Thanksgiving Day State News Briefs: PSC delays new area code for NEW regionThe Wisconsin Public Service Commission has delayed the implementation of a new telephone area code for northeastern Wisconsin.
MADISON - The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has delayed the implementation of a new telephone area code for northeastern Wisconsin.
Four years ago the state regulators decided to give new phone customers in the 920 area code a 274 prefix to make sure there was an adequate supply of numbers for the region. The 274 prefix was to go into effect last year, but the state held off. The commission now says the economic slowdown has also slowed the demand for new numbers and the longevity of the 920 area code has been extended. Now, the regulators feel the 920 numbers won’t run out until 2017.
A Milwaukee County judge has granted a prosecution request to delay sentencing for a former aide to Governor Scott Walker. Darlene Wink entered a guilty plea to charges she worked on a political campaign while she was supposed to be working on her county job in Walker’s office. He was county executive at the time. The prosecution asked for the delay because it wants Wink to testify against Tim Russell on December 3rd. Wink’s sentencing has been postponed to January 10th.
The Oneida Nation says the deaths of 25 buffalo two months ago in Outagamie County can be blamed on dehydration. Tribal officials say the water supply to the herd got cut off, but it’s not clear how that happened. One employee has reportedly been disciplined for failure to follow policy and check on the herd’s well-being. Broadcast reports indicate a lock has been attached to the pump to stop anyone from turning it off.
Seven credit unions and one bank in southeastern Wisconsin have been robbed in just over a month. The Milwaukee office of the FBI is asking for the public’s health in identifying the serial robbers who may be responsible for those crimes. Witnesses in six of the eight robberies said the suspects showed a handgun while sticking up the locations. Several of the institutions are offering rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbers.
A Minnesota man accused of murdering his girlfriend in Weston will return to court January 3rd to enter a plea. Richi Vue of St. Paul is accused of shooting Lee Xiong to death in her bedroom last month. The two had allegedly argued over a drug deal earlier in the day on October 13th. A 14 year old living in the same apartment made the initial call for help. Vue now says the gun went off by accident. He was captured in Clark County, about six hours after the call first went out. Vue is being held in jail on a million dollar cash bond.
Metro Milwaukee lost 4,500 jobs from September to October, and Green Bay lost three-thousand jobs during that same time period. That’s according to preliminary federal data released this afternoon by the state’s Workforce Development agency. La Crosse lost 800 jobs, and three other metros – Eau Claire, Appleton, and Racine – each lost 400 jobs or less. The figures include both public and private positions. Wausau had the biggest reported job gains for October, with a-thousand additions. Janesville added 800 jobs, and Sheboygan and Oshkosh-Neenah had 100-to-200 jobs added. Madison and Fond du Lac reported no changes in their preliminary job figures, which are based on limited employer surveys and are subject to occasional large revisions. The state also said Iron County was the only one to have an increase in its unadjusted unemployment rate from September to October. It rose one-tenth of a point to 9.1 percent. Rates fell in all 12 metros – and they ranged from 7.1 percent in Janesville to 4.1 in the Madison area.
Flight delays plagued Wisconsin’s largest airport all yesterday. Flight Stats.com said early as of yesterday afternoon that three flights from Milwaukee were cancelled– all of them to Chicago – and 33 other flights were delayed. The site also mentioned that 20 planes arriving in Milwaukee report delays, and there were four cancellations. Chicago has been hit the hardest by yesterday morning’s dense fog. Over 200 flights to-and-from the Windy City were canceled as of early afternoon, and another 700 were delayed. It put a monkey wrench into one of the busiest flying days of the year. The Triple-“A” said 64,000 people from Wisconsin alone were planning to fly home to their families for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving started early for hundreds of Wisconsin students yesterday. Dense fog forced several school districts to call off their classes. Visibility was down to zero in some areas, according to the National Weather Service. Schools in the Black Hawk, Darlington, Dodgeville, Iowa-Grant, Mineral Point and Prairie du Chien school districts were dismissed early or called off all together. Highland, Lakeside Lutheran and Markesan schools opened late.
Wisconsin had the nation’s sixth-largest increase in the numbers of people filing for unemployment benefits last week. The U.S. Labor Department said today that the Badger State had an increase of 1,674 jobless benefit applications from the previous week. No reason was given. Nationally, first-time unemployment applications dropped by 41-thousand from the previous week – when the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy caused the largest jump in jobless benefit requests in 18 months. New York had the biggest increase last week, with almost 44,000 more unemployment filings than the week before. The hike was blamed on temporary layoffs in construction, transportation, and the restaurant business due to the hurricane. New Jersey had the second-largest increase followed by California, where layoffs in service industries caused almost 25-thousand people to seek jobless benefits for the first time. Pennsylvania and Connecticut were next, followed by Wisconsin. Ohio had the largest decreases in jobless benefit requests – almost five-thousand fewer than the previous week.
Wisconsin’s largest city wants to join a lawsuit which claims that the state’s collective bargaining and public employee benefit law is unconstitutional. Milwaukee City Attorney Grant Langley has asked a state appeals court in Madison to let the city join the Madison teachers’ union and a Milwaukee city employee union as plaintiffs. Langley says the union law violates the state Constitution’s home rule powers, by not letting the city pay anything toward its employees’ pension contributions. Also, Langley says the law violates constitutional bans on creating impairments to employee contracts. Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas has struck down the state’s union law as it applies to local government and public school employees. But Milwaukee officials say the law can still be brought back, because the state is appealing the judge’s decision.