Afternoon State News Briefs: Rare derecho on track to hit state
"Derecho" is not a common word among Wisconsin weather watchers - but it could be before the week is out.
A derecho is a strong weather pattern that occurs every 1-to-2 years across the central and northeastern U.S., normally in a band from Texas to New England. The Upper Midwest shows signs of such a pattern brewing - and metro areas from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh could see a line of heavy thunderstorms, golf-ball-sized hail, tornadoes, straight-line winds of 70-miles-an-hour, and the damage that goes with all that. A derecho is normally strong enough to tip over semi-trucks and tear off roof shingles. The storm activity is expected to begin today in Montana and Wyoming. Heavy thunderstorms are being predicted for parts of Wisconsin tomorrow, and the derecho is due in the Badger State on Thursday.
A Marquette University student has died, after falling off a ledge along a river in Rome Italy. In a campus e-mail, the president of the Milwaukee school said Andrew Carr was walking with friends when he lost his balance and fell. University president Scott Pilarz says Marquette is working with John Cabot University to support Carr's friends and roommates in Rome. On campus, counselors are available for those needing help in coping with the tragedy. Carr was to be a junior this fall, majoring in operations-and-supply chain management.
If the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly has his way, taxpayers would not spend a dime on a new sports arena in downtown Milwaukee. There's been talk that the special sales tax which built the Milwaukee Brewers' baseball stadium would not expire in 2018 as expected - but instead continue to pay for a downtown arena for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he'd be against continuing the one-tenth-percent sales tax - which now includes Vos's home county of Racine and four others in Metro Milwaukee. Vos told the paper he's against using tax dollars that benefit pro sports teams and quote, "their million-dollar salaries." Bucks' owner Herb Kohl says the new arena would house a lot more than the Bucks. He said the Marquette men's college basketball team would most likely play there. The Golden Eagles now play in the Bucks' home building at the Bradley Center along with the Milwaukee Admirals' pro hockey team and numerous concerts. NBA officials say Milwaukee will eventually need a new arena, and Kohl - who bought the Bucks in 1985 to keep them from moving to Minneapolis - said he would pay part of the price-tag for a new building.
Wisconsin law enforcement officers would not be able to enforce federal gun restrictions, under a state bill proposed by a Republican lawmaker. Oshkosh Assemblyman Michael Schraa is a member of the National Rifle Association. He's asking his colleagues to co-sponsor his bill. Despite limiting enforcement of federal gun bans, the bill would declare that weapons made in Wisconsin have not engaged in Interstate commerce - and therefore, they're not covered under federal commerce laws. Schraa says his bill would send a message to Washington that the Badger state would not curtail gun rights. Eight other states have passed similar laws protecting weapons made within their borders.
Wounded veterans would get steep discounts on outdoor recreation fees, under a bill passed unanimously by the Wisconsin State Senate this afternoon. The measure now goes to the state Assembly. It would give Purple Heart recipients who live in the state a conservation patron license for just $10, instead of the normal $165. Out-of-state Purple Heart veterans would pay $161 instead of the normal $600 for a patron license, which grants privileges for a range of hunting, trapping, and fishing activities. The out-of-state wounded veterans would pay what Wisconsinites do for the individual sports.
Six Wisconsin health groups say lawmakers should dump a state budget measure that would prevent communities from banning foods-and-drinks with sugars. The health leaders say the ban will cause unintended consequences, like putting new limits on employee wellness programs. Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee added the prohibition on local sugar bans last month. They did not any Wisconsin community to follow in the footsteps of New York, which put limits on the size of sodas that people could buy. The American Heart Association is lobbying against the Wisconsin measure - along with the American Cancer Society, Wisconsin Council on Children-and-Families, Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, Health First Wisconsin, and the Childhood Obesity Prevention Conference.
Green Bay is getting $600,000 federal dollars to check the levels of contamination in areas targeted for development - and to clean up some of the pollution. Mayor Jim Schmitt says the city will spend $400,000 to prepare clean-up plans of land along the Fox and East Rivers, plus two major streets on Green Bay's east and west sides. The rest of the federal grant will help cover the redevelopment of properties along a four-mile stretch of University Avenue from the East River to UW-Green Bay.
A 28-year-old Madison man is accused of sexually assaulting seven women. Dane County prosecutor Corey Stephan says the suspect, Brian Stowe, allegedly assaulted the women while they were intoxicated. Police discovered a stockpile of pictures and videos of Stowe allegedly with the victims. The former project manager at Epic in Verona is charged with 62 felony counts. If convicted, he could face up to 1,400 years in prison.
A former high-ranking state official will retire this fall as the head of UW-Madison's University Research Park. Mark Bugher has been the executive director of the non-profit research-and-technology center since 1999. The 260-acre UW Research Park has about 36-hundred people working in over 125 companies. There, businesses create partnerships with the university and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation to bring the university's discoveries and technologies to the commercial market. Bugher served as Wisconsin's revenue secretary from 1988-to-'96. He was then named the state's administration secretary, where he served until 1999. Both times, Bugher was an appointee of former Governor Tommy Thompson. The incoming chancellor at the UW, Rebecca Blank, is expected to name an interim director after Bugher retires. A national search will take place next year for a new permanent director.
An annual Father's Day tradition is back this weekend in Glendale. Wisconsin Brewer's Guild president Jeff Hamilton says the 4th annual Beer Lover's Festival allows for visitors to try 150 different beer from 40 brewers in the state. Culinary experts will also be there to pair cheese and foods with different beers. Hamilton says tickets and information is available at wisconsinbeerloversfest.com.