Morning State News Roundup: Northern Wisconsin native to receive Silver Star Medal
CAMP DOUGLAS - A soldier from northern Wisconsin will become the state Army National Guard's first recipient of the Silver Star Medal.
First Sergeant Gregory Fulton of Arbor Vitae will receive the military's third-highest award for valor during a ceremony tomorrow at Volk Field in Juneau County. Other Wisconsin soldiers have won the Silver Star, but Fulton is the first from the National Guard to be so honored. Fulton was serving in Afghanistan with the Guard's 951st Engineer Company, when he helped the Afghan National Army clear a building that was filled with hostile insurgents. His unit is based in Rhinelander and Tomahawk.
Southwest Wisconsin was hit with floods and a possible tornado late yesterday and last night. The National Weather Service said a funnel cloud was spotted just after 6:30 southwest of Muscoda in Grant County. A building and trees were down near Richland Center, and the Weather Service said it could have been from a tornado. On the Mississippi River, numerous streets in Bagley had high water. Grant County officials said the drainage system could not keep up with the torrential rains as of 11:30 last night. Mount Hope in Grant County had 60-mile-an-hour winds. Buildings and trees were also down near Viroqua in Vernon County. Stueben in Crawford County had the most rain - two-point-nine inches as of 12:45 this morning. Local rivers in western Wisconsin rose by up to four inches during the night. To the north, a pole shed blew down in Trempealeau County late yesterday afternoon between Blair and Whitehall. One-point-nine inches of rain fell in just one hour in Eau Claire, with minor street and field flooding. Trees were also down near Altoona and Fairchild. There have been no reports of injuries. A flood warning remains in effect until nine this morning for parts of Grant, Richland, and Crawford counties in southwest Wisconsin. More showers and thunderstorms are in the statewide forecast for this afternoon and evening, with highs getting into the 80's.
Local authorities now say a possible tornado touched down at a campground near Prairie du Chien last night. The National Weather Service did not say anything about a tornado there. It did say a possible twister landed near Richland Center, where a building and trees were uprooted. At Prairie du Chien, authorities said a possible twister landed at the Jellystone Campground in the Crawford County town of Bagley. Nobody was reported to be hurt. Trees and campers were uprooted at the site. Fire Chief Fred White told WKBT-TV in La Crosse that several mobile homes fell on their sides in the Prairie du Chien area, and numerous areas were without power. Richland County officials said several businesses were damaged in its storms. Almost three-inches of rain fell at Stueben in Crawford County. In Eau Claire, almost two-inches fell in just one hour. More storms are in the forecast for this afternoon and evening.
You may not like gloomy weather - but that's what you'll probably get for the rest of the week. Forecasters say numerous rounds of showers and thunderstorms will push through Wisconsin at least through Friday, with lesser chances for rain during the weekend and into next week. The National Weather Service says a low-pressure system is moving northward into the Great Plains, and it will be stuck there at least through Friday. It's expected to carry at least some severe weather, and the Weather Service says tomorrow is our most likely chance to get severe thunderstorms. When it's not raining, you'll have a chance to enjoy temperatures that will rise into the 70's each day, and the 80's tomorrow. In Waukesha County, dime-to-quarter-sized hail fell last night in Mukwonago and Eagle. This morning, dense fog made it hard for commuters to get work-and-school in much of southern Wisconsin - including the Madison area.
The Powerball jackpot has been claimed for the second drawing in a row. A ticket sold in Texas overcame the odds of 175-million to one, to win the minimum jackpot of $40-million. In Wisconsin, a ticket sold in Madison won the third prize of $10,000 by matching all but one of the five regular numbers, plus the Powerball. Just over eight-thousand players in the state won smaller prizes. The numbers were 9, 14, 17, 49, and 57. The Powerball was two. The jackpot stays at the $40-million minimum for the next drawing on Saturday night. In Mega Millions, the top prize is $30-million for tomorrow night.
Efforts to restore wetlands in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota will get federal grant money through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. A total of $2.4 million dollars will be going to Ducks Unlimited Incorporated. Its three projects will protect wetland and grassland habitat for migratory birds, and restore more than three thousand acres of wetland in the Lake Michigan watershed. Ducks Unlimited will maintain wetlands and prairies in all three states.
The Northern Wisconsin Wildfire Fund is providing money, items and a helping hand to those affected by the May 14th Germann Road Fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties. That fire burned more than eight thousand acres, destroyed 17 homes and nearly 50 structures, total. Insurance is helping many of those impacted by the huge fire, but it doesn't cover everything. What started as a faith-based initiative has now expanded to include seven churches, many town board members, volunteer firefighters, banks, business owners and people in the community. More than two thousand dollars has already been collected, along with food, clothing and furniture. Volunteers are offering to help with things like cleanup to rebuilding.
A woman who drowned while scuba-diving in west-central Wisconsin on Memorial Day has been identified as 55-year-old Deborah Kujbida of Beach Park, Illinois. It happened on one of the deepest lakes in Wisconsin, Lake Wazee in Jackson County. Rescuers from Black River Falls joined sheriff's deputies in searching for Kujbida. She was among several groups of divers who were practicing their deep-water techniques and later discovered she was missing.
A chain of assisted living centers will no longer control most of its properties, after it was fined almost 100-thousand-dollars for Wisconsin violations that led to residents' deaths. The Senior Lifestyle Corporation of Chicago tells the Oshkosh Northwestern it will start operating 10 assisted-living facilities operated by CRL. Vice president Stephen Levy would not name all the affected centers - but confirmed that Bella Vista and Bella Vista Manor, both in Oshkosh, are among those being taken over. The newspaper said it discovered violations at many of CRL's 14 assisted living centers in Wisconsin since 2011. Levy said the Senior Lifestyle Corporation did not have a time-table for completing its changeover. He said it would depend on the state's approval of the required licenses. The Senior Lifestyle firm operates one other Wisconsin center, Harbour Village in Greendale.
For the third year in a row, people in far western Wisconsin can brag about being the healthiest and fittest in the nation. The annual American Fitness Index rated the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area as being the healthiest in the country - and that includes the Wisconsin counties of Saint Croix and Pierce. The American College of Sports Medicine ranks the Top-50 metro areas for things like exercise, smoking rates, and the availability of health care and recreation. Metro Milwaukee was in the middle of the pack as the 26th healthiest. The Chicago area, which includes Kenosha County, is 27th. The survey praised the Milwaukee region for having more farmers' markets, bicycle commuters, golf courses, and health care providers per person. But Milwaukeeans don't eat enough fruits-and-veggies. They have fewer playgrounds, ball diamonds, swimming pools, and tennis courts - while having more smokers and obese people than the norm.
A new CEO was named today for a health care system that serves north central Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Matthew Heywood will replace the retiring Duane Erwin as the president and chief executive officer of Aspirus Incorporated on July first. The company is based in Wausau. It's among the state's largest health systems with over six-thousand employees. The 46-year-old Heywood is currently the executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the New Hanover Health Network in Wilmington North Carolina. Aspirus board chairman Todd Nicklaus says Heywood's skills and leadership are what the company needs at a time when the health care industry is undergoing unprecedented changes. Aspirus also had high praise for Erwin as he's about to retire. The company said he almost doubled the number of employees, added three hospitals in the UP to its network, and created business relationships with two Wisconsin hospitals.