saying there was no probable cause that campaign laws were broken. According to the documents, previous John Doe judge Barbara Kluka ordered numerous home raids to round up evidence connected with at least 29 conservative groups.
In a news conference, a statement, and tweets, the Republican Walker said two federal and state judges had not bought the prosecutors' arguments. He called them "categorically false." Walker also slammed prosecutor John Chisholm, calling the Milwaukee County D-A a "partisan Democrat." The governor also said the John Doe probe should be dropped for good, and Democrats will use it to distract from the issues most important to Wisconsin voters. The governor was on the "Fox and Friends" show this morning to take his side of the story national. Walker has a strong profile throughout the country as a possible White House candidate in 2016.
Walker Criminal Activity
Newly released documents show prosecutors believe Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a nationwide "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate fundraising with outside conservative groups.
No charges have been filed against Walker or any member of his staff. The documents became public yesterday as part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the investigation by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth.
One of the filings from prosecutors outlines previously unknown details about the investigation that began in 2012 as Walker was facing a recall election.
Prosecutors say Walker, his chief of staff and others who worked for him were discussing illegal coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate has dropped for the ninth month in a row. State officials said yesterday that the seasonally-adjusted jobless rate was five-point-eight percent. That's down one-tenth of a point from April, and it's more than a half-percent below the national rate of six-point-three. Preliminary figures showed that Wisconsin has added around 38-thousand private sector jobs over the last year, and 116-thousand since Governor Scott Walker first took office at the start of 2011. That's far below Walker's campaign promise of 250-thousand new private sector jobs during his four-year term. However, new charts from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel show that Wisconsin's job growth has lagged for much of the last decade under both Walker and former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle. The federal government reported today that the Badger State created 28-thousand jobs during 2013, a gain of one-point-two percent throughout the year. That was the 37th slowest job growth in the 50 states on a percentage basis, down from 35th in the last report three months ago.
Slow Job Growth
Only 13 states had slower job growth than Wisconsin over the past year. That's according to a new quarterly analysis released yesterday by the U-S Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Badger State created just over 28-thousand private sector jobs during the 2013 calendar year. That's an increase of one-point-two percent -- the 37th smallest percentage growth among the 50 states. It put Wisconsin two places lower on the totem pole than the last report three months ago. The national job growth was nine-tenths-of-a-point higher than Wisconsin's, at two-point-one percent. Republican Governor Scott Walker guaranteed it would be a hot-button political issue four years ago, when he promised 250-thousand new private sector jobs during his first campaign. That total is just over 100-thousand, as Wisconsin has seen an unsteady recovery from the Great Recession. Democrats have been blaming the Republican Walker and the G-O-P's policies -- but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says job growth has lagged behind the national norms for most of the last ten years. That includes four years under Democratic Governor Jim Doyle before the recession hit in 2008.
June 19, 2014
As more Wisconsinites hit the water, the D-N-R is urging folks to watch out for blue-green algae. Experts say it grows rapidly during the summer -- and you can get sick just by touching the algae, or ingesting lake water that contains it. Blue-green algae often appears in waters with high levels of phosphorus, nitrogen, or other nutrients. The D-N-R says it's showing up now in southern Wisconsin, and it gradually appears in the north as the summer goes on. Officials say pets have been known to die, just by licking the algae residue from their coats. The D-N-R urges folks to call a veterinarian if their pets become lethargic after romping in a lake -- or if they vomit or have diarrhea.
28 Years In Prison
A southern Wisconsin man will spend 28 years in prison for burning the body of an 18-year-old woman who answered his Internet ad for sex. Thirty year old Nathan Middleton of Evansville received a maximum sentence yesterday. That's after he pleaded guilty in March to two Rock County felony charges of hiding and mutilating a corpse. The incident happened last October. According to prosecutors, Middleton claimed that he had sex at his home with Aprina Paul of Fitchburg -- she died after taking drugs -- and he panicked and burned her body. Investigators failed to prove that Middleton intentionally killed Paul. An attempted escape charge was dropped in a plea deal. Officials said Middleton wrote his mother about a month after he was arrested, and asked her blow up a window at the Rock County Jail so they could run away to Mexico. She never received that letter.
Wolf Hunt Quota
Wisconsin wolf hunters would only take 91 animals this fall, under a proposal from D-N-R wildlife officials. They'll ask the Natural Resources Board this month to approve a total quota of 156, down from last year's take of 251. That's before Chippewa Indian tribes get their share under their long-standing treaty rights. Under the D-N-R's new proposal, the tribes could take 65 wolves in their ceded territory in north central Wisconsin. However, Indians consider the grey wolf to be sacred -- and they did not shoot any of their allotted animals in the first two seasons of the wolf hunt. As we learned a few weeks ago, the state's spring wolf population has dropped after years of growth. That's one reason for the lower quota. The D-N-R said 660-to-689 wolves were roaming the state after the long, cold winter -- down from a top of 824 a year ago. The agency has a goal of keeping 350 animals, but wildlife management director Tom Hauge is not seeking that big a of a decline right away. He says it's not known how hunting affects the total wolf population, and experts want to learn more about that. The Natural Resources Board is scheduled to consider the trimmed-down hunt next Wednesday in Milwaukee.
