Teen Dead In Oneida Co. Crash
A 17-year-old died after a car crash in Oneida
County Saturday night. Sheriff's
officials said it happened near County Highway C and Tenderfoot Road in the
town of Stella. They said it appears
that the 17-year-old caught the shoulder, over-corrected and veered into the
opposite lane of traffic. The car then
left the roadway hitting several trees which caused the car to overturn.
According to sheriff's officials, family members
called police after their child did not return home from a drive to town. Deputies found the vehicle rolled in the
ditch area and the 17-year-old ejected from the car. They said the teen was dead when authorities
arrived. The crash is under
Allina Nurse Strike Could Have
The recently concluded Allina Health nursing
strike could be the start of a change in hospital labor relations
nationwide. Allina took a hard line
saying there would be no deal unless the nurses accepted give-backs on health
benefits. The nurses' 37-day walkout
ended only after the rank and file reluctantly agreed to give up their generous
union-only health insurance and transition to Allina's still generous, but
less-expensive corporate health plans.
Labor analysts said Allina's victory will shape
other nursing contract negotiations.
"It had national implications," said Roger King, a labor attorney
at the Washington D.C.-based HR Policy Association. The group represents many large health care
systems that could be more tempted now to adopt Allina's playbook, he
said. For a large, unionized employer
like Allina to take a firm stance, King said, "I think (that) probably
emboldens other health care organizations around the country to consider the
Missing Cows Returned To Stratford
Seven missing cows have been returned to a
Stratford farm. Brian Forrest, the owner
of Maple Ridge Dairy, suspected his cows were stolen. He said they were found about 30 miles away
on another farm. All of the cows were
pregnant at the time of their disappearance and worth a total of about
$15,000. Forrest said the older cows
have lost some weight but overall they're all in good condition. The Marathon County Sheriff's Department
declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
October 20, 2016
State Law Library Named After
The state law library in Madison, formerly known
as the Wisconsin State Law Library, was officially named Wednesday to The David
T. Prosser, Jr. State Law Library, in honor of retired Wisconsin Supreme Court
Justice David T. Prosser. About 130
people gathered for the celebration. Prosser spent more than 40 years in public service, including experience
in all three branches of state government.
He retired in July after 18 years on the Supreme Court.
Wis. Lost Almost 400 Dairy Farms
In Last Year
Wisconsin lost almost 400 dairy farms in the
last year, according to the latest report from the US Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
That agency reported just over 94,000 dairy herds active in the state as
of October first, which is four percent less than a year ago.
The number of dairy herds has been declining for
the last 40 years, as more producers retire without someone to take over their
operation, according to Gordon Speirs, president of the Wisconsin Dairy
Business Association. "People do
get older, their children are not interested in carrying on the family
business, and they're exiting the industry," Speirs said.
The number of dairy cows in Wisconsin has
remained fairly steady in the last few years.
Speirs said many dairy producers have been growing their operations as
other leave the industry.
October 18, 2016
Hudson Police Vehicle Struck On
St. Croix River Bridge
A Hudson police officer, assisting a motorist
with a flat tire on Monday morning, narrowly escaped injury when another driver
struck her squad car, which was stopped on the I-94 bridge over the Saint Croix
River. Officer Hilary Lundberg pinned
herself along the center concrete median dividing eastbound from westbound
traffic to get out of the way of flying debris after a speeding pickup slammed
into her squad that was parked just a few feet away, said Hudson Police Chief
Lundberg had parked her squad car in the left
lane of I-94 and activated her emergency lights around 9:20am. She parked about 50 feet behind a vehicle with
two occupants blocking the left lane and shoulder. As she called for a tow truck, Lundberg saw
the pickup coming and braced for impact.
Neither Lundberg nor the people in the car she
stopped to help were hurt. The pickup
truck driver, identified as 31-year-old Derik Sands of Saint Paul, sustained
minor injuries. The Minnesota State
Patrol was investigating the crash since it occurred on the west end of the
bridge that connects the two states.
Jensen said the incident is a good reminder of
the reason why drivers need to obey the “Move Over” law, which requires
motorists on a road with two or more lanes going the same direction to move
over one full lane from stopped emergency vehicles that have their flashing
lights activated. Emergency vehicles
include ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance, construction vehicles
and tow trucks.
Wis. Ends Fiscal Year With
$313-Million In The Bank
The state of Wisconsin ended the last fiscal
year with $313-million in the bank, a total that was less than expected. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau had
predicted Wisconsin's ending balance would be $390 million. The final number ended up being lower because
the state generated less tax revenue than expected, LFB Director Bob Lang said. The number would have been lower yet if
Governor Walker had not delayed repaying $101-million in state debt. That delay freed up cash in the short term
but will cost the state more in future interest payments. If nothing else changes, Wisconsin's two-year
budget would end with about $162-million in the bank next June. Overall, the
general fund budget spends more than $15-billion a year.
October 13, 2016
Wolves Killed More Dogs In Wis.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
said the state's growing wolf population, or increased hunting activity, may
have contributed to a significant increase in the number of hunting dogs killed
by wolves during the bear season. At
least forty hunting dogs were confirmed killed by wolves at the end of bear
season Tuesday, exceeding a previous record of 23.
Some hunters blamed the end of the state's wolf
hunt for the growing number of wolves.
Others said bear hunters could protect their dogs by avoiding areas
where wolves are known to roam. DNR
carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland said the increased number of hunting dogs
killed could also be an anomaly. The
estimated winter population of wolves grew 16 percent to about 900 this year.
Native Americans Alarmed At
Breaking Of Treaties
The tense situation in North Dakota surrounding
the construction of a pipeline running through treaty-protected Native American
land now has other tribes across the nation and in Wisconsin on edge. The month-long standoff on the Standing Rock
Sioux Reservation is alarming to various Native Americans including Patty Loew,
a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in northern Wisconsin.
The dispute surrounds the Dakota Access pipeline
being built through sacred grounds and threatening Standing Rock's
treaty-protected water supply. It's a
nearly $4-billion project that the company, Energy Transfer Partners, said will
provide a safer and more efficient way to move oil from fields to
refineries. The company also said it has
followed all federal and state laws in the process.
But Loew and other Native Americans said
treaties are being broken. "I think
if you talk to most native people, they'll tell you all of their treaties have
been broken," Loew explained. It's
something that shouldn't happen, according to Loew. She just wishes the government would stick to
She's worried about what could be next. "Today it's a pipeline in North Dakota,
but it could be a factory farm in northern Wisconsin, or a taconite mine
threatening the wild rice on my reservation, or a gold and silver mine threatening
the Menominee nation," Loew said.
Warrantless Urine Tests
Unconstitutional In Minnesota
Drivers suspected of driving under the influence
of drugs or alcohol in Minnesota can no longer be charged with a crime for
refusing to take a urine test, the Minnesota state Supreme Court ruled on
Wednesday. The ruling declared that
warrantless urine tests are unconstitutional, and therefore individuals can not
prosecuted for refusing to submit to such tests. The ruling further strips a controversial law
that had been used by law enforcement for decades.
In June, the US Supreme court ruled warrantless
blood tests are unconstitutional. The highest court declared warrantless breath
tests do not violate Fourth Amendment rights, and therefore drivers can be
prosecuted for refusing to take breathalyzers.
But the highest court did not address the constitutionality of urine
“That was one of the questions: ‘is urine more
like blood or more like breath,'" said Bill Lemons, the Traffic Safety
Resource with the Minnesota County Attorneys Association. Wednesday’s ruling declared urine tests are
more like blood tests because they invade a person’s privacy. Lemons said law enforcement will now use
electronic warrants to expedite the process.
October 11, 2016
Premiums Up 16% For Affordable
Care Act Exchange
The Wisconsin insurance commissioner said
premiums will rise an average of nearly 16 percent next year for Wisconsin
health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange. Commissioner Ted Nickel encouraged
individuals to explore their health insurance options because of the rate
changes and the recent departures of numerous national carriers. A new procedure is in effect that allows the
federal government to choose health plans for people whose insurers have left
the exchange if they don't pick a plan on their own.
Nickel said in a statement the average increase
of 15.9 percent for Wisconsinites is lower than many other states. About 224,000 people in Wisconsin were
insured through the exchange as of March.
Federal Regulators To Review Wis.
DNR Water Enforcement
Federal regulators plan to visit Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources headquarters this week to investigate claims
that the agency is failing to enforcing water pollution laws and regulations.
Midwest Environmental Advocates and 16
individuals petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency to review water
regulations in the state to ensure the DNR is complying with the Clean Water
Act. The EPA in 2011 cited 75
deficiencies in how Wisconsin’s DNR handles water regulation.
Regulators plan to spend four days this week at
DNR headquarters in Madison paging through the agency's water pollution files
beginning Tuesday. DNR spokesman Jim
Dick called the review standard procedure, although the review could result in
the EPA stripping the state's authority to enforce federal regulations.
Smoking Rate Declined In Wisconsin
The number of persons using tobacco declined in
Wisconsin in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. "Wisconsin actually
experienced a drop from 2013, where the smoking rate was 18.7 percent to 17.4 —
which is statistically significant," Pat McKone, Midwest director for the
American Lung Association, said. Minnesota's smoking rate was even lower at 14 percent.
The report found tobacco use varied depending on
gender and race. Use of cigarettes or
chew was higher among Wisconsin men, and 30 percent of the state's
African-Americans used smoke or smokeless tobacco. "Even though we're making progress and
the rates are going down overall, in certain populations such as
African-Americans, or American Indians or those with mental illness or
substance use disorders, we're seeing a disproportional amount of cigarette
use," McKone said.
October 6, 2016
Xcel Energy Forecasts Winter
Xcel Energy has announced that it expects
heating costs this coming winter to be about twenty percent higher than last
year. Over the five-month heating
season, Xcel expects customers to spend an average of $545 to heat their
home. Last year that number was about a
hundred dollars less. The company gave
two reasons for expected increase: first of all, last winter was mild, in fact
one of the mildest winters in 15 or 20 years; and second, Xcel applied for a
rate increase for both natural gas and electricity; if the Public Service
Commission approves their request, the change would take effect in January.
October 5, 2016
State Spending On Education Up
State support for K-12 public schools in
Wisconsin has increased slightly. A
report from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released Tuesday shows
state support for schools last year was 62.7 percent of costs. That's up about
a half-percemt over the last couple of years. In 2003 the state eliminated its former commitment to funding two-thirds
of schools' costs.
Numerous factors play into the percentage of
state support schools receive, including property values, poverty levels and
how much aid targeted for specific needs is delivered.
FEMA Will Tour Flood-Damaged Counties
Wisconsin Emergency Management Spokeswoman Lori
Getter said Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will be in Chippewa,
Clark and Adams counties today to determine whether last month’s flooding
qualifies for federal aid. "They're
going to meet with local officials, they're going to tour some of the roads
that have been damaged, look at some of the paper work and basically come to an
agreement of how much damage there is," Getter said.
The flooding would have had to cause at least
$8-million in damage to public roads and bridges to qualify for FEMA federal
disaster aid, which could cover 75 percent of damage claims. Estimates from local governments are well
above $8 million, Getter said.
Investigation After Body Found In
Authorities are investigating after a body was
found in a house that burned along with a barn in northeastern Wisconsin. The Langlade County Sheriff's Office got a
911 call Monday evening about a barn on fire in the northwest part of the
county. Deputies and firefighters
arrived to find the barn and the home at that address engulfed in flames. A body was discovered in the house after the
fire was brought under control. The
Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation's arson unit was requested and
is investigating. An autopsy is planned
to determine the victim's identity and cause and manner of death.
September 28, 2016
Spooner Dairy Sheep Research
Station To Close
David Thomas is looking over his life's work at
the Spooner Agricultural Research Station.
After 26 years with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the professor
of sheep genetics and management is retiring and the research station's dairy
sheep program will end. The university's
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences decided to end the program after
being dealt a nearly $3-million cut as part of reductions in state funding to
the UW System.
"My position will not be replaced, and so
it doesn’t make sense for the College of Agriculture to maintain a research
resource 260 miles away from campus if there's not going to be a researcher to
utilize it," Thomas said.
The Spooner Ag Station has been home to the only
land-grant university in the nation researching dairy sheep. Thomas helped start the dairy sheep program
in 1993 when the first European dairy sheep breed was imported to the United
"When we first started here with non-dairy
sheep we got about 125 pounds of milk out of ewe in a lactation ... Now, the
milk production per ewe here with these high-percentage dairy sheep is about
800 pounds of milk a lactation," said Thomas. Thomas said their research has transformed
the industry, even if it's still largely a niche group. He said there are as few as 200 dairy sheep
producers in the nation and less than 500 in all of North America.
In Wisconsin, there are around 20. John Mayer is one of them. He has about 600 dairy sheep on his farm in
Polk County. He came to the ag station for
its last annual Spooner Sheep Day program where farmers learn the latest
science on the industry. "The thing
that caught my eye about it is the nutritional benefits of the sheep
milk," Mayer said.
September 27, 2016
Federal Judge Upholds Wis.
A federal judge has refused a union's demand to
block Wisconsin's right-to-work law. The
law prohibits businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all
workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Unions have argued the law enables nonunion
members to receive free representation.
Two chapters of the International Union of
Operating Engineers filed a lawsuit in May alleging the law amounts to an
unconstitutional taking. US District
Judge J.P. Stadtmueller upheld the law on Monday, citing a 7th US Circuit Court
of Appeals ruling that upheld Indiana's right-to-work law. A Dane County judge struck down the Wisconsin
law in April, but a state appeals court has reinstated it while it considers
the state attorneys appeal.
UW-Stout Sets Enrollment Record
For Third Consecutive Year
The University of Wisconsin-Stout has posted
record enrollment for the 2016-17 academic year, its third straight
record-setting year. All UW institutions
tally their headcounts on the 10th day of the academic year. The count, completed Tuesday, showed UW-Stout
up 71 students from last year’s record enrollment. The count includes traditional undergraduate
enrollment, transfer students, Graduate School enrollment and distance
In the last 20 years, UW-Stout’s enrollment has
increased by about 29 percent, more than double the rate of the UW System as a
whole. UW-Stout’s official enrollment
for last year (2015-16) was 9,535. This
year’s 10th day number is 9,552, which by itself is a record, but officials
believe it will be even higher when the official enrollment number is posted by
UW System later this fall. The number of
new freshmen increased 16 students from last year to 1,577.
September 21, 2016
Wis. Attorney General Joins 20
Other States In Challenge To Overtime Rules
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has
joined a lawsuit, challenging the new overtime rules of President Barack
Obama's administration. Currently,
salaried employees who earn $23,660 or more annually are exempt from overtime
rules, meaning they can work more than 40 hours a week without extra pay. Under the Obama administration's new rules
set to take effect in December, that salary threshold would more than double,
so that anyone who earns $47,476 per year or less will need to be paid
time-and-a-half for any hours worked beyond a 40-hour week.
In a lawsuit filed in Texas, Schimel and
attorneys for 20 other states contend the rules violate states' rights. "Wisconsin, and every other state, must
be able to set their own priorities and policies, and not be forced to take
directive from an unchecked Washington D.C. bureaucracy," Schimel said in
September 19, 2016
Navy Launches New Littoral Combat
Ship in Wis.
The US Navy has launched a new littoral combat
ship in Wisconsin. The future USS
Wichita was christened Saturday at the shipyard in Marinette, where it was
built. The ship's sponsor, novelist Kate Lehrer, wife of former "PBS
NewsHour" anchor Jim Leher, broke a champagne bottle across the ship's bow
just before launch. US Senator Tammy
Baldwin of Wisconsin was keynote speaker.
