News – January 2, 2009

Officials Continue Investigation into Fatal Fires

1/2/09 – Investigations are continuing into two fires in Fond du Lac that killed two people on New Year’s Eve. The first blaze was in an apartment building early Wednesday morning. The victim was identified yesterday as 21-year-old Jedidiah Betts. The other blaze was in a two-story house. Relatives told authorities that 56-year-old Leonard Haskins was smoking in a living room chair when they left for a party Wednesday night – and when they returned, the house was on fire. Police say they’re treating the Haskins house as a crime scene, but there’s no evidence right now that foul play was involved. An autopsy this morning confirmed the victim in the fire was Haskins. The state fire marshal’s office is helping local officers investigate both blazes.

Accident Shut Down Part of Highway 151 Last Night

1/2/09 – A four-car accident on Highway 151 in the Town of Waupun shut down both sides of the highway between Highways 26 and 49 last night. Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s officials say they had to keep the highway closed for about 90 minutes to sort out the accident that began when 24-year-old Chad Flood of St. Louis Park, Minnesota lost control in the northbound lanes and rolled over into the southbound lanes. Flood and 17-year-old Kyle Miller of Brandon, who was driving a car in the southbound lanes, were both taken to Waupun Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. (Bob Nelson, KFIZ)

Guard Troops Preparing for Security Mission in Iraq

1/2/09 – About 35-hundred Wisconsin National Guard troops will leave this month for their initial training, in preparation for a 10-month assignment in Iraq. Members of the 32nd Red Arrow brigade will leave January 10th for several weeks of training in Florida. They’ll return to Wisconsin for a short time. And then, they’ll be off to Fort Bliss in Texas for more training. When they finally get to Iraq, they’ll be on a security mission. It’s the largest deployment of Wisconsin Guard troops since World War Two. The brigade is made up of units in 36 communities throughout Wisconsin. There are also several dozen members from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. Their first notice of a call-up came in mid-September, and they’ve been officially on alert since last month. More than half the troops are combat veterans. Many have been to Iraq at least once.

Fisherman Rescued from Ice Flow

1/2/09 – Eight ice fishermen were rescued on New Year’s Day, after being stranded on ice that broke off the shore from the Bay of Green Bay. Six people were pulled from a huge chunk of ice which broke apart near the city of Green Bay in the town of Gardner. The Coast Guard picked up two others at Shoemaker Point. Original reports from the Coast Guard said 12 people had been stranded, but Green Bay media reported later that the total was eight. Coast Guard spokesman Charles Wolfson said a large freighter had passed through the middle of the bay – and ripples from the boat combined with high winds to break the ice from the shore. Several trucks and A-T-V’s were left on the ice, and Wolfson says they won’t be retrieved until the ice pack shifts, or the entire area freezes over again. He says the incident should serve as a warning to ice fishers. Wolfson says it’s still early in the season, and anglers should stay close to shorelines and have cell phones with them.

WI Roads Safest since WWII

1/2/09 – Last year was the safest on Wisconsin highways since World War Two. 587 traffic deaths were recorded statewide in 2008 – 150 fewer than the previous year’s total. Dennis Hughes of the state D-O-T said part of it was due to law enforcement’s heavily-publicized campaigns against drunk driving and speeding. But he said the biggest reason for the drop in deaths was that we drove less. Heavy snows kept travel down early in the year. Four-dollar gas put a crimp in summer travel. Then the recession kept more folks off the roads at the end of the

year, as people lost their jobs and trucking companies scaled back. Hughes said all those things made us slow down when we did drive. However, though the number of traffic fatalities was down statewide the number in Dodge County was higher than a year. With the three deaths in the last 10-days of December the total number of deaths in Dodge County was 20. That’s 6 more than 2007. Nationally, there were just over 31-thousand traffic deaths last year, the lowest since at least 1966 when statistics were first kept. The government said Americans drove about 100-billion miles less.

