News February 15, 2009

February Is Prescription Drug Awareness Month

2/15/09 – Authorities in Dodge County are urging the public to properly dispose of their unused prescription drugs and to secure the narcotic drugs. February is prescription drug awareness month. Dodge County Sheriffs Detective Brian Drumm says leaving narcotic drugs like Vicodin, Valium and Codeine in your medicine cabinet can make you a drug supplier without your knowledge. Drumm says unused and expired drugs should no longer be thrown down the drain because they wind up in the water supply. A prescription drug drop-off will be held at the Heritage Village Mall in Beaver Dam on Saturday, February 28 from 9am until 12pm.

DNA Requirement Paying Off

2/15/09 – Making convicted felons submit DNA samples is really paying off for Wisconsin. The state Department of Justice says comparing those samples to the national database has helped solve hundreds of crimes. There have been nearly 18 hundred hits — including the one that led detectives to Thomas Niesen. He has been convicted in the murder 33 years ago in Fond du Lac of a teenage dancer in a case that had gone cold. Wisconsin started making its convicted felons give up DNA samples nearly nine years ago. Niesen gave up a sample of his DNA when he was convicted of felony child abuse. Very quickly, his legal troubles got a lot worse.

Discussion Continues for Joint EMS District

2/15/09 – The year-long search for an Ambulance Service provider in the Columbus / Fall River area has taken so long that the original “proposals” received by the City are expiring. Over the past year four commercial EMS providers submitted proposals. The providers have been interviewed by leaders from the City, surrounding Townships, Columbus Community Hospital staff and the Fall River Fire District. Recent interviews yielded enough information from the EMS providers that officials are honing in on what kind of services the community needs. Currently, the City and surrounding Townships are being served by Heartline Medix. The Village of Fall River and surrounding Townships are being served by the Fall River Fire District EMS. Commercial vendors being considered are Lifestar Emergency Medical Services of West Bend, Ryan Brothers of Madison and Curtis Ambulance Service of Milwaukee. Representatives from Columbus, the Townships and the Fall River Fire District will be meeting at 6:00 pm on Wednesday at the Cardinal Ale House and Bowl (in Columbus) to discuss the possibility of a “joint” EMS District.

More Layoffs Announced

2/15/09 – The bad situation just keeps getting worse. Two major Wisconsin companies announce more job losses. Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac has cut 85 permanent jobs. A temporary, two-week shutdown starts tomorrow for more of its workers. The company says this is an effort to put its production capacity into line with the demand for its products. Meanwhile, Ashley Furniture in Arcadia says it will cut about three percent of its work force. That means about 90 people will lose their jobs. Ashley’s CEO says the struggling housing market is reducing demand for furniture.

Columbus City Hall Roof Not So Bad After All

2/15/09 – The Columbus Council was told this week that the $300 thousand dollars they had designated to repair a City Hall roof – in danger of collapse – may not be necessary. When bonding for capital improvements last year the Council was told that the roof could possibly “fall in” if money was not budgeted for repair. The Columbus Auditorium Corporation (CAC) and the Historic Landmarks & Preservation Committee (HLPC) had estimated the cost to repair at $300 thousand dollars. This past week the Council received the second of two engineering reports that the roof was NOT in eminent danger. According to City Clerk Anne Donahue says restoration of the classic second and third floor City Hall Auditorium is an ongoing project that is seeking funds

to rebuild. However, the Council may not spend the $300 thousand “earmarked for roof repair” at this time due to the engineering findings.

Fond du Lac Hires Lobbyist

2/15/09 – For the first time Fond du Lac County has hired a professional lobbyist in the Nation’s Capitol. County supervisors this past week approved spending a little over $5,200 in an effort to secure funding for the children’s medical assistance program known as “Save a Smile.” CountyExecutive Al Buechel says it’s providing dental care for nearly 500 children in the County and could be a national model. He says the lobbyist they hired has a good record of drumming up dollars for clients and if he’s successful that could get him more counties as clients. Buechel says the money will be well spent if the lobbyist is successful in securing anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 for the Fond du LacCounty program.

AG: ‘DA’s Are Shorthanded’

2/15/09 – State Attorney General JB Van Hollen says district attorneys offices are shorthanded. He says most Wisconsin jurisdictions are short, some, quoting here, “woefully short.” Van Hollen says arresting people only makes a difference if there is someone to process them through the courts. Van Hollen says he’s been lobbying Governor Doyle and lawmakers to address the shortfall as part of the next budget. As the state faces a budget deficit during a severe economic recession, the A-G says that’s an even better reason to fully staff cops and courts. He points out that crime rates historically tend to increase during hard economic times.

Three Dead From Thin Ice

2/15/09 – They were visiting friends who were on Lake Winnebago for the sturgeon spearing season. A pickup truck broke through the thin ice near Quinney, leaving two dead and a third person in critical condition. A 44 year old man and a nine year old girl were killed when the ice gave way and the truck plunged into the cold water. A separate accident left a 37 year old man dead near Superior. His vehicle went through the ice on Lake Superior near Kilner Bay early Saturday morning. It took emergency responders an hour to get him out of the chilly water. By then, he couldn’t be revived.

Sturgeon Spear Fishing Season Underway

2/15/09 – Thousands of people are hitting Lake Winnebago this weekend for the beginning of the sturgeon spear fishing season. The DNR says conditions are good, although water clarity has been impacted by run off from thawing snow and ice. Don Herman, owner of Sunk Towing, says ice conditions are good on most of the lake, but there are some trouble spots around the shoreline where the ice is thinner. The sturgeon spearing season runs for 16 days or until harvest caps are reached. Bruch says the season will end early if 350 juvenile females, 630 adult females, or one thousand male sturgeon are speared. The first day take was reported to be 506.

State Tax Refund Up Average of $12

2/15/09 – It’s not a stimulus check, but who’s going to turn his or her nose up at 12 dollars these days? The Wisconsin Department of Revenue reports about 15 percent of us have filed our state income taxes, as of last week. The average refund is about 655 dollars — and that’s up 12 dollars from this time last year. The tax man expects to process a little less than three million tax returns. So far, about 440 thousand have been filed in the first six weeks of this year. The state reminds you: if you have a refund coming, it will get to you a lot quicker if you file electronically.