WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Police on lookout for cattle thief in south-central Wisconsin
MILTON - Police in southern Wisconsin are looking for the person who shot a calf, stole its meat, and left the carcass behind.
The slaughtered animal was found Sunday night, after its mother was heard bellowing in a pasture rented by Ochs Cattle of Milton. The company's owner, Ron Ochs, tells the Janesville Gazette that his company is on high alert -- and it's increasing its patrols at its grazing sites throughout southern Wisconsin. Ochs owned the slaughtered calf. It was born in February, was bred for showing, and was valued at a-thousand dollars.
A pedestrian was killed after being hit by a semi-truck in Appleton. It happened just after four yesterday afternoon. Police said the man was walking along a street when a westbound truck hit him. He died later at a hospital. The victim's name was not immediately released.
Officials now say almost five-inches of rain fell in parts of southeast Wisconsin yesterday -- and the most fell right outside the doorstep of the National Weather Service. The state headquarters near Sullivan reported four-point-nine-three inches from seven o'clock yesterday morning until one a-m today. Almost four-point-nine inches fell at nearby Rome in Jefferson County. Much of eastern Wisconsin received at least an inch of rain yesterday. Appleton and Green Bay both set new rainfall records for the date -- Appleton with two-point-one inches, and Green Bay with just over an inch. We Energies had up to 85-hundred electric customers without power at one point yesterday, amid reports of fallen trees and power lines in southeast Wisconsin with winds up to 60-miles-an-hour. This morning, the utility had only 13 outages. The state's four largest utilities had a total of about 150 customers in the dark as of 6:45 this morning. More rain is predicted for southeast Wisconsin today -- but it's supposed to dry and cooler in the rest of the Badger State, with highs in the 50's to around 60.
Wisconsin farmers have been dancing around the raindrops to get more of their corn planted. Officials say 20-percent of the state's corn was in the ground as of Sunday. That's only about half the norm for this time of year, but still way above the two-percent that was planted a week ago. Only four-percent of the Wisconsin soybean crop has been planted. That's normally around 10-percent by now. Almost 40-percent of the oat crop has been planted -- more than double the amount from last week, but still way behind the average of 71-percent over the past five years. It's finally getting warm enough to see alfalfa grow. Officials said 82-percent of that crop is in good shape, 16-percent has some light winter damage, and two-percent has moderate damage. There are some reports of severe alfalfa damage in southeast, central, and northeast districts. Almost 60-percent of the Wisconsin potato crop is planted, 19-percent more than last week.
The Army is investigating the death of a soldier from eastern Wisconsin. Her family said 33-year-old Sergeant Heidi Ruh of rural Kiel was shot and killed last Friday at a base in Kosovo where she was stationed. Relatives were told not what happened. The Pentagon had not announced the death as of this morning. Ruh's father Scott tells WLUK-TV in Green Bay that her daughter was an 11-year Army veteran, and she repaired surgical machines in a medical unit. Scott Ruh said Heidi began her Kosovo assignment in February. She spent eight years at Fort Hood, Texas, including the 2009 massacre in which another Kiel resident -- Amy Krueger -- was killed. Ruh and Krueger were a year apart in their class groups at Kiel High School. Ruh's family plans a public memorial service once her body is returned to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be remembered in a ceremony on the Friday before Memorial Day. The VA Hospital in Tomah will hold a program on May 23rd, in which the names of those killed in the Middle East will be read. Chief Warrant Officer Tim Pickerill of Fort McCoy will be the keynote speaker. The observance will take place on the front steps of Building-400 at the Tomah VA facility. If it rains, it will be moved into the hospital's chapel.
The deaths of a Kenosha couple in Florida have been ruled a murder-suicide. Authorities in Panama City Beach believe that Robert Marcinkus shot and killed his wife Susan last Wednesday, and then turned the gun on himself. Police found their bodies at a condominium last Friday. Preliminary autopsy results were released yesterday -- but police could not say why the murder-suicide occurred. Unless they get new leads, police say their investigation has been completed.
Milwaukee Police have identified two murder victims from yesterday, and they were still looking for known suspects in both cases today. Officials confirmed a media report that the owner of Big-"C's" Blues Lounge was shot to death in his establishment around 2:30 Sunday morning. The other victim was 33-year-old Christopher Edwards of Milwaukee. He was shot on a west side street early yesterday morning. The owner of the Blues Lounge, 47-year-old Herman Paige, was shot by a man after they got into a physical confrontation. Police said the suspect left the bar to get a gun, then returned and shot Paige.
