WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Frigid temps continue and will get worse tonight
It's downright frigid in Wisconsin -- and it's supposed to get worse before it gets better.
The National Weather Service has issued wind-chill advisories until Thursday morning for the northern half of the Badger State. Those wind chills could plunge to 35-below in many places the next two mornings, and 45-below at Superior, Bayfield, and other places near Lake Superior. This morning, Superior had a wind-chill of minus-28 at seven o'clock, and an actual temperature of 12-below. Southwest Wisconsin was the warm spot, if you could call it that. It was 12-above at Prairie du Chien. A wind chill advisory is in effect until tomorrow morning for part of southern Wisconsin from the La Crosse area to about Wisconsin Dells. The cold snap is the aftermath of an intense storm system in the eastern half of the U.S. in which thousands of people lost their power. That's not a problem in Wisconsin, at least for now. Major utilities report only a handful of outages this morning. Light snow is in the forecast for tonight. Forecasters in La Crosse are predicting an-inch-or-two. A slight warm-up is expected on Thursday. By Friday, highs in most of Wisconsin could reach the 20's.
Winter storms are to blame for a third traffic fatality over the weekend. Police say a 63-year-old Franklin man died from injuries suffered in a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 41/45 in Milwaukee on Sunday. Two other fatal crashes on I-43 in Milwaukee County and I-94 in Racine are blamed on the icy, snow-covered road condition. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says they do not have a total number of traffic accidents from this past weekend’s snowstorms.
A man suspected of killing his parents in Bayfield County is under an induced coma at a hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. Sheriff Paul Susienka said yesterday that he expects 44-year-old Jimmy Crain to be charged with first-degree intentional homicide -- but those charges might not come down for a few days. 79-year-old Jim Crain and his 76-year-old wife Eunice "Crickett" Crain were found in their apartment in Iron River, where their son was said to be staying on a short-term basis. The sheriff would not say how the parents died, pending the results of autopsies. He said Jimmy Crain most likely stabbed himself. His mother called 911 early Saturday evening. Susienka said it's possible that the younger Crain could be charged without being interviewed by officers -- and he would have to be extradited from Minnesota to Wisconsin. Online court records show that Jimmy Crain was convicted of disorderly conduct three times over the last decade -- and his father was also convicted of the same charge in one of those cases. Meanwhile, the family is planning a community pot-luck luncheon to remember the Crains. It will be held Saturday at the Iron River VFW hall.
Implementation of tougher GED standards in north-central Wisconsin is forcing student to rush for their degrees. Northcentral Technical College in Wausau reports 556 students completed their exams last year, up from 392 the previous year. On January 1, exams will become more rigorous to reflect higher educational standards in high school. The fee will also go up from $90 to $120.
A multi-million dollar power line linking Wisconsin and Illinois is finally up and running. American Transmission Co. says the five-mile, $35.9 million dollar was built to address congestion issues in southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois. A company spokesman says the line will provide savings to electric utilities and their customers by creating a reliable pathway to move electricity from efficient generators to wholesale electricity markets.
A man killed shot-and-killed an Appleton nightclub will have his organs donated to those who need them. That's according to Appleton Police, who said a 25-year-old Green Bay man was shot in the head early Sunday at the Luna Lounge. Police believe the man was targeted, and that the shooting was not random. Yesterday, investigators were checking out surveillance video from both inside and outside the nightclub. No arrests have been reported.
A Fond du Lac man is in custody after police wanted to question him about a house fire -- and he allegedly shot at officers, and held them at bay for four hours. The fire broke out around nine yesterday morning. It destroyed a house on Fond du Lac's west side. An hour later, police were led to a north side complex of manufactured homes. Officials said a resident fired shots at the officers as they arrived. No one was hurt, and a stand-off began as SWAT teams and bomb squads from several locations surrounded the home. Police negotiators got him to leave the building and surrender peacefully just after two yesterday afternoon. According to the Fond du Lac Reporter, a former resident of the burned-out home told police he believed his brother started it -- and that his brother had weapons and wanted to harm himself. Police said they found no explosives in the man's current home after the standoff, and an all-clear was issued to neighbors. They were told to stay indoors, and nearby businesses were ordered closed including a Pick-N-Save grocery store.
Local and state labor leaders rallied in La Crosse yesterday to urge Congressman Ron Kind to change his mind about supporting a new trade agreement. The Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition, led by the AFL-CIO's David Newby, is concerned that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership would send more jobs out of the U.S., and make it harder to protect the environment. Bill Brockmiller of the western Wisconsin AFL-CIO said he's concerned that the 12-nation agreement is on a fast track in Congress, with no chance for amendments. The labor groups rallied in front of Kind's home office in La Crosse. Kind, a Democrat, said he's committed to working with unions, farmers, and businesses to promote trade agreements that improve worker standards and the economy. He noted that Trane ventilating equipment in La Crosse has benefited from a U.S. trade pact with South Korea adopted a year ago. Kind said Trane's exports have doubled since 2009.
