Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

WISCONSIN NEWS BRIEFS: Genoa man killed in tugboat accident on Mississippi River

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

LA CROSSE - A southwest Wisconsin man was found dead yesterday in a tugboat that crashed over the roller gates of a Mississippi River lock near La Crosse, and tipped over. The body of 22-year-old Tyler Trussoni of Genoa was recovered from the second deck of the Megan Mc-“B,” about nine hours after the incident was first reported.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Two other Wisconsin men had minor injuries. They were treated at a La Crosse hospital. The mishap occurred on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi at Lock-and-Dam Number-Seven at Dresbach, just northwest of La Crosse. Over a half-dozen area rescue teams took part. Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said they could not enter the boat due to the high waters inside, so a specialized diving team from the boat’s owner – Brennan Marine of La Crosse – recovered the body. Trussoni was an employee of the company. He worked there for about three years. The Dresbach Dam is the same place where 11 people were rescued in May, after their rented houseboat went over the roller gates. Four people died at the same location in 2007. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

A town constable and part-time sheriff’s officer in northwest Wisconsin is suspected of molesting a 27-year-old woman. 47-year-old Gerald Olson is on administrative leave as the constable for both the village and town of Solon Springs, and his part-time post with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. Police investigators from Superior are looking into the matter. According to authorities, Olson was on duty when he picked up the woman as she was walking on Highway 53 late at night on June 15th. He reportedly offered her a ride to Superior so she could arrange to go to a relative’s house in northern Minnesota. Instead, she claimed the officer took her to his house where he offered alcohol and made unwanted sexual contact. A few hours later, she said Olson dropped her off at a Solon Springs motel. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

More Wisconsinites are staying home on this Fourth-of-July. The Triple-“A” says almost 867,000 people in the Badger State are expected to travel at least 50-miles from home – one-point-three percent less than a year ago. Officials say the lighter traffic is due mainly to a shorter holiday period this year. The Triple-“A” defines it as a five-day stretch between yesterday and Sunday. Last year, it was six days. Wisconsin gasoline prices are only about a nickel higher-per-gallon than a year ago. This morning’s statewide average was $3.45 for regular unleaded. It was over four-dollars around Memorial Day. Meanwhile, preliminary numbers from the state DOT show that 58 people were killed in Wisconsin traffic crashes last month – same as in June a year ago. Last month’s toll was also one higher than the average for the past five years. For the first half of 2013, Wisconsin recorded 224 traffic deaths – about 15-percent less than the year before.  

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you plan on traveling this holiday weekend, consider topping off the gas gauge. Crude oil prices have rocketed over $102-dollars a barrel. It is the first time crude oil prices have closed over $100 since May 2012. Triple-A Wisconsin says gas prices have stabilized the last two weeks, but an unexpected event could increase prices again. Today, the Energy Department says crude oil supplies fell more than three times what analyst expected (10-point-three million barrels). Also added to the equation is the increased tensions in Cairo, Egypt.  

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

At least some Fourth-of-July vacationers in Wisconsin will find their camp-sites closed due to high waters. Merrick State Park, about 40 miles north of La Crosse, shut down several campgrounds due to rising waters on the Mississippi River. The DNR said the river is at-or-near its crest at the park – and it’s not expected to start dropping for another week. As a precaution, the D-N-R decided to close Merrick’s south, group, and island campgrounds. They could re-open by mid-July if it doesn’t rain much more. The park’s north campground is still open. The only official flood warning on the Mississippi River this morning is at Saint Paul, where the National Weather Service says the river is over its banks. Wisconsin’s only other flood warnings are on the Rock River at Afton in Rock County, and the Fox River at New Munster in Kenosha County. Both are expected to drop below their flood stages tomorrow or Friday. Forecasters expect isolated rain showers throughout Wisconsin today, and a chance of rain both tomorrow and on Independence Day.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Milwaukee’s July 3rd fireworks show was great – until the fog set in. Spectators said they could easily see the booming, colorful displays for about 15-to-20 minutes – but the views became more obscure by the second half of the show. The Milwaukee show featured 10-thousand pounds of fireworks with over 20-thousand shells. The National Weather Service said much of eastern Wisconsin had fog and low clouds last night. Forecasters say it will gradually dissipate this morning. A partly cloudy and warm holiday is in store for much of the Badger State, with highs generally in the 80’s. There’s a slight chance of rain in northern and western Wisconsin. Clear skies are predicted for tonight’s fireworks shows in communities across the state. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

An eight-year-old boy who was injured by Mother Nature’s fireworks could be home from the hospital in time to see the Fourth-of-July fireworks. Blake Draeger of rural Edgar was struck by lightning on June 26th, while riding his mini-bike on his great uncle’s farm about 15 miles west of Wausau. It ruptured his eardrums, scratched part of his eyeballs, and put second-degree burns on over 15-percent of his body. He was taken to the U-W Hospital Burn Center in Madison – and his father says he could be sent home as early as tomorrow. Chris Draeger used CPR to revive his son on the night of the storm. He fell unconscious despite wearing a bicycle helmet. Chris Draeger says doctors expect a full recovery, with no permanent damage to Blake’s eyes or ears.

