News- June 30, 2015

Fitzgerald Endorses New Bucks Arena Proposal


6/30/15 – Wisconsin’s month-long state budget impasse could come to a head this week, as majority Republicans in both houses are about to discuss their options. Senate Republicans are scheduled to meet in a caucus today, and G-O-P Assembly members are due to meet tomorrow.  Democrats can only sit on the sidelines and point out trouble spots as Republicans continue to disagree over delays in highway projects, the funding package for the Milwaukee Bucks’ arena, and a scaling back of the state’s prevailing wage.  Yesterday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said it’s possible his house could move forward with its own budget bill — instead of trying to work out a final deal with the Senate.  Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office would not comment on that.  Vos proposed a compromise on the prevailing wage.  His measure would remove 60-percent of public works projects from the long-standing minimum wages for those projects which are higher than today’s market values.  Senate Republican Steve Nass of Whitewater said it was not enough — and he kept pushing for a full repeal, at least for local government and school projects.  Meanwhile, Fitzgerald says he endorses the details of the Milwaukee Bucks arena proposal that were released yesterday.  The financing plan has taxpayers covering half of the $500-million dollars in the form of borrowing, a delayed increased in travel-related taxes in Milwaukee County, and other means.  Fitzgerald feels the proposal protects taxpayers by setting limits on contributions and says he will keep working to ensure any deal that keeps the Bucks in Milwaukee is a good deal for Wisconsin. The new budget is supposed to take effect tomorrow, but state spending will continue at current levels until a new two-year package is hammered out.


Lodi Woman Dies In Jackson County Drowning


6/30/15 – A Columbia County woman has been identified as the person who died while taking scuba-diving lessons in a Jackson County lake. 54-year-old Wendy Fassbender of Lodi died Saturday in Lake Wazee near Black River Falls.  Authorities said she stopped breathing while underwater in Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake. The artificial lake is nestled in a former quarry.  It’s 355-feet deep at its lowest point, and is therefore a popular spot for scuba-training.  Jackson County parks’ officials said there were over 15-hundred registered divers at Wazee last year.


Jury Trial Set In Death Of Markesan Student


6/30/15 – A jury trial is now on the calendar for a Madison man accused of selling the heroin that killed a Markesan student. During a status conference in a Portage County courtroom on Monday, Charlie Phillips-Moore had a two-day, 12-person jury trial scheduled for January 20. The 22-year-old is charged with First Degree Reckless Homicide in the overdose death of 21-year-old Jordan Peterson, who was a U-W Stevens Point student.  Peterson was found dead in November 2013 by a roommate who returned to their off-campus apartment after a weekend away. Phillips-Moore has been in prison since last October for an unrelated drug conviction in Dane County.  The man who gave Petersen the fatal dose, 21-year-old Erik Olsen of Hancock, was sentenced earlier this month to three-and-a-half years in prison, six-and-a-half years of extended supervision and ordered to pay restitution for funeral costs.


Cash Bond Set In Beaver Dam High Speed Chase


6/30/15 – Cash bond was set at $50-thousand dollars Monday for a Beaver Dam man accused of sparking a high speed weekend chase. Totoxsy Randle is charged with felony counts of Fleeing and Officer Causing Damage to Property as a Repeat Offender and Possession of Marijuana. The traffic stop was initiated early Sunday morning around 3:30am on East Industrial Drive and the car initially turned into the parking lot of an apartment complex. Randle slowed to the point where the officer thought he would flee on foot but instead Randle accelerated. A second squad car blocked the driveway of the complex but the suspect drove onto the grassy area around the squad and quickly fled. Speeds are said to have reached 80mph as Randle allegedly swerved into both lanes of traffic on North Spring Street. The suspect allegedly hit the train tracks at Parallel Street and started skidding sideways, striking a fire hydrant, telephone pole and several sign posts before rolling twice into the front yard of a home at on Gilmore Avenue, damaging a wooden deck. Officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop and Randle was arrested with guns drawn. Marijuana was allegedly found in the vehicle and he was reportedly driving on a suspended license. Randle will be back in court again next week when a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to order a trial.


Officials Urge ATV Helmet Usage


6/30/15 – Officials are urging all-terrain vehicle riders to wear helmets.  That’s after two of the four children who were killed this year in A-T-V crashes without wearing head protection.   All told, ten people have died A-T-V mishaps this year.  Last year, 27 people died in those crashes — but only one was under the age of 18.  Gary Eddy, the state D-N-R’s snowmobile and A-T-V coordinator, says the numbers vary from year-to-year — and he cannot spot any real trends.  However, he says the four child deaths in 2015 should serve as a reminder for parents.  State law requires that anyone younger than 18 to wear helmets, and those 12-and-older must take safety certification classes.  Three of the four children killed this year were required to take the classes — but none did. The region experienced an ATV fatality June 10 after a 12-year-old Green Lake County boy was killed on private property.


