WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Storms, then cooler temperatures on the horizon the next few days
A stormy day is ahead for Wisconsin. Strong thunderstorms moved into the central part of the state overnight. Forecasters said half-inch hail was possible until around six a-m. The National Weather Service says most of the state will get rain and thunder-boomers this morning. Another large wave is expected this afternoon and evening. Forecasters say there's only a slight chance that the storms will be severe, with large hail and damaging winds. No storm watches or warnings were posted as of early this morning. Highs in the 70's-and-80's are predicted for most of Wisconsin today. It could get close to 90 in the far south. Once the storms move out early tomorrow, a cold front is due in -- and that could drop tomorrow's highs by as much as 15 degrees. Readings in the 60's-and-70's are expected tomorrow. A clear weekend is in store, but the mercury might not reach 70 anywhere in the state on Saturday and Sunday. The Weather Service says the Fox Valley will get widespread frost on Saturday night, with many places below freezing for the first time this fall.
The typical Wisconsin household has still not recovered from the Great Recession. The U-S Census Bureau says the Badger State's median household income was just over 51-thousand dollars last year. That's about the same as the national average -- but it's nine-point-three percent less than it was in 2000. The new Census report also says Wisconsin's poverty rate has held steady for the last three years. It remains at just over 13-percent. Milwaukee remains among the 15 poorest cities in the nation. Almost three of every 10 Milwaukee residents lived in poverty last year -- about the same as in 2011. Mayor Tom Barrett says the city's high poverty affects the entire region -- but there's been no rush to create a regional solution, since the area's poverty has largely been centered in the city. Milwaukee's poverty rate is about three times what it was in 1970, before many large industries left town. Poverty is much less prevalent in the suburbs. The new poverty line is just over 23-thousand-dollars of annual income for a family of four.
The parents of a Madison man said their son did not get his required medications when he briefly jailed last month, before he allegedly went on a major crime spree. The parents of 36-year-old James Kruger told the Wisconsin State Journal their son has bipolar disorder, and he was in a manic state while in jail in late August. A jail official told the paper it's possible that Kruger was not up-to-date on his meds -- and if that's the case, there's nothing officials could do. Yesterday, Kruger was indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. He was held late last month for allegedly eluding an officer in Dane County, and was freed on a signature bond. Then a week-and-a-half ago, authorities said Kruger allegedly stabbed-and-wounded a man in Madison, assaulted a Cassville man and took his guns, stole two vehicles, and took a cattle truck owner hostage until the victim got help getting free. Kruger's parents say their son should have remained in jail the week before when he was first picked up. Dane County D-A Ismael Ozanne said his office made a mistake in not asking that Kruger be jailed on a cash bond. Ozanne blamed a mix-up regarding Kruger's status of a previous probation. Kruger was picked up again last Monday after a high-speed chase following his alleged crime spree. He's now under a half-million dollar bond in Iowa County, with 16 possible charges pending in Iowa, Grant, and Dane counties.
Governor Scott Walker said his administration did not take Scott Suder's controversial handling of a state grant into account, when Suder was appointed to a high-paying state job. The Republican Walker said yesterday that the Public Service Commission looked at Suder's wide variety of experience over two decades as a lawmaker and a legislative aide. Suder was on the hot seat when he resigned from the Assembly, for his role in getting a half-million-dollar grant into the state budget to promote hunting-and-fishing. Walker said he didn't know enough about the matter to conclude whether Suder handled the matter properly. Critics said the criteria was narrow enough to almost assure that the politically-connected United Sportsmen would win the grant. It did, but Walker ended up scrapping the grant after questions about the group's tax status. Democrats wanted the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee to review the matter yesterday. Panel chairman John Nygren said there were problems with the grant -- but there was no need for the committee to take it up because it was canceled in the end. Suder resigned September third as the Assembly G-O-P Majority Leader. He'll become the water compliance and consumer affairs administrator for the P-S-C on October 7th at a salary of 94-thousand-dollars a year -- almost twice what he made as a lawmaker.
