News – January 11, 2009

Open House Wednesday for Local Flood Maps

1/11/09 – The status of downtown Beaver Dam buildings located in or near a floodplain, floodway or even flood-fringe could change when the state DNR unveils its updated flood maps this week. Floodplain maps are used by local officials to make flood risk management decisions related to property development. The new maps will also affect other homes and businesses in floodplains and their flood insurance. The DNR has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to modernize the maps in several Wisconsin counties, including Dodge County. State officials say property owners, realtors, builders, lenders and insurance agents can all benefit from attending an open house scheduled for this Wednesday in Juneau. Representatives from local, state and federal agencies will be on hand to provide current information about flood risks, insurance, development regulations and the floodplain mapping process. Following the open house, the public can appeal or comment on the preliminary maps. Once maps are finalized, local governments have six months to incorporate the new maps into their zoning ordinances. The open house begins at 6pm on Wednesday at the Dodge County Administration Building in Juneau. There is no presentation planned; instead FEMA and local officials plan work with people one-on-one to answer their questions.

Dodgeland To Consider Fate of Administrator

1/11/09 – The Dodgeland School Board will meet in closed session Monday night to consider and possibly take action on the employment of a district administrator. The board has been investigating allegations of harassment. The agenda did not specify which administrator – and board officials haven’t commented — but several parents have organized to rally support for Superintendent Ron Vaughn. He was hired less than two years ago and the parents say he has had a positive impact on the students and the district. They were in attendance at a closed session meeting on Thursday, but the agenda did not allow for public comment. Board President Jeff Caine says the meeting on Monday is for parents to share their concerns with the board, prior to any action being taken against personnel. The agenda states that board will discuss, consider and take action, if appropriate, regarding teacher and administrator renewal/ non-renewal/ employment in accordance with Wisconsin Statute. The agenda also says the board will confer with legal counsel regarding the potential for related litigation. The school board meets at 7:30pm in the Media Center.

Superintendent Candidates Push Deadline

1/11/09 – Working right up until the deadline, two candidates for superintendent of state schools have qualified to be on the ballot. Beloit public schools superintendent Lowell Holtz and National-Louis University professor Todd Price worked right up until the day before the deadline. Each reached the required two-thousand signature mark last Thursday. Problems had been found on their petitions. In some cases, Holtz says, his signers have used the wrong date, writing 2008 instead of 2009. Three other candidates will go before voters in the primary election next month.

Raemisch Comments on Study Affecting WCI and FLCI

1/11/09 – The state of Wisconsin could spend more than a billion dollars on corrections in the next ten years — but will that happen? The big bucks would buy 89-hundred new and 26-hundred replacement beds for both juvenile and adult facilities, under a plan now being reviewed by the Department of Corrections. The Mean and Hunt study says taxpayers area already spending more than they should on its facilities in Waupun, Fox Lake, Kettle Moraine and other prisons that are so old they cause major problems in maintenance and staffing. DOC Secretary Rick Raemisch says expanding capacity is not the only solution, and that unless something changes, demand for costly prison space will continue to grow. Given the massive deficit Wisconsin is facing, Raemisch says the plan provides a blueprint of where we don’t want to be in 10 years. State Senator Lena Taylor, who will co-chair an oversight committee on corrections costs, says Raemisch hits the nail head-on about identifying options beyond brick and mortar.

Three Accidents Reported Saturday Morning

1/11/09 – A 79-year-old woman was injured in a one-vehicle rollover Saturday morning. According to the Dodge County Sheriffs Department, the accident occurred just before 9:30am in the Town of Chester. Another motorist – a 23-year-old man – was cited for Driving With Open Intoxicants just before 6am yesterday following a rollover on Highway 151 in the Town fo Elba. Two minor injuries were reported just after 11:30am on Highway 33 in the Town of Beaver Dam.

Crabb OWI Decision Overturned

1/11/09 – An appeals court kicks out a decision by Madison Federal Judge Barbara Crabb. It says she didn’t have the power to take Thomas E. Williams’ drivers license away. Williams drove his SUV into a ditch near the gate at Fort McCoy military base in western Wisconsin. His blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. It was his fifth drunk driving conviction. Crabb sentenced Williams to 18 months behind bars and revoked his drivers license for three years. The appeals court ruled she didn’t have that power under current law. Wiliiams was released from prison last month.

Interim Named for US Attorneys Seat

1/11/09 – Michelle Jacobs will be the U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee until president-elect Obama names a full-time replacement. Steven Biskupic announced his resignation last month, with last Friday his last day on the job. Federal prosecutors often resign when a new president is coming to the office. President Bush had named Biskupic to the federal prosecutor’s job in 2002. Biskupic is going into private practice with a Chicago law firm.

Activist Says Feingold Silent on Gaza

1/11/09 – A Wisconsin activist finds some irony in a Senator’s call for a cease fire in Africa – and his silence on the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Steve Burns, Program Coordinator for the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice notes Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation is still silent on Israeli attacks on Gaza. Burns notes that Senator Russ Feingold recently called for a cease fire – in the civil war in Congo. But he says so far, neither Feingold nor any other member of the Wisconsin delegation has called for an end to the attacks on Gaza, which Burns believes will change nothing. He says the Israeli attack on Gaza doesn’t offer a solution. When the shooting stops, he says, Israel will be in exactly the same position it was before it started. The only difference is that hundreds more people will be dead. Burns calls silence “complicity,” saying we have to assume elected officials approve of Israeli actions in Gaza.

Hit and Run Remains Unsolved

1/11/09 – This marks the 10th anniversary of the unsolved hit & run death of a 17-year old from rural Manitowoc. Richard Hochstettler was struck and killed while walking on the shoulder of County Trunk C-R, near his Town of Newton home. It happened during the early-morning hours of January 10th, 1999. Manitowoc County Sheriff Rob Hermann says hundreds of tips have come in to his department and to the Hochstettler family’s website. He says they have followed up on those leads and still come up empty handed. It’s possible new information would solve the case. Debra Hochstettler says her son was at a friend’s home and was a little late on his curfew. He died 200 yards from his home. Sheriff Hermann said it was snowing at the time of the hit-and-run, but the offending-motorist had to know they struck someone.

(NOTE: A $26,000 reward has been offered. Hermann said anyone with any information should call the sheriff’s department at 920-683-4201, or if they want to remain anonymous, CrimeStoppers at 920-683-4466.)

Coyotes Persistent in SE Wisconsin

1/11/09 – On Milwaukee’s south side, people living there say they are being stalked by coyotes. At least three dogs have been killed. One woman says she was walking her dog when a coyote came up behind them. She walks with a cane, so she couldn’t get away. A bicyclist came by and chased off the animal, but the woman says it reappeared later and tried to keep her and her dog from going into the condo where they live. The DNR says coyotes have been in southeast Wisconsin for 15 years and there’s no getting rid of them.

Baldwin/ Feingold Helping Cranes

1/11/09 – Two Democrats from Wisconsin are working together on a bill to help several endangered species of crane recover. They authored the same legislation last year, but it fell apart in the Senate. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Senator Russ Feingold want to establish a grant program to pay for domestic crane conversation projects. There are 15 types of cranes in the world, Baldwin’s office says, and 11 of them are at risk of going extinct.

Not Part of the Sentence

1/11/09 – In a case of adding insult to injury, a burglar left the door open to his victim’s house. That allowed the pipes to freeze, then flood the inside of John Peter Norum’s house. Norum was away from the house because he is serving an 18-month term for drunken driving. The damage was discovered by his father. The flooding reportedly did a lot of damage to the empty house. Norum was sentenced last November on his fifth conviction.