News – March 14, 2009

Minnig Gets Three Years For Arson

3/14/09 – A Town of Westford man who burned his own house down was sentenced Friday to three years in jail. After a three day jury trial last month, Paul Minnig was convicted of felony arson. The 41-year-old Minnig told detectives that he purposely started the fire at W10567 Fay Road in November 2006, by overstuffing the wood burning stove. American National Bank is listed as the victim because the lending institution had an open mortgage on the home with a balance in excess of 100,000. Prosecutors also noted that he put the lives of emergency responders and firefighters at risk. In addition to three years in prison, Minnig will was also sentenced to 12 years of extended supervision and ordered to pay $108,000 in restitution to the bank.

BDUSD Mourns Another Loss

3/14/09 – The Beaver Dam School District is once again picking up the pieces after another tragedy hit its student body this week. 17-year-old High School junior Bethany Soboleski was killed Wednesday after her car crossed the centerline of Highway 26 and crashed head-on into an oncoming vehicle. She became the seventh current or former Beaver Dam student to be killed in a traffic crash since last April. Superintendent Don Childs says it’s very hard to describe the effect it has had on the school community. He says his staff, along with local authorities, will be making an extensive effort to come up with a way to impress upon kids how important safety is when driving.

Low Bidder Emerges in Udey Dam Project

3/14/09 – The Columbus Council will be voting next week on the choice of an Engineering firm to be their “partner” in the Udey Dam project. General Engineering of Portage submitted the lowest cost estimate of three contractors. If approved, the contract would go to General for “engineering costs for the eventual rehabilitation OR removal of the Udey Dam.” Dan Jensen, Director of Public Works, made his recommendation to the Council this week. Due to the recently announced availability of Economic Stimulus funds, Columbus could be eligible for up to $50,000 in State “grant” money for the project. Jensen explained that grant applications would be drafted by General Engineering for both the repair AND removal of the Dam. General would charge $6,000 for grant application preparation only IF the City was successful in getting the grant. The Council will be voting on accepting General as their engineering partner for the work on the Crawfish River dam and on submitting grant proposals for both rehabilitation and removal of the dam when they meet next Tuesday.

Grissom Sentence Extended

3/14/09 – A former Waupun Correctional Institution inmate had six years added to his sentence yesterday for threatening a judge and assaulting correctional officers. Terrance Grissom sent a threatening letter to a Dodge County Circuit Court Judge. In the letter, the 39-year-old Grissom threatened to kill the judge and the president of the United States. Grissom was also sentenced to 4 years of extended supervision.

UW CEO’s Tie Harvard Total

3/14/09 – It should come as no surprise that a good number of chief executive officers come from Harvard. But it is especially worth noting that the University of Wisconsin system is tied with the prestigious east coast school. According to 2008 figures, 13 CEOs of Standard and Poors 500 companies got their bachelor’s degrees from schools in the UW system. That matches Harvard. Carol Bartz is the latest to join the list when she was named CEO of Internet giant Yahoo recently. At least 10 of the 13 on the list got their degrees in Madison.

Falk Criticized For Putting Election Before Investigation

3/14/09 – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is accused of putting her re-election before a wrongful death lawsuit. Attorneys for the family of murdered UW-Madison student Brittany Zimmerman tell the court Falk is trying to avoid giving testimony before the April 7 election. The Zimmerman’s are suing Dane County, Falk and 9-1-1 dispatcher Rita Gahagan. Falk was scheduled to give a deposition next Tuesday but Falk’s challenger in the April election has made errors made in April 2008 murder the center of her campaign effort. Falk’s new attorney says he needs time to get up to speed — and says he had plans to be out of town next week.

Traffic Accident Costs Soar

3/14/09 – Figures released by the National Safety Council show traffic crashes in the state are resulting in major financial and productivity losses. In 2007, the cost to Wisconsin’s economy topped three billion dollars. Dennis Hughes with the state Bureau of Transportation Safety says those costs continue to climb, as medical and insurance costs go up as well. Hughes says the three billion dollar price tag shows how important it is for the state to continue its efforts to make the roads safer for drivers.

Buyers Market

3/14/09 – The housing industry continues to hit new lows, but that means it’s a “buyer’s market,” if you qualify. So says Wisconsin Realtors Association President Bill Malkasian. He points to reasonable prices and sellers who are anxious to sell. Malkasian says there are a lot of properties available and interest rates are low. It’s going to take time for the housing market to recover, but Malkasian says it won’t take as long here as in California, Texas, and Nevada, which have the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Malkasian is optimistic there will be a turnaround at the end of this year or early next year, especially if the federal stimulus package does its job.

Streetcars Proposed for Milwaukee

3/14/09 – Streetcars could soon carry passengers on a loop through downtown Milwaukee. After 17 years of discussions, fighting and negotiations, Congress has thrown its support behind the idea. Senator Herb Kohl and Congressman Dave Obey put a line in the federal omnibus spending bill to dedicate more than 55 million dollars to a downtown rail line. Supporters say a fixed rail system stimulates economic development, while opponents say it costs too much and isn’t as flexible as busing. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wanted the streetcars, while County Executive Scott Walker was adamantly against it.

Fox Lake Celebrates St. Patty’s Day

3/14/09 – You can sign-up until the last minute to participate in the City of Fox Lake‘s annual St. Patrick’s Parade Sunday. Parade Committee member Laurie Millray says people can sign up at the starting line at the intersection of Cordelia and Depot. If you want to be judged it’s $10 but if you don’t want to be judged it is free to enter. The first place finisher gets $250, second place finisher receives $100, third place gets $75, and 4th place gets $50. In addition to contestants entry’s into the parade, there will be a variety of motorcycles as well as the fire trucks that normally participate. The parade lineup starts at noon and the parade itself begins at 1pm