“News – September 24, 2009”

Unemployment Dips Below Double Digit Peak


9/24/09 – After posting double digit numbers last month, the unemployment rate in Dodge County has dropped.  The jobless rate for August was at 9.5% down nearly a full percentage point from July but twice what it was last year at this same time. Columbia County dipped three-tenths of a percent to 7.7%. Jefferson County dropped two-tenths to 8.8%. Fond du Lac County is also at 8.8% after a half-point decline. Washington County is at 9.1%. According to the Department of Workforce Development, all but three counties in the state saw a decline in unemployment filings last month. Secretary Roberta Gassman calls that an “encouraging sign that the economy is improving.” Dane County continues to have the lowest rate in the state at 5.8%. Menominee County has the highest at 17.8% while Rock County is a distant second at 12%. Statewide, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate went down four-tenths from July to 8.4%, well below the national average of 9.6%.


Foggy Conditions Cause Some Late Starts


9/24/09 – It was so foggy in parts of southern Wisconsin this morning, that a number of schools were starting two hours late.  Waupun schools are off to a late start, along with Dodgeland and Beaver Dam schools.  A number of pre-schools were closed as well.  Fog has been a problem in different parts of Wisconsin for the past couple weeks, during a long dry spell.  Today, fog advisories were in effect until 10 o’clock in 19 counties in southern Wisconsin – including the Milwaukee and Madison areas.  Visibilities were as low as a quarter-mile.


Man Sentenced for Burning Down Home


9/24/09 – A Randolph man, who set fire to a house his parent’s owned to collect insurance money, has been sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading no contest to an amended charge of 1st Degree Reckless Endangering Safety, which is a felony.  According to the criminal complaint, Seth Braker had been let go from his job with Ballweg Implement for mishandling contracts and funds.  The owner, Tom Ballweg, and Braker agreed to a settlement in which Braker’s parents reimbursed the business $50,000.  In an effort to pay his parents back Braker torched an unoccupied home on their Town of Westford property.  The home was insured for $50,000 but the land it occupied was worth $450,000.  The 26-year-old told investigators that he used a torch to ignite a coat in the bathroom.  Braker was also placed on probation for seven and-a-half years.


Plea Agreement For Church Burglar 


9/24/09 – A former Beaver Dam man who broke into a church and two businesses last fall has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. Trevor Waller pleaded “no contest” to a felony Burglary charge related to a break-in at the First Lutheran Church of Beaver Dam on October 20. In exchange, the 28-year-old had a misdemeanor charge of Criminal Damage to Property, and two other felony Burglary charges dismissed but read into the record.  Authorities heard about the First Lutheran burglary while they were one block down the street at the United Methodist Church investigating a similar break-in.  There have been no charges filed yet in connection with that incident. Authorities found blood and fingerprint evidence at First Lutheran and connected it to Waller, who was also charged, along with two others, with break-ins at Kelm Painting and Beaver Plumbing around the same time. In July, Tabatha Pellett pled to reduced charges for her role in one of the business break-ins and was sentenced to probation. Kurtis Billings has a Plea and Sentencing Hearing scheduled for next month. Judge Brian Pfitzinger ordered a pre-sentencing investigation for Waller, which will be set at a later date.


Beaver Dam Film Festival Planned


9/24/09 – Dodge County will have its first ever film festival later this fall. The Beaver Dam Area Arts Association is hosting the event and Executive Director Karla Jensen says they are looking for amateur film makers from in and around the county to submit their original movies. Jensen says for those who new to film making, the Arts Association will offer a 4-session course that covers all aspects of the filmmaking process. She says technology has gotten to the point where anyone with a personal computer and digital camera can write, produce and edit their own movies. After the class wraps up, students will have about a month to make their own two-minute film. “Take One,” the Arts Associations film making course, will be held on four consecutive Thursday’s beginning October 15.  And Jensen says you don’t have to take the class to submit a film to the festival; that is open to everyone. The Film Festival will have a public screening on Friday, December 4. Submission forms can be obtained through the Arts Association.


Gun Deer Season Expansion Proposed


9/24/09 – The idea of a longer deer hunting season in Wisconsin took one step forward Wednesday.  The Natural Resources Board agreed to hold public hearings to find out what people think.  D-N-R staff members have proposed a 16-day gun deer season instead of the traditional nine days.  It would help keep the state’s growing deer herd in check, after the board scrapped the controversial Earn-a-Buck program earlier this year.  The proposed 16-day gun hunt would begin two Saturdays before Thanksgiving, and run through the Sunday after the holiday.  It would take effect in 2010 if the board eventually agrees.  The public hearings on the idea will be held next month around the state.  The closest one to our area will be in Madison on October 21.