June 18, 2014
Obesity Medicine Coverage
Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson will urge Congress today to require Medicare coverage for seniors' obesity medicines. Thompson will join state officials in Michigan to encourage government leaders to recognize obesity as a disease. Thompson served as the nation's Health and Human Services secretary more than a decade ago. He'll join Michigan Community Health Director James Haveman at a news conference in Lansing. Haveman will give a progress report on a statewide health-and-wellness plan from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. That state's obesity rate jumped from 18-to-32 percent between 1995 and 2010. By 2030, officials say half of Michigan's population could be obese.
New National Report
A new national report gives Wisconsin universities low marks for training teachers -- but school leaders condemned the rankings almost before the ink dried. The National Council on Teacher Quality checked more than 16-hundred schools that prepare elementary, secondary, and special-ed teachers. U-W Eau Claire was named the 92nd-best university for elementary teacher prep. Madison was ranked 117th, and La Crosse 125th. For undergraduate secondary programs, U-W River Falls was the highest-ranked in the state at 113th. Carroll of Waukesha was next at 193rd. Melanie Agnew, who heads the Wisconsin Colleges of Teacher Education, says the rankings are irrelevant. She says the state is currently working to make its teacher prep programs stronger. Also, Agnew said the council did not visit the campuses or talk to anyone there. The group's ratings were based on the selection process for teaching candidates, and the overall scope of their college coursework. Wisconsin has 36 teacher training schools. Twenty-two were not ranked because they were considered in the bottom half of the national ratings. Yesterday's rankings were a follow-up to the council's inaugural survey from a year ago.
Governor Scott Walker says he'll seek both federal-and-state aid to help storm victims who don't have enough insurance. The Republican governor made the comment yesterday after touring Platteville and Verona -- where three tornadoes touched down late Monday night. The National Weather Service said yesterday that an "F"-Three tornado hit Verona with winds of up to 140-miles an hour. It blew down a wall at Country View Elementary School and made 19 homes in Verona uninhabitable while damaging dozens of others. In Platteville, football players said they probably lost their home games this fall, after an F-Two twister with 120-mile-an-hour winds hit Pioneer Stadium and twisted the bleachers and snapped off light poles. The storm also tore the roofs off two dormitories. Five buildings in all were damaged on the Platteville campus, and a dozen homes were destroyed in that community. The twisters were the first in Wisconsin in 2014. Meanwhile, more heavy thunderstorms rumbled through the state last night and early this morning. Plover had one-and-a-quarter inch hail, 47-mile-an-hour winds, and just over an inch of rain in 37 minutes. Golf-ball-sized hail also fell near downtown Milwaukee, and at Augusta in Eau Claire County. There's a chance for more thunderstorms throughout the day. At least a chance of rain is in the statewide forecast every day through Sunday.
June 17, 2014
Wolf Trapping Course
The Wisconsin Trappers Association and the state Department of Natural Resources are planning a series of wolf trapping classes around the state this fall.
The classes will cover the wolf season framework, wolf ecology, trapping ethics and responsibility and hands-on trap demonstrations. The courses are scheduled for Sept. 13 in Iron River; Sept. 20 in Grantsburg; Sept. 27 in Madison; Oct. 4 in Milladore; and Oct. 11 in Rhinelander.
The classes won't satisfy the DNR's requirement that wolf trappers complete a state trapper education course, however. The agency considers the classes voluntary.
A half-million-dollar bond was set yesterday for a man suspected of car-jacking a taxi in Grant County, putting its driver in the trunk, and killing the victim in a crash at the end of a high-speed police chase near La Crosse. Twenty-five year old Timmy Johnson Junior has been arrested but not charged in the death last week of 79-year-old Merle Forbes. A La Crosse judge found yesterday there was probable cause for charges that include causing death by reckless driving. Also, prosecutors say Johnson could face homicide charges in either La Crosse or Grant counties. His next court appearance is set for Thursday. Officials said he was released from jail just hours before he robbed-and-stabbed Forbes. Police found the stolen cab in downtown La Crosse early last Friday. A chase ensued, and the cab rear-ended another vehicle before flipping over. Forbes died while in the trunk. Three people in the other unit had minor injuries. His lawyer said Johnson had unresolved mental health issues, and did not get his medications while in the Grant County Jail. The La Crosse Tribune said it was not Johnson's first brush with Forbes. Last August, Forbes' cab reportedly drove Johnson from Darlington to Boscobel -- and Johnson skipped out before he could pay the 90-dollar fare.
