Saturday State News Briefs: Wisconsin Christmas tree arrives at White HouseWisconsin News
-- The first White House Christmas tree in eight years that came from Wisconsin arrived today at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
WASHINGTON D.C. - The first White House Christmas tree in eight years that came from Wisconsin arrived today at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Forever-greens’ tree farm near Neshkoro provided the 19-foot balsam fir. Michelle Obama, her daughters Sasha and Malia, and the family dog Bo saw the tree come up the White House driveway on a horse-drawn carriage. The Obamas took a good look at it, and then gave it a “thumbs up.” The tree will be put up in the Blue Room, as the center-piece of the White House holiday decorations. Tom and Sue Schroeder own the Forever-greens’ tree farm – and they were selected after winning both state-and-national contests. It’s the seventh time Wisconsin has supplied the White House Christmas tree since the national competition began in 1966.
The city of Milwaukee takes steps to end the practice called “triple-dipping.” Right now, at least two dozen city employees are earning a city paycheck, while drawing one city pension and building credit toward a second. That’s a legal practice in Milwaukee, but the Common Council is expected to change the plan for any city worker hired after next month. Such a change wouldn’t affect the 32 city employees already on track to collect a second pension. The top earner in the current situation is election commission head Sue Edman, who is paid 83 thousand dollars a year in salary, while drawing another 76 thousand in pension as a retired police captain. Her combined $159,000 income is $12,000 more than Mayor Tom Barrett is paid.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiners office confirms three recent infant deaths it has investigated involved co-sleeping. Autopsies were performed on the infants who died this month in what has been called unsafe sleep environments. The autopsies showed no evidence of foul play. The most recent case involves a two month old boy found dead last Wednesday after he spent a night co-sleeping with his mother. Published reports indicate the dead children run the number of deaths blamed on unsafe sleeping environments to 11 so far this year in Milwaukee County.
Authorities report no immediate threat of pollution from a barge which has run aground in Lake Michigan. The U.S. Coast Guard is handling the accident near Sheboygan. It’s believed the barge is carrying a cargo of rocks. It was being towed to Manitowoc last week when it broke away from its tugboat and the crew wasn’t able to regain control in conditions of rough seas and high winds. Coast Guard investigators are expected to remain on the scene, monitoring, until the barge can be re-floated and examined for damage.
Wisconsin Democrats accused Republicans today of trying to create hysteria, by asking stores to call police if Walker recall petitioners don’t leave their properties if they’re asked to do so. The GOP also asked Black Friday shoppers to report any problems on the party’s “Recall Integrity Center” Web site. But a spokeswoman for United Wisconsin, which is heading the recall effort for the governor and lieutenant governor, said their petitioners are staying on public property near malls and other busy areas.
It’s been three years since deer hunters found the remains of a woman in Fond du Lac County. But the person has still not been identified, and sheriff’s detectives say they’ll keep working on the case until it’s solved. Officials have released dental records and a DNA profile. They’ve shown what her hair and face might look like, as well as the clothes she was wearing. They’ve also had the case featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” and they created a Facebook page – but their leads have never panned out. The woman’s remains were found partially-submerged in a shallow, frozen creek in the Fond du Lac County town of Ashford on November 23rd of 2008. The cause of the woman’s death was never made official – although the case had been considered a homicide in the beginning.
Authorities near Appleton are trying to determine how a horse made it onto a highway, and was injured by a car. Officials said a veterinarian euthanized the horse – and it was not immediately known who owned the animal. The crash happened last night at the intersection of Highway 47 and Double-“J” in the Outagamie County town of Grand Chute. Officers debated whether to euthanize the horse before calling a veterinarian and having it done. A baby in the car was covered with glass after the mishap – but the infant was not hurt.
Former Milwaukee business executive Sue Sachdeva has sold her home for almost two-thirds of its assessed value. The Milwaukee Business Journal said Lars and Megan Hickey bought the Mequon residence for $500,000. And $268,000 of that will help pay back some of the $34-million Sachdeva embezzled from the Koss Corporation when she was the financial vice president. The property was assessed at $780,000 in 2009. A federal court had ordered that Sachdeva repay the embezzled funds that were used to improve her home. She’s currently serving an 11-year prison term for the crime. Earlier, about 680-thousand-dollars from Sachdeva’s retirement account was repaid to the Koss Corporation, which makes stereo head-phones. The U.S. Marshals Service has been auctioning off various pieces of high-end clothing and other items she bought with the stolen funds – and those auction proceeds are also being repaid to Koss.
Governor Scott Walker’s office announced a new Web site this morning to help Wisconsinites deal with winter. It’s called “Ready Wisconsin,” and it offers plenty of information – including the best way to make an emergency kit. Todd Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management says you should have a kit in your vehicle – because it can save your life. He said you should have things like blankets, flash-lights, and shovels at the ready at all times. NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth of Cambridge is featured on the Ready Wisconsin Web site – and he’s urging folks to sign up there for a free emergency kit. The address is ReadyWisconsin.wi.gov.