“News – July 14, 2009”

Less Money for Columbus School District in 09-10


7/14/09 – Columbus Superintendent Mark Jansen told the School Board last night that the anticipated $6 million dollars in state aid would be nearly $148 thousand dollars less than last year. With the 2010 Budget talks underway Columbus will be getting only $200 per student compared to $275 per student last year. There are also 25 fewer students projected to enroll. The Board will be studying plans that are likely to increase the tax levy and mil rate for next year. School Board President Jerry Gaska said the yearly fluctuation in levy levels and mil rates should have annual limits of change.


Outrage Over Closed Meeting Resolved


7/14/09 – A state lawmaker says she will not go on a tour of the Beaver Dam Wal-Mart distribution center today, to avoid an appearance of impropriety.  Republican Mary Williams of Medford helped arrange the tour of the Wal-Mart facility for the Assembly’s Personal Privacy Committee.  But when the public was told it could not attend, concerns were raised that the panel was violating the state’s open meeting law.  It’s a legal meeting whenever a majority of a governing body or committee gets together.  And by keeping the public out, media attorney Bob Dreps said it improperly lets lawmakers gather information secretly for basing their decisions.  Wal-Mart later agreed to let the media join the tour, but not the general public.  Privacy committee chair Marlin Schneider of Wisconsin Rapids says there’s a precedent for such closed tours.  He says private facilities have the right not to let public quote, “trample all over their facilities.”  Wal-Mart said it was not trying to act secretly.  Schneider says he’s interested in seeing the distribution center to help with his bill to limit the use of radio frequency identification tags on products.  With Williams staying home, the committee will not have a legal quorum.


Dodge County Gets D- by Sunshine Review Group


7/14/09 – An open government advocacy group gives Wisconsin counties mixed grades for the amount of information they post online.  Sunshine Review managing editor Kristin McMurray says Wisconsin ranks 10th for counties with the most transparent websites.  However, she says there’s still a lot of room for improvement.  McMurray says most sites were very good about posting contact information for local government and elected officials. However, most fell short when it came to posting detailed information about issues such as contracts and audits.  The Sunshine Review gives Dodge County a grade of D minus. The website praises Dodge County for listing of elected officials, administrative officials and their respective departments and also providing building permits, zoning information and some tax information. However, Sunshine Review is critical of Dodge County for not posting agendas, audit and budget information and most meetings minutes. The website also details an audit of compliance conducted by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council last year.  The audit revealed that three in ten requests submitted were ignored or had responses that were in violation of state law. Jail booking records were also said to be partially denied.  Fond du Lac County also received a D minus. Columbia, Jefferson and Washington County’s all got a C minus; Jackson, Green, Florence and Lafayette all received an F. Brown, Dane, Outagamie and Ozaukee had the highest grades.  The grades were released earlier this month.


Mayville Fire Caused by Cigarette


7/14/09 – A large apartment fire in Mayville that caused extensive damage was started by a resident who fell asleep while smoking.  Mayville Fire Chief Roger Williams says the blaze at 335 Clark Street was called in just before 3am and by the time they arrived on scene the eight-unit apartment building was fully engulfed.  He says the fire started after a resident of one of the apartment buildings fell asleep while smoking a cigarette.  The 36-year-old told police when he awoke the couch was on fire.  He took one of the couch cushions and threw it in the tub.  When he came back into the living room a second cushion had caught on fire.  He attempted to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher but was unsuccessful.  The man then ran from door to door in the apartment building waking people up.  Williams says everyone got out safely but the man responsible did suffer burns to his hand and head.  There was extensive damage to four of the eight apartments.


Day 2 for Forbes Prelim in Columbia County


7/14/09 – In Columbia County, its day two of the three-day preliminary hearing for accused murdered Curtis Forbes.  The Randolph man is accused of killing 18-year-old Marilyn McIntyre at her Columbus residence in March of 1980. On the stand yesterday, Dr. Robert Huntington, who performed the autopsy, said McIntyre died of serious head injuries, strangulation and stabbing. He said she was also sexually assaulted. The victim’s husband, Lane McIntyre, is also expected to testify.


Pfaff Gets Probation


7/14/09 – An Iron Ridge man who stole $55,000 worth of heavy machinery and tried to sell it on the internet has been placed on probation. Aaron Pfaff (faf) stole a skid loader from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife headquarters and a backhoe and trailer from Anholt Well Drilling in Ashippun last year.  Detectives traced the thefts to Pfaff through an internet posting on the website www.craigslist.com. Undercover agents arranged a buy for the skid loader with the 33-year-old at his warehouse near Neosho and were then able to connect him to the stolen backhoe and trailer. In addition to two years probation, Pfaff must also perform 120 hours of community service and pay $2600 in restitution.


