Consumer scams against
Wisconsinites keep growing. Sandy
Chalmers of the state's consumer protection agency says there are new scams and
variations of old ones -- but the one constant is that there's always somebody
trying to scam folks by phone and online. This year, Chalmers says the most prevalent scams involve callers
claiming to be with the I-R-S -- either to con people into thinking they owe
back taxes, or they can get refunds if they provide their bank account
numbers. Other common scams tell victims
they missed court dates, and they need to pay their fines on the phone -- and
they need to pay 85-dollars to someone to get property deeds which are much
cheaper at the courthouse. Chalmers says
folks always have to be vigilent because there are so many scams right
now. She says those getting suspicious
calls should hang-up, not open suspicious e-mails, and contact the state Ag,
Trade, and Consumer Protection agency to report the scams.
A year-long moratorium on new
frac-sand mines is about to end in Trempealeau County. The County Board in Whitehall voted 8-to-7
this week against extending the mining ban. A study committee has spent the last year examining the public health
and safety effects of mining silica sand -- which the oil-and-gas industry uses
in its domestic drilling equipment.
County health director Cheryl Rhoda says the panel's final report is
still being finalized, and will be presented to the county supervisors in
mid-September. Western Wisconsin has
seen a boom in frac-sand mines in recent years.
At one point, Trempealeau County had up to a quarter of the state's
approved operations. There are now
around 115 frac-sand mines throughout the state.
The National Weather Service now
says a weak tornado landed in the Fox Valley earlier this week. Officials said yesterday that a weak twister
came down late Monday afternoon about two miles southeast of Medina in Winnebago
County. Two utility poles were pushed
over, and there was no damage reported to any buildings. Wisconsin has had plenty of hailstorms and
downpours in recent weeks -- but the Weather Service says the cool summer has
kept tornadoes to a minimum. Meteorologist Jeff Last of the Weather Service in Green Bay says his
office has issued only about half the average numbers of warnings this
season. The area has had above-average
rainfalls. Coloma in Waushara County had
a one-point-four-inch downpour yesterday.
Warm and humid conditions are expected through the weekend in the Badger
State. There's a chance of showers and
thunderstorms each day. Highs will be in
the 70's and 80's today and tomorrow. Parts of southwest Wisconsin could get into the 90's on Sunday.
A Michigan man is accused of
breaking into the home of Wausau's police chief, and stealing his pick-up
truck. A Marathon County judge set bond
at 20-thousand dollars yesterday for 39-year-old Jason Warner. He's charged with felony counts of burglary
and vehicle theft, and misdemeanor counts of theft and criminal damage. The break-in was reported Tuesday at Wausau
Police Chief Jeff Hardel's home in the town of Maine. Officials said Warner left another vehicle in
the chief's yard before stealing the truck.
Later that day, officials said Warner left Hardel's vehicle at a truck
stop and got a ride from somebody else. State troopers later got a report that a man was walking along
Interstate-94, and they arrested Warner -- who had been reported as missing and
endangered by his Michigan family. He's
due back in court next Wednesday in Wausau for a preliminary hearing.
The sequel to the 2013 horror
movie "The Purge" is out. The
plot of "The Purge: Anarchy" revolves around a 12-hour period of
lawlessness when criminal acts are legal.
The hoax that first hit
Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend is now hitting Wisconsin. It involves
images promoting The Purge, listing a time and date, as well as a list of
cities, including Milwaukee, Appleton, Green Bay, Fond du Lac and Madison.
A spokesperson at the FBI's
Milwaukee office says they are aware of the hoax, both locally and
nationally. Madison Police Spokesperson
Joel DeSpain says they too are monitoring the situation and hopes it is nothing
more than a hoax.
Other cities have reported no
The Appleton Post-Crescent reports
a high school student admitted to starting the Louisville hoax.
Appleton Police told the
Post-Crescent they are monitoring the situation there and working with other
A newlywed from Sheboygan is
accused of beating his wife twice on their wedding night. Twenty-six year old Jeffrey Schuette pleaded
innocent this week to two misdemeanor counts of domestic abuse-battery. A 500-dollar bond was ordered, and a
tentative trial date is set for October 8th.
Prosecutors said Schuette insisted on driving his 22-year-old bride to a
hotel even though he was intoxicated. She reportedly said no and got a ride from somebody else. At the hotel, authorities said Schuette hit
his new wife several times in the face after she said he ruined her wedding
night. Officials said he punched the
bride again later while the two were in bed.
Police said one of the bride's eyes was swollen, and her face was numb. She told officers that he was violent toward
her several times in the past -- but she never reported it until now.
Voter I-D Delay
Wisconsin voters will have to wait
awhile to find out if they'll have to show photo I-D's at the polls on November
fourth. Yesterday, the federal appeals
court in Chicago said it would not act on the state's request to restore the
voter I-D law, until after the court hears oral arguments in the case on
September 12th. The state is appealing a
ruling from Federal Judge Lynn Adelman which found the Wisconsin I-D law
unconstitutional. Attorney General J-B
Van Hollen asked the court to at least temporarily put the law back into place
while the appeal is being considered -- thus requiring voters to show I-D's in
the November fourth elections.
State officials are reporting
success in their efforts to stop identity thieves from beating income tax
filers to their refunds. It's a growing
problem nationally. In Wisconsin, the
state Revenue Department began a program earlier this year to verify the
identities of certain taxpayers before their refunds go out. The agency now says the program and other
initiatives stopped just under 50-million dollars in falsely-claimed refunds
from going out during the last fiscal year. That includes almost 18-million dollars in earned income tax credits for
the poor that were fraudulently claimed -- plus another 15-million for
Homestead tax relief for low-income residents.
The figures were announced by the governor's office. It said the revenue agency stopped a total of
134-million dollars in fraudulent refunds and tax adjustments in the past four
years -- up from 60-million the previous four years. The current state budget included almost
seven-and-a-half million dollars for anti-tax fraud enforcement.
West Nile Death
Wisconsin has confirmed its first
human case of the West Nile virus for this summer. State health officials said yesterday the
mosquito-borne virus infected a resident of Ashland County. No other details were disclosed, including
the person's current condition. The
first confirmed case comes about a month later than a year ago. State epidemiologist Diep Hoang Johnson says
a relatively cool summer has kept mosquito populations down. Last year, the Badger State had 16 confirmed
West Nile cases and five probable ones, with two deaths. Those were small numbers compared to 2012,
when a major West Nile infestation in the nation's mid-section caused five
deaths and 44 confirmed human cases in Wisconsin. Health officials say most people who get West
Nile never feel symptoms like fever, headaches, and muscle aches. Johnson tells the Wisconsin Radio Network
that most West Nile infections go unreported unless the symptoms are
serious. Also 20 birds and one horse
have been infected with West Nile this year. The equine case was reported earlier this week.
Fire Kills Cows
Charter School Top
A charter school in Waukesha had
Wisconsin's top score in the A-C-T college entrance exam. Nine students from the Waukesha Engineering
Preparatory Academy average 27-point-one of a possible 36. Whitefish Bay again had the top score among
the state's traditional public high schools, at 26-point-72. A year ago, Whitefish Bay topped the state
results with a slightly lower average of 26. These numbers are well above the statewide average of 22-point-two -- which
was the nation's second-highest score among state administering the A-C-T. Williams Bay High School near Lake Geneva had
the state's third-highest score at 26-point-one. Mequon Homestead was fourth, followed by
Middleton and Waunakee.
Glenn Grothman had his U-S House
primary victory confirmed yesterday. An
official canvass of last Tuesday's ballots had the Campbellsport Republican
winning his Sixth District primary by 219 votes over fellow state Senator Joe
Leibham of Sheboygan. Grothman gained
six votes from the unofficial Election Night returns, and Leibham gained one
vote. About 64-thousand people voted in
what was a four-way G-O-P primary. Grothman's winning margin was about one-third of one-percent, the smallest
for the Wisconsin congressional contest since 1970. The canvass totals gave Grothman
23-thousand-247 votes, and Leibham 23-thousand-28. Leibham says he and his campaign staff will
review the canvass results, then decide whether to seek a recount. For now, Grothman will face Democrat Mark
Harris in November, for the right to replace retiring House Republican Tom
Petri of Fond du Lac. Meanwhile, a
recount begins tomorrow in the 87th Assembly District in northwest
Wisconsin. Michael Bub asked for the
recount, after losing by 17 votes to James Edming for the G-O-P nomination for
the Assembly seat given up by Medford Republican Mary Williams.
Taxpayers in Durand will soon get
to cast their vote on two referendums for school improvements.
On November 4th, the first
question has the school district is asking for $17.5 million.
That money would be used on
renovations at Caddie Woodlawn Elementary School and the Durand Middle and High
In the second question, the school
is asking for $1.5 million to help renovate the football field and track
If the first question is approved
the school district says taxes would increase by $8.75 per month on a $100,000
home, and $1.33 if the second question passes.
Foley Of Marquette
President Obama sent special
operations' troops to Syria this summer to rescue Marquette graduate James
Foley and other hostages -- but they didn't find them. The White House National Security Council
said it never intended to disclose the operation, but they had to confirm it
because a number of media outlets were preparing to report on it. Intelligence agencies thought they identified
a place in Syria where Foley, a U-S freelance journalist, was being held along
with other hostages. Several dozen
forces were dropped by aircraft. They
couldn't find the hostages, and they got into a fire-fight with Islamic State
militants before leaving. Several
militants were killed, but only one American had a minor injury after an
aircraft was hit. The operation was
revealed one day after the Islamic State released a video showing a beheading
of the 40-year-old Foley, with threats to kill a second hostage if Obama did
not call off airstrikes against militants in Iraq. The U-S responded with a new barrage of
airstrikes yesterday -- and it would not rule out a military operation in Syria
to bring those responsible for Foley's death to justice. Foley, a 1996 Marquette grad, will be honored
at a vigil on the Milwaukee campus next Wednesday.
12 Cases Melanoma
At least 12 people were found to
have melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, after they were screened
at last week's Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.
Over 600 people took advantage of screenings arranged by the National
Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic. Two dozen doctors joined ten farm center staffers and others in
conducting the tests, held at the state's largest farm show near Plover. Outreach specialist Tammy Ellis said the goal
is to make it as easy as possible for farmers to take advantage of the
screenings. She said some farmers had
not been screened for skin cancer since the last two Farm Technology shows in
Marathon County in 2011, and Clark County in 2005. Nationally, health experts say 76-thousand
new melanoma cases will be diagnosed this year -- and about 97-hundred people
will die from the disease.
Minutes To School
Students at Green Bay Preble High
School will stay in class 18 minutes longer this school year, to make up for a
two-week delay in starting the fall term.
A fire at the school this month caused the start of classes to be
delayed from September 2nd to the 15th. State law no longer requires schools to be in session for 180 days, but
they still have mandatory numbers of classroom hours. As a result, Preble says two minutes will be
added to each of nine periods during the day -- and school will be in session
from 7:30 a-m to 3:18 p-m. Also, Preble
students will be in class October 31st while other Green Bay students get the
day off. And they'll have full days
while other city schools get half-days. The recent fire caused smoke damage in the entire school, and fire
damage in the gym. Authorities said it
started when employees did not correctly dispose of rags used to re-surface the
Wisconsin gas prices are at their
lowest since mid-February. The
Triple-"A" says the statewide average is 3.46-a-gallon this morning
for regular unleaded. That's eleven-cents cheaper than a month ago, and
seven-cents less than on this date a year ago. Motorists in neighboring Minnesota are getting an even better deal. They're paying around 3.35, the lowest for an
August in the past decade. Gail
Weinholzer of Minnesota's Triple-"A" says crude oil prices have
stabilized, and the demand for gas has dropped this month. She and other experts predict that fuel
prices will keep falling, as we head into the Labor Day weekend eight days from
A fire killed dozens of cattle and
destroyed a barn in Barron County Monday morning.
A passerby spotted the blaze at
Dave and Tricia Yoder's farm between Almena and Barron around 4:30 a.m. The
Almena fire chief says the barn had already caved in when firefighters arrived.
The chief says 64 cows were
killed, and the barn was destroyed. One firefighter had minor injuries. The
cause is still being investigated, but is not considered to be suspicious.
The Mega Millions' jackpot is up
to 180-million dollars for Friday night.
That's after nobody won the top prize last night. No Wisconsin players won the million-dollar
second prize. Game officials did not
immediately release the numbers of Badger State players winning smaller
prizes. In the previous drawing last
Friday night, almost 21-thousand Wisconsinites won prizes ranging from
one-dollar to 500. Last night's numbers were 22, 39, 56, 67, and 71. The Mega Ball was 15, and the Megaplier was
four. Friday's Mega Millions jackpot is
the largest since March 18th, when players from Florida and Maryland split a
400-million-dollar prize. In Powerball,
the top prize is 60-million dollars for tonight.
A Milwaukee County sheriff's
captain is on desk duty, after being arrested for driving drunk in
Minnesota. Police in Red Wing said they
stopped 41-year-old Catherine Trimboli at 2:30 last Sunday morning because her
tail lights were off. Milwaukee sheriff's
officials said Trimboli flashed her badge to the officer, and asked that she be
let go as a "professional courtesy."
Her blood alcohol level was point-14 on a breath test -- almost twice
the legal limit of point-zero-eight. Red
Wing Police released her after she was booked on her first O-W-I offense, and
she faces a criminal misdemeanor charge in Minnesota. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said
asking for a pass aggravated an already-bad situation -- and she'll be dealt
with appropriately if she's convicted.
