Afternoon State News Briefs: Apartment building in West Allis evacuatedWisconsin News
-- When construction workers hit a high-pressure gas main in West Allis just before noon, an apartment building had to be evacuated.
WEST ALLIS - When construction workers hit a high-pressure gas main in West Allis just before noon, an apartment building had to be evacuated.
We Energies crews got the gas shut off to the area in about two hours and traffic was flowing through the nearby intersection of South 116th Street and West Greenfield Avenue shortly after that. The construction workers were digging a hole for a temporary post when the accident occurred. People living in the nearby Courtyard Apartments were housed in a Milwaukee County Transit bus and a furniture store until it was safe to return.
The U.S. Justice Department reports it plans to monitor tomorrow’s primary election in Wisconsin. Monitors will be looking for discriminatory voting practices, harassment and intimidation. A similar operation is being conducted in Florida. Polling sites in Milwaukee will be the focus of federal efforts in the Badger State. Turnout for tomorrow’s primary in Wisconsin is expected to be about 20 percent, meaning a little over 870,000 thousand voters going to the polls, according to a spokesperson for the Government Accountability Board.
After getting a lot of love at Wisconsin appearances yesterday, Janesville Congressman Paul Ryan found out what it might be like on the campaign trail today in Iowa. He stepped up on the soapbox at the Iowa State Fair to loud applause, but then two people started trying to shout him down. Ryan joked about the shouting, while beginning his presentation to a crowd estimated to number in the thousands. Politicians are usually given 20 minutes to make their speech, but Ryan was done in about 12 minutes. The two women were removed from the front row by an Iowa State Patrol officer.
Meanwhile, President Obama is pointing the finger at Ryan for holding up congressional approval of the next federal farm bill. Obama was in Council Bluffs, Iowa as part of a Democratic bus tour. The five-year package of federal farm programs has passed both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee. But GOP House leaders are holding it up due to a dispute over spending on food stamps. Republicans have also scrapped a one-year extension of the current Farm Bill while the dispute’s being worked out. As the House budget chairman and Mitt Romney’s new running mate, Obama said Ryan deserves the blame for the delay. In prepared remarks, Obama planned to say quote, “If you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this Farm Bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.” Romney’s camp says it knows all too well what the Farm Bill means. Spokesman Ryan Williams said quote, “No one will work harder to defend farmers and ranchers than the Romney-Ryan ticket.” The farm bill remains in limbo while Congress is on its August recess.
“These Republicans don’t like Medicare.” That’s how Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan and his supporters were described today by President Obama’s senior political adviser. John Axelrod said on “CBS This Morning” that Mitt Romney’s choice of Ryan as his running mate was similar to John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin four years ago. Axelrod said he remembered the excitement created at first, when McCain chose a Tea Party favorite. But the national media was relentless in scrutinizing the former Alaska governor – and Alexrod said Ryan is quote, “not going to be a plus for Mr. Romney.” As many expected, Obama and his fellow Democrats immediately went after Ryan’s budget proposals from the past two years that would have reduced Medicare, food stamps, and other federal spending had they passed. Axelrod said Ryan is quote, “a genial fellow, but his views are quite harsh.” On the same TV network last night, Ryan and Romney told Bob Schieffer on “60 Minutes” that all the Democrats can do is attack, because they doesn’t have a record to run on. And Ryan said he cared enough about Medicare to make sure it doesn’t run out of money in the coming decades.
More of Wisconsin’s products are being sold overseas. Federal officials said today that Wisconsin exports jumped by eight-percent in the first half of this year, compared to the same time a year ago. The U.S. International Trade Administration said a larger amount of Wisconsin products went to countries like India, Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, and Australia. State exports included machinery, computers and other electronics, transportation equipment, chemicals, and food. The head of the U.S. Commercial Service in Milwaukee, Damian Felton, said there’s been an increase in the numbers of smaller firms making new sales abroad.
A ceremony was held in Milwaukee today to highlight renovations for a new water technology facility. A former seven-story warehouse is being converted into an incubator where new water technology firms can get their starts. It will also have research facilities for the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, as well as Badger Meter and the A.O. Smith Corporation. It’s a $20-million project, being funded both publicly and privately. Work began in July on renovating the 98-thousand square foot facility, which will be called the Global Water Center. It’s expected to open in about a year. Governor Scott Walker joined Milwaukee water technology advocates at a ground-breaking ceremony today. He said it’s a great example of how government is working together with the private sector. Badger Meter CEO Richard Meeusen said the facility would highlight Metro Milwaukee’s efforts to become a worldwide leader in water technology business.
Authorities in south-central Wisconsin say a 13-year-old girl might have died from medical problems while swimming in a village pool in Cambria. Columbia County sheriff’s deputies are investigating the incident, which occurred on Saturday. Officials said the Cambria pool will stay closed until the state gives an okay to reopen it.
Wisconsin’s largest metro area reports a 29-percent increase in home sales last month, compared to a year ago. Realtors in the Metro MLS said there were almost 17-hundred existing homes sold in July in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties. That’s almost 380 more home sales than in the same month the previous year. The MLS said the supply of available homes dropped slightly last month in Metro Milwaukee. That continued a trend which started at the beginning of the year. The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors said the higher home sales were the result of relatively low prices, low interest rates, and growing consumer confidence in the economy.
A number of Wisconsin public schools will test the state’s new evaluation system for teachers this fall. The principal of Julian Thomas Elementary School in Racine will take part in the test, along with three of the school’s instructors. Officials will then provide feedback, which the state will use in developing the new system. The Department of Public Instruction plans to roll it out statewide by the fall of 2014. The new set-up will evaluate teachers based on both classroom observations and how their students perform on standardized tests and other measures. Under the current Racine teacher contract, only principals and assistant principals can evaluate teachers with their observations. The plan to use test scores helped the state obtain a partial waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act a few weeks ago.
Authorities said a six-year-old girl was stabbed by her mother – and the mother then wounded herself. It happened around 2:30 this morning at a home in Fitchburg, just south of Madison. Officials said the girl had life-threatening injuries, and was hospitalized in critical condition at last word. The mother is expected to recover, and she was in serious condition for now. Authorities said the woman ran to a neighbor’s house and admitted what she did – and the neighbor called 911. Fitchburg police lieutenant Todd Stetzer said the child was stabbed multiple times in her chest-and-back. And the mother also had multiple stab wounds. Investigators are trying to determine what triggered the incident.
A boater who was reported missing overnight on Lake Michigan in Racine County was found safe on land a little before eight this morning. Authorities said a news media person who was covering the search found the 49-year-old man. That man later told officers he was knocked out of his 18-foot aluminum fishing boat by a large wave – and another man was still in the boat at the time. That person swam to shore and told a Wind Point police officer that his partner was missing. He fell while the boat was close to a lighthouse at Wind Point. The boat was recovered during the search, but it was empty. The Coast Guard had joined local rescue divers and a helicopter from Winthrop Harbor, Illinois in a search that lasted close to five hours.