News – June 8, 2009

Gas Expected to Top $3

6/8/09 – Officials in Wisconsin expect gas prices to rise over $3 again soon as the cost continues to climb in the recent weeks. AAA Wisconsin spokesman Larry Kamholz says there’s a good possibility a gallon of regular unleaded will top $3 in the coming weeks. In Beaver Dam and Watertown the price of gas is at $2.79 this morning while Oconomowoc is a cent less. The state’s average price was at $2.77 on Friday. In the spring, AAA officials thought it would reach $2.75 a gallon and said it would be a surprise to see it hit the $3 mark. But the world’s supply situation and an improving domestic economy changed the outlook. That coupled with the start of the summer travel season has pushed demand for more fuel.

Liquor License in Limbo for Waupun Tavern

6/8/09 – A Waupun tavern may lose its ability to do business at the end of this month unless its owner can make arrangements to pay more than $20,000 in back taxes to the state. Spirits Restaurant and Bar owner Dan Ganz has applied for “Class B” liquor and beer license but because he owes the state $24,000 in unpaid withholding and sales tax the city council will be forced to deny the renewal request. If by June 30th Ganz has not made arrangements to pay those taxes his sellers license would become invalid. The state says if and when the taxes are paid the license can be reinstated.

Sutter Sentenced in Dodge County Court

6/8/09 – The 42-year-old Horicon woman who sold a variety of drugs out of her home has been sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison. During her sentencing last Friday in Dodge County Court Angela Sutter was also sentenced to 14 ½ years of extended supervision. She was arrested last December after authorities executed a search warrant at her home and seized 11 grams of heroin, 37 grams of cocaine and over 200 grams of marijuana. Authorities also recovered quite a bit of drug paraphernalia. (KFIZ)

Badder Sentenced on Fraud Charges

6/8/09 – A 50-year-old Lomira man who defrauded investors out of $544,000 has been sentenced to three years and five months in prison. Russell Badder, who operated Oshkosh Aircraft Parts, was also ordered to make restitution of nearly $530,000 when he was sentenced in federal court last Friday. Badder solicited investors in several states to expand his business over a four year period, but according to prosecutors spent the money on himself instead. He did manage to repay about $15,000 before an investigation led to his indictment last fall. (KFIZ)

Still a Ways to Go for Wind Power in Wisconsin

6/8/09 – Wisconsin is producing eight times as much electricity from high-tech windmills as it did a year ago. But wind power still represents only about five-percent of the state’s total electric supply – far short of the 25-percent Governor Jim Doyle’s task force on global warming has recommended over the next 16 years. Today, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is issuing a report which says the Midwest economy can take advantage of wind power and energy efficiency measures if Congress limits greenhouse gases. The report said the Midwest has too much at stake to remain inactive – and preserving the past, with its coal-fired power plants, is no longer an option. Wisconsin is behind other states in attracting companies that make wind turbines and related technology. But the state Commerce Department hopes to catch up with the help of federal stimulus funds and other measures.

Committee Hears Costs of Tougher Drunk Driving Penalties

6/8/09 – It would cost millions to make Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws tougher. But Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney says it would be worth it, considering the human costs of O-W-I. The Legislature created the Joint Review Committee on criminal penalties to find out the costs of drunk driving reforms, and Mahoney is a member of that panel. At a recent hearing, the committee heard how much it would cost to make three-and-four-time O-W-I a felony. State court officials said eight more circuit judges would needed, since more people would fight their charges to avoid going to prison. That cost alone would be two-point-one million dollars a year. Twenty-one more prosecutors could be needed, costing a million-a-year. The Justice Department says it would need 20 more lawyers to handle an expected one-thousand new appeals. And the crime labs would need two more toxicologists to handle more blood tests, and to testify against defendants in court trials. There would also be added costs in housing more prisoners. Senate Democrat Lena Taylor of Milwaukee says there are 15 different bills that would get tougher on drunk drivers. She says the problem must be addressed, but in what she calls a “smart way.”

WIAA and Newspaper Association Case Headed to Trial

6/8/09 – The football footage is passable, not polished. But a newspaper’s decision to Webcast a live state high school playoff game – and three others – has led to federal court case. It may be left to a judge to decide who owns the rights to prep athletics. The oldest state athletic association in the country — the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association — is suing the state’s newspaper association in a legal battle that could alter how reporters cover prep sports across the nation. Or it could throw the roles of the organizing bodies in doubt and leave them watching their money-making associations run dry. The WIAA says the Appleton Post-Crescent broke its media policies when covering the playoff game last November. Lawyers have been trying for months to settle the dispute without a trial. But a trial date now has been set for next February. The lawyers say they’ll keep working to reach agreement before then.

Corn Growers Not to Blame for Increase in Product Cost

6/8/09 – A box of corn flakes costs a dime more than a year ago — and Wisconsin corn growers want you to know it’s not their fault. The growers’ association has boxes of corn flakes at June Dairy Month breakfasts with stickers saying a three-dollar-and-45-cent box only contains four-cents of corn. The association’s director, Bob Olson, says consumers may think most profits from corn flakes end up with corn growers, but they don’t. He says manufacturers, packagers, grocery stores, and others get a share. Olson says dairy producers get more of a profit on the milk that’s poured on the corn flakes — about 30-to-40-percent. For over a year, the corn industry has refuted claims that food prices rose because a greater share of corn went to ethanol. Experts insist there’s more than enough corn for everybody. The corn growers’ message will be delivered at dairy breakfasts this week in Dane and Marquette counties.