High A-C-T Scores
Wisconsin continues to have the
nation's second-best scores on the A-C-T college entrance exam. However, the results show that about half of
last year's seniors would struggle to succeed in a first-year college reading,
science, and math course. Wisconsin had
an average composite score of 22-point-two of a possible 36 on the A-C-T. That puts Wisconsin in sole possession of
second-place, after tying with Iowa a year ago. Minnesota continues to have the top scores on the A-C-T, which is the
predominant college entrance exam for Midwest colleges. Schools on both ends of the country mainly
use the S-A-T test. The A-C-T also
released benchmark scores that would give students a 75-percent chance of
getting a "C" or better in college courses, and a 50-percent chance
for a "B." One of every five
Wisconsin high school grads in May failed to reach any of the benchmarks on the
exam. Seventy-five percent met or
surpassed benchmarks in English -- but only around half did the same in
reading, math, and science. However, at
least ten-percent of the students were just a point-or-two short in reading and
science. The numbers of Wisconsin
youngsters taking the A-C-T have grown immensely. Seventy-three percent of the Class-of-2014
took the test, and the state is requiring it for all public high school
students next year.
Vending Beer ForBaseball
The way beer is regulated, you
might think it's impossible to buy it from vending machines. But baseball fans in Minneapolis are doing it
-- and the food vendor for the Milwaukee Brewers wants to offer it, too. Sports-Service Incorporated has filed an
application with Milwaukee's licensing division for the okay to install two
self-service beer vending units in Miller Park.
A city panel will consider the request next month. The idea of course, is to speed up purchases
for baseball fans so they can get back to the action on the field. Fans would go to a cash register, show I-D's,
and then buy cards for certain monetary amounts. Those cards would be scanned at the vending
machines, where buyers could choose the brands and amounts of beer that they
want. Monitors would be at the machines
to double-check I-D's and ban those who look like they've had
one-too-many. The Minnesota Twins were
reportedly the first Major League Baseball team to offer self-service beer, a
couple weeks before they hosted the All-Star Game in mid-July.
West Nile Season
August and September are when we
start seeing humans get the West Nile virus in Wisconsin -- but it hasn't
happened yet. State health officials
report no confirmed human cases this summer, and just one probable case --
which cropped up before the Fourth of July in Saint Croix County. Fifteen birds have come down with the
mosquito-borne West Nile this year. The
state has reported its first case of a horse getting the virus. State Veterinarian Paul McGraw said a
four-and-a-half year old mare became ill in Saint Croix County, and is now
recovering. That agency encourages horse
owners to vaccinate their animals for both West Nile and Eastern Equine
Encephalitis. Officials say West Nile kills about a third of the horses it
infects, while the encephalitis kills 90-percent of affected horses. State agriculture officials also advise
everyone to eliminate places where infected mosquitoes can breed -- like
buckets and old tires. They also suggest
keeping birdbaths clean and outdoor pools chlorinated.
Special Deer Hunt In
A special deer hunt begins in
early October for Wisconsin's disabled residents. The D-N-R is reminding those hunters that the
deadline to sign up is September first. Property owners are allowing the special hunt on 76-thousand acres in 44
counties throughout the Badger State.
Disabled hunters must enroll with a property owner -- and a list of
those owners, plus more information, are available on the D-N-R's Web site
accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov.
Ryan Book Out
Paul Ryan's new book is being
released today. In it, the former vice
presidential candidate from Janesville said the G-O-P is doomed to future
election defeats, unless it can expand its base beyond older white voters. Ryan's book is called "The Way Forward,
Renewing the American Idea." The House
Budget chairman is speculated to be a 2016 White House hopeful -- and a book is
normally what candidates put out a couple years in advance. Governor Scott Walker did the same thing
earlier this year. In calling for more
inclusion, Ryan is following the lead of Republican National Committee chairman
Reince Priebus from Kenosha -- who commissioned a study which reached the same
conclusions. Ryan's book cites his own
previous rhetoric as part of the problem.
He repudiated his previous claim that America is made up of "makers
and takers" -- the takers being those who get more from the government
than they put in. Ryan said a
constituent called him on it at the Rock County Fair, asking if a taker is the
person who lost a job and is on unemployment -- or a veteran who served in Iraq
and now gets his care through the V-A.
Ryan's book also discloses that his father had an alcohol problem before
Jet Ski Explodes
On Sunday, August 17th 2014, at
approximately 2:29 p.m., the Pierce County Sheriff's Office was notified of a
Jet Ski accident with injury on the Saint Croix River. A Jet Ski operated by
Scott D. Czaplewski, 50 years old from Eagan, Minnesota was traveling
northbound on the Saint Croix River when his Jet Ski started malfunctioning.
Czaplewski re-fueled the Jet Ski and after attempting to start the machine, the
Jet Ski exploded and propelled Czaplewski and his passenger Nichole Ashley
Montez, 20 years old from S. St. Paul, Minnesota into the air. Czaplewski was
uninjured in the explosion and Montez sustained injuries after she landed.
Montez was transported to River Falls Area Hospital by River Falls Area
Ambulance Service with undetermined injuries. The Pierce County Sheriffs Office
was also assisted by the River Falls Fire Department and the Washington County
Sheriffs Office. This accident is still under investigation by the Pierce
County Sheriff's Office.
Home Sales Lower In
Wisconsin Realtors sold fewer
homes in July than the same month a year ago -- but the average resale prices
kept going up. The Realtors' Association
said today that its members sold 72-hundred existing houses last month -- about
175 fewer homes than in June. The median
selling price was 158-thousand-700 dollars, almost two-and-a-half percent
higher than the previous July. Realtors'
home sales were down four-point-two percent for the first seven months of the
year, while median prices rose by almost three-percent. Steve Lane, who chairs the board of the
Wisconsin Realtors Association, said the market remains solid -- noting that
last year was extremely strong for home sales.
Home sales dropped the most in south central Wisconsin, at
six-and-two-thirds percent -- but the region also had the largest selling price
increase, at just over five-and-a-half percent. Association C-E-O Mike Theo said Midwest housing markets do not tend to
"overheat" like other parts of the nation -- and therefore prices
remain "on a more even keel."
Share Bucket List
Want to share your bucket
list? A Wausau-based funeral home chain
is giving folks in central Wisconsin the chance to share what they want to do
before they pass on. The
Peterson-Kraemer Funeral Home has a customized trailer with chalkboards on its
sides. It travels between five central
Wisconsin communities, giving folks a chance to write down their bucket
lists. It was inspired by an
international movement called "Before I Die." Artist Candy Chang was the first to put up a
chalkboard on an abandoned building in New Orleans, and asked everyone to share
their aspirations if they wish. Now,
dozens of countries have more than 525 similar walls. The Wausau Daily Herald says the local
"Before I Die" lists are part of the 100th anniversary of the
Peterson-Kraemer Funeral Home. Some of
the desires include "go to Canada and fly a kite," "visit Paris,"
and "love and be loved completely."
Wheel Tax Comeback
The local "wheel tax" is
making a comeback. At least a couple
places in Wisconsin are considering their own tax for each vehicle registered
within their boundaries, to help pay for road maintenance and repairs. The Chippewa County Board discussed the idea
of a wheel tax last week, in part to keep the roads clear of snow. The county highway department in Chippewa
Falls said snow removal is already a half-million dollars over its budget for
this year, due mainly to the long-and-hard winter. Appleton's finance committee endorsed a
20-dollar-a-year wheel tax last week, and it goes to the Common Council. The Appleton tax would not apply to larger
trucks and semis -- and it would partially eliminate special assessments for
major street work. The cities of
Milwaukee, Janesville, and Beloit collect annual wheel taxes, along with Saint
Croix County. They cost an average of
20-dollars per car.
The University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point plans to go tobacco-free this month.
Starting Aug. 25, no one will be
allowed to use tobacco on campus property, including parking lots and
sidewalks. UW-Stevens Point health officials say they want to encourage
healthier lifestyles. They say they'll help students quit using tobacco, including
counseling, free or reduced-cost nicotine replacement products such as nicotine
gum and prescription medication.
Tobacco use will be allowed in a
designated area at Treehaven, a UW-Stevens Point natural resources research
facility in Tomahawk, until the fall 2015. University officials say they
created the phase-in period to give organizations that rent the center ample
notice of the ban.
The university says more than 700
college campuses across the United States have banned tobacco.
Teacher Pay Issue
More Wisconsin public school
teachers will be paid according to their performance this fall. That's the apparent result of a new statewide
teacher evaluation system which takes effect in the coming school year -- plus
the near-elimination of collective bargaining as the state's Act-10 begins its
fourth year. Wauwatosa was among the
school districts approving the move toward the type of performance incentives
often seen in the private sector. The
Journal Sentinel says compensation in the 'Tosa schools will now be based on
the leadership roles teachers take, the levels of their professional
development, and incentive bonuses. Also, the district is flattening its pay scale by giving larger pay
raises to less-experienced teachers. Act-10
has caused school districts to be less reliant on previously-negotiated pay
plans that are based on mainly on experience and years of service. A few months ago, it was reported that some
teachers were getting higher salary offers to move to other districts --
something often seen among talented pros in the private sector.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
officials are searching for whoever is shooting federally protected raptors in
A spokeswoman for the service's
Midwest region tells (Wisconsin Rapids) Daily Tribune Media at least one osprey
and one barred owl were shot in Bayfield County in recent weeks. Both species
are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. She says the adult male osprey was shot in
the wing and was eventually euthanized.
Raptor Education Group director
Marge Gibson says an osprey chick jumped from a nest into traffic and died. The
mother's body was later found decomposing nearby. Gibson says orphaned chicks'
options are to starve in the nest or jump.
She says people usually shoot
osprey because they think birds are eating fish that people otherwise would
Wounds To Arm &
Last Thursday at approximately
7:18 p.m., the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a male
requesting an ambulance for “wounds.” The address was 8244N Ochu Road, Town of
Bass Lake. The caller would not give any medical information.
A Sawyer County deputy and
ambulance responded. A female was found inside the residence with gunshot
wounds to her arm and leg. EMS rendered aid and after statements made by the
male on scene, he was arrested and transported to the Sawyer County Jail.
The gunshot victim was transported
to a hospital, where she is in fair condition.
The crime scene was secured and
the incident is being investigated by the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office, with
assistance from the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigations and State
The investigation is ongoing.
The Mega Millions' jackpot is the
largest since March 18th. It's at
160-million dollars for tomorrow night, after nobody won the top prize on
Friday night and nobody from Wisconsin claimed the one-million-dollar second
prize. The jackpot is the largest since
players in Maryland and Florida split a 400-million dollar Mega Millions' prize
on March 18th. Tomorrow's cash option is
95-million dollars for a single winner who takes the whole prize now instead of
in yearly installments. In Powerball,
the top prize is at 60-million dollars for Wednesday night.
They were not acting. The six people who claimed in a Walker T-V
commercial that they got jobs during the Republican governor's term actually
did so. That was after the Walker camp
refused to identify the workers, and state Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate
called it a "phony" ad while wondering if any the workers' stories
were true. The Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel said it tracked down all four men and two women in Walker's campaign
ad -- and they did indeed found jobs in the Milwaukee region. The individuals, their employers, and public
records were all used to check them out.
Jobs are one of the hot-button issues in the governor's race, as Walker
touts the 100-thousand-plus job created in the past four years while his
challenger Mary Burke cites Wisconsin's slower-than-normal job growth. The paper said the six workers filmed the
commercial at an advertising agency in suburban Milwaukee. The Democratic Party's Tate says he won't
apologize. He said he was glad the six
people in question found jobs -- thousands of Wisconsinites do have share
similar success, including over a-thousand workers who lost their jobs in mass
layoffs in the past month alone.
Animal Matter Discharge
An official with the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources had reported four years ago of seeing a tanker
truck discharging animal matter within the Upper Rock River drainage
basin. The D-N-R official described
seeing decomposing animal matter, entrails and thousands of flies going into a
pit. That has resulted in a fine of
27-thousand-500 dollars for an animal food facility in Marshall. There were 14 claims against Bailey Farms,
which turns dead livestock into animal food. More violations were spotted by the D-N-R in 2012 and last year,
including an instance where pollutants ran from a storage facility to the
Three hikers, including at least
two from Wisconsin, were rescued while on a pilgrimage to a famous abandoned
bus in the Alaska wilderness. Forty-five
year old Thomas Young of Horicon, 29-year-old Matthew Peot of Milwaukee, and
Kenneth Young -- whose hometown was not disclosed -- were trying to get to the
dilapidated bus made famous by the book-and-movie "Into the
Wild." A State Patrol spokeswoman
said the group ran into high river water -- and they camped for a few days to
see if the water would get low enough to cross the river. Their journey ended when Thomas Young tripped
and hurt himself with an ax. His
injuries were minor. The incident
happened August sixth, but it was not publicized by the Alaska State Patrol
until Wednesday. It occurred about 180
miles north of Anchorage near the entrance to the Denali National Park and
Reserve. Authorities are often called
to help people hiking to the bus used in the film "Into the Wild" --
which chronicled the life of Alaskan hiker Chris McCandless who spent four
months living in the bus while on a hike there in 1992. He died on the bus from starvation.
