News 4/1/2010

DNR: ‘No Large-Scale Fish Kill on BD Lake’

4/1/10 – The DNR says there does not appear to be a large-scale fish kill on Beaver Dam Lake. Fisheries Biologist Laura Stremick-Thompson says don’t believe the rumors. Fyke nets were set on Beaver Dam Lake on Saturday and they’ve lifted the nets every day this week. Stremick-Thompson says it’s to too early to come up with population estimates, but they have seen good numbers of spawning walleye, bluegill, black crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish and several species of pan fish. She says there are six fyke nets currently set in the lake, specifically for walleye, and more will be put out today. The DNR plans on monitoring population levels for the next 10 days or so but that will be determined by a variety of factors, including the spawn cycle of the walleye and the water temperature. There were no aerators placed on Beaver Dam Lake this year, which Stremick-Thompson says may have fueled talk of an above average fish-kill.

Columbus Finalizing Wastewater Contract With FR

4/1/10 – The City of Columbus and Village of Fall River are closing in on the contract that will turn Fall River into a wastewater treatment customer of the City. For the past two months a team of lawyers, engineers and municipal officials have been meeting to draft a contract between the two communities. Earlier this week John Andres (An’-duhrs) of Baker Tilley International presented key elements of the proposed contract to the Columbus Council. Andres said constructing the Fall River force main would be one of the first steps in the five year contract. Andres said Fall River is anticipating a grant and loan from USDA Rural Development. The Village plans to start their part of the project as soon as funding becomes available. Negotiating teams will be meeting again in April attempting to bring a final version of the contract before a joint meeting of the City Council and Village Board in early May.

Krueger Calls Rail Criticism Political Ploy

4/1/10 – Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger says negative remarks about the new high speed rail line by a candidate running for office this fall are being made solely as a political ploy. Representative Brett Davis said yesterday that he will introduce a bill to stop the planning process for the high-speed line from Milwaukee to Madison, which would have a stop in Watertown, citing its high cost and lack of interest. Krueger says the comments made by Davis are purely political. He says he’s disappointed the positives of the project, which will mostly be funded by 810-million federal dollars, have not been talked about. The bill submitted by Davis would stop the project immediately and would require the full legislature to vote on any future actions. Davis is running for Lieutenant Governor this fall.

Highway 33 To Close In Fox Lake

4/1/10 – Beginning Monday, motorists will no longer be able to use Highway 33 to go through Fox Lake. Ryan Heart with the Department of Transportation says reconstruction will begin just south of the city limits and run to the former Kwik Trip Store. The project will consist of new pavement, storm and sanitary sewer, and water maintenance. Heart says Highway 33 will only be open to local traffic with through traffic being detoured to County Highway A at Highway 151. Heart says the completion date for the project is late summer.

Daytime Burglar Gets 15 Years

4/1/10 – The man who plagued the Dodge County area with a series of daytime burglaries in the fall of 2008 was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison. A jury found Oscar Jasper Jr. guilty in January on six of nine felony Theft and Burglary charges, as well as a handful of misdemeanors, related to the break-ins. The 48-year-old was apprehended with the help of video surveillance footage after he tried to sell stolen tools outside a Beaver Dam business in the days after the burglary. Jasper stole mostly firearms, jewelry and tools from homes in the Towns of Shields, Hubbard, Oak Grove and in Juneau; several of the items were recovered from a pawn

shop in Milwaukee. He was on probation at the time the burglaries occurred. Jasper will serve five years of extended supervision when he is released, followed by another three years on probation.

Ballweg Formally Charged

4/1/10 – A Beaver Dam Alderman and County Board Supervisor has been formally charged with Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Damage To Property. Robert Ballweg was arrested in Fox Lake on February 7 for allegedly damaging a door and breaking cell phone during an altercation with a man who reportedly made lewd comments about one of Ballweg’s family members. If convicted on both counts, the 46-year-old could spend up to one year in jail and could also be fined up to $11,000. An initial hearing is scheduled for April 12.

Surfing For Child Porn = Possession

4/1/10 – When you look at child pornography on the Internet, you’re committing a felony, even if you don’t download it to your hard drive. That’s what a state appeals court ruled Wednesday in the case of a former Fond du Lac city government official. Ben Mercer claimed that he never legally possessed the child porn he found while surfing the internet at his old job as Fond du Lac’s human resources director. But the Second District Appellate Court in Waukesha said Mercer repeatedly looked for child porn using his search engine – so he could control the images on his screen. The judges said that is enough to constitute legal child porn possession. Mercer was convicted on 14 of 33 child porn possession charges back in 2007. He also filed another suit which claimed he was wrongfully terminated. But the same appellate court threw out that case last December, saying Mercer resigned on his own volition.

