News – December 29, 2016

Iowa Inmate Dies At Dodge Correctional


12/30/16 – State and county officials are investigating an inmate death at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun. Justin Kestner, an inmate from Iowa, was found unresponsive in his cell December 21. Prison staff reportedly attempted life-saving measures on the 26-year-old but were unsuccessful and the results of an autopsy are not yet available. Kestner was serving a 20-year sentence for the 2009 robbery of a Sioux City gas station. He had 15-years added to that sentence after being the first inmate in a decade to escape from Iowa’s maximum security prison Fort Madison in July of 2015. Officials say the 26-year-old pieced together 67 feet of bed sheets to go free for ten hours — and he stole a car and dumped it 100 miles away in Geneseo, Illinois, close to where he was later captured in a corn field. In October, reports say Kestner assaulted a prison officer in Anamosa, Iowa with a piece of metal — and as a result, he was transferred to Waupun where final autopsy results from his death are still pending. Dodge Correctional is the state’s intake facility for all new inmates.


Illness Closes Oshkosh Correctional To Visitors


12/30/16 – Visitors are not being allowed at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution due an increased number of inmate illnesses. Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook says other operations are also being limited. Cook says movement throughout the institution is being curtailed to minimize contact between inmates and allow inmates to recover before resuming normal operations is part of the department’s effort to mitigate the spread of illness.


Court To Hear Dassey Appeal In February


12/30/16 – The federal appeals court in Chicago plans to hear arguments February 14th on whether Brendan Dassey should remain acquitted of the Halloween 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. A federal magistrate judge threw out Dassey’s conviction in August, saying that at 16-years-old, he did not have the mental ability to deal with police interrogation tactics that squeezed confessions from Dassey that both he and his uncle Steven Avery took part in Halbach’s slaying in Manitowoc County. The state Justice Department disagrees with the judge’s findings and is trying to get Dassey’s conviction and life prison sentence reinstated. He remains behind bars for now. Each side will have 15 minutes to state its arguments to the appellate court.


Man Accused Of Making Threats To Shoot Up Appleton Mall


12/30/16 – A man accused of making threats that evacuated the Fox River Mall near Appleton allegedly talked of “shooting up” the mall and the Copper Leaf Hotel. The Outagamie County District Attorney’s office has filed a more detailed complaint against 28-year-old Christopher Hawkins of Green Bay, who’s charged with making terrorist threats on Tuesday. Prosecutors say Hawkins argued with his girlfriend in a parking ramp, left with a gun, called the girlfriend ten minutes later, and said he would “shoot up” the mall and she may as well call police. Hawkins is quoted as telling the woman, “I guarantee by the end of the night someone is going to die.” Officials say Hawkins never went into the mall — and he was arrested Wednesday in Minneapolis, where he remains in jail awaiting extradition to Wisconsin.


Sheriff Encourages Motorists Obey Insurance Laws


12/30/16 – Dodge County drivers are urged to obey insurance laws.  The sheriff’s office addresses liability insurance as its ‘law of the month.’  Prior to June 2010, liability coverage was not mandatory.  Sheriff Dale Schmidt says his office issued 109 citations for not having liability insurance last year and had issued another 148 through the first eleven months of 2016.  The sheriff says it is also important to carry proof of insurance at all times, as his officers issued 165 citations in both 2015 and through November 2016.  Anyone caught driving without liability coverage is subject to a $200 fine while failing to carry proof of insurance brings a $10 penalty.


City Races On April Ballot Taking Shape


12/30/16 – We are starting to get an idea of what the ballot will look like for municipal races this spring. Tuesday is the deadline to file paperwork to run for office in the April election.


Beaver Dam

In the city of Beaver Dam, two candidates have filed declaration of candidacy in Beaver Dam’s Ward Nine: incumbent Lisa Davidson and potential challenger Richard Barcus, though neither has submitted their final paperwork.  Ward 11 Alderman Jon Litscher filed non-candidacy and Kay Appenfeldt has filed a declaration of candidacy for the open seat but has yet to file nomination papers. Meanwhile, all the remaining incumbents in odd-numbered wards and Mayor Tom Kennedy have all their paperwork in and are currently running unopposed.



There is an open mayor’s seat in Columbus where current Mayor Kelly Crombie has filed non-candidacy. District Three Alderman Michael Thom is circulating papers for both his aldermanic seat and the mayors position. Former alderman Michael Clark has taken out papers for Thom’s District Three seat. Incumbent alderpersons Regan Hendrickson and Trina Reid are running without any current opposition.