Casino Revenue Drops
Wisconsin's only big-city casino
saw its gambling revenues drop by almost three-percent in the past year. According to figures from the Journal
Sentinel, the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee won just over 350-million dollars
from players during the year ending June 30th. It was the fourth straight year that the casino's gaming revenues were
either decreased or flat. Experts say
it's no surprise, since a gaming market that was once considered a popular
novelty has matured. The newspaper makes
an estimate based on payments made to the city and county of Milwaukee -- both
of which get one-and-a-half percent of the casino's net winnings after it makes
it its annual payment to the state. The
Potawatomi contends that its gaming revenues will drop even further if Governor
Scott Walker approves a proposed Hard Rock Casino and hotel for nearby Kenosha,
which the Menominee tribe wants to build. Supporters of the Kenosha project say it would tap into new markets not
served by any of Wisconsin's casinos.
The governor has until February to announce his decision, after the
federal government gave its blessing to the project a few months ago. Meanwhile, the Potawatomi is opening a large
hotel this month at its Milwaukee gaming house.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate went
up slightly in July. State labor officials
said today that the seasonally-adjusted jobless rate was five-point-eight
percent last month, one-tenth of a point higher than in June. The national unemployment rate for the month
also went up by a tenth, to six-point-two percent. Wisconsin's jobless rate is again lower than
the national figure -- just like it's been for most of the time since
1985. Also, the state gained an
preliminary total of 32-hundred private sector jobs during July. That figure often gets revised later on,
because it's based on only three-and-a-half percent of employers' activity.
Gypsy Moth Progress
Wisconsin has made a lot of
progress in fighting the leaf-killing gypsy moth -- so much so, that the D-N-R
wants to put its annual spraying program on hold. Wednesday in Hayward, the Natural Resources
Board ordered public hearings for later this year to de-activate the spraying
and keep it ready if needed. It's been
almost a decade-and-a-half since gypsy moths blew into the Badger State from
the eastern U-S. In 2004, the state
conducted aerial spraying on over 50-thousand acres to fight infestations. This year, the spraying was down to around 30
acres. The D-N-R's Andrea Diss-Torrance
says it's too early to declare victory in the war over the gypsy moth -- but a
lot of progress has been made, and the spraying has been effective. Also, officials say federal funding has been
greatly reduced to help with the eradication effort. Washington used to cover more than half of
spraying costs. That figure is now down
to 17-percent, as officials go after other threats like the tree-killing
emerald ash borer. The state Agriculture
Department also has spraying efforts to fight the gypsy moth, and those will
Where is summer?
What happened to summer? That's what folks in far northern Wisconsin
want to know. The mercury got to within
one degree of freezing overnight in Land O'Lakes, along the state's border with
Upper Michigan in Vilas County. It was
33 there at five o'clock, and just four degrees warmer two hours later. Overnight lows dropped into the 40's in most
of the northern half of the Badger State, but it was still in the relatively
comfortable 50's in the south. It
continues our relatively cool summer, where only a few places have seen 90
degrees in the aftermath of long hot spells in each of the last two years. The National Weather Service says a high
pressure system will move across the Badger State today -- bringing sunny
weather and highs a bit below normal in the 70's. It's supposed to get warmer and more humid
going into the weekend, with a chance for thunderstorms on Saturday.
U-W La Crosse will keep its Army
officer training program, after it was almost dropped. The Army said last October it would halt the
La Crosse R-O-T-C program and a dozen others by mid-2015 due to what it called
a "reduction of resources." School officials and politicians sprung into action, and they convinced
the military to give La Crosse a two-year probationary period last
November. At the same time, the Army
created a new metric scale to help evaluate its Reserve Officer Training Corps
programs. Under that scale, La Crosse
was required to commission at least 15 officers into the Army each year. They actually produced 15-point-three
officers over the past three years, thus giving La Crosse a reprieve at least until
2015 -- when the Army will evaluate the program again. La Crosse military science professor James
Hill said the "STEM" program has had a huge impact on his program's
ability to stay around. "STEM"
stands for science, technology, engineering, and math training.
No Root Problem
The state Justice Department says
there is no "root problem" with the program that fights Internet
crimes against children. That's after a
Milwaukee justice supervisor was let go, and one of his former agents quit,
when they got behind on over three dozen child pornography investigations. A special task force worked from March until
June to catch up with those cases.
Yesterday, the ex-Justice supervisor -- Willie Brantley -- settled a
complaint he filed with the state Employment Relations Commission, which
claimed he was wrongly terminated. He'll
get 75-hundred dollars to cover part of his legal fees. His release will officially be classified as
a retirement, so he can get unused vacation money, and unused sick leave to
help pay for his health coverage. Also,
the settlement called on Attorney General J-B Van Hollen to apologize for
calling Brantley a "rogue employee" in media interviews. Van Hollen issued a statement yesterday that
he regretted the term. He also used the
same words for the other agent involved, Anna King -- but the apology does not
apply to her.
Getting Rabies Shots
A 12-year-old girl from
Minneapolis is getting rabies shots, after she was attacked by an otter in
northwest Wisconsin. Media reports said
12-year-old Rory Kliewer was swimming with friends in Bone Lake near Luck, when
she climbed onto a dock and the otter bit her in the rear. The otter also struck Rory's head and
scratched her face. It then chased her
onto dry land, where a friend's mother and a dog distracted the otter. A family friend yelled at the otter until it
retreated. The family said the rabies
shots were meant to be a precaution. Rory tells the Saint Paul Pioneer Press she's not sure if she'll ever
swim in a lake again.
Turnout in Wisconsin's primary
election appears to have fallen below projections.
State election officials predicted
turnout would be 15 percent of the voting-age population. But based on
preliminary totals only 10 percent showed up to vote. Final totals won't be
known until early next week after all the votes are canvassed.
Four years ago when there were
competitive Republican and Democratic primaries for governor turnout was nearly
But this year there was no premier
statewide race to capture voters' attention. The biggest one was on the
Democratic side for attorney general where Susan Happ defeated two challengers.
Turnout is likely to be much higher
for the Nov. 4 general election in which Gov. Scott Walker faces Democratic
challenger Mary Burke.
Drug Arrest In
Several drug related charges are
pending against a Barron County man.
Lucas Lorentz, 30, was arrested by
Cameron Police Wednesday.
Officers stopped him for a minor
traffic violation. That's when they found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his
car. They say he also admitted to taking drugs before driving.
Several charges are pending
including possession of THC with intent to deliver, and operating a motor
vehicle while under the influence of drugs, second offense.
Minnesota authorities have released
the name of a man who drowned just before he could finish swimming across the
Saint Croix River and back. Chisago County sheriff's deputies said the body of
28-year-old Devin Johnson of Harris Minnesota was pulled from the water on
Saturday night near Rush City on the Minnesota side. Johnson swam across the Saint Croix to the
Wisconsin side, and was heading back when he drowned close to where he started.
Three Wisconsin legislative
incumbents survived primary challenges yesterday. G-O-P Assembly Speaker Robin
Vos had no problem defeating Bryn Biemeck 89-to-11 percent in their Racine
County contest. Milwaukee Democrat
JoCasta Zamarripa got 61-percent of the vote in her primary. And Milwaukee Representative Leon Young had
63-percent over his challenger.
A key state Senate race was
virtually tied during the night.
Democrats Ernie Wittwer and Pat Bomhack were just two votes apart in a
southwest Wisconsin primary with 76-hundred votes cast. Wittwer, a former D-O-T official, had a
slight two-vote lead over ex-Russ Feingold aide Bomhack. The eventual winner will face Assembly Republican
Howard Marklein in November for a Senate post in a moderate Richland Center
region where Dale Schultz is retiring. Democrats would need to gain that seat and one other this fall, in order
to take back control of the Senate and split legislative power with an Assembly
that's expected to stay Republican.
Former Assembly Speaker Mike
Sheridan failed to make a political comeback, finishing third-and-last in a
Democratic Senate primary. Assembly
Democrat Janis Ringhand won that contest with 40-percent of the vote, giving
her a chance to replace the retiring Tim Cullen. Another Assembly Democrat, Janet Bewley of
Ashland, easily won a three-way primary for the Senate seat given up by veteran
Bob Jauch of Poplar. Former Senate
Republican Van Wanggaard of Racine has a chance to win his old job back, after
winning his primary with 71-percent of the vote. And Tiffany Koehler of Slinger failed to
become the first African-American woman ever to represent the G-O-P in the
Legislature. She got 28-percent of the
vote, losing to Bob Gannon in a three-way primary.
The Mega Millions' jackpot goes up
to 144-million dollars for Friday night.
That's after no one claimed the top prize last night. Nobody around the country won the
million-dollar second prize, either. The
numbers of Wisconsinites winning smaller prizes were not immediately
available. Last night's numbers were 32,
53, 60, 63, and 68. The Mega Ball was
six, and the Megaplier was four. Friday's cash option is 84-million dollars. In Powerball, the jackpot is back at its
40-million dollar minimum for tonight. A
ticket sold in Colorado won a 90-million-dollar jackpot last Saturday night,
and players in Milwaukee and Plymouth each won the third prize of 10-thousand
Wisconsin voters have chosen Susan
Happ to run against Waukesha prosecutor Brad Schimel for state attorney
general. Happ, the Jefferson County
district attorney, received 52-percent of over 275-thousand votes in a
three-way Democratic primary yesterday. Milwaukee state Representative Jon Richards finished a distant second at
33-percent. Dane County D-A Ismael
Ozanne was third with 15-percent. November's winner replaces Republican J-B Van Hollen, who's stepping
down after eight years as the state's "top cop." Happ says the
primary results show that Wisconsin wants a "different kind of attorney
general." She said people are sick
of divisiveness and partisan politics. Schimel, who has almost four times the campaign money as Happ, says
voters would have a clear choice -- and he'll highlight his 24 years of what he
calls "an aggressive front-line prosecutor."
In other state contests,
five-of-every-six Democratic voters chose Mary Burke to run for governor
against Scott Walker. Assembly Democrat
Brett Hulsey lost with 17-percent of the vote. Racine Senator John Lehman will be Burke's running mate, with a ten-point
victory over Mary Jo Walters for lieutenant governor. Assembly Republican Garey Bies (byes) got
only one-of-every-three votes against Julian Bradley for secretary of
state. Bradley will run against
three-decade incumbent Doug La Follette for a job that's been dramatically
scaled back by lawmakers in recent years.
The same can be said for state treasurer, where Republican Matt Adamczyk
and Democrat David Sartori won their primaries.
World Agricultural Supply and
Demand Estimates on Tuesday raised the 2014 milk production estimate 100
million pounds to 206 billion pounds.
Citing lower feed costs, the outlook board predicts more cows and more
production per cow. They also raised the
2015 milk production estimate by 100 million pounds to 212.5 billion.
The average cheese price was
raised 1 to 2 cents from the July estimate now placed at between $2.05 and
$2.07 per pound. The projected butter
price average is 5.5 to 7.5 cents higher at between $2.04 and $2.08 per
pound. Nonfat dry milk and dry whey
prices nudged a little higher from the July estimate.
As a result, the Class III milk
price is now projected to be between $21.25 and $21.45 for 2014, a 15 to
25-cent increase over the July estimate.
The Class IV price estimate was raised 35 to 45 cents for August at
$22.35 to $22.45 per hundredweight. The
all milk price is projected to run between $23.55 and $23.75 for 2014 up 20 to
30 cents from a month ago. The 2015
Class III price was raised a nickel: $17 to $18 while Class IV was unchanged
from last month at $18.70 to $19.80 and all milk was unchanged at $19.75 to
Cooperatives Working Together
(CWT) has accepted 5 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of
America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, and Tillamook County Creamery
Association to sell 277,782 pounds of Cheddar cheese and 1.587 million pounds
of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and
South America. The product will be delivered August through December 2014.
Year-to-date, CWT has assisted
member cooperatives in selling 80.579 million pounds of cheese, 48.051 million
pounds of butter and 19.877 million pounds of whole milk powder to 43 countries
on six continents.
Light Sentence For
A 19-year-old Northfield man who
acknowledged sexually assaulting two underage girls has been sentenced to just
under a year in jail.
Michael L. Stucky Jr. has already
served the 361 days, so Monday's sentence meant his immediate release on 15
years of probation.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of
third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Stucky befriended a 15-year-old
girl on Facebook whom he didn't know, and they exchanged messages. She told
investigators he showed up at her home in August 2013 and began kissing and
stripping her despite her attempts to push him away.
Stucky said the sex was
He was also charged with sexually
assaulting a 13-year-old girl under similar circumstances four months earlier.
Defense attorney Nicholas Gegen
says the victims favored the plea agreement because it spared them from having
Wall That Heals
Three military memorial walls,
never presented together before, were formally escorted by more than 130
motorcycles on a 187-mile procession Tuesday.
"The Wall that Heals",
"The Wall of Remembrance" and the Canadian Vietnam Memorial Wall were
displayed in La Crosse Tuesday morning before traveling through cities
including Sparta, Tomah, and Wisconsin Rapids.
They were then brought to The
Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville last night where they will be
on display 24 hrs/day from today through
Show Starts Today
Wisconsin's largest annual farm
show begins today in Portage County.