Appeals Court Defines ‘Secluded’

4/1/10 – A state appeals court set a legal definition of the word “secluded” Wednesday as it upheld a child enticement conviction against a Sheboygan man. A jury found Mitchell Pask guilty in 2007 of trying to lure a nine-year-old girl to a park shelter that was partially blocked from public view. Circuit Judge Terry Van Akkeren threw out the conviction, saying the shelter was not legally secluded. But after public outrage, the judge changed his mind and sent Pask to prison. Pask later argued that “seclusion” means totally blocking something from view. But today, the Second District Appellate Court in Waukesha said a secluded place can be anywhere that reduces the chance of detection – and it does not have to be totally sheltered from view. As a result, the appellate court said the judge’s reversal was correct, and the conviction should stand.

Sex Offenders In Treatment Not Eligible For Min Wage

4/1/10 – Sex offenders who work while being confined in Wisconsin’s treatment centers are not entitled to get the minimum wage. That’s what an appeals court in Waukesha ruled Wenesday. Offenders at Sand Ridge in Mauston and the Wisconsin Resource Center in Oshkosh used to get 6.50-an-hour for their work around the facilities. But in 2007, the corrections department slashed that pay to as little as two-dollars an hour, as part of the effort to balance the state budget. Lots of sex offenders cried foul. And Oshkosh residents Eric Fankhauser and Hung Nam Tram filed suit against the pay cut, saying they’ve done their prison time and they’re legally employees and not inmates. But the Second District Appellate Court disagreed on a 3-nothing vote. The court said the Legislature changed the law in 1981 to allow sex offenders at treatment centers to be exempted from the minimum wage, just like prisoners. And Judge Daniel Anderson wrote that the patients get tax-funded food, housing, and medicines – and they don’t need the minimum wage to keep up their standard of living. Anderson also noted a court ruling in 2008 which said the patients don’t qualify for the federal minimum wage, either.

Oshkosh Lawsuit Thrown Out

4/1/10 – A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit which claimed that the Oshkosh Corporation had illegally inflated its stock price. The class action lawsuit was connected with the company’s acquisition of a garbage truck maker in 2001. Oshkosh bought the Geesink Norba Group, which proceeded to lose 41-million dollars in four-and-a-half years ending in 2008. In June of ’08, Oshkosh took a write-down of 175-million dollars for Geesink Norba. Those filing the lawsuit said Oshkosh should have known by 2003 that the company would not succeed – and it should have taken the write-down sooner. But federal Judge William Griesbach of Green Bay said it was not plausible that Oshkosh had meant to defraud anyone in the way it handled the matter.

Grothman: ‘Voting Bill Helps The Lazy’

4/1/10 – State Senator Glenn Grothman accused Democrats Wednesday of assisting “the lazy or un-informed” by making it easier for them to vote. The West Bend Republican slammed the Democrats’ voting reform bill at a joint hearing held by committees in both the Senate and the Assembly. The measure would let Wisconsinites register automatically when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses. It would also encourage absentee voting at satellite locations other than a local clerk’s office. And it would let overseas troops vote more easily. Democrats unveiled their package earlier this month. They said it would build on Wisconsin’s tradition of high voter turnouts and well-run elections. Democrats are trying to rush the package through the Legislature before the current session ends in 22 days.

Tax Freedom Day Is April 12

4/1/10 – This year’s Tax Freedom Day is April 12th in Wisconsin. The Tax Foundation says it’s the first day all year that average residents will work for themselves, after making enough since January to pay their taxes for the year. The foundation says Wisconsin has the nation’s 13th-highest tax burden – which means we have the nation’s 13th-latest Tax Freedom Day. It’s three days later than the national day. In neighboring Iowa, folks will start working for themselves on Easter Sunday. Other tax freedom days are next Thursday in Michigan, April 11th in Illinois, and April 13th in Minnesota. Connecticut is the latest at April 27th. Folks in Alaska are already working for themselves. Their tax freedom day was last Friday. The foundation says Wisconsinites pay just over 10-percent of their incomes in state-and-local taxes. That’s the ninth-highest in the country.

Dodge County Board Candidates on Community Comment

4/1/10 – Our election coverage on Community Comment wraps up today with a look at a pair of contested races on the Dodge County Board. We begin with the Watertown-area seat in District 13, where incumbent Supervisor Joe Ready, a 55-year veteran of the board, is facing challenger Daniel Olejniczak. In our second segment, we’ll hear from District 22 incumbent Supervisor Ed Qualmann of Iron Ridge who is facing opposition from Tom Schmidt Sr. There are contested races in four of the 37 districts on the Dodge County Board; we heard from the candidates vying for the Beaver Dam-area seat and Hustisford-area seat on the program last week. Community Comment airs weekdays on WBEV 1430AM beginning at 12:35pm