The FBI says there's a "serial bank robber" on the loose in the Milwaukee area. Investigators believe the same man robbed four bank branches in supermarkets between April 23rd and last Sunday. The FBI said a black semi-automatic handgun was displayed in one of the holdups -- and in each incident, the man showed a note demanding money, and he either tried climbing over security counters or threatened to do so. The robberies occurred April 23rd, April 26th, and May fifth at three TCF bank branches in Milwaukee, and last Sunday at a Tri-City National Bank location.
Innocent pleas were entered yesterday for a Madison man accused of shooting his brother to death. 39-year-old Bonnell Hanger stood mute in Dane County Circuit Court. Judge William Hanrahan entered the pleas to charges of first-degree intentional homicide and illegally possessing a gun as a convicted felon. Prosecutors said Hanger argued with his 33-year-old brother Fredrica Hanger before shooting him twice in the head. Authorities said it happened March third outside the mother's home. Further court proceedings have not been scheduled. The judge gave both sides 20 days to file pre-trial requests in the case.
Janesville Police say they've found no connection between the beating death of a 21-year-old woman and the drowning of an elderly woman. Also, the disappearance of a third person was resolved yesterday, when he was spotted on a bank surveillance camera in northern Wisconsin. Police have looked for some kind of connection ever since 28-year-old Clayton Courtney allegedly stabbed his male roommate on May fourth, and said he had killed three people that night. Police Chief David Moore says it's now possible that Courtney may have killed three people over a number of years -- and not just one night. Courtney's 21-year-old girlfriend Brittany Cross turned up dead a day after the stabbing incident. A short time later, 75-year-old Mary Coulthard went missing. Her body was found last Friday in the Rock River. Chief Moore said Coulthard had an injury before she entered the water, but he would not elaborate. The missing man, Gerald Hockensmith, apparently left for northern Wisconsin on short notice -- and it was not known how long he'd be there. Courtney is charged in the stabbing of his roommate. For now, he is not charged in the deaths of Cross and Coulthard.
Jury deliberations continue today in the trial of Ashley Baumann, the Merrill woman accused of killing two friends in a high-speed drunk driving crash. A Lincoln County jury deliberated for about five hours yesterday, before calling it a night. In closing arguments, defense lawyer Wright Laufenberg said the state did a poor job of investigating the crash. He contends that the only other survivor of the crash -- Jerrica Woller -- was the one driving. Prosecutor Tara Jenswold said her side proved that Baumann was the driver, and the defense's claim was only meant to distract the jury. The 26-year-old Baumann is charged with seven criminal counts in a June 2012 crash in Merrill in which her van was allegedly going close to 100-miles-an-hour before it flipped into a field. Jessica Hartwig and Misty Glisch were killed.
The new lawyer for a Purdue University student accused of killing a fellow student from Wisconsin wants his possible trial moved to another county in Indiana. Public defender Kirk Freeman was recently appointed to represent 23-year-old Cody Cousins, who's charged with murder in the January shooting-and-stabbing death of 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend. Freeman told a judge it would be impossible to find a fair jury in the Lafayette, Ind. area, where Purdue is the largest employer. Also, Freeman said jurors could be prejudiced, after his client admitted last week that he's being treated for schizophrenia. Freeman also asked that tax funds be used to provide a mental health assessment for Cousins. Boldt was killed during an electrical engineering class at Purdue, while he was serving as a teaching assistant.
With a 21-vote majority, not many people expect the Wisconsin state Assembly to fall out of Republican control after this fall's elections. And GOP Speaker Robin Vos of Burlington is looking to preserve the status quo in 2016 as well. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says Speaker Robin Vos has asked his fellow Assembly Republicans who are thinking about leaving to do it now, and not two years from now. That's because Democrats generally don't as well in mid-term elections when the presidency is not up. Both houses will have a lot of turnover this fall. As of last week, 22 of the 99 Assembly members from both parties have said they won't seek re-election -- the most in 32 years. Seven of the 33 senators are also leaving their present posts, the most in about 60 years. One of those who plan to stick around is Assembly Republican Scott Krug of Nekoosa -- even though he told a League of Women Voters forum in 2010 that he would only serve for four years. Those four years are up after this fall, and Krug now tells the Journal-Sentinel that he's learned how much experience counts in Madison -- so he wants to stay on.
Wisconsin's attorney general has appealed a federal court ruling which struck down the requirement that voters show photo ID's at the polls. J.B. Van Hollen filed his appeal yesterday with the Seventh Circuit appellate court in Chicago. Federal Judge Lynn Adelman ruled last month that the voter ID law passed by Republicans in 2011 placed an unfair burden on poor and minority voters, and was therefore unconstitutional. Van Hollen has also asked Adelman to delay the effect of his ruling while the appellate court considers the matter. A second and similar case is expected to get a ruling from the State Supreme Court this summer. The state would have to prevail in both cases in order for Republicans to achieve their goal of having a voter ID requirement in effect for the November elections. The law was only used once -- in the February 2012 primaries -- before it got tangled up in the legal system.
