“News – August 26, 2009”

No Progress in Mercury-Union Talks


8/26/09 – Nothing changed after a meeting yesterday between Mercury Marine of Fond du Lac and its employee union.  So President Mark Schwabero says a new plan will be made to move factory jobs to a non-union plant in Stillwater Oklahoma.   Both sides met for two hours, after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said no on Sunday to contract concessions that Mercury wanted.  The maker of outboard motors refused to modify its demand that new employees and those returning from layoffs be paid less – and the union refused to have its members vote for a second time.  The company is still giving the union until Saturday to change its mind.  But union spokesman Michael King says it probably won’t happen unless Mercury changes its offer.  Union officials say they’re looking for a written guarantee that production will continue in Fond du Lac.  They believe their jobs will go to Oklahoma even if they approve the concessions.  Mercury says it will honor its current contract which expires in 2012.  About 850 people work in the plant, and over 900 more work at Mercury Marine’s headquarters in Fond du Lac.  A separate decision will be made soon on moving the headquarters.


More Goats Go Missing in Dodge County


8/26/09 – Another large group of goats have gone missing from Dodge County.  The Sheriff’s Department reports that 32-female goats were taken from a Lakeland Road address in the Town of Trenton.  It was reported just before 5pm yesterday and authorities don’t have any suspects.  Six goats were reported missing last week from the Town of Lowell just two weeks after about 100 were stolen from farms in Dodge and Green Lake Counties.  Authorities are urging people to mark their goats so they can be identified.


High Priced Skid Loader Stolen from DC Fair


8/26/09 – Authorities are investigating the theft of a $75,000 skid loader from the Dodge County Fairgrounds Sunday night.  Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jo Anne Swyers says the machine was stolen between 7pm and 10:30pm.  The loader was locked and the keys were not in the ignition at the time.  It appears that someone backed a trailer up to the skid loader, drove it onto the trailer and left the fairgrounds.  Authorities say the theft occurred during a busy time when vendors and exhibitors were taking down displays and booths.  The skid loader is a yellow 2009 CAT model with a fully enclosed cab.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dodge County Sheriffs Department or the anonymous We-Tip hotline at 800-78-CRIME.


Forbes Pleads Not Guilty


8/26/09 – Accused murdered Curtis Forbes entered a “not guilty” plea at an arraignment yesterday in Columbia County Circuit court.  The Randolph man is accused of killing 18-year-old Marilyn McIntyre at her Columbus residence on March 11, 1980. McIntyre was discovered by her husband after he returned home from work; their three-month old son was asleep at the time. She was beaten, stabbed and strangled. The 51-year-old Forbes, who was a close personal friend of the victim’s husband, was initially a person of interest but he fled the state shortly after the murder. The case had gone cold for several years but was reopened in late 2007 at the request of the family. According to the criminal complaint, Forbes was overheard in 2002 saying he took a friend’s wife home from a bar, and she didn’t breathe any more after that night. Authorities used D-N-A to link Forbes to the crime. Both sides have 30 days to file motions before the matter goes to a jury.


Testimony Gets Underway in FDL Cold Case Murder


8/26/09 – Two witnesses testified yesterday that they saw 53-year-old Thomas Niesen leave the Other Place strip club with 19-year-old Kathleen Leichtman in July of 1976. The young woman’s body was discovered early the next morning along Rolling Meadows Drive in Fond du Lac. Today is the third day of the Ashwaubenon man’s murder trial in Fond du Lac County Court. Niesen is suspected of slaying Leichtman who was in Fond du Lac to dance at the strip club. The trial is scheduled to run through next week. (KFIZ)


FDL Bartender Turns to Police for Help


8/26/09 – An 18-year-old Fond du Lac woman is trying to get a no trespass citation issued against a 60-year-old Mayville man who’s shown an unhealthy interest in her. The woman told Fond du Lac Police that she first met Robert Villwock at the Fox’s Den Bar where she bartends. She had to throw him out of the tavern because he was acting weird. Since then she got a letter he sent from the Dodge County Jail. He’s being held on some traffic infractions. He asked her to visit him at the jail. Villwock is no stranger to law enforcement. He was involved in a vehicle standoff incident in Fond du Lac in October of 2002 and a high speed chase with a Fond du LacCounty Sheriff’s deputy in February of 2006. (KFIZ)


Man Charged in Short Standoff


8/26/09 – Formal charges have been field in connection with a brief confrontation in Randolph this past weekend.  The standoff began after Shawn M. Seeber allegedly threatened a woman with a shotgun.  About ten minutes after authorities arrived at their High Street residence, Seeber was taken into custody without incident.  The 35-year-old is charged with misdemeanor counts of Disorderly Conduct and Intentionally Pointing A Firearm. Seeber had a signature bond set at $500 and a return date scheduled for September 21.


