January 6, 2013

DOJ Working OT on Background Checks

 

1/6/13 – The state Justice Department is working overtime to handle the large increase in background checks required for handgun purchases. The state handled just over 138-thousand requests for background checks last year on its Handgun Hotline – 55-percent more than in 2011. Last year was the first full year of Wisconsin’s concealed weapons law – but the background checks for concealed carry permits are not the same ones as for actual handgun purchases. Dana Brueck of the Justice Department said her agency hired extra people to keep up the demand – and occasionally, they’ve had to pay overtime or move people from other duties. Terence Pavlic follows the industry as the head of a Delafield investment firm. He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin is following a national trend, as gun sales rise and manufacturers can barely keep up with the growing demand. Last month, the F-B-I conducted two-point-eight million background checks for gun buyers nationally. That’s more than any other month since Washington started keeping track in 1998. There are no records which show actual gun purchases. The background checks are the closest thing to a state or a national count – but they’re not precise because multiple gun purchases can be handled with one check, and those buy guns from a friend or at a gun show are not required to have their backgrounds checked.

 

Public Losing Access to School Administrator Files

 

1/6/13 – Wisconsinites are about to lose the right to see how their public school principals are performing. Governor Scott Walker and state lawmakers approved a new system last year for evaluating teachers and principals. And the Wisconsin State Journal says the law prohibits the public release of those evaluations as an exemption to the state’s Open Records Law. Teacher evaluations have always been confidential, but the law has traditionally allowed principal evaluations to be released. Media attorney Bob Dreps says the records of elected officials, department heads, and administrators have always been considered open – and principals are the equivalent of department heads. He said a new bill would have to be passed to maintain the status quo. And Bill Lueders of the state’s Freedom of Information Council urged legislators to make the change. He says there are few things more important to people than the quality of their children’s education – and for that reason, the evaluations of principals should stay open. But Jim Lynch of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators tells the State Journal that the new assessments are meant for school teachers and leaders to learn and grow. And Lynch said quote, “That is done best in a confidential environment.” Several districts are trying out the new evaluation standards this year. The rest are supposed to be on board by the fall of 2014.

 

UW Looking For Smokers

 

1/6/13 – The U-W is looking for up to 800 smokers from the Madison and Milwaukee areas who want to kick the habit. They’re being recruited for a new study on whether the drug Chantix, a nicotine patch, or a lozenge is most effective at getting smokers to quit. Doctor Tim Baker of the U-W Madison Center for Tobacco Research says the study will also determine whether one type of treatment works better for some types of smokers than others. The U-W was recently given 10-million federal dollars to continue the Wisconsin Smokers’ Health Study which began nine years ago. The new smokers will join several hundred people who also took part in an earlier study on cessation treatments. About 15-hundred people in all will get Chantix, a patch, or a lozenge to see how well they do with quitting. In the earlier study, about a-third of the 15-hundred participants quit smoking and never started again. Doctor Michael Fiore says the rate is about six times as high as those who try to quit on their own. The original study also helped discover genetic links to stop-smoking methods. Fiore says the goals for the new study are to learn more about the health benefits of kicking the habit. He said they’ll look at the short-and-long-term implications of both quitting and continuing to smoke.

 

Metro Milwaukee Foreclosures Down in 2012

 

1/6/13 – For the third year in a row, home foreclosure cases went down in 2012 in Wisconsin’s most populated area. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said there 10-thousand-475 new foreclosure cases filed last year in the courts of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties. In 2011, there were two-point-two percent more filings, or about 10-thousand-700 cases. There were over 12-thousand cases in each of the previous two years. Last month, new foreclosure cases were down by 36-percent from the same month the year before.

 

BDFD Urging Homeowners To Clear Fire Hydrants

 

1/6/13 – The Beaver Dam Fire Department is reminding residents to clear snow from any fire hydrants on their property. Fire Chief Alan Mannel says if you have elderly or disabled neighbors, it’s not a bad idea to clear snow from their fire hydrants as any build-up can slow efforts to fight a fire.  He notes that someone had been kind enough to clear snow around a residence on Park Avenue last month that caught fire and it really helped in the response. Officials with the Beaver Dam Department of Public Works say it is the responsibility of property owners to remove the snow. The department does clear as many hydrants as possible but it takes a while to get to them all and having them snow-covered could be a tragedy in the making.  Mannel says addresses should also be visible and notes that several rural address signs are snow covered.

 

Wisconsin Has A New Poet Laureate

 

1/6/13 – Wisconsin has a new poet laureate. U-W Eau Claire English professor Max Garland will spend the next two years taking part in literary events as requested by the governor, schools, and literary groups. The state used to kick in two-thousand-dollars a year for the post. But it became a victim of the deficit-cutting efforts from 2011. Now, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters runs the poet laureate program – and while the job does not have a salary, the person does get reimbursed for travel expenses. The Academy says Garland wants to promote quote, “the connection between poetry and place.” He’ll urge people to write about the places they know and quote, “explore their relationships with those places in poetry.” Garland replaces Bruce Dethlefsen of Westfield as the state’s poet laureate.

 

BDAAA: Art Exhibit Opening, New Film Class

 

1/6/13 – The new exhibit opens today at the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association. There is an opening reception scheduled from 1pm to 4pm for “Beyond Your Imagination.” Executive Director Karla Jensen says the public is invited to enjoy refreshments and meet many of the local featured artists. Beyond Your Imagination will be on display at the Seippel Center through February 10. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 1-4 pm or by appointment. Admission is free.

 

The Beaver Dam Area Arts Association has also announced details for the Fourth Annual Short Film and Movie Course.  A full short film will be created from start to finish with the assistance of award winning short film maker Jason Gullickson. Gullickson has been involved in this event since its inception. This year’s movie theme, according to Gullickson will be in the Corman style. The class will take students through the entire process of producing a feature film “Roger Corman-style” in eight, two-hour sessions over the course of eight weeks. Roger Corman is famous for making hundreds of films “never losing a dime.”  Gullickson credits ability to balance compromise and constraints with creativity.  The first session of the class is open to anyone (both registered students and unregistered guests) as a chance for prospective students to get a glimpse at what the class will be like and ask questions before officially registering. An outline for the entire course will be distributed at the first meeting on Monday evening, January 14th at the Seippel Center. The course continues through Feb. 25th. Contact information:

To register, call BDAAA at (920) 885-3635 ro email [email protected] Check www.bdaaa.org for further details.