WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Wood products in northern Wisconsin needs more rail service to ship its goods
The wood products industry in northern Wisconsin needs more rail service to ship its goods, at a time when railroads have been pulling out of the region. The pro-business Walker administration does not have many answers on this one. State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says his agency knows the concerns. However, he told the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission in Rhinelander that state dollars are very limited -- and with new highways and mass transit competing for those dollars, the key is to set priorities that best serve the state as a whole. Also, Gottlieb says there's not much the state can do to stop railroads from abandoning shorter lines. The Canadian National is seeking federal approval to abandon a rail line from Crandon to Argonne. Since the railroads were deregulated, Gottlieb says they're investing in more profitable locations. That leaves out much of sparsely-populated northern Wisconsin, and Gottlieb agrees that it's hurting the region's effort to grow its economy. The Transit Commission is trying to acquire rail cars to make it more feasible for a railroad to operate in the Northwoods. The panel says many wood products' firms would like to ship by rail because it's cheaper than trucking -- and it's less damaging to the highways.
The fall primary elections are two weeks from tomorrow -- and two candidates have switched parties to try and defeat Wausau House Republican Sean Duffy. Don Raihala got 15-percent of the primary vote in 2010, when he ran as a Democrat for the Seventh District House seat. He'll face Duffy in the G-O-P primary on August 12th. Mike Krsiean has run as both a Republican and Libertarian for the north central Wisconsin House seat. This time, he'll run as a Democrat to take on Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund -- who's been endorsed by a number of groups including the Sierra Club and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Duffy is going for his third two-year term in the House. He replaced retiring Democrat Dave Obey almost four years ago.
One of the world's largest aviation conventions goes into full swing today in Oshkosh. The Experimental Aircraft Association's week-long Air-Venture Show takes place at Wittman Airport in Oshkosh. Yesterday, a short ceremony was held to honor E-A-A founder Paul Poberezny, who died a few weeks after last year's show at age 91. Poberezny's story will be featured all week at the E-A-A's Welcome Center for the hundreds of thousands attending the Air-Venture Show. The airplanes that circle the parachute team which opens the daily air shows will have a salute to Poberezny -- as well as a dinner tomorrow night for the E-A-A's lifetime members. This year's highlight is a performance by the Air Force Thunderbirds, who will make their first appearance at Oshkosh thanks to an expansion of the aerobatic box which they use to perform. The crowd line is also being adjusted to accommodate the Thunderbirds.
More than 100 motorcyclists joined Governor Scott Walker on a ride in the southeast third of Wisconsin. Walker has taken previous motorcycle trips throughout the state to promote Milwaukee County when he was the county executive. This weekend's truncated version highlighted the Republican governor's re-election campaign. On Saturday, Walker and his supporters rode from Kenosha to Rothschild, near Wausau. Yesterday, they headed south to Fond du Lac, and then to Madison. At Fond du Lac, it was raining heavily when they stopped at the city Harley-Davidson dealership. Walker said that as he meets voters, he hopes they'll realize the state is better off today than four years ago. Walker is in a tight re-election battle with Democrat Mary Burke. Last week's Marquette law school poll gave Walker a one-point lead among registered voters, and Burke a one-point lead among likely voters -- although about half of those polled still didn't know enough about the challenger to form an opinion about her.
Two bands of thunderstorms rumbled through Wisconsin yesterday, causing at least some damage. The Wisconsin Rapids area had up to tennis-ball-sized hail early in the day. A storage shed flipped over and some trees fell in Arpin, almost 15 miles northwest of Rapids. The second band of storms went through yesterday afternoon. Jackson in Washington County had winds close to 50-miles-an-hour, causing a large tree branch to fall at West Bend. Sheboygan had one-inch hail. Parts of far northeast Wisconsin had small hail. Some areas of Wisconsin had more than a half-inch of rain. After the storms cleared out, cooler air moved in from the north. Parts of northern Wisconsin dropped into the mid-40's as of four this morning. A dry and pleasant day is in store for most of the Badger State, with highs in the 70's under clear to partly cloudy skies.
A woman near Janesville may have been trapped for up to 20 minutes under a riding lawn mower before somebody saw and tried freeing her. The woman died from the weekend mishap, which occurred in the Rock County town of Janesville. Sheriff's officials said the 65-year-old woman was mowing near a small culvert when she drove too close to the incline, and the machine overturned onto her. After the witness tried freeing the woman, rescuers completed the job and took her to a Janesville hospital. She died there a short time later. The victim's name was not immediately released.