“News – July 28, 2009”

Severe Weather Hits Wisconsin


7/28/09 – Despite tornado warnings in Dodge, Columbia, Fond du Lac, and Washington Counties last evening very little damage was seen in our area.  Emergency management officials reported quarter-sized hail and winds in the 40-mph range west of Randolph while Columbia County officials reported some trees were down in the Cambria area.  A trained weather spotter reported a funnel cloud around Dalton in the Green Lake area but there were no confirmed touchdowns.  Fond du Lac County Communications and Emergency Management Director Erin Gerred says there was an unconfirmed report of some rotation in clouds aloft over Lomira, but no confirmed touchdowns. The area was hit by heavy downpours, hail and high winds.  A couple of possible tornadoes did touch down late yesterday in Crawford County in southwest Wisconsin. Authorities said an apparent twister near Mount Sterling knocked down some old barns and trees.  Marquette County had winds of 60-miles-an-hour near Montello.  Trees and power lines were down in that area and several others.  Several homes in Monroe County had trees on their roofs, and debris closed a couple highways.  Dodgeville had two-and-a-half inches of rain, with two-feet of water on some streets.   Heavy rains in Richland County caused mudslides that forced some roads to close.


Multi-County Burglary Suspect Apprehended


7/28/09 – Fond du Lac County officials think they have the person in custody that may be responsible for a number of daytime burglaries in the multi-county area. Sheriff’s detective Cameron McGee says a 36-year-old Waupun man was arrested Sunday night during a high-risk traffic stop when Deputy Jim Pfeiffer spotted an older red Suburban. It’s believed the vehicle was used in a string of burglaries in and around the Waupun area and Dodge County since July 14th. McGee says the man was with his wife and kids when he was pulled over. Authorities obtained search warrants and found a number of stolen radios, televisions, jewelry and other items at a residence belonging to the man’s wife. Detective McGee says they are working with multiple jurisdictions including the Dodge County Sheriffs Department in sorting out what burglaries the suspect may be connected with. Meanwhile, the man is being held in the Fond du Lac County Jail on a probation hold.


Frandy in Court


7/28/09 – The Rio man involved in a fatal head-on collision early Friday morning will not face a homicide charge.  69-year-old Jack Frandy was in Columbia County court yesterday after being charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated 2nd offense and obstructing an officer.  Both are misdemeanors and carry a maximum sentence of 18-months in jail though more charges are possible after the investigation is complete.  The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office says 21-year-old Ben VanderVenter crossed the centerline of Highway C in the Town of Hampden and collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Frandy just after midnight last Friday.  VanderVenter was pronounced dead at the scene while Frandy suffered minor injuries.  Authorities say alcohol was a factor for both drivers and they found empty beer cans in VanderVenter’s vehicle.  Frandy’s wife, Pamela, called the accident in claiming she was driving.  However, an investigation later showed that she had not even been in the car at the time of the accident.


Chemical Spill at Didion Ethanol


7/28/09 – Authorities near Cambria were called in early Sunday morning to cleanup a chemical spill at the Didion Ethanol Facility.  Officials say the liquid that spilled was overwhelmingly water but did contain 3-percent sodium hydroxide.  Didion Vice-president Dale Drachenberg say 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of the dilute solution spilled from a 5,000 gallon tank and more than 90-percent was contained on the facility grounds though some of the spill was released into a storm drain that empties into Duck Creek.  The cleanup process was completed by yesterday afternoon.  A gasket failure was to blame for the spill.


Operations Committee Discusses Flood Fringe, Flood Wall


7/28/09 – The Beaver Dam Operations Committee last night discussed in greater detail Phase 2 plans related to the downtown renovation project.  Mayor Tom Kennedy told the committee that it is important for the city move forward with plans to amend FEMA flood elevation maps.  With the recent removal of ten buildings that had been constructed over the Beaver Dam River, the flood elevation of the river is significantly lower along the 100 and 200 blocks of Front Street.  Many of the remaining buildings are still listed as being in the “flood fringe” and such a designation limits those property owners in the amount of money they can spend on improvements.  With the maps being redrawn, Kennedy says many of those buildings will be spared the “flood fringe” designation. Kennedy says the city has grant funding to pay for a flood wall that would remove even more buildings from the flood fringe. He hopes the affected property owners will consider working making front and back end façade improvements as trade for removing them from the flood fringe designation. City officials will seek design bids on the flood wall after the committee signs off on the wording of the “Request For Proposals” next week. The committee last night also approved bid plans for the resurfacing of three exterior walls left exposed following the demolition project, at 141 and 215 Front Street and 108 South Center.  The Fountain Inn Tavern is not included.  When questioned about it, Kennedy said, “Why would the city spend money on a building that will eventually be demolished.”


