WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Missing Minnesota woman found in Chippewa County
A woman missing for five days was found dead late yesterday in Chippewa County. Sheriff’s deputies said an acquaintance found the body of 33-year-old Courtney Hagel in a wooded area near railroad tracks, about 200 yards from where she was last seen in the town of Lafayette. Officials said there were no signs that Hagel was wounded, and foul play is not suspected. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. Sheriff’s deputies said Hagel threatened to harm herself last Tuesday night, when she walked away from a mobile home near Lake Wissota. She has family around Bloomer, but officials said she spent most of her time in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says those who shoot others in self-defense should get their guns back from police within 48 hours after being cleared. Clarke said yesterday he would ask state lawmakers to pass the requirement, after Milwaukee polka bar owner Andy Kochanski has waited for a week to get his gun back. Prosecutors said last Monday they would not charge Kochanski, after he acted in self-defense against three would-be robbers at the Concertina Beer Hall on August 15th. Kochanski grabbed a gun from behind the bar and killed 23-year-old Carmelo Matos-Arzola. 21-year-old Jose Munoz was wounded. He’s been charged with attempted robbery. The third suspect is still at-large. Milwaukee Police have been accused in the past of holding onto weapons for evidence longer than they need to. Clarke said the police are taking away Kochanski’s freedom to quote, “possibly act again tonight.” The sheriff said that if Kochanski had called police instead of shooting, quote, “We might have been out here today for a memorial service.” About 100 people attended an event yesterday at Kochanski’s bar where the sheriff spoke. There was also a free course for those wanting state permits to carry concealed weapons.
A 67-year-old Tomahawk man apparently drowned late yesterday, when he jumped from a pontoon boat to help a dog. A witness told Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies that a man went into the Spirit Flowage to help the animal – and the two got into a struggle, and then the man went under. Rescuers recovered his body two hours later in around five-and-a-half feet of water.
Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris says he’ll decide by Labor Day whether he’ll officially become the first Democrat to run for governor next year. He says he’ll need to make a decision by next Monday, so he can build up a base of campaign donors. Harris says he’s really wrestling with the idea of getting in the race, and not just because he’d have to face Republican Governor Scott Walker’s well-funded operation. Former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke is emerging as the Democrats’ possible front-runner, in part because she has her own money to spend. Harris tells the A-P that Burke has met with him, and said a primary would hurt the final Democratic nominee’s chances of having enough money to make a presence against Walker next fall. Burke has not indicated when she’ll make a final decision on entering the race. State Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is also considering her second run for governor. She was a distant third in last year’s primary in the Walker recall contest. Vinehout says she won’t decide until next year whether she’ll run. She says most voters are focused on other things besides a governor’s election almost 13 months from now.
The sentencing phase of Nidal Hasan’s trial begins today at Fort Hood Texas. A jury of 13 military officers will decide whether Hasan will be put to death, or spend the rest of his life in prison for killing two Wisconsin troops and 11 others in his 2009 shooting rampage. The 42-year-old Hasan was convicted Friday on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Amy Krueger of Kiel and Russell Saeger of Mount Pleasant were the Wisconsinites killed at Fort Hood. Six state troops were among the injured. They were all training for an assignment in Afghanistan to help other soldiers deal with stress and personal troubles. After the attack, the surviving members of the Madison unit were given a chance to stay home – and they turned it down and served anyway. Hasan has told reporters and others that he needed to kill U-S troops in training, in order to protect Muslim insurgents in the Middle East. Hasan could not use the so-called “defense of others” strategy in his two-week trial, but he gets more leeway in the sentencing phase. Numerous relatives of the victims will testify about their losses – but they will not able to express their feelings about Hasan, or what they think should happen to him. Again, Hasan will be his own attorney. His court-ordered standby attorneys believe Hasan is trying to get a death sentence. No military member has been executed since 1961.
A group with no experience in training people for outdoor activities is in line to get a half-million-dollar state grant to promote hunting, fishing, and trapping in Wisconsin. The state’s Sporting Heritage Committee will meet on Thursday to consider giving the two-year grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. It was the only group that applied for the grant, which was put into the new state budget with little publicity. The funding will be renewed every two years in perpetuity. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the foundation has several ties to outgoing Assembly Republican Majority Leader Scott Suder – all of which Suder said he had no knowledge of, or had nothing to do with. Suder said the grant would help ensure the future of outdoor activity in Wisconsin. Deer hunting has most notably been on the decline in Wisconsin in recent years. The foundation’s application said it would use the grant to pay consultants. The group’s board includes former N-R-A lobbyist Darren LaSorte, who says a new approach is needed to recruit sporting enthusiasts. Former D-N-R Secretary George Meyer, who heads the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, says the goal of the grant is positive – but it appeared it was put together for one group. The state budget measure prohibited Meyer’s group from applying. The Journal Sentinel said several well-known training groups were never aware of the state grant until after the deadline to apply for it. Wisconsin Waterfowl Association director Don Kirby said his group would have been interested – and it’s disappointed it was never given the chance.
If a federal watchdog has its way, 42 hospitals in Wisconsin would lose special Medicare reimbursements to treat patients in rural areas. The inspector general for the Health-and-Human Services Department has proposed ending special rural service payments for two-thirds of the nation’s 13-hundred-plus critical access hospitals. The inspector’s office says the hospitals are not located in areas that are sufficiently-remote. Officials say the move could save Medicare just over a billion dollars a year. The Obama White House has proposed a more limited reduction that would cut special aid to eight of Wisconsin’s 58 rural hospitals. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin is fighting that limited proposal, saying it would hurt the quality of health care in rural areas, and threaten their local economies.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is helping South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley kick-off her re-election campaign today. Haley is holding a public rally and a private fund-raiser in Greenville South Carolina, to be attended by her fellow Republican governors Walker, Rick Perry of Texas, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Like Walker, Haley was first elected in 2010. She got 51-percent of the vote against South Carolina Senate Democrat Vincent Sheheen. The two are expected to have a rematch next fall. Sheheen announced his candidacy in April. Walker is returning a favor to Haley, after she appeared in Wisconsin last year to help him win his recall election.