News September 12, 2011

Wisconsin Remembers 9/11

9/12/11 – Hundreds of people attended Wisconsin’s observance of the 10th anniversary of 9-11. The crowd observed a moment of silence at 7:46 a-m, when the first terrorist plane hit New York’s World Trade Center of September 11th of 2001. Governor Scott Walker and National Guard Major General Don Dunbar laid a wreath to honor the seven Wisconsinites killed in the 9-11 attacks – and the 153 state residents who died in the war-on-terror that followed. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch said 32-thousand service members from Wisconsin were sent abroad. Walker thanked the state’s thousands of first responders. And he talked about the Wisconsin’s resilience in the decade after the terrorist attacks. The governor said we see “honor, commitment and pride” instead of “fear and horror.” The Madison ceremony ended when relatives of fallen troops walked around the Capitol Square to honor their loved ones. In New York, Gordy Haberman of West Bend and his family released helium balloons when the name of his daughter was read at Ground Zero. Andrea Haberman was killed in the World Trade Center’s North Tower. In Milwaukee, firefighters climbed the stairs of the U-S Bank building three times to simulate the 110 stories of the trade center where 343 fallen firefighters had climbed on 9-11. Appleton firefighters did something similar. In Green Bay, emergency workers stood guard for 12 hours at the city’s 9-11 Memorial next to the Fox River downtown. When their shifts changed, officers read the names of first responders killed on duty that day. And in churches throughout Wisconsin, special prayers were read at Sunday services for the victims of 9-11 – and for peace. FDL Authorities to Release Findings on Officer Shootings

9/12/11 – It took almost six months, but Fond du Lac officials have completed their investigation into a March 20th shootout that killed one officer and hurt another. Police and prosecutors will hold a news conference this afternoon to discuss their findings. 30-year-old James Cruckson shot-and-killed city officer Craig Birkholz, as he and other officers were responding to a sexual assault complaint. Officer Ryan Williams and his K-9 partner were wounded – and Cruckson turned the gun himself after he got into a stand-off with police. The state Justice Department investigated, and sent its information to the district attorney for consideration of possible charges. Cruckson’s aunt, 29-year-old Hlee Cruckson, was charged in May with threatening James Cruckson’s girlfriend, Josephine Werner. Prosecutors said she pointed a gun at a relative of Werner, while blaming her for the police standoff. Hlee Cruckson is due back in court September 27th on two charges. And Fond du Lac police officer Jay Salzmann resigned in May, after an investigation showed he had a past relationship with Werner. Officials said there was no indication that Cruckson’s actions had anything to do with the officer’s prior relationship.

Man Cited for Drunk Driving in Motorcycle Accident

9/12/11 – Dodge County authorities responded to a report of a motorcycle accident last night on Fabisch Road. According to Sheriff Todd Nehls, two men were riding their motorcycles in the area just before 8 p-m, when one of them left the road and hit a fence. A witness called 9-1-1 and authorities responded. However, when they got on scene the motorcycle was there, but the two riders were not. Police apparently caught up with them at the Park Avenue McDonalds in Beaver Dam. 32-year-old Shaun Johnson was arrested and cited for first offense drunken driving. The investigation is ongoing.

Relative Call Leads to Brothers Arrest

9/12/11 – A relative’s call led to the arrest of a town of Beaver Dam man for his seventh drunk driving charge and several drug charges yesterday. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department says a relative called to report that she had found a marijuana pipe in her brother’s bedroom of a home on the 300 block of Sarah Lane. She also told authorities she thought he had been drinking. The brother, a 47-year-old man, was pulled over a short time later near the residence.

He was arrested for his 7th OWI, and authorities are expected to request charges for possession of drugs without a prescription, along with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Pfitzinger Says Alcohol Court is Hitting Its Stride

9/12/11 – Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Brian Pfitzinger says his one-year-old Alcohol Court is just hitting its stride and has made a lot of progress. A person who pleads guilty to a second or third OWI can choose to enroll in alcohol court as a condition of their probation. While participants may see a lesser jail sentence, the court still has a weekly or twice-a-month review that could result in increases in those penalties if the offender chooses not to remain sober. Some critics have said that alcohol court is a dodge to get out of going to jail and Pfitzinger says that’s true but “asking someone to get sober is a heck of a lot harder than spending a few days in the county jail.” He says if anyone believes that 20 days in the county jail will cure addiction, they are delusional. Pfitzinger says it’s easy to forget about sobriety on simple probation but with regular monitoring and other incentives, it brings to the forefront that fact that there are consequences if you do not stay sober. He admits not everyone has been successful but says the success stories have been inspiring, from in-court stories to promotions at work to rebuilding relationships and whole families coming back together. Alcohol court is not funded with tax dollars. After the county board turned down funding of the program last year, Pfitzinger tapped volunteers to handle administrative duties. Donations from the business community, and some money from Pfitzinger’s own pocket, have been used to buy things like gift cards provide incentives for participants to stay sober.

Slow Start for WI Legislature

9/12/11 – Wisconsin legislators are off to a slow start in their fall session. A number of bills have had public hearings, but both houses only plan to meet once this month. That’s tomorrow, and don’t expect much from it. The Assembly has a light agenda which includes a bill to return Wisconsin’s presidential primary to April from mid-February. The Senate plans to swear-in its two new members who’ve already taken office after defeating incumbents in recall elections last month. But the Senate has no bills on its agenda. And both houses don’t expect to do much until October. Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald said his members were busy campaigning for colleagues who faced recall votes. And they had to re-organize after its majority was cut from five members to just one. But Fitzgerald says they’re making progress behind the scenes on measures to create jobs – provide venture capital for new high-tech companies – and to speed up the process of starting a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Meanwhile in the Assembly, Republican Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said he’ll keep his house on track to pass measures which help the economy. He promised to avoid the social and hot-button issues that sparked partisan battles earlier in the year. But some G-O-P members are pushing for things like limits on abortion – an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigrants – and a ban on medical research using fetal tissues.

DOD Will Pay for Cleanup

9/12/11 – The Department of Defense has reversed its ruling of last Thursday, now agreeing to pay for the Wisconsin National Guard to help clean up thousands of downed trees in northwestern Wisconsin. The National Guard Bureau cleared the way for federal training dollars to be used to pay for work by the 724th Engineer Battalion in Burnett and Douglas counties. Then, last week the D-O-D revoked the approval, saying federal training dollars couldn’t be used for disaster response. Governor Walker called the battalion to active duty last Friday, using state money to pay for the work. But, the federal funding was restored yesterday. It’s expected that 64 National Guard soldiers will be involved in the project which will now be funded by Washington.

Baraboo Police Investigate Fall of Circus Performer

9/12/11 – Baraboo police are investigating the fall of a circus performer Saturday morning.

Hannah Crist suffered unspecified injuries when she fell 10-to-15 feet from a swing during a magician’s act. Crist was reportedly performing as a magician’s assistant at the Circus World Museum. A crowd witnessed the accident. Onlookers say the 23 year old performer was alert and conscious after the fall to a concrete surface, but she was disoriented. Crist was taken to a hospital.

Ash Tree Seeds Being Saved

9/12/11 – Seeds from healthy ash trees in Wisconsin are being saved at three locations in the state. The seeds are being collected and stored now, with the hope they can be replanted at a future date after the devastation from the emerald ash borer has ended. The project starts this fall in Wisconsin. Scientists and trained volunteers are harvesting the seeds from trees at Schlitz, the Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg and a third location in Vernon County which hasn’t been chosen yet.