STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Fire departments throughout Wisconsin helping Gordon
Fire departments throughout Wisconsin are lending equipment to a volunteer force that lost everything in a blaze last Thursday. The town of Gordon, about 35 miles south of Superior, lost its fire hall and everything in it -- including a half-dozen fire trucks and fire-fighters' gear. By Saturday, Gordon already had a truck loaned by nearby Grantsburg. The town of Jackson in southeast Wisconsin loaned a truck during the weekend. Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said a third truck was expected to arrive today. Also, the state and Douglas County Emergency Management provided things like hoses and tools. Indianhead Technical College offered gear from its fire training program. The chief says other donations are also being made. The blaze appears to have started in an office area -- but the chief said the damage was so extensive, it's likely impossible that a cause will be determined. A tentative damage estimate is around a million dollars. The donated gear is being stored in Gordon's highway garage, next to the fire hall. A benefit dinner is set for Friday evening at the Gordon Town Hall. The National Bank of Commerce in Solon Springs has a fund in which people can send donations.
Waukesha is among the communities telling folks to stop using pre-moistened towelettes instead of toilet paper. The Associated Press says it's a national problem, as wipes considered as flushable don't tear apart as they run through the sewers. As a result, some places have spent millions-of-dollars to unclog pipes and pumps. Waukesha has had enough clogs to start a public campaign called "Keep Wipes Out of Pipes." In Bemus Point New York, things got so bad that officials set up basket strainers to find out which homes the wipes were coming from. They then pleaded with those residents both by mail and in person to stop using the pre-moistened wipes, which are becoming more popular. The A-P says sales are up five-percent a year since 2007, and they're now a six-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Manufacturers say the flushable wipes are not the problem. Trina McCormick of Kimberly-Clark says 90-percent of problem items are actually paper towels, baby wipes, and feminine products that are not supposed to be flushed down. Wastewater officials agree those are problems -- but they say their troubles have grown at the same pace as the use of flushable wipes.
The company that's testing the feasibility of a new mine in northern Wisconsin is against the latest compromise for keeping protestors away. Lawmakers from both parties are getting behind a new proposal to give Gogebic Taconite a 300-foot protective circle around its mining-related activities, and a 50-foot buffer on an access road. The measure could be introduced as early as this week. Moderate Senate Republican Dale Schultz says it would give everyone fair treatment -- and it would put the D-N-R in control of most of the area's public recreational land instead of the company. Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz says the compromise would not work, because it would not adequately protect workers who float around different parts of the site. After a vandalism incident on June 11th, Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst wanted to close all 35-hundred recreation acres where the company has mineral rights -- but he couldn't round up enough votes to pass it. Critics called it an overreaction, and said it would punish law-abiding families who've hunted and fished on the site for years. Tiffany says he's working on a more limited compromise to allow public use of the 35-hundred acres during the November gun deer season, with a 50-foot buffer along trout streams.
Paul Ryan of Janesville will join previous speculated presidential hopefuls in writing a book. Twelve, a subsidiary of Grand Central Publishing, said last night that Ryan's book will be called "Where Do We Go From Here?" It's scheduled to hit the stores next August. The publisher says Ryan will challenge conventional thinking as he describes the state of conservatism, contrasts it with liberal ideas, and then explains what should be done to quote, "save the American idea." Ryan was the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee, and he chairs the House Budget Committee. On Friday, speculation about a White House run increased when Ryan said he would visit New Hampshire next month to help a former House colleague -- Frank Guinta -- start a bid to win his old job back. Ryan is the top choice of Wisconsin G-O-P primary voters at this point. He got 27-percent in a survey from Public Policy Polling last week. Governor Scott Walker was a distant second with 14-percent. Walker's also putting out a book called "Un-intimidated." Its cover was recently unveiled.
Wisconsin had another big night at the Emmys. A-B-C's "Modern Family," created by former Madison T-V anchor Steve Levitan, won the Best Comedy Series award for the fourth straight year. Levitan, a U-W Madison graduate, is the show's executive producer. "Behind the Candelabra," an H-B-O movie on the life of West Milwaukee native Liberace, won 11 Emmys -- three last night and eight technical honors presented earlier this month. Michael Douglas, who played the late lavish piano musician, was named the Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series. Also, Waukesha native Richard Dahm was honored during last night's prime-time Emmy broadcast. He's part of the writing group for "The Colbert Report," which received the award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Show. A documentary about sexual abuses by priests at a school for the deaf in suburban Milwaukee won three Emmys in the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony a week ago last night. They include the exceptional merit award for documentary film-making, plus awards for writing and picture editing.
Wisconsin would ease up on its regulations for captive deer, under new policy changes to be considered Wednesday by the state Natural Resources Board. The new rules are designed to prevent a repeat of a nationally-publicized incident, in which D-N-R workers seized-and-killed a captive baby deer named "Giggles" that was being treated at a Kenosha County rehab shelter. Under the new proposal, state workers would return captive deer to the wild, and not euthanize them unless they pose a health risk. People can keep wild deer in pens, if they pay fines and have veterinarians test the animals. The fines are needed because only the Legislature can allow wild deer to be kept as pets. The D-N-R Board can make the other changes. In the "Giggles" incident, critics accused the D-N-R of being too heavy-handed -- and once the word went national, Governor Scott Walker ordered the D-N-R to re-examine its policies. He has endorsed the new changes. The agency's policy board will hold its monthly meeting at Pembine in northeast Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has just finished a summer season that was hotter than you might expect. The National Weather Service in La Crosse said the three-month season that ended Saturday was the 18th-warmest on record, with an average temperature of around 72-degrees. That's almost two-degrees warmer than normal. Unlike last summer -- when it seemed that it was boiling for months -- most of this year's intense heat didn't arrive until after the middle of August. From June 21st to August 18th, the average temperature in La Crosse was actually eight-tenths of a degree below the norm. Since August 18th, the average reading was six degrees above normal, close to 73-degrees. That's the third-hottest stretch on record. Only 1947-and-'48 were hotter. Also during the summer, La Crosse was short on rain like most of the Badger State. The total was five-inches below normal, helping cause the return of drought conditions in the southwest two-thirds of Wisconsin. Forecasters say it will stay dry all week throughout the state. The next chance of rain is on Friday night. Until then, a high-pressure system will give us clear-to-partly cloudy skies. Today's highs are expected to be around 70. A slight warm-up is expected around Wednesday.