News February 27, 2009

Storm Brings Rain, Ice, and Snow

2/27/09 – Parts of southern Wisconsin are a massive ice rink, thanks to yesterday’s late-winter storm that dumped freezing rain. Despite that area roads were quiet during the overnight hours with the Sheriff’s Department reporting just one accident since 11pm. However, they say there were multiple runoffs during the afternoon commute throughout the county but there are no known injuries at this time. Not everyone was as fortunate as icy conditions caused numerous accidents in other parts of southern Wisconsin. The westbound lanes of Interstate-94 were closed for a time when a semi-truck jackknifed near the Dane-Jefferson County line. About the only remnants of the storm today are strong winds that are gusting to 30-miles-per hour.

Barn Destroyed By Fire

2/27/09 – Fire destroyed a Town of Calamus barn Thursday. The Beaver Dam Fire Department received the call just before 3:30pm to the structure located at N5212 Highway 151, near the intersection of County Road S. When firefighters arrived, the barn was fully involved with flames visible through the roofline and smoke was billowing across the highway, making slick driving conditions even more dangerous. The barn was packed full of hay so an excavator was brought in to tear apart what was left of the structure to get to the hotspots. There were no injuries. The barn was owned by Hilda Lentz and was rented out for use as storage. No word yet on the cause of the blaze.

Storm Brings Rain, Ice, and Snow

2/27/09 – Parts of southern Wisconsin are a massive ice rink, thanks to yesterday’s late-winter storm that dumped freezing rain. Despite that area roads were quiet during the overnight hours with the Sheriff’s Department reporting just one accident since 11pm. However, they say there were multiple runoffs during the afternoon commute throughout the county but there are no known injuries at this time. Not everyone was as fortunate as icy conditions caused numerous accidents in other parts of southern Wisconsin. The westbound lanes of Interstate-94 were closed for a time when a semi-truck jackknifed near the Dane-Jefferson County line. About the only remnants of the storm today are strong winds that are gusting to 30-miles-per hour.

Barn Destroyed by Fire

2/27/09 – Fire destroyed a Town of Calamus barn yesterday. The Beaver Dam Fire Department received the call just before 3:30pm to the structure located at N5212 Highway 151, near the intersection of County Road S. When firefighters arrived, the barn was fully involved with flames visible through the roofline and smoke was billowing across the highway, making slick driving conditions even more dangerous. The barn was packed full of hay so an excavator was brought in to tear apart what was left of the structure to get to the hotspots. There were no injuries. The barn was owned by Hilda Lentz and was rented out for use as storage. No word yet on the cause of the blaze.

Victim in Motorcycle Crash was Waupun Man

2/27/09 – It’s estimated that a 26-year-old Waupun man had his motorcycle going over 100 miles an hour before it hit a mini van killing him Wednesday afternoon. Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Captain Dean Will says it’s one of the most horrific accidents he’s worked over the years. Eric Brown died at the scene. The elderly Waupun couple in the van, Elmer and Jeanette Decker, were taken to Waupun Memorial Hospital. Jeanette was later transferred to the U-W Hospital with a broken pelvis and other broken bones.

Another Watertown Drug Sentencing

2/27/09 – Another sentence was handed down this week in connection with a two-county cocaine ring. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb sentenced Arturo Pineda-Lopez to 37 months in prison. The 25-year-old Mexican national was one of seven people arrested last June for selling cocaine in the Watertown and Fort Atkinson area. The Department of Justice conducted wiretaps between July of 2006 and last June, monitoring hundreds of calls detailing drug transactions in Dodge and Jefferson Counties. On June 19, authorities executed eleven search warrants and seized over $100,000 in cash, multiple kilograms of cocaine and several automobiles. Four defendants have already been sent to prison and one goes to trial next month. One suspect remains at large. The Department of Justice says all the subjects will be deported after completing their sentences are completed.

Millard Waives Prelim in Chase

2/27/09 – A Milwaukee man, charged with leading Dodge County authorities on a high speed chase that reached speeds in excess of 130mph, waived his right to a preliminary hearing yesterday. Eric Millard entered a “not guilty” plea to one felony count of Eluding an Officer and a variety of traffic citations related to the September 11th incident that began in the Town of Clyman. According to the criminal complaint, the 22-year-old was driving his motorcycle 30mph over the speed limit when deputies initiated the pursuit, which continued 7 miles down Highway 26 into Juneau before it was terminated. The deputy later spotted Millard in a field, disoriented, looking for his bike which was about 50 feet away. Millard told authorities that he fled because he had been stopped the day before and didn’t want another ticket for operating after his license was revoked.

Oasis Burglar Sentenced

2/27/09 – A Hartford man will spend five months in jail for burglarizing the Rubicon Oasis Tavern, twice. Robert Hetzel entered through the backdoor of the establishment late last month and stole about $300 from the safe and an $8 bottle of whiskey. Authorities were able to arrest the 42-year-old Hetzel with the help of video surveillance footage. The owner identified him because he used to be a bartender there, and live upstairs from the bar. He had a key that was later returned but the locks were never changed. At the time of his arrest last month, he was still facing a misdemeanor charge for breaking into the same bar last October. Hetzel was also placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay restitution and maintain absolute sobriety.

Jobs Lost at Record Level

2/27/09 – Wisconsin lost a record number of jobs during the year ending in January. And the state’s unemployment rate jumped almost two full percentage points to seven-point-six – the highest for a January since 1986. The state lost almost 73-thousand jobs over the preceding 12 months – the largest year-to-year loss in the 69 years the state has kept track of it. David Ward of North-star Economics in Madison says he’s surprised at how fast the downturn has snowballed. He said employers react a lot faster to economic conditions today than they did in the 1980’s. Education and health services were the only parts of the private sector not to lose jobs over the last year. Government added 900 people, for gain of two-tenths of one-percent. As of last week, Wisconsin already had the same number of applications for jobless benefits this year, as it did through the first week of April in 2008.

2008 Traffic Crashes Inline with Average

2/27/09 – While last year’s preliminary traffic death toll of 588 will go down in Wisconsin’s record books as the lowest since 1944, total numbers of crashes held fairly steady, compared to the five-year average. According to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were about 125-thousand traffic crashes recorded in the state last year. That’s close to the five-year average. Property damage crashes actually increased by about four percent compared to the five-year average, with about 91-thousand property damage crashes reported.

1 in 5 Wisconsin Banks Lost Money in 4th Quarter of ‘08

2/27/09 – Over one-fifth of Wisconsin’s banks lost money in the final quarter of last year, when the nation’s financial crisis started to heat up. The F-D-I-C said the state’s 283 banks had combined losses of 354-million dollars from October-through-December compared to the same time a year ago. Sixty-two banks lost money last quarter, while 221 others showed profits. M-and-I, the state’s largest bank, had the largest loss of over 350-million. Wisconsin banks added over a million dollars to their accounts which cover bad loans – three times as much as the final quarter of 2007. And they wrote off three times as many bad debts. Just under three-percent of the banks’ total loans were delinquent from October-through-December – up from about one-and-a-half percent the previous year. Banking consultant David Donihue said he could never remember a tougher period for Wisconsin’s banks – and it reflects what’s happening nationally.