WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Oconomowoc man leaves loaded gun in restroom of Door County park
EGG HARBOR - Door County authorities said a man left a loaded gun in the restroom of a fun park, after his wife did the same thing at a church in Brookfield earlier this year.
Somebody at the Egg Harbor Fun Park found a loaded .380-caliber Ruger on the floor of the men's room August 9th. It was turned in to the park's owner, who called sheriff's deputies after nobody claimed it. The gun was traced to 76-year-old Gerald Hitchler of Oconomowoc. That was a few months after his 67-year-old wife Susan was charged in Waukesha County with negligent handling of a weapon, for leaving a gun in a restroom at the Elmbrook Church in April. The charge was dropped after the defense lawyer argued that no crime was committed, because no one was ever in danger. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says Door County authorities are considering a charge against Gerald Hitchler, after finding out about his wife's incident. He told a reporter it was funny, and no big deal. Nik Clark of the Wisconsin Carry gun rights' group disagrees. He tells the Journal-Sentinel that leaving a gun in a restroom goes against the fundamental principle of maintaining control of a weapon at all times. Clark also said it's why children should be trained about guns, so they'll know how to respond if they encounter one.
More than 300 people attended a memorial vigil in Milwaukee last night for James Foley, the journalist from Marquette University who was beheaded by terrorists in Syria. Speakers remembered the 40-year-old Foley as a man committed to social justice and vigilance ever since he studied history and Spanish at Marquette in the mid-1990's. The Reverend Fred Zagone said Foley embraced the Jesuit mission he learned at Marquette -- to fight for underdogs, help those in need, and write about things that no one else will. But Zagone said it wasn't until a few years ago that the lessons fully resonated with him. That was after Foley was kidnapped in Libya while covering that nation's civil war in 2011. He was held for 44 days then, and he later returned to Milwaukee to talk about the ordeal. Foley was kidnapped again in late 2012, while covering the civil war in Syria for a U.S. online publication. The Islamic State released a video of his beheading last week.
A missing six-year-old boy was hospitalized, after he was rescued from the Fox River in Neenah. Police were called to Riverside Park late yesterday afternoon, after getting a report of a missing youngster. Park visitors helped with the search. Officials could not say how long the boy had been in the river. The child was taken to a Neenah hospital. His condition was not immediately disclosed.
After decades of trying, descendants of a Wisconsin Civil War hero have finally convinced the president to give him the nation's highest military honor. The White House said yesterday that President Obama approved the Medal-of-Honor for Army Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing of Delafield. He died while standing his ground against Pickett's Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. He was 22. The president will present the award to families of Cushing and two other soldiers in a September 15th ceremony. Descendants and Civil War buffs lobbied for over 30 years to award Cushing the Medal-of-Honor, even though it must normally be presented within three years of an act of heroism. Wisconsin lawmakers previously failed to get Congress to approve an exception to the policy. Former U.S. Senator James Webb of Virginia once removed it by saying it could lead to an endless series of claims -- and as he put it, "The better wisdom would be for Congress to leave history alone." After being wounded at Gettysburg, Cushing still managed to defend a Union post to try and keep it away from Confederate forces. He fell into the arms of one of his subordinates, First Sergeant Fredrick Fuger -- who received the Medal of Honor in 1897.
A northeast Wisconsin man has been committed to a mental institution for 26-and-a-half years, after he held a McDonald's manager hostage in Wittenberg. Twenty-nine year old Travis Keiler of Gillett struck a plea deal that found him innocent-by-insanity on two felony charges in Shawano County. Two misdemeanors were dropped. Keiler surrendered after a two-hour-long standoff April 22nd at a combined McDonald's and Shell gas station off Highway 29. Keiler told officers he had just quit a job, and was driving around depressed with a stolen gun before stopping in Wittenberg. Officials earlier said that Keiler wanted to get into a confrontation with police. He gave others in the building a chance to leave before holding the manager hostage -- and one employee told customers who were outside pumping gas to leave. No one was hurt.
A Merrill woman will spend three-and-a-half years in prison in an attempted murder-for-hire scheme. Thirty-three year old Jessica Strom was sentenced yesterday, after she pleaded no contest to a reduced Marathon County charge of soliciting homicide. Prosecutors said she offered a former college classmate a-thousand dollars plus sex if he would kill her boyfriend, attorney John Schellpfeffer. Officials said the classmate went to police after the first meeting, and officers recorded a second encounter. Strom said she was just venting and joking to a friend, and was not plotting a serious crime. Prosecutor Ralph Uttke disagreed. He said Strom has tried minimizing the offense since she was first arrested -- and she has not shown any remorse. Strom must spend four years under extended supervision once she leaves prison.
