“News-May 11, 2011”

Waterloo Solider Posthumously Honored


5/11/11 – The family of a Waterloo soldier killed last year in Afghanistan was at the State Capitol Tuesday for the presentation and passage of a resolution honoring his service.  Army Lt. Col. Paul Robert Bartz was killed in Kabul last May after suffering injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device.  There were 17 of Bartz family members and friends in attendance at the special ceremonies in the Assembly and Senate Chambers, including the soldier’s parents and relatives from as far as California, Colorado and Florida. Representative Andy Jorgensen of Fort Atkinson and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau brought forward a joint resolution, noting Lt. Col. Bartz’ exemplary service.  The 1985 graduate of Waterloo High School was highly decorated over his two decades in the military. The resolution was unanimously approved in both houses, with all senators added as co-sponsors.  Following Assembly passage, Robert Bartz noted his son’s gentle spirit, perseverance and faith and said he “served his country well and should be an inspiration to all.” Bartz leaves behind a wife, Michelle, and son, Logan.


Man Injured in Motorcycle Crash


5/11/11 – A 24-year-old man was injured in a motorcycle accident early yesterday afternoon.  It happened on Highway 26/16 in the town of Emmet.  The man was taken to Watertown Hospital.


Williams Returns To Work


5/11/11 – Fond du Lac police officer Ryan Williams says his return to work shows the bad guys that they can’t win. Williams is back at work – on limited duty –  over a month-and-a-half after he was shot twice in the chest while responding to sexual assault complaint. Officer Craig Birkholz was killed when suspect James Cruckson began a shooting spree outside his home on March 20. Williams and his police dog Grendel were both wounded. And Cruckson later turned the gun on himself during a standoff. Williams said Birkholz always told him to stay strong and be positive – and living out those words is the best way to honor the late officer. Williams also said Grendel appears to ready for work, but he’s not sure yet how the dog will react to live gunfire. For now, Williams is re-training Grendel, and visiting schools where kids sent him well-wishes as he recovered. He expects to be on the road by June. Williams says he won’t be afraid to enter a suspect’s house, but he promises to be more cautious. He also wants to raise money for tactical vests for every Fond du Lac squad car. Williams wore one of those vests when he was shot – and doctors said it saved his life.


Man Facing Charges for Hitting Car While Texting


5/11/11 – Authorities say there are charges pending a man who hit a car while texting in Waupun over the weekend.  It happened early Saturday morning.  Police say the 38-year-old man was driving on South Watertown Street when he struck a vehicle parked on the side of the road and didn’t stop.  Someone who saw the incident was able to follow a trail of car fluid and found the man’s SUV parked behind a tavern and police later took the man, who is from Waupun, into custody.  He faces a number of charges including drunken driving, hit and run, and texting while driving.


Alternative Concealed-Carry Bill Unveiled


5/11/11 – A state lawmaker has come up with an alternative concealed weapons bill that he hopes law enforcement can accept. Police officials are not happy with the two options unveiled last week – that would let Wisconsinites carry hidden guns with no training, with either a limited system of getting state permits or none at all. Assembly Republican Don Pridemore of Hartford is asking his colleagues to co-sponsor what he calls a “reasonable compromise.” It would make people take at least two hours of training from certified gun-handling instructors. Those instructors would have to give certificates to those who pass the course – but there won’t be a data-base of trainees that law enforcement could check. Pridemore calls his bill a compromise between a person’s Second Amendment right to keep-and-bear arms, and what he called the “modern-day application of these rights.”


Search Still On for Mother Who Dumped Baby Near a Dumpster


5/11/11 – Police in Kimberly are still looking for a mother who left her baby girl near a locked Dumpster outside a church on Monday night. Meanwhile, Mary Schumacher – who lives near the church – wonders if the baby would have been tossed in the Dumpster and died had it not been locked. A man walking his dog found the infant early Monday evening. Police said she had mild exposure, but is doing okay. She’s now in the custody of the Outagamie County child services agency. Wisconsin has had a Safe Haven Law for about 10 years. It lets people drop off newborns to medical and law enforcement personnel with no fear of punishment. The group “Safe Places for Newborns” tries to raise public awareness of the law. And the group’s Tricia Burkett wondered if the mother’s intent was to discard the child. She told Post-Crescent the mother could face criminal charges – and had the girl died in the Dumpster, it could have been a homicide case. Kimberly has privatized its commercial garbage collections, resulting in the locks on the Dumpsters. Schumacher said the move might have been a life-saver.


