Stillwater bridge closes today; Dad arrested for arson after three sons die in blaze; more briefsWisconsin News
Thousands of commuters in northwest Wisconsin are taking a different route to their jobs in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area. The lift bridge at Stillwater Minnesota is closing today for about 3 1/2 months.
Thousands of commuters in northwest Wisconsin are taking a different route to their jobs in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area.
The lift bridge at Stillwater Minnesota is closing today for about 3 1/2 months.
Mechanical and electrical components will be fixed on the 80-year-old black metal structure, and steel connections are about to be repaired.
Minnesota officials say drivers will have to use either the I-94 bridge at Hudson or the Hwy. 243 bridge at Osceola to get to and from Wisconsin over the St. Croix River.
The bridge is expected to reopen to vehicle traffic in late December. Boats on the river will also be affected because the lift span will only open on Sundays from Oct. 15 through Nov. 5, and that, too, will then stay closed until December.
Dad arrested for arson after three sons die in blaze
The father of three young boys killed in a house fire in Argyle on Friday is under arrest for starting the blaze. An uncle of the boys is also in custody.
The state Department of Justice said that the father, Armin Wand III, 32, and Jeremy Wand, 18, face possible charges of arson with intent to defraud. Both are in the Lafayette County Jail awaiting court action.
Both men are from Argyle, which is about 30 miles southwest of Madison.
Dana Brueck of the Department of Justice said what led to the arrests would not be disclosed until prosecutors file their case in court.
The blaze started just after 3 a.m. Friday. It killed brothers Allen Wand, 7; Jeffrey, 5; and Joseph, 3. Their mother Sharon, 27, was hospitalized in critical condition at last word at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.
Her sister, Amy Peterson, told WKOW TV in Madison that Sharon is four months pregnant. The mother also handed a two-year-old daughter to safety. The girl was treated and released from a hospital along with Armin Wand.
Armin, one of the arson suspects, told WKOW Saturday that he tried to fight the blaze, but he realized it was too big to handle by himself. He said his wife couldn’t get to a phone to call 911, so he ran outside to get help.
A resident who lives about 100 yards away told the Wisconsin State Journal he was awakened by the father’s screams on Friday morning. The paper also said Armin was convicted in 2003 of violating a restraining order in a child abuse case. He also has a number of small claims and forfeitures against him.
State and local authorities continue to investigate the blaze.
Biden visits Eau Claire Thursday
Vice President Joe Biden plans to visit Eau Claire Thursday.
The Democratic Obama campaign says it will announce more details soon, including the time and the place for the visit.
It will be Biden’s second trip to Wisconsin in 11 days. He spoke at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay Sept. 2.
Ryan holds rally in De Pere
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold a rally in De Pere Wednesday.
It will be Ryan’s third Wisconsin appearance since he was named as Mitt Romney’s running mate a month ago tomorrow.
The House Budget chairman from Janesville appeared at a rally in Waukesha the day after he joined Romney’s ticket. And Ryan had a sendoff rally in Janesville on Aug. 27, a day before he left for the Republican National Convention to accept his party’s nomination.
Bank offers $750,000 to fight infant mortality
One of Wisconsin’s largest banks will try to help Milwaukee solve its problem with infant mortality.
BMO Harris Bank says it will donate $750,000 to the Greater Milwaukee United Way, which will expand its “Healthy Birth Initiative.”
Milwaukee has one of the nation’s highest big-city mortality rates for babies.
“That is not how we want to be defined in Milwaukee,” said BMO Vice President Brad Chapin.
Mayor Tom Barrett will become the chairman of the Healthy Birth Initiative. He promised last year to reduce Milwaukee’s black infant mortality rate by 15% in the next five years and to reduce the city’s overall mortality rate by 10%.
The city’s death rate for black babies is three times as large as whites. About a fifth of the BMO Harris donation, or $150,000, will be given to community health centers in predominantly black areas.
The Progressive Community Centers will hire a fulltime nurse devoted to women’s health care and help prenatal patients. About 90% of Progressive’s prenatal patients are black, and about 70% live below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Driver accused of causing crash that killed two, injured eight
A driver in northwest Wisconsin faces possible criminal charges for allegedly causing a weekend traffic crash that killed two people and injured eight others.
Chippewa County authorities said Gerald Larson, 67, drove through his SUV through a sign on County Road B and was hit in the passenger side by a pickup truck on Hwy. 124.
Two passengers in the SUV, Karen Larson, 67, and Lori Barger, 55, were killed. Chippewa County officials did not list the victims’ hometowns.
Four others in each vehicle were injured, including the two drivers. Sheriff’s deputies said they believed all eight were still hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon.
The crash happened late Saturday night, and it took almost three hours to remove victims and wreckage from the scene and to investigate.
Sheriff’s officials say they expect prosecutors to file charges against Gerald Larson of causing deaths and injuries by drunken driving.
Wisconsinites’ great ideas go on display
Wisconsinites have helped invent a number of great things over the years, and their achievements will go on display Saturday at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.
The display is called “Wisconsin Innovations from the Iconic to the Unexpected.”
Among other things, it features the electric guitar invented by Waukesha’s Les Paul to the works of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The exhibit also has a large assortment of creations with Wisconsin angles – from the surfboard to the typewriter.
The exhibit runs through the end of the year at the Historical Museum that’s located on Madison’s Capitol Square.
Video may show how Sikh Temple shooter died
Oak Creek Police say they’ll release a video this afternoon which could show how Sikh Temple gunman Wade Michael Page died.
The video was made from a dashboard camera on an Oak Creek squad car. A number of news organizations have asked that the video be released.
The FBI has said there’s a video which showed officer Sam Lenda hitting the 40-year-old Page with a remarkable shot from 75 feet away. But police say they won’t release especially graphic video, and it’s not clear whether Lenda’s gunshot will be among the material released today.
The FBI said Page would have died from Lenda’s gunshot, but he ended up killing himself with a final gunshot to the head.
Six worshippers were killed and four people were wounded in the Sikh Temple shootings on Aug. 5.
Testing-and-driving simulator sent on tour of schools
Some Wisconsin high school students are about to get a graphic lesson on why they shouldn’t be texting behind the wheel.
First of all, it’s against the law. But to hammer the message home, the State Patrol will send a touring simulator to schools throughout the state this fall. It will show young motorists what can happen if they send texts or e-mails while driving.
AAA and AT&T are co-sponsoring the simulator. They’ll visit high schools in a number of cities this fall, including Madison, Racine, Burlington, La Crosse, Eau Claire and Wausau.
Wisconsin is now among 37 states which ban texting while driving. The fines can range up to $400.
Pilot dies in small-plane crash
A pilot was killed when his single-engine plane crashed into a yard in Kansasville in Racine County.
FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said the small Beechcraft Bonanza was flying from the Chicago Executive Airport to Minocqua in northern Wisconsin when it crashed and struck a building.
Nobody on the ground was hurt in the crash, which happened around noon Sunday along Eagle Lake at Kansasville.
Fire Chief Chad Franks said flames from the crash destroyed the plane, a garage and two cars. Two homes and several outbuildings were damaged.
The cause of the crash was not determined. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
The plane was registered to an address in Chicago. The pilot who was killed was the only one aboard. The person’s name was not immediately released.
Brian Block said he was sitting in his living room when he heard a plane engine close by and then “Kaboom!” He said his entire house shook.