News – June 25, 2009

Another Day of Hot and Humid Weather

6/25/09 – Temperatures were above 90 throughout the state yesterday and we are in for another pretty warm one today. Juneau hit 90, Watertown had 91 and West Bend reported 92. The heat indexes for all three were near 100-degrees. A weak front went through the state last night, carrying some rain storms that are supposed to clear out this morning. But they didn’t provide much relief from the heat. We can expect to get close to 90-degrees again today with a heat index nearing 100 as well.

Former Player Charged in Coaches Murder

6/25/09 – A former player has been charged in the murder of Ed Thomas, the former high school football coach of Packers’ linebacker Aaron Kampman. 24-year-old Mark Becker was arrested soon after the slaying, which occurred yesterday morning while Thomas was supervising a workout in a makeshift weight room in Parkersburg Iowa. The 58-year-old Thomas had rallied the community after a tornado last year which destroyed Aplington-Parkersburg High School and killed six people. Kampman is one of four N-F-L players Thomas coached in his 37-year career – all but three of them at Parkersburg. Kampman learned about the incident from Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy after the team meetings at mini-camp. Kampman said Thomas was very special to him and many others – and his legacy will not only be associated with football, but with his faith in Christ.

Brown Gets Two Years in Prison

6/25/09 – Two years in prison for a Milwaukee man who led Beaver Dam Police Officers on a high-speed traffic pursuit in November. Joel E. Brown pleaded “no contest” last month to a felony charge of Eluding an Officer and a misdemeanor count of OWI-Third. The 27-year-old Brown was also facing a charge of Obstructing and Officer because he was arrested following a brief foot chase and later identified himself as “Maverick Singleton.” Those charges were dismissed but read into the record. In addition to two years in prison, Brown was ordered to serve two years of extended supervision.

Three Month Added to Riese Sentence

6/25/09 – A work-release inmate from Beaver Dam had 105 days added to his six-month sentence for failing to return to jail. Randall Riese pleaded “no contest” yesterday to a count felony escape for failing to return to the Huber facility at the Dodge County Detention Facility in December. The 22-year-old was located by authorities at a Beaver Dam residence four hours after he was due back. Riese had four months left on his sentence when he escaped.

Buchholz Bros Plead “Not Guilty”

6/25/09 – A “not guilty” plea was entered yesterday by two brothers accused of mistreating animals on their farm. Authorities say they found an “appalling” and “abusive situation” at their seven acre property in Lomira. 40-year-old Harvey Buchholz and 35-year-old Heath Buchholz are each charged with four felony counts each of Mistreatment of Animals Causing Death. The mistreated animals include dairy cows, calves, steer and sheep, all reportedly sick – bellowing with hunger — with inadequate food, water and bedding. According to the criminal complaint, there were dead animal carcasses strewn all over the barnyard. The remaining animals were covered in mange, with open sores and visible bones and ribs. A veterinarian brought in to assess the conditions said he was “appalled by the total lack of husbandry… and disregard for the welfare of the animals.” The brothers were given several weeks to address the situation this January. They denied that financial troubles lead to the conditions. The Buchholz brothers each face up to 14 years in prison, if convicted.

Area Unemployment Still Around 9%

6/25/09 – The unemployment rate in the region changed very little from April to May. In Dodge County, the jobless rate increased one-tenth of a percent to 9.5%. Last year at this time it was 4.2%. Columbia, Fond du Lac and Jefferson County’s all decreased by a one-tenth of a percent. Columbia County was at 8.1%. Fond du Lac County was at 8.9%. Jefferson County was at 9.1%. Washington County dropped two-tenths and is also at 9.1%. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman called the number “encouraging.” Unemployment dropped in 49 of the state’s 72 county’s and increased in 16. Seven remained unchanged.

6/25/09 – Unemployment went up last month in four Wisconsin metro areas. It went down in four others and held steady in the other four. Janesville, which is still reeling from the closure of the General Motors’ plant, continues to have the state’s highest unadjusted jobless rate. It was 12-point-nine percent in May, the same as in April. Madison had the lowest rate of six-point-two percent, but it went up two-tenths-of-a-point from the previous month. Milwaukee’s rate jumped one-tenth to nine-percent. The state’s largest metro lost 45-thousand jobs in the past year. Unemployment also rose in Wausau and Sheboygan. It went down in Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Racine, and Oshkosh. Jobless rates held steady in Appleton, Green Bay, and La Crosse. Racine had the state’s only other double-digit jobless rate, at 10-point-two percent.

Record Spring for Turkey Hunters

6/25/09 – Wisconsin turkey hunters almost set another record this past spring. The D-N-R says about 52-thousand wild turkeys were taken – just a couple hundred short of last year’s harvest, which was also a record. Geologist Scott Hull said the turkey population remains strong and stable, despite cold, wet, and snowy weather over the past year. About 18-thousand turkey hunters had permits this spring, twice as many as the year before. The deadline is August first to apply for a fall hunting permit. The next turkey season runs from September 12th through November 19th – and there’s talk about an extended season.

Swine Flu Closed Lake Delton Camp

6/25/09 – A summer camp in Lake Delton is closed for the next week-and-a-half, after one of its counselors came down with swine flu. Camp Gray, run by the Madison Catholic Diocese, shut down on Monday. It will re-open on July fifth. Church spokesman Brent King said the closing goes beyond the recommended seven days, to make sure the counselor can return without the risk of getting anybody else sick. State officials say Wisconsin had about 900 new cases of the H-1-N-1 virus in the last week. There are now about 43-hundred cases, with four deaths.

