Health officials investigate possible West Nile deaths; Wisconsin on track for budget surplus; Men charged with letting pit bull attack teen as punishment; more briefsWisconsin News
Wisconsin may have its first human deaths from the West Nile virus in four years. The current state budget could have a $274 million surplus when it expires next June.
Wisconsin may have its first human deaths from the West Nile virus in four years.
A Waukesha County health supervisor said a person over 50 died last month after getting bit by a mosquito infected with West Nile, and a state epidemiologist said a 78-year-old Milwaukee County woman who had West Nile died this week.
State health officials are still trying to confirm whether the deaths were the direct result of the virus, which had its worst presence in years in the central United States.
Wisconsin has had two confirmed human cases and 10 possible cases. If they’re confirmed, the state would have its biggest outbreak of West Nile since 2007 when a dozen cases were reported.
Wisconsin recorded its first human cases of the West Nile virus a decade ago. Birds and horses have also died from the illness.
Wisconsin on track for budget surplus
The current state budget could have a $274 million surplus when it expires next June.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said Wednesday that higher than expected tax collections will create the surplus, but only if state spending is on track. We may not know until mid-October whether state spending was held to its budgeted limits for the fiscal year ending June 30. The Department of Administration will release its annual fiscal report by October 15.
Revenue officials said Wednesday that the state took in $126 million more than it expected in general purpose revenues in the last fiscal year.
Half that increase goes to the state’s Rainy Day Fund to handle future emergencies. The Fiscal Bureau says the fund now has just over $125 million.
Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said the state government is clearly headed in the right direction after several years of record budget deficits.
Democrats were more cautious. They said state spending trends remain uncertain, and Wisconsin still has a large deficit for Medicaid health care programs.
Men charged with letting pit bull attack teen as punishment
A judge in Fond du Lac ordered a $100,000 cash bond today for a man accused of letting a pit bull attack an 18-year-old as punishment for stealing the man’s gold coins.
Richard Lisko, 58, of Campbellsport was charged this morning, along with the victim’s 43-year-old father, who’s accused of watching and helping with the attacks.
The judge ordered a $50,000 bond for the father, Joel Kennedy of New Berlin. He and Lisko are both scheduled to return to court a week from tomorrow when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial.
According to prosecutors, Lisko thought the 18-year-old stole his gold coins last week so Lisko allegedly had his pit bull attack the teen three times, once while the youngster was hanging upside down.
Officials said Kennedy looked on and helped with the last two attacks. They occurred last Friday in the Fond du Lac County town of Osceola.
The teen suffered numerous dog bites throughout his body.
Lisko and Kennedy are both charged with false imprisonment, substantial battery, causing injury by negligence and obstructing police. Kennedy is also charged with failing to aid a crime victim, and Lisko is charged with bail jumping in connection with an unrelated earlier pit bull attack on a woman.
Sikh Temple survivor upgraded to ‘serious’ condition
A month ago Wednesday Wade Michael Page opened fire at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, and the only survivor who’s still hospitalized has been taken out of intensive care.
Punjab Singh was taken off the critical list Wednesday, and his condition was upgraded to serious.
Six worshippers were killed, and four people were wounded during the Aug. 5 massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
Last night, the one-month anniversary was marked with a candlelight vigil at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Mourners said they wanted to shine light on the victims’ families.
Deputy shoots, kills armed man
ADAMS COUNTY -- The state Department of Justice is investigating an incident in which a sheriff’s deputy shot a 41-year-old man to death early Wednesday outside the man’s home in the town of Preston.
Sheriff Sam Wollin said his deputies had responded to a complaint that shots were being fired. Wollin said an armed man confronted officers outside his home, and an unnamed deputy ended up shooting and killing the man.
The officer is on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated. Other details, including the man’s name, were not immediately released.
Drought getting worse in state
Wisconsin’s drought conditions have gotten worse over the last week as much of the north is abnormally dry for the first time this year.
