Assembly Passes Drunk Driving Reforms
9/18/09 – The Wisconsin Assembly gave its unanimous approval yesterday to a series of drunk driving reforms. The Badger State would still be the only one not to make all first-time O-W-I a criminal offense. But first-timers caught with kids-under-16 in the car could be charged with misdemeanors. And first offenders with blood alcohol levels of point-15 or higher would have to breathe into interlock devices to start their vehicles – and all repeat offenders would have to do the same. These reforms and others now go to the Senate, which is still working on its own drunk driving package. Majority Leader Russ Decker expects final action this fall. Paul and Judy Jenkins of Mequon – who lost their daughter and two grandchildren in a crash caused by three-time drunk driver Mark Benson – called the package “baby steps.” Lawmakers promised more action, but they’ll need more money to handle the new offenders.
BDPD Compliance Check Results in Three Citations
9/18/09 – The Beaver Dam Police Department conducted alcohol compliance checks at 18 drinking establishments Wednesday night. Deputy Chief Dan Schubert says three businesses were cited. The Cellar on Rowell Street and Casa Mora on South Center were issued citations for selling alcohol to minors. In addition, a bartender at the Cellar was cited for not having a valid server’s license. Neither establishment was open during a previous compliance sweep, which resulted in warnings to nine of the 32 liquor establishments checked. Applebee’s on North Spring Street was given a warning during the last sweep, and last night was also issued the citation. The citations will be referred to the city’s Administrative Committee at which time demerit points could be given to the businesses under an ordinance that was recently adopted by the common council. Once a business gets a certain number of points, their liquor license could be suspended or even revoked. Because this is the first time the demerits could be assigned to an offending establishment, it is unknown what the exact process will be.
Zapotockny Named EOC Director
9/18/09 – The next Emergency Operations Director for Columbus has been named. Councilman Tyler Walker presented the report from the EOC Ad Hoc committee naming former Councilman and EOC Director Bob Zapotocny to the post. Walker praised Zapotockny for his past efforts working on Emergency Management in the City. The EOC Ad Hoc committee has been working with Interim Director Gerald Sallman and Assistant Director Zapotockny since last February updating Emergency Operations procedures for the City and redefining the role of EOC Director. Now that the new EOC plan is in place, the Ad Hoc committee will be disbanded. Administrator Boyd Kraemer assured citizens that plans are in place to respond to any possible area Emergency occurring between October, when the interim contracts expire, and January when Zapotockny begins the $4,000 per year post. The Common Council praised the EOC plan updates and welcomed Zapotockny back as Director.
Motorcycle Chase Goes Through Dodge and Columbia Counties
9/18/09 – Authorities are still looking for the person involved in a high speed chase that went through two counties early this morning. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department says Columbia County asked for their assistance in pursuing a motorcycle. Deputies say the person riding the motorcycle ditched it on County Trunk F in the Town of Fox Lake and took off on foot into a nearby field. They were unable to find the person but did take custody of the motorcycle. Anyone with information is asked to call the Columbia or Dodge Sheriff’s Departments.
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Mercury Marine
9/18/09 – Putting a little blemish on recent news that Mercury Marine will remain in Fond du Lac is the fact that a federal lawsuit has been filed against the company claiming 100 managers are owed about $7 million for coming up with cost cutting measures. The suit contends that company executives promised bonuses for creating nearly $78 million in expense cuts last year. Company officials won’t comment on pending legal matters. (KFIZ)
Dodgeland Ratifies Teachers Contract
9/18/09 – For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, teachers in the Dodgeland School District have started the school year with a contract in place. The school board this week ratified the three-year contract which includes a 3.8% increase for 77 certified employees; that includes teachers, counselors and other staff members. On August 27, the Dodgeland Education Association signed off on the contract. A tentative contract was unanimously approved by the school board this week and after some minor language changes are made the document will be back for a final vote at an upcoming meeting. Superintendent Annette Thompson says it was a wonderful way to start the school year.
9/18/09 – Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped in August for the third month in a row. But the new un-adjusted rated of eight-point-four percent is still the highest for an August since 1983. Also, the state had 112-thousand fewer jobs than the year before. That’s a percentage loss of three-point-eight – a slightly larger loss than in July. Factories cut a net of almost 50-thousand jobs in Wisconsin since last August. Even so, the state’s jobless rate is one-point-two percent less than the national rate of nine-point-six percent. State Workforce Development secretary Roberta Gassman touted the lower unemployment and said there were signs elsewhere of an economic turnaround. Still, she said her agency was committed to helping those out of work while keeping the economy moving forward.
