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Articles filed under Wisconsin

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  • Lawmaker wants review of Milwaukee voucher program Jan 5, 2015 6:05 AM
    A Wisconsin lawmaker is calling for a federal review of the longstanding Milwaukee voucher program. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan has asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a study comparing the city’s voucher schools to its public schools. He wrote to an official last month asking the agency to scrutinize the program on areas such as academic achievement, special-education services and accountability practices. Pocan tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would like to know the strengths and weaknesses of the 24-year-old program since other states are looking to expand their own voucher programs. He says a study makes sense now because voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs have proliferated across the country since 2001, when the agency last reviewed the Milwaukee program.

  • Chill, snow and rain bring taste of winter to much of U.S. Jan 5, 2015 6:05 PM
    A year after a brutally cold spell was blamed on something called the polar vortex — which was treated like a northern invasion by the media and as a conquering hero by children impressed by its power to close schools — this week’s chill is little more than what meteorologists like to call winter. Here are some questions — and answers — about the weather.

  • Milwaukee police probe killing of 31-year-old man Jan 2, 2015 1:52 PM
    Milwaukee police have identified the 31-year-old victim of a killing this week and are still in search of suspects. The Milwaukee Police Department identified the victim as Fernando Washington. News reports surrounding Wednesday’s homicide says he was hit with gunfire during an argument at an apartment building. An investigation was in its early stages. Washington’s death was Milwaukee’s 87th homicide of 2014, according to a Journal Sentinel tally. That was down from the 105 the year before. Meanwhile, the city’s police said they have made arrests as part of an investigation into another late-year death. A police press release said the arrests were on unrelated charges but amid the probe into 13-month-old Bill Thao’s death last weekend. The boy was killed when bullets were sprayed into a crowded home.

  • Wisconsin schools offer alerts via applications Jan 2, 2015 1:55 PM
    Two eastern Wisconsin school districts are offering smartphone applications to keep parents updated about important information and events relevant to students. The apps offered by the North Fond du Lac and Lomira school districts send information about mass weather alerts, student grades, lunch menus, school calendars and more. North Fond du Lac launched its app after Thanksgiving break, while the Lomira app has been available for nearly a year. Jeff Reindl, technology coach at the Lomira School District, said it was the second school district in the state to offer an app. He created the design and coding for the app, which is available through Jostens, the company best known for selling yearbooks and class rings. “We have a staff willing to try new things in the classroom and the app is a unique way to serve our students,” said Reindl, who has also developed apps for use in his U.S. history classes. The app offered by the North Fond du Lac School District is customizable so parents can choose what kind of alerts they receive, Superintendent Aaron Sadoff told The Reporter Media. He said it’s also linked to the school district’s social media accounts. North Fond du Lac parent Robin Maramonte said the app has helped simplify her life by organizing information pertaining to the education of her three children. “The big thing for me is the calendar because all of the school things like meetings, sports events — if the games are home or away — now it’s available at my fingertips, so it’s helped a ton,” she said.

  • Loggers want more land to make ends meet Jan 2, 2015 2:10 PM
    Loggers in Wisconsin say the forest products industry can stay above water only if more land and trees are made available. Fourth-generation logger Max Ericson has new concerns about the rising demand for wood in Wisconsin. He says the price a land owner or manager charges for the right to harvest wood has also risen to about $25 a cord. Ericson recently paid about $250,000 to cut trees on a land in Douglas County. He says loggers are struggling to supply mills and make ends meet with rising costs. Ericson says there’s plenty of forest to cut, the problem is federal management of the land. U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Hilary Markin tells Wisconsin Public Radio says it’s a delicate balance between logging, environmental and recreational uses.

