“News – August 28, 2009”

No Second Vote For Mercury Marine Union


8/28/09 – There won’t be a second vote by manufacturing employees at Mercury Marine on proposed contract changes. That word from Machinists Local 1947 President Mark Zillges Thursday afternoon. Zillges said he couldn’t comment further and referred us to the District 10 office in Milwaukee for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and two union representatives there. Russell Krings who was out front during the negotiations with Mercury officials in Fond du Lac during the past several weeks said, “I’m not going to comment” and hung up the phone. Another District 10 representative wasn’t available for comment. Earlier in the day union officials said in order to stage a second vote there would need to be substantial changes to the contract offer, which didn’t materialize during a meeting with Mercury President Mark Schwabero Tuesday. Mercury’s “last, best, and final offer” is on the table through midnight Saturday. Efforts to keep the Mercury corporate headquarters in Fond du Lac continue.


Accused Cold Case Murderer Waives Prelim


8/28/09 – Edward Edwards waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon in Jefferson County court.  Edwards is the man accused of killing two high school sweethearts in Sullivan 29 years ago.  According to the state’s new amended complaint, Edwards said he had sex with 19-year-old Kelly Drew in a field outside a hall where the couple attended a wedding reception.  The 76-year-old says he saw Tim Hack fighting with two men who beat or stomped him to death.  Edwards claimed he then saw three men stomp Drew to her death. He says he did nothing to help the victims, because he didn’t want to get involved.  Investigators said they found Edwards D-N-A on Drew’s pants.  He was arrested a month ago, and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.


Drug Dealer Sentenced


8/28/09 – A Beaver Dam woman was sentenced to two months in jail yesterday for dealing drugs. Janice Scheurer was arrested following a traffic stop on her birthday this past April. The 43-year-old was in possession of 15 grams of cocaine. Scheurer pleaded “no contest” to a felony charge of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and had three other felony counts dismissed but read into the record.  In addition to two months in jail with Huber privileges, Scheurer was also placed on probation for four years and was ordered to forfeit her vehicle.


Jasper Bound Over For Daytime Residential Burglaries


8/28/09 – The man accused in connection with a string of residential burglaries in and around Dodge County last fall has been bound over for trial.  Oscar Jasper Jr., a Milwaukee-native who had been living in Beaver Dam after his release from prison, is charged with five felony counts of Burglary, Theft and Felon in Possession of a Firearm, along with a handful of misdemeanors related to the daytime burglaries last October.  The 47-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.  The penalties carry a maximum penalty of over 48 years in prison but because Jasper is a repeat offender, he could have up to another 30 years added to his sentence. Jasper is being held on a $20,000 cash bond and has an arraignment hearing scheduled for September 30.


Randolph Woman Accused of Embezzlement


8/28/09 – A Randolph woman is accused of embezzling $16,000 from the gas station she managed. Cheryl Sjoerdsma is charged with a felony count of Theft in a Business Setting.  According to the criminal complaint, the 52-year-old wrote a letter of apology to her boss admitting the thefts, which occurred over a one year period beginning in May of last year. The missing money was discovered during an annual audit.  Sjoerdsma faces up to ten years in prison, if convicted.  She had a signature bond set at $1000 yesterday and a preliminary hearing scheduled for September 10.


First Week of FDL Murder Trial Wrapping Up


8/28/09 – The murder trial for a 53-year-old Ashwaubenon man suspected of killing a young woman in Fond du Lac in July of 1976 is wrapping up its first week. Yesterday several friends of Thomas Niesen testified about his drug use at the time of murder, aggressive approach to picking up women in bars, and propensity to carry knives. Nineteen-year-old Kathleen Leichtman was killed with a knife early the morning of July 15th of 1976. Her body was found along Rolling Meadows Drive. Niesen’s ex-wife JC Crull could be called to the witness stand today. The trial in Fond du Lac County Court is scheduled to run through next week.


WIAA Proposal Would Do Away With Football Conferences


8/28/09 – Tonight is the kickoff to the high school football season and it could be the last year that schools belong to a conference.  Under a proposal from the WIAA, the current structure would change to a seven-district format with eight divisions within each district.  The idea behind the proposal is to match schools up based on size so as to level the playing field. The proposal is only a rough draft but as it stands now about half of the teams on Beaver Dam’s schedule this year would not be a part of their new division.  Local officials hope to learn more about the proposal when the WIAA holds their district meetings in the 2nd week of September.