Funeral for Appleton Soldier Set for Tomorrow


5/11/11 – Funeral services will be held tomorrow for the state’s latest casualty from the war in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sergeant Matthew Hermanson of Appleton died April 28th, after his unit was attacked by small-arms fire. Public visitations will be from 11-until-four tomorrow at Christ the Rock Community Church in the town of Harrison near Appleton. The service will start at four.


Video Store Unfair Collection Settlement Reached


5/11/11 – All 50 state attorneys general – including Wisconsin’s J-B Van Hollen – have settled charges of unfair debt collecting practices against customers of a bankrupt video chain. Almost 47-thousand Wisconsin customers will benefit from the settlement against the Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video. The company had 84 stores in Wisconsin, including one in Beaver Dam, before it went out of business last year. Van Hollen said the company gave a list of its video accounts to the National Credit Solutions collection agency. And pretty soon, customers complained that the agency had given negative information to credit bureaus without giving those people any notice or any chance to challenge the debts. In the settlement, the company’s liquidating trust agreed to cancel all credit reports it had submitted, not submit any future credit reports, not charge double for late fees, and not charge interest or collection fees on whatever the affected customers had owed.


Bill Seeks To Require Law Degrees For Municipal Judges


5/11/11 – About half of Wisconsin’s municipal judges do not have law degrees – and a Democratic state legislator wants to change that. Milwaukee Representative Fred Kessler, a former circuit judge, has introduced a bill requiring that all newly-elected municipal judges be licensed as attorneys starting in 2012. Incumbents could keep their jobs regardless of their backgrounds. Municipal judges act on local ordinance violations. Kessler says people have a right to fair trials, and he doesn’t want untrained judges causing potential injustices. He believes it happens in a lot of municipal courts, but he admits he doesn’t have any examples or statistics to back it up. Milton Judge Kristin Koeffler has a master’s degree in counseling. She told the Janesville Gazette that if municipal judges were not doing good jobs, the state would have made them have law degrees long ago. Edgerton Judge Ronald Strouse, a retired sheriff’s lieutenant, says some small towns might have a hard time paying lawyers what he gets for the job – less than five-thousand dollars a year. Strouse also said places without municipal judges will merely throw those cases to the county circuit courts – and they’re already overburdened. Kessler doesn’t buy that. He says communities can band together to have a municipal judge – just like the one who serves 16 municipalities in Washington and Ozaukee counties for $74,000 a year. Local laws require that judge to be an attorney.


Early Release Program on Chopping Block


5/11/11 – Wisconsin’s two-year-old early release program for state prisoners is one step closer to being virtually scrapped. The Senate’s Public Safety Committee voted 3-to-2 Tuesday in favor of a bill to dismantle what Democrats put together in the 2009 state budget. They created a system in which non-violent criminals could finish their sentences early, if they behaved behind bars. Supporters said it saved taxpayers money while giving inmates an incentive not to act up. But the bill’s main author, G-O-P Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, said dangerous criminals were being let go – and it didn’t save the state anything. The measure now goes to the full Senate. A similar bill is up for a final vote in the Assembly as well.


Wisconsin Millionaires Expected To Double


5/11/11 – The number of millionaires in Wisconsin is expected to more than double in the next 10 years, according to a financial analyst firm.  The report from Deloitte estimates Wisconsin will have more than 360,000 households with millionaire status by 2020. That would keep the state at number two in the Midwest for the number of millionaires, after Illinois.  Last year, there were about 160,000 such households in Wisconsin.  Patrick Mehigan, with Deloitte’s tax branch in Milwaukee, says the spike in millionaires only seems inflated because so many people lost millionaire status in the recent recession. But by 2020, many will likely have become millionaires again.