Columbus Council Tackles Udey Dam Questions


8/26/09 – Costs for the repair or removal of the Udey Dam drew a lot of attention at last night’s Columbus Council meeting. Engineer Kent Fish said he felt the most popular option

is to repair the Crawfish River dam.  According to Fish, recent engineering assessments and favorable construction prices could result in repair of the Dam for $372,000.  Columbus has re-applied for a DNR grant and has a 50 / 50 chance of receiving money for Dam repair. Costs of the Udey Dam project and other Capital Improvement projects for the City will be the focus for four special Council sessions in September and October.


BDHS to Begin Mentoring Program


8/26/09 – The Beaver Dam High School is implementing a new mentoring program that pairs upper classmen with incoming freshmen.  It’s called the Link Crew and the programs coordinator Laurie Keiser says the plan is to provide incoming students with a comfortable transition that will help them academically, competitively and socially. There are 280 incoming Class of 2013 freshmen and 60 Link Leaders, about a 5 to 1 ratio. The upperclassmen get a half-credit for their year-long mentorship, plus Klawitter says it provides a community service component that looks good on résumé’s and college applications. Link Crew Coordinators train junior and senior students to be Link Leaders.   The Link Crew program officially kicks off at the freshmen orientation tomorrow, and there are two other mentoring opportunities before school begins next Tuesday. That includes Friday’s football game and a dance on Sunday.


WI Highway Improvement Fund $33M in the Hole


8/26/09 – At least some highway improvements in Wisconsin might have to wait, because the fund which pays for that work is 33-million-dollars in the hole.  The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is expected to act tomorrow on a request by the D-O-T to reduce its spending on road repairs and new construction.  The revenue shortfall covers about two-percent of state’s one-and-a-half billion dollar transportation fund.  Among other things, it’s caused by the first reduction in the number of registered cars and light trucks in the Badger State in over 30 years.  Almost 27-thousand fewer vehicles were registered last year, which meant a loss in fee revenue.  And with the problems in the auto industry, new car registrations in the last quarter of the year plunged by 38-percent.  Also, Wisconsinites used three-point-six percent less gasoline between last July and March – and as fuel prices fell, so did gas tax revenues.


Bill Would Ban Bartenders Drinking with Customers


8/26/09 – Bartenders could no longer drink with their customers, under a bill that got a public hearing in the Wisconsin Assembly yesterday.  Milwaukee Democrat Josh Zepnick is demanding absolute sobriety from those who serve alcohol – as well as a statewide ban on “all you can drink” specials.  He says both measures would reduce drunk driving and alcohol abuse.  Zepnick says those who serve alcohol must decide whether patrons have had too much to drink – and they can’t do it if they’re drinking heavily themselves.  But the owner of the Malt House in Madison says his bartenders need to taste his various products, so they can describe them to their customers.  Bill Rogers said his place has 18 lines of draft beer, and they change quite often.  Zepnick says he’s willing to consider amendments.  The Assembly’s Local Affairs Committee will decide whether to recommend the bills to the full house.  The panel also heard testimony on a bill to stop letting kids under 18 drink with their parents in bars.  A Senate committee had a hearing on the same proposal last week.


Cigarette Tax to Increase Next Tuesday


8/26/09 – Wisconsin’s cigarette tax goes up again next Tuesday – and state revenue agents will be on the lookout for illegal products that don’t have the required tax stamp.  When the state tax rose by a dollar-a-pack last January, the Revenue Department seized over 12-thousand illegal packs of cigarettes around that time.  But in the last fiscal year ending June 30th, only 763 packs were confiscated.  Spokeswoman Jessica Iverson said agents focused on other enforcement activities in that period.  But with the tax going up another 75-cents on September first, Iverson says there will be a new enforcement effort.  And she says retailers are being urged to check their inventories to make sure they have the proper tax stamps.  Wisconsin will have the nation’s fifth-highest cigarette tax, at two-dollars-and-52-cents a pack.  It’s expected to generate about 300-million dollars in state revenues over the next two years.


Pines to Defend State in Legal Challenge of Domestic Partner Registry


8/26/09 – Madison attorney Lester Pines will defend the state in a lawsuit that challenges the new legal protections for same-sex couples.  Governor Jim Doyle hired Pines yesterday, after Attorney General J-B Van Hollen refused to fight the suit filed by three board members of the Wisconsin Family Action group.  The plaintiffs said the new benefits for gay couples violate the constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.  And Van Hollen said he agrees with the plaintiffs.  Pines will get 175-dollars-an-hour, up to 20-thousand dollars over a one-year period.  The governor’s office said Pines was chosen because of his 34 years of legal experience.  And he’s familiar with the legal issues in the gay marriage amendment, since he’s defending a U-W Oshkosh professor who’s trying to strike it down on a claim that it was improperly worded.  That case is pending before the State Supreme Court.