WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: State still remains in deep freeze into afternoon
It was no warmer in Wisconsin this afternoon than it was at six this morning. In fact, it's a few degrees colder in some places -- evidence that a high pressure system with the coldest air of the season is taking hold.
Parts of northern Wisconsin were in the single-digits above zero during the lunch hour. Hayward was the cold spot at seven-above. Kenosha was the warm spot at 28. Milwaukee and Racine were at 27, a few degrees colder than early this morning. The National Weather Service said the winds were supposed to get stronger this afternoon in some places, creating the chance for dangerous wind chills tonight. Tomorrow night is expected to be the coldest, with lows projected to be 10-below by Saturday morning in much of the Badger State. A warmer Sunday is in the offing, with highs in the teens and 20's -- following by our next chance of snow Sunday night into Monday.
Thanks to a cold snap last week, Wisconsin ice fishing is off to a good start. A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources say people are out on the lakes, attempting to hook a walleye or northern pike... a good time of the year for them to bite. DNR also reminds anglers to dress warm, never ice fish alone and avoid clear, thin ice. A recent survey from the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment shows over 590,000 Wisconsinites will be hitting the ice to do some ice fishing.
You probably didn't need the federal government to tell you this -- but the USDA said Wisconsin had a year full of extreme weather in 2013. Farmers endured a severe drought to start the year, followed by a wet spring, a rainy summer -- and finally, another drought. In a report issued yesterday, the USDA said Wisconsin had its fourth-wettest April since 1895, and its 12th-wettest May. That included both rain and snow, as winter dragged itself out. It delayed the spring crop planting -- but it also resulted in a record production for maple syrup, as cold nights and warm days kept the sap flowing in the spring. The heaviest rains came in late June, when parts of southern Wisconsin had around a foot of it. After that, the state wilted into its 12th driest July in the past 119 years. The southwest half of the state returned to having drought conditions in August. They eased up in the fall with more rain, and measurable snows that came a few weeks early in the North. The U.S. Drought Monitor said this morning that the western third of Wisconsin remains abnormally dry or worse, along with some central areas.
Jefferson County District Attorney Susa Happ says she may enter the race for Wisconsin’s next Attorney General. Happ, a Democrat, has been in her current position since 2008. She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she is weighing her decision and wants to ensure the best candidate gets the job in November. If she enters the race, there will be a three-way race for the Democratic primary in August – State Representative Jon Richards and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne have also entered the race.
The Guardian newspaper of Manchester, England has spilled some of the beans on the American Legislative Exchange Council. That's the group which writes model legislation for Wisconsin lawmakers and others around the country. The paper cited 53 pages of documents leaked from the group's meeting in Chicago in August. Among other things, it said that 43 of the state's 132 legislators were members. Their names were not listed. The Guardian also said the council considered, but never passed, a policy which made their state chairmen promise loyalty to the group's principles. The Exchange council says it brings business, special interests, and lawmakers together to seek what it calls "free market, small government, and federalism" measures that have included voter ID laws. The Wisconsin State Journal of Madison cites a report from the Center for Media and Democracy that the model legislation was a basis for 32 Wisconsin bills or budget provisions in the last session, about two-thirds of which were passed. The center has filed lawsuits and complaints against the exchange council and its members to obtain council records. Senate Republican Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa is one of the defendants. The center said yesterday that negotiations are taking place on settling that suit.
Governor Scott Walker said he would not have put out a campaign fund-raising letter that a fired staffer e-mailed on Black Friday. Taylor Palmisano was let go this week, after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote about tweets she made over the past two years which insulted Hispanics. Palmisano was Walker's deputy finance director for his re-election campaign. According to the AP, her fund-raising letter read quote, "Instead of electronics or toys that will undoubtedly be outdated, broken, or lost by the next holiday season," Walker's supporters should give the money to his campaign instead. Today, Walker said the letter was quote, "certainly not something I would have put out." He also said he was not aware of Palmisano's tweets until they hit the media, but he responded by taking action.
A Milwaukee man faces attempted homicide charges after a shootout with police last weekend. According to the criminal complaint, police attempted to pull over 24-year-old Angelo Cruz for speeding on Saturday morning, leading to a pursuit and shootout with four officers. Police say Cruz was a wanted man, skipping out on a felony drug conviction sentencing and is a suspect of a gas station robbery in October. In all, Cruz faces ten charges – including four counts of first-degree attempted homicide and felony possession of a firearm by a felon.
