WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: First snowmobile death reported in state
COLUMBUS - A snowmobiler was killed, and another was seriously hurt on the Crawfish River near Columbus.
A 24-year-old Lake Mills woman died at the scene of the mishap late yesterday afternoon. Dodge County authorities said her machine drove into open water, slid, and struck a tree. A 26-year-old Sun Prairie man saw the crash and the open water, and officials said he jumped off his machine before it slammed into the line of trees. He was taken to a Madison hospital with severe but non-life-threatening injuries. Four other snowmobiles were part of the group. None of those riders were hurt. Up to now, the DNR's Web site had not listed any snowmobile deaths in Wisconsin this season. There were 20 deaths last winter and 10 the year before during a season that was shorter and warmer than normal.
An ATV drove into open water early Saturday on Beaver Dam Lake. A Fox Point police officer used a thermal imaging camera to find the driver. He was taken to a hospital after being pulled out. Also, the DNR used an airplane to find a missing snowmobiler on Lake Winnebago yesterday. Authorities said two brothers were riding across the lake, and one got lost in a flurry of wind-driven snow. Rescuers also got caught in the snow -- so the DNR took to the air, found the missing man, and guided rescuers to him. He was safely brought to shore a couple hours later.
A Green Bay police officer shot-and-killed an armed man early today. The man's estranged wife called 9-1-1. She said the 63-year-old man showed up at her apartment building, even though he's supposed to stay away from her under a restraining order. Police were also told the man sometimes carries a pistol. When they arrived, two officers reportedly saw the man with a handgun -- and one of them fired his service weapon. The man was taken to a hospital where he died. No officers were injured. Other details were not immediately released. The incident remains under investigation.
A couple hundred people gathered in Bayfield County to remember Jim and Eunice Crain. They were murdered at their apartment in Iron River on December seventh, allegedly by their son who was living with them at the time. Jim and Eunice were both in their 70's. One of their grandsons, Jim Crain, came up from Chicago for his family's pot-luck dinner yesterday. He said the event was not a sad occasion, but rather a celebration of their lives. Many people wore Packers' outfits, since both Crains were rabid Green Bay fans. The grandson said he hoped the Iron River community would remember the Crains for who they were, instead of how they died. With that in mind, the group heard family stories, and heard a musician play the couple's favorite songs. Their son, 44-year-old Jimmy Crain, was in an induced coma at last word. Authorities said he apparently stabbed himself during the incident. If he gets well enough, he'll face five criminal charges that have been filed -- two counts of homicide, two counts of battery to a police officer, and not complying with an officer when in custody.
Several Wisconsin businesses have received calls telling them their utility services will be shut off right away, unless they send in money to cover an unpaid bill. The caller then asks for payment through a wire transfer or pre-paid debit card. Division of Consumer Protection Administrator Sandy Chalmers says it’s a red flag anytime someone calls to wire money or use a green-dot money pack card. She adds that companies would never threaten a customer like that, or demand that you send money using one of those methods. Anyone receiving a call like this should hang up, and then contact their utility provider. Similar scams have been seen before and the latest version is being reported by businesses across the state.
Wisconsin's honorary consul to South Africa will host a public event on Wednesday night to celebrate the late Nelson Mandela's life. It begins at six p-m in the Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall. Milwaukee Alderman Joe Davis is the honorary consul. He was scheduled to hold a news conference this afternoon to announce more details. The event will feature speakers and videos honoring the former South African president who died on December 5th.
A trial was delayed today for a Milwaukee man accused in the slaying of another man during a drug deal. 23-year-old Jamal Williams faces a charge of felony murder in the death of Rayvon Wilson in April. His new trial date is March 24th in Milwaukee. Prosecutors said Williams and 22-year-old Tousani Tatum met Wilson and another man to buy marijuana -- and Tatum pulled a gun to rob Wilson's partner. Police said the partner ran off, and Tatum shot Wilson, who jumped into a car with his three-year-old child inside. Tatum was sentenced earlier this month to 32 years in prison for felony murder, and illegal firearm possession as a convicted felon.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Wisconsin native, will no longer play a major role in appointing Catholic bishops throughout the United States. Pope Francis replaced Burke today on the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. is taking Burke's place on the 18-member panel. Burke was appointed to the Congregation in 2009. He remains at the Vatican as the head of the highest court in the church, the Apostolic Signatura. John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter wrote that Burke's removal quote, "may raise eyebrows because some observers see him as a representing a more aggressive line than the pope on the Western culture wars." The conservative Burke is a native of Richland Center, and was a church pastor in Stratford before becoming the bishop of the La Crosse Diocese, and later the Archbishop of Saint Louis before joining the Vatican's judiciary in 2008.