Krohn Charged in Wreck that Injured Two People


7/14/09 – A Madison man is accused of injuring two people in a drunk driving accident.  Neil Krohn charged with two counts of Injury By Intoxicated Use of a Vehicle – Causing Injury related to the February 21 wreck.  The 27-year-old was traveling southbound on Highway 26 in the Town of Clyman when he reportedly crossed the centerline and struck a northbound vehicle head-on. The driver of the other vehicle was pinned and her passenger sustained facial injuries. Krohn’s blood alcohol level was said to be point one-four-two (.142), which is nearly twice the legal limit.  He is free after posting a $500 signature bond and will be back in court next month.


Lake Days Crowd Well-Behaved


7/14/09 – Beaver Dam Police say the Lake Days crowd was generally well-behaved though there were a couple arrests. A Lomira man was arrested Friday night after getting into a shoving match with another festival-goer.  The pair was separated and the 35-year-old suspect was taken into custody on a probation hold for violating a no-drink order. On Saturday, a 23-year-old Beaver Dam man was uncooperative and ran from officers but was apprehended a short time later and taken to jail. Lt. John Kreuziger says the arrests were about average for such a large gathering.


BDPD Arrest Two


7/14/09 – The Beaver Dam Police Department arrested two naked people this weekend. Officers responded to the 600 block of Burnett just after midnight Saturday after receiving reports that a half-naked woman had entered a residence.  The caller did not know the 40-year-old female who was apprehended.  Another 29-year-old male was running around a residence completely naked was also taken into custody.  The pair was released to a responsible party.


Gas Prices Continue to Drop


7/14/09 – Wisconsin gasoline prices are down about 12 cents over the past week to an average of $2.48.  It’s even in lower in our area where at last glance gas was $2.41 in Beaver Dam and Watertown.  Those prices are just below the national average of $2.53.  A survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express puts the statewide average Monday at $1.61 per gallon lower than last year at this time. In fact, the highest recorded average was July 17, 2008, when the statewide average gas price was $4.11.  AAA says the most expensive price for self-serve regular fuel is in the Eau Claire metro area where it’s $2.55 a gallon. The lowest average can be found in the Madison metro area at $2.39.


Animal Cruelty Laws Could Be Changed in Wake of Court Dismissal


7/14/09 – At least three Wisconsin legislators are promoting bills to include wildlife under the state’s animal cruelty laws.  Assembly Republican Dean Kaufert of Neenah was the first to say he wanted to close a loophole.  That was after two Waupaca County men escaped felony cruelty charges for allegedly running down deer with their snowmobiles.  Two judges said their activities could be considered hunting – and hunters cannot be charged with animal cruelty.  Assembly Democrat Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton is out with her own bill.  And Assembly Democrat Andy Jorgensen of Fort Atkinson has also introduced a measure.  He said ducks are killed by snowmobiles every other year on the Rock River in his home town – just like they were this past winter.  He said it’s bad enough that the animals get killed, but it’s even worse that those responsible can get off the hook.  Jorgensen’s bill would make killing wildlife a felony in certain cases, and judges could order mental health treatments in cases with deeper concerns.


Farmers Need Rain


7/14/09 – Wisconsin farmers are getting concerned about the lack of rain.  Forty-four percent of state fields have adequate soil moisture – but 55-percent are short or very short.  And officials say the southwest part of the state is the only one with adequate moisture.  Northern, central, and east central areas have over 70-percent of fields that are short.  The National Weather Service says we’ll get a little relief tonight, but not much.  Thunderstorms are expected statewide – but they’ll clear out by tomorrow, and dry weather will return at least through the weekend.


Sharp Decline in Alcohol Related Boating Accidents


7/14/09 – About one-of-every-five Wisconsin boating incidents involved alcohol last year – and that’s way down from the past.  The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism checked D-N-R records, and found that alcohol was a factor in 21-percent of boating incidents in 2008.  In four of the last 10 years, alcohol was cited in 85-percent of incidents on the water.  Local authorities cite stronger enforcement of drunk boating laws.  Marine shop owner Dan Thomson of Fremont says there’s been a cultural change – and more of us realize that drinking on the water is not very acceptable anymore.