  __________________________________________________________________________________________________

A state lawmaker says she’ll try again to stop letting parents avoid child abuse charges by using prayers instead of doctors to heal their kids. Assemblywoman Terese Berceau (D-Madison) first tried ending the exception in 2009, but it never came up for a vote. Her new effort comes in response to yesterday’s State Supreme Court ruling which upheld the reckless homicide convictions of Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston. They used faith-healing instead of medical care, as their 11-year-old diabetic daughter Kara died in 2008. The Neumanns said they had legal protections under the state’s child abuse exception for faith healing, but the court agreed with the Justice Department that the homicide charges took precedence. Berceau says the Neumanns should never have been allowed to make their faith-healing argument. In her words, “It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure the health of their children, and as this case so tragically demonstrates, to set aside their own personal convictions in order to save the life of their child.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

His attorney says Dale Neumann is devastated by today’s State Supreme Court ruling, which upheld the criminal convictions of him and his wife in the prayer death of their daughter. Attorney Steven Miller says Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston are still mourning the loss of their 11-year-old daughter Kara. From the couple’s perspective, Miller said quote, “They felt like they were acting in a legal manner.” Both Neumanns were found guilty in 2009 of second-degree reckless homicide, for using faith-healing instead of calling doctors when Kara’s diabetes got worse. She died on Easter Sunday of 2008. The justices voted 6-1 yesterday to uphold the Neumann’s separate convictions, saying the homicide law trumps the state’s faith-healing exception for child abuse cases. Over a dozen states have legal protections for parents who choose prayer over health-care for their kids – but the courts have struggled over how far those protections go. Justice David Prosser says Wisconsin has the same legal confusion, and he says the Legislature needs to fix that. He was the lone dissenter in today’s decision.  

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

With the Milwaukee Catholic sex abuse scandal fresh in people’s minds, state Democrats are trying for a third time to make it easier for victims to sue their abusers. The Child Victims Act failed to pass in the 2009 session, when Democrats controlled the Legislature and the governor’s office – and it was struck down two years later, when Republicans first took over of the Capitol. Now, Senate Democrat Julie Lassa of Stevens Point and Assembly Democrat Sandy Pasch of Shorewood are bringing it back. The new measure would create a two-year exemption to the current law, which gives child sex offenders until age 35 to sue their perpetrators. Supporters of the bill say childhood sex victims need years to come to grips with what happened to them – and more than what the state gives them. The Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese has opposed the bill in the past, and vows to do so again. Thousands of documents were released this week which showed the extent of sex abuse by priests in the archdiocese over the past 80 years. Lassa calls it quote, “another tragic reminder that sexual predators, if given the opportunity, will continue to seek out new victims.” She says child molesters often victimize children into their 60’s.   

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

At least 22 priests in the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese molested teenage victims while on trips to northern Wisconsin and elsewhere. That’s according to files on 42 priests that were released this week to show the depth of the priest sex abuse scandal in the Milwaukee church. The Duluth News-Tribune’s Web site showed a map today of the northern fifth of Wisconsin – black-and-white photos of the offending priests – and the locations where they took youngsters. The newspaper said the documents did not list all of the specific communities where the molesters took their victims. Many had vague references to “Up North” – the age-old generalization in which folks in southern Wisconsin think Eau Claire is “Up North.” Archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said the records made it hard to determine what kind of propensity former priests had in general for molesting kids on trips. The News-Tribune listed two of the biggest pedophiles in the archdiocese – defrocked priest Daniel Budzynski and the late Father Lawrence Murphy. He allegedly molested 200 boys at a church school for the deaf in suburban Milwaukee in the 1970’s. Earlier media reports said Murphy was quietly transferred to northern Wisconsin, where he served for two decades before he died in 1998. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

A federal judge is being asked to strike down part of the new state budget. Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle said Republican legislators violated the U.S. Constitution, by interfering with over 170 pending lawsuits against the lead-based paint industry. The suits allege that children got sick by ingesting chips from the lead-paint. Earle is the plaintiffs’ attorney in those cases. The Joint Finance Committee added a budget item which said the plaintiffs cannot win their lawsuits unless they identify the exact manufacturer of the paint which made their kids sick. Republicans decided in 2011 to nullify an old Supreme Court ruling, and require the paint identification for future cases. The new budget measure applies the requirement to cases filed between 2006-and-2011. The Legislative Council warned lawmakers the measure might be unconstitutional, and Milwaukee Federal Judge Lynn Adelman will decide if it is. Republican Governor Scott Walker told the Journal Sentinel yesterday he was not surprised by Earle’s new legal challenge. Walker said there are lots of attorneys like Earle who file cases like that. He called the budget measure a quote, “relative tweak.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

