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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: UW-Madison to hold safety open houses

MADISON - In the wake of several robberies near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, officials are hosting a series of town hall meetings. The three events will give students a chance to ask questions and discuss safety measures on campus.
 The first meeting is tonight from 7:30 to 8:30 on twitter, using hashtag UWSAFETY (#uwsafety). Chat participants include UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling, Madison Police Captain Joe Balles and Dean of Students Lori Berquam. A web chat is also scheduled for Friday from noon until one o’clock, and a town hall meeting at the Tripps Commons on Sunday evening. More information on the series of chats can be found on the University’s website (
_______________ The Wisconsin Department of Health is reminding everyone to get a flu shot. Epidemiologist Stephanie Schauer says providers have begun receiving the vaccination and you should be getting one right away. Schauer says the recommendation is everyone six months or older should be getting the annual shot. The department says there’s already sporadic cases of the flu in bigger cities across the U.S, which is common for this time of the year. New egg-free, subculture based shots are also available for people with allergies. Symptoms of the flu includes a high fever, coughing, sore throat, headache, muscle ache and fatigue. Vaccination and hand washing are the best ways to prevent the flu, but if you get it… stay at home to prevent others from catching it.
 _______________ The Wisconsin Department of Justice is launching a new campaign targeting the dangers of heroin. The ad campaign focuses on something called the Fly Effect, showing how heroin use can spiral out of control and destroying lives. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says heroin use is rapidly growing in the state, he hopes the new campaign will reach out to those who may try the drug without understanding its effects. Van Hollen adds that trying the drug once can be enough to start an addiction. The ad campaign features television and radio spots, along with online content at ( Unemployment rates are down in all 12 Wisconsin metro areas.  That what state labor officials said today.  Unadjusted, actual jobless rates range from four-and-a-half percent in Madison to seven-point-nine percent in Racine.  Unemployment also fell in all but three of Wisconsin's 72 counties.  Monroe and Menominee counties were unchanged, while Bayfield was the only county where joblessness rose from the previous month.  County rates ranged from four-percent in Saint Croix, near Minnesota's Twin Cities, to 16.7 percent at the home of the Menominee Indian reservation.  Appleton, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Wausau were the only metros to have fewer jobs in August than July.  Those figures are seasonally adjusted, but are based on surveys of only three-and-a-half percent of employers.  The most accurate report is the Labor Department's quarterly job census, which is due out tomorrow.  The last report showed that about 60-percent of states saw their jobs at a faster pace than Wisconsin as of the end of 2012.  Meanwhile, Governor Scott Walker told his Small Business Summit in Stevens Point today that almost 11,600 new businesses were created in the state since he took office.

The state has revoked the license of a child residential care center at Prairie du Chien, after a youngster was severely injured there in June.  The Wisconsin State Journal said the Wyalusing Academy was told in a letter last Friday it would lose its license for failing to quote, "ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children in its care."  A youngster was hurt severely on June 24th at the center -- and the center did not seek outside medical help for over 24 hours afterward.  The center is still running while it appeals its revocation.  Director Mary Beth Specht said officials there are looking forward to meeting with the state, and explore ways it can keep operating.  Wyalusing Academy is a residential treatment facility for children and teens who function significantly below their grade levels.  It normally has about 70 residents from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and elsewhere. 


 State transportation officials are checking the safety of a tall bridge in Green Bay.  Police closed the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge just before sunrise this morning, because a four-lane span covering almost 200 yards had sagged about three-feet.  It's located on Interstate-43 between the Bay of Green Bay and downtown Green Bay.  The DOT has posted detour routes, and was not certain when the bridge would be re-opened.  The bridge was re-surfaced earlier this year as part of a $17-million project to improve several miles of I-43 in Green Bay.  Besides a new surface, the work included a replacement of bridge joints, new paint for support girders, new traffic cameras near the bridges, and new access control gates at on-ramps to the freeway.  The Frigo bridge carries about 40-thousand vehicles each day.  It's named after Leo Frigo, who started a food pantry for the poor in Green Bay.  __________________

Restrictions on hunting-and-trapping have been partially brought back to Wisconsin state parks.  Today in Pembine, the state Natural Resources Board approved emergency rules to prevent folks from shooting guns, bows, and cross-bows on park trails, or across them.  Also, trappers must use dog-proof snares.  The board approved the new rules unanimously.  They'll take effect November 15th.  A year ago, the governor and Legislature lifted a general ban on hunting and trapping in state parks.  Specific prohibitions can still be ordered in designated areas.


