Saturday State News Briefs: Gas prices jumping throughout MidwestWisconsin News
-- Gas prices in Wisconsin have jumped more than a quarter in the last week – and that’s actually better than the trend for the rest of the Upper Midwest.
Gas prices in Wisconsin have jumped more than a quarter in the last week – and that’s actually better than the trend for the rest of the Upper Midwest.
A combination of pipeline and refinery problems are being blamed. The national average price was up eight cents, but Michigan, Illinois and Indiana all saw increases of more than 30 cents. One pipeline ruptured a week ago yesterday in southern Wisconsin. And, equipment problems have shut down three refineries, including two in Illinois.
Prosecutors charge a 16 year old boy from Campbellsport with felony second-degree reckless injury for shooting an arrow which hit a small girl in the back. Doctors say seven year old Aryanna Schneeburg is lucky she survived the May 20th accident. Teenager Casey Bennett originally told investigators he didn’t know who shot the girl, but later admitted he was trying to hit a squirrel, missed the shot and heard the girl scream. Bennett also is charged with misdemeanor obstruction of an officer for lying about the shot.
Dozens of Wisconsin farmers have reportedly applied to the Department of Natural Resources for emergency permits to pump irrigation water from creeks and streams. So far, the state has reportedly issued about 50 of the permits, mostly in southern and central Wisconsin. Struggling farmers need the additional water sources to deal with the summer’s drought conditions. The permits are good for 30 days and the DNR’s program ends next month. Farmers have to keep track of stream levels and they are forced to stop if the water falls below a predetermined level.
A judge has ordered 63 year old Ralph Lang to stand trial on charges he was plotting to shot a doctor at the Madison Planned Parenthood clinic. He was bound over for trial during a Friday hearing and he has a competency hearing scheduled August 15th. Lang entered a not guilty plea to charges of attempted first-degree murder. Lang came to the attention of Madison police when he accidentally fired his gun in his motel room while loading it. He reported the shot to the front desk because he was afraid the shot could have entered another room. Lang also faces federal charges.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he hasn’t ruled out making an endorsement in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He says he still has about a week and a half to decide. Walker is immensely popular with Wisconsin’s Republican voters, meaning his endorsement would be very valuable in the tight race. He has remained neutral so far. The governor has complained the four main candidates have spent too much time attacking each other, and too little on talking about their differences with Democrat Tammy Baldwin.
U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde cleared his campaign schedule today, so he could talk to attorneys about a possible lawsuit over a TV ad put out by an independent group. The Americans for Job Security took out the ad, saying a computer software company owned in part by the Republican Hovde took over two-million dollars in federal stimulus money. Hovde’s campaign denied it earlier in the week. It said the company’s business customers might have taken stimulus cash – but not e-Plus, of which Hovde serves as a board member. Hovde says he blames his primary opponent Tommy Thompson for the ad. He said Thompson’s campaign and the Job Security group have use the same consulting firm – and Hovde said it’s clear the two coordinated the ad, even though such coordination is illegal. Thompson consultant Darrin Schmitz said he hasn’t done any work for the Americans for Job Security in four years – and the group’s president confirmed that today. But Hovde said the connection was still clear. He said quote, “Are they all going to play us as fools, or little kids? … This is the very heart of why our political system is broken.” Hovde and Thompson and running in a four-way Republican Senate primary on August 14th. Also today, GOP candidate Mark Neumann received a major endorsement from the Tea Party Express – which has been helping conservatives win GOP primaries around the country.
Fond du Lac County prosecutors charge a counselor at the YMCA’s Camp Matawa with sexual assault. They say 18-year old Troy Orthmann assaulted a 12-year old boy at the camp in Campbellsport. Orthmann is accused of touching the victim’s genitals. The South Milwaukee man was ordered not to have contact with the boy and no unsupervised contact with children younger than 18, except his siblings.
A federal appeals court has told the NCR Corporation to pay for the dredging of harmful P-C-B’s from the Fox River near Green Bay, while a battle continues over which paper firms will pay in the end. The federal EPA ruled that a dozen paper companies were responsible for placing cancer-causing PCB’s into the river as part of their operations in the 1950’s-and-‘60’s. Those firms have been wrangling over the matter in court ever since. A dredging project to remove the PCB’s had been taking place for three years, until it was halted this spring. In May, Federal Judge William Griesbach got the project going again by ordering NCR to remove at least 660,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Fox River this summer. The company has been doing that while appealing the judge’s order. Today, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejected NCR’s claim that it did more than its share of the project – and it should not have to do more.
Wisconsin’s largest printing company is cutting more jobs at its plant in Dubuque Iowa. Quad-Graphics says it will lay off 50-to-60 employees by the end of the year, in an effort to make the plant more efficient. Quad cut 24 other jobs at the Dubuque plant in May. After the final cuts are made, spokeswoman Claire Ho says about 200 workers will remain at Dubuque. She said the company started notifying the affected employees on Wednesday. They’ll get at least 30 days’ notice. They’ll be offered severance packages or jobs at other Quad-Graphics printing plants around the country.
A Green Bay man is scheduled to be sentenced October second, after he was convicted in the death of his girlfriend’s baby daughter. A Brown County jury found 29-year-old Daniel Vega guilty of two felony child abuse charges. But the jurors acquitted him of first-degree reckless homicide. According to authorities, Vega claimed that 13-month-old Lily Tebeau fell from a bed last August. But doctors said the injuries did not match the claim – and she had a skull fracture and severe head trauma. Vega was arrested in Phoenix last December.
State Senate Democrats are using their newfound majority to try and whip together a mining bill for the next session that would not relax the state’s environmental laws. Janesville Democrat Tim Cullen is the new chair of the Senate’s Select Mining Committee. He tells the Madison Capital Times that the panel should work on a package to shorten the time period for mining companies to get state permits, without easing environmental restrictions. A bill to streamline the permit process was killed in the Senate this spring. That was after Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz broke ranks from his party and opposed the relaxation of environmental protections. The bill’s defeat caused Gogebic Taconite to scrap a large iron ore mine it was planning in Ashland and Iron counties. Since then, there have been behind-the-scenes discussions on a new mining package. But last week, a letter surfaced from the state’s largest business group which called for a halt to all mining talks until after the November elections. The Wisconsin Manufacturers-and-Commerce said it wanted to limit any talks of compromises, so the GOP would have a better chance of passing its original bill if it wins back the majority. But Cullen says a modified bill is exactly what he seeks for the next session – and believes Schultz would vote for what Democrats come up with. Also, Cullen says he wants to hear from all affected parties – including Indian tribes, which said they were ignored by Republicans last time around. Despite WMC’s recent letter, Cullen said he would like input from that group as well.
A judge in Appleton has said no to dropping a lawsuit against the Green Bay Catholic Diocese filed by two victims who were molested by a former priest. In May, a jury awarded $700,000 to Todd and Troy Merryfield, after finding that the church committed fraud by not telling them about Father John Feeney’s pedophile past. The church found that a juror was biased, and Judge Nancy Krueger ordered a new trial on that basis. She also threw out the damage award. But the church has also made several arguments for dropping the Merryfields’ suit altogether. Their latest claim was that evidence was damaged, because the victims waited too long to take the matter to court. But Judge Krueger didn’t buy that argument. And the new trial is still on, but a date has not been set.