Former La Crosse police lieutenant Brian Thomson pleaded guilty yesterday to a felony charge for trying to steal painkillers. The 44-year-old Thomson reached a plea deal that convicted him of the original charge filed in October by the state Justice Department. The plea bargain would keep him out of prison. Prosecutors say they'll recommend a one-year county jail sentence, and the defense will ask that it be served with electronic monitoring at home. A sentencing date was not immediately set. Thomson can no longer possess a firearm -- which means his days as a police officer are done. He spent 15 years on the La Crosse police force before he resigned following his arrest. Officers got suspicious when Thomson started helping clerks file evidence logs and ask co-workers for pain pills. Officials said Thomson was asked to log evidence of a duffle bag with fake Oxycontin, and the pills were later missing. He also allegedly stole meth-amphetamines seized as evidence. The La Crosse Tribune said a felony drug case against another man was dropped last week because Thomson tampered with the evidence in that case.
Funeral services are pending for Betty Quadracci, a co-founder of one of the nation's largest printing firms. Quad-Graphics announced that the 75-year-old Quadracci died yesterday at her home in Chenequa in Waukesha County. She and her late husband Harry Quadracci founded Quad-Graphics in 1971. The company is based in Sussex, and it now has over 25-thousand employees at 65 printing plants and dozens of support facilities around the world. In 1983, Betty Quadracci became the publisher of Milwaukee Magazine and later became its president. In 1997, she and her husband provided a 10-million dollar matching donation from Quad-Graphics to start a fund-raising campaign for the famous Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Last year, Betty Quadracci was inducted into the Milwaukee Media Hall-of-Fame.
The mother of a baby whose skull was fractured during an incident at Milwaukee Children's Hospital wants to know why police or nurses never secured the infant. The woman spoke to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on the condition that she stay anonymous. The baby's father, 22-year-old Ashanti Hendricks, allegedly dropped the infant from a futon and ran out of a hospital room last month, after officers confronted him about missing a previous court hearing. He was shot and wounded during a chase on the hospital's seventh floor. Hendricks had visited the mother's hospital room to see the youngster. The woman told the paper she had gone down to a pharmacy to get vitamins for the child when police arrived. When she tried getting back to her room, the mother said officers detained her, and were threatening to arrest her. She said she wanted a lawyer, but officers said she wouldn't need one. The mother quoted the officers as saying the state would take custody of her son unless she admitted knowing that Hendricks had a gun at the time. She wouldn't say that, and she never lost her child. Milwaukee's Child Welfare Bureau drafted a protection plan, and the woman said she couldn't be alone with the infant for two weeks. That passed without incident, but she said a social worker remains assigned to her.
Two Wisconsin firms are in line to get millions of dollars in defense contracts over the next five years. The federal government has announced a $633-million deal in which Solution Dynamics of Brookfield will provide material-handling equipment to the military. That includes "Big Joe" fork-lifts made in Wisconsin Dells by the firm of Big Lift, which is based in suburban Chicago. It's not known how much funding the two companies will get. The Pentagon must still decide how much to spend with a number of companies on a larger suppliers' list from now through 2018.
A state probation-and-parole officer and her grandson are both free on 200-dollar bonds, after they allegedly stole lobster from a Crandon grocery store. 55-year-old Karen Boodry and 18-year-old Donald Kilbury are both charged in Forest County with two counts of misdemeanor theft. Both are from rural Crandon. The incident occurred at Schaefer's Food Mart. According to prosecutors, the meat department manager found an empty lobster box -- and security personnel then watched the store's video which showed Boodry slipping a lobster into her purse. Kilbury was with her at the time. Media reports said a store employee recognized Kilbury because he used to work there -- and Boodry did not remember what happened because she had been drinking. New court dates have not been set in the case. State corrections' officials have not commented about Boodry's job status.
About one of every five Wisconsin companies plan to add employees from January-through-March of next year. That's according to the quarterly survey from Milwaukee's Manpower group. Analyst Nicole Langley says employers expect their job prospects to be slightly stronger as the New Year begins. 68-percent of Wisconsin employers plan to maintain their current staffing levels. Nine-percent expect layoffs. In general, Manpower says the economy is not recovering fast enough to revive the optimism seen before the Great Recession -- but it's not weak enough to be stagnant again. Manpower says Wisconsin's net employment outlook is 11-percent. That's the percentage of firms adding employees, minus those expecting layoffs. Metro Milwaukee's job picture does not look as bright for the start of 2014. Manpower says the region's employment outlook is a plus-seven percent -- only half of what it's been for the current quarter. Nationally, the net outlook is 13-percent, with very little change over the last year-and-a-half. Manpower executive Jorge Perez says the nation still has a quote, "hangover" from the recession.