The ship will undergo additional outfitting and
testing at Fincantieri Marinette Marine before its anticipated delivery next
year. The speedy warship is the nation's
13th littoral combat ship. The team, led
by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has six Freedom-class ships -- which
have a steel mono-hull -- under construction in Marinette, and is procuring
materials for three more. It's the third
US Navy ship named USS Wichita.
One Dead In Taylor County Crash
According to the Taylor County Sheriff's
Department, one person is dead after a one-car crash Sunday morning. Authorities said the crash happened around
9:35am on State Highway 73 near the community of Jump River. The sheriff's department said a BMW SUV went off the road, hit an embankment
and went airborne. The passenger in the
vehicle, 27-year-old Sarah Scollay, was ejected from the SUV. She was transported to Aspirus-Wausau where
she was later pronounced dead. The
driver of the car, 28-year-old John Cihlar, was not ejected, but transported to
Aspirus-Medford. According to the
sheriff's department, Cihlar was later booked and released from the Taylor
County jail on a charge of operating after suspension causing death. The sheriff's department said Cihlar reported
he was wearing a seat-belt, while Scollay was not. The crash investigation is ongoing.
September 13, 2016
Hundreds Lose Power In North
Early morning storms took out electric power for
hundreds of customers in north central Wisconsin. Power went out about 3:30 this morning in the
Wausau and Stevens Point areas.
September 12, 2016
Advocates Of State Control Of Wolf
Hunting Will Meet Thursday
Advocates who support a return of wolf hunting
and trapping seasons will meet Thursday in Cumberland. Two Wisconsin Republican legislators
organized the meeting, which will bring together people from Wisconsin,
Minnesota and Michigan who want their states to again regulate wolves. Great Lakes wolves went off the endangered
species list in 2012. But in 2014 a
federal judge put wolves in the western Great Lakes back on a list of federal
endangered species. Animal protection
groups contended that wolves must remain protected. But Wisconsin state Senator Tom Tiffany of
Hazelhurst, one of the summit organizers, said wolves are "becoming
increasingly more aggressive."
UM To Open Bee Research Laboratory
The University of Minnesota will open a new
multi-million-dollar bee research laboratory in October. This comes as the bee population across
Minnesota has declined and after Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton issued an
executive order restricting the use of some pesticides. The $4.8-million academic research laboratory
on the Saint Paul campus will consolidate lab space, honey extraction, observation
hive space, offices and equipment space.
(This is) "Not only for people who are caring for bees and not only
(those) concerned about bees but also about the industry that really depend on
bees to be around for their pollinating resources," said Steven Kells of
the University of Minnesota Entomology Department.
September 8, 2016
12-Year-Old Kaukauna Boy Dies
After Being Hit By School Bus
A 12-year-old boy, struck by a school bus in
Kaukauna, has died from his injuries, police announced last night, less than 5
hours after the accident. The accident
happened at about 3:15pm yesterday, after the end of the first day of school in
Kaukauna. Police said the bus turned the
corner at Crooks Avenue and East 2nd Street at the same time the boy entered
the intersection on his walk home from school.
The boy was not a passenger from the bus.
The names of the boy and the bus driver have not
been publicly released yet. The school
district said the boy was a 7th grader at River View Elementary School just
down the road from the accident scene. The Kaukauna Police Department and the Wisconsin State Patrol are
investigating exactly how the accident happened. Police said weather was not a factor; though
a storm moved through 15 minutes after the accident, conditions were clear
September 6, 2016
High Speed Chase Across 3 Counties
Two people were taken into custody after a high
speed chase across three Wisconsin counties early Monday morning, while a third
suspect remains on the loose. The
Wisconsin State Patrol said troopers attempted to stop three vehicles from a gas
drive off in Eau Claire. They pursued a
Buick, which was reportedly stolen. In
addition, two Honda Accords that were also suspected in the drive-offs fled the
scene. Troopers said the vehicles were
driving at speeds up to 110 miles per hour.
The Buick was stopped after running over a tire
deflation device on Interstate 94 near Baldwin where a 16 year male juvenile
from Minnesota was taken into custody.
One of the Hondas was caught in the backup and an 18 year old male from
Minnesota was also taken into custody. The driver of the other Honda Accord remains at large. The names of all three drivers have not been
MN Supreme Court Changes School
A Minnesota Supreme Court decision requires
schools to investigate a student's intent, when weapons that aren't firearms
show up in school. The court's ruling stems
from a lawsuit brought by now 19-year-old Alyssa Drescher. The southern Minnesota resident clearly
remembers the day almost two and a half years ago when her world was turned
upside down. Her school superintendent
said he would push to expel her from United South Central High School in Wells
for a weapons violation. A drug-search
dog alerted on Drescher's locker. No
drugs were found, but law enforcement turned up a pocket knife in her
purse. "I'd totally forgotten about
it, honestly," said Drescher.
Drescher explained she'd used the knife to help
her boyfriend with farm chores, then placed it in her purse. She was expelled for the rest of the school
year for violating the school's weapons policy. But she and her family fought back.
There was an outpouring of public support, including from some state
legislators, who said the school's punishment was too harsh for an innocent
The Minnesota Department of Education sustained
the expulsion order, but the Minnesota state appeals court reversed the school
board, and the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld that ruling. A key part of the supreme court ruling holds
that in order to expel, a school district must first determine that a student
deliberately violated school policy -- a "willful violation" in the
language of the law. Since Drescher
maintained she accidentally carried the knife into school, the court ruled
there was no intent to violate school policy.
September, 5, 2016
One Dead in Shawano County Crash
An 18-year-old Shawano man is dead after a one
vehicle crash in Shawano County Saturday night, according to the Wisconsin
State Patrol. Authorities said Andrew
Retzlaff of Shawano was pronounced dead at the scene. Around 9pm Saturday, the State Patrol and the
Shawano County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of a pick-up truck
that lost control, overcorrected and struck a tree on Willow Creek Road at
County Highway U near Shawano. The crash
remains under investigation.
September, 1, 2016
Wis. Bank Profits Decreased In
Amid a nearly five percent growth in lending,
Wisconsin banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation saw
profits tumble 15.6-percent for the second quarter of 2016. The FDIC reported net income of $518-million
for all insured banking institutions in Wisconsin during the second quarter,
down from $614-million during the same period last year.
Total reported assets for the quarter increased
to $107-billion from $104-billion during the same financial quarter last
year. Lending among state banks grew 4.8
percent in the quarter to nearly $77-billion from $73-billion in 2015. Total deposits also increased to $83-billion
The Wisconsin Bankers Association in Madison
said in a news release that the state's banking industry still faces numerous
obstacles, including a prolonged low-interest rate environment, increasing
compliance and technology costs, and the growing amount of bank mergers and
acquisitions. According to the industry
group, in 2016, a whopping 17 mergers have been announced compared with 2015,
which saw 12 mergers.
Harley-Davidson To Lay Off 39 in
Harley-Davidson plans to lay off 39 union
workers at its Tomahawk location, according to a representative with the
company. The layoffs will stretch
throughout the company's fourth quarter, which runs from October through the
end of the year. The representative said
that employees were told about the layoffs this week.
There are two Harley-Davidson factories in
Tomahawk, but it is unknown how many jobs will be terminated at each
location. The employees are members the
United Steelworkers Union.
Emerald Ash Borer Spreads To
State of Wisconsin agriculture officials said
the emerald ash borer is getting closer to Wisconsin's North Woods. The tree-killing pest has been found in
Sawyer County, the second most northern location in Wisconsin, so far. The
county will be quarantined. Sawyer
County joins 38 other Wisconsin counties where the emerald ash borer has been
A single adult beetle was found in a monitoring
trap set along a road in the Town of Radisson.
Brian Kuhn, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the new
infestation is less than twenty miles from the Chequamegon National Forest and
the adjoining Flambeau River State Forest. But Kuhn said the infestation is in an early stage, with no damage yet.
$15 Minimum Wage & Police
Insurance Won’t Be On Minnesota Ballot
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled
that two proposed Minneapolis charter amendments will not be on the ballot
there this fall. One ballot question
proposed setting a city-wide $15-an-hour minimum wage and the other would mandate
that police officers carry professional liability insurance.
Supporters of the higher minimum wage had won a
lower court order that put the question to voters in November. The city appealed and the justices reversed
the Hennepin County ruling. The Supreme
Court order says the city council has the sole legislative authority in
Minneapolis, and the wage measure isn't eligible to be decided by voters.
In the other case, critics of Minneapolis police
wanted officers to carry liability insurance, hoping that payouts for
misconduct would force out some officers by raising their premiums. But the Minnesota Supreme Court said state
laws involving police liability and public employees preempt the proposed
August 31, 2016
Gov. Walker Asks State Agency To
Investigate Problems At Vets Home
Governor Scott Walker's office says it has asked
the state Health Services agency to investigate reports of medical errors and
staffing shortages at the state veterans' nursing home in Waupaca County. Employees at King, along with residents and
their relatives, expressed care concerns amid a surplus of federal revenues for
the facility. State officials cite high federal quality rankings for the vets'
home, and Veterans' Affairs secretary John Scocos (sco' cuss) said the state
has reinvested more than 150-million dollars into its nursing homes in recent
years. But an agency spokeswoman said
her department supports a legislative audit and a federal investigation. Lawmakers of both parties are calling for
reviews, and Legislative Audit Committee co-chair Rob Cowles (coles) said the
panel will meet next month to authorize an audit.
State of Emergency Declared In 3
Governor Walker issued an executive order Monday
declaring a State of Emergency in Eau Claire, Buffalo and Trempealeau
counties. This comes after the recent
heavy rain and flooding that happened August 10 and 11. Based on the order, the Wisconsin Department
of Transportation has requested the Federal Highway Administration emergency
fund to help with around $1.8-million in damages throughout the three counties.
August 24, 2016
Wis. ACT Scores Drop Below Nat’l
Wisconsin's average score on the ACT college
entrance exam dropped below the national average in the first year that all graduating
seniors took the test. Wisconsin's
average score of 20.5 is below the national average of 20.8. The state score is down 1.7 points from last
year when 73 percent of seniors took the exam.
The state's 2016 score is fourth highest among
the 18 states where all graduates were tested and 11th highest among states
where more than half of students took it. Among all states, Wisconsin ranked
For years, Wisconsin's test scores had been
among the highest, and above the national average, until a new state law took
effect in 2015 that required all 11th graders to take the exam. Given that change, the scores were expected
Talks Between Allina & Nurses
Representatives for Allina Health and the
Minnesota Nurses Association, representing 4,800 of its hospital nurses, ended
a 12-hour negotiating session late Tuesday without reaching agreement. Each side blamed the other for the latest
failure in talks that have been going on since February.
Negotiators for the Minnesota Nurses Association
said Allina continued with a nonstarter demand that nurses surrender their
union-backed health plans and switch to the company’s plans. Allina officials said they waited all day for
a counterproposal by the union, which had called Tuesday’s session. Both sides talked with federal mediators, but
didn’t meet face to face.
August 22, 2016
Warnings About Wis. High
Wisconsin regulators have been warned that the
state's high electric rates could spark some of its big manufacturers to move
or expand elsewhere. A report approved
by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission last month said the state's average
electric rates are highest among eight Midwest states for the first time since
Comments submitted in response to that report
said those rates make it hard for industries to remain competitive. And that has led to calls for fostering price
competition, such as allowing consumers to choose their power providers instead
of being restricted to the current utility monopolies.
August 17, 2016
MSP Service Workers Approve One
Workers employed by a Delta Air Lines contractor
at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have voted to stage a one-day
strike at the airport to protest working conditions and win the right to join a
union. The Service Employees
International Union Local 26 is trying
to organize about 700 cart drivers, wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, lavatory
and water service fillers, unaccompanied minor escorts and baggage handlers who
work for Air Serv Corporation of Atlanta.
The date of the impending strike was not divulged by the
Minneapolis-based union. Of the nearly
three-quarters of eligible voters taking part in the ballot, 98 percent voted
in favor of the walkout, the Union said.
The Union said it hopes to see "movement by the busy Labor Day
Allina Nurses Vote Thursday For
Union nurses at five Twin Cities hospitals will
vote Thursday on whether to authorize another strike at five Allina
hospitals. Negotiators for the Minnesota
Nurses Association are urging their members to authorize an open-ended
walkout. They hope the prospect of an
indefinite strike will put more pressure on the health system to settle a
In June, 4,800 nurses struck Allina for one week
in a dispute that still centers on health benefits. The two sides remain at odds over Allina's
proposal to shift nurses from their union-only health plans to less expensive
corporate insurance. The company says
the move would reduce its health costs $10-million a year by encouraging more
frugal use of health care. Nurses object
to the higher out-of-pocket maximums and say they need more robust first-dollar
coverage because their jobs expose them to more illness and injuries.
Wis. Equalized Values Report
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue released its
annual Equalized Value Report. The
report shows that Wisconsin’s total statewide equalized property value as of
January 1, 2016, was $505 billion, a 3 percent increase over the prior
year. Equalized Values are based on data
from January 1, 2015 to January 1, 2016.
Wisconsin residential property was valued at
$354 billion as of January 1, 2016, an increase of 2.9 percent, or $9.9
billion. The 2.9 percent increase marks
the third consecutive year of positive gains in residential home values.
The DOR report also shows construction activity
continues an upward trend. Wisconsin
added $7.1 billion in new construction during 2015, including $3.2 billion in
residential property, $3.2 billion in commercial property, and $437 million in
manufacturing property. In total, new
construction value increased by 20.9 percent from the prior year.
The total value of real estate in the City of
Amery increased $751,600, less than one percent, to $183,390,800. Of this, the biggest share was residential
property, which increased $774,800 or one percent to a total of $113,906,900. Manufacturing property value decreased one
percent, commercial property increased one percent, and agricultural land in
the City of Amery decreased thirty percent.
August 15, 2016
One Shot During Second Night Of
Milwaukee Police said one person was shot at a
Milwaukee protest last night and officers used an armored vehicle to retrieve
the injured victim during a second night of unrest over the police shooting of
a black man. But there was no repeat of
the widespread destruction of property that occurred Saturday night.
Some two dozen officers in riot gear confronted
a group who were throwing rocks and other objects at police near where the
black man was fatally shot a day earlier.
Police moved in to try to disperse the crowd.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said the man
whose death touched off Saturday night's rioting, Sylville Smith, was shot
after he turned toward an officer with a gun in his hand.
August 11, 2016
Wis. Teen Killed When Car Splits
In Half On I-35
A 19-year-old Wisconsin woman is dead after a
crash on Interstate 35 Wednesday afternoon in Steele County. The Minnesota State Patrol said the fatal
accident happened near Albert Lea just after 5pm yesterday. The victim, from Delano, Wisconsin, was
driving a PT Cruiser southbound on the interstate when one of her rear tires
blew out, causing her to lose control.
She hit the median, causing the Cruiser to split in half. A pickup truck, an SUV and a Harley
motorcycle collided with one half of the car, while the other half came to rest
in the northbound lanes. The name of the
victim, and the names and condition of the other people involved, have not been
released. The Minnesota State Patrol is
August 10, 2016
Wis. Election Results for US
Senator & 7th Congressional District
Across the State of Wisconsin, Russ Feingold
easily defeated Scott Harbach to face Republican US Senator Ron Johnson in the
November general election.
