“News – September 16, 2009”

Board Approves Hiring of Architectural and Engineering Firms


9/16/09 – The Dodge County Board took steps last night to determine the future of the Clearview Long Term Care and Rehabilitation Center in Juneau.  A resolution passed last night allows the county to hire an architectural and engineering firm to put together their next architectural drawing, which Board Chairman Russ Kottke hopes will tell them whether to build new, renovate, or a mixture of the two.  The cost of the study is 50-thousand-dollars and the board expects the firms will have the designs completed by the end of November.


Jury in Ehlenfeldt Case Hears from Defense


9/16/09 – The defense has started to make its case in the trial of a man accused of killing a former Wisconsin governor’s aide and six others at a suburban Chicago restaurant.  37-year-old James Degorski has been on trial for over a month.   He and Juan Luna allegedly stormed into a Brown’s Chicken restaurant in 1993, and murdered restaurant owners James and Lynn Ehlenfeldt and five employees.  James Ehlenfeldt was an aide to former Wisconsin Acting Governor Martin Schreiber in the 1970’s.  On Monday, the prosecution rested its case.  Yesterday, investigator James Bell said he thought for years that the prime suspect was John Simonek, because he confessed during police interviews.  Simonek later testified that he confessed only to get the police off his back.  He was never charged.  Luna later confessed and implicated Degorski.  Luna was convicted of the slayings in 2007, and was sentenced to life in prison.


Niesen to be Sentenced in November


9/16/09 – The sentencing has been set for a 54-year-old Ashwaubenon man found guilty earlier this month of a 33-year-old Fond du Lac murder. A Fond du LacCounty jury returned a guilty verdict against Thomas Niesen on September 3rd. Niesen was suspected of killing 19-year-old Kathleen Leichtman in July of 1976. The young Milwaukee woman had traveled to Fond du Lac to dance at The Other Place strip club. DNA evidence linked Niesen to the murder, but other evidence and testimony persuaded the jury. His sentencing is scheduled for November 6th. (KFIZ)


Cost of Health Insurance Up 131% Since ‘99


9/16/09 – For those of us who get family health insurance at work, our bosses paid an average of 98-hundred dollars for it this year – while we paid 35-hundred from our own pockets.  That’s according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which said the total premiums surpassed 13-thousand dollars for the first time.  That’s up a whopping 131-percent since 1999.  Coverage for singles has more than doubled, too.  The average premium is 48-hundred this year.  In Metro Milwaukee, a different survey showed that prices are even higher.  H-C Trends said the average family health premium was 14-to-15-thousand dollars this year and the average for singles was five-thousand to 52-hundred.  Employers in the Milwaukee region said their health payments rose 5-to-7 percent this year, as they kept giving workers higher co-pays.  An analyst for Towers Perrin expects an 8-to-10-percent jump in health premiums for next year.  Maulik Joshi of the American Hospital Association said the numbers highlight the need for national health reform, and care that’s more affordable and accessible to all.


Doyle Heads to China


9/16/09 – Governor Jim Doyle starts the Chinese portion of his trade mission to the Far East today.  And he expects to get heat from China’s leaders over President Obama’s recent order to impose tariffs on the imports of tires from that country.  Chinese officials have criticized the tariffs as an unfair trade restraint.  Doyle plans to meet with China’s deputy commerce secretary, who’s a strong supporter of free trade.  And the governor said he expects quote, “some real rhetoric and discussion” about the tire tariffs.  Doyle plans to remind the officials that he’s looking for ways to promote economic development in both Wisconsin and in China.  Business executives are also on the 10-day trade mission, which began last Sunday.  Japan was the first stop.


Study Finds Most Drinking Water in WI Safe


9/16/09 – Don’t worry about drinking the water.  A new report says 96-percent of Wisconsin’s public water systems met all of the state’s health standards last year.  The state has over 11-thousand public water systems – and the D-N-R said three-point-six percent of them had at least one violation.  Most often, it was some sort of bacterial contamination.  The second-biggest problem was too much arsenic.  Almost three-fourths of Wisconsinites get their water from public systems.  And the D-N-R said the high quality rate was impressive last year, considering all the floods that wreaked havoc on water systems in the southern part of the state.


Lakeside Zoning Laws Under Review


9/16/09 – Two legislative committees are reviewing proposed changes to Wisconsin’s lakeside zoning laws.  In June, the Natural Resources Board approved the first major changes in 40 years to the state’s shoreland zoning rules.  They’re designed to address concerns about runoff from the massive growth in lakeside development – runoff that could hurt aquatic life in lakes and streams.  Senate and Assembly panels are expected to decide by early October whether to order changes in what the D-N-R Board approved.  If lawmakers don’t do anything, the rules automatically take effect.  Only 15-to-30-percent of newly-constructed lots could have hard surfaces, depending on what landowners do the limit their runoff.  The new measure still requires a 75-foot setback for new buildings – but existing structures within 75-feet would no longer need to limit improvements to 50-percent of their property’s value.  Builders and realtors opposed the new rules at first,  but their lobbying groups eventually supported them.  But now, the D-N-R says it’s hearing fears from landowners about a government takeover of their land.  The D-N-R’s Lisa Leahmann says nothing could be further from the truth.