News – March 5, 2019

(Beaver Dam) It was one year ago today that a fatal explosion at the Village Glen Apartments in Beaver Dam sparked an eleven-day ordeal that culminated with the controlled burn of the entire building as the only means of mitigating the highly volatile chemicals found inside. On, you can find every piece of information released by the Beaver Dam Police Department through an open records request. Meanwhile, this afternoon on Community Comment, Fire Chief Alan Mannel will recount the controlled burn, spearheaded by his department in collaboration with multiple local, state and federal agencies. Community Comment begins at 12:35pm on AM1430 WBEV, streaming live in audio and video at

(Beaver Dam) A new idea about the intended use of Skunk Island led to the Beaver Dam Common Council last night sending the matter of purchasing the island back to committee. City officials are now considering turning the one-and-a-half-acre island, that is currently closed to the public, into a conservancy district. The Beaver Dam Lake Development Corp wants to avoid costly liability insurance by selling the island to the city for one dollar; the city has “recreational immunity.” Under a conservancy, the island would remain a natural area as opposed to a potential city park with the additional costs that may bring. The committee will explore what it means for the city to establish a conservancy district along with what would and would not be allowed, like hunting and general public access. Officials with the Development Corp Board says they are happy to see the city is considering the purchase.

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Common Council last (Monday) night approved spending money on a company to study facility needs and staffing levels at the Fire Department. Fire Chief Alan Mannel says a second fire station is needed on the city’s northside, along with additional personnel to staff the new facility. He says outside experts are needed to give an objective interpretation of needs. The study will look at not only if there should be a second station but where exactly the station would be located, what services would be housed at the new facility and what collaborations, if any, would be possible with neighboring fire departments. Mannel has indicated that they voters should decide by referendum if a new fire station is needed.

(Hustisford) Hustisford School District Superintendent Heather Cramer says a weekend situation involving referees asking police to escort them from town was blown out of proportion. Four fans were ejected during the Falcons 46-43 win over Catholic Central but Cramer says they left willingly and without incident. She says a police officer is on duty at all times during Hustisford games and, due to the amount of people attending Saturday’s game, the officer asked a patrol unit to help with traffic. The referees were escorted to the locker rooms and they did request an escort out of town. Cramer says there were no altercations and no direct threats were made to the referees. The situation garnered public attention following several posts to social media which Cramer says created something out of nothing.

(Beaver Dam) A Texas woman entered a no contest plea yesterday (Monday) to charges that she had inappropriate contact with a minor from Beaver Dam. Baylei Smotherman was found guilty of felony child sexual assault. Smotherman met the victim while the two were playing the video game Fortnite. The 16-year-old boy told police that Smotherman flew from Texas to Madison and then drove to Beaver Dam so the two could meet up. A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered and Smotherman faces up to 40 years in prison when she is sentenced in May.

(Madison) Governor Evers will continue his tour of the state to promote his budget proposals.  It will begin with a tour of the UW-Madison campus and discussion about higher education access.  That will be followed by stops in Wausau to discuss taxes, Rhinelander to discuss outdoor recreation, and Wisconsin Rapids to tour Mid-State Technical College and discuss workforce development.

(Madison) Governor Evers wants to make it easier for people to get a photo ID to be able to vote.  He signed an executive order in Green Bay Monday directing the DOT to develop a plan to expand access to DMVs.  Evers says many of these service centers currently have limited hours and are not easily accessible to people with disabilities or who use public transportation.

(Madison) Wisconsin is expected to join 19 other states and Washington D-C in filing a federal lawsuit today to challenge the Trump administration’s plans for new family planning rules.  This lawsuit and a similar one from California will seek to prevent new rules, including one that would bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

(Madison) Last year saw over 196-thousand dollars in civil forfeiture settlements for Wisconsin companies due to weights and measures inspections.  The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says over 258-thousand inspections found all but several thousand of them were accurate or benefited consumers.

(Madison) A reminder to farmers with animals that they need to register their livestock with the state.  Premise registration is done to help prevent the spread of disease.  Renewals are due back to the state by the end of July, while new locations can go online to w-i-i-d-dot-org to get the required paper application.

(Madison) Applications to grow or process industrial hemp in Wisconsin this year is over six-times as many as in 2018.  The state received just over 14-hundred applications to grow hemp, with nearly 700 wanting to process.  State officials attribute the increase to the removal of hemp from the controlled substances act in the 2018 farm bill.

(Green Lake) For about 75 years the Heidel House Resort and Spa in Green Lake has been a destination for travelers, but that will end with its closing on May 20th. Fiore Companies, owners of the resort, say over the past decade the business has had “continuous losses.” Part of that is attributed to the draw of other nearby tourist destinations like the Wisconsin Dells. Fiore is trying to sell the resort with plans to continue to seek a buyer. If that does not work out the company will look for other uses or development of the property.