A military police officer was given a chance to escape a felony record for helping her husband hide his half-brother's dead body in southern Wisconsin. 27-year-old Shannon Remus pleaded guilty in Dane County yesterday to two reduced charges of misdemeanor obstruction. She struck a plea deal in which a felony count of hiding a corpse will be dropped, if she successfully completes two years of probation. She'll also spend nine months in jail. Remus is a police officer at the Lewis-McChord joint military base near Tacoma Washington. Her husband, 29-year-old Jeffrey Vogelsberg, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges that he beat his autistic half-brother to death last year when the two lived together in Mazomanie. 27-year-old Matthew Graville was found dead while buried in a wooded area near Lone Rock last November. The two men's landlord, Robert McCumber, allegedly helped bury Graville's body. He's charged with hiding a corpse, and his case is on hold until after Vogelsberg's case is settled. A spokesman at the Lewis-McChord base says Remus is still considered to be an active-duty soldier there -- but he would not speculate on her future.
A Milwaukee driver pleaded no contest yesterday to killing a woman in a hit-and-run crash. 48-year-old Edwood Hastings is scheduled to be sentenced November 26th on his original felony charge of hit-and-run causing death. The state did not announce a sentencing recommendation. The charge calls for up to 25 years behind bars. Witnesses said Hastings was speeding when his car struck-and-killed 32-year-old Andrea Barringer, one of three women running across the street. It happened the night of August 11th on a busy Farwell Avenue on Milwaukee's east side. Authorities said the three women had just left a restaurant, and Barringer was in a legal crosswalk when she was hit. Hastings told police he had just bought groceries, and was driving home when he tried to avoid hitting Barringer but couldn't. He told police that he didn't stop because he wanted to talk to his family before he turned himself in the next day. Barringer was a graduate student in art therapy, and was engaged to be married two days before she died.
Organic farming in Wisconsin has taken a big step forward, as the state's agricultural education group plans to honor a member who's proficient in the movement. The Wisconsin F-F-A will present its first Organic Proficiency Award at its state convention next June. The Organic Valley co-op of La Farge is helping the F-F-A recognize a young farmer-member who shows proficiency in either organic entrepreneurship or placement. The award is being introduced at sectional F-F-A leadership workshops around the state this month. Organic farming has become popular over the last two decades. It relies on natural farming techniques with strict limits on the use of manufactured aids like fertilizers, pesticides, and plant growth regulators. Meanwhile, Organic Valley is also working with the National F-F-A on a new proficiency award, in an effort to promote the movement among young farmers across the country.
If you think your local streets are less bumpy these days, you might be right. A new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance shows that the state's largest cities and villages spent three-point-eight-percent more on local road maintenance in 2011 than the year before. It's the first such increase since 2008, when the Great Recession began to take hold. Tax Alliance president Todd Berry says communities appear to be in a "catch-up mode," with a renewed focus on road work after they directed their resources to other areas when the economy went south. The amount of spending per resident on local road work was still less than pre-recession levels. The Tax Alliance said it was 116-dollars per capita in 2001, compared to 122-dollars per person in '08.
Police took two teens in custody, after a robbery and foot-chase in downtown Madison in which a shot was fired. At last word, the suspects were not under arrest. It all started around 6:20 last night, when a 19-year-old man reported being robbed of his wallet, backpack, and keys at gunpoint on Gilman Street just west of the Capitol Square. Police believe that someone who knew the victim chased one of the robbers on foot toward Lake Mendota -- and a robber fired a shot on Langdon Street. There was no indication that the bullet hit anybody. U-W Police detained one of the suspects last evening, and Madison Police picked up the other. Officials said the hold-up was not random. Two school buildings in downtown Madison were on lockdown while the suspects were being sought. Officers thought one of the suspects might have run into a Madison College building, and the U-W Memorial Union was also said to be in a lockdown mode. U-W police sent out alerts urging people to stay inside, and an "all-clear" was issued just before nine last night.