U-W Platteville Closed
U-W Platteville is closed today, after getting storm damage late last night. In a statement, campus officials noted that some buildings had structural damage -- and power was out during the night throughout the campus and much of Platteville. The school said only essential employees will be allowed on campus today. Officials said the damage was still being assessed. The U-W said no one was seriously hurt. Storms with winds up to 50-miles-an-hour caused widespread damage in southwest Wisconsin between 11 last night and 12:15 this morning.
The National Weather Service also reported tornado damage to the east in the Madison, Verona, Blanchardville, and New Glarus areas. No injuries have been reported. Verona Police said at least 15 structures were damaged -- and the Country View Elementary School partially collapsed. Dane County officials said homes collapsed and roofs blew off in Verona and the southwest side of Madison. More damage reports were expected after daylight. Further east, trees and power lines were downed near West Bend.
More severe weather could be on the way in the same region.
Documents To Be Released
A federal appeals judge has ordered the public release of documents from the John Doe investigation into the state's recall elections. Judge Frank Easterbrook did not say how many documents would have to be released, or what they involved, exactly. He said nobody had opposed the release of at least one batch of records. However, two unnamed clients later asked Easterbrook to change his mind and keep the documents sealed. Prosecutors had asked that various records in the John Doe be released. The probe centers around alleged illegal coordination of fund-raising and other activities between outside groups and Republican candidates in the 2011-and-'12 recall contests -- including that of Governor Scott Walker. The investigation is on hold, after Federal Judge Rudolph Randa said one of the targets of the probe had its free-speech rights violated. A number of details have already been released in various court filings about what's supposed to be a secret evidence-gathering investigation, to determine if charges are warranted.
Here are the details:
At least a couple of tornadoes apparently touched down in southern Wisconsin late last night. If confirmed, they would be the first in Wisconsin this year. Authorities in Lafayette County said a possible twister caused barn damage, tossed cars, and twisted trees southwest of Mineral Point. That was about 11:30 p-m, when large trees and numerous power lines were reported to be down in the city of Mineral Point. Just after midnight, the Weather Service reported a tornado in Green County with trees twisted and down near Blanchardville and part of a roof torn off west of New Glarus. Tornado damage was also reported in Dane County, where a roof was torn off a house south of Shorewood Hills in the Madison area -- and blown-out windows were among the damage at Verona. To the east, high winds took down trees and power lines near West Bend around two this morning. In northwest Wisconsin, a flash flood hit Maynard in Chippewa County yesterday afternoon, with up to three-feet of water over a town road. Winds gusted to 51-miles-an-hour near Cumberland in Barron County. The statewide forecast has a chance for more thunderstorms today, with highs in the 80's in most places.
The head of the Wisconsin Senate's natural resources committee is leaving now, instead of at the end of the year like he originally planned. Republican Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn resigned yesterday from the upper house. He said he's pursuing a "new opportunity," but he had not said what it is. Kedzie announced a month ago he would retire after 16 years in the Legislature -- four in the Assembly, and the last 12 in the Senate. Assembly Republican Steve Nass of Whitewater and Democrat Dan Kilkenny are running for Kedzie's seat this fall. It will stay vacant until January. Should any important natural resource issues come up between now and then, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he'll chair the resources committee in Kedzie's place. Fitzgerald is also taking Kedzie's place on the State Building Commission and a study panel on state-supported programs.
June 16, 2014
Take-and-bake pizza lovers probably know this already -- but Wisconsin recently started charging sales taxes on that food. The State Journal says it will cost pizza-lovers an extra two-point-seven million dollars a year that will be funneled to Madison. The state Revenue Department had asked the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board if places like Papa Murphy's and Kwik Trip should be charging the tax on pizzas they make at their stores -- but are cooked by customers at home. The board said the tax applies, because they count as foods prepared outside the home. Mark Venditto, who owns eight Papa Murphy's stores in Wisconsin and Iowa, says he's been charging the sales tax in the Badger State since March first. The Sales Tax Governing Board is a 24-state organization based in Westby. It seeks to make sales tax rules more uniform.
Severe Weather Coming
Severe weather is possible in Wisconsin from tonight through at least Wednesday -- and the state just might get its first tornado of the year. This is the sixth-latest since 1950 that Wisconsin has not had a twister in a calendar year. The National Weather Service said the latest start to a tornado season was in 1995, when a twister did not touch down until June 28th near La Crosse. This year moved became the sixth-latest at four p-m yesterday, when it moved past 1983. That was when the first twister from that year hit at Campbellsport in Fond du Lac County. Short-range forecasts from the National Weather Service indicate that this week's severe weather will consist mainly of heavy rains, hail, and strong winds. The Weather Service office in La Crosse mentions the possibility of tornadoes tonight, but they're most likely to stay on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River. You can expect a clear to partly cloudy day today, with highs in the 80's. Thunderstorms will then become a possibility from tonight through the rest of the week.
Biting Fly Swarms
The swarm of biting flies in northern Wisconsin is looking more like a biblical plague. Researchers with the Department of Natural Resources say the swarms are the worst they have ever seen, forcing a record number of loons to abandon their nests. D-N-R says the black flies are a nuisance to the birds. Experts say several counties report around 70-80 percent of nesting loons have abandoned their nest.
Unhappy Father’s Day
It was not a happy Father's Day Weekend for a man who flew his son to his high school graduation in an ultra-light aircraft. W-T-M-J T-V said hundreds of people were stunned to see the aircraft land on the front lawn of Sussex Hamilton High School just before the school's commencement on Saturday. Parent Alan Larson said he saw the ultra-light circle, and then land close to where people were walking in. The pilot said he was given a citation from the Waukesha County sheriff's department, but he wouldn't say anything else. The man and his son flew away after the ceremony.
June 13, 2014
Pesticide In Public Lake
In what would be a first for Wisconsin, a federal agency wants to put a biological pesticide into a public lake, to see if it would kill invasive zebra mussels. The U-S Geological Survey proposes to apply a bacteria called "Zequanox" in parts of Keyes Lake in Florence County in the far northeast part of the state. If the experiment succeeds, it could lead to a treatment method for controlling the spread of zebra and quagga mussels -- both of which eat up the food that native fish eat. There's a lot at stake, since zebra mussels are now found in 163 inland lakes and rivers in the Badger State. Quagga mussels have been discovered in the Great Lakes, but not inland in Wisconsin yet. The state Agriculture Department has found that the bacteria does not pose a harm to Keyes Lake if it's used the way the manufacturer prescribes. The ag department is taking public comments through June 19th. James Luoma, a research scientist with the Geological Survey, said Keyes Lake was chosen because zebra mussels have been found there -- and it has healthy population of native mussels.
Oversize Ring Returned
One of the more famous Green Bay Packer fans has gotten back an oversized Super Bowl ring that was recently stolen. A package containing the ring arrived in the mail yesterday. Steve Tate of DeForest said public support from fellow Cheeseheads may have encouraged the thief to do the right thing, and give back his paperweight version of Green Bay's 2010 Super Bowl championship ring. He lost it May 24th when he handed the ring to somebody at a fund-raiser in West Bend -- and he never got it back. At least two people offered to replace the ring, leading to speculation that somebody just bought another ring and mailed it to him. But Tate believes the returned item is actually his. He said he's not concerned about who stole the 160-dollar ring, or why. Tate is often seen during Packers' telecasts with a Cheesehead that reads "N-F-L Owner." He's been going to Green Bay home games since 1998.
New Make-A-Wish Gift
An 11-year-old suburban Milwaukee girl has become the five-thousandth youngster to get a wish granted by Wisconsin's Make-a-Wish Foundation. Hailee Hedstrom of Greendale and seven friends were taken in a stretch limo yesterday from school to Hailee's house -- where a purple backyard clubhouse was unveiled. The eight-by-eight-foot structure was complete with bunk beds, flower boxes, a porch -- everything needed for a sleep-over she plans to have soon. Hailee said she expected something awesome, but the outcome was even better. Wisconsin's Make-a-Wish Foundation turned 30 last year. It grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Over the years, about half the youngsters achieved their dreams of going to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Others have gone on shopping sprees and met celebrities. The Packers have always been in great demand over the years -- especially quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.
Gov. Shies Away From Gay
In the midst of a tough re-election battle, Governor Scott Walker is shying away from the hot-button issue of gay marriage. During a news conference in Oak Creek yesterday, the Republican Walker said it doesn't matter what he thinks about the subject anymore -- even though he staunchly opposed same-sex unions a number of times in the past. Walker did say he supports Attorney General J-B Van Hollen's efforts to uphold the 2006 state constitutional ban on gay marriage, after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb struck it down a week ago. The governor voted for that ban, and has strongly supported it in the past. Walker did not say whether he agrees with Van Hollen's reminder to county clerks yesterday, that they could be prosecuted for issuing same-sex marriage licenses in the aftermath of Judge Crabb's ruling. The judge did not tell counties what to do in the wake of her decision -- and she's expected to take up that matter at a hearing this afternoon. Walker said the attorney general is right to try and preserve the gay marriage ban, after 59-percent of Wisconsinites voted for it eight years ago. The political winds have shifted since then, however. A recent Marquette poll showed that 55 percent of registered voters would allow same-sex marriages while 37-percent oppose them.
