Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

WISCONSIN NEWS BRIEFS: Funnel clouds spotted across state

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
News Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

A funnel cloud was spotted late yesterday near Deerbrook in Langlade County -- the same place where a tornado went through two weeks ago. This one never touched the ground. Neither did a funnel cloud near Augusta in Eau Claire County late yesterday.

Advertisement
Advertisement

One-and-a-half inch hail fell at Summit Lake in Langlade County. Menominee, Shawano, Oconto, Eau Claire, and Winnebago counties also reported hail from those storms. Trees fell along Highway 55 north of Keshena in Menominee County. Other storms caused trees to fall in the Beloit area. Nearly two-inches of rain fell near Galesville in Trempealeau County. All the storms have moved out, and forecasters expect a sunny and cooler day statewide with highs in the 70’s. More rain is possible tomorrow. Forecasters say heavier storms are possible on Thursday.

_________________________________________________

It seems hard to believe – but over a-third of Wisconsin farm fields are short of moisture, just a month after heavy rains pounded virtually all of the Badger State. The latest federal crop update shows that five-percent of Wisconsin fields were very short on moisture, at the end of a week-long heat wave which climaxed with relatively little rain activity and in areas of the state with sandier soil. Only four-percent of Wisconsin farm fields have surplus moisture, and 56-percent are rated adequate. Meanwhile, the state’s corn crop continues to make up for lost time. It averages 58-inches, nine below the average for the past five years. Sixty-two percent of the corn is good-to-excellent, and 26-percent is rated fair. Thirty-one percent of Wisconsin soybeans are blooming, 14-percent below the norm. Ninety-one percent of the beans are good-to-excellent, despite stress from the recent heat and the relative lack of rain. 

_________________________________________________

The death of a 19-year-old woman in Hartford is apparently being investigated as a homicide. Jessie Blodgett was found dead eight days ago in her bedroom. Now, W-I-S-N T-V in Milwaukee has dug up a search warrant affidavit showing that Blodgett had a “ligature mark” on her neck – and officers did not find anything in the house which could make such a mark. Police are not commenting. The report said Blodgett’s mother put clothing in the victim’s bedroom around eight o’clock on July 15th – and she found her daughter’s body after returning from work about four hours later. 

_________________________________________________

Heavy trucks would not have to reduce their loads when heading down Highway 41, under a bill passed by the U-S House yesterday. On a voice vote, the chamber agreed to let trucks keep their current Wisconsin weight limits if the freeway becomes an Interstate-41 next year as expected. Federal law bans trucks of over 80,000-lbs. on the Interstates. Wisconsin currently allows rigs of up to 88,000-lbs. if they’re carrying grain, coal, and iron ore. Timber-and-pulp trucks can carry up to 98,000-lbs.. Fond du Lac House Republican Tom Petri urged his colleagues to pass the measure, saying it would not add more weight to what Highway 41’s already carrying. Without the exception, officials say companies would either have to spend more to lighten their loads – or else the bigger trucks would move to two-lane rural roads and tear them up in short order. Governor Scott Walker praised the House passage, calling it a “great win for Wisconsin’s economy” and for the business which use Highway 41. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate. Democrat Tammy Baldwin says it’s “crucial” that her colleagues pass the measure by the end of the year. 

________________________________________________

A north-central Wisconsin woman now claims she was insane when she allegedly tried to kill her four youngest kids, so they wouldn’t feel the pain of her impending divorce. 37-year-old Heidi Mann of Rib Lake waived a preliminary hearing yesterday in Taylor County. She pleaded innocent, and innocent-by-insanity, to four charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. Mann will be examined by a mental health professional to determine if a sanity case has any merit. Prosecutors said Mann tried to asphyxiate the youngsters by placing them in an SUV for two hours in a closed garage with its engine running. The kids – ages 3, 6, 9, and 12 – all survived and are living with other relatives. The incident happened in March, but sheriff’s investigators said they were not made aware of it until about a month ago.

________________________________________________

A suburban Milwaukee animal shelter is going out of business, after it was saved by a special cat two years ago. The Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center was first in danger of closing in late 2011, after a mall in Greendale doubled its rent. That was about the time the center’s director discovered Daniel, a tabby with two extra toes on each foot caused by a genetic mutation. The shelter, which rescues troubled animals, made Daniel and his 26 toes the highlight of a fund-raising effort to build a new shelter, which opened 15 months ago. Since then, owner Amy Rowell says the fundraising ended – and the overhead and property maintenance costs became too much. As a result, the shelter she opened eight years ago will close as soon its remaining 24 cats and four dogs can find new homes. Rowell has since taken a new job as a high school development director. She still has Daniel, and they plan to volunteer for a host of animal welfare projects. Rowell says she’ll treasure the cat for the rest of her life. 

