News – March 10, 2016

Four New Cases Of Elizabeth-kingia Confirmed


3/10/16 – Wisconsin health officials have confirmed four new cases of the Elizabeth-kingia bacterial infection, and they’ve made a downward revision in the death total from 18 to 15. Wisconsin remains the only state affected by the latest outbreak with 48 cases, although two suspected cases have cropped up in neighboring Illinois — along with a handful of cases of a separate strain. The Wisconsin cases are in 12 southern counties, as Sheboygan was added to the list Wednesday that also includes Columbia, Jefferson, Dane, Fond du Lac, Washington and Dodge counties. State and federal experts are still trying to determine the cause of the infection, which has affected mainly senior citizens with other health issues. Officials say the death toll was reduced because patients may have been counted more than once, and it could not be confirmed that one person who died actually had the disease.


Senate Judiciary Panel Recommends Litscher Confirmation


3/10/16 – The state Senate’s judiciary panel voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend confirmation of Jon Litscher as the state Corrections Secretary. He has held the post since February 29th, after Governor Scott Walker appointed him to replace Ed Wall. Litscher, a former corrections chief more than 15 years ago, has vowed to address staffing shortages blamed in part for the alleged abuses of juvenile offenders at the troubled Lincoln Hills facility. The committee vote clears the way for the full Senate to take a confirmation vote. Litscher resides in Beaver Dam where he serves as the president of the Beaver Dam Common Council.


BDPD Lobby Designated As A ‘Safe Exchange Area’


3/10/16 – If you’re buying or selling something on Craigslist, the Beaver Dam Police Department says you can conduct the transaction in their lobby. Chief John Kreuziger says his department recognizes that more people are going online to sites like Facebook, VerageSale, and Craiglist to purchase or trade goods and money. As a result, Kreuziger says his department has established their lobby as a “safe exchange area” He says many people are reluctant to conduct these transactions at their personal residences and as a general rule, this is generally not a recommended practice due to the dangers involved with meeting unknown people who think you may have money or goods.  The lobby of the Beaver Dam Police Department has always been recorded and monitored but before now it was not expressly offered for use during these types of transactions. Kreuziger says they now are encouraging anyone that is involved in either the sale or purchase of an item to use their lobby. There is also a safe room within the lobby that has a door that automatically locks along with cameras and a telephone that automatically dials Dodge County dispatchers. Kreuziger says the police department at 123 Park Avenue is staffed at all times and the lobby is open seven days a week, 24-hours a day. If that is not an option, the chief recommends that the transaction be conducted in another public place.


Dodge County Could Soon Share Extension Educators


3/10/16 – Four south-central Wisconsin counties could soon share UW-Extension educators.  Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen says Dodge, Columbia, Fond du Lac, and Sauk Counties will likely comprise a multi-county region.  Columbia County UW-Extension Department Head Karen Nelson believes a committee with representatives from the four counties is being created to create a staffing plan based on county and regional extension needs.  This proposal comes in light of a $3,600,000 cut from county extensions that was part of the $250,000,000 cut from the UW System in the current state budget.  80 positions could be cut throughout the state, including some that are currently vacant.  Counties pay for roughly 40% of their extension costs while the state picks up 60%.  Changes were supposed to start this summer, but county officials have been told to budget for 2017 the same way they did for 2016.


Food Bank To Use Donated Dodge County Fairgrounds


3/10/16 – The Dodge County Fair Association will once again provide the fairgrounds free of charge to southern Wisconsin’s Second Harvest Food Bank. The grounds will host the Mobile Foodbank and Pantry scheduled on the second Saturday of every month. Fair officials say that local business owners have contributed to the program by paying for the plumbing, plowing and parking preparations. K&B Tree and Lawn Care in Beaver Dam is offering snow plowing services at no charge while Environmental Specialists of Watertown will be donating portable toilets. The food will be distributed in the shelter under the grandstand. Those attending should use the fairgrounds entrance on High Point Road at Highway 33. Recipients are not required to provide any proof of residency, or identification and do not need to register in advance. The distribution area is not heating so officials say people should dress accordingly and also bring enough bags, boxes, and containers to carry the food. The mobile foodbank starts at 10am with registration at 9:45am. After this Saturday, the pantry will return to the fairgrounds on April 9, May 14 and June 11. For more information, go to:


Please be advised that for logistical purposes none of the above scheduled stops will be cancelled or postponed due to poor weather. There may only be exceptions where roads become unsafe for travel. Anyone who’s in doubt can get confirmation on possible cancellations through the Southern Wisconsin’s Second Harvest Food Bank dedicated hotline. All attendees should use their judgment when travelling over wet or icy roads.


