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WISCONSIN NEWS BRIEFS: Footville farmer's Holstein has triplets

FOOTVILLE - A Wisconsin dairy farmer got quite the surprise from a pregnant Holstein cow on Friday… triplets.

Steve Case, of Footville, says in his 33 years of farming, it’s the first time he’s had triplets. Experts say the odds of a cow giving birth to triplets are about one in 105,000 Case says he’s having ultrasounds completed for the other pregnant Holsteins on his farm – just in case.  Case tells the Janesville Gazette that he’s seen many sets of twin calves – but never triplets. Brodhead veterinarian Ray Pawlisch says very few triplet calves are born alive-and-healthy, due to numerous complications. Pawlisch cites a UW-Madison study from 2006, showing that triplets were born in less than one-third of one-percent of Holstein pregnancies. Case said the new calves were born well ahead of schedule. Their mother was not due until August 10th – but she was acting strangely for a while, and the calves were born after Case heard a loud bellowing.   


State Capitol police in Madison reportedly made no arrests or citations, as over 50 protesters gathered at the Capitol rotunda today. More than 120 citations have been issued to sing-along protesters this past week for not having a permit. A new requirement at the Capitol requires a permit if a group of more than 20 people gather. The ruling from a federal judge is upsetting protesters, saying they have free speech rights to gather without a permit.  Officials said they could use video evidence to mail tickets to some of the demonstrators. Other than that, a Capitol Police spokeswoman could not immediately say why arrests were not made. Normally, the group holds its noon-time sing-alongs outside on Fridays, or when another group has a state permit – but a permit was canceled for today at the last-minute, creating confusion among the singers. Some sang inside and some out – but eventually, all gathered inside. State officials say the group refuses to get the required state permit for gatherings of 20-or-more people. The singers say they shouldn’t need to get the government’s approval to carry out their free-speech rights. Over 100 arrests were made over a four-day period since last Wednesday, after Federal Judge William Conley upheld most of the Walker administration’s policy on Capitol group events. 


The case of the Argyle house fire that killed four children last September took a bizarre turn today. The Wisconsin State Journal said it received a letter from Sharon Wand, who recanted her statements to police that her husband Armin and his brother Jeremy started the blaze. She wrote quote, “You have two innocent people in custody. I know the truth about that night. I was there.” Sharon Wand, who’s 27, said she was not thinking clearly when she implicated her husband and cousin, because of the pain medication she was taking after suffering her injuries. She was badly burned in the fire, and her unborn daughter died. Three of the four other Wand children died in the home. Neither the state Justice Department nor Sharon Wand’s attorney would say what impact her letter will have on the case. She said she’s apologizing to the two men for lying to the police. Prosecutors said Armin set the fire to collect insurance money to start a new life, and he offered his brother a mere $300 to help set the blaze. Armin’s sister Tammy tells the State Journal that Armin Wand will appeal his three life prison terms he received earlier this year after pleading guilty. Jeremy Wand has already asked to change his guilty pleas, which a judge in Lafayette County will consider on August 22nd. Tammy also said his sister has stopped her divorce proceedings against Armin. The divorce was to be finalized next month. Sharon Wand was recently charged with theft and criminal trespassing in Iowa County for allegedly stealing from residents at a nursing home where she recovering from the fire. She has since been taken to a medical facility near Platteville, and is in protective custody.


Two men have been charged for the drunk driving death of a woman who was run over in a tavern parking lot in northwest Wisconsin. 35-year-old Michelle Lowe of Luck had her funeral yesterday, when Polk County prosecutors filed their complaint. The incident occurred early Saturday outside the Staples Lake Bar. Prosecutors said 26-year-old Benjamin Biron of Comstock and 26-year-old Ryan Mazurek of Chippewa Falls got into a fight in the bar over a pool game, and another woman confronted them and hit Biron as they were leaving at closing time. That woman’s father then approached the men, and Mazurek allegedly knocked him down. In the parking lot, officials said a crowd gathered as the two defendants got into their car with Biron driving – and Biron ran over Lowe an undetermined number of times. Somebody wrote down the vehicle’s license plate, and they were nabbed a short time later. A 150-thousand-dollar bond has been ordered for Biron, who’s charged with drunken homicide, fatal hit-and-run, and misdemeanors of battery and disorderly conduct. He’s due back in court next Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. Mazurek is charged with battery, substantial batter, and disorderly conduct. He’s under a 15-thousand-dollar bond, with an initial appearance planned for August 26th. 


