“News – August 21, 2009”

Vote on Future of Merc Coming Sunday


8/21/09 – Union leaders talked about drawing a line in the sand, but that line could be the Wisconsin border as Mercury Marine officials consider whether to keep outboard engine manufacturing in Fond du Lac or move it to Stillwater, Oklahoma. The line union officials referred to yesterday is their stand on accepting what they claim is a significant reduction in pay and benefits in the 7-year contract proposed by the company. Mercury President Mark Schwabero says the marine industry has reached a turning point and there will be no recovery to their days of peak sales and manufacturing.


Meanwhile, Fond du Lac County Executive Al Buechel used the term, Stillwater awaits! In referring to the importance of a vote the members of Mercury Marine’s employees union will make on Sunday. He says stated simply a yes vote means keeping the company in Fond du Lac and investing in new jobs, while a no vote means sending manufacturing of outboard engines to Stillwater, Oklahoma.


Two separate rallies are planned this Sunday in Fond du Lac.  Scott Swick is the organizer of a rally at the High School. He says it’s designed to be peaceful and show support for Mercury and its employees. An organizer for another rally at Lakeside Park says their rally too is designed to be respectful. Both rallies will start around 8 a.m. Union members will meet at 9 a.m. to vote.


DC Fair Site of 47th Annual Meat Animal Auction


8/21/09 – The Farm Progress Arena was packed for last night’s 47th Annual Meat Animal Auction at the Dodge County Fair.  Dodge and Jefferson Counties were both represented among the various champions and reserve champions.


In the Market Beef auction Eva Arndt of Beaver Dam sold her Champion Beef for $2.50 a pound to Pernat Haase Meats.  Alexa Strehlow of Horicon had the reserve champion beef which went for $1.35 a pound to Quad Graphics.  The Champion Dairy Beef sold for $2.50 a pound to Hupfs Repair and belonged to Jamie Haas of Beaver Dam.  Robert Christian of Neosho got $1.50 a pound from Pine Hill Trucking for his Reserve Champion Dairy Beef.


The Market Lamb auction followed the beef.  Juneau’s Rebecca Keel got $4.50 a pound from Universal Cooperative for her Champion Market Lamb, while Beaver Dam’s Morgan Stebbins Reserve Champion Lamb got the largest bid of the night, $10.50 a pound from Schmidt Pumping LLC.  Brandon’s Meats bought Waupun’s Emily Schwanke’s  Grand Champion Home Bred for $5.00 a pound and Cedar Road Meats bought Juneau’s Samantha Schultz’ Reserve Champion Home Bred Lamb for $4.00.


The Market Hogs auction finished out the night and saw the highest bid of the night.  Nicole Justmann got $4.00 a pound from Jensens Piggly Wiggly for her Champion Barrow.  The reserve champion Barrow, brought by Morgan Justmann of Lowell, went for $3.50 a pound to Gina Oemig State Farm Insurance.  Christopher Vierck of Juneau had the Champion Gilt which sold at $6.00 a pound to Rechek’s Food Pride and Oconomowoc’s Kyle Liesener saw his Reserve Champion Gilt go for $4.00 per pound to Flyway Mutual.


Dodge County Fair Day #3: Rock and Roll and Cream Puffs

8/21/09 – Day three of the Dodge County Fair sees the rock band Styx on the grandstand stage and the 14th Annual Cream Puff Eating Contest at the Radio Park Stage.

Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Contest Schedule

The contest begins this year with Fairest’s of the Fair from 2007 through 2009 competing against Miss Beaver Dam Lake, The Honey Bee Queen and the Dodge County Fire Queen. Local legislators Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald are pitted against Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy, Casey Carney of Casey and the Moonshine Band, Horicon School’s Superintendent Gary Berger and Chuck Crave with the Crave Brothers Farm.  Peter Pan and other members of the Beaver Dam Community Theater go head to head with the Morais Players of Mayville theater troupe.  Finally, Dodge County’s district attorney and emergency management director will compete for the “Excellence in Pastry Consumption” trophy against Beaver Dam Chamber Director Phil Fritsche and PAVE Director Jamie Kratz-Gullickson.  Sheriff Todd Nehls has neither confirmed nor cancelled his regular appearance in the contest.  WBEV has been unable to substantiate rumors that Nehls will take a break from War College and parachute into the fairgrounds for the contest.

Our officials this year are Dodge County Judge’s Brian Pfitzinger and Daniel Klossner. Members of the public also have the opportunity to participate.  Winners will be eligible for cash prizes of up to $100.  There will be two heats in each of three respective categories for men, women and kids. The Cream Puff Eating Contest will be held today from 5pm to 6:30pm in Radio Park and broadcast live during the Barn Show on WXRO.

Dangerous Fungus Threatens State Potato Crop


8/21/09 – Experts call it the “bubonic plague of the plant world” and it’s making its presence felt locally.  Officials say a highly contagious and destructive fungus, already found on tomato plants in Wisconsin, has been found in potato farms in two counties, including Columbia County.  The infestation spreads quickly by air, with spores traveling long distances.  It has the power to destroy entire crops.  The Columbia County invasion was found at a research farm near Arlington earlier this week.  Experts are making efforts to get the word out to smaller farms in the state about the infestation, which is the same disease that caused the potato famine in Ireland in the late 1800’s.


