News – March 31, 2016

Wisconsin Supreme Court Sides With Beaver Dam Woman


3/31/16 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees with a Beaver Dam woman injured by a runaway hot air balloon who says the company providing rides at a charity event does not have blanket immunity under state law. The high court returned the case Wednesday to circuit court for further proceedings. Patti Roberts was injured while standing in line to go up in the balloon tethered to two trees and a large truck at a Beaver Dam fundraiser in the summer of 2011. One of the lines snapped in strong winds and the balloon went toward the people in line. The basket hit Roberts, knocking her down. She sued and lost in circuit court. An appeals court upheld the decision. The state Supreme Court, however, says the case goes beyond Wisconsin’s recreational immunity statute and sent it back.


Jury Finds Beaver Dam Man Not Guilty Of Injuring Passenger


3/31/16 – After a two-day trial, a Dodge County jury delivered a not guilty verdict yesterday for a Beaver Dam man accused of injuring a passenger while driving impaired.  The criminal complaint said Michael G. Thompson rolled his vehicle after hitting a tree on a Beaver Dam side street while under the influence of prescription methadone in July 2014.  The 33-year-old was said to be lethargic and disoriented, with slurred speech and poor balance.  Thompson and a passenger were reportedly flown to a Madison hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  If convicted of OWI Causing Injury, Thompson would have faced between one month and one year in jail.


Horicon Man Going To Jail For Relations With Teenager


3/31/16 – A 62-year-old Horicon man will spend 21 months in jail for molesting a teenager.  Gary L. Koppen was found guilty on three reduced misdemeanor counts of Sex with a Child Age 16 or Older earlier this month.  The 62-year-old was facing felony Sexual Assault charges for incidents that occurred in late 2013 and early 2014 with the same victim.  Koppen was arrested in St. Croix Falls last January after a three month ongoing investigation.  He was sentenced to 18 months in jail earlier this year for similar offenses in Washington County.


Jail Time For Waupun Man Who Had Relations With Minor


3/31/16 – A former Waupun man will spend one year in Dodge County Jail for having an inappropriate relationship with a then 14-year-old girl.  In January, Corey Teachout of Fond du Lac was found guilty of Second Degree Sexual Assault of a Child.  The victim told investigators she was with the 27-year-old five times in the fall of 2014. She said they were dating and loved each other. Teachout admitted contact with the teen, telling police that she originally said that she was 16-years-old. He was also given ten years’ probation, must comply with his sex offender registry, and have no unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.


Former West Allis Cop Sentenced For ‘Suitcase Murders’


3/31/16 – Former West Allis police officer Steven Zelich has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the first of the two “Suitcase Murders” he was accused of committing. If he’s alive after his prison term, the 54-year-old Zelich will be put under extended supervision for killing 19-year-old Jenny Gamez of Oregon in 2012 in Kenosha. Zelich is also awaiting charges in Minnesota, where he’s accused of killing Laura Simonson in 2013 in Rochester. His attorney says Zelich engaged in rough sex with both women, and the deaths were not intentional. Zelich pleaded guilty to reduced charges in Kenosha County that include reckless homicide — and he still faces two Walworth County charges of hiding corpses, after he allegedly dumped suitcases containing the bodies along a roadside near Lake Geneva.


Hartford Man Going To Jail For Stealing Equipment


3/31/16 – Six months in Dodge County Jail for a Hartford man who stole two pieces of heavy equipment from a local company.  Seth Omernick pled guilty yesterday to five amended misdemeanor charges, including Theft of Movable Property and Criminal Damage to Property.  He was originally facing two felony counts.  The 21-year-old stole a forklift and boom lift from TNT Stack Equipment in Hartford on two separate days last May.  Omernick told an officer he was storing the items for a stranger before later admitting to the crime.  He will also spend three years on probation.