Close to 80-thousand people are expected for Wisconsin Farm Technology
Days just east of Plover at the Blue Top and Feltz Family farms. The three-day show is being held a month
later than normal, to allow for unique field demonstrations. The show features the latest in farm
equipment and technology, plus numerous demonstrations and around 600 exhibitors
in a tent city. Pete Zakrzewski
(zahk-shess'-kee) of Blue Top said it took three years for the two farms
ready. He said crop rotation was the
most important thing, so visitors would not have to ride buses to see the
featured potato and vegetable operations. Harvest and tillage demonstrations will take place for potatoes, sweet
corn, carrots, snap-beans, cabbage, and peas.
Farm Technology Days highlights different types of farming operations at
different locations each year. Last
year's show took place near Dallas in Barron County. It will be in Dane County next year, and
Walworth County in 2016.
Rich Or Poor
All but a handful of Midwest metro
areas are mostly rich or mostly poor. That's according to a new study
commissioned by the U-S Conference of Mayors, which looked at income disparity
within the nation's 357 metros.
Milwaukee, Wausau, Fond du Lac, and Racine were among those having equal
balances of high-and-low income households. That means around a-third of families make more than 75-thousand dollars
a year -- another third makes less than 35-thousand -- and the rest are in the
middle. The report also said Fond du Lac
had the nation's second-highest percentage of middle-income households. Forty-two percent of them took in
35-to-75-thousand a year. The major
finding of the Mayors' report was that wage levels have yet to recover from the
recession, even though the economy regained the jobs that were lost. The Conference of Mayors said the average
wage of jobs lost in the recession was 61-thousand dollars a year -- while jobs
through June of this year average 47-thousand, or 23-percent less. The study said the nation's total income is
93-billion dollars less than it was before the recession hit in 2008.
Wedding Night In
A groom in Manitowoc spent his
wedding night in jail, for throwing a full mug of beer during an argument at a
tavern. Police said the 28-year-old man
from Two Rivers was celebrating his wedding on Saturday night, and was still
wearing his tuxedo, when he got into a loud spat at a bar. Officers said he threw a beer mug against the
wall, and almost hit a woman in the head -- and he was said to be abusive and
profane. The bar owner called police,
but the groom left before officers got there. They later found the groom, the bride, and others in a vehicle about one
a-m Sunday. The groom was booked in jail
for violating a previous probation. He
faces a possible charge of disorderly conduct.
New Colon Test
A Madison company has won federal
approval for the first colon cancer screening test that uses a patient's D-N-A
to spot deadly growths and tumors. The
Food-and-Drug Administration gave its approval yesterday to the Cologuard test
developed by the firm of Exact Sciences. It detects irregular mutations in stool samples that can show early
signs of cancer. Patients who test
positive for the mutations are encouraged to confirm the results with
colonoscopies. For years, doctors have
used stool tests to find pre-cancerous polyps.
Exact Sciences said its tests found 92-percent of colon cancers in
ten-thousand patients, while traditional screenings find 74-percent on
average. The F-D-A stressed that federal
medical advisers have not endorsed the D-N-A-based stool screening. It's also very expensive -- 599-dollars a
patient, compared to 25-dollars for traditional stool exams. Exact Sciences' C-E-O Kevin Conroy says the
cost for Cologuard is justified, saying that Americans spend 14-billion dollars
a year in treating colon cancer that goes undetected.
Primary Election Day
It's primary election day in
Wisconsin. The statewide contests have
not generated much excitement, and officials predict a 15-percent voter
turnout. The biggest item on the ballot
is a three-way Democratic primary for the open attorney general's post. Lawmaker Jon Richards and prosecutors Susan
Happ and Ismael Ozanne are running for a spot on the November ballot against
Republican prosecutor Brad Schimel. The
most hotly-contested primary has been for the open U-S House seat in eastern
Wisconsin, where four Republicans hope to replace retiring G-O-P incumbent Tom
Petri. State lawmakers Glenn Grothman,
Duey Strobel, and Joe Leibham are running, along with retired technical college
instructor Tom Denow. For governor,
Democrat Mary Burke faces long-shot opposition from Assembly Democrat Brett
Hulsey -- although Burke has ignored Hulsey and focused instead on trying to
beat Republican Scott Walker in November.
State Senate Democrat John Lehman and activist Mary Jo Walters are
running for their party's lieutenant governor nomination. There are also G-O-P primaries for state
treasurer and secretary-of-state -- but there's been little interest, after
lawmakers have stripped both jobs of virtually all their duties. There are also numerous primaries for state
Legislature and county offices. All
polls open at seven this morning and close at eight tonight.
A ticket sold in Colorado won the
90-million dollar Powerball jackpot over the weekend -- so the top prize goes
back to the starting point of 40-million for the next drawing on
Wednesday. Two Wisconsin players won the
third prize of ten-thousand-dollars each by matching four regular numbers plus
the Powerball. Almost 89-hundred tickets
in the Badger State won smaller prizes.
Saturday's numbers were 3, 12, 31, 34, and 51. The Powerball was 24, and the Power Play
multiplier was two. Meanwhile, the Mega
Millions' jackpot keeps rising. It's at
128-million dollars for tomorrow night, with a cash option of 75-million, after
nobody won the top prize on Friday night.
No Photo I-D
You will not need a photo I-D to
vote in tomorrow's Wisconsin fall primaries.
But A-C-L-U attorney Larry Dupuis is concerned about possible confusion
by voters, because of the July 31st State Supreme Court ruling which upheld the
I-D requirement. That ruling cannot take
effect because a federal judge had earlier ruled the photo I-D mandate as
unconstitutional. The state's appealing
that, and is trying to put the federal judge's ruling on hold so I-D's would be
required in November. Dupuis said one of
the A-C-L-U's own clients is confused about the status of the I-D law. However, the League of Women Voters has
joined local and state election officials in sending out information to make it
clear that voters won't need to show photo I-D's tomorrow. State Government Accountability Board
director Kevin Kennedy says most voters bring their I-D's with them
anyway. Only a 15-percent turnout is
expected, and Kennedy says primary voters are generally those who pay lots of attention
to the process. The biggest items on the
ballot is a three-way Democratic primary for attorney general, and a four-way
G-O-P primary for the Sixth District U-S House seat.
A number of trail projects
underway and in development will allow many more riders to bike between
Minnesota and Wisconsin.
A multimillion-dollar loop trail
will be built in the next few years, connecting the two states with nearly 5
miles of paved trail as part of the new St. Croix River bridge project.
The project also has sparked
action in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, to create the county's first extensive
trail system, which would connect ultimately to St. Paul.
Dave Mandel, chair of the St.
Croix Bike & Pedestrian Trail Coalition, says exactly what a St. Croix
County trail system would look like remains unclear, but a network that
connects communities like Hudson, New Richmond, Somerset and North Hudson is
being looked at
For the first time, three
traveling memorial walls will be on display together at the Highground
Veterans' Memorial in central Wisconsin -- and a bus trip is being organized
from Wausau to help veterans see them.
The mini-version of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington has
been at the Highground several times. It
will appear again next week along with the Canadian Vietnam memorial wall, and
the 9-11 Wall of Remembrance which is making its first stop in Wisconsin. They'll all be at the Highground near
Neillsville from next Wednesday through Sunday. Area veterans' groups are also funding a free motor-coach trip from
Wausau a week from today. The
Highground's Theresa Hebert says the ride will provide fellowship among vets,
as well as giving them a unique chance to see the three memorials
together. Veterans can sign up for the
bus trip by contacting the Wausau Veterans Center.
Wisconsin's latest round of tax
cuts could make our state less open for business. W-S-A-U Radio in Wausau says local
governments are getting less property tax money for tax incremental financing
districts -- which provide additional revenues for things like streets that
directly serve new-and-growing businesses within those districts. State Assembly Democrat Mandy Wright of
Wausau says it's an unintended consequence from the tax cut bill passed in
March, which included an extra 400-million dollars from a state budget surplus
to replace property tax payments for technical colleges. The village of Weston, near Wausau, expects
to lose 175-thousand dollars a year for streets-and-utilities which are
designed to help business. Wausau itself
expects to lose a little less, at 164-thousand.
Wright voted against the tax cut package, as did all legislative
Democrats except for two in the Assembly. But at least one Republican who voted for the measure is not happy,
either. Senator Jerry Petrowski of
Marathon says he likes the benefits for taxpayers, but he agrees the latest
change is putting a squeeze on local governments. He says he'll ask the Legislative Audit
Bureau to look into the matter, and find out how many people and financing
districts are affected statewide.
Car Love Continues
If you think Wisconsinites don't
love their cars anymore, you might be wrong as new state figures show that
driving's on the upswing. The D-O-T estimates
that motorists drove 59-and-a-half billion miles in the Badger State last year
-- about 400-million more miles than in 2012. Officials say our growing population is one reason -- along with higher
commercial traffic as the economy continues to rebound from the Great
Recession. The travel estimates are
based on statewide fuel consumption data, average vehicle gas mileage, and
traffic counts. Officials said the
average Wisconsinite traveled around 10-thousand-350 miles in a motor vehicle
last year. Lots of us were driving less
during the recession. Advocacy groups
said it was because younger Americans preferred alternatives to driving -- like
public transit and bike paths. Back
then, the U-S Public Interest Research Group said Milwaukee area drivers had
reduced their car usage by 20-percent from 2006-through-'11. Madison had an
18-percent traffic drop during that time.
Two years ago, Oneida County ended
its consideration of mining in far northern Wisconsin. Now, a committee wants to know if it's legal
to hear a proposal from a company interested in exploring zinc and other
minerals at a site near Tripoli (triple-eye). The county's forestry panel voted 3-to-2 to ask the corporation counsel
whether it's proper to invite an engineer from Carolina Gold Resources to make
a presentation. Just the mere mention of
the idea attracted a packed meeting room. It triggered an hour-long debate which brought back some of the emotions
and issues -- many of which involved the county-owned site where the new
proposal follows years of meetings over mining there. The site is about a mile from the Willow
Flowage in the town of Lynne. Several
mining opponents in the audience said the new proposal goes against the County
Board's wishes from 2012. A couple of
panel members said they should hear the company out. One mining opponent said the County Board
missed opportunities to hear about the dangers of the practice -- and he said
an open public debate was cut off prematurely.
Eau Claire 4th Best
Forbes makes it official: it just
doesn't get any better than Eau Claire, Wisconsin... well, almost. Out of 536
cities, we are ranked number four on the Forbes list of the best cities for a
healthy work-life balance.
The list comes from a report by
personal finance site Nerdwallet. It looks at the hours worked by full-time
employees in the country's 500 largest cities. It also looks at commute time,
income, and the cost of living to determine the cities with the best chance at
a healthy work-life balance.
The list says the average
full-time employee in Eau Claire works 33.8 hours a week. Their mean travel
time to work is 16.1 minutes. The median earnings for Eau Claire are $35,099
and the median rent is $851.
Bloomington, Indiana was ranked
first, while Dale City, Virginia was ranked dead last.
Police have arrested a man in
Chippewa County and charged him with his 8th OWI
The criminal complaint says
45-year-old David Ogorzalek was pulled
over on July 24th, when police saw him crossing the centerline on HWY 27 in
He was given a field sobriety and
Breathalyzer test, and blew a .177, more than twice the legal limit.
If convicted, Ogorzalek could face
10 years in prison.
A second person has died from a
lightning strike in northeast Wisconsin.
Oconto County authorities said yesterday that 31-year-old Christopher
Wold of Morgan died from his injuries. That was after 27-year-old Brad Cox of Abrams was found electrocuted at
the scene. Authorities said the two were
building a tree-house for a youngster when heavy thunderstorms rolled through
last Sunday night. Cox was found in the
tree house, and Wold fell to the ground.
Wisconsin's job creation agency is
inviting businesses on a foreign trade mission this fall. The state's Economic Development Corporation
will lead a trip to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Turkey November first-through-11th. Officials say companies could find new
business opportunities in those countries in the fields of manufacturing,
infra-structure, food, energy, aerospace, and medical equipment. The W-E-D-C says it will provide briefings on
each nation, and would arrange one-on-one meetings for businesses to recruit
foreign partners. The registration
deadline is August 29th. More
information is available on the Economic Development Corporation's Web site,
accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov.
Girl & Baby
A 17-year-old girl and her
nine-month-old daughter from Minnesota have been found safe at Hudson in
western Wisconsin -- and the teen's father is under arrest. Police in Brooklyn Center, near Minneapolis,
said the girl and her baby were missing from foster care last Saturday. Police said the 17-year-old's father was
arrested on a warrant that suspected him of assaulting the teen. Residents provided tips which led to the
girls' discovery this morning in Hudson. Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had issued an alert about
More Ash Borer Found
The tree-killing emerald ash borer
continues to rear its head in new places throughout Wisconsin. State agriculture officials said today that
the green beetle was discovered in Adams County for the first time, and at
Merrick State Park along the Mississippi River near Fountain City. Officials said an adult beetle was found in a
trap July 22nd along Lake Petenwell along the border between Adams and Juneau
counties. In Buffalo County, the ash
borer was spotted in a trap between a boat landing and the Merrick park nature
center. Adams, Juneau, and Buffalo
counties are being added to the quarantine list, bringing the total to 32 since
the emerald ash borer was first confirmed in Wisconsin in 2008. No one can move firewood from quarantined
counties to those which are not quarantined. Ash products cannot be shipped to non-quarantined counties unless
they're certified by the state as being pest-free.
Air Show Success
Over a half-million people attended
last week's E-A-A Air-Venture Show in Oshkosh.