June 12, 2014
Johnson Votes No
Wisconsin's Ron Johnson was one of just three U-S senators to vote against a bill to improve veterans' health care. Yesterday's vote was 93-to-3 to spend 35-billion dollars over three years to pay for outside care, lease 26 new V-A facilities, and hire hundreds of doctors and nurses. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted yes. The Republican Johnson balked at the cost. He said the Democratic majority rushed the bill through without considering the fiscal ramifications. Johnson said he agrees that veterans deserve high-quality health care, and he supported a previous bill that would have reduced patients' waiting times -- just like the current bill seeks to do, in the wake of a critical audit released Monday. It said 57-thousand veterans had to wait three months or longer for their initial V-A appointments. That includes 525 at Wisconsin's V-A hospitals in Milwaukee, Madison, and Tomah. The House unanimously voted Tuesday for a similar boost in V-A care costing much less than the Senate bill -- around 620-million dollars. Despite the cost differences, lawmakers are confident they can send a final bill to the president by the end of this month. President Obama supported the Senate package, saying it's a top priority to give veterans the care they've earned. That was after 35 veterans died while awaiting treatment at the V-A hospital in Phoenix.
A large Wisconsin blood bank is kicking off a donation drive, to try and collect at least 15-hundred pints by two months from today. The Blood Center of Wisconsin is having first responders take appointment calls at its Milwaukee headquarters, to raise awareness of the need, in a campaign that's called "You to the Rescue." Blood Center officials say the demand for blood rises during the center, as more people are outdoors and get into things like traffic accidents. However, blood supplies are often reduced in the summer because some of the steadiest donors -- high school and college students -- are gone on vacation. The Blood Center of Wisconsin has a dozen donation sites around the state. It supplies blood to 50 hospitals and 29 counties throughout Wisconsin -- and it provides specialized blood tests to help doctors diagnose things like genetic disorders.
June 11, 2014
Contest Winners In School
Two suburban Milwaukee high school students have won a national auto repair skills contest. Colt Morris and Justin Bublitz of Grafton won the Ford/Triple-"A" student skills competition yesterday at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn Michigan. They and 49 other state champions raced the clock to diagnose problems with a car, and provide solutions. Bublitz and Morris earned a perfect score by fixing all the bugs with no demerit points. They were judged on their quality, workmanship, and safety. Teams also took a written test which counted toward their final scores. Over 13-thousand youngsters competed in the national contest, which encourages high school students to pursue automotive careers while continuing their educations. Morris will be a senior at Grafton this fall. Bublitz missed his graduation to take part in the event -- but he said it was more than worth it.
Ash Borer Found
Door County has become the 22nd in Wisconsin to be quarantined for the tree-killing emerald ash borer. The green beetle was found last week on private land south of Fish Creek. The U-S-D-A confirmed the bug's presence yesterday. Firewood is a common carrier of the emerald ash borer -- and with so many campgrounds and cabins in Door County, officials are not surprised that the beetle showed up there. Still, the ag department's Brian Kuhn says it's always disappointing to find. The ash borer killed millions of trees in the eastern U-S and Canada by the time it found its way to Wisconsin in 2008 in Washington County. Under the new quarantine, no one can take firewood from Door County to counties which are not quarantined. And businesses must prove to the state that their wood products are pest-free before they can be shipped.
Stays On Ballot
Four Wisconsin legislative incumbents will stay on the August primary ballot, despite efforts to remove them. The Government Accountability Board rejected challenges yesterday to nomination papers for Senate Republican Frank Lasee of De Pere, Assembly Republican Kathy Bernier of the Chippewa Falls area, and Milwaukee Assembly Democrats JoCasta Zamarripa and Mandela Barnes. Their nominating signatures were challenged for a number of reasons, but the Board said all four had enough valid signatures to be on the ballot. Democrats argued that Lasee actually lives in Racine, and not in his Green Bay area district. Lasee provided documentation of his residence. He also mentioned the need for his wife to maintain a residence in Racine, due to child custody arrangements. The board said there was not enough evidence to prove that Lasee doesn't live in northeast Wisconsin. Earlier yesterday, the Board allowed Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Brett Hulsey and congressional candidates Gary George and Jeremy Ryan to stay on their primary ballots. It cleared the way for Hulsey to run against Democrat Mary Burke for governor in August. Former state senator George will run against Milwaukee House Democrat Gwen Moore. State Capitol protester Ryan will oppose Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan in their primary.
License Not Accepted
Wisconsin officials are not accepting the same-sex marriage licenses given out by almost 50 counties since last Friday. Spokeswoman Jennifer Miller says the state Vital Records Office is not rejecting the licenses -- but it's putting them on hold until it gets "legal guidance from the attorney general." The Justice Department's Dana Brueck says the validity of the same-sex marriages is uncertain. That's after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb failed to tell counties what to do in the wake of her ruling which found that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Brueck says the attorney general's office has provided legal guidance to the Vital Records Office, which processes and files marriage licenses passed on by county registers-of-deeds. Brueck would not elaborate, citing an attorney-client privilege. The Dane County clerk has said he believes the marriages are legal, and the state should accept them immediately. Hundreds of licenses have been issued, but we don't know how many are processed. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in Chicago continues to consider the state's request to put Judge Crabb's ruling on hold, while it appeals to try and keep the gay marriage ban in place. Yesterday, the appellate panel gave the state until June 23rd to explain why the regional court has the authority to consider the request for a stay, while Judge Crabb has yet to finalize the same request the district level. The appellate court later pulled back its ruling and said it was issued in error.