_________________________________________________

UW-Madison’s new chancellor says one of her main goals is to create a tuition policy that’s fair for students, while raising faculty pay to keep the best from leaving. Rebecca Blank spent her first day on campus yesterday. The former acting U.S. Commerce Secretary said a few months ago she was tired of Washington politics. Now, she’s entering a whole new political firestorm stirred by the recent report that the UW built up millions-of-dollars in surpluses. Lawmakers were surprised, and they responded by freezing the UW’s tuition for two years. Blank said she had “some sympathy” for politicians who felt they were kept in the dark. Still, Blank said she’s not worried that she won’t be able to work effectively with the state government and its bureaucracy. During her first six months, Blank says she’ll listen to all types of campus groups, while building relationships among both parties at the Capitol. Blank said Madison needs to be a place that everyone in Wisconsin can afford – but she said tuition is on the “cheaper end” for out-of-state and graduate students. And in her words, “I see no reason to sell a university this good at that price.” Blank also vowed to expand the UW’s support for donors, which includes an upcoming campaign. Blank replaces David Ward, who spent two years as an interim chancellor after Biddy Martin left.

_________________________________________________

A $25,000 bond was set yesterday for a man accused of causing a drunk driving crash that killed two passengers. Portage County prosecutors wanted a much higher bond of $200,000 for 22-year-old Tim Saavedra of Loyal, but Judge Thomas Flugaur said no. If he does make bond, Saavedra must stay away from places that serve alcohol, and cannot have contact with the victims’ families. Authorities said the man’s pick-up truck slammed into a group of trees early last Saturday west of Stevens Point. The crash killed passengers Melissa Peterson and Stephanie Eberhardt, both 21 from Wisconsin Rapids. A 21-year-old Rudolph man was hospitalized in fair condition at last word. Prosecutors expect to file charges of causing homicide and injury by drunk driving. Saavedra is due back in court on Aug. 5

_________________________________________________

Wisconsin has recorded the summer’s first human case of the West Nile virus. State health officials confirmed yesterday that a Dane County resident had the mosquito-borne illness. The patient’s age-and-gender were not released, and we were not told if the person has recovered. Ten birds have died from West Nile throughout Wisconsin. Most of those cases were confirmed in the last week, and officials consider them a precursor for human cases. Last year, four Wisconsinites died and 53 others fell ill to the West Nile virus – the most since officials began tracking the disease in 2002.   

_________________________________________________

With his next election over a year away, Governor Scott Walker already has two-point-two million dollars in his campaign fund. New reports filed yesterday show that the Republican Walker raised a total of three-and-a-half million dollars in the first half of this year. So far, no Democrats have come out to run against Walker. Former state Commerce Secretary Mary Burke and Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris are both considering Democratic bids. Democratic fund-raiser Patrick Guarasci says Walker won’t have as much of a financial edge next year as he did in his first two races. Republican strategist Mark Graul said it’s remarkable that Walker could raise three-and-a-half million in a non-election year. Graul says it’s due to a loyal following that is quote, “the envy of elected officials everywhere.” When Walker was first elected governor in 2010, he raised and spent around $11-million. In last year’s recall vote – when he could raise unlimited funds for a time – the governor took in a record $37-million, not including pro-Walker ads from special interest groups.

_________________________________________________

Judge Jeffrey Wagner says there should “never be any light in the tunnel” for John Spooner. Wagner sentenced the 76-year-old Milwaukee man yesterday to life in prison with no chance for a supervised release. That was after Spooner was found guilty last week of intentionally killing his 13-year-old neighbor Darius Simmons in May of last year over four missing guns that Spooner accused the teen of stealing. Wagner also ordered Spooner to pay $58,000 in restitution to Simmons’ family for what the judge called a “horrific, egregious act.” Spooner gave dramatic testimony last week in which he called the murder of Simmons “justice.” He claimed he was insane at the time of the slaying, but the jury refused to buy that. At his sentencing, Spooner said he didn’t know if his actions were right or wrong. He also said he felt sorry for Darius Simmons – and he claimed there was nobody in his life who, quote, “loved him enough to teach him to go straight.” That spurred Simmons’ brother to shout out an expletive. Judge Wagner said the murder was an “evil act,” and he called Spooner “one of the worst of the worst.”

__________________________________________________

Wisconsin might be getting a new species of ticks. UW-Madison researchers say the Lone Star tick has made its way into the Badger State from the eastern and southeast U-S. Entomology professor Susan Paskewitz said a dozen of the gold ticks have been found in Dane County this summer. Smaller numbers have been spotted in Marathon, Price, Brown, Saint Croix, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties. Paskewitz says the confirmed sightings seem to indicate that a lot more Lone Star ticks have also entered Wisconsin. They’ve been known to carry a bacterial pathogen that can cause fever, nausea, and muscle aches to those who get bit. However, officials have not tested Wisconsin’s Lone Star ticks to see if they’re infected. The advice for dealing with them is the same as that for avoiding Lyme disease from deer ticks – wear long pants outside, carry insect repellent, and check for ticks after getting home. Those who believe they’ve picked up Lone Star ticks are asked to send them to the entomology lab at UW-Madison. 

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement