WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: This week is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin
This is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. A statewide tornado drill is set for Thursday to help schools, businesses, and homes practice their responses to a real twister. Also, the National Weather Service has daily lessons about pitfalls to avoid. Today's topic is something lots of folks know all too well about -- flash flooding. It's the Number-One killer during thunderstorms. Eighty-four Americans died from floods a year ago. It's a timely lesson, since thunderstorms are in the forecast statewide -- and thousands of Wisconsinites live along rivers that are swollen from melting snow. The Weather Service notes that two-feet of water is enough to make most cars float, so people should steer clear of all flood waters. Also, authorities warn people about boating or canoeing in rapid rivers. At least a couple people in Wisconsin have had to be saved from raging waters this month. This morning, the Weather Service said the Mississippi River was a half-foot over its banks at Prairie du Chien. The Fox River at Berlin and the Wolf at Shiocton were all above its flood stages at last word.
About 500 Wisconsinites are registered to run in today's Boston Marathon -- which, of course, is more than just a 26-mile race. It's also a sign of a city's resolve to emerge stronger, after a pair of terrorist bombings killed three people and injured 260 at the finish line of last year's marathon. Wisconsin runners say they share in that resolve. Anne Coffman of New Berlin -- who watched the tragedy unfold on T-V last year -- is among today's runners. She said the emotions didn't hit her until last Tuesday, when the first anniversary of the bombings was observed. Yesterday, runners attended church services in downtown Boston. Marquette graduate Cynthia Schwartz left with a blue-and-gold hand-knit scarf. She told W-T-M-J T-V in Milwaukee she was touched that somebody she didn't know would do something like that for her. Normally, the Boston Marathon has a limit of 25-thousand runners. Today, they're letting 36-thousand take part. At least some from Wisconsin never got to finish last year's race -- and they want to complete what they started. Neighboring Minnesota has 615 people running. Over 200 of them posed for a unity photo which appeared in yesterday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
About 96-thousand pounds of Oscar Mayer wieners were recalled on Easter Sunday, because they might contain cheese by mistake. Oscar Mayer is based in Madison and owned by Kraft Foods -- but none of the hot dogs in question were made in Wisconsin. Kraft representative Joyce Hodel said the wieners came from a plant in Columbia Missouri. The U-S-D-A said Oscar Mayer's "Classic Wieners" may have ingredients from the company's "Classic Cheese Dogs." Officials said the product labels were not correct, and they don't mention that the hot dogs in question have pasteurized cheese which contains the known allergen of milk. They have "Use-By" dates of June 16th. There was no immediate word of anyone having an adverse reaction. A consumer caught the mistake and notified Kraft on Good Friday, and the company alerted the federal government on Saturday. Consumers with questions are asked to contact Kraft's consumer relations department.
A popular remnant of Easter will hang around for the next three weeks in Racine. An annual exhibit of Peeps -- the brightly-colored marshmallow candies -- opened on Good Friday at the Racine Art Museum. Spokeswoman Laura Gillespie says it's the museum's most popular annual event. It attracted over four-thousand people last year, and good crowds have already been showing up for the new exhibit. Four of the Peeps are made to look like the Beatles. Another display immortalizes kids in a school choir in Caledonia. Gillespie says the Peep display offers a blast of color -- and it's just what folks need after the long winter.
Spring has definitely sprung in southern Wisconsin, where it was 64-degrees at four o'clock this morning in Racine. However, it's still winter in the far north -- where at least part of last week's nearly foot-and-a-half of snow remains on the ground. The American Birkebeiner (birk-by-ner) was still grooming parts of its cross-country ski course on Saturday near Hayward. Officials said the trail was still quote, "white and ski-able." Utilities in the Duluth-Superior region are waiting until this week to cut off power to those behind on their bills -- even though Wisconsin's winter moratorium on utility shutoffs ended last Wednesday. Folks in parts of the north are still shivering. It was 29 in Superior and Land O'Lakes at four a-m. Most of the north was in the 30's-and-40's. It was generally in the 50's in the state's mid-section, and the 50's and summer-like 60's in the south. The National Weather Service said a slow-moving front started to bring showers to southwest and central areas overnight. The entire state can expect thunderstorms today, with some of the season's warmest temperatures in the 60's-and-70's.