Open House In Baraboo
An open house took place in Baraboo yesterday to remember a Sauk County sheriff's sergeant killed in a helicopter crash 30 years ago. Stuart Searles was responding to the tornado which virtually destroyed nearby Barneveld. He had just dropped off former Governor Tony Earl, so he could assess the tornado damage. Searles then flew up to Merrimac to pick up the county sheriff when his chopper started on fire. W-K-O-W T-V of Madison said the pilot was frantically trying to put out the flames -- and he was planning to crash-land the helicopter in the Wisconsin River so nobody else would be hurt. But the chopper did not get that far. It crashed in a field near Merrimac. Sauk County lieutenant Terry Spencer said almost his entire department was playing in a law enforcement softball tournament that day. He said Searles' death was never forgotten, and he and his fellow officers could never really heal from it.
Wi About Average
Wisconsin is about average when it comes to being a good place to make a living. That's according to MoneyRates-Dot-Com. Its annual survey ranks Wisconsin as the 24th-best state in which to make a living. That's based on things like average salaries, the cost of living, workplace conditions, and employment rates. Neighboring Minnesota is the third best, behind only Texas and first-place Washington. Hawaii is ranked 50th.
Help For Near Homeless
The U-S House has approved a spending bill that includes a Wisconsin Republican's effort to help rural residents who are on the brink of homelessness. Wausau area Republican Sean Duffy moved to add 10-million dollars to the Rural Housing Stability Assistance program. His amendment was approved on a voice vote, as part of a Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill for the fiscal year starting in October. Duffy's measure was spurred by a campaign he conducted last year to prevent hunger and homelessness in his large and rural north central Wisconsin district. He said rural America is too often forgotten -- but the pain of poverty is just as great, even though it's different. Instead of families living on the street, Duffy said up to three families have been known to crowd into a one-bedroom apartment so kids can have shelter. Duffy's amendment would provide money to a program that never got funded since it was created in 2009. The larger housing bill got final passage last night on a vote of 229-to-192. Menomonee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner joined the state's three Democrats in voting no.
Kids As Adults In Court
Two 12-year-old Waukesha girls are due back in adult court today, for allegedly stabbing another girl 19 times in allegiance to a fictional horror character. Circuit Judge Michael Bohren is scheduled to meet with attorneys on both sides at 1:15, to review the status of the case against Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser. Both are currently charged with attempted homicide in the May 31st incident. Their attorneys have said they'll try to get the youngsters into juvenile court, with a chance for more treatment and earlier releases. If they're found delinquent, they could be held until they turn 25 -- but if they're convicted as adults, each could get up to 65 years in prison. Previous reports indicated that the stabbing victim was near death before starting to recover. All three students go to Horning Middle School in Waukesha. Yesterday, Judge Bohren told the news media covering today's proceeding not to photograph the defendants' faces. Attorneys for the Wisconsin Broadcasters and Newspaper associations filed a challenge to the judge's order, saying there's no need for it because the suspects' photos have been published worldwide online. They were photographed at their initial adult court appearance, where bonds of a half-million dollars each were set.
June 10, 2014
West Nile Confirmed
The Badger State has confirmed its third case of the West Nile Virus this season -- but no humans have been infected yet. The Madison-and-Dane County Public Health department said yesterday that a dead bird was found with the mosquito-borne illness. Portage and Dodge counties found dead crows with the disease in recent weeks. It all means that the human season for getting West Nile is approaching. Officials urge people to reduce their risks by limiting their time outdoors at dawn-and-dusk. You're also urged to wear long clothing outside, use insect repellent, make sure window and door screens are in good shape, trim tall weeds and grasses, and get rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed. Wisconsin has had close to 240 human cases of West Nile since the virus first become known about a dozen years ago. The state had 16 human cases last year. Four Wisconsinites died from the virus in 2012.
Certify Candidates Today
The Wisconsin elections' panel will certify candidates today for the August 12th state-and-federal primaries. Seventeen candidates have had their nomination papers challenged to one degree or another -- and the Government Accountability Board will decide whether those challenges are valid. Those challenges could be enough to keep at least some candidates off the ballot -- including Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey, who's running against front-runner Mary Burke for their party's nomination for governor. Four state legislative incumbents have had their papers challenged -- Milwaukee Assembly Democrats JoCasta Zamarripa and Mandela Barnes, Assembly Republican Kathy Bernier of the Chippewa Falls area, and Senate Republican Frank Lasee of the Green Bay area. It took board staffers longer than normal to review the nomination papers, mainly because of a new law that requires petition signers to print their names legibly, in addition to writing them. Critics have said the Board was too strict in following that law. Bernier, who heads the Assembly elections panel, planning to ask the board today to ease up.
