Evening State News Briefs: Late winter storm on the way for stateWisconsin News
-- Officials are telling Midwesterners to brace for a vicious winter storm that could dump up to a foot in some places – and bring freezing rain and sleet to other areas
Officials are telling Midwesterners to brace for a vicious winter storm that could dump up to a foot in some places – and bring freezing rain and sleet to other areas.
So far, there’s only been one weather advisory posted for Wisconsin, and that’s for the far west central and southwest parts of the state late tomorrow and Friday. The National Weather Service says the Badger State will get a spillover of bad weather – most of which will bear down on Minnesota, Iowa, and places as far west as Colorado. A winter storm watch is in effect from tomorrow night into Friday afternoon for Grant, Richland, Crawford, Vernon, La Crosse, Buffalo, and Trempealeau counties. Forecasters say 6-to-8 inches of snow are possible in those places. Meanwhile, the Fox River in Kenosha County remains a few inches over its banks – but it’s expected to fall below its flood stage before the day is done. The Fox at New Munster was a couple inches over its flood stage as of three this morning. Only minor flooding was forecast.
Folks in parts of far northern Wisconsin are digging out from another big snowstorm. Gile, at Lake Superior in Iron County, had nine-and-a-half inches of lake-effect snow since Monday night. Other parts of the state recorded up to four-inches. Also, a strong low-pressure system brought cold northwest winds to the region. It was still eight-below at mid-morning in New Richmond and Osceola. Superior still had minus-five, while other parts of the state were in the single-digits above zero and the teens. Two days of dry weather are in the forecast, with highs generally in the teens today and the 20’s tomorrow. More light snow is due in Friday and early Saturday. Ironwood, Michigan, just across the border from Hurley, has already received more snow this winter than last. Almost 115 inches of snow have fallen this season in Ironwood – seven-tenths-of-an-inch more than the entire previous winter.
Two Minnesota women are returning to Wisconsin to face charges in a murder near Appleton in 2007. 34-year-old Kandi Siveny and 38-year-old Rosie Campbell have both waived extradition, and were on their way to Outagamie County at last word. No new court dates were immediately set. Siveny, Campbell, and Siveny’s mother Dianna are all charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of Dianna’s domestic partner, 30-year-old Lara Plamann. The two Sivenys are also charged with substantial battery. Authorities said Kandi apparently fired the gun that killed Plamann, because she suspected that Plamann was cheating on her mother. Dianna was reportedly the sole beneficiary of Plamann’s estate, and authorities said the victim had an affair a few weeks before she was killed. The shooting occurred on the couple’s property in Greenville, which is west of Appleton. Dianna Siveny, who’s 53, made her first court appearance earlier this week. Kandi Siveny was extradited from Dakota County in Minnesota, and Campbell was extradited from Ramsey County in Saint Paul.
Kenosha’s Fire-and-Police Commission has cleared a police officer accused of violating rules on the use of force. Reports said officer Brian Ruha responded last July, after being told that six men were about to get into a fight. And Ruha used his Taser stun gun on one of the men before he could get into a rumble. An attorney for the stunned suspect said he could have hit his head on the pavement after being Tasered so quickly. And the lawyer called the officer’s action inappropriate. But Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey said Ruha did not violate his department’s guidelines on the use of force. The Fire-and-Police Commission unanimously accepted the chief’s request that Ruha not be disciplined.
Wisconsin school voters said yes to one building project, and no to another. Only two bonding referendums were on yesterday’s primary ballots throughout the Badger State. In Whitehall, 63-percent of voters said yes to a new elementary school that will cost 12-and-a-half million dollars to build and equip. In Rice Lake, a nearly 20-and-a-half million dollar project was voted down 52-48 percent. It would have included expansions and remodeling for parts of Rice Lake High School and a middle school – plus an addition to Tainter Elementary School to accommodate a transfer of students from another site. Meanwhile, voters were more generous in granting exemptions to state-imposed revenue caps. 59-percent of Rhinelander voters said yes to paying an extra four-million-dollars in school taxes over the next three school years. In the Eagle River area, voters said yes by 3-to-2 margins for an additional two-point-seven million dollars to maintain programs in the Northland Pines district for the next three years – plus $240,000 to improve walls in the buildings. Smaller cap exemptions were approved in Three Lakes and Bangor.