A Fond du Lac woman had her bail increased to $300,000 dollars, after she was charged with homicide, and hiding her husband's corpse. 37-year-old Eve Nance has a preliminary hearing set for a week from today in Fond du Lac County, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial. Nance is accused of shooting her 37-year-old husband Timothy Nance twice in the head just over a month ago. Prosecutors said the man had several extra-marital affairs, and was planning to divorce his wife. Authorities said Eve Nance claimed that she had a struggle with her husband, and the gun inadvertently went off twice. At her initial court appearance, Eve Nance's bond was tripled from the $100,000 set at a previous hearing. Eve's aunt, Cherie Holstein, tells the Fond du Lac Reporter that the family does not believe it's getting the real story -- and Eve's 19-year-old daughter is in shock as she has a baby on the way in a couple months.
Four employees at a McDonald's in Milwaukee walked out this morning, joining dozens outside the restaurant at a rally for higher wages. Similar events are being held today in Madison, Wausau, Stevens Point, and about 100 other U.S. cities. They're all trying to get fast-food restaurants to pay at least $15-dollars an hour, and allow unions. Milwaukee college student Devonte Yates said he attended three previous rallies over the past year -- but this is the first time he has walked off a job. Yates said he makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour, and he must decide whether to pay his phone bill or electric bill. The National Restaurant Association says only five-percent of fast-food employees around the country make the minimum. If they're forced to raise wages, the restaurants predict higher prices and smaller staffs. Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa has a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10-an-hour. State Senate Democrats Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie and Nikiya Harris of Milwaukee say they'll hold a news conference on Tuesday. They'll encourage majority Republicans to hold a public hearing on a bill to raise the state's minimum to $7.60-an-hour. Both the state and federal measures would include automatic adjustments for inflation.
One of five people aboard an airplane that went missing in Idaho is from the Madison area. Almost 100 volunteers and rescuers were expected to keep searching today for Jonathan Norton of Sun Prairie and the other four missing people. Media reports said the group spent Thanksgiving together, and their single-engine plane left Baker City, Oregon on Sunday. It was heading to Butte, Montana when pilot Dan Smith reported engine trouble over a remote area northeast of Boise near Yellow Pine, Idaho. Smith's sister Amber is engaged to Norton, and they've been planning to get married January fourth. Both go to BYU-Idaho, both major in accounting, and they expect to graduate next year. Daniel Smith's wife Sheree and her father Dale Smith are also among the missing. Norton's uncle, Matt Dayton, says he has asked people of various religions to pray for the group.
Remember when Wisconsin's Indian casinos used to be pole-buildings with small burger joints? Over the past two decades, they've become Las Vegas-style gaming facilities, most with hotels. Now, more are adding big-name, signature restaurants and entertainment facilities -- the latest being the Oneida casinos. That tribe is in the midst of a $28-million expansion to its facilities in Green Bay and Ashwaubenon. By the time it's done next spring, the main casino at the Radisson Hotel will have a sports bar named for Packers' legendary coach Vince Lombardi -- along with a Boar's Head restaurant and "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Express." Also, the tribe's casino on Highway 54 in Green Bay will have a Countryville Bar-and-Grill. Those improvements were announced yesterday. Ovations food service of Florida will manage the four new eateries. They're expected to add up to 140 jobs. To make room, the Oneida's Mason Street poker room will move to its main casino.
Over two-thirds of Wisconsin college graduates leave school with IOU's to go with their diplomas. The Institute for College Access-and-Success said the Badger State had the nation's eighth-highest percentage of graduates with student loan debts. Sixty-eight percent of Wisconsin grads from the spring of 2012 had owed an average of $28,000 on their student loans. That's the 14th highest among the 50 states. Wisconsin's average debt is a little lower than the national norm of $29,400-dollars -- and that's up 10-percent from the year before. The College Access institute says students in the Midwest and Northeast generally owe the most on their college loans, while the West and South have relatively low debt. The report also said about one-of-every-five U.S. college grads are either not working, or getting fewer hours than they need.
A man killed in a conversion van that collided with a semi-truck in southern Wisconsin has been identified as 27-year-old Jordan Boullion of Madison. Dane County authorities said the van crossed the center line on Highway 14 near Brooklyn on Tuesday morning, and hit the semi head-on. The trucker, a 33-year-old Baraboo man, was treated at a Madison hospital for minor injuries. Dane County investigators were not immediately certain if Tuesday's weather was a factor in the mishap. There was heavy fog in parts of the region at the time. In central Wisconsin, a snowstorm was blamed for a two-vehicle crash that killed a Wausau man on Tuesday in Marathon County.
The State Capitol Christmas Tree was lit for the first time this morning. Governor Scott Walker presided over a low-key ceremony -- and then the lights were turned off for a larger noon-time ceremony that the governor was not scheduled to be at. Walker said youngsters from 152 Wisconsin schools submitted ornaments for the Capitol tree, a 30-foot balsam fir donated by a grower from Antigo. Christmas tree growers from throughout Wisconsin were at this morning's event, along with women who made a quilted skirt to go around the base of the tree.