WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: State Fair had its highest attendance since 1969
The Wisconsin State Fair had its highest attendance since 1969. Fair officials said yesterday that almost one-million 31-thousand people walked through the turnstiles in West Allis between July 31st and last Sunday. That's one-percent more than last year -- which was the first time in 44 years that the state fair attracted over a million customers. Good entertainment, good exhibits, and good weather are a fair's best friends. And the State Fair was blessed with generally dry and mild days for its eleven-day run. The final weekend attracted over 300-thousand fair-goers. The Wisconsin Bakers Association also reported record cream-puff sales of over 400-thousand. Over 125-thousand rode burlap down the fair's famous yellow Giant Slide.
A central Wisconsin man will spend two years on federal probation for falsely telling the F-B-I that a friend was about to steal nuclear secrets and sell them off. Prosecutors said 24-year-old Travis Billman was distraught after learning that his childhood friend Robert Ferkey was about to leave him and join the Navy. A few days later, officials said Billman sent what he thought would be an anonymous message to the F-B-I, saying Ferkey would steal nuclear secrets from the Navy and sell them online to the highest bidder. The government said Billman knew it would never happen. A criminal complaint said Billman claimed to be sleepwalking when he posted the tip -- but officials said he tried hiding the computer's I-P address that generally goes out when data is sent. He pleaded guilty in May. His defense lawyer said Billman has suffered depression and panic attcks after losing his father, a sister, and a sister-in-law from 2008 through 2012 -- while his family's house was going into foreclosure.
Minnesota authorities have released the name of a man who drowned just before he could finish swimming across the Saint Croix River and back. Chisago County sheriff's deputies said the body of 28-year-old Devin Johnson of Harris Minnesota was pulled from the water on Saturday night near Rush City on the Minnesota side. Johnson swam across the Saint Croix to the Wisconsin side, and was heading back when he drowned close to where he started.
A school in Verona that was heavily damaged in a June 17th tornado will be fixed next Monday, and it will be ready for the start of fall classes on September second. According to the district's Web site, Country View Elementary in Verona is still getting its new roof installed -- along with flooring and a school playground. Furniture also needs to be moved back into the classrooms. The wreckage from the tornado covered about 17-thousand square feet of school facilities. At last word, the damage estimate was three-to-four million dollars -- and insurance was supposed to cover most of it. The final repair cost will be known in a couple months, when construction invoices are set and paid off.
Two men have been charged with beating and sexually assaulting a homeless man in the Appleton area. Forty-eight year old Anthony Gomez and 28-year-old Alexsander Mirkovich were jailed under ten-thousand-dollar bonds, after appearing in Outagamie County Circuit Court yesterday. Both are charged with first-degree sexual assault and substantial battery. According to prosecutors, Gomez and Mirkovich attacked a man they met at the Fox Valley Warming Shelter -- and he suffered a broken nose and other facial injuries. Mirkovich told police that he and Gomez were visiting from Florida, and he denied hurting the victim. Online court records list Appleton addresses for both men. Mirkovich is due back in court August 22nd for a preliminary hearing. Records for Gomez do not list an upcoming court date.
A new report shows a lack of equality in enforcing laws against marijuana possession in Wisconsin -- and black men come up on the short end. The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service says African-Americans are six times as likely as whites to be charged with marijuana possession -- and it's the fourth-highest disparity rate in the nation behind neighbors Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa. The news service also cited A-C-L-U figures showing that four-point-seven blacks are arrested for every white in Milwaukee County -- where about 70-percent of the state's African-Americans live. That was as of 203. The report says marijuana convictions are a big reason why Wisconsin leads the nation in racial disparity in its prison system. A U-W Milwaukee study shows that Wisconsin's black incarceration rate of 12-point-eight percent is three percent higher than Oklahoma, which has the second-highest disparity. Assembly Democrat Melissa Sargent of Madison says the state needs to "rethink how our criminal justice system looks at marijuana." She introduced a bill in January to legalize the drug, citing a high expense for law enforcement. The governor's office says legalization is not a top priority.
The Mega Millions' jackpot goes up to 144-million dollars for Friday night. That's after no one claimed the top prize last night. Nobody around the country won the million-dollar second prize, either. The numbers of Wisconsinites winning smaller prizes were not immediately available. Last night's numbers were 32, 53, 60, 63, and 68. The Mega Ball was six, and the Megaplier was four. Friday's cash option is 84-million dollars. In Powerball, the jackpot is back at its 40-million dollar minimum for tonight. A ticket sold in Colorado won a 90-million-dollar jackpot last Saturday night, and players in Milwaukee and Plymouth each won the third prize of 10-thousand dollars.