A bridge on the only state highway in Sturgeon Bay will be closed for about four months. The state DOT says it will make almost five-million dollars in repairs to the Highway 42-57 Bayview Bridge. It will close on Monday, March fourth – and it’s expected to be re-open by the Fourth-of-July. In the meantime, traffic will be re-routed through various parts of Sturgeon Bay, and drivers are being told to expect delays. The Bayview Bridge opened in 1978, and its last major repairs were made nine years ago. The new project includes structural steel repairs and painting – plus upgrades to machinery and electrical facilities.
Voters will have the chance to give final approval in November of next year on a constitutional amendment keeping lawmakers from diverting money from the state transportation fund. As expected, the Wisconsin state Senate voted 25-8 earlier today to put the question on the statewide ballot. The state Assembly had passed it last week. Under the amendment, any money collected through the state fuel tax, fees imposed on driver’s license and titles for vehicles must go into the transportation fund. Once in there, the money couldn’t be used for any state program not run by the Department of Transportation.
Former Racine Mayor Gary Becker gets out of prison next week. He has served four years on his arrest for internet child enticement and attempted sexual assault. Becker will be on supervised release in Racine for three years, but will be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life. Department of Corrections restrictions include him having no contact with minors and no unsupervised use of the internet. The 55 year old Becker was caught in 2009 by a state agent who was posing as a teenage girl. He resigned and was later divorced by his wife. Racine City Hall was rocked by the scandal at the time, with many officials say they never saw it coming.
A state appeals court today threw out a sexual assault conviction against a Milwaukee school bus driver. 26-year-old Gene Echols said evidence was wrongly used against him in his original circuit court case – and the court failed to consider some evidence that would have helped his case. Today, the First District Court of Appeals agreed with Echols’ arguments. The three-judge appellate panel said the circuit court lacked adequate grounds to convict Echols on charges of second-degree sexual assault, and sex assault by those who work with children. A high school student had accused the bus driver of molesting her three years ago, and they got into an argument. Echols said the lower court unfairly accepted testimony from a school bus safety director who said Echols had a history of not telling the truth. He also said the court ignored evidence that the student had a long record of disciplinary problems.
Wisconsin’s newest U.S. senator will give her fellow Democrats in Minnesota a pep talk this spring. Tammy Baldwin of Madison is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Humphrey-Mondale Dinner to be held in April. Baldwin was elected the state’s first female U.S. senator last fall – and she’s the nation’s first openly gay person to join the Senate. Actually, Baldwin will have a tough act to follow at the Minnesota Democratic event. Last year, former President Bill Clinton spoke at the banquet.
Authorities now say a domestic abuse case from suburban Milwaukee is what led to the shootings of a man and a sheriff’s officer more than 150 miles away in Adams County. West Allis Acting Police Chief Charles Padgett said his officers got a call around six last night that a 52-year-old woman was missing under suspicious circumstances. Investigators then tracked her and her 55-year-old husband to the Adams County town of Big Flats. Officers were called to a house there around 7:30 last night. Sheriff Sam Wollin said the man fired several shots at the officers – and he wounded an Adams County deputy before shooting himself. Wollin did not disclose the extent of the injuries, or the names of the two men involved. The woman had obtained a restraining order, in which a judge ordered the husband to stay away from her due to recent domestic incidents. An investigation continues.
Thirteen more Wisconsin National Guard troops will be welcomed home tomorrow. They’re part of the 82nd Agri-Business Development Team – and they’ve spent the last year with a reconstruction group in Kunar Province. They and 45 others were planning to teach Afghans how to farm. But the latter group was re-assigned to security missions, and they came home last September. The remaining 13 group members will be honored in a 2 p.m. ceremony tomorrow at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Madison. The Agri-Business team left Hartford last February to get some training before heading off to the Middle East. The guard 97th Agri-Business Development Team has replaced the 82nd, and is currently performing missions in Afghanistan.