WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP:School districts starting to ban e-cigarettes
At least some Wisconsin school districts are banning electronic cigarettes. The Green Bay Press-Gazette says the school system in that city will change its tobacco usage policy in the next few weeks to include a ban on vapor smokes.
Principals will also send letters to parents and guardians saying kids should leave those items at home. Pupil services director Barbara Dorff said the use of electronic vapor cigarettes has become an issue just in recent weeks. Nearby Pulaski High School also wrote parents to remind them that e-cigarettes are not allowed. Yesterday, a Wisconsin Senate committee voted to allow e-cigarettes in public buildings and not include them under the state's public indoor smoking ban that's been in effect since mid-2010. Observers say there might not be enough time in the waning days of the legislative session to give final approval to e-smokes.
Wisconsin lost tons of snow this week -- but not much of it seeped into the ground, because of the heavy frost that's still below the surface. The U.S. Drought Monitor said just over 35-percent of the state's land area is abnormally dry or worse. That's only a tenth of a point less than a week ago. Most of the southwest third of Wisconsin is abnormally dry, just like it's been since last fall. Moderate drought conditions continue in the Mauston and Adams region -- and another patch between Eau Claire and Hudson. Only five-percent of the state's land area became drought-free since the start of 2014.
A southern Wisconsin man has admitted burning the body of an 18-year-old woman who answered his Internet ad for sex. 30-year-old Nathan Middleton of rural Evansville struck a plea deal in Rock County. He pleaded guilty to hiding and mutilating a corpse. According to officials, Middleton claimed that he had sex at his home last fall with Aprina Paul -- she died after taking drugs -- and he panicked and burned her body. An attempted escape charge was dropped in the plea agreement. That came about a month after his original arrest. Officials said Middleton wrote his mother, asking her to blow up a jail window so they could run away to Mexico. She never received that letter. Middleton is scheduled to be sentenced on his initial two charges May 21st.
A maintenance worker who allegedly killed two teenagers during an attack in his Milwaukee apartment building was freed today. And so was a third person who was with the two people killed. Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams said the incident will continue to be investigated, and no decisions are expected soon on possible charges. Williams said he reviewed cell-phone video of the Wednesday's incident, in which 19-year-old James Bell Jr. and 17-year-old Anmarie Miller were shot to death. The third person was 20, and was not hurt. The maintenance worker is a 39-year-old Cudahy man. Reports said the shootings may have been done in self-defense. Police said the worker was attacked with a baseball bat, and he then pulled out a gun and shot Bell and Miller.
A Fond du Lac couple is due back in court next Friday, after they were charged in the beatings and neglect of two children in the woman's care. 46-year-old Jeana Riehl is charged with 11 counts of child abuse and neglect. Her 46-year-old husband Troy is charged with eight counts of neglect and failing to prevent harm to the youngsters. Prosecutors said Jeana Riehl beat two young boys with a horse whip, a hunting arrow, a rolling pin, and plastic food utensils. She also allegedly withheld food from the boys and locked them in a bathroom or bedroom for long periods. The alleged abuse was said to take place over a number of years. Troy Riehl was freed yesterday after posting a 500-dollar bond. Jeana was held at last word on a five-thousand dollar bond. At their next court appearance, a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order trials for the pair.
Governor Scott Walker says students who can pass high school algebra in seventh or eighth grade would have more flexibility to take advanced courses later on. Walker signed a bill into law today that would let seventh-and-eighth graders get high school credits for nine-through-12th grade courses. The study materials, the tests, and the teachers would have to be the same as those in the high school classrooms. Students would also have to show potential competence in completing those advanced classes. Walker signed the bill at a middle school in West Bend. Two Republican lawmakers from that city sponsored the measure -- Senator Glenn Grothman, and Representative Pat Strachota.
