WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Wisconsin hikers rescued from Alaska wilderness
ANCHORAGE, Alas. - Three hikers, including at least two from Wisconsin, were rescued while on a pilgrimage to a famous abandoned bus in the Alaska wilderness.
Forty-five year old Thomas Young of Horicon, 29-year-old Matthew Peot of Milwaukee, and Kenneth Young -- whose hometown was not disclosed -- were trying to get to the dilapidated bus made famous by the book-and-movie "Into the Wild." A State Patrol spokeswoman said the group ran into high river water -- and they camped for a few days to see if the water would get low enough to cross the river. Their journey ended when Thomas Young tripped and hurt himself with an ax. His injuries were minor. The incident happened Aug. 6, but it was not publicized by the Alaska State Patrol until Wednesday. It occurred about 180 miles north of Anchorage near the entrance to the Denali National Park and Reserve. Authorities are often called to help people hiking to the bus used in the film "Into the Wild" -- which chronicled the life of Alaskan hiker Chris McCandless who spent four months living in the bus while on a hike there in 1992. He died on the bus from starvation.
Police in suburban Milwaukee are questioning two persons-of-interest, after a man was shot to death at a strip mall yesterday. Police were called just after noon to Innovative Optique, where a shooting occurred in the midst of an attempted robbery. The store is in Bayside, but much of the strip mall where it's located is in Fox Point -- so Fox Point Police are taking the lead in the investigation. Officials said the owner and one other employee were in the store at the time. The victim's name was not immediately released. Around mid-afternoon, a woman ran toward the store and yelled that the victim was her son. Police stopped her. Officers waited more than six hours for a search warrant, and then went into the store last night to gather evidence and get the victim to an autopsy. An employee of a nearby store said he heard 4-to-12 gunshots between 11:45 and noon.
Three elderly men were sent to a hospital last night after their boat collided with a break-wall on Lake Michigan off the shores of Milwaukee. The Coast Guard said it rescued four people from a 25-foot cabin cruiser around 9:30 last night near the downtown War Memorial. They were taken to McKinley Marina, where paramedics took three of them to a hospital. A 90-year-old man had non-life-threatening injuries, along with two men in their 60's.
Madison Gas-and-Electric has been ordered to refund $6.7 million dollars that was overcharged to customers last year. The state Public Service Commission voted yesterday to make the utility give the money back now. Madison Gas-and-Electric asked for permission to keep the over-payments, and apply them to higher costs the utility is expecting next year. The regulators said no to that. As a result, the company says it will pay three-point-seven percent more for its operations and employee pensions next year, instead of its earlier projection of two-point-six percent.
At least one analyst believes that the new increase in Wisconsin's unemployment rate is not all that bad. Wells Fargo economist Brian Jacobsen says a number of people who had given up looking for jobs went back into the labor force -- and those who didn't find work yet were added to the list of those officially unemployed. That, plus actual unemployment, drove up the state's seasonally-adjusted jobless rate to five-point-eight percent in July. That was one-tenth of a point higher than in June. Wisconsin remains below the national jobless rate of six-point-two percent -- which also went up one-tenth of a point from June.
A Milwaukee man will spend just over two years in prison for killing an 11-month girl while driving a U-Haul truck. 25-year-old Thomas Walker the Third was sentenced to three years in prison and five years of extended supervision. But Judge Stephanie Rothstein took 260 days off his prison term for the time he spent in jail while his court case was proceeding. Walker was convicted of negligent homicide and causing death while driving with a suspended license. Police said the U-Haul struck Cheyenne Jackson and her 11-month-daughter, Ariana Matosek, last Dec. 1 on Milwaukee's south side. Walker drove off, and the truck was later found abandoned a short distance away. At the sentencing yesterday, Jackson said it was the first time that her baby daughter had seen snow. Walker was originally charged with fatal hit-and-run, but he and his lawyer contended that he didn't realize he struck the pair until he saw TV news reports about it.
Great weather and big crowds graced Wisconsin's largest farm show which ended yesterday. Thousands of people attended Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, which completed a three-day run east of Plover in Portage County. The show was held around a month later than usual, in order to highlight the region's potato farming. Another late show is planned next year at the Statz Brothers Farm at Sun Prairie in Dane County. Bob Wipperfurth, who heads the executive committee for that show, says it will give the hosts a chance to harvest corn silage for their large dairy operation. He also said the show's closeness to Madison will give them a chance to show state officials examples of stewardship and "responsible agriculture." The just-completed show also marked the end of Ron Schuler's official career. He's been the general manager of Farm Technology Days for the last four years, and has been involved with the show for 31 years. Schuler promises to return as a volunteer next year in Dane County.
The state DNR says it will not kill or remove an otter that injured a 12-year-old girl in northwest Wisconsin last weekend. A warden tells the Saint Paul Pioneer Press that last Saturday's attack of Rory Kliewer was an "isolated incident." The Minneapolis girl received rabies shots as a precaution, after the otter bit and scratched her while she was getting out of Bone Lake near Luck in Polk County. The DNR could issue permits to let people shoot or trap an otter at Bone Lake, but the agency says it won't do so for now -- but it will be considered if there are future attacks. Experts say it's rare that an otter goes after a human. The last such case in northwest Wisconsin was in 2009 near Drummond.