Three States Message
Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan are teaming up to encourage boaters to clean-and-drain their boats and trailers, so they don't spread invasive species. The three states have put out a 30-second message on You-Tube and various T-V programs that feature the Great Outdoors. The goal is for boaters and anglers to avoid spreading things like zebra mussels when they travel throughout the Upper Midwest. Wisconsin D-N-R Secretary Cathy Stepp says the states share a common goal of stopping the spread of dangerous foreign species, so inland waters and the Great Lakes can stay healthy. Minnesota's D-N-R commissioner, Tom Landwehr, says the three-state messages offer consistency and a coordinated approach. For several years, Wisconsin has ordered anglers to drain their boats every time they leave a lake, in an effort to keep the fish-killing V-H-S virus from spreading.
Pilots Body Recovered
The body of a pilot was recovered yesterday from Lake Superior, after a home-made single-engine plane went down Saturday near Duluth. Wisconsin rescuers from Superior and Douglas County were among the 14 who took part in the day-long recovery effort. An F-A-A investigator was there, waiting for the plane's wreckage to be pulled out. Divers tried, but they later focused on getting the victim out of the water. Saint Louis County rescue squad captain Tom Crossmon said crews won't try to recover the wreckage until next week. It remains about 140-feet below the surface of Lake Superior, about a mile-and-a-quarter east of Brighton Beach in Duluth. The plane went down shortly after takeoff from the Duluth International Airport. Officials said the pilot flew in from Oregon, and was heading to far eastern Canada. Investigators say the pilot's name could be released today, once relatives are notified.
Jobs In Wisconsin
If you're looking for a job, Wisconsin is a great place to be. A quarterly survey by Milwaukee's Manpower-Group shows that 28-percent of Wisconsin employers plan to add workers from July through September. Only five-percent expect layoffs, which creates a net employment outlook of 23-percent. That's one of the ten highest among the 50 states, and it's five-percent higher than the national figure. Also, Milwaukee and Madison are both among the Top-15 in job outlooks among the country's metro areas. It's another sign that Wisconsin employers are slowly -- but surely -- hiring more people after a hesitation which followed the worst recession in over 75 years. Manpower surveys 18-thousand U-S employers every three months, and the only question they're asked is whether they'll add or drop employees in the following quarter.
Granting Gay Licenses
Over half of Wisconsin's 72 counties are granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, amid confusion over a judge's ruling that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. An A-P survey shows that 42 counties were issuing licenses yesterday -- and for a higher fee, many agreed to waive the state's five-day waiting period for the actual marriages. Close to 30 counties refused to issue same-sex licenses. They said they needed more guidance from the state's vital records office on recording those marriages -- or their lawyers told them to wait until after the A-C-L-U tells Federal Judge Barbara Crabb exactly how it wants her decision from last Friday to be implemented. The A-C-L-U, the main plaintiff in the case, submitted its proposal late yesterday. It had until next Monday to do so. Also yesterday, Judge Crabb said she wanted more information before agreeing to the state's request to delay her decision until it can be appealed. She scheduled another hearing on June 19th. Meanwhile, the state has also asked the federal appeals court in Chicago to set aside Crabb's ruling for now -- and that can happen at any time. State attorneys pointed to the confusion among county officials on whether to grant licenses -- but Judge Crabb said she had nothing to do with that, and that kind of issue should be settled in the state's court system.
Recovery Action Starts
A recovery operation begins today in Lake Superior, where a body and wreckage from a small home-made plane have been found. Authorities said specialized divers are needed to recover the craft and its pilot who apparently went down with the sunken plane. Both were first discovered Saturday, when a single-engine Lancair-Four with one person aboard disappeared from radar almost as soon as it took from the Duluth International Airport. Reports said the pilot flew in from Big Bend Oregon, and had just taken off for Goose Bay in far eastern Canada when the plane vanished. First responders from Duluth Minnesota used sonar equipment to locate the aircraft, about one-point-two miles from the shore of Brighton Beach in Duluth. Both the plane and the body were reported to be about 140-feet below the surface of Lake Superior. The Superior-Douglas County Dive Rescue Team will join specialized rescuers from Minnesota today in the recovery. The F-A-A said the plane was registered to an engineering firm in Wilmington Delaware.
No Tornado - Yet
Wisconsin has had 55-below wind-chills, two-foot snowstorms, and four-inch rainstorms this year. But one thing we have not seen yet is a confirmed tornado. The National Weather Service says it's the latest start to a tornado season since 1997, when it took until June 15th for a twister to find its way to the ground in the Badger State -- that being near Downsville in Dunn County. The Weather Service also says this year is the ninth-latest without a tornado in 64 years of keeping records of this. The latest tornado to start a calendar year came in 1995, when a twister landed at Onalaska in La Crosse County on June 28th. Forecasters say the threat of severe weather looks minimal this week -- so by this weekend, 2014 could be in the Top-Five for the state's latest first tornado.