  • Wisconsin projects Medicaid budget will balance Jan 2, 2015 1:56 PM
    Wisconsin health officials are predicting the state’s Medicaid budget will end the 2013-15 biennium balanced. Department of Health Services officials submitted a letter to the Legislature’s finance committee on Friday saying they expect to spend $16.3 billion on Medicaid programs by the time the biennium ends on June 30, the amount that was laid out in the 2013-15 state budget. The projections assume DHS will allocate $22 million in one-time money from payments drug manufacturers have made to the state to settle lawsuits alleging they improperly charged the Medicaid program for medications.

  • 2 Reedsburg men charged after meth lab discovery Jan 2, 2015 1:57 PM
    Two Reedsburg men are facing felony drug charges after authorities discovered evidence of methamphetamine production at their rental home. Police went to the home Monday with a search warrant and found clear plastic tubing, coffee filters, empty packs of Sudafed, empty battery shells and other items commonly used to make meth in the basement, according to court documents. They also discovered similar items in a garbage bag outside of the residence. One of the men allegedly told police he had hurt his lungs and nearly melted his face while manufacturing the drug, the Baraboo News Republic reported. Damon Przybylski, 34, was charged Wednesday with possessing meth production materials and intentionally disposing of methamphetamine waste. Roommate Jason Vanness, 35, was charged with maintaining a drug trafficking place and marijuana possession. Investigators said they found a bag of marijuana in Vanness’ bedroom and asked him about the materials found in the basement and on the curb. He allegedly told police that he had watched Przybylski make meth in the home multiple times, court documents said. Przybylski allegedly told investigators he had tried to manufacture the drug 15 to 20 times with varied success and described several close calls. “Damon said he never thought the production of methamphetamine was dangerous until about 2-3 days ago when he was making methamphetamine and the gas from part of the process hurt his lungs,” a detective reported in court documents. Court records don’t indicate an attorney for either man. They’re due in Sauk County Circuit Court on Friday.

  • 3 hurt in Cambridge home invasion Jan 2, 2015 1:57 PM
    Dane County sheriff’s officials say two men who entered a Cambridge home and beat up three people are still at large. Two men and one woman were beaten early Friday and were taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Elise Schaffer says two others in the home, a woman and girl, were not hurt. Schaffer says at least one of the suspects was armed with a handgun. She says the men entered through a side door about 2:30 a.m. Authorities say it appears the home was targeted. Schaffer says she doesn’t know what motivated the attack.

  • Milwaukee County to release 227K pages in John Doe probe Dec 30, 2014 5:59 AM
    Milwaukee County officials are planning to release more than 227,000 pages of emails and other documents related to a probe of Gov. Scott Walker’s aides and associates when he was county executive. Officials plan to release the documents around 11 a.m. Tuesday. The release is the fifth such release of information prosecutors seized form county and personal computers during the investigation that ended in 2013. Walker wasn’t charged but six others were convicted on charges ranging from theft to misconduct in office. A judge in May turned over 500 gigabytes of records from the probe to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s office and ordered them to be release. Abele has released four other groups of documents in August, September, October and November.

  • 5 men with hammers rob jewelry store Dec 30, 2014 7:45 AM
    West Bend police are looking for five men who used hammers to rob a local jewelry store. Authorities say the men used the hammers to smash a display case at Husar’s (HOO’-sars) House of Find Diamonds about 4 p.m. Monday. WISN-TV reports the men fled with merchandise and drove away in a tan minivan. Police found the empty minivan, which had been reported stolen, a short time later in a parking lot on South Main Street in West Bend.

  • $500,000 bond for woman accused in Randolph death Dec 30, 2014 1:03 PM
    A woman accused of fatally stabbing a Randolph man is being held on $500,000 bond in Dodge County. Thirty-year-old Kriscilla McHenry is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Michael Soeller last August. An autopsy showed he had suffered 38 stab wounds. Investigators found Soeller’s missing car in a Milwaukee Police Department impound lot days later. Prosecutors initially charged McHenry with stealing the car. A criminal complaint says she later told detectives she had stabbed Soeller after he sexually assaulted her. The Beaver Dam Daily Citizen says a preliminary hearing is scheduled Jan. 8. Her public defender, Greg Vollan, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

