New September 16, 2011

Randolph Man Killed In Pick-Up Versus Semi Wreck

9/16/11 – A 91-year-old Randolph man was killed Thursday morning after colliding with a semi-truck near Columbus. Police Lt. Dennis Weiner says the wreck occurred just before 10am. The Randolph man exited Highway 151 and pulled his pick-up truck into the path of the semi, which was eastbound on State Highway 16. The jaws-of-life were needed to remove the 91-year-old from the overturned vehicle which had come to rest on its side. He was taken to Columbus Hospital and then flown by MedFlight to UW Hospital Madison where he succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the semi was not injured. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of family.

Charges Filed In $100K Safe Theft

9/16/11 – Charges have been filed in connection with the theft of a safe containing $100,000 from a Town of Ashippun home. Adam Nold, who is related to the victim, is charged with felony Burglary and misdemeanor Theft which carry a maximum prison sentence of over 13 years, if convicted. The 22-year-old is accused of taking the safe in late June, though no one realized it was missing until the July Fourth holiday. It contained $60,000 in cash and $40,000 in coins, silver bars, diamonds and assorted stones. According to the criminal complaint, family members put the pieces together after learning that Nold was back in Wisconsin after a recent move to Illinois. A friend of his had suddenly given a lot of money to his girlfriend and Nold was found to have sold some of the silver bars to Milwaukee-area jewelry stores. Nold allegedly confessed to investigators after they told him he would only be charged if his relative decided to press charges. He reportedly blamed his actions on being “messed up” on drugs. Nold is being held on a $50,000 cash bond.

Watertown Teen Charged With Pre-Teen Sexual Assault

9/16/11 – A Watertown man is accused of molesting a pre-teen girl this summer. Anthony Graznow is charged with one felony count of First Degree Sexual Assault of a Child, which if he’s convicted carries a maximum prison sentence of 60 years. According to the criminal complaint, the 19-year-old had dated the victim’s older sister and met up with the young girl this July and assaulted her in his van in the Beaver Dam area. He reportedly told investigators that he thought she was 16-years-old. The court found probable cause to bind Graznow over on sexual assault charges during a preliminary hearing Thursday. He’ll be back in a Dodge County courtroom for an arraignment hearing on October 12.

Hartford Police Searching For Man Who Tried To Lure Kids

9/16/11 – Police in Hartford say they are looking for a man who tried to lure children into his car. It apparently happened at least twice Wednesday. Children told police a man pulled up in his red, four-door car and asked them to come over. When they refused, he drove away. Hartford police are hoping someone witnessed the incidents and will give the office a call.

Smoke Clearing From Badger State

9/16/11 – Light winds and cooler temperatures replaced the smoky conditions in Wisconsin from earlier this week. Officials said the air was unhealthy on Tuesday and Wednesday in southeast Wisconsin, due to winds from the north that blew in the haze from the Pagami Creek wildfire in northern Minnesota. But the Badger State breathed fresh air yesterday – and the fire itself got a bit of a respite. The weather stalled the movement of the blaze, as it crept less than a quarter-mile to the east. Over 100-thousand acres have been burned in the wildfire, located at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on Minnesota’s Arrowhead. Today’s weather is expected to warm up – and officials say the winds will help push the fire away from homes in that area. No structural damage has been reported yet. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says Wisconsin will avoid the effects of the fire as southerly winds move in for the weekend.

Recertification Vote Rule Now In Effect

9/16/11 – New rules went into effect Thursday on the annual re-certification votes that most public employee unions in Wisconsin must take to stay in existence. However, that’s not the case for the Beaver Dam Education Association. According to BDEA President Gordy Aschebrook, because the union has a contract in place for the next two years they don’t have to hold a re-certification vote anytime soon. However, he says they are still gathering information about a possible vote down the road. Meanwhile, Jack Bernfeld of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees says many groups are shying away from re-certifying. He says the process is too expensive, and it’s designed to drain unions of money and energy. It will cost them up to two-thousand-dollars for the state to hold re-certification elections – and Bernfeld calls it a “poll tax” for the right to talk with public employers about very minor matters. The new bargaining law only allows most public unions to negotiate for wages at-or-below the rate of inflation. Governor Scott Walker says the elections are designed to give workers a choice about whether to stay unionized, and to determine if the groups still have value under the new law. Most local unions have until January 30th to seek votes early next year. State employee unions have until next Thursday to act – and many groups say they won’t be part of the process.

Portage USPS Processing Center On Chopping Block

9/16/11 – The Postal Service said Thursday it might close over 250 mail processing centers around the nation to try-and-cut costs. Five Wisconsin facilities are on the list – Kenosha, Portage, Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Wausau. The Postal Service lost eight-and-a-half billion dollars last year due to the rough economy, and the fact that more of us are turning to the Internet to pay our bills and write notes to people. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe insisted that the Postal Service is not going out of business – and it’s just trying to get its finances in order. Officials say the agency could save up to three-billion dollars by closing the processing centers, and by changing delivery standards. Earlier this year, the Postal Service announced plans to close 41 post offices throughout Wisconsin – including the one in Lowell.