Mary Hoeft easily defeated Joel Lewis in the
Democratic Party race for US Congress for the Seventh Congressional
District. Hoeft will face the Republican
Sean Duffy in the November general election; Duffy easily defeated Donald
President Declares Disaster In 8
Counties & Bad River Reservation
Yesterday President Obama declared a disaster in
eight northern Wisconsin counties and the Bad River Reservation after flooding
on July 11 and 12. State officials
estimate at least $25-million in damage to roads and other infrastructure. The President’s declaration allows local
governments affected by the July floods to apply for federal assistance. Federal funding is available to state, tribal,
and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations, on
a cost-sharing basis, for emergency work and the repair or replacement of
facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding in the counties of
Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Florence, Iron, Sawyer, and Washburn and
the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe. Federal funding is also available on a
cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures in all areas within the
Dresser Man Charged in Stand-off
with Police in St. Paul
Joshua Hacken, age 36 of Dresser, has been
charged in a stand-off with police in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Hacken is accused of pulling a gun on an
employee at Days Inn on Sunday when confronted in a hotel room. A complaint says Hacken fled from the pool
area into another room when police arrived and held them at bay for more than
three hours. Police negotiators were
able to convince Hacken to surrender. He's charged with second-degree assault and illegally possessing a
August 8, 2016
Guards Allow Fights At Youth
A guard at the state’s troubled youth prison was
fired in February after he got in a physical fight with a juvenile inmate and
allowed other teens to throw punches at each other in an area that was out of
the view of cameras, newly-revealed records show. A second guard resigned amid the
investigation, which found he had not stopped or reported fights at Lincoln
Hills School for Boys. The Northwoods
facility has been under criminal investigation for 19 months for suspicion of
child neglect, prisoner abuse and misconduct in office.
Another document recently released under the
state’s open records law details dozens of incidents that occurred at the
prison in the second half of last year, many of which raise troubling questions
about the staff’s use of force and pepper spray. In one incident, staff sprayed a juvenile who
was restrained. In another, staff
blasted pepper spray into a room after an inmate prevented guards from seeing into
Top officials at the Department of Corrections
kept mum for months about the log of incidents, even when directly asked if it
existed. They didn’t produce it seven
months ago in part because the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel asked for a log of
conduct reports, rather than incident reports.
Deputy Kills Man After Standoff
A Dodge County Sheriff's deputy has killed a man
following a standoff. Authorities were
called to an apartment complex in Beaver Dam around 6:45pm Friday for a report
of a suicidal man. Dodge County
Sheriff's deputies and officers from the Beaver Dam Police Department
surrounded the area and received information the man wanted to commit suicide
by being shot by an officer. Sheriff
Dale Schmidt said the person was seen waving a gun around and at one point
turned the weapon toward a deputy and fired. The deputy, who has nine years on the job, returned fire. The person
with the gun died at the scene. The
deputy was not hurt but was immediately placed on leave, which is standing
policy for an officer-involved shooting. The state Justice Department is investigating.
2 Women Killed After Crossing
Investigators said two women are dead and one
man is hurt after a crash in Juneau County Sunday morning. According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, two
women were driving east on I-90 near Highway 72 in Lyndon Station around
10:30am when the car hit a trailer, crossed the median and drove into the
oncoming lane of traffic where the car hit a westbound semi. The driver of the car, an 86-year-old woman
from Hayward, and a 45-year-old Hayward woman who was in the car both died. The semi driver was also hurt but is expected
to be alright. Authorities are looking
into what caused the crash.
August 3, 2016
Frac-Sand Plant On Rebound Due To
A frac-sand mining plant near Tomah, that was
slated to be idled this year, continues to operate, and has added another 19
employees because of rebounding demand.
Mark Massicotte, the plant manager at Unimin Corporation’s facility in
Tunnel City, said yesterday that the plant now has about 84 employees. That compares with the 65 employees at the
plant in March when the Connecticut-based company announced plans to idle the
facility. At the time, Unimin said
flagging demand for frac-sand, which is used in drilling to prop open fissures
in the earth to help oil and natural gas flow, led to the decision to idle the
plant. The facility ceased shipments for
a week in preparation to idle, but orders quickly ramped back up and no
employees were affected.
Union Calls Allina Nurses To
Authorize Indefinite Strike
The Minnesota Nurses Association yesterday
called for nearly 5,000 Allina Health nurses to authorize an indefinite strike
against five Allina hospitals. A vote is
set for August 18th. The call for an
indefinite strike comes a day after contract talks between the union and
hospital system broke down again. The
nurses' health plan remains the main sticking point.
In June, Allina nurses went on srike for seven
days at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Mercy Hospital in Coon
Rapids, Unity Hospital in Fridley, United Hospital in Saint Paul and Phillips
Eye Institute in Minneapolis.
August 1, 2016
Federal Judge Strikes Wis. Voter
US District Judge James Peterson issued a ruling
Friday that upheld the voter ID law but struck down a number of statutes and
policies that restricted voting. He
ordered the state to quickly issue credentials valid for voting to anyone
trying to obtain a free photo ID for voting. He struck down a restriction limiting municipalities to one location for
in-person absentee voting, time limits on in-person absentee voting, an
increase in residency requirements from 10 to 28 days, and a prohibition on
using expired but otherwise qualifying student IDs to vote.
Witness Tried To Save Baby Who
Drowned in Milwaukee
A witness tried to save a three-month-old baby
who died after his father carried him into a pond. The father is in custody, but has not been
charged yet. Milwaukee police are
investigating the baby's death as a homicide.
The incident happened Saturday night around 8:45pm Police said the baby's father and mother got
into a fight, and the father walked out of the house with the baby, right into
a nearby pond until he was submerged up to his chest. A witness jumped into the water to rescue the
baby. Joey Griffin says, "I saw a
baby floating in the water. I grabbed it. I tried to swim away with it. He
lunged at me and took the baby again and swam further, deeper." When police officers arrived, the father was
in the water, but he didn't have the baby with him. Officers searched the water
and found the baby boy unconscious. Paramedics tried to revive him, but he died at the scene.
Former Bookkeeper Pleaded Guilty
To Wire Fraud & Tax Evasion
Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin,
announced that Lisa Buchholz, age 48 of Luck, pleaded guilty yesterday in US
District Court in Madison to one count of wire fraud and one count of income
yesterday’s hearing, Buchholz admitted that she devised and participated in a
scheme to defraud Four Seasons Wood Products in Frederic, while employed there
as a bookkeeper, by misusing The Company’s accounting system to embezzle money
that she disguised as payroll to nominee entities. Buchholz also admitted she diverted checks
payable to The Company and deposited them in her own bank account. Buchholz admitted that she created fake
endorsements on the back of checks, making it appear she had authority to cash
the checks as payments to her, not The Company. Buchholz also admitted she failed to file tax returns with the Internal
Revenue Service since 1999, and that she owed income taxes totaling $55,401 for
the years 2008-2011.
District Judge William Conley scheduled sentencing for November third. Buchholz faces a maximum penalty of twenty
years in federal prison on the wire fraud charge and five years on the income
tax evasion charge.
charges against Buchholz are the result of an investigation by IRS Criminal
Investigation and the Polk County Sheriff’s office.
July 28, 2016
Unemployment Down In Most Wis.
The unemployment rate for Polk County was
4.3-percent in June, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce
Development. Unemployment is down in
nearly all Wisconsin cities and counties. Unemployment rates decreased or remained the same in 29 of the state's
32 largest cities in June. The rates
also went down or remained the same in all but four counties. The only counties that saw increases were
Saint Croix, Taylor, Pierce and Douglas.
Menominee County had the highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent while
Dane County was lowest at 3.3 percent. Racine had the highest unemployment of any city at 6.9 percent, while
Fitchburg was lowest at 3.2 percent. The
local rates aren't seasonally adjusted so they're not comparable to the state
unemployment rate, which stood at 4.2 percent in June.
Second Probable Wis. Heat-Related
The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office
is investigating a probable heat-related death in Milwaukee. A 60-year-old man was found unresponsive in
his home. He was pronounced dead
Wednesday and had a body temperature of 103 degrees. An autopsy is scheduled for today.
Wisconsin health and emergency management
officials on Wednesday confirmed Wisconsin's first heat-related death this
summer. Officials said the death
happened the first week of July in northern Wisconsin's Iron County, but did
not release any other details. State
Health Officer Karen McKeown said officials are encouraging people to check on
their neighbors, friends and family during hot weather.
Antigo Police Release Name Of
Officer Shot At
Antigo police have released the name of the
officer who was shot at during a routine traffic stop Tuesday. Patrolman Joseph Husnick noticed a suspicious
vehicle early Tuesday morning and discovered the license plates didn't match
the car. He pulled over 50-year-old Scot
Minard of Eagle River. Police said that,
when Husnick was walking towards the car, Minard reached out the window and
fired two shots at the officer. Husnick
dove behind the vehicle for cover, he was not injured. Minard then led police on a westbound chase
on State Highway 64, ending in the Township of Pine River where officers used
spike strips to deflate his tires. Officials said Minard got out of his car and took cover while still
holding his gun; he eventually fired his weapon at officers. Four officers
returned fire, striking and killing the suspect. Husnick and three other officers have been
put on paid administrative leave during the Wisconsin Department of Justice
investigation. At this time, the names
of the other law enforcement involved are not being released.
July 27, 2016
Protesters Arrested Outside Minn.
Saint Paul Minnesota police said that nearly 70
protesters were arrested when officers cleared them from the street in front of
the Minnesota's governor's mansion. The
most recent arrests were made at 2:30am today, when 23 people were taken into
custody for public nuisance and unlawful assembly. Demonstrators have been camped outside the
Minnesota governor's mansion for weeks to protest the July 6 killing of
Philando Castile, a black man who was shot by a suburban police officer during
a traffic stop. Police told the
protesters Tuesday morning that they could no longer block the street. They began to gather their belongings, but
tensions flared throughout the day and authorities began making arrests. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
is investigating Castile's death.
Man Dead In Monroe County Rollover
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said a
27-year-old man was driving westbound on State Highway 71 in the Township of
Wells when the car crossed the centerline last night. The car then traveled along the shoulder of
the road and into the ditch. After
entering the ditch, the car hit a concrete drainage culvert, went up onto a
driveway and flipped over, landing on its roof.
Emergency responders found the man dead in the overturned car when they
arrived on scene. The Monroe County
Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the crash and is withholding the name
of the victim until a next of kin is notified.
July 20, 2016
DNR May Buy Land Along Lower
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will be
asked to approve the purchase of 990 acres along the Lower Chippewa River in
Dunn County at its meeting on August third in Ashland. The Department of Natural Resources would
pay over $2-million for the property, which is owned by Xcel Energy. The property includes a portion of the
Chippewa River trail and 18,000 feet of shoreline on the south side of the
Located in a floodplain, the property can be
hard to access at certain times of the year.
The Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, a state endangered species, is on
the property. The river has populations
of paddlefish, a state threatened species.
After plans for the $1.3-billion nuclear power
plant collapsed, Xcel still held out plans to build a coal-fired plant on the
property. But by 2006, the company
decided not to construct a plant on the property.
Home Sales Strongest in Wisconsin
A new report shows home sales in Wisconsin for
the first half of the year are the best they've been since 2005. The Wisconsin Realtors Association said sales
of existing homes are up 5.5-percent from the same period last year. The median price of a home rose 4.5-percent
Association chairman K.C. Maurer said homes are
moving quickly. He said the average time
on the market fell to 86-days in June. The last time the days on the market were that low was August 2005. The association's report said every region of
the state experienced a growth in sales compared to the same period in 2015.
Federal Judge Allows Voting By
Those Without IDs
A federal judge has issued an order allowing
Wisconsin residents who lack photo identification to vote in November. US District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee
issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday that allows people who haven't been
able to obtain IDs after a "reasonable effort," to sign an affidavit
at their polling place stating why they couldn't get identification and
verifying their identity. Then they'd be
allowed to vote on the spot.
Adelman also said the affidavit option will not
be in place for the August ninth primary, saying elections officials don't have
time to implement it by then, but it must be in place for the November eighth
The American Civil Liberties Union and the
National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty filed a motion asking for the
injunction in June.
July 18, 2016
$30-Million Damage From Floods
Flooding from last week's heavy rains has caused
nearly $30 million dollars in damage in northwestern Wisconsin. State emergency management officials said
Saturday that storms have caused nearly $1.8-million in damage to homes and
businesses. Damage to roads, bridges and trails is estimated at another
Ashland and Bayfield counties and Bad River
tribal lands are among the hardest hit.
Ashland and Bayfield counties each sustained more than $5-million in
infrastructure damage. The Bad River area saw more than $1-million in housing
Officer-Involved Shooting In
Authorities said a police officer has been
involved in a shooting in Sheboygan.
Police said the shooting happened about 11:30pm Sunday at the Union
Avenue Tap in Sheboygan, where the officer was responding to a report of a
robbery. Officials have not provided any
other details at this time.
Milwaukee Police Adapt After
In the wake of a shooting that seriously injured
a Milwaukee police officer early Sunday morning as he sat in his squad car, the
Milwaukee Police Department is sending all officers out in two-person squad
teams. All seven Milwaukee police
districts were instructed to use two-person squads "effective immediately
and until further notice," Assistant Chief William Jessup said at a news
conference Sunday afternoon.
Authorities identified the wounded Milwaukee
police officer as Brandon Baranowski. He
was being treated for serious injuries after being shot while seated in the
front seat of his squad car. Baranowski,
age 31, is a father and husband as well as a 13-year veteran of the Milwaukee
Police Department. "He is a very
dedicated and hardworking employee," Jessup said. "At that moment, he was doing his best to
provide safety to a woman and child in the middle of a domestic violence
About 2am Sunday, a person approached the
passenger side of Baranowski's squad car and fired multiple shots into the car,
striking Baranowski several times in the arm and chest, police said. Baranowski
was wearing body armor that protected him from the chest shots, said Mayor Tom
July 14, 2016
VA Opioid Reforms Sent to
Reforms inspired by the drug overdose death of a
veteran at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center almost two years ago have
passed the US Senate and now head to President Obama's desk for his signature.
US Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski died
from a mixture of medications at the Tomah VA in August 2014.
US Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced the Jason
Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act last June. The bill creates stronger opioid prescribing
guidelines for veterans hospitals and puts in place new oversight and
accountability measures. Baldwin said
she worked with the Simcakoski family throughout the legislative process, and
was moved by their commitment to turn their heartbreak and tragedy into hope
Officer Dragged While Stopping
Milwaukee Police said an officer was injured
after being dragged by a car in Milwaukee that had been stolen from a
dealership. Police officers on Wednesday
evening spotted four teenagers in the car, which had been taken from a
dealership in Sturtevant. Officers tried
to stop the car and the young people inside jumped out while it was still
moving. They were caught nearby. The car was left in gear when they got out
and the officer lost his balance while trying to stop it. The car came to rest when it hit a light
pole. Police said the 51-year-old
officer was taken to a hospital, where he was expected to make a full
recovery. Police arrested two 17-year-old
boys, a 16-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl.
July 12, 2016
Woman Drowns While Tubing On
Authorities said a 26-year-old woman from Green
Bay drowned while tubing on the Peshtigo River in northeastern Wisconsin. Marinette County authorities received a
911-call Saturday afternoon about a woman missing from a group of tubers who
were floating on the river near the Village of Crivitz. Emergency responders went to the scene and
searched for her. A Crivitz resident who
was helping in the search found the woman submerged in the river just after
7pm. She was pronounced dead at the
scene. The name of the woman was not
immediately released. Her death is
considered an accidental drowning.
