WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Stevens Point superintendent apologizes after teacher tells student she'll be scrubbing toilets
STEVENS POINT -- The Stevens Point school superintendent has apologized, after a teacher gave a graduation gift of cleaning supplies to a student and reportedly told her she'll be "scrubbing toilets." Alyssa Alvarado's family was offended by a gift bag from Sue Felder, a teacher in the Point high school Life Skills Center. It helps students with cognitive disabilities learn things like cooking, cleaning, and housekeeping. Alyssa's mother, Lisa Kingsbury, told W-S-A-U Radio in Wausau she was offended by some of the items in the teacher's gift bag -- like a toilet bowl brush and cleanser. She asked Alyssa why she was given those things, and she quoted the teacher as saying she'd be scrubbing toilets. Superintendent Attila Wedinger said Felder gave items she thought her graduates could use -- and she had no intent to demean the students. A counselor passed that message on to Kingsbury -- but she didn't buy it, and she thought the teacher should be terminated. Wedinger said a firing would be inappropriate. In the future, the superintendent said gifts to Life Skills students will be "appropriate for graduation" and won't be like those Felder gave out. The incident comes more than a month after Stevens Point school transportation manager John Shepard sent a memo to bus drivers calling special needs students "window lickers." Wedinger says the incidents are not related -- and she insists there is not a "culture issue" in her district.
It's down to the final-eight in Outside Magazine's online voting to determine the Best Town in America. No Wisconsin cities remain in the competition. La Crosse dropped out of the tournament last night, after it only got 36-percent of about 40-thousand online votes over the past three days. Duluth Minnesota beat out Wisconsin's largest Mississippi River town. Duluth now faces Minneapolis in the final-eight, and the winner will be announced on June 15th after the two finalists square off. Madison was the only other Wisconsin city among the 64 originally chosen for the "Best Towns" contest. Madison lost to Houghton Michigan 52-to-48 percent in the Round-of-32. The other six towns still in the running are Louisville, Asheville North Carolina, Ithaca New York, Burlington Vermont, Provo Utah, and Anchorage Alaska.
The Medical College of Wisconsin will lead a national study on the impacts of concussions and head injuries in youth sports. President Obama announced the 30-million-dollar study yesterday at a White House summit on the effects of concussions by young athletes. He said young people make a quarter-million hospital visits each year for sports-and-recreation-related injuries. The Defense Department and the N-C-A-A will pay for the study. The medical college expects to choose participants for the study within the next 30 days -- including school football and soccer players, and athletes from major college conferences and military academies. Michael McCrea, the college's director of brain injury research, says 12-hundred Division-One N-C-A-A athletes will be studied for three years on the effects of head impacts and concussions. He said the goal is to create more scientific ways to report head injuries -- and to evaluate their extent and treatments. The chosen athletes will wear sensors to help determine where the injuries take place, the person's angle and velocity at the time, and future effects on the head. Beside the Medical College, researchers from the universities of Indiana and Michigan will also work on the study.
Governor Scott Walker is in a tight re-election battle this fall -- but he still has enough star power to help raise money for Republican candidates like him. Walker will be the main speaker at a fundraiser on June 9th for New York state gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino. Tickets begin at 500-dollars for the event, which will be held at the Union League Club in Manhattan. Astorino is the Westchester County executive. He's challenging Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo this fall. Walker admits he'll have a tight race with Democrat Mary Burke. Both were tied in a recent Marquette Law School poll.
The main electric utility for northwest Wisconsin has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by almost 20-percent from 2005 through last year. X-cel Energy said it has exceeded President Obama's announced goal of a 17-percent emissions' cut by 2020. X-cel released its 10th annual Corporate Responsibility report yesterday. It said the utility has more than doubled its use of clean, renewable resources from seven-percent of its energy mix in 2004 to 20-percent last year -- with a goal of reaching 27-percent by 2020. As part of that effort, X-cel said it would add another 19-hundred megawatts of wind power, and 170 megawatts of solar energy -- and it would all be cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. X-cel Energy is based in Minneapolis, with regional facilities in Eau Claire. C-E-O Ben Fawke said his company has spent a decade investing in cost-effective clean energy which has benefited both customers and the environment. The report comes as President Obama expects to announce a sweeping E-P-A regulation on Monday that would slash carbon pollution from the 600 coal-fired power plants in the U-S.
One of three Republican candidates for Wisconsin secretary-of-state is dropping out of the race. Bill Folk said he wanted to restore the oversight of elections to that office -- along with state licensing functions. However, Folk says he does not believe the Legislature would go along with his ideas if he's elected. A few Republicans have long called for the secretary-of-state and state treasurer's offices to be abolished. But the G-O-P governor and Legislature have refused to go that far, opting instead to eliminate most of the major duties from both offices. La Follette, the state's only Democratic constitutional officer, is running for the post again this fall. Both he and Republican hopeful Julian Bradley have said they want some of the duties returned. Assembly Republican Garey Bies (byes) of Sister Bay is also running for secretary-of-state -- and he says he'll do what his colleagues and voters want him to do if he wins.
Two ill-fated high-speed trains have left Wisconsin -- and they could end up being used as transit units in neighboring Michigan. Former Governor Jim Doyle brought in Talgo of Spain to build the trains, which were going to be used for a high-speed route from Milwaukee to Madison and eventually to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Current Governor Scott Walker killed the project and gave back 810-million federal dollars for the Milwaukee-Madison stretch. Wisconsin taxpayers shelled out 52-million dollars for the Talgo trains, before the state ended the payments. The trains have been at Talgo's Milwaukee facility since then -- but the company says they'll now go to an Amtrak maintenance building in Beech Grove Indiana. Talgo says it will have lower storage costs there. Michigan's D-O-T is considering a purchase of the trains for its transit fleet.
Wisconsin's first jet pilot ace will be honored in Stevens Point this weekend. A ceremony will be held Sunday at Point's Air Show, to re-name the airfield after Conrad "Connie" Mattson. He flew fighter planes in World War Two and Korea. Mattson was in the Air Force until New Year's Day of 1970, when he retired. He died in August of 2001. Many of his family members will be at the ceremony. That includes his niece, Carole Cassidy, who worked with Stevens Point city and airport officials to rename the airfield. Board members of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall-of-Fame support the re-dedication -- even though Mattson has not been inducted in the hall. But there appears to be a good chance of his induction in the future. He's been nominated once.