Wisconsin communities could keep more control over their frac-sand mines, under a compromise that's being worked on at the State Capitol. Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst rankled local leaders in October, when he proposed the state take away the towns' police powers to regulate silica-sand operations. He said the towns could still use zoning powers to set limits before mines are approved -- but very few rural towns have their own zoning, and Tiffany says he now realizes that. He's calling for "middle ground" and says it won't be easy to achieve. Tiffany has said that state control is needed because local governments have been too restrictive. However, Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay says the industry seems to be thriving despite the local ordinances -- and the bill would need a lot of changes before he could vote for it. Wisconsin has over 110 frac-sand mines. Rick Stadleman, who heads the Wisconsin Towns Association, says he does not want to see towns' enforcement powers slashed in any major way. Rich Budinger of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association says he wants the state DNR to regulate air-and-water issues, and not local governments.
A $50,000 bond has been set for an alleged drunk driver accused of killing a deer hunter and injuring another last month. 42-year-old James Winchel of Sheldon had a bond hearing in Taylor County, after he was charged with causing homicide and injuries by drunk driving. The incident happened November 29th near Gilman. Authorities said Winchel was driving at a high rate of speed toward members of a hunting party who were standing on a town road. 52-year-old Juan Salinas of Roscoe, Illinois was killed, and a relative was hospitalized with injuries. Winchel was also hospitalized when he was first charged last week. In court yesterday, Circuit Judge Ann Knox-Bauer informed the defendant of his right to get a lawyer. He's due back in court January seventh for a formal initial appearance.
The state Natural Resources Board will be asked tomorrow to endorse an initial plan to save a rare turtle. The Blanding's Turtle is scheduled to come off the state's threatened species list on January first. It would become fair game for hunting next year, but DNR staffers say the turtle's population is too weak to withstand that kind of pressure. They want the board to pass an emergency rule to keep the turtle protected for next year, and then adopt a permanent rule to maintain protections indefinitely. The panel will be asked to approve a "scope statement" which would allow DNR staffers to start writing the new rules. The Blanding's Turtle has seen a 10-to-30-percent drop in its population. Last spring, the DNR estimated that there were 353 Blanding's Turtles statewide.
A Milwaukee man has been sentenced to 18 years of prison for torturing and abusing his girlfriend’s two-year-old boy for more than a year. 20-year-old Dennis Buford was sentenced today in a Milwaukee courtroom for what prosecutors called an “unfathomable and devastating” crime. The child was hospitalized for over a month, but remains scarred from the abuse. Prosecutors say the child needs a tube in order to feed and takes medication to control seizures. Buford pleaded guilty in September. In addition to his 18-year prison sentence, he will also receive 10 years of extended supervision.
Public health officials are looking to end the tradition of consuming raw ground beef over the holidays. Dr. Abbey Cannon with the Centers for Disease Control, assigned to the Wisconsin Department of Health, says there are several potential illnesses people can get from “tiger meat”, including bacterial infections and parasites. Dr. Canon adds that children and the elderly are at a higher risk of infection from uncooked ground beef. The Department of Health says the only right way to consume ground beef is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Racine fire officials are investigating a fire that destroyed a house on Sunday. Investigators say the fire originated in the basement of the home and made its way through the home from within the walls, past the second floor to the attic. No one was injured in the blaze. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but fire officials estimate about 80-thousand dollars of damage was done to the house.
A Green Bay lawmaker will introduce a bill that would require at least 30 minutes of gym class for Wisconsin elementary school student. Representative Chad Weininger, a Republican, was joined by health advocates during his announcement in Madison today. Weininger says the bill is based on recommendations from several national groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. A report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows one in four adolescents in the state are obese or overweight.
Relatively low prices for natural gas to heat our homes this winter are primarily due to plentiful supplies, according to Kira Loehr of the Wisconsin Citizens Utility Board. Those supplies have been boosted in recent years through the development of “fracking”, a new and controversial drilling process. Loehr says additional studies and monitoring of the process is needed, but from a cost and supply and demand perspective this winter - it’s a beneficial thing. Much of the fine white sand used in the process is from Wisconsin.
