WISCONSIN STATE NEWS BRIEFS: Heat advisories in place for Western Wisconsin
EAU CLAIRE - The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories from now until 9 p.m Thursday for the Eau Claire region in western Wisconsin – and until seven on Friday night for about the southern third of the state including La Crosse and Sheboygan. Forecasters say the heat index could hit 105 in the advisory areas.
The entire state is predicted to have hot weather at least into Friday, with highs with mostly in the 90’s each day and the 80’s in the north. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for tomorrow and Thursday. The heaviest storms are predicted for Thursday, but it’s too early to tell if we’ll get severe weather. By noon today, it was already 92 in La Crosse and 91 in Boscobel. La Crosse had the highest heat index during the lunch hour, with 98. In Wausau, eight libraries have been designated as cooling center. Wausau public works officials are telling their outdoor workers to stay hydrated, pace themselves, and take breaks.
The almost-daily protest sing-alongs continue at the State Capitol, and police are now using bullhorns to get the Solidarity Singers to follow a federal judge’s order from last week. A Journal Sentinel reporter said the police could barely be heard over today’s noon-hour sing-along. Federal Judge William Conley upheld much of the Walker administration’s requirement to get permits for Capitol demonstrations. However, he raised the minimum group size for getting permits to 20 people instead of the administration’s previous limit of four. The Solidarity Singers are a bigger group than that. They’ve been singing anti-Walker protest songs in the Capitol Rotunda almost daily since the spring 2011 protests over the near-elimination of public union bargaining. Earlier this year, a Dane County judge ruled that only organizers of unapproved protests could be cited for not having a permit. In April, the Walker administration responded by toughening its rules, allowing spectators and participants of unlicensed demonstrations to be cited if they don’t leave.
A jury in Milwaukee watched a video today of John Spooner arguing with a 13-year-old neighbor, before shooting him to death. The 76-year-old Spooner is on trial for killing young Darius Simmons in May of 2012, claiming that the boy broke into the man’s home and stole his guns. Prosecutors showed jurors a video of the disturbance, and then the shooting – all taken by Spooner’s private surveillance camera. The defense does not argue that Spooner killed Simmons. But lawyer Franklyn Gimbel says Spooner didn’t mean it – and there’s not enough evidence to support his charge of first-degree intentional homicide. Also, Gimbel claims Spooner was insane and had pneumonia at the time of the slaying. Spooner is white and Simmons is black. A couple years ago, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH organization wanted hate crime charges filed, which never happened. Also, the judge reminded jurors that this case is different from the one involving George Zimmerman – the Florida man acquitted of killing an unarmed black teen.
Funeral services will be held Friday afternoon at Milton High School for a former police chief in that community who was killed in a traffic crash. 61-year-old Terry Hawkins died Thursday when his vehicle was struck in the rear, during a chain reaction pile-up on Interstate-39-90 near Janesville. The State Patrol said he was slowing down while crews were cleaning up another traffic crash. Visitations will be held Friday from 11-to-1 at the Milton High School auditorium. The service will follow. Hawkins was Milton’s police chief from 1990-through-2004. A memorial fund has been set up in his name at Milton’s First Community Bank.
A plea deal is in the works for a Madison man accused of trying to burn his wife, after he suspected her of having an affair with her boss – former state Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith. A trial that was scheduled for next Monday in the case of Andrew Spear has been called off. Spear is now scheduled to enter a plea on Friday. No details of the plea bargain have been released. Spear was originally charged with attempted homicide and seven other counts. Prosecutors said Spear took his wife to a storage unit at his woodworking shop last August where he doused her gasoline, beat her, and tried setting her on fire. She denied an affair. Smith said nothing was ever amiss in his working relationship with his staff attorney Mary Spear. Smith resigned earlier this year.