Registered Sex Offenders Share Addresses with Child Care Providers


9/24/09 – Legislators fumed yesterday as problems continued to mount in the Wisconsin Shares tax-funded child care program for the working poor.  An ongoing audit turned up four cases in which registered sex offenders had the same addresses as child care providers.  And no children were harmed as a result  Those revelations came out yesterday, after the audit turned up 18-million-dollars in fraudulent or questionable state subsidies to child care providers who allegedly bilked the program.  Senate Republican Alan Lasee of De Pere said Children-and-Families’ secretary Reggie Bicha should resign.  Lasee said the problems start at the top – and if this were the private sector, heads would have rolled a long time ago.  But Bicha blamed the problems on the officials who came before him.  He said they assumed child care providers would be honest – and his agency has done more in the last 14 months to address the program’s fraud than at any time since Wisconsin Shares was created in 1997.  Bicha is scheduled to meet next Tuesday with the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, which wants an explanation on his plans to address the fraud – and now, the allegations of child endangerment.


Ellis Has Trial Date Set


9/24/09 – Alleged Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis is scheduled to go on trial May third for the brutal killings of seven female prostitutes over 21 years.  The trial was ordered yesterday, after a judge heard three hours of testimony and decided there was enough evidence to try the 49-year-old Ellis.  The judge then entered innocent pleas to all seven of Ellis’s murder and homicide charges.  Relatives of the victims winced and cried as 18 present and former Milwaukee police officers testified about the crimes.  Medical examiner Christopher Happy said each of the seven victims was strangled.  Prosecutor Mark Williams said it was no coincidence that Ellis’s D-N-A was found on all seven victims – and they all died virtually the same way.  Pre-trial requests will be heard in February.  For now, Ellis cannot have contact with his girlfriend Tressie Johnson, who was taken into custody along with Ellis at a motel in Franklin on September fifth.  Johnson was released a few days later.


After 66 Years WWII Pilot Buried in Green Bay


9/24/09 – A World War Two pilot from Green Bay was finally laid to rest yesterday, 66 years after he was missing-in-action.   Army Air Corps Lieutenant Robert Streckenbach Junior was 21 when his reconnaissance plane went down in a storm in New Guinea in 1943.  The plane and its crew were never seen until a few years ago, when somebody found part of the wreckage and human remains.  An Army genealogical team contacted Streckenbach’s sister, Joyce Clark.  And her D-N-A helped confirm the pilot’s remains.  They were recently flown home to Green Bay, where a service and a burial were held yesterday with the help of an Army honor guard and a casualty assistance officer.  Clark says she’s glad her ordeal is over.  She said the family did most of its mourning in the first couple years after he disappeared – and at 81, she’s now the only one left.


Swine Flu Update


9/24/09 – Six people in Wisconsin have been hospitalized this month with the H-1-N-1 swine flu virus, and there have been no reports of deaths.  State health officials say flu cases have been higher than normal for September, and many incidents have been in the southern half of the Badger State.  The state’s health agency is rounding up information about public flu clinics where people can get the H-1-N-1 vaccine once it’s available.  Dodge County Public Health Officer Jody Langfeldt says she will release the information as soon as she gets it. Wisconsin has had eight deaths from the virus this year.  Another 239 have been hospitalized.


BDUSD Favors New WIAA Football Proposal


9/24/09 – Beaver Dam Athletic Director Bill Greymont says the WIAA’s proposed football redistricting plan only benefits his district.  The proposal would get rid of conferences in football and move to a district format.  There would still be seven divisions but each would be made up of eight districts based on the size and location of each school.  According to Greymont the plan addresses issues with injuries, travel, and feasibility with other high school sports.  The proposal is only a rough draft but as it stands now about half of the teams on Beaver Dam’s schedule this year would not be a part of their new division.  The earliest the plan could take effect would be the 2010 season.


Powerball Up to $150M


9/24/09 – Nobody won the Powerball jackpot last night, so it goes up to 150-million dollars for the next drawing on Saturday.  A ticket sold in Sheboygan won the 200-thousand-dollar second prize by matching all five regular numbers but not the Powerball.  Two players in Portage and Milwaukee each won 10-thousand by matching four numbers plus the Powerball.  Just under 30-thousand Wisconsin players won something last night.  Almost half won three-dollars just by matching the Powerball.  The numbers were 7, 8, 20, 25, and 29.  The Powerball was 11.  And the Power Play multiplier was five.  Saturday’s cash option is 77-million-dollars.