Two Falls From Skill
Hill Chair Lift
The mother of an eight-year-old Wisconsin boy
said a helmet saved her son from death or a serious brain injury, after he fell
25-feet from a chair lift at a ski hill. Cameron Jones of Solon Springs still suffered serious injuries that
included a broken pelvis, liver, and rib.
It happened Friday afternoon during a ski trip by home-schooled students
at Spirit Mountain in Duluth. It was the
second of two falls from chair-lifts at the ski hill on Friday. The other victim was not seriously hurt. Spirit Mountain said the two falls were
isolated incidents, and were not related.
Cameron's mother Donna Jones said Cameron would have died or a had a
traumatic brain injury had he not been wearing a helmet on the chair-lift.
Minn-Wi Income Tax
Reciprocity May Return
Wisconsin residents who work in
Minnesota could soon go back to filing just one state income tax return instead
of two. The Minnesota House Tax
Committee chairman, Greg Davids, has proposed a compromise bill. It would re-write the formula for determining
tax reciprocity, and would essentially drop the Gopher State's demand for an
additional five-million dollars a year from Wisconsin to make up for
Minnesota's loss of tax revenues under the arrangement. Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler,
who has balked at the extra payments, said the new discussions have "the
makings of a deal." Wisconsin and
Minnesota had income tax reciprocity for over 40 years until former Minnesota
State Governor Tim Pawlenty cut it off in 2009.
That was after Wisconsin got behind on the payments it made to balance
out the revenues both states receive without the reciprocity. Wisconsin was the paying party because more
of its residents work in Minnesota than vice versa. Former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle held back
payments due to budget pressures. Current
Governor Scott Walker paid Minnesota back in 2011.
Milwaukee's police chief says
he'll keep focusing on repeat auto thieves
but residents need to do their part by not leaving keys in their
ignitions while unattended. It's been a
hot topic in Milwaukee, ever since 18-year-old Michael Hobbs allegedly stole an
empty S-U-V last Sunday with the keys inside, and got into a crash that killed
Bernard and Tina Hanson. Prosecutors
said Hobbs was driving at 80-miles-an-hour before he broadsided the Hansons'
vehicle at a west side Milwaukee intersection. Wisconsin had its coldest month of the winter last month, and many folks
leave their cars running unattended while warming them up on frigid
mornings. Yesterday, Milwaukee Police
Chief Ed Flynn said there were 22 vehicles reported stolen in the city last
week -- and all but two had the keys left in them. Flynn also said there needs to be more jail
space for repeat juvenile offenders, which would help his department be tough
on auto thieves. Police said Hobbs and
two other males in the stolen S-U-V were part of a vehicle theft group called
the "Cut Throat Mob."
Sheboygan Falls Farm
A 17-year-old boy was seriously
injured when he got stuck in a piece of farm equipment near Sheboygan
Falls. Sheriff's officials said the teen
was working on an auger in a silo, when he got caught in the equipment yesterday afternoon. Rescuers removed him from the auger and flew
him to Milwaukee Children's Hospital. There was no immediate word on the extent of his injuries, or his
Wausau Gang StabbingVictim Named
Wausau Police have released the name of a
13-year-old boy killed in an apparent gang-related stabbing attack on Friday
night. Officials said Isaiah Powell was
stabbed twice in the back during a fight that broke out on a Wausau
street. According to investigators,
members of two groups argued on social media and then took their dispute to the
streets. Police said one of the
youngsters shot a B-B gun at others, and a fight broke out during which time
the stabbing occurred. A 15-year-old
suspect is in custody, and police say that youngster could make a court
appearance this week. Powell was a
student at Wausau's Horace Mann Middle School.
Officials said they've recovered the knife and the B-B gun from the
incident -- and they're asking for more information from witnesses.
