WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Rain, and more rain, forecasted for the week ahead
Get ready for a wet week in Wisconsin. The National Weather Service says one-to-three more inches of rain will fall in the early part of the week -- and more minor flooding is possible. The Mississippi River near Prescott, the Fox River at Berlin, and the Baraboo River at Baraboo are expected to rise above their flood stages between Thursday and Saturday. Other rivers in the state could get flood warnings later in the week. The Weather Service in Green Bay says local heavy rains tonight could cause minor street flooding. Most of the state got a good soaking yesterday. Places in southwest Wisconsin got close to an inch of rain. Winds hit 55-miles-an-hour near La Crosse last evening, and 45 at Prairie du Chien. Also, parts of northern La Crosse County had quarter-inch hail. More strong winds are predicted today for much of Wisconsin, with gusts of up to 40-miles-an-hour. The Weather Service says cool and rainy weather is expected all week, thanks to a slow-moving low-pressure system that was stalled overnight in Nebraska.
Authorities in southern Wisconsin said an electrical problem might have caused a fire in a pole shed that killed 52 chickens. The blaze started early yesterday morning on a farm in the Dane County town of Christiana. The Cambridge and Deerfield fire departments responded. A 20-by-30-foot shed containing the chickens was engulfed in flames when units arrived. The sheriff's department says the blaze does not appear to be suspicious. The shed was a total loss. Damage was estimated at 25-thousand dollars.
Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan wants to return to the Legislature. He announced his Democratic candidacy yesterday for the Senate seat that's being given up by Tim Cullen of Janesville. Sheridan was a United Auto Workers' union leader in Janesville when he was elected to the Assembly as a Democrat in 2004. He served in the lower house for six years, the final two as speaker. After being defeated in 2010, Sheridan has been a lobbyist for the state A-F-L C-I-O. There are two other Democratic candidates so far -- Assembly Democrat Janis Ringhand and former Cullen campaign manager Austin Scieszinski.
A retiree from Ripon has become the second Democrat to run for the open U-S House seat in east central Wisconsin. 64-year-old Gary Wetzel plans to face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris in an August primary for the seat that's being vacated by 35-year G-O-P incumbent Tom Petri. Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickles considered running for the Democratic nomination, but has decided not to. Wetzel was most recently a substitute teacher, and he has a degree in mechanical engineering. He tells the Oshkosh Northwestern he does not expect to win -- but he wants to give voters a choice. Both parties now have potential August primaries. State lawmakers Glenn Grothman, Duey Strobel, and Joe Leibham are running in the August Republican primary for Petri's seat.
Wisconsin refuses to let voters register online, while more states are allowing it. Experts recently told lawmakers that online systems are cheaper, easier, and more accurate than paper systems like Wisconsin's. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy says his agency has the technology to sign up voters online -- but lawmakers need to approve it. They've failed to pass it twice in the last three sessions. The Associated Press says 18 states have online registration, while four others have approved it and are working on their systems. Wisconsin was among 15 others considering online voter registration, until lawmakers adjourned for the year almost a month ago. Lawmakers of both parties have advocated online registration for Wisconsin. Assembly Democrat Terese Berceau proposed a bill to allow the sign-ups, and check the legitimacy of the new voters with their information from other state databases. Assembly Republican Kathy Bernier of the Eau Claire area said she favors online sign-ups, as long as concerns about voter fraud are addressed. Majority Republicans tried but failed to pass a bill in the last session that would have combined online registration with campaign finance changes. Big Bend Assembly Republican David Craig is among those favoring online registration only if Wisconsin ends its long-time provision to let voters register at the polls on Election Day.
Over two-thousand Wisconsin high school and middle school students spent their Sunday morning in the State Capitol, learning how to become better leaders. The state Association of School Councils held its 80th annual conference in Madison -- and the first in Madison in 48 years. W-K-O-W T-V said over 200 communities were represented. The group received pep talks from state Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach, and U-W-Badger basketball star Sam Dekker -- who attended the conference when he went to Sheboygan Lutheran High School. The event featured a variety of seminars and activities aimed at teaching leadership skills.
A new owner is moving quickly to try and open new businesses in the former American T-V and Appliance buildings in Pewaukee and Brown Deer. Real estate investor John Schlueter has finalized both purchases. His business group is paying four-point-four million dollars for the Pewaukee structure, and just under two-and-a-half million for the Brown Deer building. Schlueter also paid 400-thousand dollars for vacant lead in Oak Creek. Until last week, creditors didn't know who was buying the Wisconsin American T-V stores, which closed for good in mid-April after the company spent 60 years in business. A court-appointed receiver is in the process of selling assets and paying American's old creditors. After some questions and a court hearing, receiver Michael Polsky said he's confident he'll get enough to repay about 55-million dollars of debts. Schuleter is working to line up new business tenants for his buildings. The Steinhafels' furniture chain is in the process of acquiring three old American stores in Madison, Oak Creek, and Appleton. They expect to open Steinhafels' stores in those locations by this fall.
A second person has died as the result of a Kenosha County freeway crash. 34-year-old Bram Dorresteijn of Sun Prairie died last night at a Milwaukee area hospital. His wife Shari died on the night of last Thursday's mishap. Authorities said Bram Dorresteijn was driving a mini-van that rear-ended a semi-truck that was stopped on I-94, where traffic was merging from three lanes to two because of a freeway reconstruction project. The trucker, a 40-year-old man, suffered minor shoulder and neck injuries.
Your house is not the only thing that's getting a spring cleaning. About three-thousand groups have volunteered to pick up trash along about eight-thousand miles of Wisconsin highways. It's the first of three cleanups this year as part of the state's long-running Adopt-a-Highway program. State coordinator Christa Wollenzien asks drivers to be extra careful when they see the roadside volunteers. She says they're covered under the state's "Move Over Law," which requires drivers to slow down and veer as far enough away from the workers as safely possible. Wollenzien is also asking for more volunteers. She says about 30-percent of the available miles in the Adopt-a-Highway program still need people for this year.
A male bald eagle is doing well at last word, after he crashed through the shrink-wrap of a boat being towed on a Wisconsin Interstate. Scott Kregness and his wife were towing a rescue boat from Florida to the Breitung Minnesota Fire Department when the eagle approached them on I-94 near Menomonie on Friday. Kregness said the eagle was coming toward him and he ducked. He assumed the bird just missed the vehicle when a motorist to the rear saw it inside the boat through a tear in its shrink wrap. Kregness stopped at a rest area and called the D-N-R. Wildlife rehab expert Patti Stangel of Colfax was notified, and the eagle was later transported to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in Saint Paul with a bloody mouth. Center director Julia Ponder said the eagle had some eye damage with mild head and internal trauma. She expects the bird to recover enough to be released in the wild.