State lawmakers will consider pay raises this week for five smaller unions which total about 24-hundred employees. The Legislature's Joint Committee on Employment Relations is scheduled to hold a public hearing, and possibly take a vote on new one-year deals for professional education-and-legal employees, patient care workers, building craft trade employees, and statistical-and-research personnel. Raises are limited to the rate-of-inflation under the Act-10 collective bargaining limits. Non-union state workers were given one-percent raises in July -- and some unions had complained that the state is not acting quickly enough on union packages. The full Legislature must still approve the new contracts before they can take effect.
Wisconsin's official college savings' program made some big gains over the last year, after it hired a new management firm. Ed-Vest reports a 14-percent increase in its total funds, to three-point-three billion dollars. The numbers of savings accounts grew one-point-six percent to around 247-thousand. Ed-Vest allows parents to make tax-deductible deposits for their children's college educations -- and the accounts remain tax-free while they gain interest. A year ago, the program changed its administrator from the Wells Fargo Bank to TIAA-CREF. Ed-Vest administrator Jim DiUlio tells the Wisconsin State Journal that the transfer to a new managing partner went smoothly. Because of the changeover, Ed-Vest was not included in SavingForCollege.com’s annual comparison of state college savings' funds. However, another survey had Ed-Vest in the Top-Five nationally, due in part to its low management fees. Officials say they're some of the lowest in the nation. Also, Ed-Vest officials hope that state lawmakers will agree to let anyone make tax-free donations to any account, instead of just certain relatives. The measure received no opposition at a public hearing recently.
Ashland state Assemblywoman Janet Bewley has announced she is running for state Senate. Bewley, a Democrat, made the announcement today that she will seek the 25th district seat - held by retiring state Senator Bob Jauch of Poplar. Bewley was elected to the Assembly in 2010, she’s been a stout opponent of the proposed Penokee Hills iron ore mines in the district.
Wisconsin's Paul Ryan has the most support among GOP presidential voters in Iowa -- where the nation's first 2016 caucuses are just over two years away. A new poll from the Des Moines Register gives Ryan a 73-percent favorable rating -- and that tops previous Iowa caucus winners Mike Huckabee with 66-percent and Rick Santorum at 58-percent. Ryan gained national prominence as Mitt Romney's running mate a year ago. He also gained national notoriety last week, when he helped to craft a federal budget compromise as the chair of the House Budget Committee. Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie all have 51-percent of Republican support in the Iowa poll. Governor Scott Walker is among those below 50-percent at the moment. About a third of Iowa's Republican voters said they didn't know who was Walker was. Ditto for U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has an 89-percent favorable rating to 71-percent for Vice President Joe Biden. The Des Moines newspaper poll surveyed 650 Iowa residents from December eighth through last Wednesday. They have relatively high error margins -- seven-point-three percent in the Republican poll, and eight-percent for the Democrats.
Two Milwaukee police officers have failed to escape allegations of violating the civil rights of a man they stopped. Federal Judge Lynn Adelman ruled that officers Jon Parker and Tim Bandt violated the constitutional rights of Nazir Al-Mujaahid. The case now goes to a trial next year, after the judge ruled that the officers did not have federal immunity in the matter. Al-Mujaahid's lawsuit said the officers pointed their guns, threatened to kill him, and held him in their squad car while they searched his vehicle in March of 2011. The officers said the plaintiff's driving and movements made them believe he had a weapon. But he didn't -- not then, anyway. A few months later, Al-Mujaahid made statewide news when he became he first Wisconsin concealed weapons holder to interrupt a crime. It happened during a hold-up at a Milwaukee Aldi's store. He was not charged, but police kept the gun he used to shoot the robbers -- and he has filed suit to get it back.