February 27, 2015
UWM Ebola Researcher
A U-W Milwaukee researcher,
together with a collaborator in Georgia, will try to create a sensor in which
the deadly Ebola virus can be detected just by spitting. Junhong Chen, a mechanical and materials
engineering professor at U-W-M, is sharing a 100-thousand dollar federal grant
with Georgia Institute of Technology researcher Eva Lee. Chen says he'll try to incorporate sensor
technology that he first developed to detect water contamination. He'll try to create a sensor that can
identify seven proteins in saliva -- all of which are associated with the Ebola
virus. Chen and Lee will also develop a
modeling tool that can help medical workers make fast decisions on resources
that can prevent the spread of Ebola.
The Wisconsin state Assembly's
Labor Committee has scheduled a 10-hour hearing on Monday on the right-to-work
bill that's moving through the Legislature.
The committee announced Thursday that the hearing will begin at 10am
Monday. A Committee vote on the bill has
not yet been scheduled. The full
Assembly is expected to take up the bill later in the week, most likely on
Thursday. The State Senate passed the
right-to-work bill on Wednesday.
Republicans have a much wider majority in the Assembly, making passage there
Va Refusing Tomah
Investigation File To Senate Committee
U-S Senator Ron Johnson of
Wisconsin is threatening to subpoena the Veterans Administration if it doesn't
hand over an investigative file into the Tomah V-A Medical Center. Johnson, who chairs the Senate's homeland security
committee, is giving acting V-A Inspector General Richard Griffin until 5
o’clock this afternoon to turn over the document. The Senator said the V-A Inspector General
has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the panel. Johnson launched a committee probe into the
Tomah facility, amid reports that it was over-prescribing painkillers and
retaliating against those exposing the actions. A V-A spokeswoman said it would be against
federal law to give Johnson the records he wants, because they contain
veterans' personal medical information. She said her agency has consulted with
the Justice Department -- and it confirmed an obligation to withhold the
About 150-thousand low-income
adults in Wisconsin might have to start paying premiums to keep their
Badger-Care -- and they might have to pay more if they smoke, or engage in
other risky behaviors. The Legislative Fiscal
Bureau uncovered those proposals when it analyzed Governor Scott Walker's
two-year, 68-billion dollar budget package. It said a federal Medicaid waiver would be necessary to charge premiums
for the first time to the lowest-income childless adults on Badger-Care
Plus. The proposal did not disclose the
exact types of risky behavior that could trigger premium increases. Jon Peacock of the Wisconsin Council on
Children-and-Families says he wonders if a single person making less than
11-thousand-800-dollars a year could pay any premiums. He thinks the Obama administration would
probably not approve Walker's waiver request. Peacock said a few states like Iowa and Indiana charge premiums for
their Medicaid coverage -- but if they didn't pay, the poorest people still got
at least some care. Claire Yunker of the
state Health Services agency says the details for the waiver request are still
Gas Prices Going Up
It looks like gasoline prices are
set to rise over the next few weeks.
Every spring the price of gas rises when the transition to the “summer
blend” of gasoline occurs. But this week
saw a big price increase in the gasoline markets. Wholesalers are seeing huge increases, according
to GasBuddy. Wholesale prices have risen
10 to 27 cents per gallon across the country in addition to the price increases
at the beginning of February. It is not
helping gas prices that refineries in five states are having “operational
issues” and that there is a work stoppage by the United Steelworkers Union at 12 refineries in California, Texas,
Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio since February first. We can expect 10-cent increases in retail
gasoline prices for each of the next two or three weeks.
February 25, 2015
Man Killed Attacking Police
Green Bay Police
shot-and-killed a man last night, after he reportedly stabbed an officer in the
arm. Authorities said two officers were
called to an apartment building around 7:30 p-m, to check on a man who may have
been suicidal. Police captain Jeremy
Muraski said that when the two encountered the man, he produced an "edged
weapon" and stabbed one of the officers.
Both police officers then shot at the man, and he died at the
scene. The wounded officer was taken to
a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and is expected to make a full
recovery. The state Justice Department
is investigating the officers' roles in the incident, as part of a new state
law on officer-involved shootings.
Hatcheries Will Be Upgraded
The fish hatchery in
Oneida County and the Govenor Tommy G. Thompson Hatchery in Washburn County
will receive important upgrades under plans approved by the state building
commission. The fish hatcheries,
operated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, raise muskies,
walleye and suckers.
The Oneida County hatchery will receive
4-point-6-million dollars in improvements, including equipment to disinfect the
water supply, an egg disinfection room and new rearing ponds.
2-and-one-half-million-dollar improvements at the Tommy Thompson facility will
include a new automatic intake screen cleaning system, a new filtration system
for all incoming water and a new disinfection system for incoming water in the
building. The money also will repair
levees and settled pond areas and add a new bio-secure egg disinfection room in
the hatchery building. A truck and
equipment disinfection station will be built in an existing storage building.
Following a bidding
process, work on the projects is expected to begin in May.
February 23, 2015
Gun-Buying Waiting Period Hearing
A public hearing will be
held Thursday, February 26, on a bill to end Wisconsin's waiting period to buy
handguns. The Assembly's criminal
justice committee will hold the hearing on a measure that's winding its way
through both houses. Senate Republican
Van Wanggaard of Racine first proposed the bill a few weeks ago. He said the
state's 48-hour waiting period to buy a handgun is no longer necessary, because
background-checks are done almost instantly these days. Mental health advocates say those in emotional
distress need a cooling-off period before they should able to get a weapon, so
they're less likely to kill others or themselves. Wanggaard, a former police officer, does not
buy that line of reasoning. He said that
if somebody's thinking about violence, they'll use whatever is at their
fingertips at the time. The Law Center
to Prevent Gun Violence said Wisconsin is among ten states and Washington D-C
which have laws that set waiting periods to buy guns.
Mondovi School Superintendent
The Mondovi School
District has a new superintendent. Greg
Corning will start in the position July 1st. He is currently the principal at Wakanda Elementary School in the Menomonie
superintendent Cheryl Gullicksrud submitted her resignation last May. She was admitted to a doctoral program at
Maryland based John Hopkins University. She will stay in her position until June 30th.
Farm Accident Near Dallas
On Saturday evening,
February 21st, the Barron County Sheriff's Department was called to a farm
accident near Dallas. The Dallas Fire
Department, Dallas Ambulance, Gold Cross Ambulance and Life Link Helicopter,
and Barron County Medical Examiner's Office also assisted at the scene.roUpon arrival CPR was being performed on a
female subject who had been run over by a skid steer. All efforts to save her were attempted, but
she was pronounced deceased at the scene. The victim was Karen Haugen, age 60.
She slipped on ice as she was approaching the skid steer, and her
husband did not see her on the ground. After the investigation was completed, it was determined that this was a
very tragic accident.
Milk Production Is Up
production is off to a great start in 2015.
The U-S-D-A said the state's output rose by three-point-four percent in
January, compared to the previous year. That's a larger increase than the national jump of two-point-one
percent. The Badger State also had a huge
gain over top-milk-producer California, which saw its milk production drop by
two-point-six percent. Wisconsin cows made almost two-point-four billion pounds
in January, second to California's three-and-a-half billion.grNationally, just over 17-and-a-half billion
pounds of milk were produced last month.
Wisconsin added five-thousand cows in January, for a statewide total of
almost one-point-three million.amThe
average cow in the Badger State made 55 more pounds of milk than a year ago,
for a total of 18-hundred-80 per head.
That's a little less than the national average of 18-hundred-95 pounds
per cow. FThe U-S-D-A also announced
final production numbers for 2014.
Wisconsin had an increase of eight-tenths of one-percent, a third of the
February 20, 2015 (
Gray Wolves Are Again Protected
Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region
are protected by federal law once more. The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is
publishing a rule today which designates wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin as
"endangered" and those in Minnesota as "threatened."
The rule complies with a federal judge's order
of December that overruled the agency's earlier decision to revoke the
protected status of wolves and hand management authority to the states. This means sport hunting and trapping of
Great Lakes wolves is no longer permissible.
A spokesman says the agency hasn't decided
whether to appeal the court ruling. Legislation to overturn it has been
introduced in Congress.
More than 50 scientists this week signed a
letter to Congress saying wolves occupy a small fraction of their former range
and still need legal protection.
