WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Rhinelander had over 107 inches of snow this winter
Rhinelander now has its snowiest winter on record, thanks to this week's storm. The city got just over 11 inches the past couple days, for a total of 107-point-eight inches of the white stuff this season. That's the most since the National Weather Service started keeping records for Rhinelander in 1908. This week's snowstorm was the fourth-largest for an April in that city. Lac du Flambeau in Vilas County had the most snow in northern Wisconsin this week -- 19-inches. Some of it has melted, and don't be surprised if it creates new flooding to the south. An earlier round of flood warnings has partially ended. The Weather Service still has warnings out on parts of three rivers which are over their banks -- the Baraboo, the Fox, and the Wolf. The Mississippi approached its flood stage at Wabasha Minnesota, but it's expected to go back down this evening. At Prairie du Chien, the Mississippi is about an inch below its banks, and still rising. Minor flooding is reported and-or predicted at all Wisconsin locations. The snow-melt continues today, with highs in the 40's-and-50's statewide. The next chance for precipitation is on Sunday in the form of rain.
Today's Wisconsin high school students smoke less, drink less, and have less sex than teens did 20 years ago. That's according to the new Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the state Department of Public Instruction. One of every three high school youngsters surveyed in 2013 said they recently had a drink -- down from half in 1993. Thirty-three percent said they tried cigarettes, way down from 64-percent in the early '90's. Thirty-five percent of last year's students admitted having sex, down from 47-percent two decades earlier -- and two-thirds used condoms. Officials attribute that to better health education -- and they said high cigarette taxes keep more kids from smoking. However, the survey shows that lots of teens engage in more modern risks. Over half of Wisconsin juniors-and-seniors have texted while driving, and 15-percent admitted driving after having alcohol. The percentage of teens playing on computers or video games for at least three hours a day jumped from 20-percent to 34. Over half of girls believe that bullying and student harassment are problems at their schools -- and a third of the boys feel the same way. The state has given 88 mini-grants to schools to try and fight these risky behaviors. The grants totaled 85-thousand dollars last year. Alcohol offenders covered most of those costs with their fines.
A 70-year-old man was killed in a fire at his home near Tomahawk. Authorities said another man arrived at the victim's house to plow snow yesterday afternoon, when he saw flames from windows that were blown out. The state Fire Marshal's office is helping Lincoln County authorities investigate. The home had extensive damage. The victim's name was not immediately released. Officials said his wife was away in Wausau when the blaze broke out.
The Potawatomi Indians are the latest to seek federal approval to regulate water quality on their reservation. The Forest County tribe has asked the federal E-P-A for a status known as "treatment as state." The Wisconsin D-N-R is looking for public input on the application -- and those comments will be passed onto the E-P-A. If approved, communities upstream from the reservation may have to adjust its own water standards -- so whatever flows onto the tribe's property meets the Potawatomi regulations. Tribal spokesman George Ermert says the application does not include new standards. That would only come after the treatment status is approved. Three other Wisconsin tribes have their own water quality agreements -- the Bad River, Lac du Flambeau, and Sokaogon (sah-cog'-en) Chippewa bands. The Bad River tribe is using its status to oppose the controversial Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine that's being considered upstream near Mellen.
Two state Justice Department investigators who left after they delayed action on child pornography cases for months have been identified as Willie Brantley and Anna King. The A-P said Brantley was the special agent in charge of his Milwaukee office, and King was a special agent at the same facility. Attorney General J-B Van Hollen said both were responsible for delays that resulted in the molesting of an 11-year-old boy in one case -- and made the state's other case weaker. The two agents left almost a month ago. Officials would not say if they resigned, or were fired.
A Minnesota company is asking that state to endorse improvements to a crude oil pipeline that helps provide gas-and-diesel fuel to a good share of Wisconsin. The Minnesota Pipe Line Company has asked the Public Utilities Commission in the Gopher State to approve a half-dozen new pumping stations, and improvements at two existing sites. It would allow the newest of the company's four pipelines to carry 350-thousand barrels of crude each day to two refineries in the Twin Cities region. That's twice the line's current capacity. The firm says the added capacity is not meant to increase the amount of refined oil -- but it will keep the raw product flowing whenever the other three pipelines are down for maintenance or emergencies. The output at the two refineries is already close to their capacities most of the time. The Pipe Line Company also emphasizes that the project would not expand its actual pipelines, or create new ones.
A new study shows that banning chocolate milk from school lunches might not be a good idea. Cornell University studied the effects of banning chocolate milk from 11 elementary schools at a school district in Oregon. Total milk sales dropped 10-percent -- certainly not good news for milk producers in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Students did buy more white milk, but they tossed 30-percent of it in the garbage. The study also found that seven-percent fewer students bought school lunches after the chocolate milk disappeared. Cornell also said 78-percent of all students throughout the U-S took milk when the chocolate variety was offered -- and that dropped to 71-percent where the item was banned. Schools have talked for years about banning chocolate milk in the name of reducing sugar and calorie consumption. However, Cornell says it also reduces childrens' intake of proteins and calcium.
Wisconsin drivers will have to be more careful, under a bill Governor Scott Walker signed this week. Utility workers were added to the list of those that motorists must move over and slow down for. Bill Skewes of the Wisconsin Utility Association says it will make electric and water employees safer when they're making roadside repairs. Wisconsin's "Move Over" law was first adopted a few years ago, after a rash of law enforcement officers were killed on the Milwaukee freeways while investigating crashes or stopping motorists. Besides police officers, motorists have also been required to slow down and accommodate fire personnel, towing, and construction vehicles.
Rainy and cool weather did not stop folks from attending the recent Midwest Horse Fair in Madison. Officials said almost 55-thousand people attended the three-day festival -- two-percent more than the year before. It was the third-highest attendance in the 35-year history of the Horse Fair. Two nights of rodeo events were held for the first time. The fair also featured the world's tallest horse and donkey.