In Mayville, only one of three aldermen is seeking another term. Dale Toellner in District One has filed his paperwork for another term with the city clerk while District Three Alderman Mike Schmidt and District Five Alderman Lon Bartelt filed non-candidacy.



In Juneau, incumbent alderman Jason Buske filed non-candidacy for his First Ward seat and there are currently no candidates circulating papers. Ward Three incumbent David Gratton is seeking his first full term on the council after being appointed this summer to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ron Drezdon. Gratton is circulating papers and is currently running unopposed along with the other incumbent in Juneau, Cheryl Braun who has all her paperwork in for a second term.



The recently-appointed mayor of Waupun is seeking her first full term in office. Mayor Julie Nickel has filed the necessary paperwork with the clerk’s office. Nickel was sworn-in this past August following the early retirement of former Mayor Kyle Clark who stepped down for health reasons. Waupun Alderman Michael Johnson filed non-candidacy papers and Bobbi Vossekuil is the only person so far to submit paperwork for that vacant District Five seat. District One incumbent Jason Westphal and District Three incumbent Ryan Mielke have also submitted their paperwork and are currently facing no challengers.


Fox Lake

In Fox Lake, there are currently no contested races as incumbent alderpersons John Mund and Sam Jenswold have taken out candidate forms while incumbent Pete Hartzheim has everything filed with the clerk.



In Horicon, incumbent alderpersons Susan Hady, Nathan Anfinson, Forrest Frami and Donald Miller all have their nomination packets filed and currently face no challengers. Election Day is April 4.


Olsen Seeks More Oversight At Veterans Home At King


12/30/16 – State Senator Luther Olsen says he might seek more oversight at the veterans’ nursing home at King, depending on who the governor appoints as the new veterans secretary to replace the resigning John Scocos. Earlier reports have documented problems with nursing care and a diversion of federal funds for the vets’ home in Waupaca County — and the federal government has just given the home seven citations for medical care issues, and confirmed that staffers mishandled dangerous liquid oxygen that leaked into a ventilation system as workers were told not to report what happened. Olsen says that unless Walker appoints a new veterans secretary who will “clean house” at King, the senator will seek legislative action to prevent more coverups. Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Middleton tells the Madison Capital Times he filed a complaint with the federal government because the leak had to go on record. Veterans officials say they’re fixing the problems and Olsen, a Republican whose district includes the vets’ home, says it should be reporting its own issues instead of fessing up when the feds expose problems.


Study Committee To Vote On Burial Mound Changes


12/30/16 – A study committee is voting by mail on whether to recommend more specific rules to protect Wisconsin’s Indian burial mounds. Ballots are due Friday on a proposal by a Legislative Council study panel that more clearly determines when the State Historical Society can protect burial mounds from development, create a system for landowners to challenge protection orders, and remove sites from the protection list when remains are taken away. Business leaders on the panel say it should be easier, not harder to remove burial mounds — while tribal leaders say the mounds are religious and cultural sites that must be preserved. If the study panel endorses the measure, it will be submitted to the Legislature. The panel was formed after a quarry near McFarland got into a legal battle when an effigy mound blocked the owner’s ability to extract nearby minerals.


XMasTrees Can Be Left Curbside In BD Starting Tuesday


12/30/16 – City of Beaver Dam residents who receive contracted solid waste collection services will be able to place Christmas trees and boughs street-side for collection by city crews starting next Tuesday. Trees and boughs must be free of ornaments, lights and stands so they can be chipped. Crews will continue to pick-up trees through Friday, January 27. Wreaths and boughs containing roping or wire may also be placed in the Advanced Disposal non-recyclable cart for collection as garbage. City residents can also dispose of Christmas trees and boughs at the Public Works Garage Yard Waste Drop off Site on South Center Street, Monday through Friday – though the garage is closed until Tuesday. No waste of any kind is accepted from outside of the City or from any contractors.


Interstate 41 In Fond du Lac Lane Closures Today


12/30/16 – The state Department of Transportation says there will be a lane closure on Interstate-41 in Fond du Lac Friday morning. Maintenance crews will be repairing guardrail on I-41 northbound near Military Road. Repairs will be made from 8am until noon, weather permitting. A right lane closure will occur during repairs.