“News – September 8, 2009”

One Killed in Rollover Accident


9/8/09 – A Town of Shields man was killed after a tractor he was riding rolled over last night.  The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department responded to a Hubbleton Road address around 7pm after Dr. Benjamin Schmidt was involved in a tractor rollover accident.  Schmidt died at the scene.  Authorities have not released any more information about the incident.  Schmidt was 48-years-old.


MPD Arrest Alleged Serial Killer


9/8/09 – Milwaukee Police say they nabbed a serial killer during the holiday weekend.  49-year-old Walter Ellis has been charged with two killing women – and he’s a suspect in six other slayings.  Charges are expected in some of those cases this week.  Ellis was picked up Saturday at a motel in Franklin.  That was after Milwaukee cold-case investigators found D-N-A on his toothbrush which matched samples found on 25-year-old Irene Smith and 32-year-old Carron Kilpatrick.  They were killed two years apart in the early 1990’s, and their bodies were found within a block of each other.  Officials said both were stabbed and strangled.  Police Chief Ed Flynn said Ellis’s D-N-A was on at least nine women killed from 1986-to-2007, but investigators say somebody else killed one of those people.  One victim was a teenage runaway, and the others were all African-American prostitutes.  Most were strangled, and three were stabbed or slashed to death.  Chaunte Ott  spent 13 years in prison for the murder of the runaway, Jessica Payne.  But Ott was freed in January after it was learned that the D-N-A on the victim’s body belonged to somebody else.  Another man had been charged in 1994 with Kilpatrick’s slaying, but a jury found him innocent.  Authorities said earlier that the same suspect’s D-N-A was found at numerous murder scenes.  A police task force was then created, which got almost 200 tips in its first three months.  Ellis was charged a dozen times in the 1990’s with numerous crimes.  But his last conviction in 1998 came two years before a state law that all felony convicts had to leave D-N-A samples with a statewide police data-base.


Obama to Speak to Kids Today


9/8/09 – President Obama will speak to the nation’s school-children today.  And despite all the controversy, a text released yesterday shows that Obama will only do the same things as past presidents have done – tell kids to stay in school, and work hard to fulfill their dreams.  Pulaski school administrator Mel Lightner says Obama’s comments are more than appropriate – and the more leaders who encourage kids to stay-in-school, the better.  Lightner plans to have rooms at each school where parents can join students in watching Obama live at 11 this morning.  But West Bend schools say they won’t show the address at all – not even on a delayed basis.  Many schools plan to either let teachers show the speech live, or have it archived for later use.  The Democratic president will speak from a high school in Arlington Virginia.  He plans to talk about his own experiences and those of his wife Michelle – and he’ll say that kids who quit school also quit  on themselves and their country.  Conservatives balked when the Education Department provided classroom activities which urged children to say how they could help the president.  But that was dropped, and some critics took a softer tone during the weekend.  Still, a number of Wisconsin schools are letting kids opt out of the president’s speech with their parents’ permission.


Reward Offered for Information on Missing Skid Loader


9/8/09 – The company which had a $75,000 skid loader stolen from the Dodge County Fairgrounds last month is offering a reward for information leading to its recovery.  FABCO Inc., of Madison, is offering a $5,000 reward in an effort to find the 2009 Caterpillar Compact Track Loader.  According to Dodge County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Jo Anne Swyers the machine was stolen between 7pm and 10:30pm on August 23rd.  The loader was locked and the keys were not in the ignition at the time.  It appears that someone backed a trailer up to the skid loader, drove it onto the trailer and left the fairgrounds.  Authorities say the theft occurred during a busy time when vendors and exhibitors were taking down displays and booths.  The skid loader is a yellow 2009 CAT model with a fully enclosed cab.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dodge County Sheriffs Department or the anonymous We-Tip hotline at 800-78-CRIME.


Dodgeland School District Looking to Fill Position


9/8/09 – The Dodgeland School District is looking for a new Dean of Students for the middle school/high school.  Superintendent Annette Thompson says Catherine Moore tendered her resignation last week after she accepted a job in the Green Lake School District to teach English.  Thompson says they’ll post the vacancy internally.  The school board is expected to discuss the resignation, which took effect immediately, when they meet later this month.  Thompson says Moore was responsible for, among other things, dealing with truancy as well as keeping the building safe and orderly for students.


Mercury, Union Reach Agreement and Look Forward


9/8/09 – A resolution was reached last Friday in the contract dispute between Mercury Marine and its employees union. If you were out of town when it happened members of Machinists Local 1947 ratified proposed contract changes that are expected to preserve manufacturing jobs at Mercury’s Fond du Lac facility. Russell Krings the District 10 representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers called the modification of their labor agreement with the company “a huge sacrifice.”