Organizers said yesterday that the total crowds were up five-to-six
percent from last year -- and they were up 20-percent for this past weekend,
when the Air Force Thunderbirds made their Oshkosh debut. E-A-A chairman Jack Pelton said the aircraft
parking and camping areas were full for the first time in several years. More than ten-thousand planes flew into
Wittman Airport for the week-long gathering. The numbers of show-planes, around 26-hundred, were up by more than
ten-percent. Visitors from 69 countries
attended. Pelton says the planning is
already underway for the 2015 E-A-A. He
said aircraft innovator Burt Rutan wants to return, and the soon-to-be-restored
B-29 "Doc" aircraft is expected to appear during what will be the
70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
Wisconsin gas prices continue to
take their biggest plunge of the summer.
The Triple-"A" said the statewide average for regular unleaded
was 3.46-a-gallon this morning. That's
four cents cheaper than a week ago, and 22-cents less than at this time in July. Gregg Laskoski of GasBuddy-Dot-Com says the
price cuts should continue at a slower pace over the next few weeks, as
supplies remain high. Laskoski expects
larger declines after the middle of September.
Most folks have their vacations done by then, and refineries will start
switching to winter grades of fuel.
Resigns Over Prostitution
A public school teacher in Wausau
has resigned, after he and six others were ticketed under a new city ordinance
aimed at discouraging prostitution.
Police said the men were caught in an online sting last month, in which
officers posed as prostitutes to catch those who were seeking their
business. The new ordinance allows police
to give out two-thousand-dollar tickets, instead of filing criminal
charges. Officials did not publicly
identify the men. One of them wrote a
letter of resignation to the Wausau School District yesterday, and the School
Board will act on it next Monday.
Superintendent Kathleen Williams said the safety of students was not put
at risk by the teacher.
A new report says Wisconsin
counties and towns are being shortchanged on state highway funding -- and it's
causing real problems in maintaining local roads. The Wisconsin Towns Association says the
local share of state road aids dropped from 36-percent in 1993, to 24-percent
in the current state budget which ends in mid-2015. The group's attorney, former state Senator
Tom Harnisch, said he found a trend over the past several years -- in which the
state has shifted funds from local roads to state highways and facilities,
mainly in urban areas. Harnisch says one
reason is the state's tighter taxing limits on local governments, which has
made it harder to spend money on upgrading roads. In the meantime, he says rural Wisconsin is
"becoming industrialized" -- and many rural roads were never designed
to handle the increases in logging, frac-sand mining, and agricultural
activities. Harnisch's report comes as
state D-O-T officials consider ways to raise more revenue for highways and
other forms of transportation.
Get Cargo Moving
Millions of dollars of cargo
remain at a standstill on the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin -- but
officials hope to get the barges moving again by the weekend. The Army Corps of Engineers says at least 350
barges are stuck north of Winona Minnesota, while crews remove large deposits
of sediment that accumulated from a late thaw and heavy rains over the spring
and summer. Steve Tapp of the Army Corps
said four dredges and two other crews were brought in to clear out massive
sediment deposits, which are being placed onto boats and carried to shore. Experts say the delays are dangerously close
to the grain harvest season -- when the barges will be needed to carry corn,
soybeans, and wheat down to the Gulf of Mexico for exporting. Retired Minnesota economics professor Jerry
Fruin says it's got people on "pins and needles" due to the enormity
of the grain crop. Dredging is always a
part of the maintenance work on the Mississippi, but Tapp says this year's
cleanups are by far the biggest he's seen in his 25 years on the river.
Nobody won the Mega Millions'
jackpot last night, so it goes up to 115-million dollars for the next drawing
on Friday. Only four players claimed the
one-million dollar second prize by matching all the numbers except the Mega
Ball. Three of those winners were in
California, and one in neighboring Michigan. The numbers of Wisconsin players with smaller prizes were not
immediately available. Last night's
numbers were 25, 28, 36, 45, and 53. The
Mega Ball was six, and the Megaplier was five. Friday's cash option is just under 67-million dollars. In Powerball, the top prize is at 80-million
dollars for tonight.
U-W Madison received a record
number of freshman applications for this fall -- almost 30-thousand-500. Just under 15-thousand were offered
admission, for a rate of 47-and-a-half percent. Wisconsin residents will be well-represented in the freshman class. About 37-hundred Badger State freshmen are
expected at Madison. That's down
slightly from last year's total of 38-hundred-43, which was the largest
Wisconsin freshman contingent in 12 years. These numbers don't reflect the final enrollment totals, since growing
numbers of students apply at more than one college or university. Still, undergraduate recruitment director
Adele Brumfield said it's exciting to have so many of Wisconsin's best and
brightest attend the state's largest campus
A father and son who run a large
potato farm in northern Wisconsin have been put on probation for the poisoning
deaths of two bald eagles and around 70 other wild animals. Alvin Sowinski and his 46-year-old son Paul
of Sugar Camp in Oneida County were found to have used the insecticide
Carbofuran to kill the wildlife. Both
were placed on a year of federal probation. Alvin Sowinski must also spend four months under home confinement, and
pay a 30-thousand dollar fine and 100-thousand in restitution. Both Sowinskis agreed to pay the same
restitution when they struck a plea deal in February. Paul was fined ten-thousand dollars, and his
sporting privileges were taken away for five years. His father lost his hunting, fishing, and
trapping privileges for seven years. Federal and state officials started investigating the Sowinskis in 2007,
when a warden found numerous dead animals on the site. Authorities said at least two bald eagles
were poisoned between 2007 and 2010 along with nine coyotes, a bobcat, and
dozens of ravens and other birds. Officials also said both Sowinskis allowed hunters and trappers to kill
predators, to make deer and grouse hunting better for their friends. It all happened on an eight-thousand acre
potato operation in which half was actively being farmed.
More Files Public
Thirty-four more files will be
made public this month from the John Doe investigation into the recall
elections of Governor Scott Walker and G-O-P state senators. The federal appeals court in Chicago said
yesterday it would release 34 electronic files two weeks from today, barring
last-minute motions to keep them secret. The release is connected with a federal lawsuit from the Wisconsin Club
for Growth, which sought to halt the two-year-old John Doe probe while alleging
that prosecutors were violating the group's free speech rights. Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa agreed
in May, and halted the John Doe. Prosecutors appealed. Last
Friday, they again claimed that they were immune from the lawsuit, and
therefore the probe should resume. Randa
rejected the immunity argument earlier.
A number of files from the John Doe were released a few weeks ago. They included a prosecutor's theory that Walker
and top Republicans illegally coordinated the 2011-and-'12 recall elections
with the help of a dozen outside groups.
Walker denies any wrongdoing.
Deep Lake Death
Authorities said the death of a
Twin Cities' area man in Wisconsin's deepest inland lake appears to be an
accident. The Jackson County sheriff
said 50-year-old Jeffrey Carstensen of Maple Grove Minnesota was taking scuba
diving lessons on Sunday when the incident occurred in Lake Wazee near Black
River Falls. Rescuers said they were
called for a medical emergency -- and they tried to resuscitate Carstensen but
he died later at a hospital. At last
word, an autopsy on the victim was started but was not yet complete. Lake Wazee is located in a former iron mining
pit, and it's up to 355-feet deep. It's
said to be popular among divers because of its overall depth.
Wisconsin is the only state where
life expectancy rates for whites and blacks grew further apart since 1990. In a new study published in the Health
Affairs Journal, scientists found that white men in the Badger State lived an
average of seven-point-nine years longer than blacks in 2010. That gap grew from seven-point-seven years in
1990. For Wisconsin women, the gap grew
even larger. White women lived
six-point-four years longer than blacks in 2010, up from four-point-nine years
two decades ago. Nationally, life
expectancy differences dropped between the races over the 20 years of the study
by over two-and-a-half years for men and a year-and-a-half for women. National life expectancy gaps have been
figured for some time -- but this is the first time that states were
examined. The figures were obtained
using death certificates and Census data. U-W public health professor Geoffrey Swain said one reason for
Wisconsin's gap is that the state is the worst in the country for the general
well-being of African-American youngsters.
That was according to the annual "Kids Count" survey released
last month. Swain and U-W Milwaukee
expert David Pate said the gaps could be improved with more study. Pate says Wisconsin needs to have a
"real conversation" about this "without pointing
Tribe To Try Again
Wisconsin's Chippewa Indians will
try again next month to convince the federal courts to let them hunt deer at
night. The northern Wisconsin tribes
have appealed Federal Judge Barbara Crabb's rejection of their latest request
for night-time deer hunting. The D-N-R
says it's not safe, while the Chippewa said the state allowed wolf hunters to
shoot at night during their inaugural season in 2013. A federal appellate panel in Chicago plans to
hear arguments in the case on September 16th.
Loons in northern Wisconsin are
having enough problems surviving, without boaters trying to chase them
down. A Crystal Lake Illinois was cited
last week for allegedly using his personal watercraft to chase both adult and
baby loons on Deer Lake near Tomahawk. A
D-N-R warden said the mother loons and their babies appeared to escape the
incident unharmed. But the same couldn't
be said for their alleged pursuer. The
D-N-R gave him a citation for harassing wildlife, and Lincoln County sheriff's
deputies cited him for not having a boater's safety certificate. Northern Wisconsin loons have had trouble
with growing numbers of black flies this year. One expert said in June that 70-percent of nesting loons in north
central Wisconsin have been forced to leave their eggs behind.
More thunderstorms are in the
forecast through this evening -- especially in central and southern
Wisconsin. The National Weather Service
says small hail, gusty winds, and heavy rains can be expected. Another hail-storm hit northeast Wisconsin
last night. One-inch hail fell near
Argonne in Forest County. Once the
storms clear out, only isolated sprinkles are predicted for tomorrow in the far
south. Otherwise, the Weather Service
says it will stay dry for the rest of the week, with mostly normal
temperatures. Highs are supposed to be
in the 70's to near 80, with lows mostly in the 50's. A few 40's are possible in the north tonight.
Brat Eating Champ
Travis Mizejewski of Amery is the
new brat-eating champion in Sheboygan.
He downed 18 sausages in ten minutes over the weekend at Sheboygan's
annual Brat Days Festival. Mizejewski
broke a possible tie by woofing down his final bratwurst in the final 15
seconds. A year ago, the 34-year-old
Mizejewski finished second to Bobby Smith of Racine, by a count of
20-to-17. Smith did not return to defend
his title, which gave Mizejewski an opening.
He won 500-dollars and a year's supply of Johnsonville Sausage. He also won 500-dollars for a charity of his
choice. He gave it to the Sheboygan
Neighbors Against Drugs program.
A Minnesota man killed in a
two-vehicle crash in western Wisconsin has been identified as 77-year-old Roger
Beyer of Buffalo. Monroe County
sheriff's deputies said Beyer's car crossed a center line and collided head-on
with another vehicle. Another oncoming
driver swerved to avoid Beyer's car, and it landed in a ditch. A ten-year-old boy was badly injured in the
Beyer auto. He was hospitalized in
critical condition at last word. The crash
happened Saturday in the town of Byron northeast of Tomah. Meanwhile, a motorcyclist was killed on
Saturday near Siren in far northwest Wisconsin.
The State Patrol said 58-year-old Jerry Barker of Siren died after his
bike left Burnett County Trunk "B" and landed in a field. That mishap is still being investigated.
The Mega Millions' jackpot is at
100-million dollars for tomorrow night -- the first time it's been in the
triple-digits since May 20th. Nobody won
the top prize on Friday night, and nobody from Wisconsin won the game's
second-prize of a million dollars. The
numbers of Wisconsinites winning smaller prizes have not been disclosed
yet. The current jackpot is the biggest
since a ticket in Pennsylvania won 149-million-dollars in late May. Tomorrow's cash option is 57-million
dollars. In Powerball, the jackpot is at
80-million dollars for that game's next drawing on Wednesday night. Just over 85-hundred Wisconsin players won
prizes on Saturday night ranging from four-dollars to 200.
Last Thursday the Polk County
Sheriff's Office was advised of a one-vehicle rollover accident on 70th Ave.
east of 150th Street in Garfield Township. The initial caller indicated that
one person had been thrown from the vehicle.
Deputies found that Jamie Lynn
Martinson, 27, of Amery, was westbound
on 70th Ave., when she failed to negotiate a curve and left the north side of
the roadway. Martinson over corrected
and lost control of the vehicle and rolled into the north ditch of 70th Ave.
She was not wearing a seatbelt and
was ejected from the vehicle. Attempts were made to revive Martinson at the
scene by Amery Ambulance and Life Link III air ambulance crews, but those
attempts were unsuccessful and Martinson passed away at the scene.
A passenger, Crystal M. Carlson,
29, also of Amery, sustained minor
injuries that did not require medical attention at the scene.
Amery Ambulance and Garfield Fire
Department, along with Life Link III air ambulance assisted with the crash.
Speed and alcohol appear to be
contributing factor in this crash, which remains under investigation by the
Polk County Sheriff's and Medical Examiners Offices. This is Polk County's 5th
fatal crash of 2014, and has resulted in 6 deaths.
Looking For Work
The closing of the Cargill meat
packaging plant in Milwaukee leaves 600 workers looking for a job. Others are
forced into early retirement. The
company blames a national beef shortage. Of Cargill’s 13 operations in Wisconsin, only two were beef packaging
facilities. The company has promised to
try to help those workers find a new job, but for those who want to remain in
Wisconsin and continue to work for Cargill, the options will be limited
Vote For Vets Bill
Both Wisconsin senators voted for
a bill aimed at helping veterans avoid long waits for health care. The 16-billion dollar compromise legislation
passed the U-S Senate Thursday night after clearing the House. The measure will fix many of the problems at the
scandal-plagued Veterans Administration.