RadioThon Check Presented To Local Agencies

9/16/11 – The check from money raised during the 14th Annual WBEV/WXRO Children’s Radiothon was presented to the benefiting agencies this week. Held in June, the event – which spanned 27 hours and seven regions – earned more than $106,000 for area children’s agencies. Money was raised in a variety of ways including an on-air auction and the Third Annual Noel’s Angel Walk, which alone has raised $45,000 in the three years. The Fourth Annual DCS Cup Tour raised nearly $9,800 this year while more than $10,000 was earned through our announcers “Fishing for Donations” from the roof of the station. With this years total the event has now raised more than $1.1-million.

Columbus Ribbon Cuttings Next Week

9/16/11 – Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies are scheduled next week for two downtown Columbus capital improvement projects. The Udey Dam Ribbon-Cutting and Dedication ceremony will be held at 2pm on Friday (Sept 23). The ceremony will be held at the end of Campbell Street on the east bank of the Crawfish River. Area residents will hear from City and DNR officials on the history of the repair after the 2004 flood waters caused removal of the flood gates. Earlier next week, on Tuesday (Sept 20), there will be a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for the completion of two major street projects completed this summer. The Ceremony celebrating the completion of the North Water and Farnham Streets projects will be held at 6pm at the intersection of North Water and East James Street.

Unemployment Edges Upward

9/16/11 – Wisconsin lost 800 private sector jobs last month, plus 18-hundred government jobs. Officials said Thursday that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for August rose to seven-point-nine-percent. That’s up one-tenth of a point from July. Wisconsin did gain jobs last month in manufacturing. Jobs to make non-durable goods rose by a seasonally-adjusted 15-hundred in September. But 300 jobs were lost in the durable goods sector. Still, state Workforce Development Secretary Scott Baumbach said 16-thousand factory jobs were added in the Badger State since December – and that’s more than double the national job growth rate for manufacturing.

Dems Seek To Strip Governor Of Job Appointments

9/16/11 – Democrats have introduced a bill in response to this week’s F-B-I raid on a former top aide to Republican Governor Scott Walker. The measure would take away the governor’s power to make appointments to state jobs once held by non-political civil service employees. Cindy Archer’s current job is one of those posts. Archer took a job as a legislative liaison in the Children-and-Families Department, a day before she resigned last month as the Number-two official in Walker’s administration department. She’s been on personal leave for several weeks. Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca says the new bill will ensure that political friends are not working for Walker and future governors. This week, F-B-I agents seized evidence from Archer’s Madison home. Archer had served as a top aide to Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive. And this week’s raid may have been tied to an ongoing John Doe investigation into reports that county employees used their positions to do campaign work for Walker last year. Walker acknowledged the probe earlier this summer. But his office says it will not comment on this week’s raid at Archer’s home. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm would not comment on the probe yesterday. Archer said she has done nothing wrong, and does not see the need to hire an attorney. Labor Unions Spend $4.2 Million In First Half of 2011 9/16/11 – Four labor unions spent four-point-two-million-dollars lobbying state lawmakers from January through June, to fight the new limits on public union bargaining. The Government Accountability Board said the State A-F-L C-I-O spent the most among lobbying groups in the first half of the year, at two-point-three million dollars. The next three largest spenders were all government unions affected by the bargaining limits which took effect in June after a court battle. The state’s largest teachers’ union spent around two-million to lobby the Legislature. A union for 66-thousand state employees had the third-biggest lobbying expense, at one-point-two million. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees International was fourth at around 700-thousand dollars. A-T-and-T was the fifth-biggest spender at 440-thousand-dollars. It lobbied for a bill that de-regulates landline phones. There were 725 registered lobbyists at the State Capitol in the first half of this year. Justices Against Public Oversight 9/16/11 – Five of Wisconsin’s seven Supreme Court justices are against letting the public watch how they decide cases. An open conference was held Thursday, where the court discussed Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s proposal to open up the court’s deliberations. She said it would create more confidence in the state’s highest court. That’s after its reputation took a beating over philosophical arguments, and the recent physical spat between Justices David Prosser and Anne Walsh Bradley. Abrahamson was the only justice in favor of letting the public watch the court’s deliberations in person. She and Bradley favored an alternative plan to videotape deliberations and let people watch them later. Justice Annette Ziegler wondered if it would turn the court’s proceedings into a reality T-V show. Justice Patrick Crooks said he and his colleagues would look bad if they’re seen changing their minds about a case after getting more evidence.