Playboy magazine rates UW-Madison as the nation's second-best party school.   The magazine has issued eight rankings in recent years, and the UW was ranked the country's hottest party campus as recently as 2006.  This time, the UW trails only West Virginia's main campus at Morgantown.  A few weeks ago, the Princeton Review placed the UW back on its Top-10 list of party schools at No. 8, up from 13th a year ago.  This is not welcome news for university and city officials, who've worked together to try and snuff out problems with alcohol on the state's flagship public campus.   _________________

Federal EPA officials have told  Wisconsin and other states along the Mississippi River to step up their efforts to reduce river pollution from run-off and sewage plants.  Speaking in Minneapolis, top EPA official Nancy Stoner said more needed to be done to reduce the large oxygen-depleted dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.  EPA officials blame things like run-off from farms and parking lots.  Just over a year ago, the EPA approved Wisconsin's latest plan to avoid run-off pollution with collaborative efforts from all parties involved, and an emphasis on flexibility.  Stoner said her agency had worked with a number of states on various strategies -- but they're not working as well as planned.  She said the dead zone is about three times as big as what the EPA is trying to achieve in working with the states.  Trevor Russell of the Friends of the Mississippi River said the EPA has good objectives -- but changing land management practices would be a monumental task without mandatory rules and-or federal funding.  ___________________

A federal appeals court said a Fitchburg police officer had no right to frisk a man who then tried to run away, and was caught illegally possessing a handgun.  On a 2-1 vote, a three-judge appellate panel ruled that Andre Williams should not have been frisked to begin with.  It happened in March of last year, outside a Fitchburg tavern at night in what the judges called a high-crime area.  Police were sent to the bar when somebody complained that a group was loud and had guns.  When the officers arrived, 10 men were acting peacefully, and they did not display any guns. An officer then frisked Williams.  After a short chase, the officer found the drug ecstacy and a weapon.  Williams was later convicted of possessing a gun as a convicted felon, even though he tried and failed to remove the gun from evidence. Milwaukee Federal Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said the officer acted within the law -- but he also said similar facts could support a search of anyone at night in a high-crime area where police are called.  Judge David Hamilton said the frisk was unconstitutional, in light of Wisconsin's gun laws.  Judge Kenneth Ripple, who cast the lone vote to uphold the officer's actions, said the other judges caused confusion over what police can do. 


The firm of AT&T Mobility has acquired Element Mobile, a cell-phone company based in Wisconsin Rapids.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the AT&T telecommunications giant will own about 60-percent of the company -- and Element will be re-named AT&T Mobility.  The paper cited documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission.  Element Mobile took over All-Tel's operations in central Wisconsin in 2011.  In the months after that, the firm was the subject of a number of consumer service-and-billing complaints filed with the state Public Service Commission.  Element blamed the problems on the bugs that many new companies face and work out._________________

 One of 19 people arrested in a pair of sexual sting operations has taken his own life.  39-year-old Brian Uttecht of Kronenwetter, southeast of Wausau, was arrested last Friday and released from jail Monday night on a signature bond.  Police said Uttecht was found dead yesterday morning at his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  That happened before he could be charged with a misdemeanor count of soliciting a prostitute.  Uttecht and three women were arrested in the Wausau prostitution sting.  At the same time, 15 men in eastern Wisconsin were nabbed for allegedly seeking sex with minors who turned out to be law enforcement officers. Wausau Police Lieutenant Bill Kolb tells the city's Daily Herald newspaper that prostitutes and illegal escorts are more prevalent in the area, thanks to new technology.  Kolb says street prostitutes are a thing of the past, as women and their customers use social media sites to hook up._____________________

A man accused of shooting-and-wounding a Taylor County sheriff's deputy has to get a lawyer before he can start answering to eight criminal charges.  28-year-old Alexander Schneider made his first court appearance yesterday, for a series of incidents September 8th in which sheriff's officer Chad Kowalczyk was wounded.  Alexander's initial appearance will resume October eighth in Medford.  Authorities were called to Schneider's home to investigate a violation of a restraining order for sending 16 text messages to a teenage ex-girlfriend.  Prosecutors said Schneider fired at Kowalczyk once through his front door, and then three other times as the officer fled.  Kowlaczyk was shot once in the abdomen.  After that, prosecutors said Schneider went off to an abandoned house where he took a 12-gauge shotgun that he hid in a wall.  Officials said he talked about killing himself before surrendering later.  Schneider has been held under a million-dollar bond since his arrest.