WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Weather makes it feel like September, not July
It feels like mid-October in much of northern Wisconsin. It’s still July, but the mercury got down to 37 degrees near Fifield in Price County around 4:45 this morning. By seven o’clock, it was still just 45 at Tomahawk, Manitowish Waters, and Hurley. Milwaukee was the warm spot with a more summer-like 59. Monroe and Fond du Lac were at 56. Yesterday, Wausau broke a 79-year-old record for the coldest July 28th with 47 degrees. New record lows were also set at Oshkosh, Appleton, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Stevens Point, and Rhinelander. The cold readings were blamed on a strong low-pressure system to the east, which busted through Wisconsin last Friday and ended a week-long heat wave with highs in the 90’s. Today, forecasters say all of Wisconsin should finally see the 70’s again, with clear-to-partly skies. Lows in the 50’s are expected tonight, with a chance of rain tomorrow and highs returning to the 70’s.
Wisconsinites will get one more chance to comment on mining. The Natural Resources Board must change its administrative rules to reflect what the governor and Legislature approved this spring. The Board is expected to set a date for a public hearing on the new rules when it meets in Baraboo on August 14th. Majority Republicans passed a series of changes designed to make it easier for Gogebic Taconite to open a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Among other things, the new law sets time limits for the state’s approval of mining permits. It also relaxes previous environmental protections, and ends the public’s ability to object the state’s mining decisions before permits are issued. Supporters say the new mine will provide hundreds of jobs to an area that badly needs them. Opponents say it would cause heavy water pollution. Protestors disrupted the company’s exploratory drilling last month, one of them has been charged criminally.
The company that won a legislative effort to get part of a state school software contract will announce its plans to expand on Wednesday in Stevens Point. Skyward president Scott Glinski said earlier this month the firm would build a new headquarters’ facility. It would house up to a-thousand employees, at a cost of up to 20-million dollars. Skyward lost a contract last year to Infinite Campus of Minnesota to create a statewide data-base of public school students. The company was challenging the rejection when central Wisconsin legislators came to Skyward’s rescue, and inserted a state budget provision to allow both Skyward and Infinite Campus to run the state database. Both firms already keep student databases for individual Wisconsin districts. Officials say Skyward’s budget victory will result in hundreds of new jobs. Had it been left out of the statewide contract, the homegrown Stevens Point firm said it would have had to move a state where it could do business. Texas and Florida were mentioned as possibilities.
Hundreds of pilots flew into Oshkosh yesterday – and thousands more are expected today, as the week-long Experimental Aircraft Association Air-Venture Show begins. Many pilots were angered by a fee to help pay for air traffic controllers that the Federal Aviation Administration used to provide for free. This year, the F-A-A charged the E-A-A almost a half-million dollars to provide 87 controllers for this week’s Oshkosh events. It equals about 45-dollars for each plane that goes in-and-out of Wittman Airport. The cost of the controllers is part of the federal fuel tax for general aviation – and the pilots say the E-A-A is being taxed twice. The organization says the controller fees will cut into the donations they’re able to make with the show’s proceeds. The E-A-A has asked a federal appeals court in Chicago to overturn the fee. A decision is not expected until after the show. The congressman who represents Oshkosh, Republican Tom Petri of Fond du Lac, has asked U-S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to overturn the E-A-A charge. Senate Republican Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma tells the Web site Politico that he spoke with Foxx after a committee meeting last week – and Foxx said he’s thinking about dropping the charge. Petri says the F-A-A’s fee is quote, “misguided and short-sighted.” Over a half-million people are expected to attend the Air-Venture Show, which features numerous forums, displays, air shows, and other performances.
Officials and family members are at a loss to explain why a single-engine plane crashed in Lake Michigan, killing two people. The pilot of the Saturday afternoon crash has been identified as 75-year-old William Gensler of Racine, who ran an aviation company at his home-town airport. His passenger has not been identified. The plane went down in Lake Michigan about a mile-and-a-half east of Cudahy. Divers, rescue boats, and helicopter crews spent over six hours searching for the missing 1975 Piper Arrow. Federal officials are investigating. Dave Mann, general manager of Racine’s Batten International Airport, said Gensler had over 40-thousand hours of flying experience over 42 years. Most of it was spent teaching others to fly. Commercial pilot Pete Pascal said Gensler had the highest rating a pilot could earn. Pascal said he did not know of any mechanical problems with the plane, which he was supposed to fly last week before a trip got canceled. The Coast Guard said Gensler was flying to the E-A-A Air-Venture Show in Oshkosh when the crash occurred – but Mann said he did not believe Gensler was heading there. The week-long E-A-A show begins today.
Wisconsin police officers do a better job than others nationally in arresting murder suspects. According to a review by Gannett Wisconsin Media, officers solved 82-percent of almost 16-hundred killings in the Badger State during the decade ending in 2012. The clearance rate was 17-percent larger than the national figure. Just over 275 murders from that decade in Wisconsin remain unsolved. Gannett said a gun was used in almost half those cases. Investigators say gun murders are harder to solve. That’s because shooters don’t leave their D-N-A behind, as they normally avoid physical contact with their victims. Four-of-every-five unsolved murders in Wisconsin took place in Milwaukee. Most victims were black, and their average age was 33. A New Mexico university study from 2011 found that over half of wrongful deaths are solved in the first 48 hours after they occur. After a year has gone by, there’s less than a one-percent chance they’ll be solved. Still, Wisconsin officials say they never give up on cold cases. West Allis police captain Chris Botsch says motivations change over time, and witnesses may either have a change-or-heart, or drop alliances with suspects they’re protecting. As Botsch puts it, “That’s what we hope to tap into.”