Dodge County Board Candidates Disagree On Sales Tax Usage


3/31/16 – The two candidates for a City of Beaver Dam seat on the Dodge County Board disagree on how to spend revenues for the county’s half-a-percent sales tax.  District 33 Incumbent Roger Mattson and Challenger Rebecca Glewen joined us yesterday on WBEV’s Community Comment.  Mattson believes the revenue, which is projected at $5,900,000 in 2016, is well-spent at the county level.  He cited road improvements, a new roof on the county administration building, and paying interest on the loan for the Clearview building.  Glewen, who has worked with the Dodge County Mayor’s Consortium in petitioning to county to share a portion of the funds with its municipalities, believes communities could use that money for quality-of-life projects such as building or maintaining community centers and lake improvements.  The two had an exchange when Mattson mentioned $2,900,000 from the sales tax being used to pay for a new highway shop in Neosho.  Glewen argues a large amount of money is being spent on a shed that does not bring people to Dodge County while Mattson says the new garage allows for safer working conditions for DPW employees.  The half-a-percent sales tax was put in place two decades ago to cover building improvements.  When the tax was due to sunset, the county board voted to keep it in place indefinitely and expand its use.


Listen to the full Community Comment episode:


Columbus Aldermanic Candidates Discuss Streets Plan


3/31/16 – Two Columbus Council candidates agreed on the need for better city streets at last night’s Columbus-Fall River Rotary Club Forum. Candidates J.D. Milburn and Andy Traxler both spoke in favored the council’s current five-year plan, which calls for regular annual budget allocations for repairs on aging Columbus streets. Milburn pointed out that previous council members were wise in implementing the plan. Traxler says that the streets plan is a necessary part of city business. Traxler and Milburn will be on next Tuesday’s ballot in Columbus running for the Third District seat vacated by Michael Clark.


Several Vacancies On Dodge County Ballots


3/31/16 – Several Dodge County-area races will have no one on the April 5 ballot. There is currently no one on the ballot for the Dodge County Board District 27 seat in the Waupun-area. There are also candidates needed for village trustee seats in Hustisford, Randolph and Reeseville along with Ward Six on the Mayville City Council and the Waupun School Board seat representing the Towns of Burnett, Chester, Oakfield, Springvale and Waupun. Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson says that Friday at noon is the deadline to file a campaign registration statement with the appropriate clerk to run as a registered write-in candidate. So those interested in running for school board should contact their school district, those interested in a city, village or town position should contact the respective clerk. The city of Beaver Dam has two registered write-in candidates vying for alderman in what has now become two contested races. A recent change in state law requires write-in candidates to register. However, Gibson says that applies only to contested races as there is an exception for races with no one or too few candidates on the ballot. There is another advantage to being a registered write-in candidate. While the write-in candidate’s names cannot be posted at the polls, any voter can have a poll worker say the names of the registered write-in candidate. Also, the name of a write-in candidate does not have to be spelled correctly as the standard to count as a vote is “intent.”


Wisconsin Voters Supporting Cruz, Sanders


3/31/16 – Wisconsin voters who supported Marco Rubio and Ben Carson are now getting behind Ted Cruz, and the Texas senator is the state’s new G-O-P presidential leader in the latest Marquette Law School poll. Forty-percent of likely Republican voters in Tuesday’s primary now favor Cruz. Donald Trump is second at 30-percent with the same support as last month, but without attracting new voters following the withdrawals of Rubio and Carson from the G-O-P race. John Kasich is a distant third at 21-percent. Meanwhile, Democrat Bernie Sanders has overtaken Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, 49-to-45 percent — which is still within the poll’s margin-or-error of six-percent either way for likely Democratic voters.


Poll In Supreme Court Race Falls Along Party Lines


3/31/16 – With only five days until Election Day, almost one of every five Wisconsin voters remains undecided about the State Supreme Court race. The new Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday gives Walker appointee Rebecca Bradley a 41-to-36 percent edge over Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg. More than one-third of likely voters say they do not know enough about either candidate to make a favorable or unfavorable opinion — even though the two have engaged in several high-profile debates and controversies this month. The poll shows that many voters will follow political party lines in choosing who’s supposed to be a fair-and-independent jurist. The Marquette poll shows that 69-percent of Republican primary voters support Bradley — and 64-percent of Democratic voters pick Kloppenburg.


Mayville Mayoral Candidates To Appear On Community Comment


3/31/16 – The two candidates in Mayville’s mayoral race will appear on today’s edition of WBEV’s Community Comment.  Current Aldermen Rob Boelk and Joseph Hohmann will debate the issues as they look to fill the mayoral seat being vacated by Bob Redeker.  Community Comment on AM 1430 starts weekdays at 12:35 pm.