Record high heat hits parts of state; Wisconsinites star at GOP convention; more briefsWisconsin News
It was as hot as advertised in Wisconsin Thursday as record highs were either tied or broken in Eau Claire, Marshfield, Wausau and Rhinelander. Eau Claire hit 97, tying a 71-year-old heat record for the date.
It was as hot as advertised in Wisconsin Thursday as record highs were either tied or broken in Eau Claire, Marshfield, Wausau and Rhinelander.
Eau Claire hit 97, tying a 71-year-old heat record for the date. Marshfield and Wausau both tied records with 93. It was 92 in Rhinelander, breaking that city’s old mark of 90 set in 1969 and 1991.
Madison and Milwaukee both came within five degrees of busting their record highs. Superior and Hayward had the coolest high temps with 84. Normal highs for late August are in the 70’s.
Another 90-degree day is expected in southern Wisconsin, ahead of a weak cold front that’s pushing down from the north. Other parts of the state will be in the 80’s, and above-normal temps in the 80’s are predicted every day through Tuesday.
Our next chance of rain is on Sunday and Monday. Remnants from Hurricane Isaac are heading north. But if they reach Wisconsin, forecasters say it could only generate light showers in the far southern part of the state.
Wisconsinites star at convention
Wisconsin left a huge mark on the Republican National Convention, which ended last night when Mitt Romney accepted his nomination for president.
The Badger State made its presence known in small ways on the final night. Olympic speed-skating hero Dan Jansen from West Allis appeared onstage and on a video which promoted Romney.
Gov. Scott Walker – who got rousing ovations both times he spoke at the convention on Tuesday – got some more TV face time by spending an hour with Ann Romney in the VIP box.
Janesville Congressman and Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan took part in the customary sendoff after Romney’s nominating speech.
And former Milwaukee Archbishop Tim Dolan of New York closed the three-day proceedings in Tampa, Fla., with a benediction. The cardinal will also appear at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Milwaukee delegate Bob Spindell called it the most enjoyable convention of the 15 he has attended. That’s because Wisconsin was so much involved with it, and the state’s delegation got prime seats thanks to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus from Kenosha.
The Waukesha County GOP gave Wisconsin’s 42 delegates buttons that show the faces of four top state Republicans – Ryan, Walker, Priebus and U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson -- on Mount Rushmore. The label on the button reads “Wisconsin GOP – 2012 Rock Stars.”
State reports 14 swine flu cases
State health officials say they’ve confirmed 14 cases of the new type of swine flu that’s been reported in 10 states.
Officials said they had a variant of the H3N2 virus, and they’re all recovering or have recovered. One child was hospitalized for a short time.
All 14 patients came in contact with pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair or at county fairs in Manitowoc, Dodge and Kenosha counties. Because of that, state officials are asking those visiting fairs to use caution. Those with weak immune systems are urged to stay out of swine barns.
The average age of those coming down with the new flu is 10. Wisconsin’s cases are among 276 reported in 10 states since July. Most involved exposure to pigs, but three cases involved person-to-person contact.
Audit shows little difference between voucher and public-school students
A state audit shows very little difference in test results between Milwaukee’s public school students and low-income kids who get state-funded vouchers to attend private school.
On Thursday the Legislative Audit Bureau released the results of its comparisons between voucher students and public-school kids from both 2011 state standardized test and the state test from 2007.
The auditors found math scores improved at almost the same rate among both groups. Eighth-graders improved at the same rate in reading, but voucher students in the 7th- and 10th grades had bigger reading improvements than their public school counterparts.
Auditors say they could not conclude that voucher kids perform better than public students. For one thing, vouchers schools were not required to administer the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam until a year ago. The audit also said many youngsters transferred between the two systems during the time period that was studied.
Extended jobless payments end in December
The days of extended jobless benefits are about to end.
Wisconsin officials are telling long-term recipients that they’ll lose their extended payments when they expire in December. Those newly employed will go back to getting the previous maximum of 26 weeks.
As of last month, over 29,000 Wisconsinites were getting supplemental benefits that Congress approved to get people through the Great Recession.
But the national job market continues to grow slower than many expected, and Mike Evangelist of the National Employment Law Project said only 30% of unemployed people will get benefits once the extended payments go away. The law project is urging Congress to approve another extension – something lawmakers have not done.
Critics have said that extended benefits discourage the unemployed from looking for work.
Mining bill revived
The mining issue will take center stage at the State Capitol next month.
The Senate’s Select Committee on Mining will hold public meetings Sept. 18, 20 and 25 to get input on what a possible new mining bill should include.
The panel’s chairman, Janesville Democrat Tim Cullen, is bringing the issue to the forefront at a time when the affected parties have been meeting behind the scenes to see if they can work out their differences.
In July, the state’s largest business group urged those talks to stop until after the November elections. If Republicans win back control of the Senate, an official of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce said it was possible that the same bill defeated in the Senate last March could be passed next time.
The bill would have relaxed current regulations to make it easier for Gogebic Taconite to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine near Hurley. The project was scrapped when the bill failed to pass the Senate.
“This is our country,’ says Sikh video
The Sikh community released a new video overnight in which members expressed their pride in the face of the shooting massacre at their temple in Oak Creek.
WTMJ TV in Milwaukee showed the video and placed it on its website.
The video is called “We Are Sikhs, a poem from the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.” It includes the 911 call from Temple President Satwant Singh Kaleka, who was killed while trying to detain gunman Wade Michael Page. The video also shows the bullet hole that was left on a closet door frame in the temple as a remembrance of the incident.
