WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Milwaukee Marine dies in Afghanistan
MILWAUKEE - The Pentagon has confirmed the death of a Milwaukee Marine in Afghanistan -- but officials did not shed any new light on how he died.
His family has said that 19-year-old Lance Corporal Jeremiah Collins died on Saturday. The Pentagon said it happened while he was supporting combat operations in the province of Helmond. The Defense Department said the death remains under investigation. Collins was a member of the Marines' Second Logistics Group based at Camp Lejeune North Carolina.
Officials at Fort McCoy say almost 900 civilians who were put on furloughs last week will be back at their jobs tomorrow. The civilians were sent home last Tuesday after the federal government's partial shutdown began. However, the "Pay Our Military Act" approved just before the shutdown allows most civilians to legally be on the job. Spokeswoman Linda Fournier said some of the workers returned today, and the rest will be back tomorrow at the Army base between Sparta and Tomah. Training for $2,200 was canceled at Fort McCoy during the weekend because of the shutdown. Earlier, it was announced that most of the 840 civilian technicians in the Wisconsin National Guard were to return this morning from their furloughs.
A Wisconsin economist says a week into the federal government’s “non-essential” shutdowns have not had an immediate impact on the U.S. economy… but the looming expiration of the debt ceiling will. Marquette University Economist Dr. Abdur Chowdhury says the shutdown may have an adverse effect on the financial markets if a shutdown continues for another week to ten days. He adds if Congress doesn’t find a solution to the debt ceiling, allowing for a default will have an immediate impact on the national and state economy. Some experts have estimated $200-millions per day is lost to the U.S. economy, due to furloughs. Dr. Chowdhury says fortunately, Wisconsin has fewer federally-funded concerns than other state and does not expect a significant impact on a short-term shutdown.
During a stop in Eau Claire today, Governor Scott Walker responded to Democrat Mary Burke’s announcement she is running for governor in 2014. Governor Walker was critical, saying the Madison School Board member and former Trek Bicycle executive would “take us back to the failed policies of the previous few years.” Burke made her announcement today in a YouTube video. Walker says he is focused on being governor now and will make an official announcement if he will seek re-election “sometime next year.”
The State Republican Party said Mary Burke helped create the fiscal mess that Governor Scott Walker had to mop up. Burke, who was Jim Doyle's commerce secretary for two years, today became Walker's first official Democratic challenger. Republicans immediately went after her ties to Doyle, saying she left the state with a three-point-six billion dollar deficit that Walker and his party eliminated in 2011. GOP spokesman Joe Fadness said the deficit came with big tax hikes and massive job losses -- all of which Walker help turn around. Fadness said a vote for Burke is a vote to quote, "take Wisconsin backward." State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said Burke has a strong record of creating good-paying private sector jobs in her commerce post and as a former executive at Trek Bicycle. Tate also said Burke has a history of bringing people together to improve Wisconsin. He said it would be quote, "a stark contract to Scott Walker's style of divisive extremism." Burke faces a possible primary challenge from state Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma. Vinehout said today she'll decide early next year whether she'll run in a primary that would be held next August.
The city council in Kenosha is scheduled to vote tonight on city financing and a conditional use permit for Amazon.com. The Internet retail giant plans to build a distribution center just east of Interstate-94. It promises 1,100 full-time jobs, plus up to 2,500 seasonal employees. Developers say they want to start building as soon as possible, so the site can open by next fall. Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman says the new facility would have an assessed value of 170-million dollars. He believes it would send a message to other companies that Wisconsin is a good place to do business. The city plans to spend up to $18.2 million in tax incremental financing for public amenities like roads and sewers for the new center. It would be funded by the increase in total property taxes that the project would generate. There's also been talk about possible state assistance. Officials have not confirmed that yet.
Wausau school administrators have told choral groups to cut back on their Christmas music -- and because of that, the elite choir at Wausau West High has temporarily disbanded. West choral director Phil Buch said the administration gave schools three options -- perform five non-religious songs for every religious one, have concerts with no Christmas music, or not perform until after the holidays. Buch says the Master Singers group at West High gets invited to sing at a dozen holiday concerts each year. He says the new directive is unacceptable. School board members have not discussed the order -- and at least one member believes they shouldn't. Member Jane Rusch tells the Wausau Daily Herald that religion can be an emotional public issue, but she does not believe the School Board should get involved in it. WSAU Radio said Wausau Superintendent Kathleen Williams would issue a statement on the matter today.
Two more cases of crypto-sporidiosis have been confirmed in Milwaukee's North Shore suburbs. That brings to 19 the number of cases confirmed in the last week-and-a-half. According to health officials, those infected were either exposed to swimming pool water in Whitefish Bay -- or they had person-to-person contact with someone who came down with the illness. Crypto is a parasite spread through water or food which can cause nausea, fever, diarrhea, and dehydration. Over 400,000 people got sick in 1993 when crypto got into Milwaukee's water supply. More than 100 people were killed in the outbreak.
A Milwaukee man plans to represent himself, as a trial is scheduled to begin today on 42 criminal charges of molesting and abusing his five daughters. The 48-year-old man will have a standby attorney to assist him. Even so, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski tried talking the defendant out of being his own lawyer before reluctantly approving it last Friday. The man faces more than a-thousand years in prison -- and there's a possibility that he might end up questioning his five daughters during the midst of a trial. Observers say the defendant has repeatedly talked over others in his pre-trial proceedings, including Judge Borowski. The man has had two mental competency exams, and a forensic psychologist finds that the defendant has no signs of mental illness. Prosecutor Sara Lewis contends that the man's personality quote prevents him from making decisions in his own self-interest.
A central Wisconsin man was sentenced today to a year in the Marathon County Jail for causing the death of a bicyclist in a traffic crash. 44-year-old Tracy Kruzicki of Mosinee was also put on three years of probation after he struck a plea deal which kept him out of a state prison. Kruzicki pleaded guilty in August to a felony charge of causing death while driving with a suspended license. He admitted striking 44-year-old bicyclist Tammy Goss with his car in May of 2012 on Highway Double-“K” near Mosinee. Gass lost her previous husband in a bicycle crash in 2008, on the exact same road where she was killed. As part of his probation, Kruzicki must perform 120 hours of community service.
Oshkosh police are looking for a man, accused of trying to entice three children into his vehicle over the weekend. The incident happened on Saturday evening. Police say a man driving a 90s model Chevy Beretta approached the kids and asked them to get in his car so he could take them to grandma’s house. When the children’s mother noticed the conversation and approached the car, he took off. Police say the car has some rust on the bottom and black bumpers. Anyone with information should call Oshkosh police at (920) 236-5700.
Sauk County rescue divers were planning to search the Baraboo River today for a missing 57-year-old man. Authorities said Frank Shimnoik of rural Rock Springs left a wedding reception on Saturday night, and he never made it home. That's what the man's nephew told sheriff's deputies when he reported the disappearance around six last evening. Officers conducted a search between Rock Springs and the man's house last evening. Relatives found Shimnoik's hat and glasses on opposite sides of Sauk County Trunk Double-"D," close to the river.
New houses continue to pop up across Wisconsin, as the market recovers from the Great Recession. According to MTD Marketing Services, 378 building permits were issued in September for new one-and-two-family homes in the Milwaukee, Madison, Racine-Kenosha, Fox Valley, and Green Bay-Door County metro areas. That's a 42-percent increase from the previous September, when 266 permits were handed out. The numbers of building permits grew in each of the five metros from a year ago. For the first nine months of this year, just over three-thousand home-building permits were issued in the state's five-largest metros. That's up from almost 2,400 from January-through-September of 2012.