Democrat Tammy Baldwin says she is pleased by a provision adding
15-hundred graduate medical education residents to the V-A Health Service. The bill will let veterans go to private
doctors if they live more than 40 miles from the V-A facility, or are told they
face a wait of more than 14 days.
A woman's body was found Thursday
in a crash that went undiscovered for more than 12 hours.
Penny Shockman, from Cumberland,
died when her car left Highway 48 near Cumberland and hit some trees. The state patrol says a neighbor heard what
sounded like a crash around 7 p.m. Wednesday night. They called to report it late Thursday
morning, and the wrecked car was found a short time later. Troopers say the
wreck was not easily visible from the highway.
Authorities are still
investigating whether Shockman suffered a medical problem causing her car to
leave the road.
A new survey of Wisconsin small
business owners shows they give the state a C- when it comes to how friendly
the state is to their operations.
The survey, taken by Thumbtack.com
and the Kauffman Foundation, asked small business owners to grade the state in
a number of categories including taxes, licensing, ease of starting a business
Wisconsin scored highest in the
category of health and safety, receiving a grade of A-. The state scored a low grade of D+ for both
its tax code and training and networking programs.
The survey has already become an
issue in the race for Governor.
Mary Burke's campaign released a
statement today saying the survey is yet one more example of how Gov. Scott
Walker's economic plan is not working for Wisconsin.
"As a former entrepreneur
herself, and a mentor to a thriving small business, Mary Burke knows the
challenges facing entrepreneurs and is committed to making Wisconsin one of the
best states in the country for innovative entrepreneurship and new business starts
- critical drivers of job growth," said Joe Zepecki, Burke campaign
But the Walker campaign fired
back, saying the numbers are on their side in this fight.
"Governor Walker has improved
Wisconsin's business climate and 96 percent of employers surveyed by the
statewide chamber of commerce say Wisconsin is heading in the right
direction," said Alleigh Marre, a spokesperson for the Walker campaign.
A Mother In
The Air Force Thunderbirds will
make their Oshkosh debut today, at the climax of the daily air show at the
E-A-A's Air-Venture. For the first time,
a mother will be part of the performance team, River Falls native Caroline Jensen. The 37-year-old Air Force major calls it a
"dream come true" to perform at the E-A-A. Jensen said she watched the Thunderbirds
perform in Eau Claire as a teenager -- and it triggered her dreams to become an
Air Force fighter pilot. Before joining the
Thunderbirds, Jensen was an instructor and an assistant flight commander for
the Air Force reserves at a base in Texas.
She'll fly the Number-Three plane during the performances, which take
place each day through Sunday in Oshkosh.
One Challenge Left
One legal challenge remains to
Wisconsin's Act-10 public union bargaining limits -- and the plaintiffs'
argument is similar to what the State Supreme Court rejected yesterday. The Law Enforcement Association, made up of
state police officers, will decide in the coming week whether to keep pursuing
its challenge. That was after the
justices upheld Act-10 on a 5-to-2 vote.
Madison attorney Lester Pines, who represented the unions involved in
yesterday's decision, said the challenges to Act-10 are basically
exhausted. Justice Patrick Crooks wrote
that he was obligated to uphold the union restrictions, even though they
departed from the state's strong labor traditions. In Crooks' words, "The damage to public
employee unions due to Act-10 was unnecessary." Still, Crooks found nothing unconstitutional
about it. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley
wrote that public workers had their freedom of association diluted. Justice Michael Gableman disagreed, saying
unions still have a right to whatever cases they can make in public forums --
but the government is under no obligation to listen.
Question Rail Use
Four Democratic state lawmakers
have asked federal regulators to investigate possible reductions of coal being
shipped by trains to Wisconsin power plants. Ashland Representative Janet
Bewley says an increase in the shipping of North Dakota crude oil by railroads
is coming at the expense of lower coal shipments. Bewley and three other northern Wisconsin
Democrats want the federal government to make sure the Burlington
Northern-Santa Fe can distribute its trains to satisfy all the markets and as
she put it, "not simply the one they choose -- which is oil right
now." Bewley fears that a shortage
of coal will leave power plants unable to meet their demand for power this
winter -- thus creating higher prices like propane users saw during a shortage
last winter. Burlington Northern denies
it's putting crude oil customers ahead of its others. It's also seeing gradual improvements for
customers along its northern tier, with more workers and more locomotives in
A man who died after he was hit by
a train in Marshfield was the brother of a woman killed by her ex-boyfriend
almost two years ago. Police are
continuing to investigate George Humphrey's death. His father, George McCullough, tells the
Marshfield News-Herald he believes the 21-year-old Humphrey was walking home
while wearing headphones -- and he was trying to beat the train. It happened early Wednesday at a crossing
next to the Highway 13 expressway. Humphrey died at the scene. His
18-year-old sister, Maisie McCullough, had her throat slit by her ex-boyfriend
Gabriel Campos in September of 2012.
Campos was given a life prison term, but he's eligible for a supervised
release in about 40 years when he turns 62.
With the train death, George McCullough says he's grieving another
Photo I-D Still Hot
State Attorney General J-B Van
Hollen still wants to make Wisconsinites show photo I-Ds before they can vote
in November -- and he believes yesterday's State Supreme Court ruling will
help. The justices upheld the legality
of the state's voter I-D requirement passed by Republicans in 2011 -- but
Federal Judge Lynn Adelman struck down the law earlier this year. The state's appealing that, and Van Hollen
says he's looking at all options to put the federal ruling on hold so voters
will have to show I-D's this fall. The
federal case is currently before the federal appeals court in Chicago, and a
decision there is not expected by November. Van Hollen said the state court's decision should bolster a defense of
the I-D law in the federal courts.
Republicans passed the voter I-D mandate in 2011. It's been used only once, in February of
2012, after various judges struck it down while claiming it discourages
minorities and others from voting.
Wisconsin public school and local
government employees were dealt a blow this morning by the State Supreme Court. On a 5-to-2 vote, the justices threw out
previous rulings from Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas -- who said that the
Act-10 public union bargaining limits did not apply to local and school unions. It was among several lawsuits which
challenged the constitutionality of Act-10, Governor Scott Walker's signature
legislation from 2011 which banned collective bargaining except for pay raises
at-or-above inflation. Today's ruling
was the final one pending in the state and federal courts -- and Republicans
won them all. They can now claim full
victory over preserving Act-10, as Walker and most G-O-P lawmakers run for
re-election this fall. After massive
protests in 2011, Walker was put up for recall the following year over Act-10
-- and he became the first governor in U-S history to survive such an
effort. Today's ruling could also put a
feather in Walker's cap nationally, where conservatives regard him as a hero
for taking on public unions. Therefore,
today's ruling could be a boost to Walker's possible presidential bid for
2016. Democratic challenger Mary Burke
recently said she would try to restore many of the bargaining aspects of
Act-10, while leaving the higher employee health and retirement contribution
requirements in place.
There's a major ownership change
involving Wisconsin's largest media company.
Journal Communications of Milwaukee and the Scripps Company of
Cincinnati have agreed to merge their radio-and-T-V operations -- while
spinning off their 14 newspapers into a separate public entity. The newspaper branch will be called the
Journal Media Group, and will be based in Milwaukee where the state's largest
newspaper -- the Journal Sentinel -- is located. The paper's community and digital products
will be part of the new group, along with Scripps products which include the
Memphis Commercial Appeal. Scripps will
control the broadcast side from Cincinnati.
That group will include W-T-M-J Radio and T-V in Milwaukee, plus other stations
in 26 U-S markets. It will become the
nation's fifth-largest T-V group.
Journal C-E-O Steve Smith will stay on as the non-executive chairman of
Journal Media. He says both companies
see the move as a great "cultural fit" with great value. Scripps senior vice president Tim Stautberg
becomes the C-E-O of Journal Media, as well as a director. Scripps C-E-O Richard Boehne remains in that
role. Boards of both companies have
okayed the deal. Stockholders and regulators
must still give their blessing. Scripps
shareholders would get 69-percent of the combined broadcasting group, and
59-percent of Journal Media. Journal
stockholders would get the rest. Scripps
stockholders also get a total of 60-million dollars in cash dividends. The changes are expected to be finalized next
Decisions due this
Voters, public employees, and
same-sex couples will all be affected by three major rulings due out this
morning by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The justices will announce long-awaited legal opinions on three of the
state's most controversial laws from recent years -- the photo I-D requirement
for voting, the domestic partner registry, and the Act-10 public union
bargaining limits. Madison attorney
Lester Pines says he cannot remember a single day with so many momentous
rulings -- and he's been around for over three decades. Former State Supreme Court Justice Janine
Geske (guess-kee) says it's a sign that the court remains divided. She says there's more
"back-and-forth" in those complex cases. The justices will decide whether Act-10 --
which was passed amid heavy protests three years ago -- applies to public
school and local government employees. The law allows negotiations only for pay raises at or below inflation,
with tighter requirements for union certifications and no obligation by
non-union members to help cover union dues.
No matter what happens today, state employees will remain under
Act-10. The voter I-D law has already
been struck down by a federal court.
Today, the state justices will rule on two cases in which circuit judges
struck down the I-D requirement, saying it disenfranchises certain voters. The domestic partner registry gives same-sex
couples about 40-percent of the legal benefits of married couples. Family advocates say it violates the 2006 ban
on gay marriage -- the future of which is now in the federal courts.
Weeks To Open
The Army Corps of Engineers says
it might take another couple weeks to re-open the Mississippi River to barge
traffic at western Wisconsin's border with Minnesota. Dredging work is underway. Heavy flooding in June caused soil to wash
into the river, creating sandbars that have grounded tow-boats from about Red
Wing to Winona. The Army Corps now says
that almost 200 scheduled barges have not been able to go south. Channel maintenance coordinator Dan Cottrell
says the Corps conducts dredging every year -- but they've never seen the
sediment this bad. He said parts of the
Mississippi have been impassable for 12 days. Cottrell expects the Winona area to re-open by Monday. Upstream, it might take a couple weeks to
complete the project at Red Wing. Cottrell says the barge companies can feel
the delays in their bottom lines. One
tow-boat that holds 15 barges has about the same maximum load as 870 semi-trucks.
Marshfield Clinic will close its
rural primary care facility at Elk Mound, between Eau Claire and
Menomonie. Clinic officials say a
reduction in patients is one of the main reasons. It's a common concern in the industry, as
higher deductibles and health costs are making folks more careful about
planning their doctor visits. The Elk
Mound center will shut down September 19th. It has five employees, and they'll get a chance to get similar jobs at
other nearby Marshfield Clinic locations.
Patients will be directed to the clinic's other facilities in the area,
including Eau Claire and Menomonie.
Voters in Crandon have removed
their mayor from office. Rob Jaeger was
recalled yesterday, losing to Dennis Rosa 378-to-184. Over the half the city's eligible voters had
their say. Recall supporters had accused
the first-term mayor of trying to fire certain city employees, working around
committees, and not letting people speak at public meetings. The City Council originally decided against a
recall vote. But the state Government
Accountability Board said the city had no choice, because the number of people
who petitioned for it exceeded the state's minimum of 200. City officials said it was a new experience
for Crandon, after the city lengthened the mayor's term from two years to
four. Recalls are generally not needed
for two-year office holders, because they must serve at least one year before
they can eligible for recall.
Wrapping Up Case
Federal prosecutors expect to wrap
up their case today in the trial of Kristen Smith, who's accused of kidnapping
her baby nephew near Beloit and leaving him in Iowa in sub-zero
temperatures. Yesterday in Madison, the
baby's parents testified that they trusted the 31-year-old Smith so much, they
did not suspect at first that she took the boy. Smith claims she had permission from the father, Bruce Powell, to take
five-day-old Kayden Powell to Colorado. As she was driving through Iowa, a Beloit officer arranged for police at
West Branch to stop her and check her vehicle for children's belongings. West Branch officer Alex Koch testified that
Smith claimed she was pregnant when she wasn't. Smith was arrested when police discovered she was wanted on a warrant
Prison Abuse Probe
A Wisconsin faith-based coalition
has asked Governor Scott Walker to seek a federal investigation into the
alleged abuse of prisoners at Waupun. WISDOM has been pushing for a host of reforms at the state's lock-ups. Yesterday, the group wrote Walker to ask for
a probe into suspected abuses by staffers in Waupun's segregation unit. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative
Journalism cited 40 abuse allegations this month. Twenty-eight involved one guard who's
suspected of slamming inmates into walls, choke holds, hitting prisoners'
knees, touching genitals in strip searches, and making racial slurs. WISDOM has asked Walker to transfer the guard
in question until an investigation is finished. The group also asked that the state Corrections Department rotate guards
in segregation units, improve training, and create an independent system for
inmates to lodge complaints. The
Reverend Jerry Hancock, who heads a prison ministry project in Madison, says
it's clear that the corrections agency is "out of control." Walker's office did not comment on the
request for a federal probe. A
corrections spokeswoman said the Dodge County Sheriff's Department normally
investigates prison allegations, and there's been no substantiated allegations
of prisoner abuse by Waupun staffers.