Oshkosh Police Looking for Explanation


8/21/09 – At first, police in Oshkosh were looking for a 12 to 14 year old girl who had been abducted.  Now, they say they are searching for an explanation.  No one has reported a missing child.  Wisconsin authorities allowed Wednesday’s Amber Alert to expire.  Witnesses had told cops the girl had been dragged into a vehicle while she was walking on the side of an Oshkosh street.  Despite dozens of tips, investigators don’t have a missing person report or any substantial leads.  Now, cops are asking anyone who might have been involved in a situation Wednesday morning — that might have looked like a violent abduction — to please call them so they can close the case.


Unemployment Numbers Dip


8/21/09 – The statewide unemployment rate experienced a slight drop in July.  Figures released by the Department of Workforce Development show the rate down to 8-point-7 percent for July, a drop of one-half percent from June’s rate.  The numbers are even with the unemployment rate for May of this year.  DWD Economic Advisor Dennis Winters says it’s a sign the job market could be stabilizing right now and ready to turn up.  However, Winters says it may still be awhile before the state sees an influx of new jobs.  He says businesses will typically try to bring existing employees back to full strength before adding new permanent help to their workforce.


$200K Restitution for BD Developer


8/21/09 – The developer who skipped out on paying contractors to build the Eagle View subdivision in Beaver Dam has been ordered to pay $200,000 during a restitution hearing yesterday.  Karen M. Behnke-Knoblauch failed to pay for work that was completed in 2007.  She was sentenced to one year in jail earlier this month on charges of Theft by Contractor. The 53-year-old Pewaukee woman used a business loan from Equitable Bank for personal expenses.  Nearly $100,000 was converted to cash while the remaining money was spent at two Milwaukee-area department stores.  In addition to jail time, Behnke-Knoblauch was placed on probation for five years. The Eagle View subdivision is on the south side of Beaver Dam.  There has been no home construction there as of yet.


Jail Time For Embezzlement


8/21/09 – A Waupun woman who embezzled over $20,000 from Holiday Food and Sports will spend 90 days in jail. Rhonda Bookout, who was a manager at the stores in Waupun and Beaver Dam, pleaded “no contest” Thursday to an amended charge of Theft In A Business Setting.  According to the criminal complaint, the 42-year-old admitted to taking not only the money but also books of lottery tickets over a three year period. Bookout would reportedly scan the items, accept the money and then void the transaction. She says she paid back the money for all the lottery tickets, after she collected the winnings.  In addition to jail time, Bookout was placed on probation for three years.  A restitution hearing is scheduled for October 4.


Ohlemiller Arraigned


8/21/09 – A Beaver Dam man accused of molesting three young girls entered a “not guilty” plea at arraignment. Howard Ohlemiller is charged with two felony counts of 1st Degree Sexual Assault of a Child Under the Age of 13 and one count of 2nd Degree Sexual Assault of a Child for offenses that allegedly occurred over a two-year period ending in April. The 79-year-old is accused of assaulting a young teenager and two pre-teens on a weekly basis before he would pay them for house cleaning services.  According to the criminal complaint, Ohlemiller admitted the incidents to authorities, saying that the girls were at fault for initiating the activity. He faces a maximum 160 years in prison if convicted on all counts.


Criminalizing First Time OWI Unlikely


8/21/09 – Wisconsin lawmakers are taking on drunk driving issues, but state Representative Terese Berceau says most of them don’t take the issue seriously enough.  The Madison Democrat says there’s not enough support, for instance, for making first-time OWI a criminal, rather than a civil offense.  Burceau says the public is demanding action, now.  Berceau says she’s particularly disturbed by the unwillingness to deal with the first time drunk driver.  Berceau chairs the Assembly Committee on Local Affairs, which is considering several bills on OWI.


Waupun Projects Big Tax Hike


8/21/09 – Under the budget presented earlier this week Waupun School District residents will see a significant increase in their tax rate for the 2009-2010 school year.  Administration officials say despite spending about $200,000 less than last year school taxes are expected to jump around eight-point-seven-percent (8.7%).  The biggest reason is the decrease in state aid, which is down around $750,000 from last year.  Business Director Bill Zeininger told the board that if they were receiving the same state aid as last year, there would be no increase in taxes.  The single digit increase is better than other districts in the state where huge deceases in aid from the government have led to 15 or 20-percent increases.  The district plans to have a public hearing on the budget during a meeting next month.


Gubernatorial Race Pricy


8/21/09 – The 2010 race for governor could end up being the most expensive in state history.  With Governor Doyle not seeking reelection, the state faces its first gubernatorial race without an incumbent since 1982. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says that could result in a very crowded field of candidates, which will drive spending up very quickly.  The 2006 race for governor carried a 32 million dollar price tag. With an open field for both Democrats and Republicans, McCabe predicts that could reach as much as 50 million dollar by November 2010.