January 14, 2013

Fire Destroys Garage


1/14/13 – More than 50 firefighters fought a blaze near Theresa on Saturday morning that destroyed a detached garage and damaged a home. It started around 7:15 a-m at a residence at N7313 Highway 175. The garage was fully engulfed when they arrived and was a total loss, along with the contents inside. The home, which was just a short distance from the garage, did sustain some damage but not enough to force the family out. One firefighter was injured. The fire is still under investigation.


Hearing for WSEU Complaint Starts Today


1/14/13 – A hearing on a complaint filed by one of Wisconsin’s largest public employees union against the state over the actions of a group of prison guards trying to break away is set to begin today. Attorneys for the Wisconsin State Employees Union say guards have been allowed to hand out promotional materials and gather signatures on prison grounds while the union’s representatives have been denied access and disciplined for working to keep the guards part of the union. State officials have said they did nothing wrong. The prison group said it was a stall tactic on the part of the union to push back a vote by over 5,700 employees hoping to form a new union. The WSEU lost a large number of its members after Act 10 was passed and virtually eliminated collective bargaining. The guards, including thousands at prisons in Dodge County, say that because the WSEU didn’t seek certification it left them without an ability to address safety issues and other concerns with the Department of Corrections.


Peak Flu Season Still Two Weeks Away


1/14/13 – With flu cases on the rise this season public health officials say there is still time to get vaccinated. Dodge County Public Health Officer Jody Langfeldt says we are still more than two weeks away from the peak of the flu season. She admits that they’ve seen an increase in cases in the region over last year and it could be for several reasons, including people letting their guards down after a few years of light flu seasons. The groups most at risk are those under 4-years-old and those over the age of 65. Langfeldt also called the idea that you can get the flu from the vaccine itself is completely false.


Columbus to Discuss Possible Referendum


1/14/13 – We could find out tonight if the Columbus School District will put a pair of referendum questions on April’s ballot. The school board is expected to vote tonight on wording for the two questions. Those questions would ask voters for around $39-million to purchase land, build a new high school facility and to renovate their current buildings. The school board was recently told that if both questions pass residents would see a $3.20 per $1,000 increase in their property taxes.


Inmate Slashes His Wrists


1/14/13 – A Huber inmate approached a Dodge County Sheriff’s deputy in the courthouse parking lot in Juneau just after midnight Saturday morning and revealed that he had slit his wrists.  The inmate was transported to the hospital, medically cleared and then transported back to the jail where he was placed on suicide watch.


Klodowski Gets One Year in Jail


1/14/13 – One year in jail for a Beaver Dam teen who injured several passengers in a drunken driving accident. Adam Klodowski had previously pled “no contest” to three OWI-related counts. The accident in November of 2011 left Klodowski and two 15-year-old girls with punctured lungs, broken bones and fractured backs. The 19-year-old was also placed on probation for seven years and was ordered to tell authorities where he got the alcohol the night of the accident.


Birds Poisoned


1/14/13 – A small number of birds in the Dodge County area have died from salmonella poisoning. The DNR says gold-finches and sparrows have been poisoned in not only Dodge but also Crawford County along with some pine siskins in Dane County. Officials blame the January thaw along with a bacteria build-up in bird feeders, spread through feces. The DNR is asking people to clean their backyard bird-feeders on a regular basis, using ten-percent bleach. Experts also say you should change bird feeder water every couple days when it’s above freezing.


Fitzgerald Says Senate Looking at Rules to Deal with Unruly Behavior


1/14/13 – Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says new rules are being considered which would include penalties for people who are cited for misbehavior in the galleries and in committee meetings. Fitzgerald says his primary concern is the safety of the senate. The changes will be taken up next week. New rules approved last Thursday in the Assembly will result in people violating the gallery rules being removed after the first infraction. A third violation would mean the violator would be barred from the Assembly for the rest of the two-year legislative session.


Snow Unlikely to Put Dent in Drought


1/14/13 – We will not know until later this week if all of the recent rain and snowmelt will make a dent in drought conditions. There has been little change over the past month with the US Drought Monitor saying that over 88-percent of Wisconsin is abnormally dry or worse. Much of Fond du Lac, Green Lake and a dozen east central counties are out of the woods, but the far south and northwest of Wisconsin remain in a severe drought. Dodge, Columbia, Washington counties and the northern half of Jefferson County are abnormally dry. Mike Stanek, the new Crops and Soils Agent with Dodge County’s UW Extension Office, says snow is fairly dry and notes the water equivalent is seven inches of snow to an inch of water. Stanek says snow is also lost to evaporation in the winter and is more likely to disappear into thin air than replenish subsoil moisture. Going into the winter months, the upper layer of the soil did have some moisture but Stanek says three or four feet down there was dust. The surface soil will pull subsoil moisture out from the ground like a dry sponge. Stanek says if we go into the spring planting season with dry subsoil moisture it could result in another year of low yields. The Drought Monitor will release its latest readings on Thursday based on conditions through Tuesday.


Obama Could Help GOP in Getting DNA from Criminal Suspects


1/14/13 – Wisconsin Republicans who want to make criminal suspects give their D-N-A to the police when they’re arrested might get some help from the federal government. President Obama signed a bill last week that gives 10-million federal dollars to states that begin collecting D-N-A upon arrest. Police could add those samples to a database which helps investigators track down criminal suspects. It’s not known when states can apply – or how much a state like Wisconsin could get. But Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General J-B Van Hollen say any federal money could help the state off-set the price-tag for the measure. Right now, the state collects D-N-A from convicted felons and sex offenders – and the new proposal would collect an extra 68-thousand D-N-A samples each year at a cost of seven-point-two-million dollars for the first two years. Van Hollen has made waves by proposing that the new samples be funded by taking Justice Assistance grants away from things like gang-prevention efforts, school programs, and public defenders. The A-C-L-U – which opposes collecting D-N-A samples from anyone who’s not convicted – says the new federal grants would only cover a little of the state’s expenses.


Priebus Won’t Push for Wisconsin to Change Electoral System


1/14/13 – The head of the Republican National Committee says his group will not try to make Wisconsin and other battleground states change their electoral systems for choosing the president. But Reince Priebus says he personally would like to see Wisconsin do it – as well as other states whose legislatures are run by Republicans but whose presidential votes to go Democrats. Last month, the National Journal said senior Republicans in Washington were pressing to get Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to drop their winner-take-all systems, and approve something which would give the G-O-P more electoral votes and a better chance to win the presidency. No Wisconsin lawmaker has proposed this in the new session, but G-O-P Governor Scott Walker says he’s intrigued by the idea. All states but Nebraska and Maine currently give all their electoral votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote. Instead, Republicans are pushing to have the winner in each congressional district would get an electoral vote, and the statewide winner to get two. Had it been in effect last year, both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each would have gotten five electoral votes in Wisconsin – even though the Democrat Obama won the statewide popular vote by seven-percent. Assembly Democrat Jon Richards of Milwaukee says Republicans are only trying to change the rules because they lost. And Assembly Democrat Fred Kessler of Milwaukee says Wisconsin would no longer be a competitive state, except in a couple of House districts. And Kessler says White House candidates would make fewer appearances here and run fewer ads.