At least a dozen barges and their
expensive cargo are tied up in the Mississippi River north of Winona
Minnesota. That's because sediment from
recent flooding washed into the river, and it created numerous sandbars.
Tugboat captain Delbert Pemberton tells K-T-T-C T-V of Rochester Minnesota he's
never seen such a tie-up. Observers said
at least nine tow-boats are being delayed north of Nelson in Buffalo County,
and a few are stuck near Winona. Mitch
Serjogins of the Army Corps' Lock-and-Dam Number-four at Alma says nothing's
getting through there. He said the
barges suddenly faced conditions with high water and then low water -- and
they're not making it through the channels. Pemberton says dredging will solve the problem, but it could take a week
before his own barges and up-and-running again. He said he could not imagine the damages, as barge employees get paid
while being stranded -- while businesses wait for the cargo that's been halted.
Campaign ads false?
Governor Scott Walker claims in
his latest campaign ad that his challenger Mary Burke might have cost Wisconsin
taxpayers 25-million dollars. However,
the figure has come into question, after the A-P said that Walker's G-O-P
campaign used "creative math." Burke ran the former state Commerce Department when it helped attract
drug-maker Abbott Laboratories to Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County. However, the company never moved from its
Illinois headquarters. Now, the U-S
Department of Housing and Urban Development is ordering the state to pay back a
12-point-three million dollar federal grant. Tom Evenson of the Walker camp notes that Burke's agency spent the grant
-- and the state will need a similar amount to give it back to HUD, thus the
possible 25-million dollar expense. However, the A-P notes that Abbott still has time to carry out its original
plans -- and the grant only has to be paid back if 24-hundred jobs are not
created in Pleasant Prairie by 2016. Burke's camp denies that she made a bad deal -- and they point to a
recent comment by Pleasant Prairie administrator Mike Pollocoff in saying the
project is still alive. He said Abbott
has planned a campus that its business can grow into when the time is
right. Evenson said it cannot be a good
deal for anyone if the land remains vacant. The money eventually went to Abbott, and the firm has not commented.
A former Milwaukee Brewers' minor
league infielder beat out a Waukesha native to win the heart of A-B-C's
"Bachelorette" last night.
Andi Dorfman chose contestant Josh Murray over Nick Viall (vy-all) --
the two finalists in a two-month-long televised competition for Andi's heart
and hand in marriage. The 29-year-old
Murray played for five seasons in Beloit, Ogden, West Virginia, and Brevard County
-- and he never got past the Single-"A" level of the minors. He played two years for the Beloit Snappers
in 2003-and-'04. The Snappers will
celebrate Murray's accomplishment with various fan giveaways during a home game
tomorrow night. The 33-year-old Viall
won a state high school track title, was a standout at U-W Milwaukee, and he's
now a sales executive in Chicago. Sturgeon Bay physician Jason Leep was also among the 25 contests trying
to win Dorfman's heart. He was sent home
on the night of the series' opener.
Power Line Accident
A western Wisconsin man was
injured and a Twin Cities man died in a power line construction accident in
south central Minnesota. It happened
yesterday along the Cap-X-2020 transmission line project near Fairfax. Both men were working for Donovan
Construction of Ham Lake Minnesota. The
injured survivor was from Osseo. He was
being treated in a burn unit at last word, and his condition was not
disclosed. A spokeswoman for several
utilities involved in the Cap-X project said the two were working on a tower
when they were jolted. Lori Buffington
calls it a terrible accident. It remains
under investigation by the Renville County sheriff's department and Minnesota's
Occupational Safety-and-Health Administration. The victims' names were expected to be released today.
No Tax Breaks
The board of Wisconsin's
job-creation agency is expected to vote on a new policy at its next meeting to
prevent state tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas. Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca
unveiled the measure yesterday in suburban Milwaukee, before a meeting of the
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board on which he sits. Governor Scott Walker, who chairs the board,
has made outsourcing a major issue in his re-election bid against Democrat Mary
Burke. Walker told reporters he endorses
Barca's proposal. It would require
companies that receive W-E-D-C incentives to notify the agency if they
outsource jobs, or change future employment levels they promised to achieve. The firms would also have to certify that
they need the state incentives in order to expand or locate in Wisconsin. Barca says they're necessary moves to protect
taxpayers, and make sure public money is not used to send jobs overseas. Agency spokesman Mark Maley says his
department will create wording for the proposed new policy. He said it could apply to companies that move
jobs to other states as well as other countries.
Using The Law
Fifty-five Wisconsin school
districts have used a two-year-old state law to make their buildings more
energy-efficient, without needing taxpayer approval. The Appleton Post-Crescent said the schools
raised over 23-million dollars in property taxes for energy projects -- two and
a half times more than the previous year. John O'Herron, the Midwest regional manager for a large energy service
firm, said the one common factor between large and small schools is their shortage
of money for their facility needs. Charlie Schneider of the Cooperative
Educational Service region in Chippewa Falls said it lets schools spend more on
teaching kids, instead of sending needless cash to a utility or repair outlet. In 2012, the Appleton paper and others in the
state's Gannett chain found that schools used the energy exemption to raise
almost nine-million dollars in property taxes without the normal voter
Gov. Scott Walker says he would
support a measure to ensure that tax credits and other economic development
incentives do not go to companies that outsource jobs.
Walker spoke yesterday before a
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. meeting in Wauwatosa.
Walker has been criticizing
Democratic challenger Mary Burke for profiting from outsourcing done by her
family's company, Trek Bicycle Corp.
But campaign finance reports show
Walker has received donations from multiple companies that outsourced jobs.
Democratic Rep. Peter Barca says
he will propose that WEDC require companies receiving economic development
incentives to let the organization know if they outsource jobs. He says he
believes the incentives would then end given existing WEDC rules.
Walker says he needs to see the
details of Barca's proposal, but he supports the idea in principle.
A recent statewide poll gave
ammunition to those seeking reforms in Wisconsin prisons. According to the new Marquette Law School
poll, only one of every five registered voters thought the prison system was
doing a good or excellent job of turning inmates into productive members of
society. WISDOM, a coalition of
churches, recently renewed its campaign to encourage putting more prisoners on
parole -- giving early releases to elderly inmates -- and ending solitary
confinement. The Reverend Jerry Hancock,
who heads a prison ministry project in Madison, tells the A-P that the poll
reflects a general feeling that the system is failing. However, he admits that those answering the
poll probably don't have a strong knowledge of the state's rehabilitation
efforts. Wisconsin prisons have more
than 22-thousand inmates, but the numbers of repeat offenders in prisons have
generally been dropping over the last 20 years. Corrections' officials have started to work with mental health experts
and other states to give inmates in solitary confinement more rehab. Governor Scott Walker opposes early release
programs, but has said he's willing to consider more alternatives to sending
certain offenders to prison.
More Rail Service
The wood products industry in
northern Wisconsin needs more rail service to ship its goods, at a time when
railroads have been pulling out of the region. The pro-business Walker
administration does not have many answers on this one. State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb
says his agency knows the concerns. However, he told the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission in Rhinelander
that state dollars are very limited -- and with new highways and mass transit
competing for those dollars, the key is to set priorities that best serve the
state as a whole. Also, Gottlieb says
there's not much the state can do to stop railroads from abandoning shorter
lines. The Canadian National is seeking federal approval to abandon a rail line
from Crandon to Argonne. Since the
railroads were deregulated, Gottlieb says they're investing in more profitable
locations. That leaves out much of
sparsely-populated northern Wisconsin, and Gottlieb agrees that it's hurting
the region's effort to grow its economy. The Transit Commission is trying to acquire rail cars to make it more
feasible for a railroad to operate in the Northwoods. The panel says many wood products' firms
would like to ship by rail because it's cheaper than trucking -- and it's less
damaging to the highways.
Storms Cause Some
Two bands of thunderstorms rumbled
through Wisconsin yesterday, causing at least some damage. The Wisconsin Rapids area had up to
tennis-ball-sized hail early in the day. A storage shed flipped over and some trees fell in Arpin, almost 15
miles northwest of Rapids. The second
band of storms went through yesterday afternoon. Jackson in Washington County had winds close
to 50-miles-an-hour, causing a large tree branch to fall at West Bend. Sheboygan had one-inch hail. Parts of far northeast Wisconsin had small
hail. Some areas of Wisconsin had more
than a half-inch of rain. After the
storms cleared out, cooler air moved in from the north. Parts of northern Wisconsin dropped into the
mid-40's as of four this morning. A dry
and pleasant day is in store for most of the Badger State, with highs in the
70's under clear to partly cloudy skies.
The fall primary elections are two
weeks from tomorrow -- and two candidates have switched parties to try and
defeat Wausau House Republican Sean Duffy.
Don Raihala got 15-percent of the primary vote in 2010, when he ran as a
Democrat for the Seventh District House seat. He'll face Duffy in the G-O-P primary on August 12th. Mike Krsiean has run as both a Republican and
Libertarian for the north central Wisconsin House seat. This time, he'll run as a Democrat to take on
Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund -- who's been endorsed by a number
of groups including the Sierra Club and the Progressive Change Campaign
Committee. Duffy is going for his third
two-year term in the House. He replaced
retiring Democrat Dave Obey almost four years ago.
Five Years-10th OWI
A Stevens Point man has been
sentenced to five years in prison for his 10th drunken driving offense.
38-year-old Michael Vollrath will
also serve five years of probation following his prison sentence. Portage
County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Eagon also ordered Vollrath on Thursday not
to drink alcohol for ten years.
Vollrath's latest conviction
follows a February arrest when he was driving with a blood alcohol content more
than three times the legal limit. Stevens Point Journal Media says Vollrath was
first convicted of drunken driving in 1994.
The Taylor County Sheriff’s Office
reports a 33-year-old woman has died after an accident with a train late Friday
night. The Canadian National Railroad
called that office to report one of its trains had hit a pedestrian in the Village
of Gilman a few minutes before midnight. Heather Johnson had lived in that village for the last several
months. No foul play is suspected in the
accident, but sheriff’s investigators are checking the evidence to make sure
they know exactly what happened.
The Stanley Police Department and
Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office report a four-hour standoff Saturday morning
was finally resolved with no one injured.
Authorities got a call before 7 a-m that a gun had been fired in the
City of Stanley. When they arrived on
the scene, 41-year-old James E. Coburn was seen walking back inside his
home. His wife and children were in the
building with him. Coburn wasn’t
responding to efforts to communicate and the house was surrounded. He eventually surrendered at 11 a-m. Coburn is being held at the Chippewa County
Jail. He is charged with recklessly
endangering the safety of others.
High Speed Chase
At 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, a
Wisconsin State Patrol trooper monitoring traffic on I-94 near Baldwin, pulled
out to stop a vehicle for equipment violations. The driver fled with speeds
reaching 110 MPH.
The vehicle then exited at
Woodville. St Croix Co. ultimately used a tire deflation device to stop the
vehicle. The driver, Austin G. Szewcik, 20 years old, from Boyceville, was
arrested for felony eluding, operating a motor vehicle without owners consent,
and a bench warrant from Eau Claire Co.
The subject was turned over to the
Dunn Co. Jail.
6 Vehicle Collision
One person died and at least two
others were hurt when six vehicles collided at an Interstate construction zone
just north of La Crosse. It happened
yesterday morning on I-90, east of the Wisconsin-Minnesota border near French
Island. According to the State Patrol's
preliminary investigation, traffic was merging into the construction zone when
a dump truck could not slow down in time, and it rear-ended another
vehicle. A van and four cars also got
snarled up in the crash. T-V reports
said the dump truck landed on top of one of the cars, and both rolled into a
median where they started on fire. The
drivers' names were not immediately released. An investigation continues.
Wisconsin has made a new offer to
restore income tax reciprocity with Minnesota, so 80-thousand people who work
across the border can again file taxes with their home state instead of
both. The latest offer does not include
the Gopher State's request for an extra payment of up to six-million dollars a
year. Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Rick
Chandler calls that unprecedented.
Still, Chandler and state lawmakers near the Minnesota border remain
hopeful that the two states can reach an agreement by September 30th, so the
reciprocity can return in 2015. Because
more Wisconsinites work in Minnesota than vice versa, the Badger State used to
make annual payments to make the arrangement financially equal for both
states. Minnesota Governor Rick Pawlenty
cut off the 40-year arrangement in 2009 because Wisconsin was getting behind on
its payments. Minnesota says it's been
fair in the effort to bring it back, saying it cut a million-dollars a year
from its previous request. Under
Wisconsin's latest offer, Chandler says the Badger State would still increase
its payments to Minnesota from the 58-million dollars in 2009 to 87-million for
the 2015 tax year. Wisconsin lawmakers
of both parties urged the Gopher State to accept the offer, so affected
residents can save time and money.
Felony Child Abuse
A young girl was taken to the
hospital with severe burns last month, and now her mother's boyfriend is
charged with child abuse.
Doctors called Rusk County
investigators because they said a 3 1/2-year-old girl had come in with severe
and suspicious burns. She had to be airlifted to a Twin Cities burn center. The
girl's mother told police her boyfriend, Charles Roach, said the toddler must
have turned the water faucet to hot while she was in the bathtub with the water
running. Investigators later learned the home didn't have running hot water
because the gas had been cut off.