A seventh-grader from northern Wisconsin was part of a three-member United States team that won the World Geography Bee today in Saint Petersburg, Russia. 13-year-old Asha Jain of Minocqua beat out Canada and India in the final round. The team won by using several clues to identify the nation of Equatorial Guinea. Asha finished sixth in the National Geography Bee this year, and he was among 10 finalists picked for the American squad. The others were 15-year-old Gopi Ramanathan of Sartell, Minnesota, and 14-year-old Neelam Sandhu of Bedford, New Hampshire. 


A federal judge is giving himself another week to decide if Wisconsin’s newest abortion restriction should stay on hold, while he considers a lawsuit to try and strike it down. Judge William Conley recently blocked enforcement of the new law that requires abortion doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges. Today, he said there was confusion about whether the temporary block would end today – so he granted an extension until August 8th. Conley said he actually plans to decide by the end of the week whether the law should stay blocked while the lawsuit plays itself out. Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed suit against the measure just hours after Republican Governor Scott Walker signed it July fifth. It requires abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of where they normally conduct their abortion procedures. The state says the law is needed in procedures where complications arise. The plaintiffs say it’s almost impossible for their doctors to get hospitals to approve admitting privileges – and they’re trying to prove it by having seven doctors apply for them. The new law also requires abortion candidates to get ultrasounds. That part of the law remains in effect.


Forty-eight private and religious schools in Wisconsin have applied to accept students under the state’s newly-expanded private school choice program. We won’t know how many of those schools will actually be chosen to participate until after Aug. 9, the deadline for parents to submit applications online. If more than 500 youngsters apply statewide, only the 25 schools with the largest numbers of applications can accept tax-funded vouchers. Green Bay has the most number of schools applying, with six. Sheboygan had the second-highest number with four schools interested. The choice program has operated in Milwaukee for two decades, and in Racine for the last two years. It provides vouchers to low-income kids to attend private schools, in the hopes that they get a better education. Governor Scott Walker originally wanted to expand the program to nine Wisconsin districts with the poorest grades in the state’s new public school report cards. That budget measure faced a host of criticism, even from some of Walker’s own Republicans. The GOP ended up forging a compromise to expand the choice program statewide, but on a very limited basis.


The Regal-Beloit Corporation reports a drop in its quarterly profits. The firm blames it on a lower demand for its heating, cooling, and ventilating products in commercial and industrial buildings. Regal-Beloit said its net income was $51-milliion from April-through-June. That’s down from $63-million at the same time a year ago. Earnings fell from $1.49-a-share to $1.13. Total sales were down five-percent, to $822-million dollars. CEO Mark Gliebe said Regal-Beloit’s product demand remained sluggish in the past quarter, but the numbers of new orders had stabilized. 


Wisconsin communities that don’t want roundabouts would have the right to veto them, under a new bill in the state Legislature. Freshman Assembly Republican David Craig of West Bend introduced the measure today. It would require local government approval before the state DOT can install a circular intersection. Craig said it would guarantee that those who would use new roundabouts the most would have a say over whether they go in. The DOT has installed numerous roundabouts in recent years, as an alternative to traffic lights at intersections. Engineers say the roundabouts reduce traffic deaths – but critics say they create confusion for many motorists. Craig says both parties support his measure.


We’ve been hearing a lot about the slowly-rising water levels in the Great Lakes due to this year’s heavy rains, but shippers continue to have problems. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the navigable parts of the Great Lakes remain much lower than normal, and shippers still have to carry lighter cargo loads to avoid running aground. The official depth of the navigable waters is supposed to 27-and-a-half feet. This spring, some areas were close to 25-feet. Jim Weakley, who heads the Lake Carriers Association, says the problem is caused more by politics than Mother Nature. He says the federal government has the money to do dredging work, so ships can carry full loads – but Congress hesitates to spend it. Roger Gauthier of the Army Corps of Engineers says the low water exposes wood that was designed to stay underwater – and the air causes damage break-walls, piers, and other infra-structure that’s more than 100 years old in some cases. David Wright of the Army Corps’ Detroit district says he has no idea what it would cost to restore – or even maintain – the 104 miles of navigation structures in Great Lakes harbors. He agrees that the exposed timber is suffering due to the low water.


The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles is offering an innovative way to send out reminders for license plate renewals. Director of the DMV’s Bureau of Vehicle Service Mitchell Warren says Wisconsinites can register for a new service that sends out email and text alerts when vehicle tags are up for renewal. People can also renew tags online and receive the sticker and proof of registration in the mail within three to five business days. Warren recommends registering for the alert about three months before tags expire. Both services are available at the DMV’s website at www-dot-DOT-dot-WISCONSIN-dot-GOV. (