Saturday State News Briefs: Former Walker aid pleads not guiltyWisconsin News
-- A former aid to Governor Scott Walker has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges.
MILWAUKEE - A former aid to Governor Scott Walker has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges.
Walker was Milwaukee County executive when he worked with 48 year old Timothy D. Russell who is accused of stealing more than 21 thousand dollars from a veterans support organization. Russell is also accused of taking smaller amounts of money from two election campaign accounts of candidates for the Milwaukee County Board. Prosecutors maintain he set up a shadow Internet system which other aides to Walker used to perform campaign work on county time. Russell faces two felony charges and one misdemeanor. He entered his not guilty pleas yesterday. A motion for a change of venue was denied. A final pre-trial hearing is set for June 4th.
Hartford police say a 47 year old man died Friday after his car was hit by a train. The accident happened Friday morning. The man was alone in his car and was declared dead on the scene. Police say the slippery road and limited visibility were factors. The victim couldn’t see well since his car’s windows were covered with snow and ice.
A temporary injunction issued in Dane County has stopped a state crackdown on roll-your-own cigarette machines. The owner of Rib Mountain Tobacco and Liquor had filed a lawsuit last year after the state had told machine owners they need manufacturing and distribution permits to operate them. Peterson’s lawyers argue the machine owners sell loose tobacco, but the customers do the manufacturing. Judge Juan Colas granted Peterson’s motion for a temporary injunction, stalling the state’s crackdown and leading to an eventual hearing on a permanent prohibition.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation says it will have four thousand solar panels installed and replace five thousand light bulbs at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Those changes are part of an effort to modernize the architect’s winter home and made a dent in its annual electric bill topping 200 thousand dollars. Taliesin West will be the scene of environmental friendly updates as work starts next month. The Foundation operates the historic home in Arizona as well as Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
Criminal proceedings against a Neenah man have been put on hold after it was determined he is incompetent to stand trial. Christopher Andreas is charged in a Christmas Eve shooting that wounded his brother-in-law. Andreas was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for injuring Christopher Garland in the Town of Clayton. Garland was watching football with his son last December when he was shot and critically wounded. Andreas will be committed to state care for treatment. His father says Andreas suffers from schizophrenia.
Customers of Milwaukee-area retailer Appliance World have been assured they will still get the products they paid deposits on, even though the company’s three stores have been closed. Wisconsin’s consumer protection agency reports it has received more than 90 complaints since the closing. A spokesman for the Trade and Consumer Protection Division of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says it may take several weeks to sort everything out. When the Appliance World stores closed their doors January 28th, it ended 56 years of doing business in the Milwaukee area.
A Milwaukee man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Friday for killing a man who came to his house to buy a TV. 20-year-old Jivonte Jones originally faced life in prison – but a jury convicted him on lesser charges of reckless homicide and armed robbery. Jones was found guilty of killing 18-year-old Oscar Vega in March of last year. Prosecutors said Vega and another man went to an apartment to buy a TV from Jones – but Jones and another man held up the pair at gunpoint. And when Vega chased after Jones, Vega was shot. Besides the prison term, Jones must also spend 15 years under extended supervision.
Two administrators with the Department of Corrections have been demoted after an internal investigation. They were found to have been too lax in their supervision of juveniles on probation. The department announced the two had been reassigned to lower-paying jobs earlier this week after the lengthy investigation. It started with the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman last August by two juveniles. They were on probation at the time.
The parent company of Aurora Sinai Medical Center say the Milwaukee hospital will stay open, despite continuing financial losses. Aurora Health Care reports it is dealing with $20 million in expected losses this year, on top of $30 million in losses last year. Aurora says the decision means the cancer care center at the hospital is staying open, too. Aurora Sinai is one of only two so-called safety net hospitals in Milwaukee for the area’s low-income residents.
Shell Oil Company says it has finally found a hole, just two millimeters in diameter, under Mitchell International Airport. Shell says workers unearthed the broken pipe last Monday, then spent all week fixing it. The leak was detected last month. Two weeks after that, on February 7th, an order was given to remove the damaged section of pipeline. Shell reports about nine thousand gallons of jet fuel spilled and about 60 percent of that spill has been contained.
Wisconsin’s largest business group said the developers of a proposed iron ore mine would have to pay $172-million a year in waste removal fees, if a compromise mining bill is passed. Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce cited an analysis by state budget analysts about a tipping fee that would apply to waste rock which ends up in landfills. But the sponsors of the compromise – state senators Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center and Democrat Bob Jauch of Poplar – said they had no intention to apply the tax to Gogebic Taconite’s proposed mine south of Lake Superior near Hurley. Schultz spokesman Todd Allbaugh said it’s a concern that’s being addressed which quote, “could have been avoided if everyone would have been upfront about this bill in the beginning.” Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce supports a much stronger mining bill passed by the Assembly which does some things the Schultz-Jauch bill doesn’t – like prohibit mining opponents from challenging DNR decisions about a mine before a permit is approved.
Wisconsin’s newest lottery millionaire has claimed his prize. Kurt Glenzer of Stevens Point received an over-sized check today during a news conference in Marshfield. That’s where he bought a Mega Millions’ ticket that won him a million dollars in last Friday night’s drawing. Glenzer co-owns an auto parts store in Stevens Point. And he said he was delivering parts to customers last Wednesday when he stopped at a Weiler convenience store for a soda – and decided to his winning ticket. Glenzer said he didn’t realize until two days after the drawing that he won. He submitted his winning ticket at the Wisconsin Lottery office in Madison yesterday. Glenzer will get $672,500 after taxes. He says he’ll use it to take care of some family issues, and put the rest toward his retirement nest egg.
Wisconsin’s average gas price jumped by over six-cents a gallon in the last day. The Triple-“A” said unleaded regular averaged 3.49-a-gallon this morning throughout the Badger State. That’s up from just under 3.43 yesterday – and it’s 11-cents higher than last Friday. The Eau Claire area has the highest average price among the metro areas surveyed by Triple-“A.” They’re at 3.56-a-gallon today, up six-cents from the day before. Green Bay’s the lowest at 3.39, unchanged from Thursday. Earlier in the week, Madison drivers saw gas skyrocket by 26-cents in just one eight-hour workday. Triple-“A’ spokesman Roy Hinz said Madison was the state’s only area with such a rapid rise – and he couldn’t explain why. Other analysts say the recent rise in gas prices was caused by a jump in crude oil, concerns over Iran’s oil supply, a refinery fire in Washington State, and increased demand by motorists.
Madison’s natural gas utility blames our mild winter for a 21-percent drop in its net income in the final quarter of last year. MG&E Energy, the parent company of Madison Gas-and-Electric, said it made almost nine-and-a-half million dollars from October through December. That’s down from 12-million at the same time a year ago. And the earnings per share dropped from 52-cents to 41-cents. But for the year as a whole, Madison-Gas-and-Electric’s investors made 14-cents a share on their investments, on a total net income of $61-million – over three-million more than the previous year.