News – February 1, 2009

Udey Dam Vote on Tuesday

2/1/09 – The physical condition of the Udey Dam in Columbus has been a major source of a four-year debate. That argument could be leading to an April referendum on the dam even though the Council has already voted to repair. The state Department of Natural Resources has notified the City that the Dam on the Crawfish River has to be “repaired” or “removed.” Former Council Member George Jordan said this week that the $600 thousand dollar estimate to “repair” was well over the 2007 General Engineering $372 thousand dollar estimate received by the Udey Dam Ad Hoc Committee. City Administrator Boyd Kraemer responded to the questions on the condition of the dam with the City’s interpretation of the engineering reports. Next Tuesday the Common Council will be voting on whether there will be a referendum on the April ballot asking voters to decide whether to repair or remove the dam.

Duck Killer Fined

2/1/09 – A 33-year-old Fond du Lac man who turned himself into authorities in connection with the deaths of 57 mallard ducks faces five citations totaling nearly $2500. Officials with the state DNR hand-delivered the citations to the snowmobiler on Friday. The man reported his involvement to authorities after news reports began to circulate following the January 13 incident at the mouth of the Fond du Lac River. He was issued four snowmobile violation citations and one natural resource violation citations. No criminal charges will be filed and the DNR investigation has concluded the situation to be an accident. The man will pay $26.25 for each of the dead animals, which totals just under $1500.

Deer Killer Harassment Misdirected

2/1/09 – A Weyauwega says her family has received harassing phone calls and letters since three men were accused of using their snowmobiles to kill five deer. Two of the three men are brothers Rory and Robby Kuenzi, but Charlene Kuenzi says they’re not her sons. One threatening letter was handed over to police and another message in the mail simply said, “Murderers.” Charlene Kuenzi says she understands that people are angry about the deer killings, but she says she’s worried about her family’s safety.

Mistrial in Washington County Murder

2/1/09 – A Washington County judge declared a mistrial late Friday night when the jury told him agreement was impossible. Cordell Thompson is accused of killing his 86 year old father, Kenneth Cumiskey, a little over two years ago. The jury foreman told the judge 10 members thought Thompson was guilty, but two did not. Twelve hours of deliberations produced no verdict. Thompson is still charged with first-degree reckless homicide. Prosecutors say he beat his father to death.

Three Killed in Dunn County Plane Crash

2/1/09 – Officials in western Wisconsin plan to release the names of three people killed when a small plane went down in Dunn County. The four-seat single engine aircraft was registered to a couple in Houlton, Wisconsin. The plane’s flight plan showed a departure from Sheboygan, with a destination of New Richmond. The plane crashed in a wooded field Friday. It had apparently been flown from New Richmond to Sheboygan earlier in the day — and was headed home when it went down. The NTSB preliminary report is expected to take about a week.

Wisconsin Man Dies in Michigan Snowmobile Mishap

2/1/09 – A Wisconsin man dies when a half-dozen snowmobiles slam together in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The collision happened in Alger County, just outside Autrain Township yesterday morning. Michigan State Police report 42 year old Nicholas Waranka of Port

Washington was the only fatality, though a man from Kansas is in ICU at a Marquette hospital. Troopers say the six were riding together when they all hit a snow embankment and lost control. Four more snowmobile riders from Wisconsin escaped unharmed.

Fitzgerald Champion of Commerce

2/1/09 – The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) has announced that Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has earned the Association’s “Champion of Commerce” award. The Republican from Juneau says his main priority this legislative session is to make it easier to do business in Wisconsin to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Fitzgerald says government must be a partner, not a hindrance. The Champion of Commerce award is given to lawmakers who earn an 80% or greater ranking on MMAC’s biennial Legislative Scorecard. The Scorecard tallies significant votes in priority areas identified by the association. MMAC President Tim Sheehy says Fitzgerald is an outstanding example of a leader working hard in Madison to keep Wisconsin’s economy competitive.

Republicans Criticize Stimulus Approach

2/1/09 – The governor’s plans for oversight of federal stimulus funds are drawing some criticism. Wisconsin Republican party chair Mark Jefferson has some concerns about oversight. He says Wisconsin has a situation where two men who are not elected will have a lot of influence on how we spend hundreds of millions of dollars. Jefferson says he’s concerned about accountability for the Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, saying it could devolve into the “office of paybacks and pork.” An effort by Assembly Republicans to create a panel of lawmakers to review and approve projects funded by money from a federal stimulus package has an uncertain future.

City Officials Chime in on Stimulus Funding

2/1/09 – City leaders say they are better-suited than the state to put federal economic stimulus funds to work. About 50 mayors and other local officials attended a meeting in Waukesha. Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett told them local governments can put the federal dollars to work very quickly. City leaders from as far away as Superior, Ashland and Green Bay attended the meeting in Waukesha. Congressman Tom Petri (pee TRY) told the group he wishes the stimulus package approved by the U.S. House did more to create the needed jobs.

Thinning The Herd

2/1/09 – Sharpshooters didn’t hit much Friday night, trying to thin the deer herd in the Oshkosh area. They’d hoped to kill as many as 40. The hunters spent more than four hours in a wooded area around the Oshkosh National Guard armory. They killed just three deer. That venison will be donated to Oshkosh area food pantries. The effort may be repeated because many think the herd in that part of the state has grown too large.

Record-Setting Cranberry Harvest

2/1/09 – Wisconsin cranberry growers set another record last year with 4-point-3 million barrels. This state grows more than 55 percent of the nation’s cranberries and farmers are being asked to produce even more. Worldwide demand is up. National production of cranberries topped 7-point-6 million barrels in 2008. Cranberry processors are asking Wisconsin farmers to plant an additional five thousand acres over the next five to 10 years to meet the world demand.