State News Roundup: 60 people died on Wisconsin roads in JulyWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin traffic deaths are up by 15-percent so far this year.
Wisconsin traffic deaths are up by 15-percent so far this year. The state D-O-T said 333 people were killed in highway crashes from January-through-July. That’s 44 more than a year ago, and eight more than the average for the past five years. Last month, 60 people died on Wisconsin roads – nine more than the year before, and eight more than the five-year average. State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, who heads the D-O-T’s safety bureau, says there are normally more fatal crashes during the summer in road construction zones. And even though highway workers are at risk, it’s the motorists who are killed in three-of-every-four instances. Huxtable says rear-end crashes are the most common in work zones, as drivers speed, tailgate, and don’t pay attention to what’s ahead. Also, motorcycle deaths are piling up in Wisconsin due to the early spring and the longer riding season. Fifty-four motorcycle riders and eight passengers were killed as of the end of July – along with 23 pedestrians and four bicyclists.
Green Bay Police say a 15-year-old boy just happened to be in the “wrong place at the wrong time” when he was shot-to-death late Tuesday night. Seven people were arrested, and they’re due in Brown County Circuit Court today. Charges have not been filed yet. Police have asked that the 18-year-old gunman be charged with first-degree intentional homicide, and that the other six be charged as parties to the incident. Officials said the suspects went to a home in Green Bay to confront a man they thought was visiting there. And as Teller and a friend were leaving, the suspects had just pulled up and got out a car – and that was apparently when the gunman fired two shots from a .38-caliber revolver. One missed Jeremy’s friend, but the other bullet hit him in the back. On Wednesday, police were told that the suspects were at home in nearby Oneida. Five people were arrested that day, and two more yesterday.
The number of contaminated home water wells has grown to 17, in the wake of a gasoline pipeline break near Jackson almost two-and-a-half weeks ago. The West Shore Pipeline Company said yesterday that it sampled 131 private wells near the place where 52-thousand gallons of gas leaked on July 17th. West Shore has tried to prevent the underground gas from spreading, by putting in shallow monitoring wells around the site. Corporate safety director Patrick Hodgins says they’re drilling at various depth levels – and when they find gasoline, they immediately pull it out with a vacuum truck. Meanwhile, West Shore has set up a claims center in Jackson where those affected by the gas spill can get help. The pipeline was down for five days. And after that, crews removed over seven tons of contaminated soil from two properties near the line.
Employers and their workers in southeast Wisconsin paid their smallest increase in health costs in at least 10 years – but it was still three times the inflation rate. An annual survey by H-C Trends showed that families in the Milwaukee area paid 5-to-7 percent more than a year ago, after double-digit hikes in previous years. And the largest companies had the smallest jumps in health costs. Families paid around 15-thousand dollars for their coverage this year. And singles paid in the neighborhood of 58-hundred dollars. The survey shows that employees paid an average of 20-to-25-percent of their premiums. But for those making 44-thousand dollars a year, the average cost of family insurance gobbled up over a-third of their wages. The Milwaukee area health survey showed that almost one-of-every-five employers increased their workers’ deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. H-C Trends said the average family deductible is now 42-hundred-50 dollars a year. Milwaukee benefit consultant Rich Yurkowitz says the smaller cost increases are partially due to the shaky economy – and the fact that employee wellness programs are starting to show success. He also said higher deductibles are resulting in fewer doctor visits. And health providers appear to be working harder to limit their cost increases.