Superior Trolley Bridge Collapsed
Two contractors were hurt when a 102-year-old
trolley bridge collapsed at an industrial site in Superior. It happened yesterday afternoon at Graymont,
a plant along Superior Bay which provides lime and lime-based products.x8Plant manager Phil Marquis said the
contractors were preparing for a controlled demolition of the trolley bridge
when it collapsed. He said two workers
walked away from the collapse, and were later checked out at a hospital.6)The demolition had been planned for Sunday.
Durand Dairy Farm Suspension
One of Wisconsin's largest raw milk disease
outbreaks ever has resulted in a 30-day suspension for the dairy farm that
caused it. State officials announced the
suspension yesterday for a milk production permit at the Roland and Diana Reed
farm near Durand. Officials said they
provided unpasteurized milk to a Durand high school football team dinner last
fall, where 38 people got sick -- including many players. Some of the youngsters were
hospitalized. The potluck dinner has
been a tradition before Durand's football games. Officials said at least some of those who got
sick didn't know they were drinking raw milk -- but Diana Reed had said she
served the milk at team dinners in the past. The Agriculture Department said the farm can keep selling its milk for
cheese and butter production during the suspension.
Wisconsin Spear Fishing Season
Wisconsin's spearing season for sturgeon could
end as early as today. It began last
Saturday on Lake Winnebago and its connected up-river lakes. However, the D-N-R says spearers are close to
their limits in one-or-more of the various age-and-gender categories for
sturgeon -- a pre-historic fish that can often grow to 100-pounds or larger
before it can be harvested. D-N-R
biologist Ryan Koenigs says around two-thousand fish will be taken this
year. He said spearers have taken a
number of long-and-older sturgeon -- but they were not as heavy as in the past,
because their fattest source of food was limited. More than 13-thousand spearing licenses were
issued this year, which was a record.
State School Superintendent
The state Justice Department says it will appeal
a court ruling from yesterday, which upheld the elected state superintendent's
rule-making authority. The Fourth
District Appellate Court in Madison said it was unconstitutional to give
Governor Scott Walker the ability to approve-or-veto administrative rules from
the state superintendent, who's independently elected by the voters. In 2011, Walker and his fellow legislative
Republicans agreed to give the governor veto power over the rules that all
agencies adopt, to carry out the various laws that are passed. Walker addressed years of Republican
complaints that the rules set by bureaucrats often go beyond the intent of the
legislation. However, a 1996 State
Supreme Court decision affirmed that no other state official can have equal or
superior authority over education than the elected superintendent has. A circuit judge in Madison threw out the
governor's veto powers over the education department's rules.
February 19, 2015
Superintendent to Visit Amery & Ladysmith
State School Superintendent Tony Evers will
visit Career and Technical Education programs in Amery and Ladysmith on Friday,
February 20. Evers will be welcomed at
Amery High School at 10am and then will learn about the dual-credit agreement
that Amery has with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. In 2006 Amery was a pilot-school for
transcripted credit. Today students are
offered 18 courses which earn both high school and college credit.
At 10:30 on Friday morning, Evers will hear
success stories about Amery’s Career and Technical student organizations. Amery High School offers youth
apprenticeships in eight program areas. This year there are 36 students in youth apprenticeships at 14 different
At 10:45am on Friday Evers will hear of the
school’s partnerships with industry.
Then he will learn about Amery’s Career and Technical Education
graduation and personal finance requirements. Evers will conclude his visit by commenting upon his observations.
Evers will make a similar visit to
Ladysmith. These visits are conducted in
observance of “Career and Technical Education month.”
Baldwin fired Baylor
U-S Senator Tammy Baldwin has confirmed
that she fired her former deputy state director, Marquette Baylor, nearly a
month ago during the controversy over problems at Tomah's V-A Medical
Center. Meanwhile, the House Veterans'
Affairs Committee has agreed to hold a hearing in Tomah to take testimony on
the alleged over-prescriptions and other problems that reportedly led to three
patient deaths over the past several years. Four Wisconsin congressional members asked for the hearing. A date for the hearing has not been set.