Doctors said it appeared the girl
had been sprayed in the face with hot water. Detectives say when a nurse asked
how she got the 'owies' the little girl said, 'My daddy sprayed me,"
referring to Roach, and she later said her dad was naughty. The girl's mother
told investigators Roach had used a propane heater and kettle to boil water in
Roach is now charged with felony
New School Coming
Two former executives of the U-W
Foundation in Madison have announced plans to start a third medical college in
the state -- this one at Jefferson. Mark
Lefebvre and Jennifer Kidon DeKrey have revived a proposal for an osteopathic
school, which was proposed by a different group in the past before it fell
through. They told the City Council in
Jefferson that the new school could keep more medical practitioners in
Wisconsin. They're forced to train
elsewhere if they cannot get admitted to one of the state's two existing
medical schools in Madison and Milwaukee. Lefebvre and Kidon DeKrey plan to raise 125-million-dollars, mainly
through their previous contacts in the industry. They expect donations and grants to cover the
cost. It would enroll about 150 students
the first year, and could eventually teach 600 per year.
Move from minn.
A company that makes custom
aircraft parts will move from Minneapolis to Oshkosh. The D'Shannon company plans to open with six
workers in a hangar at the Oshkosh airport, until it can build its own plant in
the airport's aviation business park. D'Shannon president Scott Erickson says the move from Minnesota will
take place after the E-A-A completes its Air-Venture Show at the airport on
August third. At first, he says
employees will work with local fabricating plants to produce aircraft
parts. D'Shannon has overhauled engines
and provided parts for Beechcraft planes since 2010, when it acquired those
assets. He says the firm plans to
provide parts for a larger variety of aircraft in the future.
Most burglars at least have the
decency to wear clothes -- but not a prowler in Fond du Lac. Police said a man wearing only his birthday
suit entered an unlocked house yesterday, and a resident chased him out of the
house and down the block before he could steal anything. On Tuesday, another resident told police
about a naked man lurking outside her father's house. The man ran away when a 19-year-old woman
confronted him. He claimed he was just
on a walk. Fond du Lac assistant police
chief Steve Klein says officers don't know what the man's intentions are. An investigation continues, and Klein advises
residents to lock their doors.
At least two Wisconsin groups have
canceled trips to Israel, amid security concerns at Tel Aviv's airport. The Milwaukee Jewish Coalition called off a
trip as part of its teen summer camp program. Also, Madison's Temple Beth El has postponed a 33-person trip to Israel
that was scheduled to begin August third.
Temple Rabbi Jonathan Biatch is optimistic that the group will go
eventually -- but for now, he tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there's a
lot of disappointment. Flights at the
Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv were halted for 24 hours on
Tuesday, after a rocket landed about a mile from the facility. The F-A-A said yesterday that the flight ban
would be extended -- but the American agency changed its mind late last night,
and allowed U-S flights to resume.
A woman who tried saving a young
swimmer in a northern Wisconsin lake has died.
Vilas County authorities now say that 47-year-old Karen Wessel of Star
Lake died late Tuesday night at a Wausau hospital. Sheriff's captain David Gardner said Wessel
and two other women attempted to save three boys who tried swimming to a
sandbar in Star Lake, and struggled while returning to the shore. Two women saved two of the youngsters. Gardner said one woman went after the third
boy, and Wessel joined her. However, she
went under while trying to hold the eight-year-old youngster above the
surface. Officials said Wessel was
overcome with exhaustion. C-P-R was
performed on the eight-year-old, and he was taken to a Woodruff hospital. His condition was not disclosed.
Phone data legal?
Can police use cellphone data to
track down murder suspects? The
Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to answer that question today. The justices are scheduled to rule on a pair
of homicide cases from Milwaukee and Kenosha counties, in which police obtained
data from cellphone providers to find and arrest the suspects. Milwaukee Police found Bobby Tate in his
mother's apartment. He said detectives
did not have enough evidence to justify a warrant they obtained to track his
cellphone. The Kenosha murder suspect,
Nicolas Subdiaz-Osorio, was arrested in Arkansas. He contends that the search of his phone data
Gas Prices Lower
Wisconsin gas prices are 18 cents
lower than a month ago. The
Triple-"A" said regular fuel sold for an average of 3.54-a-gallon
throughout the state this morning. That's
down from 3.60 a week ago, and 3.72 at this time in June. Experts cite a lack of the most severe
weather throughout the country, with no emergency refinery shutdowns. Darrell DeHaan of GasBuddy-Dot-Com says we've
probably seen our peak prices for the year -- and they should stay within the
mid-three-dollar range in the Milwaukee area for the next month or two. The Triple-"A" said Wisconsin fuel
prices peaked at 3.73-a-gallon around Memorial Day. While conflicts keep flaring up in Israel and
the Ukraine, Nick Jarmusz of the Wisconsin Triple-"A" says they're
not affecting the flow oil from the Middle East like the violence in Iraq could
Unemployment rates went up last
month in all 12 of Wisconsin's metro areas.
State labor officials said today that Racine had the largest preliminary
seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for June at seven-point-six percent, up
six-tenths of a point from May. Janesville was at six-point-nine, and Metro Milwaukee was
six-point-seven. Madison traditionally
has the state's lowest unemployment -- the same was true in June with a figure
of four-point-three percent. Preliminary
totals show that Madison lost 12-hundred jobs last month, while Milwaukee
gained 83-hundred. Also, 61 of the
state's 72 counties had higher unemployment rates in June than in May. Menominee County had the highest unadjusted
rate at 17-point-eight percent. Dane and
Saint Croix counties were the lowest at four-point-two.
Van Hollen Statement
Wisconsin's attorney general says
gay marriage is like abortion -- there's no fundamental right to it, and state
laws are reasonable in requiring one-man/one-woman unions. J-B Van Hollen made those arguments in a
188-page document filed today with the federal appeals court in Chicago. That's where both Wisconsin and Indiana are
appealing in a combined case, after federal district judges in both states
struck down state gay marriage bans recently.
Madison Judge Barbara Crabb said Wisconsin's ban violated the equal
protection and due process rights of same-sex couples. Van Hollen said Crabb's decision amounts to
the creation of a new right to gay marriage -- and it wrongly extends federal
authority into an area normally handled by the states. Van Hollen said the U-S Supreme Court's
dismissal of the federal Defense-of-Marriage act last year showed that it's up
to the states to set requirements for marriage.
Jobs Leaving WI
About 300 Wisconsin jobs will move
to North Carolina. The Sealed Air
Corporation said today it would move a total of 13-hundred jobs to Charlotte
over the next three years, as part of a major consolidation. The Wisconsin jobs are with the Diversey
cleaning products division which is based in Sturtevant, just west of
Racine. The other jobs are being moved
from South Carolina, Connecticut, and New Jersey where Sealed Air is
based. The company says the jobs will be
moved in phases, and it will either sell its facility in Sturtevant or lease it
to somebody else. The move does not
affect a Diversey distribution center in Sturtevant. Earlier today, a North Carolina committee
endorsed a tax break for Sealed Air. It
will get up to 36-million dollars over 12 years, if it meets designated goals
for jobs and investments.
Prison For Sharing
A Wausau man will spend four years
in prison for sharing child pornography with others. Twenty-six year old Tyler Vogel had pleaded
no contest to three felony counts of possessing child porn. Seven similar charges were dropped in a plea
deal. Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg
Grau said Vogel was part of a network that exploited children, and he called it
unacceptable. State and local officers
raided Vogel's home last December, after learning that he traded explicit
photos of underage girls. Vogel apologized
and said he realized the seriousness of his actions. He must spend four years under extended
supervision once his prison term ends.
Vogel was previously convicted of sexual assault for incidents at a job
in which he inappropriately touched teenage female co-workers.
Too Hot Or Too Cold
It's either too hot or too cold --
rarely 'just right.' That's been the
story of Wisconsin's weather this week. Temperatures plunged into the 40's in parts of the north overnight,
after Lone Rock in Sauk County had a heat index of 106 yesterday. Much of central and eastern Wisconsin had its
first 90-degree days of 2014, as it got up to 91 in Oshkosh, Appleton, and
Green Bay. That was before a cold front
moved through. The northwest was the
first to get relief from the heat early yesterday morning. Afternoon readings were in the 70's after
storms moved through. Trees fell in
parts of Douglas, Ashland, and Bayfield counties. High winds pulled soffit and shingles from
several roofs near Poplar in Douglas County.
No other storm damage was reported throughout Wisconsin. By six this morning, it got down to 48 in
Rhinelander and Tomahawk. It will be
'just right' for lots of folks today, as highs are predicted in the 70's
statewide under clear to partly cloudy skies. But it will get cold tonight, as some areas could get down to the 30's
-- just a few degrees above freezing. A
chance of rain returns tomorrow.
Ten Year Old Buried
Ten-year-old Sierra Guyton was
buried in Milwaukee yesterday, after a pastor demanded an end to the gun
violence that killed her. Sierra was
caught in cross-fire on May 21st, while she was playing with her sister at a
school playground on Milwaukee's north side. Mourners filled the nearby Tabernacle Community Baptist Church, where
Pastor Don Darius Butler said there was no way not to feel outrage -- and he
vowed, "We will take this city back.
Let not her living or dying be in vain." At the burial site, children released pink
balloons into the air. Sierra was killed
in gunfire between two men who were in a dispute with each other. Both face criminal charges.
Tax Subsidies In
Governor Scott Walker's office
says it will not rush to create Wisconsin's own health care marketplace, to
preserve tax subsides that were placed in doubt yesterday. A federal appeals court in Washington said
the federal subsidies in the Affordable Care Act apply only to 14 states which
run their own exchanges -- and not Wisconsin and 35 other states which use the
standard federal exchange. However,
another appeals in court in Virginia upheld an I-R-S rule which grants
subsidized care for people in all 50 states.
Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster would not say if Wisconsin would
create its own exchange if it meant preserving subsidies for users. She said the 130-thousand Wisconsinites under
Obama-care are not affected at this point -- and the Republican Walker won't
deal in "hypotheticals." The
White House said consumers would keep getting the subsidies until the legal
implications are sorted out. Media
reports said about 90-percent of Wisconsinites who bought care in the federal
exchange qualified for subsidies when they signed up. Walker's office put the blame on what Webster
called the government's "inept interpretation of their own flawed
law." Walker's main election
opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, said the governor's health care decisions
"defy common sense" and are "politically-driven." Most others were confused by the dueling
court decisions. Milwaukee's Arise
Health Plan heard from a number of confused Obama-care clients.
Once again, politics makes strange
bed-fellows. Republican Governor Scott
Walker and U-S Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin are both attacking the
out-sourcing of Wisconsin jobs to foreign countries -- albeit for very different
reasons. The Republican Walker is trying
to win votes by attacking his main Democratic challenger Mary Burke for her
association with Trek Bicycle, which sent some of its jobs to China. Baldwin has been tweeting in an effort to get
Congress to vote on a bill called "Bring the Jobs Home" -- which
would give tax credits to U-S companies that bring overseas jobs back home to
America, while dropping tax breaks for those that continue out-sourcing. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
the state G-O-P has tied the two developments together. Party director Joe Fadness said that even
Senator Baldwin takes issue with the "overseas job shipping that made Mary
Burke millions." Baldwin spokesman
John Kraus said Walker should do more than just take shots at Trek Bicycle --
he should support the measure pushed by Baldwin and other Senate
Democrats. Burke's campaign says it has
its own strategy for encouraging Wisconsin companies to keep jobs in the state.
New Trial Sought
A 41-year-old man wants a new
trial, after he was sent to prison for life for killing a La Crosse camera shop
owner and his son. Jeffrey Lepsch of
Dakota Minnesota told a circuit judge that nine of the 12 jurors in his trial
last summer thought he was guilty before the testimony even began. Lepsch was convicted of killing Paul Petras
and his 19-year-old son A-J in 2012 at May's Photo in downtown La Crosse. Lepsch also stole 27 items of camera
equipment valued at 17-thousand dollars. He was convicted on two counts of homicide, armed robbery by force, and
illegally owning a firearm as a convicted felon. A hearing date has not been set on the
request for a new trial. If the judge
turns it down, Lepsch can take his case to a state appeals court.
Purple Hearts Keep
A 12-year-old stabbing victim in
Waukesha continues to get purple hearts on paper from well-wishers around the
world. This morning, her family said an
anonymous military veteran sent his real Purple Heart award to the girl. He said it was the only heart he could find,
and he told her to "Be strong!"
The military Purple Heart is given to those wounded or killed in
action. The girl was stabbed 19 times in
May, allegedly by a pair of 12-year-old classmates who are charged as
adults. The defendants told police they
were showing allegiance to the fictional online horror character Slender Man. The victim is recovering at home. Her family has encouraged folks to send paper
hearts with her favorite color purple.
Harley Profits &
Harley-Davidson reports a
30-percent increase in its latest quarterly profits. However, the Milwaukee
motorcycle firm had a smaller-than-expected sales increase, due to poor weather
this spring in much of the U-S. This
morning, Harley reported a net income of 354-million dollars from April through
June, up from 272-million at the same time a year ago. Stockholders earned 1.62-a-share, up from
1.21 in the same quarter of 2013. Harley
said its strong profits were due to more efficient manufacturing
operations. The company had a slight
increase in its worldwide motorcycle sales, but U-S sales were down slightly to
just over 58-thousand bikes. In
response, Harley C-E-O Keith Wandell said the company would reduce its
projected increase in motorcycle shipments to dealers for the rest of the
year. It expects an shipping increase of
up to five-and-a-half percent -- down from the earlier projected maximum of
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.
Residents Return Home
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.