WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Verona golf course's 9-11 specials subject to scorn, threats
VERONA - The owner of a Madison area golf course says he'll stay open tomorrow, after he got a lot of criticism for a September 11th promotion that he dropped.
The Tumbledown Trails course in Verona had golfing discounts for the last two years on 9-11, to help remind folks of the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed three-thousand people. Yesterday, a newspaper ad for the golfing discounts went viral -- and golf course owner Marc Watts brought in a law enforcement officer to provide security. He thought about shutting down the course tomorrow -- but if he did that, he said all those with negative attitudes would win. Watts did apologize to those offended by his golf promotion -- which offered nine holes with a cart for $9.11 and 18 holes for 19.11. Marc Watts, who manages Tumbledown Trails in Verona, says he's had special rates for three years to remind players about the significance of the attacks -- and this is the first time he's had complaints. He said it reminded people, especially young golfers, about the significance of the day. Watts said a lot of people have complimented him on the promotion -- but that was before his newspaper ad was picked up on Twitter yesterday. The Deadspin sports website (www.deadspin.com) and national TV networks ran the story. He said the 20-year-old course has received death threats and warnings about vandalism. Watts said a sheriff's deputy was stationed at the course today, and law enforcement officers volunteered to watch the course tomorrow.
A 17-year-old La Crosse girl is accused of stealing her mother's diamond necklace worth $51,000, and selling it to a jewelry store for a mere $100. Penelope Friends was charged yesterday in La Crosse County Circuit Court with an adult count of misdemeanor theft. She's due in court October fourth for a pre-trial proceeding. An adjourned initial appearance is set for November 26th. An employee at a La Crosse jewelry store first offered Friends $50 for the 4.6 carat necklace, but she said no -- and she later had it appraised at a second store. An employee there called the FBI last Friday, suspecting it was stolen. An employee from the first store then reportedly approached Friends on a break, offering 100-dollars which she took. The La Crosse Tribune said it's against the store's policy to buy diamonds from customers -- and the clerk who bought the necklace told an FBI agent that he was really the "victim." He claimed he knew the jewelry was stolen, and was trying to get to the bottom of it. He did not say why he didn't call the police. According to authorities, Friends' mother thought the necklace went missing from when she moved to La Crosse in June from Chanhassen, Minnesota.
A La Crosse man is due in court tomorrow, for allegedly stabbing a housemate with a steak knife as they argued about rent money. 55-year-old James Curtis is facing possible counts of reckless endangerment, battery, and four-time drunk driving. He's being held under a five-thousand-dollar bond. Police said Curtis stabbed the housemate above one of his eyes early last Saturday, and then drove off. Police said Curtis drove through a stop sign and lost control of his auto. Officers said he gave a false name, and claimed he did not commit the stabbing. His blood alcohol level was said to be point-18 when he was stopped. The stabbing victim was treated for a two-inch cut.
A public hearing is set for tomorrow on a Wisconsin bill to let home cooks sell their baked goods at places like farmers' markets without a business license. About three-dozen lawmakers from both parties are co-sponsoring the measure. The state Assembly's Small Business Development Committee will take testimony tomorrow morning. The bill allows the selling of homemade baked goods like bread without a license -- along with muffins and cookies among other things. Refrigeration would not be a requirement, and bakers can sell up to $10,000 of their items each year. Lisa Kivirist of Browntown in far southern Wisconsin is among those pushing for the bill. She owns a bed-and-breakfast, and she'd like to see things like her winter-squash spice muffins for guests to take home. She said it could net her an extra $1,200 a year. It was almost four years ago when the state approved the so-called "pickle bill," which allowed the selling of home-canned goods without state licenses.
It’s another scorcher today in the southern half of Wisconsin. It was 97 degrees in Janesville at two this afternoon – but steady breezes and lower humidity brought the heat index down to 95. The misery index was close to 110 in parts of the Badger State yesterday. But it’s still well above normal for this time of year. Kenosha had 96 degrees at two o’clock. Milwaukee had 94. It was in the 90’s as far north as Wisconsin Rapids, Waupaca, and Appleton. Far northern Wisconsin enjoyed temperatures in the 70’s. Ladysmith was the cool spot at two p.m. with 70. A cold front is moving in from the west, bringing a good chance of rain tonight and tomorrow – and cooler weather the rest of the week. Forecasters say it could drop into the 30’s in parts of the far north by early Friday.