Several people expressed pride for their religion in the video, saying, “This is our country, this is our blood, this is our dream.”
Six worshippers were killed and four people were wounded by the gunfire. Punjab Singh is the only victim still hospitalized. He’s in a coma.
Addition intended to help Marquette train more dentists
Construction begins next week on a $16 million addition to Marquette’s dentistry school in Milwaukee.
The addition is expected to open next fall. Officials say it will increase the enrollment to 100 students, up from the current 80.
The school’s dean, William Lobb, has not decided when the extra students will be admitted. He said new faculty would have to be recruited first.
The school now gets up to 30 applicants for each available student opening. About half the students are from Wisconsin.
Marquette officials estimate that about 80% of the in-state graduates, and 15% of those from out of state, practice in Wisconsin right after they get their diplomas.
The state put up half the cost of the 45,000 sq. ft. expansion, or around $8 million. The rest was covered by private donations, including a $1 million gift recently announced by Marquette alums Jeff and Beth Moos of Mondovi. Delta Dental of Wisconsin contributed $2 million toward the project, and graduate Rick Kushner of Colorado gave $1 million to the dental school.
Texas case could determine future of Wisconsin voter ID law
The future of Wisconsin’s photo ID law for voting could hinge on a case from Texas that’s headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Thursday, a three-judge federal court panel in Washington threw out the Texas voter ID law that Republicans passed a year ago. The judges said the law imposes “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” The court said minorities would be hurt the most because they’re more likely to live in poverty.
Appellate Judge David Tatel said the Texas law imposes a heavier burden on voters than similar laws in Indiana and Georgia because many voters would have to pay for documents they need to get the proper ID’s.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott promised an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said the state is confident it will prevail.
The justices previously upheld the Indiana law, and the U.S. Department of Justice allowed Georgia’s law to take effect after reviewing it.
As in Wisconsin, Republicans said the Texas law would prevent voter fraud. But Democrats said they found a clear motive to discriminate against minorities.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s voter ID law remains in limbo as two state appellate courts continue to review it.
Gov. Scott Walker has compared Wisconsin’s law to Indiana’s, which the justices upheld. But in throwing out the Wisconsin law, Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan said it would hurt 300,000 adults who don’t have the required ID’s.
The state’s Republican attorney general said the law doesn’t hurt anyone because those who don’t have ID’s can get them for free. JB Van Hollen has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take over the two cases now in the hopes of restoring the state’s photo ID requirement for the November elections.
Assemblyman fined for flipping boy off inner tube
Assemblyman Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, said he was just “goofing around” after he was cited for flipping a nine-year-old boy off an inner tube and then taking pictures of the youngster. But he now admits he shouldn’t have done it.
Hulsey recently pleaded no contest to a non-criminal disorderly conduct ticket and he paid a reduced fine of $114.
Police said the boy was swimming with other kids at a Madison beach on the Fourth of July. Hulsey said the youngster was splashing the other kids, he was concerned for their safety, and he surprised the boy by walking past him.
Hulsey told the Associated Press he doesn’t remember touching the inner tube or the youngster.
The boy’s father approached Hulsey after the lawmaker took out his cell phone to take pictures, but Hulsey rode off on a bicycle. The boy’s mother recognized the lawmaker, and police contacted him about a week later.
Hulsey told police he wanted to take a picture of a sailboat and the sunset, and the kids didn’t want to be in his picture so he deleted it from his cellphone.
Hulsey told the AP he knew the boy’s family because his grandmother works for the city of Madison. The lawmaker said he was flabbergasted that the family went to the police, but he admitted he should not have done what he did.
Hulsey is running for his second term in the Assembly with no Republican opposition in November.
Kohl’s, Bon-Ton report higher-than-projected sales
Two Wisconsin-based department store chains sold more merchandise this month than what analysts had expected.
New reports released Thursday show that Kohl’s Department Stores had a sales gain of 3.4% from a year ago in stores open at least a year. The increase is much larger than the 1.9% gain projected by outside analysts.
Bon-Ton Stores – which operate Boston Store and Younkers among others – had sales hike of 2.2% between this August and last. Retail Metrics had projected a hike of only 1.3%.
Kohl’s is based in Menomonee Falls. Its CEO, Kevin Mansell, said all regions and general product lines reported sales hikes. Men’s and children’s clothes did the best as did footwear.
Bon-Ton CEO Brendan Hoffman credited its August sales jump to the refining of its merchandise mix and better, more compelling marketing. Bon-Ton is based in both Milwaukee and York, Pa.,
Man pleads guilty to five felonies in bonfire case
A West Bend man accused of igniting a bonfire that burned seven people struck a plea deal this week after being on trial for two days.
Kyle De Ruyter , 26, pleaded guilty to five felony counts of causing injury by the negligent use of a weapon or explosives. Three other charges were dropped.
Fond du Lac County District Attorney Dan Kaminsky said five witnesses testified for the prosecution before De Ruyter changed his not guilty plea.
Kaminsky said the plea bargain was a good deal for the defendants because the man’s guilty plea can be used against him in civil suits that could be filed by the victims.
The bonfire took place in June of last year at a home in Campbellsport. Authorities said De Ruyter tried to beef up the flames by pouring gas on the fire, and it exploded.
De Ruyter escaped injury, but seven others ran into a nearby pond. It was only after they left the water that they started feeling burned.
Craig Kell was the most seriously injured, with burns to 40% of his body. He and the others ended up going into a hospital in a car because nobody called 911.
Investigators say they are not accusing De Ruyter of trying to cover up the incident by not calling for help. He awaits sentencing, but no date has been set for that.