Lautenschlager Will Lead Ethics
The members of Wisconsin’s Ethics Commission
unanimously voted Monday to make Peg Lautenschlager the chairwoman of the
commission, one of two new bodies that are replacing the Government
Accountability Board. Lawmakers last
year voted to dissolve the accountability board because they believed it was
biased against them — a charge the former judges on the accountability board
The Ethics Commission on Monday also selected
Brian Bell as its director. Bell is a
budget and policy analyst with the state Department of Safety and Professional
Services and will be paid $92,500 per year in his new job.
Lautenschlager in 2004 was fined $250 for
failing to reimburse taxpayers when she commuted from home to the Capitol in
her state vehicle. As part of that
ethics settlement, she also agreed to pay $672 in mileage reimbursements. Her use of the state vehicle became public
after she was arrested on allegations of drunken driving when she drove her car
into a Dodge County ditch.
In addition to serving as attorney general,
Lautenschlager has been a U.S. attorney, Winnebago County district attorney,
state lawmaker and member of the Elections Board. She said her public service, including her
brush with ethics regulators, gives her the perspective to lead the new ethics
Income Guidelines Announced For
School & Day-Care Meals
Each year the US Department of Agriculture Food
and Nutrition Service updates income eligibility guidelines for meals served in
schools and day care programs based upon federal poverty levels. The guidelines begin July 1st and remain in
effect through June 2017. The guidelines
establish that students in a household of four persons with income at
130-percent of the federal poverty level, that is, with household incomes of
$31,590 or less, qualify for free school meals.
If that household income is between $31,590 and $44,955, which is
185-percent of the federal poverty level, children can receive reduced-price meals.
Environmentalists Challenge DNR Sand-Mine
Environmentalists are challenging findings in a
new state Department of Natural Resources draft report that sand mining doesn't
produce fine dust which can lodge in human lungs. The DNR released a draft of possible updates
to its strategic sand mining analysis for public comment this past week. The draft recommends that monitoring for
larger pollution particles is the most appropriate approach since mining likely
won't release smaller particles that may be linked to disease. The draft says air quality monitors in
western Wisconsin haven't detected elevated levels of smaller particles and
health impacts from sand mines shouldn't be an issue. Midwest Environmental Advocates maintains the
DNR has no evidence to support such an assertion and needs to collect more
July 8, 2016
Minnesota Woman Killed In Head-On
A young Minnesota driver was killed Thursday
when her vehicle crossed the center line and hit another vehicle head on,
according to the Waushara County Sheriff's Department. The crash happened about 10am on Wisconsin
Highway 21 near the intersection of County Road Z in the Town of Marion. The
woman was from the Twin Cities area.
Two people from Missouri, traveling westbound in
the second car, were injured and taken to a hospital in Neenah, one with
The crash happened in an area where other
accidents have occurred, Sheriff Jeffery Nett said. Eastbound drivers travel a flat stretch of
road that drops down a hill into a curve and drivers not paying attention can
cross the center line, Nett said. Investigators are trying to determine if other factors were involved but
weather at the time was not a problem, the sheriff said.
The name of the woman killed will not be
released Friday, he said.
Columbus’ Ships At Hudon
Replicas of the Nina and Pinta, two of explorer
Christopher Columbus’ seafaring ships, sailed into the Hudson harbor yesterday,
where they will remain for a twelve-day port call. They are open for public tours through July
The Niña was built in exacting detail to mirror
the smallest of the three ships Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. A new Santa Maria was never built because
Columbus hated the original Santa Maria; it was a freighter that sailed like a
barrel and shipwrecked off the coast of Haiti. The Niña was built at a cost of $600,000 and completed in 2001, while
the Pinta, finished in 2006, cost $2 million.
The Niña and Pinta represent the Columbus
Foundation, which educates the public on the caravel type of ships Columbus
sailed. They travel about 11 months a
year as floating museums. Details are
available at thenina.com.
Tours in Hudson begin at 9am today. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6
for children and free for kids 4 and under.
New VA Hospital Rules For Opiods
The US Congress is expected to vote on a bill
today for new prescription opioid requirements for Department of Veterans
Affairs health care providers. The bill
is named for the 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran, Jason Simcakoski, who died
at the Tomah VA Medical Center in 2014. The Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act is part of a package of bills aimed at
opioid abuse. Many VA hospitals are
already following some of the bill’s requirements. The larger package of opioid-related bills,
called the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, has been criticized by some
Democratic legislators for its lack of funding for opioid addiction treatment.
Driver Seriously Injured In Crash
One person was seriously injured in a car crash
Thursday afternoon that happened on Wisconsin Highway 47 in the Town of Lake
Tomahawk. According to the Oneida County
Sheriff's department, they received a call of a three vehicle head-on crash
with a driver trapped inside shortly after 4pm. Officials said a woman was driving a car and crossed the center line on
Highway 47, hitting a pickup. The car
then hit a trailer of a vehicle behind the pickup. The driver of the car was taken to the hospital
with serious injuries; no one else was hurt.
The crash shut down Highway 47 for hours. No other information is being released at
this time and the crash is under investigation.
July 5, 2016
Church Arson Suspect Arrested in
Nineteen-year-old John Humm was arrested Monday
morning in the village of Trempealeau, near La Crosse. Authorities there said they saw him setting
fire to Saint Bartholomew's Catholic church just after 3am Sunday. Firefighters put out the fire before serious
damage was done. Humm is facing charges
of arson, criminal damage to religious property, and resisting arrest.
One Dead, Two Injured in Dodge Co.
In Dodge County, Wisconsin, the Sheriff's Office
said a head-on crash happened on July 4th in the Township of Fox Lake around
5:30pm on State Highway 33. The
preliminary investigation showed one vehicle was going west on Highway 33 and
the other vehicle was going east on Highway 33 when they collided. The driver of the first vehicle was
pronounced dead at the scene. The driver
of the second vehicle has life threatening injuries and was flown by helicopter
to UW-Hospital. A passenger in the
eastbound car was taken to Beaver Dam Hospital by ambulance. The Dodge County Sheriff's Office has not
identified anyone involved in the accident yet. The crash is still under investigation by the Dodge County Crash
June 30, 2016
Wealthy Receive Most Of Tax Break
Eleven people who are projected to earn more
than $35-million in 2017 would receive a combined $21-million in tax breaks
through a new credit that took effect in 2013, according to estimates compiled
by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
A Bureau memo released yesterday by Representative Gordon Hintz of
Oshkosh, showed that those 11 people, who account for the top
one-one-hundredth-percent of income earners claiming the credit, would get ten
percent of the $209-million that is expected to be paid out next year. The top 1.2-percent of all income earners
claiming the credit, those who make $1-million or more, would get 78-percent of
the total amount.
The Wisconsin Legislature passed the tax credit
and Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011, claiming that it would
help jumpstart manufacturing growth in the state. Democrats say the new data shows the law is
only benefiting the state's wealthiest individuals. According to a recent report by the Wisconsin
Budget Project, the growth rate for manufacturing jobs has remain unchanged
from the previous two years since the tax credit took effect until now.
14-Year-Old Girl Died In ATV
The Bayfield County sheriff's office reported
that a 14-year-old girl died in an all-terrain vehicle rollover after leaving
her home in the Town of Barnes on Tuesday. She was reported missing around 10
p.m. Crews searched for the girl in the
Barnes area. Sheriff's deputies found her body around 4am Wednesday on an
unmarked logging road about two miles from her home. Authorities say the girl was wearing a helmet
and apparently lost control of her ATV on a curve that had standing water from
rain. The name of the girl was not
Aging & Disability Resource
Center Board Meeting
The Aging and Disability Resource Center Board
is scheduled to meet today, June 30th, beginning at 9am in the Tribal Health
Center Conference Room in Hertel. The
Board plans to act to purchase new dispatch software, introduce Karen Nichols,
who is new to the staff, receive a presentation by Denny Blodgett of Interfaith
Volunteer Caregivers of Burnett County, make a decision regarding Polk County
on-site meal preparation, and increase the pay of Board members.
June 28, 2016
Woman Shot & Killed In
A woman died late Monday after being found with
gunshot wounds in Minneapolis, police said.
Minneapolis police were called at 11:15pm to the 1800-block of Penn
Avenue North. Officers found a woman in
a car who had been shot. She was taken
to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where she died. The identity of the woman and the cause of
death will be determined by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. Today officers will talk to neighbors about
High School Student Hit &
Killed in Forest Lake
A high school student was hit and killed Monday
afternoon in Forest Lake, according to Forest Lake Area Schools. The Minnesota State Patrol identified the
student as 18-year-old Catherine Loahr. The incident happened at 1:12pm near Highway 97 and Goodview Avenue
North. According to the Minnesota State
Patrol, a 65-year-old woman driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee was turning from
Goodview Avenue onto eastbound Highway 97 when Laohr was hit. The school district is offering crisis
counseling to any students who need it.
Allina Makes New Offer To Nurses
Allina Health presented a new offer Monday to
get the union, representing its 48-hundred Twin Cities hospital nurses, back to
negotiations after a weeklong nursing strike.
The health system still demands that nurses at its five Twin Cities
hospitals switch from their costly union-backed health plans, but the proposal
gives them until the year 2020 to do so and offers concessions in other areas —
such as allowing the union to appoint nurses to workplace safety committees.
Allina's proposal to restart contract talks
comes as some nurses still await calls to return to work after the seven-day
strike that ended at 7am Sunday.
Approximately 200 nurses at United and Unity haven't returned to work,
the union said, due to the low number of patients at the two hospitals.
The nurses' union-backed health plans feature
higher premiums but low or no deductibles for care. Allina wants to move the nurses to the plans
it offers other employees, two of which are the exact opposite in their
designs: lower premiums but higher deductibles.
3 Hurt in Head-on Crash in Waupaca
A head-on crash in Waupaca County sent several
people to the hospital late Monday night, according to the Waupaca County
Sheriff's Department. Authorities said a
Jeep driving northbound on Highway 45 crossed the centerline hitting a southbound
van just before midnight. The driver of
the Jeep was flown to a hospital in Neenah.
The driver and passenger in the van were taken to the hospital by
ambulance. The crash remains under
June 20, 2016
Waukesha Lake-Water Diversion Plan
US and Canadian advisers to the Great Lakes
Fishery Commission, mayors of US and Canadian cities within the Great Lakes
basin, and conservation and environmental organizations from the region are
attempting to get the attention of the eight Great Lakes states' governors
before they or their delegates meet Tuesday in Chicago for a final vote on the
city of Waukesha’s request. Late last
month, the Michigan state Senate adopted a resolution opposing the request.
Waukesha is asking the eight states to approve a
$207-million plan for diverting lake water across the sub-continental divide
between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins and returning an equal
volume of water as fully treated wastewater to Lake Michigan via the Root
Opponents are attempting to create last-minute
doubts about the merits of the proposal since they failed to halt the request
in two earlier rounds of technical and environmental reviews by Wisconsin and
Great Lakes officials.
The city of Waukesha is attempting to become the
first US community located entirely outside the Great Lakes drainage basin to
receive a diversion of lake water since a Great Lakes protection compact became
federal law in 2008. The compact
requires a unanimous vote of approval among states participating in the final
decision, so a single no vote Tuesday would end Waukesha's 13-year quest for a
lake water supply.
US-Canadian Plan For Great Lakes
Governors and Canadian premiers from the Great
Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway region have unanimously approved a new maritime
strategy that calls for streamlining customs regulations to allow freer
movement between Canada and the US. The
agreement also recommends strategic dredging to deepen certain shipping
channels. The single largest earmark
would be several hundred million dollars to build a second "Poe
Class" lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
David Nafzger, executive director for the
Conference of Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Governors and Premiers, said there
is only one lock that allows the passage of large, so-called laker ships. "So if there’s any type of an issue
where the Poe lock is closed, it’ll severely jeopardize the steel industry and
much of our regional commerce that depends on it. If that lock would fail, predictions [are]
upwards of 20 percent regional unemployment [and a cost of] several points of GDP. It would be a real crisis for the region and
nation," he said.
The 10-year project is estimated to cost
$3.8-billion and would be paid for by the Canadian and US federal governments,
states, and by local ports.
Secretary of Health Services Dead
Kitty Rhoades, the secretary of Wisconsin's
Department of Health Services, died Saturday, according to Governor Scott
Walker's office. She had fallen ill in
the past week. She was 65. The cause of death wasn't immediately known.
Rhoades headed the state Department of Health
Services since February 2013, after serving as deputy secretary for two
years. Before that, she represented the
Hudson area as a Republican in the Wisconsin Assembly for 12 years. While in the Legislature she co-chaired the
Joint Finance Committee.
Wis. Unemployment Lowest in 15
Wisconsin's unemployment rate is the lowest it's
been in 15 years. The state Department
of Workforce Development reported Thursday that the unemployment rate dropped
to from 4.4 percent in April to 4.2 percent in May. That's the lowest it's been since March
2001. The report found that the state
added 9,700 jobs over the past month.
Across the nation, the May unemployment rate was
A Marquette University Law School poll released
Wednesday showed pessimism about the state's economy. That poll said 29 percent of respondents
think Wisconsin's economy got worse over the past year while 25 percent say it
improved and 44 percent think it has remained about the same.
Governor Scott Walker blamed the poll results on
the media, saying "headlines are always about negative and bad
June 15, 2016
Worker Killed At Mosinee
A worker at a Mosinee industrial plant died
Tuesday in an incident involving an overhead crane, Mosinee Police Chief
Kenneth Muelling said. Emergency crews
were sent to Crystal Finishing Systems Incorporated late yesterday
morning. Company President, Mark
Matthiae, said investigators are trying to determine exactly what happened. "We really don't know right now. There were no witnesses," he said. The employee, who has worked for the company
about seven years, was not a crane operator. The worker's name was not released pending notification of
relatives. He was 51 years old, the
police chief said. The incident remains
Crystal Finishing was founded in 1993 and does
aluminum extrusion and fabrication, high performance coatings, powder coating,
plastics coating and e-coating. t has
plants in Mosinee, Schofield and River Falls. The company employs about 800 workers at all its factories, including
160 in Mosinee.
June 13, 2016
Missing Man’s Body Found in Red
The body of the man swept downstream while
wading in the Red Cedar River last Tuesday has been found. According to the Dunn County Sheriff's
Office, at about 8:35am Saturday, the body of Juan Ramos-Malagon, age 21 from
Mexico, was spotted by deputies searching the area about one-tenth of a mile
from the Russian Slough in the Town of Tainter where he was walking in the
river on June 7th. He was pronounced
dead at the scene by the Dunn County Medical Examiner. Ramos-Malagon had been residing in rural
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Office reminds
everyone wading or fishing along the shoreline of any river to exercise caution
especially during periods of high water and swift currents.
Baraboo Woman Killed in Sauk
Investigators said a 23-year-old woman died in a
crash Saturday in Sauk County. Sheriff
Chip Meister said that deputies were called to a road in the town of Delton
around 5:30pm Saturday. Meister said the
initial investigation showed that a westbound car had trouble going around a
curve, left the road and hit a large tree.
The sheriff said a 23-year-old woman from Baraboo was the only person in
the car. She was pronounced dead at the
scene. Her name has not yet been
released. Sheriff Meister said the
preliminary investigation showed that the woman was not wearing a seat
belt. He said speed and failure to have
control were contributing factors in the crash. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor.