The U.S. Drought Monitor said today that almost 89% of Wisconsin’s land area is abnormally dry or worse. That’s way up from 49% just a week ago.
The reason is that abnormally dry conditions now cover the entire northern third of the state except the far northwest. Douglas, Bayfield and Burnett are the only counties which are totally outside the drought area, along with virtually all of Washburn County.
Half of Ashland County is abnormally dry for the first time, along with the vast majority of Polk, Iron and Barron counties.
The southern half of Wisconsin is in a moderate or severe drought. But the extreme drought territory has not changed. It covers all of Lafayette and Green counties, and parts of Grant, Iowa, Dane, Rock, Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties.
There’s a chance of rain in southern Wisconsin tonight and tomorrow. Rain is likely in the far northwest tonight and in other parts of the north through Saturday. Dry and mild weather is expected statewide Sunday and into next week.
EMT accused of fondling patient on way to hospital
An EMT accused of having sexual contact with a patient in the back of a moving ambulance has pleaded not guilty.
Jodin Froeber, 37, of the Kenosha County town of Somers entered his plea Wednesday in Racine County to second-degree sexual assault.
Prosecutors said he fondled a 20-year-old female patient, lifted her skirt and took pictures while she was subdued with medication while heading to a Racine hospital.
The incident was reported in July of last year. Authorities said the woman was taken from a Girl Scout camp in Kenosha County after having a seizure. Prosecutors said Froeber was the only attendant in the rear of the ambulance at the time.
He’s due back in court Sept. 28 for a pretrial conference.
Early spring blamed for increase in traffic deaths
Traffic deaths for the first eight months of the year in Wisconsin are still over 10% more than in 2011 even though they went down in August.
The Department of Transportation said today that 55 people were killed in Wisconsin traffic crashes last month. That’s 14 fewer than the previous August, and it’s 13 fewer than the average for the past five years. That made last month the second-safest August in the state’s history since World War II.
The DOT said 397 people were killed in state crashes from January through August. That’s 11% more than a year ago. The increase is blamed on a large increase in motorcycle deaths due to a longer biking season caused by an earlier than normal spring.
Seventy-seven motorists were killed in Wisconsin with one-third of the year left to go. That’s just eight fewer deaths than in all of 2011.
The State Patrol's Sandra Huxtable said car and truck drivers need to keep watching carefully for motorcyclists this fall, and bikers need to ride sober, avoid speeding and keep control by riding to the limits of their abilities.
Bee sting kills man
It’s not often when somebody dies from a bee sting, but it happened in southeast Wisconsin this week.
A relative said Vladimir Novak, 46, was sitting in his yard in Mequon on Monday when he was stung by a bee or a wasp and almost immediately fell to the ground.
A neighbor, who happened to be a doctor, tried but failed to revive Novak. He was taken to a hospital where he died a short time later.
Novak’s mother-in-law, Mary Anne Balmer of Mequon, said he was a healthy man who was stung before without getting severe reactions.
Ozaukee County Coroner John Holicek said Novak died from an anaphylactic shock, a possible reaction to a bug sting. He said it was only the second such death in Ozaukee County in his 23 years as coroner.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control say almost 100 Americans die from insect stings each year. State health officials have not said how many Wisconsinites die in that manner.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said its archives showed only three bug-sting deaths since 1995 in Wisconsin. They were in Kenosha, Fond du Lac and Waukesha counties.
Volunteers needed to pick up trash along Great Lakes
The Alliance for the Great Lakes is looking for thousands of volunteers to help clean up beaches later this month in Wisconsin and three other states.
The alliance is holding its annual “Adopt a Beach” event Sept. 15, which is a week from Saturday.
The group is asking community and school groups and individuals to help pick up trash on beaches along the Great Lakes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Last year, volunteers picked up over 15,000 pounds of garbage and performed water quality tests to determine the health of the lakes.
Officials say this year’s cleanup should be easier because the summer drought resulted in a lack of garbage wash-ups due to floods and sewage overflows.
To learn more about the individual cleanup events and to register, go online to