A man who died after his vehicle apparently fell on him near Burlington was identified as 69-year-old John Fischer. The Racine County medical examiner said a preliminary investigation showed that Fischer was working underneath his car -- and a jack twisted, causing the vehicle to fall. An autopsy has yet to determine the exact cause of death. A neighbor noticed that Fischer's garage door was open both Thursday night and Friday morning. The neighbor checked it out, and saw Fischer crushed under the vehicle.
Girl Scouts from western Wisconsin helped give a big Easter surprise to U-S troops when they flew into Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Scouts from the Wisconsin and Minnesota River Valleys handed out boxes of Girl Scout cookies to about 75 soldiers on Saturday night. Members of the 461st Engineering Company had just landed at the Twin Cities, after building schools in the Dominican Republic. Several dozen Girl Scouts greeted them with signs thanking them for their service. The cookie giveaway is part of a national program called "Operation Cookie Care Package." Customers donate boxes of cookies to the troops. About 27-thousand boxes of Girl Scout cookies have been donated nationally so far this year.
Teen suicides are often quietly grieved and shoved under the rug in most communities -- but not in Milwaukee's North Shore suburbs. After three teen suicides last summer, youth minister Margaret Rhody challenged parents to find out why their teens were so overwhelmed -- and to find ways to stop the suicides. Dozens showed up at Holy Family Church in Whitefish Bay for a night of hope-and-healing -- including the parents of two suicide victims, 13-year-old Abby Goldberg and 14-year-old Rachael Salmon. Their friends' parents also joined in the effort. And they created a group which the Journal Sentinel says could be a model for other communities struggling with teen suicides. The group brought in an Iowa psychologist to get ideas of how other places have dealt with the problem. They held an "Out of the Darkness Walk" that raised 10-thousand dollars. They've held seminars -- and they got students involved because they knew that kids would only talk to other kids about the topic. A retreat was held at U-W Milwaukee, where trusted ninth-and-tenth graders were trained in suicide prevention. The group also reviewed a national study showing that suburban teens have higher anxiety and depression than inner-city youths -- and suburban girls are three times more likely to report significant depression.
One of Wisconsin's busiest freeways will begin a new phase of road construction today. Sixteen miles of Interstate-94 will be resurfaced in Racine and Milwaukee counties -- the route that thousands of drivers take between Milwaukee and Chicago each day. The new road work begins in Racine County, close to the Kenosha County border. There will be ramp closures and detours along the way, when necessary. For now, one of the three northbound lanes will be closed during the day -- and two lanes in each direction will be closed late at night, starting at 9:30. It's part of a major rebuilding of I-94 from Milwaukee to the Illinois line. The current phase is scheduled to run through late July, at a cost of almost 10-million dollars.
The brutal winter has Wisconsin wildlife experts working overtime to see how the state's deer herd was damaged. The D-N-R is examining deer killed by vehicles, and they're watching the survival rates of over 200 deer which have radio-tracking collars in northern and eastern zones. Officials said about 30-percent of the collared fawns in the northern Wisconsin forests have died -- along with 15-percent in the eastern farm areas. Adult deer are doing better. Only six-percent of the northern adults with radio collars have died, along with two-percent in the east farmlands. Some of those deer were snapped up by predators -- while others starved to death or were hit by vehicles. The radio-collar review is part of a four-year survival study. The D-N-R is looking for at least 10 deer carcasses from each of the 72 counties, so they can determine the winter's effects on pregnancy rates, fat content, and other key biological signs.