One Killed, Another Hurt in
Waushara County Crash
One person died and another was hospitalized
after a car crash Sunday morning in Waushara County, police said. Dispatchers received a 911-call shortly after
7am about a single-vehicle crash on 26th Road southeast of Waushara County W,
according to the Waushara County Sheriff's Office. Two males were found in the vehicle; one was
pronounced dead at the scene, while the other was flown by helicopter to a
hospital in Neenah. The vehicle appeared
to have struck several trees, according to the sheriff's office. Emergency responders at the scene were still
investigating what time the crash occurred, but they believe it happened early
Sunday morning. No names were
released. This was the first fatal car
crash in Waushara County in 2016.
Man Hit By Car In Vilas County
A man is dead after being hit by a car in Vilas
County yesterday, according to the Vilas County Sheriff's Department. Authorities said the crash happened on State
Highway 17 in the Town of Washington. The man was blowing leaves along the shoulder of the road when he was
struck. The department said he died at
the scene. According to the sheriff's
department, speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash. The department is
not pressing criminal charges. The
victim's name is not yet being released.
June 9, 2016
Nurses Set 7-Day Strike at Allina
The Minnesota Nurses Association said Wednesday
that it has informed Allina Health executives that it plans to strike for seven
days starting at 7am on Sunday, June 19th.
The nurses union says the strike involves around 5,000 nurses at Abbott
Northwestern, United, Mercy, Unity and Phillips Eye Institute.
Earlier this week, nurses rejected a contract
offer that would have nurses abandon their high-value health coverage set out
in past contracts. Allina wants the
nurses covered under health insurance plans offered to other employees. That insurance comes with lower monthly
premiums but much greater potential out-of-pocket costs.
In a statement Wednesday, Allina Health said
that if the strike happens, all metro-area hospitals "will remain open,
providing excellent care with highly skilled, experienced nurses partnering
with our other outstanding caregivers."
Ashley Furniture To Pay $1.75
Million To Settle Safety Citations
The US Occupational Safety and Health
Administration said that Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture has agreed to pay
$1.75-million to settle alleged safety violations at four of its plants. The agency said Wednesday that Ashley
Furniture entered into a corporate-wide agreement aimed at protecting workers
from machine hazards. The agreement also
resolves all pending citations at the company's plants in Arcadia and
Whitehall, Wisconsin, and in Ecru and Ripley, Mississippi.
Under the settlement, Ashley will retain a vice
president for safety, implement safety measures to protect employees and submit
annual status reports to OSHA during the two-year agreement. Ashley says the agreement allows the company
to move forward while focusing on its employees and the furniture business.
June 6, 2016
Motorcycle Crash Was Fatal For
Blaine MN Man
A Blaine, Minnesota. man was killed near
Prescott when his motorcycle struck a guardrail Sunday afternoon. The 46-year-old man was heading northbound on
Highway 35 near 480th Avenue at about 1pm when he lost control and struck a
guardrail. His injuries were fatal. The driver was wearing a helmet. His name is
being withheld pending notification of family. The crash remains under investigation.
June 3, 2016
Ground Broken for $30 Million
Complex Near Siren
Ground was broken yesterday for the Fourwinds
Market Complex in Siren, a $30 million Saint Croix Tribal Economic Development
project. The Fourwinds Market Complex
will employ 80 people from the area, a big boost to the local economy. The Comples will includes a full service
grocery store, a bottle shop with drive-thru service, a convenience store, a
gas station with a rest stop for truckers, a car wash, a fast-food restaurant
with drive-thru, and a 52-unit storage facility. The Fourwinds Project will also mean major
upgrades for the Saint Croix Casino Hertel Express Fourwinds is a project destined to benefit
the whole area, provide good paying jobs, and solidify an already solid
partnership between cultures in the Burnett and Washburn County areas.
US Considering Endangered Listing
For Moose In 4 States
Federal officials will investigate whether moose
in four Midwestern states should be protected under the Endangered Species
Act. The US Fish and Wildlife Service
said Thursday that it has reviewed a petition from environmental groups that
want moose in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota listed as an
endangered or threatened segment of the overall population. The agency said it found substantial
information suggesting the listing might be justified and will now conduct a
more in-depth study and accept information from the public for 60 days.
The Center for Biological Diversity is one of
the groups that filed the petition. It
said that Midwestern moose are being harmed by climate change, habitat loss and
disease. The group is especially worried
about moose in Minnesota, where numbers have plummeted the past decade.
Wis. Transportation Secretary
Promises Lean Budget Proposal
Wisconsin's transportation chief said he won't
ask for any major tax or fee increases in his upcoming budget request. State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb
said that his budget, due in September, will focus on maintaining the state's
bridges and highways instead of expanding the well-traveled roads and
preserving those lesser traveled. The
request would be in contrast to the proposal Gottlieb submitted two years ago
when he asked for about $750 million in new taxes and fees in the 2015-2017
budget, including those on fuel sales and on new-vehicle purchases. Lawmakers did not adopt those proposals. Gottlieb said maintaining bridges and US
highways will be a priority. But, he acknowledges that will come at the expense
of maintaining other roads.
May 31, 2016
WEDC Improperly Gave More Than
$400,000 in Tax Credits
According to a preliminary report, Wisconsin's
jobs agency improperly awarded more than $400-thousand in tax credits to
businesses around the state. Since going
public last month about potential errors in its tax credit program, the
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has reviewed 18 of 222 jobs-related
tax credits given out since 2006. According to a preliminary report released by the agency on Thursday, it
has improperly awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to businesses that
didn't meet their stated jobs goals. A
spokesman for the agency said it is, "proactively reviewing and transparently
self-identifying any adjustments to past verifications." The agency hasn't shared plans for recovering
any improperly awarded funds. A full
review of all of the jobs-related grants, which totaled sixty five million
dollars, is expected in August.
Officer & Bystander Shot
Trying to Stop Robbery Suspect
Police in Appleton say a robbery suspect shot a
female officer and another man during a struggle before killing himself. Police Chief Todd Thomas said during a news
conference Saturday that the suspect stole cigarettes from two gas stations
Friday night and Saturday morning. An
officer spotted the suspect and a fight ensued.
Two men driving by stopped to help the officer. The suspect took the officer's gun away, shot
her in the hip, shot one of the men in the chest and then shot himself in the
head. The chief said the officer and the
man's injuries were not life-threatening. He didn't identify anyone involved, but said the suspect's death was not
the result of the officer's actions or lack of action.
Two Dead in Separate ATV Accidents
Two men died in separate ATV accidents on
Saturday afternoon. In Lincoln County, a
57-year-old man died after a crash in the Town of Tomahawk on Saturday
afternoon. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s
department, after investigating, said the ATV went off the road, struck a
culvert, ejecting the man from the vehicle.
He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He wore a helmet and there were no
passengers. Alcohol may have been a
factor in the crash. This accident
remains under investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office and the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
In Marinette County, a 90-year-old Monroe man
was killed in an ATV accident on private property. The Marinette County Sheriff’s office said
that James Bosanny was driving the ATV with his 64-year-old son on Saturday
afternoon when he lost control on a small hill after striking a plow, before
accelerating and striking a tree. The
elder man died at the scene and his son was hospitalized with serious
injuries. Neither wore a helmet. The crash remains under investigation.
May 24, 2016
Hmong Rally in Wausau May 31
Next Tuesday May 31st, demonstrators from
Wisconsin, Minnesota and California plan to converge on Wausau for a march for
peace, according to Hmong community leader Mao Khang.
The march was organized to rally the community
after a fatal stabbing. Dylan Yang, age
16, who is Hmong, was convicted of reckless homicide in adult court for the
stabbing death of 13-year-old Isaiah Powell during a fight between two groups
of young people in 2015.
Khang said the case has affected many in the
Hmong community. "This march has
affected not just Hmong in Wausau, but it's across the nation. It's a peace march for healing, reflecting,
and bringing community together and then addressing anti-bullying, violence
prevention and a fair criminal justice system," he said. Khang questions whether juveniles should be
tried in adult court.
The march has been publicized by Hmong leaders
in Minneapolis and Fresno, California.
May 11, 2016
Tyson Plant to Close in July
The Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson will permanently
close on July 9. According to a release
from the State Department of Workforce development, 248 jobs will be
eliminated. Tyson plans to eliminate the
jobs over time, ending in July.
In November, the company announced plans to shut
the facility down. It said the closure
was due to changing product demands, the age of the facility, and the cost of
Wis. Delays $101-million Debt
The State of Wisconsin has delayed repaying
$101-million in debt. It's the second
year in a row that Wisconsin has taken such a step. Last year, $108-million in debt repayment was
delayed in order to balance the books.
Department of Administration spokeswoman Laurel
Patrick called the move "a prudent financial management tool that takes
advantage of historically low interest rates." But state Representative Gordon Hintz of
Oshkosh, who sits on the Legislature's budget committee, said steps like these
wouldn't be necessary if the state's fiscal house was in order. "We're continuing to dig ourselves a
hole," Hintz said. "I think
it's a sign that we can't afford the tax cuts that we passed and maybe there's
some concern about future revenue being there."
Governors from both parties have in the past
delayed debt payments to balance the books, though the tactic is typically used
more during bad financial times. Such
moves carry extra costs for taxpayers. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said that this latest delay
will likely increase interest costs on Wisconsin by roughly $2.3-million.
New FDA Regulation Over
The US Food and Drug Administration announced a
new rule that regulates e-cigarettes and vape pens, all cigars, hookah (water
pipe) tobacco, pipe tobacco and nicotine gels, among others. The FDA received more than 135-thousand
comments on their initial proposal. The
rule also looks to restrict youth access to tobacco. Starting in ninety days, tobacco products
cannot be sold to minors under the age of 18 (both in person and online), age
verification by photo ID is required for all tobacco sales, tobacco products
covered by the rule cannot be sold in vending machines unless in an adult-only
facility, and the distribution of free tobacco product samples is not allowed
In addition, tobacco manufactures must show that
their products meet the applicable public health standard set forth in the law
and receive marketing authorization from the FDA, unless the product was on the
market as of February 15, 2007. Tobacco
companies with products on the market have two years to comply.
While health advocates expressed excitement for
the new rule, they noted a few key missing pieces, like flavoring restrictions
for e-cigarettes and hookah.
Jarchow & Tiffany Plan Wolf
Representative Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake,
together with Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, will convene a Great Lakes
wolf summit this fall involving public officials, scientists and citizens from
Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan to push for state management of wolves. The legislators are calling for the summit in
the wake of a federal court decision in December 2014 that returned the wolf
population of the western Great Lakes to the protection of the Endangered
The legislators noted that wolves have killed or
injured livestock or pets in 14 cases so far in 2016, according to records of
the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The most recent example occurred last week in Shawano County when a
young female cow, ready to have her first calf, was killed. That "showcases the unfortunate results
of a wolf population being allowed to run rampant in Wisconsin," Tiffany
and Jarchow said.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., in 2014
struck down the federal government's 2012 decision to remove gray wolves in
Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the federal list of endangered
species. The suit was brought by the
Humane Society of the United States. The
decision ended Wisconsin's wolf hunting season.
This has meant that Wisconsin has lost its ability to use lethal means
to address wolves considered to be problem animals.
May 9, 2016
New “Alice in Dairyland” Selected
Ann O’Leary of Evansville has been chosen as
Wisconsin’s 69th Alice in Dairyland.
O’Leary will work as a communications professional for the Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Her job will be to educate the public about
the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin.
O’Leary grew up showing Jerseys and Holsteins at
the county, district and state level.
She was heavily involved in the Rock County Junior Holstein Association
and the Rock County 4-H Program and served as the 2009 Rock County 4-H Fair Queen. O’Leary studied Biology and Neuroscience at
Carthage College and graduated with All College Honors in May, 2014. She currently works at Epic as a corporate
recruiter, volunteers with the Rock County 4-H Program and serves on the
Carthage College Alumni Council. In her
spare time, she enjoys reading, water skiing and spending time with family.
O’Leary was selected at the culmination of three
days of final interview events in Dodge County.
The events included agribusiness tours, speeches, a public
question-and-answer session and media interviews.
May 4, 2016
Wis. 2015 Graduation Rate
Wisconsin had 57,698 students graduate from high
school with a regular diploma in 2015, a graduation rate of 88.4 percent that
bests the national rate of 82.3 percent for the Class of 2014. Wisconsin’s 2015
graduation rate remained largely unchanged from 2014, down two tenths of a
Suburban Milwaukee Manhunt Ends
With Interstate Shootings
A man wanted for a Sunday morning murder in
suburban Milwaukee is under arrest after a police chase along Interstate 94 in
Dane and Columbia counties, and a drive by shooting south of Wisconsin Dells in
Sauk County. Authorities reported that a
20-year-old West Allis man shot and killed a fellow resident of his apartment
building, 42-year-old Gabriel Sanchez -- and other law enforcement agencies
which were told about the killing tracked the suspect down. Officials said that the police chase later
resulted in the drive by shooting near the Dells, where three people in the
shooter's vehicle were arrested, including the West Allis murder suspect. There was also a report of one woman being
injured during the episode, but details were not immediately available. One report says the woman was hospitalized in
critical condition at last word at U-W Hospital in Madison.
April 27, 2016
12 Wisconsin High School students have been
named semifinalists for the 2016 Presidential
Scholars Award, considered the nation’s highest honor for graduating
high school seniors.
The state’s 12 semifinalists are among 689
semifinalists for 2016.
The high school senior in our area, selected as
a semifinalist, is Tiffany A. Moskal of Clayton High School.
The Commission on Presidential Scholars will make
the final selection of the nation’s 121 Presidential Scholars – one male and
one female from east state, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad, and up to 15 students
chosen at large.
The chosen receive a Presidential Scholars
medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House. Scholars are asked to
identify one teacher who was most influential in their education. That teacher
will also be invited to the nation’s capital for National Recognition Week and
will receive the Presidential Scholars program Teacher Recognition Award.
Congratulations to Tiffany Moskal of Clayton
High School for being named a semifinalist.
Wis. Right-To-Work Ruling Not On
A Dane County judge declined Monday to put on
hold his ruling that found unconstitutional a Wisconsin law barring unions and
businesses from reaching labor deals requiring workers to pay union fees.
Attention now turns to the Court of Appeals as
judges there consider whether to restore the measure advocates call the state's
Governor Scott Walker and the Legislature last
year approved the law, becoming the 25th state to bar labor contracts that
require workers to pay union fees. Since
then, West Virginia has passed a similar law, bringing the number of
right-to-work states to 26.
Supporters argue that no one should be forced to
pay union fees if they don't want to belong to a labor group. Unions contend such contracts should be
allowed because federal law requires them to represent all employees in a work
unit — meaning that they all benefit from the protections and higher wages
Unions sued soon after the law was passed, and
this month Dane County Circuit Judge C. William Foust ruled the law violated
the state constitution because it took something of value from unions without
April 20, 2016
Wis. Man Killed In Hunting Accident
Authorities said that a Janesville man has been
fatally shot by a member of his turkey-hunting party in an apparent
accident. A statement from the Rock
County sheriff's office said that officials responded Sunday morning to a
report of a man with a gunshot wound in a field in the Town of Johnstown. The deputies found the victim, a 37-year-old
who had been turkey hunting with family members. Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful, and he
was pronounced dead at the scene. An
initial investigation shows the man was trying to retrieve a wounded turkey
when he inadvertently ran into the field of fire of another member of his hunting
party. He was shot in the back. The sheriff's office says the incident appears
to be "an unfortunate hunting accident." An autopsy will be performed.