Beaver Dam Braces for Third Round of Stimulus Dollars


7/28/09 – The city of Beaver Dam is getting its ducks in a row for the third round of stimulus funds.  Engineering Coordinator Ritchie Piltz told the Operations Committee last night that the city learned last week that there were no projects from Dodge County selected as part of the second round of Obama bucks. However, Piltz says the city learned that they would be in a good position for the next round because Dodge County was recently one of 31 counties listed as “economically distressed,” a designation that puts them in a better position to be eligible for federal stimulus dollars.  The state DOT is looking for projects that will be ready to bid by December, and Piltz says simple resurfacing projects are favored over a complete reconstruction because the state could move quicker in the approval process. As a result, Piltz moved the resurfacing of Madison Street from Rowell to Curie Streets to the top of the list.  There are eleven other full reconstruction projects, including South Spring Street to Parallel, Gould Street to Parallel and South University Avenue to West Davis Street.        


DCHS Scales Back Hours


7/28/09 – Tough economic times are taking their toll on the Dodge County Humane Society.  Shelter Director Kim Waugus says the non-profit is scaling back their hours of operation from five days a week to four days. In addition to being closed on Monday and Wednesday, the shelter will also be closed on Tuesday’s. However, visits can be scheduled in advance on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. Waugus says until their financial situation improves they will also be relying more heavily on their team of volunteers to care for animals and maintain their facility.


Merc Officials to Meet Today


7/28/09 – Mercury Marine company officials and representatives of its employees union meet today to discuss negotiations. Mercury spokesman Steve Fleming says the first thing they have to agree on is that they are negotiating. He says it was apparent from remarks made following a union meeting at the Fond du Lac High School Sunday that union members don’t believe their contract is being renegotiated. As the company charts its course for the future it is considering consolidation at its Fond du Lac or Stillwater, Oklahoma facilities. (KFIZ)


It’s Only a Drill


7/28/09 – If you see a lot of fire trucks, and police vehicles around Waupun Memorial Hospital today not to worry it’s only an exercise. Agnesian HealthCare officials say the Hospital and Department of Corrections will be testing their fire emergency response within the six-bed secured unit on the hospital’s third floor. Police and fire officials are also participating in the exercise. It’s the first time the city and Department of Corrections will be collaborating at the hospital with hospital personnel on such a test. (KFIZ)


Space Launcher Makes Appearance at EAA


7/28/09 – An airplane designed to launch a space-ship from 50-thousand-feet made its public debut yesterday in Oshkosh.  The White-Knight-Two circled the runway several times before it landed, wowing thousands of on-lookers at the E-A-A’s Air-Venture Show.  Virgin Galactic made the twin-fuselage craft to launch commercial space travel.  The company plans to lift a pressurized space-ship from a base in New Mexico.  It would release the ship at 50-thousand feet.  The six passengers inside would feel weightless for about five minutes as they enjoy a glimpse of earth.  And the ship would then return similar to a space shuttle.  The whole process could take around two-and-a-half hours.  Virgin Galactic does not have a launch date yet.  But about 300 people have made reservations for those kinds of flights.  It’s not cheap.  Each ride costs around 200-thousand dollars.


Governors Meet to Discuss High Speed Rail


7/28/09 – Officials from Wisconsin, seven other states, and Chicago have signed an agreement to pursue a high-speed passenger rail network.  And the proposed line from Milwaukee-to-Madison will be one of three top priorities.  Wisconsin’s Jim Doyle joined four other governors and rail executives at a summit in Chicago yesterday.  The officials signed a memorandum-of-understanding that three other governors signed earlier.  They vowed to seek three-and-a-half billion dollars in federal stimulus money – which would be the lion’s share of eight-billion available for high-speed rail projects nationally.  In Wisconsin, the rail would go from Kenosha to Milwaukee to Madison and then to Minnesota’s Twin Cities.  A northern spur is included from Milwaukee to Green Bay.  The governors agreed on three segments as top priorities, including the Milwaukee to Madison line that would cost 519-million dollars.  Their goal is to have it built in 3-to-5 years.  The other top lines are from Detroit to Pontiac Michigan, and Chicago-to-Saint Louis.


UW-Madison #8 Party School


7/28/09 – After a two-year absence, U-W Madison is back on the list of the nation’s Top-20 party schools.  It’s number-eight in the annual survey announced yesterday by the Princeton Review.  The rankings are part of annual guide to the nation’s 371 best colleges.  122-thousand students rate the schools on a host of factors.  Madison traditionally ranked near the top of the party-school category for years – and it was number-one in 2005.  But that was before the university cracked down on some of Madison’s biggest drinking traditions – including drink specials at campus bars, and the annual Halloween bash on State Street that got violent until admission was charged and live music was added a couple years ago.  Penn State is this year’s number-one party school, after Florida held the title a year ago.  Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz says it’s nothing more than a popularity contest.  She said groups on Facebook urged members to vote for Penn


Man Already Serving Life has 20-Years Added to Sentence


7/28/09 – A man who’s serving life in prison for the murder of his wife is getting another 20-year term for an attempt to kill a companion.  45-year-old Anthony Riach was sent to Waupun in 1992 for the beating-and-stabbing death of Cheryl Riach in Waukesha County.  Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to an attempted murder charge for an attack on Lance Terry in 1990 outside a Waukesha restaurant.  Authorities said Riach used a concrete block to pummel Terry in a fight that followed a night of drinking.  Riach said he admitted to the beating to quote, “clean the skeletons out of his closet.”  The judge made his sentence concurrent to the earlier life term for his murder conviction.