The Rings are In
6/17/11 – The Green Bay Packers were ecstatic over the Super Bowl rings they received last night. They got their diamond-studded yellow gold rings during a private ceremony at Lambeau Field – the first time the team got together since the N-F-L owners’ lockout began in early March. Veteran corner Charles Woodson said the ring was heavier than he expected – but he said it felt just right, considering what he did to earn it. Contact between players and coaches is prohibited during the lockout, but the N-F-L granted an exception for the ring ceremony. Coach Mike McCarthy said everybody’s been separated for too long – and they’re all anxious to quote, “get going on the next journey.” At one point during the evening, McCarthy wore a cowboy hat and joked with players who wore them to a pre-season lunch last year – showing their desire to head to North Texas to win Super Bowl-45, which they did in February. The ring features the Packers’ “G”-logo with 13 diamonds that represent each of the team’s N-F-L titles. Four more diamonds surround it to commemorate their four Super Bowl championships. Team president Mark Murphy said the ceremony gave everybody a chance to think about their place in the Packers’ long history – and to celebrate a remarkable season.
Senate Approves Budget, Now Heads to Governor
6/17/11 – A new state budget for the next two years was sent to Governor Scott Walker last night without a single vote by the Democrats. The Senate approved the 66-billion-dollar package on a 19-to-14 vote, with all Republicans voting yes. Minority Democrats again offered a host of amendments which the G-O-P struck down before passing the budget around 10 p-m. In the end, the Senate passed the identical budget that the Assembly approved around 3 a-m yesterday. The Republican Walker said he would only take a few days to consider possible line-item vetoes to the budget – which includes business tax breaks to boost the economy and a basic tax freeze for almost everyone else. But it also includes deep cuts in state aid to public schools and local governments, plus reductions in a host of social programs. Minority Leader Mark Miller said the budget quote, “gives to those few who already have a lot, and it takes from those who have less.” But Republicans said tough medicine was needed to put the state’s finances back-on-track, and eliminate deficits both now and in the future.
BD Man Allegedly Locks Himself To Senate Railing
6/17/11 – A Beaver Dam man was one of two people arrested in Senate Chambers over the noon hour Thursday after he used a bike lock to chain himself to the railing in the gallery. 20-year-old Christopher W. French was arrested along with a 23-year-old Elroy woman on charges of Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest and Unlawful Assembly. Officers cut apart the U-shaped locks from around their necks before hauling the two away. They were among a dozen protestors shouting “Kill the Bill” as the Senate began its session late this morning to debate the proposed new state budget. French told Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs he swallowed the key to his bicycle lock. Six other protestors were also removed from the gallery and charged with disorderly conduct. Soon after the shouting, the Senate adjourned so their parties could meet privately to discuss strategy. The start of the formal debate was delayed until around 1pm.
Capitol Access to Return to Normal
6/17/11 – The protest crowds are dwindling – and so are the restrictions for getting into the State Capitol. Starting a week from Monday, all eight entrances will be open again. And the metal detectors that were in place since late February will disappear. But when things heat up in the future, the administration department will have the authority to tighten up security once again. That’s part of a settlement reached yesterday in a lawsuit filed by the state’s largest employee union. The suit was filed during the peak of the protests over the new state law that limits collective bargaining by public employee unions. The administration defied a judge’s order to resume full access – and until this week’s budget debate, six of the Capitol’s eight entrances were locked and security clearance was needed to get in. The administration said it was justified in continuing the tight security, citing damage and threats. But this week, two more entrances were opened. And now that the Legislature has approved the state budget, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch says the time is right to open up the rest of the building. Under the settlement, Rotunda protest rallies will still be allowed. But signs cannot be put on sticks, and only employees can be in the Capitol after the building officially closes each day.
WI Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
6/17/11 – An Army private from Adams County is the latest Wisconsinite to be killed in Afghanistan. The Pentagon said yesterday that 19-year-old Ryan Larson of Friendship died on Wednesday, when insurgents attacked his unit in the Kandahar Province. He was the senior class president at Adams-Friendship High School, where he graduated a year ago. He joined the Army right after that, and was sent to Afghanistan in April. Larson was also a wrestler in high school. His coach said he was driven to succeed – and he always seemed to have a good time. Governor Scott Walker said Larson quote, “gave his life so that we may enjoy the blessings of a free society.” He was part of the 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright in Alaska.
Reilley Waives Prelim
6/17/11 – A Columbus man charged with possession of Child Pornography waived his right to a preliminary hearing yesterday in Columbia County court. James J. Reilley is charged with five felony counts. Reilley, whose former address was rural Pardeeville, is currently living with his parents in a home located between the Columbus Middle School and High School. In April, Columbus School District parents received a precautionary letter from Superintendent Bryan Davis detailing the judge’s decision to release the 44-year-old into the city on signature bond. Davis asked the public to report any contact they witness involving Reilley and any children and said that he should not be on school property. Authorities note that Reilley is not a registered sex offender and has not been convicted of any offense. If he is convicted, he faces a maximum of over forty-one years in prison. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for late next month.
Waukesha Woman Jailed For Smuggling Drugs
6/17/11 – A Waukesha woman will spend six months in jail for trying to smuggle drugs into the Waupun Correctional Institution. Harriet Hoffer pleaded “no contest” to a felony count of Narcotics Delivery and had a count of Delivering Illegal Articles to an Inmate dismissed but read in. The 47-year-old was acting nervous and corrections officers say she was constantly looking at the cameras when she visited the prison last November. Hoffer was then observed in the vending area putting something inside a potato chip bag. It turned out to be seven balloons, each with ten pills of methadone inside. The inmate is Hoffer’s nephew, who is serving a life prison sentence for murder. He is said to have ingested all seven balloons. When questioned, Hoffer told investigators that her nephew was suicidal, suffering from emotional pain and would have hurt someone without the pills. In addition to six months in jail, Hoffer was placed on probation for three years and is prohibited from entering the grounds of a corrections institution.
Fox Lake Approves Land Purchases
6/17/11 – The Fox Lake Common Council has approved the sale of two parcels of land and denied a bid on a third parcel. The lots are located on Warehouse Street and were used to house the city’s public works department until the city moved those operations to another, larger property on Warehouse Street. The city approved a bid of about $3,300 for Lot 1 to Josh Meyer. That lot had an appraised value of $8,000. Lot 2 was awarded to Todd Nehls for a bid of about $21,400, which is about $18,000 less than what the property was appraised for. The council tabled a bid for the third lot because the highest bid was $25,500, much less than the appraised value of $93,500.
Columbus Carriage Festival This Weekend
6/17/11 – The Columbus Horse and Carriage Festival is taking place this weekend in Fireman’s Park. Show Manager Rebecca Remmich with the Renaissance Project says over 60 carriage drivers from Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Illinois will be competing in the two-day, American Driving Society-sanctioned event. She says volunteers have been working tirelessly over the past three months to put on the festival after the organization that previously hosted cancelled their event in February. Remmich says the group would not let them use their wooden fence arena but with the help of the city of Columbus, volunteers rebuilt the arena which will remain as city property. The Columbus Horse and Carriage Festival will also feature a silent auction in the pavilion at Fireman’s Park with the proceeds going to benefit the park and other historic local landmarks. Remmich says the free event will be fun for the whole family.