Private Sector Job Growth Increases


3/10/16 – Analysts say Wisconsin’s larger-than-normal reliance on manufacturing is partially why private sector jobs grew by just one-point-two percent for the year ending in September. Federal labor officials said Wednesday that Wisconsin ranks 36th in job growth, one-percent below the national jump of two-point-two. Dale Knapp of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the trend is the same one we’ve generally seen since at least 2002. G-O-P Governor Scott Walker has pointed to the record numbers of Wisconsinites with jobs, and an unemployment rate that’s almost always below the national average. But Democrats say the state’s ranking speaks for itself — and they want the G-O-P majority to return to session to act on new job initiatives.


Man To Spend 20 Years In Prison For Dodge County Sex Assault


3/10/16 – A Grand Marsh man was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison for having inappropriate relations with a minor in 2012.  James P. Schmidt was found guilty in a Dodge County court in December of two felony counts including Repeated Sexual Assault of the Same Child.  The girl’s mother contacted police after reading text messages on her daughter’s phone that tipped her off to the relationship.  The relations had been going on for a year-and-a-half in a number of different locations, including Dodge County. Schmidt was arrested the next time he showed up to the girl’s house. The 40-year-old was also sentenced to 15 years of extended supervision, placed on probation for ten years and must abide by the terms of his sex offender registration.


Waupun Man Pleads Not Guilty To Sexually Assaulting Dog


3/10/16 – A Waupun man accused of sexually assaulting a dog pled not guilty at his Dodge County arraignment Wednesday.  Ronald Mueller is accused of having inappropriate contact with the canine several times in February 2015. The 56-year-old is facing a felony charge because the assaults on the dog were allegedly committed in the presence of a teen. Mueller has since relocated to an assisted living facility. If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison.  Further court activity is set for next month.


Teens Accused Of Columbia County Vandalism Spree


3/10/16 – In Columbia County court, two teenagers are accused of causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages during a two-day rash of break-ins and thefts in Portage. Authorities say a 17-year-old from Grand Marsh and a 19-year-old from Oxford were arrested in connection with the rash of crimes during the weekend of February 20th. Portage police received several calls reporting vandalized cars and stolen hood ornaments. A truck reported stolen from Portage Tire and Auto Repair was later found abandoned while its keys found in a downtown parking lot.


SWAT Team Called Off Possible Green Lake Standoff


3/10/16 – The Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office called out its SWAT team for a possible standoff at a mobile home park in Green Lake Tuesday night. Chief Deputy Mark Putzke says they had information that a 19-year-old Green Lake man was suicidal and may be armed and holed up in a residence in the park. He says after several hours of trying to contact the man without success they discontinued their tactical operations. He says people they had relied on for information at the scene were not cooperating.


Berlin School Employee Accused of Embezzlement


3/10/16 – A former Berlin school employee is due in court March 29th, after being accused of embezzling 30-thousand dollars. Forty-two year old Torry Putzke was charged yesterday (Wednesday) in Green Lake County with felony counts of theft and misconduct in public office. Prosecutors say an audit last summer showed that funds were missing at Clay Lamberson Elementary School in Berlin. Putzke handled the accounts, and officials say she was let go after the evidence pointed to her. Superintendent Robert Eidahl says the incident caused “significant changes” in how money is handled in school activity accounts.


Dalai Lama Returning To Madison


3/10/16 – In his tenth visit to Madison, the Dalai Lama calls for a “century of dialogue” that steers away from violence. The 80-year-old spiritual leader of Tibet appeared yesterday (Wednesday) at an event called the “World We Make,” and he wore a cap that says “Change Your Mind, Change the World.” The Dalai Lama’s visit to Madison was his first since helping dedicate the Center for Healthy Minds. The center’s founder, U-W professor Richard Davidson, says the main message is that people “need to take responsibility now for cultivating positive qualities like kindness and compassion.” The Dalai Lama says parents are vital to nurturing their children, and kids need education because it’s better to see things from various dimensions instead of one.


Wisconsin Cheese Win World Championship


3/10/16 – For the first time since 1988, a cheese made in Wisconsin has won the World Championship Cheese Contest. A hard smear-ripened cheese that’s produced in Monroe won the best-in-show award Wednesday night at a gala that climaxed three days of competition in Madison. A record 29-hundred-55 entries from around the world were judged, and the cheese made by Emmi Roth U-S-A beat out 15 other finalists. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association puts on the world contest every two years. The last Wisconsinite to win it was Dale Olson of Grantsburg for his entry of string cheese 28 years ago.