Milwaukee recorded another case of the mumps yesterday, bringing the total to eight in that city. The health department said half the cases involve university students, and officials have raised concerns that the disease might spread as spring classes are about to end. Wisconsin had at least 30 mumps cases as of last Friday. The highly-contagious disease is by person-to-person contact, or common contact with food or utensils. The state normally reports only a handful of mumps cases each year. Sarah DeRoo of the Milwaukee Health Department urges folks to know the status of their vaccinations -- and contact a health care provider if their vaccines are not up to date.
The amount of cargo that went in-and-out of the Port of Green Bay was down by 70-percent in April, compared to the same month a year ago. Record ice covers on the Great Lakes were blamed -- along with a cold and wet spring. Dean Haen of Brown County's port agency said the drop was not caused by any drop in economic activity. The port handled about 58,000 tons of cargo last month, down from 196,000 tons in April of 2013. Only five ships went in or out of Green Bay's port last month, down from 15 boats the year before. The first ship arrived on April 18th, about three weeks later than normal.
Police in the Fox Valley say they'll get plenty of use from a surplus military vehicle to handle high-risk SWAT-type situations. Neenah Police officials say there's been a negative public perception about the mine-resistant Caiman multi-terrain vehicle. It was first announced almost two months ago that Appleton Police and the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department were awarded the 37,000 pound unit, after they applied to get it. Neenah Police will also use it -- and Captain Tom Long tells the Appleton Post-Crescent that his city has averaged 52-to-54 high-risk incidents each year over the past decade. Neenah officials say the Caiman will replace its older armored vehicle, which does not stop high-powered bullets. The area received the new unit from the Pentagon's excess property program. At the time it was announced, Appleton Police said his department had to borrow vehicles from nearby Oshkosh and Green Bay to handle incidents involving high-powered weapons -- and having its own unit will make response times faster. The applicants only had to pay shipping costs, plus equipment to convert the vehicle to police standards.
Wisconsin's Oneida Indian tribe will have a new leader come July. Incumbent tribal chairman Edward Delgado was defeated over the weekend in a primary election. Two others were nominated for the chair's post -- Greg Matson with 343 votes, and Cristina Danforth with 324. They'll square off in a general election on July 12th. The primary had seven candidates for the top spot. Preliminary results showed Delgado with 147. Earlier this year, Delgado won a tribal court battle against those who wanted him removed from office. A tribal appellate court said there were not sufficient grounds for a removal.
Gogebic Taconite continues to round up environmental data, as part of its impending application to open a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Experts are sizing up everything from rock deposits to peeper frogs on the proposed mining site near the Penokee Hills. As you might expect, there's a big disagreement on safety matters involving the rock deposits. Mining opponents cite widespread evidence of potentially harmful sulfide minerals and fibrous material which could cause health hazards to the air. But Gogebic says its preliminary research has turned up no such problems. DNR officials are conducting their research on the site. The agency's Larry Lynch said his agency found evidence of sulfide materials in the core samples provided by the company -- but he cautions there's more work to do, and there are no conclusions yet on the possible presence of asbestos-type materials in the air. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the company has drilled 22 holes as low as 1,400 feet. The mapping of wetlands will begin in the next few weeks. The company confirms estimates from the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation that the license application field-work could cost Gogebic Taconite $10-to-20 million.
Stevens Point will consider a new set of regulations for a new type of smoking lounge. A Common Council committee will meet tonight to discuss a plan to regulate vapor bars -- places where electronic cigarettes are smoked. More and more of them are cropping up in Stevens Point. Officials are considering a possible legal definition, in which vapor bar regulations would apply if at least a quarter of the floor space is dedicated to e-smokers. The city attorney says officials could also require conditional use permits for vapor bars.
Biking, hiking, and paddling enthusiasts will meet this week to consider forming a seven-thousand mile recreational route around the Great Lakes. Western Michigan geography professor Dave Lemberg is helping organize the "Great Lakes Coastal Trail Conference," to be held Thursday and Friday in Saugatuck, Michigan. Lemberg says the goal is to integrate existing projects, and connect them to create a "multi-modal" trail route close to the Great Lakes' waters in the Canadian provinces and eight U.S. states including Wisconsin. Efforts are moving ahead on a four-state Lake Michigan Water Trail in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Lemberg said a complete Great Lakes trail would be longer than the famous Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails combined -- and it could draw more tourists and economic development. Lemberg tells the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan that people go to Europe for summer biking and trekking, because the Great Lakes region is not set up for it. In his words, "It's about time we were."