  • Incoming Wisconsin lawmaker to clarify donations Dec 30, 2014 1:07 PM
    The Federal Elections Commission has asked an incoming Wisconsin representative to clarify his post-election congressional campaign finance records. The agency wants Glenn Grothman to explain four individual contributors and two committee contributions that appear to exceed legal limits. The Republican was elected to the 6th Congressional District in November and will take office next month. His campaign raised a total of $1.15 million. At least two of those contributions appear to be due to redesignations for spouses, Sheboygan Press Media reported. Sargento CEO Lou Gentine contributed $5,200 and former U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde contributed $4,200. Both men say half of their respective contributions came from their spouses. Individuals are limited to $2,600 in donations to each candidate per election. Other individual contributions include $5,200 from J.J. Keller CEO James Keller and $3,100 from former U.S. Senate candidate Russ Darrow. Those donations may also be clarified by redesignating funds to spouses, according to Grothman Treasurer Kate Lind. Donors are required to fill out paperwork to make the designation official, but sometimes the forms don’t catch up with the filing deadline, she said. Two Grothman campaign donations from another political campaign and a political action committee exceeded the $2,000 limit for candidate committees. U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s campaign donated $2,500 and the Foxx PAC, a leadership political action committee associated with North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, donated $5,000. Although leadership PACs are able to donate up to $5,000 to a candidate, the Foxx PAC is not considered a “multi-candidate” committee so it has a lower limit on campaign contributions. The Grothman campaign will likely refund a portion of that PAC donation “just to keep it clean,” Lind said, and the Duffy contribution should have been redesignated to handle primary debt instead. These kinds of notices from the FEC are usually routine follow-ups to discrepancies in finance reports, sometimes resulting in amendments or refunds. The Mark Harris campaign, Grothman’s Democratic opponent, also received a follow-up from the FEC, as well as Duffy, Duffy’s Democratic opponent Kelly Westlund and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville. But those clarifications were needed to due to miscalculations or other filing errors rather than excessive donations, according to the FEC.

  • Clerks shouldn’t charge for personal copies Dec 30, 2014 1:07 PM
    Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says records custodians shouldn’t charge people for making copies of court records with personal cameras and scanners. State Courts Director John Voelker asked Van Hollen in 2012 to revisit his stance that a court clerk was entitled to charge a reporter for photographing 20 pages from a case file. Van Hollen issued a six-page opinion in response Tuesday saying state law doesn’t authorize a court clerk or registers in probate to collect fees when the requester makes no copies without any aid from the clerk or register. However, the records custodian can choose whether to allow someone to make his own copies with personal technology. Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, didn’t immediately return messages.

  • Philadelphia rape suspect returned from Wisconsin Dec 30, 2014 1:09 PM
    A man convicted in Wisconsin of sexually assaulting a woman he met online has been returned to his native Philadelphia to face charges in a pair of rapes in a city park. Philadelphia police said Tuesday they’ve charged 39-year-old Robert Palen in the August 2010 and August 2011 Pennypack Park attacks. The arrest closes an investigation revived in the spring when DNA from Philadelphia matched samples collected in the Wisconsin case. Lt. Anthony McFadden called Palen a brutal individual. He says detectives matched key details of the 2010 and 2011 rapes and work up a sketch of the suspect. McFadden says they also suspected Palen in a July 2010 rape. The victim in that case has since died. Palen’s jailed in lieu of 10 percent of $10 million bail.