Prison Employees on Furlough Today


8/28/09 – Wisconsin’s prisons will operate on a holiday schedule today, as most of the Corrections Department’s 10-thousand employees will be on a furlough.  It’s part of Governor Jim Doyle’s order to make all state workers take 16 unpaid days off during the next two years, to help cover a shortfall in state revenues.  Some guards say the furloughs could mean an explosion of overtime, because the prisons have to be staffed 24-7.  But deputy corrections secretary Ismael Ozanne says the holiday schedule is a proven method of keeping overtime to a minimum while keeping the prisons safe.  And Ozanne says the department has worked hard to cut heavy overtime from previous years.  Still, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan agrees the situation might need to be re-examined – saying it doesn’t make sense to pay more in overtime than what the furloughs save.  Other agencies have talked about trying to chip away at the governor’s mandate – but the administration  has held firm in requiring all employees to take the furloughs.  State Employees’ Union director Marty Beil says he’d rather see nobody furloughed – but he agrees that having it apply to everybody is the only fair way to do it.


WKCE Tests Will Be Eliminated


8/28/09 – Wisconsin’s statewide school achievement tests will be eliminated in three years.  State Superintendent Tony Evers announced yesterday the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concept Exams will be replaced with a system of state, school district, and classroom assessments.  For 17 years, the tests have been given each fall to third, eighth, and 10th graders.  But the results were not known until spring – and because of that, local officials say they’ve done a poor job of evaluating student progress.  During the Bush years, the test was meant to comply with the president’s No Child Left Behind Act.  But the state’s largest teachers’ union has been trying for a long time to do away with a single test for measuring achievement.  A task force recommended the new system.  Evers says it will be more responsive to students, teachers, and parents – and the tests will be computer-based, with the goal of gauging student progress numerous times during a school year.  The union and the state School Boards and School Districts’ associations all hailed the change, saying it will result in more accountability.  Also, it could help Wisconsin get some of the four-point-three billion dollars in federal stimulus money in President Obama’s “Race to the Top” school reform effort.


Watertown Farmer Blasts Time Magazine Article


8/28/09 – The Woman-of-the-Year for Madison’s World Dairy Expo takes issue with the cover story in this week’s Time Magazine.  “The Real Cost of Cheap Food” portrayed animals drugged with anti-biotics in prison-like conditions, producing food that’s making Americans obese while gobbling up 19-percent of the nation’s fossil fuels.  Daphne Holterman of Watertown runs one of the concentrated animal-feeding operations criticized in the article.  And according to the Brownfield Ag News Service, she called the story “rubbish” and a far cry from what it contends.  Among other things, the story cited a corporate organic farm as one of the solutions to the industry’s problems.  Holterman told the magazine it should have visited quote, “real farms in the heartland of America.”  She said family farms are hardly “monotonous and soul-killing.”  She also said her farm is always open to quote, “visitors with an open mind.”  Holterman’s family farm  is one of the most honored in Wisconsin.  It has received numerous awards, and the Holterman family is a past winner of the National Jaycees’ Outstanding Young Farmer award.


AG: Domestic Partner Registry “Substantially Similar” to Tradition Marriage


8/28/09 – Wisconsin’s attorney general says the state can offer some benefits to same-sex couples – but not the registry approved in the new state budget.  J-B Van Hollen told Governor Jim Doyle in a letter that the domestic partnership status which took effect August third is “substantially similar” to traditional marriage.  And therefore, Van Hollen says it goes against the 2006 constitutional amendment which bans gay marriages and civil unions.  Van Hollen said last Friday he would not defend the state in a lawsuit which challenges the new registry approved by Doyle and the Legislature.  It offers about one-fifth of the 200-some legal benefits given to married couples.  Van Hollen’s decision forced the governor to hire Madison attorney Lester Pines to defend the state in a lawsuit filed a month ago by three members of the Wisconsin Family Action group.  The suit asked the Supreme Court to take the case right away – but the justices have not said whether they’d do so.


Large WI Lost Money Last Quarter


8/28/09 – Three of Wisconsin’s four largest banks lost money in the last quarter, compared to the same time a year ago.  The F-D-I-C said yesterday that Wisconsin banks lost a total of 161-million dollars in the period from April-through-June.  And that’s down from a 207-million-dollar combined loss in 2008.  Statewide, one-of-every-five banks lost money.  And the F-D-I-C says more Wisconsinites are getting behind on their loans.  Almost four-point-two-percent of all loans were in arrears in the last quarter, up from three-and-a-half percent in the first quarter of this year.  The chair of the F-D-I-C, Sheila Bair, said challenges remain – but there’s evidence that the U-S economy is starting to grow again.  The agency said Johnson Bank of Racine was among the state’s most profitable in the last quarter – along with National Exchange of Fond du Lac, River Valley of Wausau, Bank Mutual of Brown Deer, and Waukesha State Bank.  Those with the biggest losses were M-and-I, Associated, First Banking of Burlington, Security State Bank of Iron River, and Anchor Bank of Madison.


AugustFest Gets Underway in Juneau


8/28/09 – The 12th Annual Juneau AugustFest gets underway today in and around the City Park.  The three-day event will feature live music, carnival rides, and food.  There is an all you can eat fish fry under the shelter from 4:30 to 7pm. Live music is from Die Spiel Meisters German Band early this evening and Jeff Hall DJ Service later tonight.  There’s also a softball tournament and soccer tournament getting underway today.