BDPD: Bike License Change Working


6/30/15 – The new bike licensing ordinance in Beaver Dam is working very well. That’s according to Police Chief John Kreuziger who first proposed the ordinance change that eliminates the $3 fee that had traditionally been required.  Instead of enforcing the ordinance that requires bike licenses, Kreuziger says they will be handing out licenses after summer school classes and perhaps again in the fall. He says that some stolen bikes could not be returned to their owners under the previous system due to them not being registered.  Instead, they are sold at auction.  The chief is optimistic that the changes will reduce the number of bikes that must be sold at auction and lower the bike theft rate.


Beaver Dam Lake Days In Need Of Workers


6/30/15 – One of Beaver Dam’s biggest summer events is looking for help.  Lake Days is still in need of volunteers to work the four day festival, which runs from Thursday, July 9 through Sunday, July 12 at Tahoe Park.  Lake Days Committee Member Connie Martinson says people are needed for a variety of positions including: set up, clean up, concessions, and ticket sales.  Martinson says the committee is looking for non-profit groups or individuals who want to get involved in the community.  Lake Days will give any organization that sends volunteers $100 for every 30 hours worked.  Groups can register for three-hour shifts by visiting the ‘manpower’ tab at  Martinson says 1,000 hours of manpower are needed to make the festival run.


We Energies Merger Approved


6/30/15 – The parent company of We Energies has a new name and a much larger corporate profile today.  The former Wisconsin Energy has completed its nine-point-one billion dollar purchase of the Integrys Energy group of Chicago. It puts We Energies of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation of Green Bay under the same umbrella, along with gas utilities in Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan.  However, all the utilities will keep their same names and identities.  Chairman Gale Klappa says the immediate plan is to be what he called “one company with seven customer-facing brands, all focused on customer satisfaction and operational excellence.”  Integrys cut off its stock trading yesterday.  Its shareholders will get 18-dollars and 58-cents for each share they held before the merger was finalized.  They’ll also get just over one-and-a-quarter shares of stock in the new company, known as W-E-C Energy Group.  Customers and employees should see little change, for now.  W-E-C has promised not to cut its union workers in Wisconsin and Illinois — and for the next two years, the only jobs to be lost will be through retirements and other attrition.  W-E-C becomes the nation’s 15th-largest investor-owned electric and natural gas utility system — and it’s the eighth-largest gas utility.


State DNR, Utilities Mulling Supreme Court EPA Ruling


6/30/15 – State officials are still trying to determine how a U-S Supreme Court ruling will affect Wisconsin power plants and their toxic chemical emissions.  On a 5-to-4 vote yesterday, the justices ruled that the E-P-A did not consider business costs, when it first drafted regulations on mercury and other toxins from coal-and-oil-fired power plants.  Those costs were considered later, when the E-P-A wrote standards for reducing those emissions by 90-percent.  However, the justices said that was too late.  Meanwhile, the E-P-A’s setback may only be temporary. Environmental observers say the rules will stay in place until a lower court can determine how business costs should be accounted for.  Bart Sponseller of the state D-N-R, said his agency is studying the court decision to see how it would affect companies and the state’s mercury pollution limits that were first adopted in 2004.  We Energies, the state’s largest electric utility, says all of its coal-fired plants have mercury controls except for the Presque Isle plant in Marquette Michigan.  The utility said a nine-million dollar facility to cut mercury pollutants would be ready to go by early next year. For now, C-E-O Kurt Bauer of the state’s largest business group hails the court’s decision.  He said the E-P-A’s initial regulations would have driven by up energy bills for everyone in Wisconsin, due to the state’s reliance on coal-generated power.


Republican Call Center In Oshkosh Closes


6/30/15 – A Minnesota company that raises campaign money for Republicans closed its call-center in Oshkosh yesterday with no notice.  Strategic Fundraising Incorporated of Saint Paul told state officials it faced “unforeseen circumstances” in its sudden closure, which left 153 people out of work. Strategic Fundraising said it tried to raise more dollars for investment and financing — but it just decided it would not be able to do so.  Wisconsin’s plant closing law requires a 60-day public notice of shutdowns or major layoffs for facilities with 50-or-more workers.  However, the notice is not required in cases of unexpected circumstances.  Strategic Fundraising and its affiliate Call-Assistant have now shut down three call-centers this year. The others are in Springfield Missouri and Logan Utah.