News September 2, 2011

Dodge County Establishes Veterans Court

9/2/11 – The Dodge County Circuit Court has started a Combat Veterans’ Court and Mentor Program. According to Judge Steven Bauer, the program is designed to assist veterans of the Armed Forces who have served in a combat zone, have been charged with a crime, and who may be suffering from a combat-related adjustment issue. Veterans who are charged with a crime will be directed by their defense counsel to Dodge County Veteran’s Service Officer Mark Grams for an assessment for eligibility of services. Bauer says it won’t be a “get out of jail free card.” He says the goal is to assist veterans who may have behavioral issues related to their service to our country by getting them needed treatment with the ultimate goal of reducing the chance that they commit another crime. A major component of the program is the assignment of a veteran mentor. He says they’ve identified and trained five highly qualified veteran mentors—all with combat experience. The mentors will assist the veterans in obtaining the treatment they require, and provide a sounding board and role model for them. Bauer says the program has the support of Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls, District Attorney Kurt Klomberg, Veteran’s Service Officer Grams, and representatives of various veterans’ groups within the county. These types of alternative court programs are taking hold in Dodge County as the Alcohol Court started by Judge Brian Pfitzinger is celebrating its one year anniversary today.

Fox Lake Man Charged With Felony In Head-On Collision

9/2/11 – A Fox Lake man is being held on a $20,000 cash bond for allegedly causing a drunken, head-on collision that injured a carload of people last month. Brandon M. Smith is charged with felony OWI Causing Injury for the accident on Highway 33 in the Town of Beaver Dam. According to the criminal complaint, the 27-year-old told police he drank a 30-pack case of beer before heading out to a friend’s. He reportedly lost control and crossed the centerline, into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was transported to the Beaver Dam Community Hospital and four other passengers complained of back, neck and hip pain. Smith’s blood alcohol level was said to be over three times the legal limit for driving at point-two-six-three (.263). The charges carry a maximum six year prison sentence upon conviction, but because Smith is a repeat offender he could have up to four years added to that sentence. He would also lose his license for at least one year and as much as two years. Smith waived his right to a preliminary hearing yesterday and is scheduled to be back in court later this month.

Lincoln, South BD Named Promise Schools of Recognition

9/2/11 – The Department of Public Instruction has announced that two Beaver Dam schools are among 116 statewide that are Wisconsin Promise Schools of Recognition. For the third year in a row, South Beaver Dam Elementary was acknowledged as a school that helps disadvantaged students achieve academic progress. Lincoln Elementary also earned the honor this year. Superintendent Steve Vessey says it’s a credit to the teachers, staff, students and parents in the schools and he also says it’s a positive reflection of the district as a whole. Criteria for the selection included poverty rates as defined by free and reduced lunch data and the results of standardized tests in reading and math. The district will receive $5000 for the designation and will also be presented with a Promise School award during an October 12 ceremony at the state capital.

Tractors Stolen From Persha Equipment

9/2/11 – Authorities are investigating the theft at Persha Equipment in the town of Hubbard. According to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, workers reported Wednesday morning that four Simplicity lawn tractors were stolen during the overnight hours from the business on Highway 33. Three of the units were new and one was used. Officials report they have no suspects at this time.

Trailer Stolen From Banes Auto

9/2/11 – Authorities are investigating the theft of an enclosed car trailer taken from Banes Auto on Madison Street in the town of Beaver Dam. Workers reported the theft Wednesday morning and indicated it had been taken during the overnight hours. It’s described as being a 24-foot dark blue trailer with the license plate B-T 2603. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.

Lasee Likely Running For Senate

9/2/11 – He says he’s not ready to make an official announcement, but Republican state Senator Frank Lasee says it’s, quoting here, “quite likely,” he will run for the U.S. Senate. Lasee says he will make a decision soon. At least three prominent Republicans are expected to run for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Democratic Senator Herb Kohl. Only former congressman Mark Neumann has made his candidacy official. But, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald has said he is “99 percent” sure he will run – and former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson is obviously considering a campaign himself.

Mason Seeks To Index Minimum Wage

9/2/11 – A state Assembly Democrat says he’ll try again to let Wisconsin’s minimum wage go up automatically each year according to inflation. Cory Mason of Racine has been trying to five years to eliminate what he calls “political wrangling” to keep low-income workers from getting behind. His proposal would also raise the state’s minimum wage from 7.25-an-hour to 7.60. Mason is now asking colleagues to co-sponsor his measure before he introduces it. Mason says it would benefit 316-thousand employees statewide. But that’s assuming employers keep those jobs in place. The last time Mason proposed indexing the minimum wage, Ed Lump of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association said it could force employers to cut jobs they could no longer afford. And Lump said inflation is often at its worst during rough economic times, when the minimum wage would rise the most under Mason’s bill. The last time Wisconsin increased its minimum was in 2009, when it matched the federal government’s figure of 7.25. Both minors and adults now have the same minimum, after the state did away with a lower wage for minors. And farmers lost an exemption in 2009 to pay as low as 4.25-an-hour to pre-teens and young teens.

Obama Won’t Interrupt Packers Game, Just Concert

9/2/11 – President Obama will speak to Congress and the nation next Thursday night to discuss his economic agenda. But the White House says the speech will be over before the Packers start playing the New Orleans Saints in the N-F-L’s regular season opener in Green Bay. The speech had been planned for Wednesday night, but Republicans cried foul because it would have conflicted with a G-O-P presidential candidate debate. So the White House moved the speech to Thursday night – and that got Cheeseheads concerned. The speech will most likely take place during the league’s “Kick-off Concert” that N-B-C was planning to show. But the concert will also be on the N-F-L Network. N-B-C will show the Packer game, with the kickoff at 7:30. The “Peacock Network” will also broadcast from Lambeau Field during the “Today Show” next Thursday morning. Matt Lauer and Al Roker will be there. “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” is taping a segment in Green Bay with Packer fans. And the Weather Channel, C-N-B-C, the “E” entertainment network, and the Telemundo Spanish language channel are also planning segments from Titletown next Thursday. State deputy tourism secretary Dave Fantle says the promotion and excitement is like a quote, “mini-Super Bowl.” Green Bay expects over 100-thousand people for the free concert and the game. The concert features Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, and Maroon Five.

Kohl’s, Boston Store Profits Down

9/2/11 – Two of Wisconsin’s largest department store chains reported lower-than-expected sales last month. Kohl’s, which has a store in Beaver Dam, reports a one-point-nine percent decrease

in its same-store sales compared to a year ago. And Bon-Ton Stores – which is the parent company of Boston Store, had a four-point-seven percent drop in its same-store sales for August. Outside analysts had expected Kohl’s to have an increase instead of a decrease. And Bon-Ton was projected to have a smaller decline of just over one-percent. Kohl’s chairman Kevin Mansell said his chain would dramatically increase its marketing to reverse its declines. The company had a drop of four-point-six percent in its same-store revenues in July.

Outdoor Fire Pot Recall

9/2/11 – Ten companies have recalled about two-million jugs and bottles of gel fuel that’s used in outdoor fire-pot decorations. Three of the 10 manufacturers are from Wisconsin – Real Flame of Racine, Lamplight Farms of Menomonee Falls, and the Sunjel Company of Milwaukee. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the gel fuel has caused several dozen injuries, when users pour on too much gel because they’re not sure if a flame is extinguished. Officials say people can get dangerous burns or flares if they pour too much gel on a burning pot.