A controversial therapeutic snuggle business in Madison has closed its doors. An attorney for Matthew Hurtado, owner of the Snuggle House, confirms a Facebook post over the weekend that the operation has closed. The Snuggle House faced scrutiny from city officials that the business could potentially lead to sexual assaults and negative publicity a claim Hurtado says is not true. The Snuggle House offered hug and cuddles with a professional snuggler as a way to relieve stress, charging $60 an hour.
Ashland City Councilwoman Kelly Westlund announced today that she will run for U.S. Congress next year. Westlund, a Democrat, is scheduled to launch her campaign with a news conference tomorrow in Wausau. Westlund will run against Republican Congressman Sean Duffy, who was first elected to represent the 7th Congressional District in 2010. The Wisconsin Republican Party has already fired shots at Westlund, saying she would be nothing more than a blank check for President Obama.
A Great Lakes shipwreck hunter says he has found the wreck of an old wooden steamer in Lake Huron. 72-year-old David Trotter says wreckage of the Keystone State was found during a July search, nearly 175 feet underwater and several miles northeast of Harrisville, Michigan. The steamer sank in November of 1861 during a power storm. 33 people were killed.
A Wisconsin World War II veteran has finally received his Prisoner of War Medal. 91-year-old Dale Ellington fought back tears as his wife pinned the medal on her husband’s jacket at a Union Grove Veterans home on Sunday. The U.S. military did not recognize Ellington as a POW for seven decades because Switzerland, the country who imprisoned him for 75 days, was not an enemy combatant. While the country was neutral during the war, a commandant where Ellington was imprisoned at was considered a Nazi sympathizer and later convicted of war crimes.
A state trooper found more than a disabled vehicle while working last Thursday evening near Tomahawk. The officer arrested a 24-year-old Park Falls man and a 21-year-old Park Falls woman on felony drug charges. The officer thought the two were acting suspiciously, and called for assistance and a K9 officer. Lincoln County Sheriff’s K-9 detected drugs, and officers soon found methamphetamines, marijuana, and paraphernalia. The driver was charged for these crimes and for violating the terms of a previous bond. Names have not been released by the Sheriff’s Department.
A former central Wisconsin minister has been sentenced to life-in-prison plus 50 years for molesting a relative. A Monroe County jury convicted 66-year-old Michael Delaney of repeated child sexual assault and child enticement, for molesting a grandson in 2007-and-'08. The boy was 13 at the time. Authorities said Delaney threatened to tell people that the child was gay if ever spoke out about the abuse. The youngster came forward in 2011. Delaney was also convicted of child sex abuse in Arizona in 1983. Because of that, he was sentenced under Wisconsin's "Two Strikes and You're Out" law, which requires mandatory life in prison with no chance for a supervised release for a second child sex conviction. The extra 50 years were for five convictions of child enticement. Delaney retired as a minister from the Church of God of Prophecy at Necedah in Juneau County. He was also given two years of probation after pleading no contest to an earlier perjury. A count of false swearing was dropped.
The dean of the Wisconsin State Legislature is trying again to make senior citizens renew their drivers' licenses twice as often as the rest of us. Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison is seeking co-sponsors for a bill to make drivers 75-and-older renew their licenses every four years instead of eight, with vision tests each time. Risser previously wanted seniors to take a skill test every four years -- but he dropped the idea this time, after it went nowhere earlier. Risser -- who's 86 -- would be covered under the new requirements, and he says it's fine with him. He notes that the worst drivers are the very young and the very old, and insurance statistics bear that out. Helen Marks-Dicks of the state's AARP chapter says it's unfair to target drivers according to their age. She says there's already a system to deal with older problem drivers, through a DOT tip line. Risser says there's nothing discriminatory about his bill. He says the state already requires police and fire-fighters to retire before they become senior citizens. Nineteen states have more frequent license renewals for older drivers, and 13 states require vision or road tests once drivers hit a certain age.
Marathon County officials are confident that a new jail administrator will help turn a troubled facility into a model program. Sandra La Du-Ives has been named to replace former jail administrator Jim Dickman. He resigned in April, a month after an inmate attacked two correctional officers -- and a study committee later found that problems at the Wausau jail were festering for years. La Du-Ives was the Number-two person at the Oneida County Jail in Rhinelander. She spent the last eight months running the jail after former supervisor Kaye Juel and her husband died in a February house fire. Sheriff Scott Parks said other candidates for the Marathon County jail post withdrew after seeing a new master plan for the jail. He said La Due-Ives was just the opposite, as she immediately provided constructive ideas. Parks became the sheriff earlier this year -- and he went to work solving some of the issues that were identified. They included a lack of training for jail officers and recreational facilities for inmates, plus a lack of basic jail leadership.