Christmas Tragedies

1/2/09 – It was a tragic Christmas holiday for four families. According to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, traffic crashes claimed four lives during the five-day period beginning Christmas Eve through last Sunday at midnight. That number includes a mother and her seven-month-old son from Clyman who were killed when their car collided with a truck on Highway 26 around 6am on the 24th. The number of traffic deaths matches the number killed the last time Christmas fell on a Thursday. Last year, when Christmas fell on a Tuesday, crashes claimed 13 lives during the 5-day reporting period.

Rollover in Town of Trenton

1/2/09 – A 16-year-old girl was taken to the hospital after rolling her vehicle early last evening. The accident occurred on Highway 68 near Jersey Road in the Town of Trenton just before 6pm. The girl was taken to Waupun Hospital by Fox Lake EMS for treatment of her injuries. No word on the cause of the accident.

Taxi-Cabs in BD under New Management

1/2/09 – The taxi-cabs in the city of Beaver Dam are under new management, as of the first of the year. Top Hat of LaCrosse has replaced S & R Taxi in providing shared-ride taxi service. The city contract with Top Hat requires that the services that had been provided, including hours of operation, remain the same. There were no taxis running after 10pm on New Years Eve, as part of the contract. Owner Beverly Scott says that’s something she’d like to change before the year is out.

Columbus Administrator Looking Forward

1/2/09 – Columbus City Administrator Boyd Kraemer has asked the Council to wrap up over a year of discussions on Fire Department staffing and get ready for other Council business when they get back to work after the holidays. Kraemer said the Fire Department staffing problems could be solved soon if the Council would furnish a “vision and a goal” for what a professional Columbus Fire Department should be. Tuesday’s Council of the Whole will try to come up with some resolution to the question of what kind of Fire Department Columbus needs.

Polar Plunges Go Off Despite Ice and Wind

1/2/09 – Icy and windy conditions did not stop thousands of Wisconsinites from plunging into Lake Michigan on New Year’s Day. Fire-fighters helped clear the ice at Jacksonport in Door County, where 750 people made the plunge. Organizer J-R Jarosh said gale-force winds created the worst conditions in 23 years. In Sheboygan, there was too much ice to hold the event at its normal spot – so organizers moved about 600 yards to the south. About 350 people braved 4-to-5-foot waves, a 32-degree water temperature, a 25-degree air temp, and winds of almost 30 miles an hour. In Milwaukee, Polar Bear Club president Garth Gaskey said his legs were bleeding from all the ice he had to maneuver around. But fire officials reported no major injuries. They said around two-thousand plunged, and another two-thousand looked on. A similar event took place on Lake Michigan in Kewaunee.

GB City Council Upset with “Unpatriotic” Member

1/2/09 – The head of the Green Bay City Council says an alderman should apologize, for not standing and applauding when a patriotic gift was presented. Celestine Jeffreys sat quietly after the United Patriotic Society presented a plaque at a recent council meeting. The plaque was attached to City Hall’s flag-pole. It has the words to the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, and it lists the days Americans should fly the flag. In a letter to Jeffreys, council president Chris Wery said the mayor and all the other aldermen stood to show their gratitude and respect – and the fact that she didn’t was quote, “disgraceful” and a “public and shameful snub.” Jeffreys told the Green Bay Press-Gazette she had no problems with the plaque, and she was upset because no one would let her ask a question. She wanted to know why Columbus Day was on the list of flag-flying days, since it might offend some Native Americans. She was told later the list was an act of Congress, and it couldn’t be changed without their approval.

Christmas Tree Pickup Starts Today

1/2/09 – Beginning today, Beaver Dam residents who receive contracted solid waste collection services can place Christmas trees and boughs street-side for collection by city crews. This special collection does not include other brush and shrubbery cuttings. Trees and boughs must be free of ornaments, lights and stands so they can be chipped. Crews will pick-up the trees through Friday, January 30. Wreaths and boughs containing roping or wire may also be placed in the Veolia non-recyclable cart for collection as garbage. City residents can also dispose of Christmas trees and boughs at the Public Works Garage Yard Waste Drop-off Site at 640 S. Center Street, Monday through Friday. No waste of any kind is accepted from outside of the City or from any contractors.