Four adults and two juveniles are facing charges in the severe beating of a man who was left for dead in a wooded area near Crandon. Forest County authorities said the 40-year-old victim was held at a home in Wabeno on Monday and Tuesday. Investigators said he was repeatedly beaten over the course of both days. They then drove the victim more than 20 miles to Crandon, where he was left for 20 hours before a pair of A-T-V riders found him. Police said the victim was still in a hospital today, and he might need to have one of his legs amputated. Authorities said they found handcuffs and iron shackles inside the Wabeno house. The adults may have assaulted the victim on the assumption that he inappropriately touched a youngster. The adults are scheduled to make initial court appearances on Wednesday. The four have had bond hearings, with the amounts ranging from 25-thousand dollars to 100-thousand. There was no immediate word on what the two juveniles might face.
UW-Oshkosh has beefed up its security, after somebody fired a gun into the air at a school dance last weekend. Campus police said they don't believe that a student fired the weapon last Saturday night, where 300 people were at a dance at the Reeve Memorial Union. Vice chancellor Petra Roter tells WLUK-TV in Green Bay that the security safeguards the campus had in place were not enough. Students complained about a long delay in getting information about the shooting from the UW-Oshkosh emergency alert system. Roter said the process will be sped up so the system can quote, "be as quick as social media is." Roter says they'll also more security to larger events on the Oshkosh campus, including metal detectors and wands at the doors.
The judge who's overseeing a John Doe probe into campaign activities in the state's recall elections did not think the behavior in question was illegal. That's according to blacked-out information released this week as part of new court filings in an effort to shut down the John Doe investigation. The Wisconsin Reporter said it put the blacked-out material into a word processing program, and the covered information could be easily seen. The Associated Press said it could do the same. The filings confirmed the reason for the John Doe -- that conservative special interest groups had allegedly coordinated illegally with GOP recall candidates on their campaigns in 2011-and-'12. The blacked-out material reportedly showed that Peterson did not see any law violations. Still, the judge reportedly said that a higher court should look at the matter -- and the state's probe was not frivolous. As a result, at least one subpoena he quashed to gain evidence from the outside groups was set aside -- meaning that prosecutors did not have to give back anything they seized. It was not known if any evidence was actually seized from the main group that's suing over the John Doe, the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth. Prosecutors are seeking a higher court's review of Peterson's ruling.
If you get an e-mail that says you're being evicted from your home, don't open it. State consumer protection officials say it's the latest effort by scammers to infect your computer, and use malicious software to suck up your personal data. Consumer spokesman Jerad Albrecht said his department received two formal complaints about the scam in late February -- and it's a fairly widespread occurrence. According to the state agency, the e-mails tell recipients they'll be evicted due to quote, "multiple violations" -- and they should open an attached file to see what those violations are. The attachment carries infectious malware. Officials say some people might be spoofed because a domain is used that identifies a legitimate law firm. However, the state says it's against the law to send eviction notices by e-mail. The law requires landlords to use the Postal Service to send notices 28, 14, and five days in advance of evictions.
____________________ An armed robbery suspect who virtually walked into his own arrest in Green Bay has been convicted. 24-year-old Jarred Zeise of Seymour pleaded no contest to amended charges. He'll be sentenced May fifth. An SUV that was being sought for a gas station robbery was spotted a short time later at the Brown County Jail's work release center. Investigators said they found stolen items from the hold-up in the vehicle -- and they arrested the SUV's registered owner, who was visiting the building at the time. The robbery occurred in late December at a Shell convenience store in the Green Bay suburb of Allouez. Cigarettes and money were taken in the hold-up.
The Milwaukee Brewers have not finalized their roster yet -- but we do know that Hank made the team. The stray dog that endeared himself to fans at the Brewers' spring training camp in Arizona will fly north on Sunday night, so he can be neutered before Opening Day on March 31st. Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger says he'll accompany Hank on a chartered flight. They're due to arrive in Milwaukee at 6:25 Sunday evening. Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele plan to meet Hank. He'll be living with an undisclosed Brewers' executive who has a family. It has not been decided how much time he'll spend at Miller Park when the Brewers play their 81 home games. Schlesinger says the goal is not to overtax the pet, or exploit him. Still, you'll probably get a chance to take home a memento of the dog who's named after slugging star Hank Aaron. It could either be a plush toy, or a bobble-head.