National Park Service Prescribes 4
The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway plans
to conduct four prescribed burns in the Riverway corridor sometime between
today and May 20th, depending on weather conditions. The National Park Service
will conduct these prescribed fires to improve prairie and savanna habitat
along the Saint Croix and Namekagon rivers.
The areas to be burned are: Peaslee Island, which consists of 140 acres
in Polk County, three miles west of Dresser, a site that will being restored to
native prairie and oak savanna; Springbrook Savanna, which consists of 91 acres
along the Namekagon River, about one-quarter mile northeast of Springbrook, in Washburn County, where a
savanna restoration and the adjacent prairie will be burned at the same time,
stimulating the native prairie plants throughout the entire burn site; Olson
Prairie, which consists of 17 acres on
the Namekagon River, north of Highway 77 between Danbury and Minong, in
northeast Burnett County, a remnant prairie that has a number of native plants
which are less common elsewhere; and Barker’s Farm, 96 acres on the Namekagon
River, just northwest of the Olson Prairie burn site, also in Burnett County,
where native prairie plants have returned to a former homestead.
April 15, 2016
Wis. Unemployment Rate Down
New preliminary data show that Wisconsin's
unemployment rate dropped slightly in March.
The state Department of Workforce Development released a report Thursday
that put the unemployment rate last month at 4.5 percent, down from 4.6 percent
The national unemployment rate was 5 percent in
March, up from 4.9 percent in February.
The report found that the state added 11,500
nonfarm jobs in March. The private
sector gained 13,100 jobs but the government sector lost 1,600 jobs across the
federal, state and local levels.
Law Changes Managed Forest Program
Governor Scott Walker signed legislation
yesterday that will allow landowners to keep the public from using more of
their forest property while still receiving a break on their property tax. Senate Bill 434 makes major changes in the
state's managed forest law, including limiting the amount of land available to
the public as well as turning over millions of dollars to local units of
government now earmarked for the Department of Natural Resources. The law regulates practices on more than
3-million acres. Managed forest
properties provide about a quarter of the timber used by Wisconsin's
$22.9-billion forest industry, according to the governor's office.
Supporters say the changes will help ensure a
steady supply of timber for the paper mills and wood processors of the
state. The law traditionally allowed
property owners to pay lower property taxes if they agreed to periodically cut
timber in a sustainable manner. In
exchange for the property tax break, the law also required owners to manage the
land for timber production and allow members of the public to use the property for
fishing, hunting, hiking, sightseeing and other recreational uses.
For landowners to get the best tax break, they
had to allow public access.
Traditionally, property owners were allowed to set aside 160 acres for
private use. The bill signed by Walker
would lift that cap and allow property owners of nonindustrial timber land to
restrict all public access. Under the
new law, property owners who close their land would not get as large of a tax
cut. But their tax bill would be sharply
lower than land not in the program.
Erros Don’t Preclude Unemployment
A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled that
employees cannot be denied unemployment benefits for inadvertent errors, even
if they are repeated after warnings.
Thursday's ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeals is its first
brush at interpreting "substantial fault," a new threshold the state
Legislature established in 2013 tightening eligibility for unemployment
benefits. Employees cannot receive
benefits if they're terminated for "substantial fault," defined as
acts that violate reasonable employer requirements. Under the law, substantial fault does not
include inadvertent errors.
In this case, Lela Operton was a full-time clerk
at Walgreens who made eight "cash handling errors." Walgreens terminated her employment and
objected to her request for unemployment benefits. The court ruled that Operton's actions were
inadvertent errors and that errors don't constitute substantial fault, even if
repeated after a warning.
Illinois Death Tied to Wis.
A death in Illinois has been tied to the
Elizabethkingia bacteria outbreak that started in Wisconsin and has left state
and federal health officials searching for the source of the issue. The Illinois case, reported Tuesday, involves
the same strain of the bacteria. No other details were provided. Last month,
officials said a death in Michigan was tied to the outbreak. Sixty-three cases have been confirmed in
Wisconsin, including 18 deaths and one suspected death. It is not known if the deaths were caused by
the infection or other serious health problems, which existed in many of the
Elizabethkingia bacteria are found throughout
the environment and usually are not harmful.
Infections are rare, and outbreaks are even rarer. This is the largest known outbreak of this
particular strain of Elizabethkingia.
The US Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention is working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to find
a source of the outbreak. Last month, US
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin sent a letter to the CDC, seeking answers to a
series of questions. In a response,
released yesterday, CDC officials said investigators have confirmed that those
who have died, or have been sickened, shared no common water source and had no
common exposure to a health care or personal care product.
April 8, 2016
Trial Ordered in 2011
Three federal judges will hold a trial on
whether Wisconsin's 2011 redistricting was illegally gerrymandered in favor of
the G-O-P -- and whether a Democratic standard should apply in drafting future
legislative districts. The judges denied
the state's request to throw out the Democrats' lawsuit yesterday -- and they
decided to hear testimony instead of just reviewing legal briefs. Another federal court panel upheld the state
Senate and Assembly maps drawn by majority Republicans in 2011, but ordered two
Milwaukee Assembly districts to be re-aligned.
The state Justice Department says it's disappointed the latest challenge
wasn't thrown out, but they're confident they'll win a trial that's due to begin
May 24th. Sachin Chheda of the Fair
Elections Project says it's the first time in 30 years that a partisan
gerrymandering challenge has made it to the trial stage, as Democrats seek to
adopt a national standard on how much a party can reshape districts to include
as many of its own voters as possible.
April 6, 2016
Unemployment Claims Now Made
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce
Development has launched dramatic improvements to help more Unemployment
Insurance claimants start and complete their weekly claims for unemployment
benefits conveniently through the Internet.
The latest updates to the Department of Workforce Development's
eight-year-old Unemployment Insurance online services coincide with customer
service industry-led changes to the state's 1990s-era automated telephone
filing system. In calendar year 2015,
over 76% of the UI claimant population logged into the Unemployment Insurance
online benefit services system at least once.
The online enhancements that launched on March
30th allow more claimants to file weekly claims for Unemployment Insurance
benefits seamlessly and conveniently.
Highlights of the online improvements include: the discontinuance of
toll-free numbers to file initial and weekly claims and instead directing
callers to file online or, if they still prefer to file by phone, to access the
Department of Workforce Development's telephone-based automated filing system
through local Madison or Milwaukee phone numbers. The department’s call center will continue to
deliver individualized service by phone to claimants who need to speak to a
March 30, 2016
Walker Orders Flags to Half-Mast
For Deceased Veteran
Governor Scott Walker has ordered flags to fly
at half-staff today in honor of Hudson
veteran Duff Gordon. The Chief Petty
Officer served in the US Navy and was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor
in 1941. His remains have recently been
identified. A memorial service and
burial is also set for today in Hudson.
Trumpeter Swan Numbers Soar
The number of trumpeter swans in Wisconsin has
zoomed from zero to 4,695 a generation after the Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources and partners launched recovery efforts, according to national
surveys. Population estimates from
aerial surveys of interior North America put Wisconsin's number of adult and
"sub-adult" trumpeter swans at 4,695 birds in 2015, more than six
times as many as the 672 estimated during the last survey five years ago, and
up from 24 in 1990.
Market hunting and demand for the feathers of
trumpeter swans nearly eliminated these
birds from Wisconsin and other upper Midwest states by the 1880s. Wisconsin put the species on the state's
endangered species list in the 1980s, which made it illegal to kill, transport,
possess, process or sell them, and launched a recovery effort that collected
eggs from the wilds of Alaska, hatched them at the Milwaukee Zoo, and reared
the young in the wild using decoys, and in captivity, before releasing them.
Trumpeter swans reached the recovery goal early
-- more than doubling the 20 breeding pairs hoped for by 2000 --and Wisconsin
removed it from the endangered species list in 2009. Trumpeter swans remain protected under the
federal Migratory Bird Treaty, which celebrates its centennial this year.
March 29, 2016
69 Frac-Sand Workers Layed Off
A frac-sand company has layed off 69 workers in
Barron County, according to a notice filed with the Wisconsin Department of
Workforce Development. Superior Silica
Sands is laying off workers from mines sites in the towns of Arland and Sioux
Creek and processing plants in the towns of Arland and Clinton and in New
Auburn. Employees will be paid regular
wages through May 31, according to the notice.
Low oil prices have hampered the once-booming
local frac sand industry. Superior
Silica Sands closed its mine and wet plant, used to wash and sort sand, in the
Chippewa County Town of Auburn in July of 2015, affecting 58 workers. Chieftain Sand, located south of Chetek, laid
off 63 workers in December. Superior
Silica Sands, which began operations in New Auburn in 2011, is a subsidy of
Emerge Energy Services, based in Southlake, Texas.
March 21, 2016
Four Rescued From Vehicle Trapped
Around 10pm Saturday night, four people were
driving in the town of Peru near Meridean, in Dunn County when their car was
trapped in flood waters that came over the road and swept their car off the
road and into a flooded ditch. Durand
Fire Chief, Jamey King, said the people in the car called 911 as the car was
filling with water. Then they climbed on
the roof. King says the cell phone
service in the area isn't very good and the people were lucky the 911 call went
through. "They were probably
outside for 20 minutes,” King said. “Nobody would've seen them down there.
There's probably no traffic that was going to go down there. They could've been out there for hours." The Durand Fire Department and multiple first
responders were able to bring the people to safety. The Dunn County Sheriff plans to release the
names of the rescued people later today.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
has made a decision to replace the Little Falls dam at Willow River State
Park. This decision will result in a
refilled Little Falls Lake once the dam's reconstruction is complete. The department made this determination after
reviewing the recommendation and background information presented in a final
alternatives analysis for addressing the Little Falls dam, as well as
considering the public input to the draft recommendations. Changes were made to the draft alternatives
analysis in response to public comments and other updated information.
In the weeks to come, the DNR project team will
work with the Department of Administration to prepare the project request for
consideration and approval at the State Building Commission. The state legislature has currently allocated
$8 million for the project.
For more information, search the DNR website for
March 18, 2016
River Falls Dams Allowed Another
The debate to keep or remove the two dams on the
Kinnickinnic River in River Falls will continue, as the city received a five
year federal extension for the dams’ licenses.
The city says the dams produce enough energy to power 170 homes and
removing the dams would cost up to $5-million. Those who support removing the dams want the river’s natural beauty
Headlights Required in Rain, Snow,
Any time you're driving in bad weather, you
should turn on your headlights. A new
state law says if it's raining, snowing or foggy out, you must turn them
on. Under the previous law, you only had
to have them on in the dark.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says
more than 300 people have been hurt in crashes over the past five years where
drivers didn't have their headlights turned on.
Wisconsin is one of the final states to enact a headlights law for
adverse weather conditions or reduced visibility.
DNR Fired Equipment Operator Over
Conflict Of Interest
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
fired an equipment operator last year for using agency resources to help his
habitat restoration company. A
termination letter The Associated Press obtained through a records request
shows the agency fired Robert Herman in April 2015. According to the letter, Herman has owned a
company called Quality Habitat Improvement since the late 1990s but did not
have DNR approval for outside employment since 2003. The letter said Herman acknowledged during an
investigatory interview that a conflict of interest existed.
The company received $5,573 in DNR grants for
work on six stream projects between 2008 and 2013. Herman was involved as a DNR employee on all
the projects. On three occasions he used a DNR truck on company projects.
Another Death Linked to Elizabethkingia
Another death has been linked to an outbreak of
a bloodstream infection in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says 17 people with
suspected cases caused by Elizabethkingia bacteria have died since the outbreak
began in November. That's an increase of
one since last week. The department said
Wednesday that the number of reported cases also has increased, from 48 to 54.
The cases are spread across 12 counties, mainly
in southern Wisconsin. Most of the
Wisconsin cases involve people over the age of 65, and all those who have died
also had severe chronic conditions.
Department spokeswoman Jennifer Miller said that
disease detectives are "working diligently" to find the source of the
outbreak. Federal, state and local investigators are involved in the search.
March 11, 2016
Bradley Claims No Ethics Violation
As a private attorney, Rebecca Bradley
represented in a child placement case the former chief operating officer of the
law firm where both had previously worked — and with whom she acknowledged
having had an extramarital affair, according to court records. At the time, the ex-wife of J. Andrew Bednall
objected to Bradley's representation based on her relationship with Bednall,
the records show. The court-appointed
attorney overseeing the interests of Bednall's son in the 2005 placement case
agreed with those concerns.
Bradley, now a state Supreme Court justice and
candidate for a full term, responded in a January 2005 affidavit that she could
remain on the case. "At one time I
had a romantic relationship with (Bednall), which we both believed might result
in marriage. We broke off that
relationship in November 2002, although we have continued to date on a
nonexclusive basis since that time," wrote Bradley, who was divorced in
The circumstances of the child placement case
are surfacing amid Bradley's campaign for a 10-year term on the state Supreme
Court against Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg.
The election is April 5. The
state supreme court is responsible for policing the professional conduct rules
of attorneys, and much of the justices' time is spent on determining whether
lawyers treated their clients appropriately.
March 9, 2016
Walker Signed Voc. Ed. Teacher
Governor Scott Walker went to the Brown Deer
School District yesterday for the signing of new legislation that will let
school districts hire vocational education teachers who do not hold traditional
teacher licenses. Brown Deer had been
among the districts that championed the "experience-based"
licenses. They were approved, first
through the 2015-'17 budget for technical education teachers and then, through
legislation, for a broader range of voc-ed posts from agriculture to business
Critics, including the state Department of
Public Instruction, the state's largest teachers union and university schools
of education have raised concerns, saying the measure would lower the bar on
teacher standards and create an uneven licensing system around the state.
But districts point to a critical shortage of
voc-ed teachers and say they need the flexibility to lure experienced
professionals to the classroom or discontinue popular courses that prepare
young people for work or continued training at the state's technical schools.
Deadly Infection Outbreak in
Wisconsin Gaining Urgency
The US Centers for Disease Control has identified
two more suspected cases of deadly blood infections and sent additional
investigators to Wisconsin. It is the
largest outbreak of its kind and the finding of the source is urgent. Investigators have not been able to find a
medical product, single facility, food source or other means of exposure that
could explain how dozens of people — mostly elderly residents of central and
southeastern Wisconsin — have become ill from a bacterium named Elizabethkingia
anophelis. Isolated tests from the two
suspected cases had not yet been confirmed, and officials would not say whether
the individuals were sickened or had died. As of Tuesday, the outbreak was tied to 44 confirmed cases, including 18
Thus far in Wisconsin's outbreak, the only known
commonalities are that the majority of people are 65 year or older and have had
serious underlying health conditions — although those conditions vary. Many have had recent contact with some type
of medical facility, but others have not.
Elizabethkingia is a gram-negative bacterium —
meaning it's resistant to multiple drugs, including many antibiotics. It's found throughout the environment and is
prevalent in soil and water. It can
survive on skin — though it is not well-adapted to do so. Instead, it needs warm, moist places to
thrive. This specific strain, E.
anophelis, is also known to live in the guts of certain mosquitoes.
March 2, 2016
Wis Has 4th Worst Roads in Nation
The US Department of Transportation has ranked
Wisconsin roadways the fourth worst in the nation. It says 71% of Wisconsin roads are in poor
conditions, 14% of Wisconsin roads are structurally deficient, and vehicle
owners spend over a billion dollars (or $281 per motorist) in extra repairs due
to poor road conditions. The agency
reported that 56 of 72 Wisconsin counties replace their roads every 75 years,
rather than their intended life span of 30 years.