UW-Milwaukee Police Chief Michael Marzion has been demoted to captain, for trading sexually-explicit messages online with a female student. The 48-year-old Marzion was on administrative leave, with pay, while the matter was investigated. The school says he'll stay on that leave while UWM considers additional actions. In the meantime, assistant chief Gregory Habeck has been named the interim campus police chief. He's been serving in that post since Marzion first went on leave. The female student accused the chief of sexually harassing her online. Investigator Gary Gerlach said in June that Marzion did not violate UW-Milwaukee policies on discriminatory conduct. He found that the student encouraged the communications this past spring -- including some of the explicit remarks. However, Gerlach said the chief needs to be above reproach because his department investigates claims of sexual harassment. Marzion has been the UWM police chief since 2010.
As the fall hunting seasons are about to begin, the state DNR is urging outdoor enthusiasts to use the agency's atlas for access to public lands. The atlas has almost 450 maps, plus contact information to help hunters and others identify accessible public lands. State, federal, county, and other public lands are identified. The atlas is available in both hard cover and DVD formats. More information is available at the DNR's Web site, accessible at Wisconsin.gov.
The National Park Service says a fire has been burning for a month on one of the Apostle Islands. Officials said yesterday they would let the fire continue on York Island, because rain and humidity have kept the flames from spreading. The Park Service said a bolt of lightning apparently started the fire in late July. Visitors saw it, and notified staffers from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore last week. Officials said they did not discover the fire until now, because the flames and smoke could not be seen from Lake Superior. The affected area is less than a tenth-of-an-acre. York Island remains open to the public, along with its three campsites.
Just over 550,000 Wisconsinites voted in the fall primaries 15 days ago. State elections' officials said yesterday that 12-point-seven percent of eligible voters went to the polls -- less than the predicted turnout of 15-percent. Those who stayed home missed some very close races -- including the Republican primary for the east central Wisconsin U.S. House seat, that was decided by just one-third of one-percent. Republican Glenn Grothman was nominated by the closest margin for a Wisconsin House contest since 1970. He'll face Democrat Mark Harris in November, for the state's only open House seat which is being given up by Fond du Lac Republican Tom Petri. Also, primary voters chose Democrat Susan Happ over two others to face Republican Brad Schimel in November for state attorney general. Both are county district attorneys who hope to replace Republican J.B. Van Hollen.
Gogebic Taconite says it will not be ready to submit a formal application for its proposed iron ore mine until at least the fall of next year. The company was planning to have its application ready for next spring, to get a state permit for its one-and-a-half billion dollar mine in Ashland and Iron counties. However, the mining firm says it will not finish all of its field tests for this year -- and it will have to do some additional environmental work in 2015. With fall approaching, Gogebic Taconite is already wrapping up some of its field work.
Ten Wisconsin groups have been honored for their creative ways in improving goods-and-services. The inaugural Wisconsin Innovation Awards were presented last night during the Forward Technology Festival at UW-Madison. About 150 ideas were submitted for the awards. The Milwaukee Bar Association and Marquette University were honored for starting a law clinic on wheels. Isomark of Madison created an analyzer which detects infections in breath samples. Boldt Construction of Appleton created a more collaborative delivery system. The Milwaukee Water Council was honored for its accelerator facility for new fresh-water businesses. Other innovation awards went to Milwaukee's Discovery World, Scanalytics and Microbe Detectives of Milwaukee, Stemina Biomarker and Vitacycle of Madison, and R-Y-E Stone Analytics of Eau Claire.
The Potawatomi Tribe is refusing to pay its annual casino revenue fee to the state, saying it would get that money back and more if a competing casino is approved in Kenosha. Governor Scott Walker told lawmakers yesterday the payment was due June 30th -- and because the state has only limited reserves, it's having an effect on the current state budget. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the Potawatomi is holding back $25-to-30 million, a figure that's based on what the tribe paid this month to the city and county of Milwaukee. Gov. Walker has until next February to decide whether to approve the Menominee Tribe's proposed Hard Rock casino and hotel in Kenosha -- which could cut into the Potawatomi's Milwaukee business as the only current casino in heavily-populated southeast Wisconsin. Democrats have been urging Walker to act on the Kenosha casino before the November elections, but administration officials say arbitration will be needed between the state and the Potawatomi. The tribe's gaming compact requires the state to reimburse losses it suffers from a Kenosha casino -- but officials say the process is not spelled out, hence the need for arbitration. The AP says the Walker Administration is trying to negotiate a deal on the off-setting of losses. The Menominee tribe has said it would help cover the financial impact from the Kenosha project on other tribes.