Box Truck Damages Enclosed Porch

6/25/09 – A truck destroyed a porch in Waupun yesterday morning (Wed). Police Chief Dale Herringa says a 21-year-old Fond du Lac man was driving a box truck south on Fond du Lac Street around 7:40am when he struck a utility trailer, blew a tire, lost control and crashed into the house. Damage was contained to the enclosed, front porch of the residence. Herringa says there was no structural damage to the home. No one was injured. Alcohol was not a factor. The driver was cited for Unsafe Lane Deviation.

Port-a-Potty Carp Caper Foiled

6/25/09 – A Beaver Dam teen is banned from the local park system because he filled up a port-a-potty with fish. Police Chief Dale Boldt says the incident was reported by a witness Tuesday afternoon at Cotton Mill Park. The 16-year-old filled the portable toilet with carp, earning him a 90-day ban.

Legislative Conference Committee Meets

6/25/09 – A six-member conference committee was quickly formed yesterday to reach an agreement on the new state budget. Four Democrats and two Republicans met publicly for two-and-a-half hours. But they did not resolve any of the 180 differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the two-year, 63-billion-dollar spending package. Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan said he hoped the panel would agree on some of the less controversial items, but the Republicans wouldn’t go along. The G-O-P wanted to suggest its own changes, but Sheridan wouldn’t allow it until the committee meets today. The Republican minority leaders in both houses – brothers Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald – called the conference panel a sham. They said it gave a false impression that the final product was being crafted publicly, after majority Democrats crafted both houses’ budgets behind closed doors. Governor Jim Doyle wants to sign the budget before next Wednesday, to meet various deadlines for getting federal aid.

Obama Talks with Governors about Health Care Plan

6/25/09 – President Obama met with five governors yesterday, including Wisconsin’s Jim Doyle, to get their views on revamping the nation’s health care system. The group included three Democrats and two Republicans – and Obama said they all agreed that the priorities include controlling costs, assuring a choice of doctors, and providing a high quality of care. The president said it’s essential to pass wide-ranging health reform this year. And on a televised A-B-C forum last night, the president said he was open to the idea of taxing health benefits provided by employers. Obama continues to seek a government-run plan to compete with private coverage. The president says it would keep the private insurers honest, providing more competition and lower rates. But Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan is among those who believe a government plan would eventually drive the private carriers out of business. Obama is letting Congress work out the details, but they have not agreed to anything yet. Harold Schaefer, the C-E-O of Schaefer Brush of Waukesha, says he’s wary of government health insurance – but he’s keeping an open mind about it, saying there’s not enough competition in the private market. Wayne Corey of the Wisconsin Independent Businesses says small companies need stability in pricing. He says no small firms can budget for insurance now. That’s because their rates hinge on the health of their workers.

Teen Killed after Tractor Overturns

6/25/09 – A 14-year-old boy was killed when the farm tractor he was driving overturned and pinned him in a ditch in Sheboygan County. It happened about four yesterday afternoon near Waldo. Sheriff’s officials said the boy was towing a hay wagon when it lost control as he was turning from County Trunk “I” onto a side road. The tractor rolled over in the ditch, and the boy was pinned underneath. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not immediately released.

Judge Tells DA to Drop One of Two Charges against Kuenzi

6/25/09 – A judge in Waupaca says a man accused of running down deer with his snowmobile should not have been charged with both animal mistreatment and illegal hunting. Circuit Judge Philip Kirk is giving the district attorney’s office until Monday to drop either one set of charges or the other against 24-year-old Rory Kuenzi. Kuenzi’s lawyer asked Kirk to drop the felony animal mistreatment case, after Kuenzi’s brother Robby escaped those same charges by claiming he was hunting. Yesterday, Judge Kirk called the myriad of charges against the Kuenzis and Nicholas Hermes a “goat rodeo.” And the judge blamed the prosecutors’ charging decisions for the dismissal of Robby Kuenzi’s mistreatment counts. Kirk called the over-charging, quote, “the swine flu of the criminal justice system.” Rori Kuenzi and Hermes remain charged with six felony animal mistreatment counts and six misdemeanor counts of hunting out of season. Waupaca Judge John Hoffman recently ruled in Robby Kuenzi’s case that hunters cannot be charged with animal mistreatment. Prosecutors are appealing that ruling. The three defendants were arrested

for allegedly killing a half-dozen deer in January on a snowmobile trail in Waupaca County. Rori Kuenzi was also charged with stealing the machine he allegedly used.

State Reviewing Inmate Death

6/25/09 – State corrections officials are reviewing the death of a prisoner at Portage. They said 21-year-old Jesse Miller of McFarland killed himself Monday night in a solitary confinement cell where he was taken three days earlier. He was serving three terms for attempted armed robbery, resisting police, and expelling bodily substances. Among other things, he was accused of making phone threats in 2007 that resulted in a lockdown of the U-W Madison campus. Court records said Miller suffered from bi-polar disorder, and he had not formed normal attachments to his caregivers when he was young. His mother told the Wisconsin State Journal that he had just been transferred from a mental health facility for inmates – and Miller said he was suicidal in a letter to her a month ago. State officials would not confirm that, citing confidentiality rules. They said Miller was put in solitary confinement at Portage for disruptive conduct and misusing property at another institution. Funeral services for Jesse Miller will be held on Monday.