A judge in northern Wisconsin is reviewing a murder suspect's request for an Alford plea. It would let 47-year-old William Rambo maintain his innocence, while admitting there's enough evidence to convict him. Rambo currently faces an intentional homicide charge in Price County, with a mandatory life prison term for allegedly stabbing his wife Dawn eight times last August. Prosecutors said she kicked Rambo out of their house, and he was trying to make up with her when they got into an argument. That's when he reportedly stabbed and slashed the 37-year-old woman. Officials said Dawn ran to a neighbor's house, and a police officer took her to a hospital on the assumption that she couldn't wait for an ambulance. She died 40 minutes later. Visiting judge Ann-Knox Bauer of Taylor County is handling the case. The Alford plea would avert a jury trial that's scheduled to start Wednesday.
A man from Superior has been sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in a federal prison for running a former head-shop in Minnesota that sold illegal synthetic drugs. Fifty-seven year old James Carlson was convicted last October on 51 charges of selling millions-of-dollars of bath salts, spice, and other synthetic drugs. He ran The Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth before authorities shut it down. Duluth Police said synthetic drug cases are down 55-percent since the store closed. Carlson never denied selling the drugs, but he disputed that they're illegal. His lawyer said an appeal would be filed by Monday. In a 20-minute statement yesterday, Carlson told Federal Judge James Doty in Minneapolis that he was unfairly singled out for prosecution. He said he knew of dozens of stores in Minnesota alone, and countless others on the Internet, which sell synthetics without government interference. Carlson said Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was among those complaining that it was difficult to regulate those products. Assistant U.S. Attorney Surya Saxena said the prison sentence should send a clear message that synthetic drugs are illegal -- and their sellers will face "serious criminal consequences." The judge also sentenced Carlson's former girlfriend, Lava Haugen, to five years in prison for role in running the head shop.
He's described as one of Milwaukee County's worst dead-beat dads. Raul Cardona was pulled off an exclusive golf course near Los Angeles to go to jail. He now awaits extradition back to Milwaukee to answer charges that he never paid over a quarter-million dollars in past-due child support and penalties. County Executive Chris Abele and District Attorney John Chisholm announced the arrest today. Abele said it was the result of more funding to locate dead-beat parents, plus a partnership between the D-A's office, the executive's office, and the Milwaukee County child support service agency. Cardona allegedly stopped paying for the support of a minor child since 1996. He was supposed to pay 563-dollars a month -- but two years later, officials discovered that he only paid 424-dollars. Both his past due support and his fee penalties accumulated since then to around $250,000 dollars. Investigators had tracked Cardona to Southern California.
___________________Don't be surprised to see a lobbyist knock on your door, to try and get you to vote Republican in November. State GOP Assembly leaders are recruiting lobbyists to help with door-to-door campaigns aimed at boosting the party's already-considerable 60-39 majority. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the effort is called "Leggiepalooza," a take-off on the long-running Lollapalooza music festivals. The paper says it's a second major effort by Republicans to get the people who ask them to pass legislation to help those same politicians stay in control. Two years ago, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Burlington urged lobbyists to contribute personally to the Majority GOP Conduit, which distributes campaign donations to Republican legislative candidates. That group is holding a fundraiser in Madison on September second, along with Governor Scott Walker. The Journal Sentinel says some lobbyists are not happy with being asked to knock on doors for Republicans -- because if they don't, they might not get the bills passed that their clients want. Other lobbyists said they didn't have a problem with it.
If you don't think write-in campaigns work, think again. Two sheriffs in Stevens Point have been elected as write-ins since 1996 -- and a third candidate is thinking about going the same route. Kevin Sorenson finished second on Tuesday in a four-way Democratic primary for Portage County sheriff. The winner of the primary, Mike Lucas, will be the only name on the ballot in November since there is no Republican candidate. Sorenson lost by 230 votes. He says he'll wait until the ballots are canvassed next week before deciding if he'll wage a write-in bid in the fall. Sheriff John Charewitz is stepping down this year, after he was first elected as a write-in candidate in 2002. Stan Potocki did the same in '96. In both cases, no Republicans ran in what's considered a heavily Democratic county.
Two lawmakers are trying -- and failing -- to find out how much investigators are being paid to look into alleged illegal campaigning in the state's recall elections. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said no this week to releasing those payment records. He said the law does not allow his agency to release confidential investigative files. A current John Doe investigation is looking into allegations that Governor Scott Walker worked with a dozen conservative groups to coordinate campaigning for recall votes against him and GOP senators in 2011-and-'12. State Assembly Republican David Craig of Big Bend and Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst sought the records. They've said in the past that the public deserves more access to those kinds of files. Republicans have complained for months that prosecutors in the John Doe are unfairly targeting the GOP. Last month, the attorney general said it was against the law for the Accountability Board to give investigative records for a state audit of that agency.
Wisconsin's only big-city casino saw its gambling revenues drop by almost three-percent in the past year. According to figures from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee won just over $350-million from players during the year ending June 30th. It was the fourth straight year that the casino's gaming revenues were either decreased or flat. Experts say it's no surprise, since a gaming market that was once considered a popular novelty has matured. The newspaper makes an estimate based on payments made to the city and county of Milwaukee -- both of which get one-and-a-half percent of the casino's net winnings after it makes it its annual payment to the state. The Potawatomi contends that its gaming revenues will drop even further if Governor Scott Walker approves a proposed Hard Rock Casino and hotel for nearby Kenosha, which the Menominee tribe wants to build. Supporters of the Kenosha project say it would tap into new markets not served by any of Wisconsin's casinos. The governor has until February to announce his decision, after the federal government gave its blessing to the project a few months ago. Meanwhile, the Potawatomi is opening a large hotel this month at its Milwaukee gaming house.