Baldwin’s Washington attorney, Marc Elias,
issued a statement yesterday about Baylor's firing on January 22. The attorney said it was because "her
long-term performance on a range of issues did not meet with the senator's
expectations for effective constituent service." He confirmed that Baylor was offered a
severance package, which she rejected.
Baylor has hired her own lawyer to look into her termination. A V-A investigation last year turned up
alleged drug over-prescriptions at Tomah.
Baldwin called for investigations only after the Center for
Investigative Reporting exposed the issue.
The number of Wisconsinites who signed up
for Obama-care is 58-percent higher than a year ago. Federal health officials said yesterday that
almost 206-thousand Wisconsin residents either newly-enrolled for plans offered
by the federal purchasing exchange -- or renewed their existing coverage. The open enrollment period ended Monday for coverage that begins in March. Just over 130-thousand Badger State residents
received coverage from the Affordable Care Act in the first year of the
exchanges. They included those not
covered by private insurance, or by Badger-Care or other Medicaid programs.
Wisconsinites are waking up to their
coldest morning of the winter. It was
32-below at five o'clock in Land O'Lakes in Vilas County near the Upper
Michigan border. Fortunately for those
folks, there was no wind -- and thus, no wind chill. Rhinelander and Manitowish Waters were not as
fortunate. They had 40-below
wind-chills. Most of the Badger State
has some kind of breezes of up to 15-miles-an-hour About 30 customers of the state's
four largest electric utilities in Oconto and Shawano counties had power
outages this morning. The National
Weather Service has wind-chill advisories out until nine this morning for parts
of northwest Wisconsin -- and until noon for the rest of the state. Officials say frost-bite and hypothermia are
possible after exposure to these types of temperatures.
February 18, 2015
Monroe County K-9
The Monroe County Sheriff's
Department, headquartered in Sparta, Wisconsin, wants to re-establish a K-9
unit. A K-9 unit was started there in
1996, but was discontinued about 10 years ago, because of a lack of funding.
The sheriff's department is
currently trying to raise $40,000 which would cover costs such as a dog,
handler-training and equipment for the dog.
So far it's raised more than a $1,000.
Monroe County Sheriff Scott
Perkins said, “With the heroine epidemic in Monroe County, well actually all
over; our children are dying at a young age due to heroine overdose, and so
it's very important to get a K9 unit once again so we can help curb that.” The sheriff said a K9 unit is an invaluable
tool, because it can help find lost people, suspects and drugs.
Car Crashed into
Stopped School Bus
A Hartford, Wisconsin man was
killed yesterday, when the car he was driving rear-ended a school bus in the
Washington County town of Addison. Three
children were on the bus, along with the 54-year-old driver. A nine-year-old boy had a shoulder injury and
was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The others on the bus were not hurt. The crash happened yesterday afternoon on State Highway 83. Sheriff's deputies said the bus was stopped
to let a child out, when the car failed to stop from behind. The car driver died at the scene. His name was not immediately released. Deputies believe excessive speed and
inattentive driving were factors. The
crash remains under investigation.
Highway Patrol Pay
Wisconsin legislative leaders say
they'll reject a new contract for state troopers that includes an average pay
hike of 17-percent. The 360-member
Wisconsin Troopers Association was among the law enforcement unions exempted
from the Act-10 public employee bargaining limits. The leaders of both the Assembly and the
Senate say the Walker administration should re-negotiate the package. The two-year contract was supposed to take
effect in July of 2013, but the Legislature's Joint Committee on Employment
Relations never acted on it. Union
members ratified it about a year ago.
Troopers' Association president Glen Jones defends the 17-percent pay
hike, saying it's fair because officers have not received a raise since
2009. He also said the largest increases
would have gone to younger troopers to keep them from bolting for better pay
elsewhere. Most state employees got
one-percent raises in each of the last two years, but no pay hikes are included
for the next two years in Governor Scott Walker's proposed budget.
