Friday State News Briefs: Ski boat bursts into flames on Lake MendotaWisconsin News
-- Witnesses say a $90,000 ski boat was fully engulfed in flames in about 15 minutes this morning on Lake Mendota.
MIDDLETON - Witnesses say a $90,000 ski boat was fully engulfed in flames in about 15 minutes this morning on Lake Mendota.
Four people on board jumped off and were rescued by a nearby fishing boat. The fire was reported just before 10 a.m., about 300 yards off-shore from Middleton’s Captain Bill’s restaurant. The people on the boat say it lost power shortly after launching and they noticed smoke coming from the engine compartment. The boat was a total loss, but no serious injuries were reported.
An inmate at Waupun Correctional Institution faces charges he deliberately spit AIDS-contaminated blood at two guards last June. Thirty-two year old David Czapiewski made a Dodge County Court appearance yesterday. The two corrections officers were treated for exposure to the AIDS virus at Waupun Memorial Hospital. Czapiewski hit both guards in the face while telling them he had cuts in his mouth, so he could infect them with the blood. The inmate was already serving 20 years on a 2006 felony conviction.
It has been a dangerous year for motorcycle riders on Wisconsin roads this summer. The State Department of Transportation Safety reports 15 more fatalities have been recorded this year when compared to the same time period in 2011. One of the reasons could be the fact warm weather in late winter gave the bikers a chance to hit the roads much earlier than usual. And, conditions have been good for riding almost all summer. So far this year a total of 72 people have died in crashes involving motorcycles in Wisconsin.
Two law firms say they’ll file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those who bought defective gasoline that was recalled this week in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. B-P distributed two-point-one million gallons of fuel containing excess polymer residue – and over 10-thousand motorists, mostly in northwest Indiana, complained of car trouble caused by the bad fuel. The company said about 21-thousand gallons were sent to 20 Milwaukee area gas stations – and it was only sold late Monday night and early Tuesday before it was removed. B-P said an unknown number of Wisconsinites reported car problems, but the state’s two consumer agencies said they had no complaints as of yesterday. Also, the defective Wisconsin fuel was only for the mid-and-premium grades, and regular unleaded was not affected. BP has set up two hotlines to help those affected, and it has promised to reimburse customers for their damages. But Indiana attorney Irwin Levin said the call centers have been hard to reach – no information is given unless customers submit data – and victims are not assured that damages would be paid. Indiana lawyer Barry Rooth said people quote, “deserve justice, and a company like BP will be held accountable for its actions.”
A former Milwaukee County Board member was found innocent today of bribery and misconduct, for taking $500 in a sting operation. Jurors deliberated almost an hour and a half before acquitting Johnny Thomas. He was charged after having several conversations with a county official who was pretending to offer a campaign donation on behalf of a contractor. The official, Patrick Farley, asked prosecutors to run the undercover sting after Thomas had delayed a contract for a county bond counselor – while asking for business cards of vendors appearing before county committees. Prosecutors and Thomas refused comment. Juror Rebekah Turner said Farley quote, “took a circuitous route to bring Thomas down,” and she felt strongly that he was not guilty. Thomas was running for the elected Milwaukee city comptroller’s job when he was charged in February – and he scrapped that campaign after the charges came down. A Thomas campaign spokeswoman would not say if he might run for anything in the future.
A 25-year-old Racine man has been found guilty of causing an 88-year-old man’s death in a parking lot dispute. Jurors deliberated for about two hours before they found Richard Lewis guilty of felony murder and battery to an elderly person. Prosecutors said Albert Paragamian bumped into Lewis’s car while backing out of a parking space – and the defendant punched the older man. Paragamian fell and hit his head on the ground. He died about a week later. The incident happened in March of last year. Lewis claimed that Paragamian was reaching for cell phone when he lost his balance, and fell to the ground by himself. Lewis is scheduled to be sentenced October fourth.