The state budget may have been signed, but it still faces scrutiny from some state lawmakers. Assembly Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) says the new budget hurts the middle class in that they will end up paying more in taxed. He adds the $68-billion dollar budget also makes it harder for people to get health insurance, a good education and job. Rep. Mason says the Governor’s decision to not accept federal money for expanding BadgerCare will leave over 85-thousand Wisconsians without insurance.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Governor Scott Walker says he is not done cutting taxes. The Republican governor visited Milwaukee today to highlight the $650-million income tax cut he approved in the new state budget. He told Journal Sentinel reporters and editors he wants to further reduce the tax burden for all Wisconsinites, across-the-board, every year he’s in office. Under the new budget, income taxes will be slashed by various degrees in all tax brackets – and the two middle brackets will be merged into one, thus adding more relief to the lower of the two previous brackets. Still, it’s true that higher-income taxpayers get the biggest discounts – and minority Democrats have been pounding on that. Walker says he’ll officially announce early next year whether he’ll run again – but for now, he cannot see anything that would stop him from seeking a second full term. Walker said he plans to use the same campaign strategy as in his previous two races, including his 2011 recall attempt. He said he would again highlight quote, “a stark contrast with the Democrats” and former Governor Jim Doyle. He said he would ask voters if they want to quote, “take us back to the days of double-digit tax increases, the billion-dollar budget deficits, and unfortunately, some record job loss than we saw.” Walker said the same statements would apply no matter who his Democratic challenger would be.  

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Wisconsin television station and its parent company has been sued by a Milwaukee police officer. The lawsuit, filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, accuses WTMJ-TV and Journal Broadcast Group Inc. of professionally defaming Officer Matthew Knight. The suit stems from a May 6 story, showing video of Knight and another man at an ATM getting cash. The lawsuit says Knight responded to a broken-out taxi cab window, where the driver would not press charges if the suspect paid $300 to the driver for the broken window. Even though Knight was cleared of any wrongdoing for the February 16 incident, the station aired the video with the promotion “It’s the video that will have everybody talking”. The suit was filed on Tuesday. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sauk County raw milk farmer Vernon Hershberger is having his criminal conviction appealed, after four jurors said they would have acquitted him had they been given all the evidence. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund of Virginia has filed an appeal of Hershberger’s recent misdemeanor conviction for violating a state holding order on his raw milk. The reason is the same one that a juror disclosed after the trial. Michelle Bollfress-Hopp said the panel was never told why the state imposed the hold order. It was reportedly because of Hershberger’s failure to get state licenses – of which the same jury found him not guilty on three other charges. Had they known the full story, the jurors said they would have found Hershberger innocent of the fourth count, too. He was fined a-thousand for it. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

A bakery employee in Racine is free on a signature bond, after he allegedly took pastry dough from a co-worker – and a fight erupted in which the victim was put into a chokehold. A judge is expected to decide July 17th if there’s enough evidence to put 20-year-old Taurean Johnson-Puttman on trial on a felony count of strangulation-and-suffocation. Prosecutors said the two men were at work this week when Johnson-Puttman reached over and took dough from the other man’s work station. The two then reportedly got in each other’s faces. Authorities said Johnson-Puttman put the other man into a choke-hold, so the aggressor wouldn’t get punched.   

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

The State Supreme Court ruled against a Racine billionaire today, saying his lawyers have no right to inspect the therapy records of a step-daughter he’s accused of molesting. The issue has held up Curt Johnson’s trial for almost 15 months. He’s an heir to the S.C. Johnson household products empire. The 57-year-old Johnson was charged in 2011 with repeated child sexual assault for alleged improper conduct over a three-year period, starting after the girl completed sixth-grade. She’s now 17. The defense wanted to know if the girl had a medical condition which might have caused her to perceive or report her step-father’s alleged conduct inaccurately. An appellate court said the girl could not testify until the question of releasing the records was settled. Today’s ruling allows the girl to testify in a trial that’s been held up since April of last year. Even if she does testify, the Supreme Court said the defense still cannot get her therapy records. A new trial date could be set a week from tomorrow, when a status conference is scheduled.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lake Superior rose faster than normal in June, but it’s still six-inches shallower than the norm for the start of July. A Great Lakes international agency said the average water level on Lake Superior rose four inches last month, twice the normal increase for June. The largest of the Great Lakes is now two-inches higher than a year ago, and officials say the upward trend is continuing. Lakes Michigan and Huron are also on the rise, but officials say both are 19-inches below their long-term averages. The Michigan and Huron water levels both rose three-inches last month, an inch above the norm. They’re also about one-inch higher than last July first. The Upper Great Lakes are seeing a much-needed increase, after a long period in which both commercial and recreational boating were hampered by lower-than-normal waters. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s been a good year for Cal-Star Products, a masonry firm based in Racine County. In May, it added a second shift at its plant in Caledonia. Now, Cal-Star says it will open a second plant – this one in Columbus, Mississippi, with plans to hire at least 58 employees in its first three years. Seventeen workers will be on board early next year, when the plant is due to open – and officials say up to 100 people could eventually be hired. Officials say it will meet a growing demand from customers in the Southern U-S, while cutting down on freight costs. Cal-Star is spending eight-million dollars on the project. The host county will borrow just over five-million from the Mississippi Development Authority to buy and remodel an industrial park building. Cal-Star will lease it, with the benefit of 10-year property tax exemption. The state is also using one-and-a-quarter million dollars in federal development funds to improve the infra-structure at the site. The county is also paying to extend sewer-and-water lines to the business. 

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement