News – January 1, 2009

BDFD Calls For Service Higher Than 2007

01/01/09 – The Beaver Dam Fire Department is on pace to exceed the number of calls for service they had in 2007. Fire Captain Matt Christian says there were 271 fire calls in 2008, 31 more than 2007. As of Wednesday morning, there have been 1360 EMS calls, six more than 2007. Those numbers do not include revenue-generating interfacility transports, which is the program started by former Fire Chief George Sheets in June of 2007. Christian says through the end of November there were just over 500 interfacility transports for 2008, generating roughly $85,000. Christian says they are on pace to meet or exceed their $100,000 revenue projection. A portion of the money generated from the Interfacility program is used to fund the departments upgrade to paramedic level, which is slated to start June 1.

Stove May Have Caused Fatal Fire in Fond du Lac

01/01/09 – Results of a preliminary investigation into yesterday’s fatal apartment building fire in Fond du Lac have determined that a kitchen stove is where the blaze began that killed a 21-year-old man and sent his mother to the hospital. Police and the state Fire Marshal’s office released those findings yesterday. The fire also at least temporarily displaced 30 to 40 residents of the Briar Crest Apartments. Eighteen of them including the deceased were in the 16-unit apartment complex when the fire began.

As authorities continue their investigation into Wednesday morning’s fatal apartment complex fire, there are also questions about how many residents of the 16-unit building will have to find new homes. Fire Battalion Chief John Duffy says the first floor apartment where the fire began and the unit directly above received the most damage. He says until they assess the damage they won’t know for sure how much damage was done to adjacent apartments.

The Fond du Lac County Red Cross responded to the fire at the Briar Crest Apartments about 20 minutes after police and firefighters got there. Margaret Brill of the Red Cross says most of the apartment dwellers made arrangements to stay with family and friends as authorities conducted their investigation into the blaze. She says they provided those apartment residents with several meals and clothing as well. She says donations to the Red Cross help them when they respond to such needs. (Thanks Bob Nelson, KFIZ)

Snowmobiler Identified

01/01/09 – A 16-year-old boy killed in a Fond du Lac County snowmobile accident has been identified as Eric Schumacher of Van Dyne. Authorities said he was riding on his family’s farm last night when he lost control. The machine went across a drainage ditch, hit the edge of a plowed field, and rolled over. It happened in the town of Eldorado. Schumacher died at the scene. Five snowmobilers have now been killed in Wisconsin crashes this season. All have taken place in December.

Solid Leads Sparse For Body Found By Hunters

01/01/09 – New details released by investigators about the dead body found in a creek in Fond du Lac County generates some leads, but nothing concrete. The decomposed remains of a woman were found November 23 about 17 miles south of Fond du Lac. It is believed the woman was murdered. Her dental X-rays were compared to five missing people, but there were no matches. They still don’t know who she was. She is described as a 15-to-21-year-old female who may have been knock-kneed and pigeon-toed.

Top Hat Taxi Takes To The Streets

01/01/09 – There is a new name on taxi-cabs in the city of Beaver Dam beginning today. In October, the city council voted unanimously to accept the bid proposal from Top Hat Incorporated

of LaCrosse to provide shared-ride taxi service. At $866,500 Top Hat was the lowest of three bidders; $24,000 lower than S & R Taxi of Beaver Dam, who served the community for three decades. Top Hat owner Beverly Scott says all but two employees were retained during the switchover, for insurance reasons. The city contract with Top Hat requires that the services that had been provided, including hours of operation, remain the same. Scott says the phone number, though, has been changed to 885-4800.

Misconceptions About Drunk Driving Injuries/ Fatalities

01/01/09 – Repeat drunk driving offenders get a lot of media attention, but state Department of Transportation figures show 75 percent of fatal or serious-injury crashes involving drunk drivers were caused by those with no previous drunk driving arrests. Nina Emerson, director of the Resource Center on Impaired Driving at the UW-Madison Law School believes a lot of us are still getting behind the wheel after having had too much to drink for a very simple reason: we don’t believe we’ll get caught. Emerson says research nationwide has shown the fear of being caught is the most significant deterrent to drunk driving. Emerson is a member of the All-Wisconsin Alcohol Risk Education coalition, which wants the next session of the legislature to enact changes, such as allowing sobriety checkpoints.

TV Converter Deadline Draws Near

01/01/09 – It’s down to the wire for applying for digital TV converter coupons. Michelle Vetterkind is president of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. She says if you need a converter box and want to apply for a coupon – now is the time to do it. With the transition to digital TV six weeks away, the feds are concerned about getting backed up, resulting in lag time for people applying for coupons. TV stations are already broadcasting in both analog and digital signals meaning the converter can be installed anytime. On February 17th, stations will no longer transmit in analog meaning the traditional “rabbit ears” will no longer work.

Record-Setting Month for Snowfall

01/01/09 – December was a record-setting month for snowfall across the state. Madison meteorologists report 38-point-6 inches of snow, beating the old record by more than an inch and a half. The old mark was set nearly 15 years ago. Green Bay had 45-point-8 inches of snow, beating its record for snow in a month by more than nine inches. A little over 35 inches hit the ground in Milwaukee, making December the second-snowiest month on record. Beaver Dam has already recorded 45-point-6 inches, while Jefferson is at 35-point 4 and Allenton is at 48-and-a-half.

Bowl Tradition Continues

01/01/09 – We definitely know its not part of the BCS Bowl system, but a Wisconsin city does have its own bowl game today. Hustisford in Dodge County puts on its annual Toilet Bowl. It’s been an annual tradition since 1966 with a parade and football game. Kickoff for the game at the Village Hall park football field is slated for 12:30 p.m. Although it may sound like a lark money raised from the sale of food and a raffle goes towards scholarships for Hustisford High School graduates.

Do Not Call List Fills Up Quick

01/01/08 – Wisconsin’s do-not-call list for telemarketers has about a half-million more names than it did a year ago. One-point-six million phones are ringing less often these days. New legislation this year allowed cell phones to be on the no-call list. And almost 422-thousand cell numbers are there. Around 44-thousand cell numbers were added in just one day. An updated no-call list will be given to telemarketers at the start of the New Year. You can add your number any time, and it

will make the next update on April first. Folks have until February 28th to register for that. You can do it on-line at NoCall-Dot-Wisconsin-Dot-Gov. Leave the W-W-W out.

Donut Hole Targeted by Aging Group

01/01/09 – An advocate group for the aging is working to improve Medicare. Tom Frazier, Executive Director of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, says they are urging lawmakers to make Medicare better and simpler, especially the controversial Part D drug benefit. The Medicare Part D program provides many senior citizens with assistance in paying for prescription drugs. Beneficiaries pay the initial deductible, then 25 percent of the cost of medications — up to an initial coverage limit of about 25-hundred dollars. Then, there’s a huge annual out-of-pocket deductible, known as the “Doughnut Hole,” which Frazier wants to fix. He says the effort is to eliminate or drastically reduce what’s called the donut hole, which is a period where people are enrolled in Part D but they have to pay 100 percent of their drugs.

Unemployment Efforts Stepped Up

01/01/09 – The state Department of Workforce Development is expanding its efforts to help the unemployed. Wisconsin lost over 32-thousand jobs in November and state officials are taking steps to make sure unemployment assistance is readily available. DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman says they’re bringing in extra help to process requests for unemployment insurance, which are expected to continue climbing in the coming months. Gassman says there are also many other resources available to help the unemployed get back to work. They include job retraining programs, and assistance specifically for older workers and veterans. The state is also running a job site where workers can list their resumes and employers can post open positions.