Some experts believe that while the state has
lost transportation funding, other states have increased their funding. They say that most likely added to our
state's low ranking.
New law Requires Headlights When
Governor Scott Walker signed into law on Monday
a bill that requires drivers to turn on headlights when weather conditions
limit visibility. The Wisconsin State
Patrol said limited visibility means you can't see something 500-ft away, which
is a little less than two high school football fields. State patrol said they've always recommended
using headlights in poor conditions to keep everyone on the road safe.
"It's important to be visible, not only
visible for you to illuminate something in front of you to see so you don't
strike it, but also for oncoming traffic to see you," Sgt. Bill Berger
said. "And it's especially
important in heavy rain, snow and dense fog."
For the next six months, officers will only
issue warnings, but after that a ticket could cost $160.
VA Inspector General Clears
Minneapolis VA Of Wait-Time Allegations
The Inspector General of the Veteran’s
Administration, which is the “internal independent watchdog” of the US
Department of Veterans Affairs, has announced that it has cleared the
Minneapolis VA Health Care System of allegations of manipulations of patient
appointments. The report, which was
released Monday, concluded that the allegations were not substantiated. The three cases involved in-depth
investigations, including interviews with the accusers and many other VA staff,
as well as reviews of scheduling calendars, phone records, emails, and patient
charts. A summary of the report is
available online at
March 1, 2016
Gov. Walker Signed 46 Bills Into Law
Governor Scott Walker signed 46 bills into law
on Monday afternoon. Walker signed the
bills privately in the state Capitol.
On the bills he signed into law prevents county
executives from concurrently serving as legislators. It was a particularly controversial piece of
legislation. Its enactment means that Democratic Senate candidate Mark Harris
would have to quit his job as Winnebago
County executive, which pays an annual salary of almost $103-thousand, if he's
elected. In the Senate, he would make
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott
Fitzgerald had said Harris' candidacy prompted the bill. Fitzgerald has said
he's concerned about a county executive drawing two salaries from taxpayers,
and about the conflicts of interest that would arise from holding two
Another bill Walker signed into law expands the
legal options which libraries have in collecting fines: exceptions were created
to privacy laws protecting borrowers' identities so that libraries can report
them to collection agencies and police.
According to the Wisconsin Library Association, people fail to return
$3-million worth of taxpayer-owned library materials each year.
Another bill Walker signed Monday creates
statewide regulations barring violent sex offenders from living within
1,500-feet of any school, day care, youth center, church or public park.
Maple Syrup Producers See Strong
Start to Season
Wisconsin's maple syrup producers are off to an
early start and expect a good season, if the weather cooperates. The warmer-than-average winter means the sap
is flowing sooner than usual.
According to Theresa Baroun, executive director
of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association, the state is the
fourth-largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. "We have commercial producers, we have
small producers we have those that are right in the middle," Baroun said,
adding she expects it will continue to be a good season for maple syrup if
temperatures continue to drop below freezing at night and warm up during the
Wisconsin has 3-thousand maple syrup
producers. Baroun said commercial
producers use plastic tubing and vacuum pumps to carry sap away from maple
trees. But she says there still are some
smaller producers who use pails and bags.
Feb 29, 2016
Wis. Joins Lawsuit Challenging FCC
Prison Phone Call Charges
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has
filed a motion to join an Oklahoma lawsuit challenging a new federal rule that
lowers the cost of phone calls for prison and jail inmates. In October, the Federal Communications
Commission capped the cost of inmate phone calls at 11-cents per minute for
prisons and 22-cents per minute for jails. Before that cut, inmates in some states were paying as much as $14 a
In a press release about his motion to join the
lawsuit on Friday, Schimel called the rule an unconstitutional federal
overreach that prevents state prisons and local jails from recouping the cost
of expensive phone security systems.
Seven other states are joining Wisconsin in
challenging the FCC cap on inmate phone calls.
The case is pending in federal appeals court in the District of
House Approves Amendment to Remove
Protected Status On Grey Wolves
A Wisconsin congressman is trying once again to
get the gray wolf off the federal endangered species list in the western Great
Lakes region. Representative Reid Ribble
of Green Bay, has won US House approval of an amendment that would restore a
Fish and Wildlife Service decision to de-list the grey wolf in the Upper
Midwest. That decision in 2012 led to
hunting of wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. A federal court over-ruled that decision in
2014, blocking the hunts.
Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the
United States said Congress ought to let an appeal of that court ruling play
out. "It's just not right for Congressman
Ribble to kind of cherry-pick wolves off of the list and undermine this
judicial review of an executive agency decision," said Pacelle.
Ribble said his amendment attempts to protect
the Endangered Species Act by discouraging judges from overruling the Fish and
Wildlife service to knock a species out of a protected category. Ribble's proposal still needs the Senate's
Feb 25, 2016
Boyceville Teen Dies in Crash
The driver of a Ford Ranger pickup died in a
crash in the village of Boyceville yesterday.
The Dunn County Sheriff's Office and Boyceville Ambulance were called to
the scene of the crash on County Highway “O” on the southern limits of
Boyceville at 7:53am. Within minutes,
rescue workers arrived and found that a 19-year-old Boyceville man had died
from injuries suffered in the crash. The
Sheriff's Office investigation determined that the driver was heading north
when his pick-up left the road on a curve and collided with a tree, perhaps as
a result of falling asleep at the wheel. The driver was pronounces dead at the scene by the Dunn County Medical
Examiner’s Office and his name is being withheld until his family and friends
can be notified.
Man Trapped For Hours With Arm
Pinned In Logging Accident
A man was trapped for more than six hours
Tuesday after getting his arm pinned in a logging accident, according to the
Shawano County Sheriff's Department. The
man was hired to do logging work on a hillside in the Town of Grant, when a
large piece of equipment malfunctioned. The 53-year-old's arm was pinned between the equipment and a log. The accident happened between Noon and 1pm
Tuesday. The man was trapped until a
neighbor heard his screams for help at about 6:30pm and called
authorities. Rescue crews were able to
locate the man a short time later. He
suffered severe arm injuries, and was transported to a local hospital.
Feb 16, 2016
Man Killed In Tractor Accident
Deputies say a 49-year-old man has been killed
in a tractor accident in Taylor County.
It happened just after 1pm. yesterday, southwest of Lublin. The Taylor County Sheriff's Office says Brian
Knusta, of Gilman, was using a tractor to pull down a cut tree when the tree
fell on top of him. He was pronounced
dead at the scene. Investigators say
Knusta was using the tractor for logging in the area.
Primary Election Today
Today Wisconsin voters have the chance to vote
in the non-partisan Supreme Court primary election. Voters must bring proper identification to
the poll. Acceptable forms of
identification include: a Wisconsin driver’s license, a state Department of
Transportation-issued ID card, a US passport, a US military ID and a free
state-ID card issued for voting purposes.
The polls are open today from 7am to 8pm.
Assembly to Vote on Bill Limiting
The Wisconsin Assembly is poised to vote today
on an amendment to a school voucher bill that could cut public school revenue
by millions next year. The state voucher
program subsidizes private school tuition and includes about 2,500 students
across the state. To pay for it, the
state reduces aid to districts that lose students to voucher schools, but it
allows them to compensate for that loss by raising property taxes.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' proposal
would limit the amount of money districts can raise, cutting the revenue limit
authority of 142 districts by about $14.2 million in 2016-2017, according to
the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Districts
could recoup those losses over the subsequent two years.
Man Struck While Filling Gas Tank
Authorities say an 18-year-old man putting
gasoline in his disabled vehicle was fatally struck by another vehicle in the
Wisconsin city of West Bend. The
Washington County Sheriff's Office was notified yesterday of a crash on US
Highway 45. The man from West Bend died
at the scene. The sheriff's office said
the man was alongside his vehicle outside the lane of traffic when he was
struck by the other vehicle, which had traveled over the fog line. According to the release, a 34-year-old
Palmyra man driving the other vehicle was not hurt. Investigators are trying to determine why the
Palmyra man's vehicle left the roadway. The sheriff's office says alcohol or drugs do not appear to be factors.
State Consumer Act Changes
Today the state Senate is scheduled to take up
changes to the Wisconsin Consumer Act that opponents say would encourage
predatory lawsuits against consumers.
The bill would lower the burden of proof for debt-buying companies looking
to sue Wisconsin consumers. The
businesses are known as "debt buyers" and they purchase old debt from
creditors for pennies on the dollar.
Those businesses have increasingly filed state lawsuits against
consumers in pursuit of payment.
Vicky Selkowe, the legislative director for
Legal Action of Wisconsin, said the bill weakens consumer protections. "We're really concerned that this bill
will make it easier for these predatory lenders to prey on Wisconsin's
consumers, she said."
Proponents, however, say the bill closes a
loophole exploited by people running from debt.
The bill has already passed in the
Assembly. If approved by the Senate, it
will go to Governor Scott Walker's desk for his signature.
Feb 12, 2016
135 Private Schools Register for
Parental Choice Program
The Valley Christian School in Osceola and 134 other
private nonsectarian and religious schools and school systems registered with
the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction by the January tenth deadline to
accept students for the 2016-17 school year through the Wisconsin Parental
Choice Program. There are 31 new private
schools applying to participate in this statewide voucher program.
Wisconsin Parental Choice Program allows students who reside outside of the
Milwaukee and Racine Unified school districts to use a taxpayer-funded subsidy
to attend participating private or religious schools. To qualify for the program in the 2016-17
school year, a new student must have a family income equal to or less than 185
percent of the federal poverty level. In
addition, all students applying for the program must meet one four attendance
requirements for 2016-17. Eligible
students in grades kindergarten through eight may attend the private school
with no charge for tuition. Eligible
students continuing in grades nine through 12 may be charged tuition if their
family income exceeds 220 percent of the federal poverty level.
A change to state law in 2015 eliminated the
previous program cap of 1,000 full-time equivalent students. Enrollment in the voucher program in 2016-17
remains limited to 1 percent of a given school district’s student population.
Internet Tax Banned Beginning 2021
Wisconsin state government stands to lose about
$125 million a year starting in 2021 under legislation passed by the US
Congress which will permanently bar state and local governments from taxing
access to the Internet. The U.S. Senate
Thursday gave final congressional approval to a wide-ranging bill that included
the Internet tax ban and a revision of trade laws. The White House said President Barack Obama
will sign the bill, The Associated Press reported.
Until now, the seven states that imposed
Internet access taxes have been allowed to continue. Wisconsin, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota,
Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas have been collecting a combined $563 million
yearly from Internet access taxes, according to information gathered by the
nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Now those states, including Wisconsin, would have to phase out their
Internet-access tax. "Wisconsin is
grandfathered in until June 30, 2020, which means we will stop collecting the
tax with the start of fiscal year 2021," said Stephanie Marquis, Wisconsin
Department of Revenue communications director.
The money goes into the state's general fund as
general program revenue. For fiscal year
2016, it is estimated at $125.8 million, with counties and other local
jurisdictions with sales taxes collecting about $10.3 million, according to the
Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Feb 9, 2016
Snowmobiler Died Skiing Into Tree
A snowmobiler died after a crash in northern
Wisconsin. The Vilas County Sheriff's
Office got a 911 call reporting the crash in the Town of Phelps late Saturday
night. An initial investigation found
the snowmobiler was driving on the roadway off of the marked snowmobile
trail. He struck an embankment at an intersection
and then struck a tree. Authorities say
the victim was following one other person.
The name of the victim was not immediately released.
Skier Died Skiing Into Tree
A 24-year-old woman died after she struck a tree
while skiing in south-central Wisconsin.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office dispatch was notified around
10:30am Saturday that an injured person needed medical assistance at Cascade
Mountain Ski Hill. The sheriff's office
and emergency medical workers responded, along with the ski patrol from Cascade
Mountain. The injured woman was
pronounced dead at a Portage hospital. The victim's name has not been released.
The sheriff's office is investigating but says the incident apparently
was an accident.
Feb 5, 2016
Wis. Residents Enrolled In
Obamacare Up 16%
The third open-enrollment period for the
Affordable Care Act ended with 239,034 people in Wisconsin enrolled in health
plans sold on the federal marketplace, a 16% increase from the same point last
year, the federal government said Thursday.
The increase for Wisconsin outpaced the average for the country.
Nationally, 12.7 million people enrolled in
health plans sold on the federal or state marketplaces set up through the
Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, according to the US Department of
Health and Human Services. That's an 11%
increase from the roughly 11.4 million people who bought or were re-enrolled in
the plans at the end of the open-enrollment period last year.
The penalty for not having health insurance
increases this year to $695 or 2.5% of taxable income, whichever is higher, for
More than 90% of the country now has health
insurance — the highest percentage ever.
That percentage could increase in future years as more states expand
their Medicaid programs and more people sign up for coverage.
DNR To Sell 82 Land Parcels
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
has identified 82 land parcels, totaling 5,900 acres, that it wants to put up
for sale, as ordered under the state budget bill. The department says the properties they
selected might be better managed by county forest programs, or have no access
to a public road, or are isolated from larger DNR property and do not contribute
much to protecting natural resources or providing outdoor recreation.
The DNR's Doug Haag said the list has been put
together carefully. He said the DNR
wants to keep 35 other parcels that were considered and study 32 additional
properties. The DNR Board will review the plan later this month.
CDC New Guidelines For Drinking
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
has long warned women not to drink during pregnancy, and now the agency is
focusing its efforts on those who might get pregnant. New recommendations released this week urge
women of childbearing age to avoid alcohol if they're not on birth control. That's especially relevant in Wisconsin,
where the rate of excessive drinking before getting pregnant is particularly
high. Previous data from a national
survey of new mothers shows that Wisconsin ranked first in the percentage of
women who binge drink in the three months prior to pregnancy.
According to Anne Schuchat, the CDC's principal
deputy director, rates of drinking and binge drinking among young women are on
the rise, meaning it's quite common for women who could become pregnant to be
consuming alcohol. She said those most
likely to drink are between the ages of 25-29.
With half of all pregnancies in the U.S.
unplanned, the CDC estimates more than 3 million women of childbearing age are
at risk of exposing a developing fetus to alcohol if they drink, have sex and
are not using birth control. The CDC
says alcohol use during pregnancy can cause physical and intellectual problems
for children. According to estimates, 8
percent of Wisconsin women drink during pregnancy.
Feb 2, 2016
Most Retailers Not Selling Tobacco
Seven percent of retailers in Wisconsin in 2015
were caught selling tobacco to minors in 2015, meaning 93% of the tobacco
retailers across the state are in compliance with the law. Western Wisconsin Working for Tobacco-Free
Living completed the compliance checks in Burnett, Pierce, Polk, Rusk and Saint
Croix counties. Overall between the five
counties, 23 retailers sold to minors during our checks this year, which means
90% of the establishments checked within the five counties are in compliance
with the law which prohibits sales of tobacco to anyone under the age of 18.
Burnett County had no sales to minors, Pierce
County had 10 sales to minors, Polk County had 5 sales to minors, Rusk County
had 1 sale to minors, and St. Croix County had 7 sales to minors.
Jan 27, 2016
Appeals Court Upholds Library Porn
A state appeals court says David Reidinger did
not have a constitutional right to view pornography on a University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire library computer.
