WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Wausau women to be sentenced today for poisoning her ex-boyfriend's dog
A Wausau woman convicted of poisoning and stabbing her ex-boyfriend's dog will be sentenced this afternoon. W-S-A-U Radio says 22-year-old Sean Janas could be sentenced to 18 months in a Marathon County lock-up. But if she gets credit for the time she served during her court case, her final jail term could end up being about three months. Janas' case attracted worldwide publicity, after we learned that her diary showed how to force her ex-boyfriend's German shepherd and Labrador mix to take pain pills and bleach. Dozens of animal lovers appeared for an early court hearing in the case. Social media then spread the story, and a prosecutor said he got thousands of e-mails demanding the maximum penalty. A plea deal whittled down the charges. Janas pleaded guilty to felony counts of animal poisoning and fatal animal mistreatment.
_________________The agency that safeguards Wisconsin's natural resources disciplined more than two dozen of its workers last year. The Associated Press said state D-N-R bosses wrote 26 letters which informed workers they were fired, suspended, or reprimanded. The actions involved less than one-percent of the agency's 26-hundred-plus employees. The D-N-R wrote seven more disciplinary letters last year than in 2012. All the letters were made public except one, in which a punishment is still being challenged. Among other things, workers were disciplined for making inappropriate comments, punching a fellow employee, misusing a state-owned boat, and watching pornographic videos on the job. The employees' names were blacked out of the letters that were released. The D-N-R's Amber Passno said the names were not needed in order for taxpayers to know how well the agency handles employee discipline. _________________
A city council member in Appleton says the punishment exceeded the crime for a restaurant that served a beer to an underage undercover police sting worker. Jeff Jirschele (jirsh'-eh-lee) is asking for a review of Appleton's liquor license revocation policy, after T-J's Japanese Steakhouse sold its business over the matter. Appleton has a demerit point system for those who violate liquor laws. It's an 80-point violation for serving somebody under-21. A liquor license can be revoked after 200 points, and the Appleton Post-Crescent said T-J's exceeded that number. The restaurant surrendered its license before it could be revoked. Jirschele calls the demerit system an "execution order." Fox Valley developer Bob Gregorski says buildings can be left empty while bars-and-restaurants move to nearby cities like Oshkosh and Green Bay -- neither of which has demerit systems. Appleton assistant city attorney Stacy Doucette says the process works exactly as it was intended. She said there were only two liquor license revocation hearings since 2012 -- and it shows little need for the system to be overhauled.
Former Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch is in trouble again. She owes 62-hundred dollars in state income taxes, according to the Revenue Department's Internet list of delinquent taxpayers. Her attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, has not commented. Rindfleisch is appealing a six-month jail sentence and three-year probation term for a criminal misconduct conviction. She was Scott Walker's deputy chief-of-staff in the Milwaukee County executive's office, when she was caught using taxpayers' time to campaign for 2010 lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis. Rindfleisch is also a target in a current John Doe investigation into alleged illegal coordination between Republican campaigns and outside political groups in the state recall elections in 2011-and-'12.
A 22-year-old Beloit man was killed after he drove away from police, struck a vehicle, and slammed into a utility pole. Officers said they tried to stop the man for speeding around two a-m yesterday in Beloit. He sped off -- and officers did not chase the vehicle, because the city's policy does not allow high-speed chases for drivers wanted only for speeding. Police said the car later went through a stop sign, collided with a vehicle coming from the left, and hit the utility pole where the wanted vehicle was cut in half. A passenger in the offending vehicle, a 22-year-old Beloit woman, was critically injured. Two people in the other unit escaped injuries.
The snowmobile season continues to hang on throughout the northern half of Wisconsin. Travel Wisconsin-Dot-Com says seven counties as far south as Wausau continue to have trails in excellent condition, in spite of the 40-and-50-degree warmth we had for much of last week. A dozen other counties in the north say their snowmobile trails in good shape. A few are fair. The trails are generally closed in the southern half of Wisconsin, with few exceptions. And the weather forecast does not look promising for snow enthusiasts in that region. A strong low pressure system is supposed to bring mainly rain to southern Wisconsin tomorrow. The northern half of the state expects a couple inches of new snow today, with a chance for more snow tomorrow. High temperatures yesterday ranged from 16 at Sturgeon Bay to 30 at Mineral Point -- about 10-to-15 degrees below normal statewide. It's supposed to be a little warmer today, with highs in the 20's and 30's throughout the Badger State. It could get close to 50 in the south again tomorrow.