Now that the concessions are approved Fond du Lac City and County government officials will begin work to approve a proposed incentive package for Mercury Marine. The package had been discussed in closed sessions of both governmental bodies, but now comes the time to make the offer official. Both County Executive Al Buechel and City Manager Tom Herre expect passage of the incentive package. Details of the package will be revealed during a press conference at the city-county government center at 10:30 this morning. (KFIZ)


Friday’s Motor Vehicle Fatality 9th of Year


9/8/09 – Dodge County suffered its ninth fatal motor vehicle accident of the year early Friday morning.  The Sheriff’s Department reports 47-year-old Frederick Schmidt was driving north on County DJ and drove through the stop sign at Highway 60, hitting the trailer of an eastbound semi.  Schmidt’s vehicle was dragged for about a tenth of a mile down Highway 60.  Schmidt was pronounced dead at the scene.  Foggy conditions are believed to have been a factor in the accident.


Sass Under Fire for Recent Actions


9/8/09 – There’s a report that State Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass sparred with employees who quit, hired relatives to do some of the work, and went to a convention at a posh hotel while a backlog was building up in her office.  Ethics officials say she has done nothing improper.  But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says things are tense in the treasurer’s office, as the Democrat Sass gets ready to run for her second four-year term next fall.  She’s challenged by Republican Jason Punzel of Sun Prairie.  Sass attends the National Association of State Treasurers’ convention each year – and she did not file state reports on her trips the last two years.  The association paid for the trips with private gifts.  And because the trips are worth less than what the state pays to the group, Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said it’s not clear Sass had to report them.  She hired a niece to do office work this summer – and a cousin and her kids  staffed a booth at the State Fair last month.  Board attorney Jonathan Becker said Sass did not violate ethics rules because she did not benefit directly.  Sass said the relatives only helped out in a bind – and it was appropriate to attend the treasurers’ convention in California last week because she learned many useful things.  Meanwhile, there’s a record backlog of requests for unclaimed property in the treasurer’s office.  29-hundred of the requests are at least 90 days old, which means the rightful owners can sue the state for their items.  Sass said more people know about the program, because she’s been to every county to promote it.  And she hopes to get rid of the backlog soon.


Unemployed Having Trouble Asking Questions


9/8/09 – Most Wisconsinites who call a special hotline for questions about their unemployment benefits get disconnected before they can talk to somebody.  According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 86-percent of those calling in get stuck on hold – and then are told “goodbye” before getting cut off.  62-thousand calls a week got disconnected in August.  That includes many calls from people who repeatedly called back after being cut off.  Some call the hotline to find out why their benefit checks are delayed.  Others must use it when the state has questions about their applications.  Dick Jones of the Department of Workforce Development says they’ve added more staff members and phone lines – and they’ve added more capacity to their computer servers so more people can be served on-line.  The Journal Sentinel says folks have praised the on-line system for filing initial claims – and a different phone number for initial claims works pretty well, too.

Some wonder why they just can’t drive to an office to see somebody.  Allan Alt of the unemployment insurance division said local offices closed almost 15 years ago, and the state found it can handle more cases with an on-line system.  With the recession, the system is getting a lot more use.  Initial jobless benefits are up 80-percent from a year ago.  Continued claims from longer-term unemployed are up 95-percent.


Farm Show will Take a Look Back


9/8/09 – A farm show in southern Wisconsin is a blast from the past.  The Rock River Thresheree showed how our food used to be made – and how the farm chores used to get done.  About 20-thousand people attended the festival, held during the Labor Day Weekend between Janesville and Edgerton.  Thresheree president Jim Blank called it “Farm Progress Days 100 years ago.”  Some of the equipment dates back to the start of the 20th century.  Yesterday, folks saw cedar logs being turned into shingles for roofs – corn kernels were grinded into a meal – and syrup was made for sorghum.  The Rock River Cannonball train chugged along the 100-acre grounds.  It also features one of the region’s biggest flea markets.


Boston Store Grand Opening Tomorrow


9/8/09 – Reviews of the new Boston Store in Beaver Dam have been positive as company officials get ready for their grand opening tomorrow.  Though it opened a few days early this past weekend the kickoff to a week worth of festivities begin at 8:45 tomorrow morning with a ribbon cutting.  The new store, which has nearly 72,000 square feet of retail space, will be open from 9 until 11pm tomorrow.