UW-Madison is ranked 41st -- same as a year ago -- in an overall review of 270 doctoral universities. U.S. News and World Report put out the annual rankings. The Top-10 institutions are all private schools, with Princeton, Harvard, and Yale ranked first-through-third. Among public universities, UW-Madison had a general ranking of 11th. That's down from 10th a year ago. Marquette University in Milwaukee ranked 75th on the overall national list. In a ranking of regional public colleges in the Midwest, UW-La Crosse was No. 3 Eau Claire was fifth, and Stevens Point and Whitewater were tied for ninth. Stout in Menomonie was 15th. Green Bay and Oshkosh tied for 17th. River Falls and Platteville were tied for 21st. Superior was ranked 32nd. The Milwaukee School of Engineering was 21st among regional universities both public-and-private. La Crosse was 26th on that list. Alverno College of Milwaukee -- an all-women's school -- was ranked among the top three Midwest schools with strong commitments to undergraduate teaching.
U.S. House Republican Reid Ribble of northeast Wisconsin said today he would definitely vote against a military strike in Syria. The Sherwood lawmaker was leaning against military action until today. He said his position has just before firmer. The Obama White House has not given up its plans for an attack on Syria, even though public and congressional support are both falling -- and today, Syria accepted a proposal from Russia to give up its stockpile of chemical weapons. Fond du Lac House Republican Tom Petri also reiterated today that he's leaning against a military strike. None of Wisconsin's federal lawmakers have come out in favor.
The state agency that regulates attorneys filed a complaint today against a former mayor of New Berlin. The Office of Lawyer Regulation urged the State Supreme Court to revoke the law license of James Gatzke. The complaint accused Gatzke of almost two dozen ethics violations for the way he handled a widow's finances after her wealthy husband -- Steven Wiederholt -- killed himself in 2005. That was after a business partner accused him of embezzling $3.5 million and poisoning the business partner with laced ice cream. The complaint said Wiederholt had $8.5 million in life insurance, and his widow -- Patricia Schaeffer -- ended up with two-and-a-half million of that. Officials said Gatzke apparently shuffled the money improperly for other reasons, and he later took money from other accounts to cover the shortages that were owed to Schaeffer. The complaint said Gatzke also over-billed legal fees to Schaeffer. Gatzke said the state's complaint had less to do about his legal representation, and more to do with his client being a disgruntled partner in a real estate venture involving her late husband, which failed.
The Washington Redskins will play the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday -- and Cheeseheads will be asked to cheer for the idea of changing the Redskins' name. The Wisconsin Indian Education Association plans to hold a forum on the subject Friday at UW-Green Bay -- and the group will have protestors at the game. Barb Munson of Mosinee is part of the Indian group's Mascot-and-Logo Task Force. She says "Redskins" has long been considered a derogatory term, and her group supports removing all race-based stereotypes. The Oneida Indian tribe, which is based near Green Bay, has previously opposed the Redskins' name -- but as a Packers' sponsor, the tribe does not plan to take part in the protest. Oneida tribal business committee member Brandon Stevens says attitudes must change before progress can be made. In the case of Washington's football team, it's a battle that's been fought for years. There were extensive protests in Minneapolis in 1992, where the Redskins beat Buffalo in Super Bowl-26. In May, 10 members of Congress asked 'Skins owner Dan Snyder and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to do away with the team name and its Indian logo. Snyder says he'll keep the name.
New Berlin is the latest Wisconsin community to have the tree-killing emerald ash borer. Officials in the Milwaukee suburb said the green beetle has been found at four places -- a tree and three traps. The "New Berlin Now" news Web site said the ash borer was first discovered in New Berlin and nearby Waukesha last week. It's now reported in four communities in Waukesha County, including Oconomowoc and Mukwonago. New Berlin Mayor David Ament called the spreading of the emerald ash borer "inevitable." New Berlin city forester Paul Fliss says it's expensive to treat ash trees. He advises homeowners and businesses to decide which trees they really want to keep, and their work to start treating them now. In the U.S., the ash borer was first discovered near Detroit 11 years ago. It has since spread to Canada and over a dozen states. Wisconsin had first confirmed infestation in 2008. Eighteen Wisconsin counties are under quarantine for the ash borer. The new discovery involves an area that's been under quarantine for some time.