A weekend fire that destroyed a sawmill in central Wisconsin is being called an accident. Greenwood Sawmill owner Dan Wolf said he was welding inside the main building on Thursday night -- and a hot ember from that location may have started the fire the next night. The sawmill was engulfed in heavy smoke when Greenwood fire-fighters arrived. Officials said they had trouble getting enough water to put out the blaze, and they spent eight hours extinguishing the fire. Crews returned Saturday to deal with hot spots. Nobody was injured. Damage was estimated at between one-and-a-half and two-million dollars. A separate welding structure about 30-feet away was not affected. Wolf tells W-S-A-W T-V in Wausau that his family plans to rebuild the sawmill -- and they'll keep the welding business open in the meantime.
Wisconsin's largest military base will bring back its annual open house, after it was called off a year ago due to federal budget cuts. Fort McCoy has scheduled its open house for May 17th. That's Armed Forces Day, which honors past and present military members on the third Saturday each May. Fort McCoy will use the occasion to show off its base between Sparta and Tomah -- something it couldn't do in 2013 because of the automatic "sequester" spending cuts. McCoy's open house will feature training displays, uniforms and equipment, and other artifacts. Guided tours of the base will be given, along with a marksmanship test and other activities.
Police in the Appleton area will soon get a surplus military vehicle for high-risk SWAT-type situations. It's a six-wheeled unit called the Caiman Multi-Theater Vehicle. It'll be used as a rescue vehicle for hostages, injured officers, and others in high-risk incidents. Appleton Police and the Outagamie County Sheriff's Department applied for the unit under a surplus property program run by the Pentagon. Appleton Police Sergeant Dave Lund says the two departments currently borrow vehicles from nearby Oshkosh and Green Bay to handle high-risk incidents -- and having their own unit will make response times faster. The Caiman vehicle normally costs 650-thousand dollars, but the two Appleton area departments will only have to pay five-thousand to ship it from Texas -- plus costs for converting it to police standards.
The state's most popular dog will get up early tomorrow to meet his fans, after he arrived on Wisconsin soil from Arizona. Hank the "Ballpark Pup" is scheduled to be at the Milwaukee Brewers' Team Store at Miller Park from 7-to-8 tomorrow morning. His body clock was moved up after he flew from Phoenix late yesterday. Hank was greeted by a sizable crowd of fans at the airport, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Hank's been a hit with Brewers' fans and others, after he showed up as a stray at Milwaukee's Spring Training site almost a month ago. His previous owner never came forward, so he stayed with the team and endeared himself to folks in both Arizona and Wisconsin. At the Team Store, fans can buy limited supplies of Brewers-Hank gear -- and 20-percent of the proceeds were to be donated to the Wisconsin Humane Society. Hank will stay at the home of Brewers' general counsel Marti Wronski, along with her husband Andy and their four kids ages 5-to-11. Wronski says the Brewers adopted Hank first-and-foremost, and the family decided collectively to give Hank a home. The Brewers officially made him part of the team last week. He's arriving before the players do, so he can get neutered.
Wisconsin's first spring flood warnings have been issued in the southeast corner of the state -- while 400 miles away in the northwest, another big snowstorm is in the offing. The National Weather Service says 6-to-14 inches of snow are possible close to Lake Superior in Iron, Ashland, Bayfield, and Douglas counties. A winter storm warning is in effect there from midnight tonight until 6 a-m Wednesday. Meanwhile, most of the snow is gone along the Fox River in Kenosha County -- except for the flood waters left behind. The Fox at New Munster was one-and-a-third feet above its flood stage at 11 last night. The rest of Wisconsin is supposed to get mixed precipitation today and tomorrow. North central and far northeast Wisconsin can expect 1-to-3 inches of new snow today, and 4-to-6 more inches tomorrow. Central areas can expect lesser amounts of snow, with freezing rain thrown in. Only rain is forecast for much of southern Wisconsin.