UW-Eau Claire police cited Reidinger for disorderly conduct in 2014
after a couple of students reported he was watching pornography on a library
computer. Reidinger argued he has a
First Amendment right to view legal adult pornographic material at a public
library. He also alleged UW System
administrators, campus police and Eau Claire County prosecutors conspired to
harass him. The 3rd District Court of
Appeals rejected his arguments Tuesday, ruling that the evidence showed
Reidinger's conduct tended to provoke a disturbance. The court opted not to address his harassment
allegations, calling them unsupported and undeveloped.
Gov. Walker Will Seek Third Term
Governor Scott Walker made comments yesterday
that he will seek a third term as governor.
Walker says he will wait until late 2016 or after the end of the year to
make a formal decision, but he says he feels good about the progress he's made
and thinks he can
build off it.
FBI Arrests Man in Mass-Shooting
Federal officials in Milwaukee say they've
arrested a 23-year-old man who planned to attack a Masonic temple. Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was charged Tuesday with
weapons-related counts. Federal
officials said they had been investigating him since September. Authorities said the FBI was tipped off that
Hamzeh had planned to travel to Israel to attack Israeli soldiers and citizens
in the West Bank. They say Hamzeh abandoned the plan as too difficult and later
decided on a domestic attack. Court
documents say Hamzeh toured a Masonic center in Milwaukee on January 19th and
was recorded discussing his plans to attack it in the name of "defending
Muslim religion." Documents say
Hamzeh was arrested Monday after buying machine guns and silencers from two
undercover FBI employees.
Verso Corp. Files For Bankruptcy
Verso Corporation, a Memphis, Tennessee-based
company which operates paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point, filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A news
release stated that the filing will “have virtually no impact on the day-to-day
operations of the company.” The filing
comes after The Great Lakes Timber Professional Association in Rhinelander
received reports of Wisconsin timber suppliers not being paid for wood
delivered to Verso's mills in the state.
The filing will allow Verso to develop a plan to eliminate $2.4 billion
of outstanding debt. Verso’s president
and CEO, David Paterson, said it will exit the Chapter 11 “in a short
timeframe.” He said the January 2015
acquisition of NewPage Holdings, as well as a decline in demand for the
company’s products and other financial obligations, contributed to Verso’s
Jan 26, 2016
Public School Open Enrollment
Begins Feb. 1
Wisconsin’s public school open enrollment
application period for the 2016-17 school year runs from February first to
April 29th. This allows parents an opportunity to send their
children to any public school district in the state. Traditionally, children in Wisconsin are
assigned to public school districts based on the location of their parents’
home. Open enrollment is a tuition-free
opportunity for parents to apply for their children to attend a public school
in a school district other than the one in which they live.
With public school open enrollment, parents may
apply during the three-month application period to the school district they
wish their children to attend using the online application website. Application
deadlines are firm. Early and late applications are not accepted. Districts will notify parents by June 10th
whether their open enrollment applications have been approved or denied.
Warrant Issued for Forest Woman in
A warrant was issued Friday for a woman accused
of possessing birds used in cockfighting at her home in Forest. Saint Croix County Prosecutor Megan Kelly
told the court that Teresa Silva, age 59, had left the country. Silva was due to appear Friday in Saint Croix
County Circuit Court on six felony counts of instigating fights between animals
and 12 counts of mistreating animals, a misdemeanor offense. Her husband, 60-year-old Jesus Silva, faces
an identical set of charges and is due in court later this week. The Silvas were charged in November 2015
following an investigation into activities at their home in the town of Forest.
Saint Croix County Sheriff’s deputies executed a
search warrant at the home on June 2, 2015, when they found hundreds of
chickens living on the property.
Authorities were aided in the investigation by members of the American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Experts from the ASPCA performed examinations
on 16 of the confined male birds, two confined hens and eight of the dead
males. Examination of the chickens
revealed evidence that they had been disfigured in a manner that was consistent
with using them for fighting. Some of
the animals were found starved and with little access to food and water.
Jan 18, 2016
Fatal Snowmobile-Tree Crash
A man died in a snowmobile crash in Lake
Tomahawk, according to the Oneida County Sheriff's Department. Officials say the crash happened around 6pm
Saturday. According to authorities, Paul
Burger, age 45 of Lockport Illinois, was killed when his snowmobile hit a
tree. They say he was already dead when
they arrived on scene. The Oneida County
Medical Examiner's Office and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are
investigating the events surrounding Burger's death.
Bill Would Make Spitting on
Prosecutors a Felony
Wisconsin state Assembly committee approved a bill that would make it a felony
to spit or throw bodily fluids at a state prosecutor. The bill passed 9-4 in a party-line vote,
with support from Republicans and opposition from Democrats. Under current law, throwing bodily fluids at
first responders like police, firefighters and medical personnel is a felony
while committing the offense against others is considered a misdemeanor.
State Representative Evan Goyke of Milwaukee,
said boosting the penalty for spitting at prosecutors ignores the fact that
most who commit the crime are mentally ill prison inmates. "I can't go along with adding more
felonies on to the backs of folks that are tortured by their mental illness and
incarcerated," Goyke said.
Republicans argue the higher penalty should
deter the spitting, and is justified because of the risk that bodily fluids
thrown at a prosecutor could contain dangerous communicable diseases. State Representative. Joel Kleefisch of
Oconomowoc said there's strong evidence prosecutors are spit on frequently and
punishing the perpetrators more harshly should deter the behavior.
State Representative Fred Kessler of Milwaukee
said that, if it becomes a felony to spit on prosecutors, it also makes sense
to boost the penalty for spitting on legislators and judges. He said he's opposed to creating a privileged
class of victims instead of using the current misdemeanor penalties for
spitting on anyone.
Jan 14, 2016
Bill Would Allow Guns On School
A newly-introduced bill would allow guns on the
grounds of Wisconsin schools. The bill,
from Senator Mary Lazich and Assemblyman Rob Brooks, would permit anyone with a
concealed carry license to have a firearm on school grounds and it would be up
to school districts whether to allow concealed carry within school buildings.
In a statement, Senator Lazich writes, “The
Wisconsin School Zone Empowerment Act is a technical fix to an unintended
consequence created by the adoption of the concealed-carry law. The bill expresses the intent of the federal
Guns Free School Zone law by permitting concealed-carry licensees to carry on
school grounds. Simultaneously, it
grants each school district the authority to establish policy about
concealed-carry within school buildings. Wisconsin is home to over 242,000 concealed-carry licensees. These are well-intentioned individuals
licensed by the state to carry a weapon. This bill clarifies the duties of concealed-carry licensees, while
allowing school districts to create policies within school buildings.”
Fatal Accident On Highway 8 Last
One person was killed in a crash on Highway 8
just east of Barron last night. The
crash occurred around 5:15pm. First
responders extricated the victim from a small two-door sedan, which had heavy
front end damage and was resting in the middle of the roadway at the
intersection of 17th Street. The victim
was loaded into an ambulance, and later pronounced dead at the scene. A semi truck and tanker showing damage to its
rear wheels on the driver's side was parked on the shoulder of the eastbound
lane nearby as first responders worked at the scene. The truck was from Ritchie Lakeland Transport
Incorporated of Minocqua. Barron County
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said at the scene that there was one fatality but the
victim’s family would be notified before more information would be released.
Northern Long-eared Bat To Be
Listed As Threatened
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized
protections for the northern long-eared bat, a species found in Wisconsin. The federal agency has gone along with a 2016
decision to put the bat on the federal threatened species list, after proposing
the year before to go further and list the bat as endangered. After additional objections from timber
companies and other landowners, the service removed some limits on killing bats
as part of a lawful activity. Service
Director Dan Ashe said his bigger focus is on protecting the bats from the
disease white-nose syndrome.
Farmers Sue State Over Homemade
A group of Wisconsin farmers is suing state
agricultural officials in hopes of lifting the ban on selling homemade baked
goods. Under current law, selling baked
goods that were made in a home kitchen can lead to six months of jail time and
up to $1,000 in fines.
Three Wisconsin farmers who are suing the state,
along with the Institute for Justice, are calling the ban
unconstitutional. Their lawsuit comes a
day after the Senate passed a so-called
“Cookie Bill,” which would overturn the ban. The Assembly has yet to vote on the measure.
Critics like Dan Schmidt, executive director of
the Wisconsin Bakers Association, say lifting the ban could hurt brick-and
The bill would only allow for up to $7,500 in
sales each year. All products would need
to be labeled with the name and address of the baker.
Wisconsin and New Jersey are the only states
that ban the sale of home baked goods.
Jan 12, 2016
Assembly To Vote on Lifting
The Wisconsin State Assembly is poised to take
up a bill this Tuesday afternoon that would lift Wisconsin's ban on new nuclear
power plants. Right now, state
regulators can't approve a new nuclear power plant unless a federal facility
for storing waste from nuclear plants nationwide exists and such a plant
wouldn't burden ratepayers. No central
federal repository exists, leaving nuclear plants to store their waste on-site.
The bill to be considered today would erase the
storage facility and ratepayer clauses from state law, clearing the way for new
plants. The bill's author, Republican
Representative Kevin Peterson, maintains nuclear power is an affordable option
as the state faces new federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions.
Gov. Walker Announces Affordable
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced a
series of legislative proposals Monday aimed at making college more
affordable. His plans include removing
the cap on tax-deductible student loan interest, increasing need-based
assistance programs at Wisconsin technical colleges and bringing on more
internship coordinators across the state. Walker touted his record on keeping costs down, saying his moves to
freeze tuition for four years have halted years of increases.
The Governor also mentioned a proposal being
pushed by some Democrats which would allow students to refinance student loans
through a new state panel; Walker said similar plans have not worked in other
states. But State Senator Jennifer
Shilling of La Crosse, says Walker has refused to meet with Democrats to
discuss the plan.
Walker says the best way to keep college
affordable is to keep costs down.
Governor Walker will be at UW-Eau Claire this Tuesday morning to talk
about the plan.
Difficult For Wis. Paper-Makers To
At a time when a federal agency is examining the
competitiveness of US paper products, Wisconsin's paper companies say they are
at a disadvantage due to other countries' ability to sell paper cheaply here.
The International Trade Commission heard
testimony last week about alleged paper dumping in the US. Some unions allege countries including China,
Indonesia, and Australia are able to make paper cheaply because of government
subsidies. They also say the countries
ship the paper, especially coated paper, to the US. Coated paper is used in magazines and
circulars. The International Trade
Commission has the power to levy tariffs against countries that are found to
have "dumped" paper into this country.
Jeff Landin, the president of the Wisconsin
Paper Council, said the current system puts Wisconsin companies at a
disadvantage. "It is hard to imagine
being able to produce a product where they have to bring in the raw materials —
because they don't have a lot of wood in the Far East — produce it, ship it all
the way to the United States. And they
can do it for less cost than it would somebody in the state of Wisconsin to
produce and put it on the market here," said Landin. "We've seen several mills that produce
coated paper that have closed in the state of Wisconsin," he said. "I can't say 'A and B are directly
related,' but I don't think it's beyond the pale to suggest that one of the
reasons is because the demand went down but also the supply of coated paper was
State Board Reverses Policy on
Public Records Access
Wisconsin's Public Records Board has rescinded a
new policy used by Governor Scott
Walker's administration to shield text messages from the public. The board's new policy, adopted last August,
concerned so-called transitory records, which are supposed to be documents of
low importance like scheduling emails.
The Walker administration used the policy to thwart a records request
for text messages about a state economic development award. The same policy change was also cited to deny
access to visitor logs at the governor's mansion.
The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council
filed a lawsuit in December against the board, contending it had violated open
While the Public Records Board did vote to
revoke its decision, that left in place a 2010 policy that Chairman Matt
Blessing said was vague and open to too much interpretation. He said the policy was never meant to be
specific to text messages. He said the
Board would revisit the issue in the future.
Jan 8, 2016
Tribal Council Opposes Wis. Bill
On Native American Graves
The Board of Directors of The Great Lakes
Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC) claims the state of Wisconsin is directly opposing
the federal Native American Graves and Repatriation Act with new proposed
legislation. The Board of Directors is
calling on the legislature to stop considering AB-620, which it says violates
the protection of Native burial and religious sites.
The council is against the AB-620 bill because
it says the opening of pre-historic burial mounds for exploration, mining and
other commercial purposes is, in “the strongest terms a shameful ignorance and
abuse of Native history, culture and religious practice. The proposed legislation would permit any
landowner throughout the state to dispute the significance of mounds or other
works, and to excavate, explore, exploit, and for that matter privately and
covertly remove or destroy artifacts or human remains without oversight by
independent archaeological experts,” the council said.
The council supports the Ho-Chunk Nation by
trying to help them protect specific mounds in Wisconsin within territory
historically occupied by tribal ancestry. The council says if the legislation passes, it will turn to the Federal
Trustee in the hopes they will intervene.
Jan 7, 2016
Bills Address Prison Staffing
Issues of staffing and safety in Wisconsin state
prisons have been on the rise for the past several years, with vacancy rates
increasing by more than 20%. Democratic
Senators Jon Erpenbach and Kathleen Vinehout have proposed nine bills that are
working to fix those safety and staffing concerns throughout the state. “Depending on what institution you are
working at, vacancy rates are as high as 20%.
As a result of that, there are people who are forced into overtime
situations, pulling double shifts two and three times a week and that is bad
for all sorts of reasons,” says Erpenbach.
According to the department of corrections
vacancies have increased from 2%-10% in parts of the state. “We have people with 25 years of experience
walking out the door because they just don't want to deal with it anymore. Then we go out and recruit a new class to
come in to work as correctional officers and we can only hang on to about half
of (those) who (are) hired,” says Erpenbach.
The amount of correctional officer overtime pay
has steadily increased to reach $36-million in 2016 alone.
New St. Croix River Bridge
The new Saint Croix River bridge won’t open
until late 2017, a full year after originally planned, because of equipment
problems, material shortages and weather delays, Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation
agencies said Wednesday. Just how the
delay might affect the overall cost of the bridge project — budgeted for as
much as $676 million — won’t be known until the state agencies complete
negotiations with the general contractor. The road portions of the project remain on track, Beer said. Improvements to Highway 36 in Minnesota and
Highway 64 in Wisconsin, which will connect to the bridge, are on schedule and
January 7 is Christmas for Many
Many Orthodox Christians are celebrating the
birth of Jesus Christ today, following the older Julian calendar. Last night, many believers in Russia,
Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Ethiopia and elsewhere, including émigrés from those
countries who live in Minneapolis and elsewhere in the United States, gathered
in temples for traditional services; as they also do today. They follow the Julian calendar, and today is
Family-owned Mills Fleet Farm has agreed to sell
to New York-based KKR, one of the country’s largest investment businesses that
has holdings in various industries totaling about $100 billion. Terms of the deal are expected to be
announced today and are expected to include a price tag of more than $1.2
billion, including debt.
Nate Taylor, a KKR executive who runs the retail
businesses within KKR’s private-equity portfolio, said that KKR has acquired
majority control of the stock but the Mills family will retain a small
ownership stake in the 61-year-old company.
Several Mills family members are expected to leave company management
but will maintain offices and contribute in an advisory capacity. Taylor said the company will be operated
independently of KKR’s other retailers, which include Toys ‘R’ Us and US
Foods. He added that deep-pocketed KKR
plans to invest in a Mills Fleet Farm expansion that could transcend its
four-state Upper Midwest region.
Mills Fleet Farm, which doesn’t publicly
disclose sales or results, operates stores in rural towns and suburbs of
Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
It employs 6,500 full- and part-time workers, including about 75 at its
corporate office in Brainerd Minnesota.