Governor Scott Walker and his economic development agency are behind the latest effort to have taxpayers provide venture capital to create jobs in new high-tech firms. At a conference yesterday, it was mentioned that financial and political leaders are working behind the scenes to create a bill that everyone can accept. In the last session, a bill to provide $400-million in venture capital was scrapped. That was after some lawmakers objected to giving $200-million to certified capital companies in search of promising new companies. That plan was similar to what the state did in 1999 – when three out-of-state firms disappeared with millions of tax dollars, while creating just 202 new jobs. Some Republicans were among those who balked at revisiting that idea. Bryan Renk, who runs a trade group for bio-science firms, said problems like that can be avoided this time – and the groups need to present a “unified front” when the issue is brought up in the Legislature again next year. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said it’s exactly what the governor wants. Tom Thieding, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said it’s too early to roll out all the ideas that have been proposed.
It’s not the sweltering heat we saw in July – but parts of southern Wisconsin are expected to get back into the 90’s this afternoon. The National Weather Service said a warm front pushed into western Wisconsin yesterday, and a trough of low-pressure is creating an unstable weather pattern for much of the Badger State. It was 84 in Racine and Kenosha at 11 this morning, and highs in the 80’s were expected this afternoon in most Wisconsin with sticky-and-humid conditions. Thunderstorms were possible through this afternoon in northern and central areas. And another low-pressure system will give us a chance for more rain tomorrow and into Sunday. Tomorrow’s highs are supposed to be similar to today’s – but a weak cold front is due in on Sunday, and forecasters say highs could be about 10 degrees cooler in the 70’s-and-80’s. Dry and mild weather is expected for the early part of next week.
Governor Scott Walker has canceled a special four-day deer hunt in southern Wisconsin’s management zone for chronic wasting disease. The Republican governor issued an executive order this morning which overrides the DNR’s recent approval of the October gun hunt. Agency staffers and the Natural Resources Board granted the special hunt as a way to reduce deer numbers in areas where the animals have been infected by CWD. But Walker said he was following the advice of his so-called “Deer Czar” James Kroll. A team of researchers led by Kroll recommended the ending of the six-year-old October hunt, saying it has a negative impact on deer behavior that results in lower harvests during the traditional nine-day gun season in November. And Kroll said scrapping the October hunt is a quote, “positive first step to move deer management in a positive direction, and demonstrate their commitment to listening to the hunters and landowners of Wisconsin.” A bill approved last year eliminated the four-day October hunt in places outside the CWD zones – and the bill said the hunt could only take place if the governor approves an emergency rule.
Catholics in the Fond du Lac area will say goodbye on Tuesday to a priest killed by a motor vehicle while crossing an expressway. A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday for Father Victor Capriolo. He died Wednesday night while bicycling on the Prairie Trail. It crosses the four-lane bypass on Highway 151 just northeast of Fond du Lac. Authorities said the 67-year-old Capriolo failed to yield to the car on the highway – and they may never know why. The driver, a 74-year-old Fond du Lac woman, will not be cited or charged. A visitation for Capriolo will be held from 2-to-7 p-m on Monday at Holy Family Church in Fond du Lac, with a vigil at seven. Visitations continue on Tuesday for two hours until the 11 a-m service time. Capriolo was the priest coordinator for four parishes in the Holy Family Community. He served the Fond du Lac area for more than a dozen years. Milwaukee Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki said Capriolo had a passion for social teaching and a deep love of the Gospel – and people knew him as somebody who would do anything to help the poor and the disenfranchised.
A man who got international attention for having sex with a dead deer in Superior is facing new charges for a run-in with a police officer. 25-year-old Bryan Hathaway made his first court appearance in Duluth Minnesota this week, on charges that he assaulted an off-duty officer in nearby Hermantown after taking three new cell phones from a car. Hathaway is still on probation in Wisconsin for having sex with a dead deer he found while bicycling in Superior in 2006 – and for shooting an Arabian horse in Douglas County the year before. On Monday of this week, prosecutors said Hermantown officer Kody Vetter was shopping with her daughter when she saw a suspicious man in the back seat of a car parked next to her. She saw the man rummaging through bags, ducking down, and watching for people approaching. She told the man she was a police officer, and not to move while she called 911 for help. Officials said Hathaway tried running away – and when she grabbed him, the man threw her to the pavement. Officers nabbed him a short time later at a nearby car dealership. Hathaway is being held on a 20-thousand-dollar bond on charges of assault, obstructing police, fleeing, and receiving stolen property.
Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan is speaking out against proposed cuts in the military. The Republican vice-presidential candidate told supporters in North Carolina yesterday that Mitt Romney will prevent the cuts from taking effect if he’s elected president. Ryan, the House Budget chairman from Janesville, spoke at Fayetteville – the home of Fort Bragg and large numbers of military families. He said the defense cuts would take effect automatically and across-the-board if Congress does not reach an agreement on a new federal budget in the next few months. In the House, Ryan had voted for such automatic spending cuts – but he later voted to block the reductions.
Paul Ryan will get a huge send-off on Monday before he leaves his hometown of Janesville for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. A send-off rally begins at 10:45 Monday morning at Janesville Craig High School. Ryan, the House Budget chairman, will formally accept his party’s vice-presidential nomination at the convention. Meanwhile, five polls over the last week-and-a-half show that Ryan’s presence on the GOP ticket has helped Romney in Wisconsin. President Obama still leads in three-of-the-five polls, but only by one-to-four points. Romney leads the other two polls by a point – and Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin says the Badger State is definitely considered a toss-up at the moment.
A man killed in a rear-end traffic crash near Sun Prairie was identified yesterday as 20-year-old Conor Dunleavy of Madison. He was a passenger in a car that was rear-ended by another vehicle early Tuesday on Dane County Trunk “N.” Both drivers had non-life-threatening injuries, and the driver of the rear vehicle – a 43-year-old Madison man – is under arrest on a possible charge of homicide by drunk driving. Investigators said alcohol and excessive speed were factors in the crash.
A landmark in downtown Milwaukee started on fire overnight, while it was in the process of being demolished. Fire-fighters were called to the two-building Sydney Hih complex just before one this morning. Two other alarms were sounded as the blaze got more intense. Flames and heavy smoke emerged from the top floor of the tallest building. No injuries have been reported. A non-profit lending agency bought the Sydney Hih complex last fall, while officials were trying to convince the Kohl’s Department Store chain to move its headquarters downtown from Menomonee Falls. But the deal fell through in February. The Sydney Hih complex used to be a commercial district in the 1800’s. It later housed the counter-culture of the 1970’s, and alternative music in the ‘90’s. Some officials wanted to preserve the four-building complex as an historic district – but the Common Council voted 13-2 against the move in late July. Demolition then began two weeks ago. Two of the four buildings are gone, and a third was in the process of being torn down before this morning’s blaze.
A 74-year-old man has died from a farm accident in northwest Wisconsin. Barron County authorities said William Brenizer of Cumberland was backing a tractor into a ditch when it lost control and rolled over twice. The machine rolled on top of Brenizer. He was taken to the Cumberland hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon.
The Oshkosh Corporation is one of three finalists chosen by the Pentagon to make the next generation of combat vehicles. The companies were selected to make a prototype to replace the Humvee for U.S. ground troops. They’ll be lighter – and they’ll have more protective gear and better technology. Oshkosh will get 56-million dollars to build 22 joint light tactical vehicles over the next year. The Pentagon will test the different versions of the vehicles, and will then select a final contractor. If Oshkosh is chosen, it could bring in almost 14-billion-dollars in new defense contracts. The company was flying high when it made military vehicles at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the defense business at Oshkosh has dropped since then.
Over 10-thousand motorists have complained to B-P about car problems caused by defective gasoline sold between southeast Wisconsin and northwest Indiana. Most of the bad gas was sold in Indiana for eight days ending Tuesday. But about 21-thousand gallons were delivered to 20 B-P-branded stations in Metro Milwaukee. The company said it was sold only from 10 p-m Monday until 6:45 Tuesday morning before it was taken off the market. Still, B-P received an unknown number of complaints from Milwaukee area motorists about car problems. But company spokesman Scott Dean said it was a relatively small number, compared to the problems reported in northwest Indiana. The gasoline was shipped from B-P’s refinery in Whiting Indiana with high levels of sticky polymer residue. All grades of fuel were affected – but in the Milwaukee area, only the mid-grade and premium fuels had problems. B-P has said that motorists who think they bought the bad fuel should have a mechanic check their vehicles, and call one of two B-P hotlines. Repair shops in Indiana were flooded with business earlier this week, but Milwaukee area mechanics said they didn’t see many problems. Also, Wisconsin’s consumer protection agency and the Justice Department said they have not received complaints about the bad fuel. More information is available online at BP Response-Dot-Com.