Highway Speed Limit Increase
A proposal to raise Wisconsin's
top speed limit to 70-miles-an-hour received little opposition yesterday at a
public hearing by the Assembly's Transportation Committee. D-O-T officials said they would most likely
increase the speed limit on rural four-lanes -- and they would test individual
highways to see which ones could best accommodate the higher speeds. Wisconsin now has a top speed limit of 65 on
rural freeways and expressways, while neighboring states are all at 70. The committee is expected to vote next month
on whether to recommend the proposal to the full Assembly.
February 17, 2015
Today is primary
election day, but there are few run-off elections in Wisconsin. Three republicans are competing in the State
Senate for District 20. Five non-partisan
candidates are vying for Jackson County Circuit Court Judge. Three non-partisan candidates are competing
for LaCrosse County Circuit Court Judge, Branch 5. Four candidates are competing for LaFayette
County Circuit Court Judge. Three
candidates are seeking the Branch 4 Sheboygan County Circuit Court Judge. There are also some local primary elections
in some localities.
in State Debt Payments
Lawmakers of both
parties were critical, after it was announced that the Walker administration
will delay 108-million dollars in state debt payments to help balance the
current budget. The non-partisan
Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the G-O-P administration will only pay the
interest on certain obligations that are scheduled in May. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it means
higher paybacks from taxpayers in the future, including an extra 19-million
dollars in the next budget which takes effect in July. Administration spokesman Cullen Werwie said
the delayed payment is allowed under the terms of its borrowing agreement --
and former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle did the same thing. It does not need legislative approval, but
that didn't stop Assembly Democrat Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh from accusing Walker
of borrowing from the future to pay for his tax cuts from today. Senate Republican Rob Cowles (coles) of Green
Bay called this "bad budgeting," regardless of which party is
Wrongful Death Suit Filed
Relatives of a Madison
man who died in a fire 16 months ago have filed a wrongful death suit against
Dane County. The family of Christopher
Williams said a delayed dispatching of fire-fighters contributed to his
death. They're seeking unspecified
damages, while alleging that 9-1-1 employees took almost four minutes to send
fire-fighters to the blaze. When units
got there, the 51-year-old Williams had collapsed at his front door. He died from smoke inhalation. Last year, changes were ordered at the
county's 9-1-1 call center to shorten the response times for emergency crews.
Gov’t Musical Chairs
Governor Scott Walker
yesterday changed the head of his administration and brought back a couple of
familiar names to state government.
Scott Neitzel (night-zel) is the new administration secretary, replacing
Mike Huebsch (hibsh) -- who held the post since Walker first became governor in
2011. Neitzel comes into State
Government from Madison Gas-and-Electric, where he was a senior vice president. Huebsch moves over to the utility-regulating
Public Service Commission, replacing Eric Callisto whose term is about to
end. Commissioner Ellen Nowak will chair
the P-S-C starting March first. Current chair Phil Montgomery becomes a regular
commissioner. Bob Seitz (sights) comes
in as Nowak's top aide. He used to be
with the state D-N-R, and was most recently a lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite as
it tries to open a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. Also, former state treasurer, revenue
secretary, and Assembly member Cate Zeuske (zy'-skee) returns to state government
as Neitzel's deputy administration secretary. Tricia Braun gets a promotion in the Wisconsin Economic Development
Corporation as its new chief operating officer.
And G-O-P strategist Brian Schimming becomes the new C-O-O of the
state's Housing and Economic Development Authority, which Walker wants to merge
with the W-E-D-C.
Medicaid Funds Proposed Again
again are asking Governor Scott Walker to accept federal Medicaid funds from
Obama-care. They are requesting a
smaller amount than Walker rejected two years ago. A State Assemblyman and a Senator unveiled a
plan yesterday to seek a partial Medicaid expansion. It could cover many of the 77-thousand
childless adults above the poverty line who lost their Badger-Care last year,
many of whom were expected to apply for Obama-care and did not. One of the proponents said the Democrats' new
plan would generate 240-million dollars to off-set other cuts in the new state
budget the Republican Walker proposed two weeks ago. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
opposes the Democratic plan, saying Wisconsin has found a "good middle
ground" on Badger-Care. He referred
to Walker's plan from two years ago to give thousands of impoverished mothers
and children the state-funded care they had never received before.