March 2, 2013

Nehls Reflects on Time as Sheriff


3/2/13 – It was a packed house as Sheriff Todd Nehls bid farewell to the people of Dodge County during a retirement party last night in Beaver Dam. Nehls thanked his staff for all their hard work in helping him accomplish his campaign goals.  That includes modernizing the department, increasing training, moving to a new building, starting numerous jail initiatives and successfully consolidating the county’s four 9-1-1 dispatch centers into one – an transition he considers his teams legacy accomplishment. Nehls fought back tears as he said the opportunity of serving the people of Dodge County since 2002 has left him a blessed man. He told the crowd that he hopes they can retire someday accomplishing everything they set out to do then concluded with, “I can, I have and I thank you.”


Sheriff Ninmann?


3/2/13 – Sheriff Todd Nehls is endorsing Lt. Pat Ninmann to be the next sheriff of Dodge County. Nehls says Ninmann has done everything he’s asked of her. It was Nehls who put Ninmann in leadership positions throughout the Sheriff’s Department. She started as a dispatcher and worked her way up to Director of Communications. Before she got too comfortable there, Nehls named her Deputy Jail Administrator. Now, Ninmann serves as Patrol Lieutenant. Nehls says he asked Ninmann what the difference would be between the two of them and she said (quote) “nothing I’m a female version of you.” Ninmann credits Nehls with helping her make it to the next step by giving her experience in each division within the department. She submitted her application to be interim sheriff the day the governor announced the opening. The new sheriff will serve out the remainder of the current term ending in January of 2015. Tuesday is the deadline to register and the governor is expected to make an announcement shortly thereafter.


Suspect in BD-area Burglaries Appears in Court


3/2/13 – A suspect in several Beaver Dam-area burglaries and car thefts is being held on a $25,000 cash bond after making his Initial Appearance this week. Donny J. Lafferty is charged with seven felonies and nine misdemeanors. Authorities say the 20-year-old was arrested early Wednesday morning after police followed his minivan. Lafferty parked the vehicle and took off on foot when he saw the officers. He was reportedly found in possession of burglary tools, a switchblade knife and prescription drugs. Prosecutors say Lafferty is responsible for break-ins on February 8, including a repair shop break-in on South Center Road where a glass door was smashed and various items were stolen. Many of the stolen items were found in the back of a stolen truck that was stuck in a ditch. A second vehicle was then stolen and more burglaries were reported, including a shop on Highway 33 that resulted in stolen tools and another business on South Crystal Lake Road in which a safe was damaged and cash was stolen. Footprints were traced to Wal-Mart, where the suspect’s girlfriend  had picked him up. Officers were able to get a photo of Lafferty at Wal-Mart during that timeframe. If convicted, the charges carry a combined maximum of over 86 years in prison. A judge will decide nextw eek if there is enough evidence to order a trial.


Ismert Pleads No Contest to Homicide Charge


3/2/13 – A Watertown man entered a “no contest” plea yesterday to charges that he killed his girlfriend in a one-vehicle accident. Wesley Ismert pled to a count of Homicide by Negligent Operation of a Vehicle, and had a second count of Homicide with a Prohibited Alcohol Content dismissed. According to the criminal complaint, the 23-year-old was drunk and speeding when he hit a curb and then struck a telephone poll in Watertown just before 2am on October 20. The pole was snapped in half and came to rest on electrical lines. The car was found upside down. His passenger, 21-year-old Valerie Schmudlach, was ejected and died at the scene. Ismert sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Investigators say Ismert was driving as fast as 71mph when the accident occurred. The posted speed limit is 15mph. His blood alcohol level was point-one-four-four (0.144). A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered and Ismert will be sentenced in June. He faces a maximum of 10-year prison if he is convicted.


GOP Senators Offer Different Education Plan


3/2/13 – Republican state senators Mike Ellis and Luther Olsen are offering an education plan which would let Wisconsin public schools spend an additional 150 dollars per student over the next two years.  The 382 million dollar increase is offered as an alternative to Republican Governor Scott Walker’s budget which allows no spending increase for public schools.  The bill backed by Ellis and Olsen would be funded by existing money in the state budget and some additional property taxes.  Walker’s spending plan increased money for school aid, but it didn’t lift revenue limits which actually allow the districts to spend the money.  Other legislative leaders and the governor’s office had little initial reaction to the proposal by the Senate President and the chairman of its education committee.


State Unclear of Federal Spending Cuts Impact


3/2/13 – With President Obama signing an order authorizing the federal government to start cutting 85 billion dollars in spending, Wisconsin officials say they need to know more about what exactly is being cut.  They say the information is needed so they can know what actions to take.  A state-by-state estimate released last week by the White House showed Wisconsin will have fewer airport control towers and military personnel.  It would also have less funding for environmental protection and school aid.  The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture said those White House estimates were lacking in specifics.  The head of the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau says it could be months before state departments start to feel the pain as they wait for federal agencies to tell them exactly which programs will be cut and by how much.


John Doe Investigation Has Ended


3/2/13 – Wisconsin’s governor no longer has a criminal investigation hanging over his head. Judge Neal Nettesheim has ended a nearly three-year John Doe probe into Walker’s former aides when he was the Milwaukee County executive. And the chief prosecutor, Milwaukee D-A John Chisholm, released the news yesterday (Fr). Five people were convicted in the probe, including Kelly Rindfleisch of Columbus. The governor responded by saying he appreciated the investigative effort and quote, “appropriate matters were brought to justice.” State Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said it was quote, “no feather in his cap” that Walker avoided prosecution. Two ex-Walker associates – Kevin Kavanaugh and ex-chief-of-staff Tim Russell – were each sentenced to two years in prison, for embezzling thousands-of-dollars from an event that honored Wisconsin veterans.  Rindfleisch, another top county Walker aide, got six months in jail for doing campaign work on county time. Former county constituent relations director Darlene Wink was fined a-thousand dollars on the same violation. And a domestic partner of Russell’s was fined 21-hundred dollars for an unrelated sex charge that was uncovered during the John Doe.


Hartford Groups Sends Care Packages Overseas


3/2/13 – A group in Hartford has sent out its five-thousandth care package to Wisconsin troops serving overseas. The program is called “Support the Troops-Wisconsin,” and it ships out comfort items for troops that range from Chunky Soup and T-shirts to toothbrushes and bug spray. LeAnn Boudwine started the project six years ago, after her son in Iraq said some of his friends got very little mail from back home. She assumed she would send about 100 care packages right away, and be done with it. But once the word got out, more of the folks back home wanted to donate. Boudwine figures that her group has spent 56-thousand dollars on postage. And her son, Marine Sergeant David Scott, says the troops are touched and gratified.


Lottery Wants to Offer $30 Scratch-off Tickets


3/2/13 – We know that Wisconsin Lottery players will buy 20-dollar scratch-off tickets – but will they spend 30 on a single game? We could find out later this year. The state Revenue Department has told the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee that the lottery wants to offer a 30-dollar game sometime after the state’s new fiscal year begins on July first. It said that 75-percent of the sales would go to winners – but the report did not say what type of payouts there might be. Revenue officials also say 30-dollar scratch-off games appear to be doing well in other states. The Wisconsin Lottery is coming off a record-setting sales year with sales of over 547-million dollars, due in part to a record jackpot for Mega Millions. Reports indicate that the lottery expects slightly lower sales figures of around 540-million for the current year that ends June 30th.