  • La Crosse sees optical effect around sun Dec 30, 2014 1:10 PM
    An optical effect of the sun known as a 22-degree circular halo was briefly visible in the La Crosse area this week. The ring around the sun — seen for at least 10 minutes on Monday morning — is visible only under certain weather conditions, Dan Baumgardt, science and operations officer for the La Crosse office of the National Weather Service, told the La Crosse Tribune. The optical effect occurs when a certain orientation of ice crystals in cirrus clouds refracts light, he said. Halos are more common in the winter because that’s when there’s more ice in the thin, wispy clouds that sit about 5 or 6 miles above the ground. Moonlight can also create the effect. Other optical effects, such as rainbows, are usually seen during warmer times of the year, Baumgardt said. Sun dogs, another type of halo, are formed the same way as 22-degree circular halos. But the ice crystal orientation doesn’t allow a full halo to form, Baumgardt said, and sun dogs instead look like patches of light usually to the left and right of the sun. Halos don’t indicate precipitation but they can occur when an approaching weather system brings the high cirrus clouds. The halo seen in La Crosse will travel with the sun until the physical conditions change, Baumgardt said. The 22-degree name refers to the measurement of the sun to the halo.

  • Longtime Wisconsin lawmaker looking to retirement Dec 29, 2014 12:04 PM
    The 6th Congressional District in Wisconsin will see a change in the leadership style it’s grown accustomed to when Rep. Tom Petri retires after more than three decades in public office. “I’d say my stewardship style was to lead by helping others and pitching in and hoping others will follow, rather than tending to dominate. That’s been my approach,” Petri said. The longtime Republican lawmaker will retire after his last day in office on Wednesday, marking the departure of the familiar face and voice that’s represented the district in eastern Wisconsin for years. Republican Glenn Grothman is set to replace Petri when a new Congress begins on Saturday. The recently-elected representative is known to be more of an outspoken leader and has created controversy with some of his stances, The Reporter Media reported. Petri said he hopes the new members of Congress will help the public realize their potential to make a contribution to the country. “We need to be helping people who take responsibility, rather than encouraging them to rely on the government to solve every problem,” he said. Petri said he is proud to have served an area that’s known for being a great place to raise a family and sees former residents move back when they’re ready to settle down. Petri will travel the local college circuit with retired 7th District Rep. Dave Obey during his retirement. He also plans to continue pursuing his interest in political history.

  • Cause of death for 2-year-old still pending Dec 29, 2014 12:05 PM
    Fox Valley Metro police say there’s nothing criminal about the death of a two-year-old boy in Kimberly. Outagamie County Deputy Coroner Kim Krueger says final autopsy results are pending. But, police Capt. Scott Lund says the autopsy showed no signs of trauma or abuse. He says the death is not suspicious. Krueger says the child was put to bed last Tuesday and was found dead the next morning, the day before Christmas. A funeral service for Ryder Joseph Huss is scheduled for Tuesday at St. John United Church of Christ in Appleton.

  • Woman struck, killed on Marinette County highway Dec 29, 2014 12:01 PM
    Sheriff’s officials say a woman was struck and killed on a Marinette County highway. The driver of a pickup truck told deputies he swerved to avoid a dark object on Highway 141 about 4 a.m. Saturday, but the snowmobile trailer he was pulling may have struck it. When he turned around and went back he found an unresponsive woman in the middle of the snow-covered highway. Pembine fire and rescue personnel responded and tried to revive the 51-year-old woman, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Sheriff Jerry Sauve identifies the woman as Pauline Wallschlaeger of the Pembine area. Authorities say the victim may have been drinking. The pickup driver, his wife and three children were not injured.

  • ‘Saved by the Bell’ actor posts bail, has hearing Dec 29, 2014 2:55 PM
    Dustin Diamond, the actor who played Screech in the 1990s television show “Saved by the Bell,” appeared in a Wisconsin courtroom Monday after posting bail on charges that he stabbed a man during a bar fight on Christmas. Diamond, who spent the weekend in jail, posted $10,000 bail before his hearing in Ozaukee County Circuit Court. A criminal complaint charges Diamond with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon.

  • South Barrington man involved in fatal Wisconsin crash Dec 28, 2014 4:21 PM
    A South Barrington man driving in northern Wisconsin with his wife and three children early Saturday morning struck and killed a woman who was in the highway, authorities said Sunday. Alcohol may have been a factor for the victim.

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