Tech School Funding
The Wisconsin Legislative Council is considering a possible state funding and control plan for the 16 regional technical colleges. One lawmaker says a bill could emerge in 2015-or-'16, but it's already getting opposition from tech schools and the businesses for which they help provide workers. Assembly Republican Scott Krug of Nekoosa says a state takeover is in the formative stages of a Legislative Council committee -- and while he's willing to discuss it, he sees no reason to support it. State Technical College System President Morna Foy says the current system is not broken, and a state takeover would hurt the schools' abilities to serve their unique local areas. North-central Technical College President Lori Weyers says a state-controlled system would make the schools less able to work with local companies -- and it would delay course changes needed to keep up with business needs. Mid-State Tech president Sue Budzac says the schools' boards are local people chosen by their areas' county board chairs. She said there's no need for schools to take all their program and funding requests to Madison. Central Wisconsin lawmakers of both parties say they're skeptical of such a change. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos brought up the idea of cutting local technical college taxes in January, when we first learned about a billion-dollar budget surplus. It never went anywhere, but Vos called it a sure-fire way to cut property taxes.
June 9, 2014
The Powerball jackpot has risen above a quarter-billion dollars. It's at 257-million for Wednesday night, after nobody won the top prize on Saturday night. Nobody from Wisconsin won the second or third prizes, either. Just over 15-thousand tickets sold in the Badger State won anywhere from four-dollars to 200. Saturday's numbers were 28, 30, 35, 58, and 59. The Powerball was 15, and the Power Play multiplier was two. Wednesday's cash option is close to 152-million dollars. In Mega Millions, the jackpot is at 55-million for tomorrow night.
Miss U. S A finisher
Wisconsin's entry in the Miss U-S-A Pageant made it to the Top-10 last night before she was eliminated. Bishara Dorre of Milwaukee was among 51 women in a competition held in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Dorre is a graduate of Wauwatosa East High School. You know who she is if you watch the Milwaukee Brewers' games on T-V. She appears during most broadcasts as one of the "Fox Sports Wisconsin Girls." Miss Nevada-U-S-A, Nia Sanchez, was crowned the new Miss U-S-A. She's a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Audra Mari, Miss North Dakota-U-S-A, was the first runner-up. Sanchez is the 63rd Miss U-S-A, and will represent the country at the Miss Universe pageant later this year.
Rock County will be among the next to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb ruled late Friday that the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Almost 300 same-sex couples in Dane and Milwaukee counties received marriage licenses Friday night and Saturday, as their courthouses stayed open for extended hours. The Rock County clerk's office said it would start issuing licenses when it opens at eight this morning. They'll be sold only to Rock County residents -- including those in Janesville and Beloit -- and out-of-staters who plan to marry in the county. Meanwhile, officials in Brown County say they'll wait for guidance from the state before proceeding. State Attorney General J-B Van Hollen has questioned the legality of issuing same-sex marriage licenses in the wake of Judge Crabb's ruling. He has filed an emergency request to have Crabb set her decision aside while the state appeals. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said the marriages performed over the weekend might be put in limbo by a court stay. In Milwaukee, same-sex couples were gathering anyway for the city's Pridefest over the weekend -- and many took advantage of the opportunity to tie the knot. Wisconsin's ruling was the 15th straight pro-gay-marriage ruling in lower courts since the U-S Supreme Court threw out key parts of the Defense-of-Marriage Act last summer.
Many Wisconsin FFA members will have their chance to shine next week as the 85th State FFA Convention kicks-off at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Organizers say they are expecting over 3,000 students, supporters and guests will be focusing on the theme: 'Ignite the Passion Live with Purpose.'
The forum kicks-off with a State Officer Reflections program on Monday evening, June 9, followed by contests, general sessions and entertainment throughout the week. Interested participants will have the chance to take agricultural tours in the Madison and Dane County area or volunteer their time doing community service projects during the FFA Day of Service. And students will once again have the opportunity to visit the state capitol to talk with legislators about issues impacting agriculture education.
In the convention hall, they will also get to see an address by National FFA President Brian Walsh. Other motivational speakers include youth speakers Scott Backovich and Laymon Hicks.
"Students enrolled in agricultural education in Wisconsin schools and who are members of the FFA have a fantastic opportunity for leadership and career development,” said State FFA Director Cheryl Zimmerman. "The Wisconsin FFA Convention is our opportunity to recognize the importance of the education of our society about agriculture and the achievement of young people who are the future leaders of the agriculture industry."
Meanwhile, many FFA chapters will be volunteering their time to help with this year's state service project, where they will help pack 40,000 macaroni meals for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
It all wraps up upon the naming of the new State FFA President and National Chapter Award winner on Thursday.
WPCA Radio Farm News will have live coverage from Madison with our new Farm Intern Trent Dado. Be listening at 11:30 a.m. this morning….Trent will be live from Madison…………