Probation for Teen Burglars
9/18/09 – Three teens have been sentenced to probation for burglarizing a friend’s house. Eric Wenninger, Zachary Mittag and Race Ranta were also recently ordered to pay $3100 in restitution. The three 17-year-old’s, and another minor, used a key under a doormat to enter a Town of Rubicon home and steal a computer, a guitar and several DVDs. They had called their unsuspecting friend first to make sure no one was home. When authorities started asking questions, the group drove into the country and ditched the stolen goods along the side of the road. Wenninger, Mittag and Ranta all had felony burglary counts dismissed and plead to misdemeanor theft charges.
Outrage Over Missing DNA Samples Continue
9/18/09 – Milwaukee’s chief prosecutor says at least some criminals in Wisconsin probably escaped charges – because the D-N-A samples they were supposed to give to a state data-base never made it there. John Chisholm says he wants to find out who those criminals are, so he can get them into court before the statute-of-limitations runs out on their cases. Attorney General J-B Van Hollen says his department does not have D-N-A samples from 12-thousand convicted felons. The problem was discovered after alleged Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis reportedly got a prisoner in Oshkosh to pose as him, when the state ordered Ellis to provide a sample in 2001. State Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch said he was shocked to learn about the large number of samples not in the data-base – and he’s reviewing the names of those without samples and determining how to find them. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are calling for an audit to see who caused the problem, and the best ways to fix it.
Legislators Urging Government and Media to Stop Using Term “Swine Flu”
9/18/09 – Legislators are discouraging the use of the term “swine flu.” The Assembly voted unanimously yesterday to urge state government and the news media to call it the “2009 H-1-N-1 influenza” instead. The idea behind the bill is to curb the fear that you can catch the flu from eating pork despite numerous studies showing that the flu has no effect whatsoever on pork production or the quality of the other white meat. The Assembly’s resolution is not binding. The Associated Press says it uses the term “swine flu” because experts insist it began in pigs a number of years ago – and most of its genetic makeup is from pig viruses, along with human and bird genes.
Waupun Offering After-School Programs
9/18/09 – Calling it “a needed service”, Waupun Superintendent Randy Refsland says his district is offering an academic after-school program at their primary and intermediate schools. The program runs from the end of school until 4 p.m. and Refsland says it’s designed to offer academic support and resources. The district is also working We Care Daycare in Waupun to offer traditional daycare service after the academic program ends. Refsland says there are fees for both of the programs
Two Men Killed in Highway Fight
9/18/09 – Two men killed by a car while fighting on a Lafayette County highway were identified today as 32-year-old Leonard Harris and 29-year-old Avari Baker, both of Freeport Illinois. Sheriff’s deputies said the two were arguing last night in a car driven by a 32-year-old Darlington woman. She stopped on Highway 78, just north of the Wisconsin-Illinois line. And the two men got out and started to fight. Both were on the ground when another car came by and ran them over. That driver – a 33-year-old Monroe woman – was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Investigators said she could not see the brawlers in time to avoid hitting them. Their driver – the Darlington woman – was cited for drunk driving.
Academy Day in Oshkosh Next Week
9/18/09 – Wisconsin high school students are being invited to learn more about the U-S service academies. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, and House members Steve Kagen and Tom Petri are hosting an “Academy Day” a week from tomorrow in Oshkosh at the E-A-A Center. Representatives from the Naval, Air Force, Merchant Marine, Coast Guard, and Military academies will be there to answer questions from students. Cadets and midshipmen will also be on hand to talk about their experiences. The congressmen are inviting anyone with an interest in applying to the academies.
Saturday is First Night of “Movies at the Marsh”
9/18/09 – “Movies at the Marsh” kicks off tomorrow night with a viewing of March of the Penguins. Hosted by The Friends of the Horicon Marsh, the movie will be shown on their new state-of-the-art big screen in the new auditorium at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center. Organizers say the event has a family friendly atmosphere with free admission to the general public. The movie will be shown between 6 and 8pm.
The next Emergency Operations Director for Columbus has been named. Councilman Tyler Walker presented the report from the EOC Ad Hoc committee naming former Councilman and EOC Director Bob Zapotocny to the post. Walker praised Zapotockny for his past efforts working on Emergency Management in the City. The EOC Ad Hoc committee has been working with Interim Director Gerald Sallman and Assistant Director Zapotockny since last February updating Emergency Operations procedures for the City and redefining the role of EOC Director. Now that the new EOC plan is in place, the Ad Hoc committee will be disbanded. Administrator Boyd Kraemer assured citizens that plans are in place to respond to any possible area Emergency occurring between October, when the interim contracts expire, and January when Zapotockny begins the $4,000 per year post. The Common Council praised the EOC plan updates and welcomed Zapotockny back as Director.