STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Rhinelander high school teacher facing seven criminal charges
A Rhinelander High School English teacher is due in court this afternoon on seven criminal charges. 35-year-old Joshua Juergens was suspended from his duties, after authorities said they caught him with over 60 marijuana plants, prescription drugs that were not his, and stolen computers belonging to the Rhinelander district and others. School Superintendent Kelli Jacobi said officials are still doing an inventory on the stolen property. She says the total value could be around nine-thousand dollars. Juergens was hired at Rhinelander this fall after officials got quote, "glowing references." Jacobi said the School Board will consider terminating Juergens at a meeting on Monday night. Jacobi said they knew about some of his past brushes with the law and accepted them -- but they didn't get the whole story, and she believes they show disturbing character issues. Jacobi said officials knew that Juergens was convicted of possessing marijuana -- which online court records said was in 1997 in Marathon County, when he was 19. Jacobi said she was not happy to learn that Juergens had numerous charges of disorderly conduct, small claims actions, criminal damage, and driving several times while his license was suspended or revoked. Most of those were in Dane County. His latest charge for driving while suspended was filed on Halloween in Lincoln County.
A southern Wisconsin man is due in court tomorrow for allegedly causing the death of his girlfriend's five-year-old son. 24-year-old Dakota Black of Oregon in Dane County was charged yesterday with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Brayden Turnbill. Rescuers were called to a home in Sun Prairie on October 22nd, soon after the youngster was found to have bruises on his chest, and did not appear to be breathing. A doctor told authorities that Brayden had brain injuries consistent with either an impact to his head, or violent shaking. Black is in jail for violating a previous probation.
The Salvation Army has re-instated a man's bell-ringing privileges in Wausau, after he raised suspicions by giving Beanie Babies to school kids. Police said the man was dressed as Santa Claus on Monday. He was on his way home from helping raise money for the Salvation Army's Red Kettles when he stopped at Franklin Elementary School in Wausau and gave kids Beanie Babies. The toys were returned, and the Salvation Army said the man could no longer ring bells for the organization. Yesterday, Salvation Army Lieutenant Melinda Tripp told Wausau's W-A-O-W T-V that she believed the man did not mean any harm. She said bell-ringers can hand out items, but only those approved by the Salvation Army -- and Beanie Babies are not on the list.
It's been almost three years since gasoline prices started with the number "2" in Wisconsin. That's what we're seeing this morning in parts of the Milwaukee area. Milwaukee Gas Prices-Dot-Com reports a low of 2.73-a-gallon in suburban Greenfield for regular unleaded, but that's the exception rather than the rule. The Triple-"A" reports a statewide average of 3.14-a-gallon this morning. The Milwaukee price site reports an average of 3.05 in the state's largest metro -- down about a quarter over the past month. Analyst Patrick DeHaan of Gas Buddy-Dot-Com says gasoline supplies are swelling, due to higher U-S oil production in places like North Dakota. He said that for the first time in decades, America is producing more of its own oil than it's importing. Also, experts say gas prices generally fall in the winter due to lower demand for fuel. Energy consultant Jim Ritterbusch of Galena Illinois says he expects crude oil prices to fall by as much as six-dollars a barrel in the coming weeks. Benchmark U-S crude closed slightly higher in New York yesterday, to almost 94-dollars a barrel.
A southern Wisconsin man is due in court today, after he was arrested in the death of a 19-year-old woman who was apparently burned in the man's fire-pit. Authorities said Aprina Paul of Fitchburg answered the man's online ad for sex October 27th -- and she was burned to death two days later at the man's home near Evansville. He's in jail for violating a previous probation, and has not been charged in the new case. The man is expected to have a bond set during his court hearing today in Janesville. Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said he expects the district attorney's office to file charges by tomorrow. The suspect is under suspicion of hiding and mutilating a corpse, possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, pandering, and failing to notify the coroner of a death.
A woman who died in a weather-related car crash with a school bus was identified yesterday as 55-year-old Teresa Cummins of Spencer. Marathon County authorities said her car veered out of control on nearly-invisible black ice, and was hit by an empty school bus. The driver suffered undisclosed injuries. The crash happened Monday morning on Highway 13 in Spencer. It was one of almost three-dozen traffic mishaps investigated by Marathon County authorities, after a surprise bout of snow and plunging temperatures. It's been warmer since then. A high pressure system raised yesterday's highs by at least 10-degrees from Tuesday. Parts of eastern Wisconsin had high winds last night, up to 51-miles-an-hour at Sherwood. Forecasters say parts of northern and central Wisconsin could see light rain today from a weak low pressure system. It will be partly-to-mostly cloudy elsewhere, with near-normal highs in the 40's.
Computers have changed a lot in 23 years -- and the National Weather Service office in La Crosse is finally catching up with the times. Officials say they've replaced a computer system that's been used since 1990. Raytheon worked with the Weather Service in developing the new system. It's designed to give meteorologists more data, better tools for analyzing it, and offering new products to the agency's biggest users. The new system was tested for a year at eight of the 122 National Weather Service offices. Now, it will be rolled out every three months at different locations around the country. Matt Davis of the La Crosse weather office says most of us won't notice any difference -- because the basic weather radios and consumer Web sites will not be changing.
If the governor didn't convince you to start thinking about getting that Christmas tree, perhaps Alice-in-Dairyland will. Kristin Olson will join fourth-graders tomorrow at the annual first-cutting ceremony held by the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Growers Association. The event will be held at the R-and-S Tree Farms near Neillsville in Clark County. It's designed to call attention to Wisconsin's large Christmas tree industry, which harvests one-point-eight million trees a year. The event will also promote next year's Alice-in-Dairyland finals, to be held in Clark County in May. Yesterday, Governor Scott Walker and First Lady Tonette Walker chopped down the Christmas tree for the Governor's Conference Room at the Capitol. That happened at Dave and Mary Vander Velden's tree farm near Oconto.
A central Wisconsin man was killed after his tractor was rear-ended by a car. 74-year-old Kenneth Brandl of Auburndale died at a Marshfield hospital after the crash, which occurred around 1:30 yesterday afternoon on Highway 10 in Auburndale. Wood County sheriff's deputies said Brandl's tractor was pulling an empty gravity box west on 10, when his unit was rear-ended by a car driven by a 55-year-old Plainfield man. The State Patrol said alcohol did not appear to be a factor. Investigators are still trying to determine how fast each motorist was going.