WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Northern Wisconsin predicted to get 16 inches of snow
Folks in far northern Wisconsin are bracing for up to 16 inches of snow in a late winter storm that's just getting started this morning. The National Weather Service has issued warnings and watches that stretch until 10 a-m tomorrow. The most snow could fall along a line from Ashland to Minong. All of northern Wisconsin can expect winds gusting to 30-to-40 miles an hour once the storm gets rolling. Places as far south as Hudson, Menomonie, and Wausau can expect snow accumulations of around 2-to-5 inches. It's supposed to rain first in many of those spots. The Weather Service blames the new snow on a low-pressure system that's moving across the northern Mississippi Valley today. The system will go through Wisconsin tonight before heading east. South central Wisconsin can expect rain showers today, continuing into tonight. Highs are projected to be in the 30's statewide. At least some of the new snow will melt tomorrow, when the mercury gets into the 40's statewide. Fifty-plus temperatures are forecast in many areas for the weekend.
Home foreclosures continue to go down dramatically in Wisconsin. The U-W Whitewater Fiscal and Economic Research Center said 34-hundred-27 new foreclosure cases were filed in state courts from January through March. That's down 24-percent from the same quarter a year ago. For 2013 as a whole, there were just over 15-thousand-500 new cases against homeowners hopelessly behind on their mortgages. The peak year was 2009, when over 28-thousand-500 cases were filed in the depths of the Great Recession. Whitewater economics professor Russell Kashian said there's no question that the foreclosure crisis is over, and there's nothing to indicate rough waters any time soon. However, he says the school will continue to monitor foreclosure trends. In Kashian's words, "There will be a next time, and we'd like to start to notice it immediately when it happens."
Wisconsin anglers could use motor-boats to troll for fish statewide, under a proposal endorsed at the annual conservation hearings. The D-N-R announced the results yesterday of votes taken at all of the Conservation Congress proceedings on Monday night in each of the 72 counties. At least some trolling on all lakes statewide was endorsed by 62-percent of the nearly 59-hundred sporting enthusiasts who voted on the question. It's been a hot topic in the popular fishing areas of northern Wisconsin. A year ago, a plan to allow three-line trolling in 17 counties was rejected. This time, a compromise to allow one-line trolling was approved, in addition to the three-line trolls which are currently allowed in 55 counties. The hearing votes are advisory, and they could be taken up by the D-N-R later in the year. Also, voters rejected catch-and-release activity during closed fishing seasons. They endorsed a catch-and-release for sturgeon on the state's boundary waters at Minnesota. They also approved slight adjustments to the opening of the inland fishing seasons in May, to avoid conflicts with Mother's Day weekend.
The federal government can fight computer crimes without hurting people's privacy rights. That's what F-B-I Director James Comey said yesterday in Milwaukee, where he met with local law enforcement officers and reporters. He compared the government's monitoring of Internet activity to having police stationed at gang-infested parks to make them safe for children. Comey said the Internet is a "dangerous neighborhood," and the F-B-I needs to patrol it -- and to do it in a legal and carefully-overseen manner so both security and liberty are protected. He refused to answer questions about the N-S-A's snooping of phone and e-mail records. Comey said he was only in a position to discuss his own agency's practices. The F-B-I chief is currently visiting all 56 of its field offices. During his Milwaukee stop, Comey also answered questions about the F-B-I's efforts to stem heroin abuse, fight human trafficking, and combat other violent crimes.
Wisconsin's domestic violence laws will get tougher, under three bills to be signed into law this afternoon. Governor Scott Walker will hold a ceremony in Milwaukee to strengthen three current measures. One will create a more stringent schedule of court proceedings, to make sure that domestic abuse suspects under restraining orders hand over their weapons to law enforcement. Another bill creates more standard law enforcement procedures for handling domestic abuse calls, beefs up training for police, and gives victims more access to services. The third bill adds stalking to the legal definition of domestic abuse.
While winter keeps going in northern Wisconsin, there's a pleasant sign of spring in the south. The state D-O-T has fired up the Merrimac Ferry for the year. It's the state's only free car ferry. It goes across the Wisconsin River on Highway 113 between Merrimac in Sauk County and Okee (oh-kee') in Columbia County. The "Colsac-Three" boat underwent 362-thousand dollars of improvements during its down-time this winter. It received two new engines plus new mufflers, generators, and other electronics aimed at creating a more efficient vessel with fewer emissions. The old engines put in 34-thousand hours of running time over the past eight years. The Merrimac Ferry is listed in the state and national registers of historic places. It runs 24-7 until ice forms on the Wisconsin River in late fall.