Wife, Not Burglar Responsible for Missing Coins


7/14/09 – A Dodge County man was breathing a sigh of relief Sunday.  The 62-year-old had called the Sheriff’s Department reporting the theft of $7,000 to $8,000 dollars worth of coins from his residence.  However, after a few anxious moments, further investigation revealed his wife had actually taken the coins and cashed them in.


Columbus Teen Dies Playing “The Choking Game”


7/13/09 – A memorial service will be held this Saturday in Columbus for a 17-year-old high school student who died from what’s called “the choking game.”  His family said Mack Jensen died last Friday in a game in which teens try to get each other to feel light-headed – either by choking, or pushing on each other’s chests for a few seconds.  Jensen’s father Dan said his son was a good student who stayed away from drugs and had lots of friends – and if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.  Jensen says he and his wife are just learning how prevalent the “choking game” is among young people, especially athletes.  Mack Jensen won a national wrestling meet in Colorado last month, and he was planning to compete in another such tournament in Fargo North Dakota.  He would have been a senior in Columbus this fall.


No Recall for Waupun Mayor


7/13/09 – There won’t be a recall election for the Waupun Mayor; an effort to force a recall fell shy of the 750 signatures needed. Waupun officials say the deadline for the effort by local businessman Daniel Ganz was last Monday. Ganz was unsatisfied that Mayor Jodi Steger wouldn’t fire City Administrator Gary Rogers. Steger maintained only the Common Council has the power to do that and that’s exactly what they did last month. Rogers was only a few weeks shy of leaving the city to take a similar job in Iowa. He’d fallen out of favor with some of the community’s business leaders. (KFIZ)


Forbes Prelim Today


7/13/09 – Accused murdered Curtis Forbes is scheduled to have a three-day preliminary hearing start this morning (9am). The Randolph man is accused of killing 18-year-old Marilyn McIntyre at her Columbus residence on March 11, 1980. Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Alan White did not explain the reason for the change but did say that a high bond is necessary for a defendant facing life in prison because they are a flight risk. McIntyre was discovered by her husband after he returned home from work; their three-month old son was asleep at the time. She was beaten, stabbed and strangled. The 51-year-old Forbes, who was a close personal friend of the victim’s husband, was initially a person of interest but he fled the state shortly after the murder. The case had gone cold for several years but was reopened in late 2007 at the request of the family. According to the criminal complaint, Forbes was overheard in 2002 saying he took a friend’s wife home from a bar, and she didn’t breathe any more after that night. Authorities used D-N-A to link Forbes to the crime. Officials are enacting extra security measures, including a walk-through metal detector and possibly an x-ray machine. There has been no specific threats made in connection with the hearing, and the sheriffs department says it’s a precautionary measure because previous hearings attracted a large crowd.


BD Family Oprah Appearance on CNN


7/13/09 – A Beaver Dam family that was featured on Oprah has had that appearance featured on CNN.  Michelle Ladwig and her family were chosen to be part of “Oprah’s Challenge” and were asked to live without electronics for one week AND give up ten other items each day. Gone were the cell phones, I-pods, and TV’s.  In its place were nightly family dinners and camera’s following their every move.  The program aired May 20 and is featured on Oprah’s website, oprah.com.  CNN picked up the story and posted it to their website on Friday. http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/07/10/o.living.with.less/index.html


Thousands Watch Circus Parade in Milwaukee


7/13/09 – Tens of thousands of people saw Milwaukee’s first circus parade in six years.  Crowds up to 12 people deep lined a nearly three-and-a-half mile route downtown yesterday, to see two hours of history.  Four-hundred horses pulled 50 antique wagons from Baraboo’s Circus World Museum.  And 80 clowns lined the route – including 92-year-old Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine.   He’s been a fixture in almost four decades of Milwaukee circus parades.  And Borgnine called this one the best ever, because it was dedicated to the memories of its late founders Ben Barkin and Chappie Fox.  Organizers raised one-and-a-half million dollars to stage yesterday’s circus parade – and they said it might be the last.


Drinking in Moderation Could Be Good for Seniors


7/13/09 – A new study re-affirms that older folks who drink in moderation can avoid Alzheimer’s and other dementia.  But Mark Sager of the U-W Medical School in Madison says it probably won’t help seniors who don’t drink now.  The Alzheimer’s Association is being told today in Vienna that of three-thousand people over 75, those who had 8-to-14 drinks a week were 37-percent less likely to get dementia compared to tee-totalers.  But seniors with mild cognitive impairments won’t help themselves by starting to drink – and the impaired people who had 14-or-more drinks a week are twice as likely to suffer dementia.  The study said it didn’t matter what type of alcohol seniors drank.  But there are substances in red wine that can protect the brain from aging.