Enrollments down at some U-W campuses; news anchor's on-air rebuttal to 'obese' label spawns bullying discussion; more state newsWisconsin News
Enrollment numbers at some UW-system campuses are down this fall -- in part because of competition from for-profit universities. Also, DNR officials want public input on what flora and fauna should be considered endangered, and a LaCrosse TV anchor made news herself Tuesday when she fired back at a viewer who says she's obese. Plus more state news.
MADISON -- Enrollments are down this fall at some of the 26 UW campuses. Spokesman David Giroux said one factor is a smaller number of incoming high school seniors, caused by lower birth-rates.
The University of Wisconsin System is also facing more competition from for-profit online colleges. The flagship campus in Madison has about 370 more students than a year ago, for a total of almost 43,000. Many of the other four-year schools also have slight increases, and Whitewater has a record enrollment of just over 12,000, but U-W Milwaukee has almost 2.5 percent fewer students this fall, and its freshman class is almost 7 percent smaller. Enrollment at River Falls is down six-percent from a year ago, partially due to competition from the nearby Twin Cities. And for the first time in recent years, total enrollment at the 13 U-W two-year colleges down.
Just over 14,000 students enrolled at the smaller campuses, down by over 3 percent.
Larger enrollment drops are expected in the next few years – and officials say they’ll need to improve their recruiting efforts to avoid large financial losses. About 17,000 Wisconsin students are enrolled full-time in online for-profit schools. That’s the third largest group of students in the Badger State behind Madison and Milwaukee. To counteract that, the U-W is working on its own online program.
DNR wants public input on endangered species list
MADISON -- The state Department of Natural Resources wants to find out what people think about two dozen proposed changes to Wisconsin’s endangered species list.
The DNR is considering about adding eight animals and plants to the protected list while removing 16 others.
The Kirtland’s warbler would be added to the endangered list, along with the beach-dune tiger beetle, fawns-foot mussel, and others. The species to be removed include the yellow giant hyssop, snowy egret, hemlock parsley, and bog bluegrass.
The DNR is taking public comments on the proposed changes through Oct. 24th. More information is available at the agency’s Web site, www.wisconsin.gov.
'Obese' accusation toward LaX TV anchor prompts public rebuff
LACROSSE -- A morning T-V news anchor in La Crosse was invited to go on the national morning shows Wednesday after she responded on the air to a viewer who criticized her weight.
Jennifer Livingston addressed the subject for four minutes Tuesday on WKBT. She said the viewer was being a bully by saying in an e-mail that she’s obese.
Kenneth Krause wrote, “Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make,” and he urged her to quote, “reconsider your responsibility to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.” Livingston said they exchanged some e-mails, but Krause wouldn’t back down from his assertion that she was a bad role model. The 37-year-old Livingston said she thought nothing of the man’s criticisms, because they’re part of the territory for a TV anchor. But she then thought of her children who may not be able to shrug off such criticisms so easily.
Her husband – TV anchor Mike Thompson – posted Krause’s note on his Facebook page, and Livingston said it resulted in over a thousand messages of support. She said many writers were bullied themselves, and they wished that someone had stood up for them.
Livingston said her on-air criticism was less about Krause and more about bullying in general. Krause told the A-P that his e-mails had nothing to do with bullying.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old senior at Greendale High School was due in court Wednesday afternoon, for allegedly making a bomb threat right before the school’s homecoming last month. But Milwaukee County prosecutors said Nicholas Olson had only responded to the teasing-and-bullying he suffered for years and therefore, Olson is only being charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct instead of the more serious felony bomb threat charge. The last straw apparently came recently when Olson – who’s described as quiet-and-shy – was recently elected to the Homecoming King’s court. He turned down the opportunity. A couple days before the homecoming dance, Olson allegedly scribbled a bomb threat on a bathroom wall.
A criminal complaint quoted the youngster as saying he had been teased all his life – he acted out of anger – and he had no plans for hurting anyone or causing an explosion in the school. Greendale High School principal Steve Lodes says the incident has stirred up conversations about bullying, and what can be done to stop it. He says bullied youngsters must speak up – and many times, they don’t.
Lodes says the school tries to encourage students to embrace quote, “the life-long skill of being a self-advocate.” He says they speak up to trusted adults when things don’t feel right. The boy’s cousin, Greendale football player Jesse Johnston, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Olson is a great guy who got involved with the wrong crowd while growing up.
Study: 4 percent of injured workers become addicted
About four-percent of Wisconsin’s injured workers become long-term users of narcotic pain-killers. That’s 1 percent higher than in 2009 but it’s still below the national median of 7 percent. The figures come from a study done by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute. It found that one of every 12 injured workers are still taking narcotic pain-killers three- to six months after they were first prescribed.
The report comes as health care experts re-assess the use of pain-killers like Vicodin as a long-term treatment for chronic pain. Critics have said that patients can easily get addicted to the medicines. The head of the research institute, Richard Victor, said the study also raises questions of how often doctors are monitoring patients who are put on long-term narcotic therapies.
The injured patients in the study did not have surgeries. Victor said the study report should help government leaders, business people, and others learn how to help employees – while reducing health costs and avoiding narcotic addictions.
Chemical leak clears Marinette factory
MARINETTE -- Officials are investigating the cause of a chemical leak at a factory in Marinette.
Hazmat personnel joined firefighters in responding to the Chem-Design Corporation around 6 p.m., Tuesday. Employees at the nearby Marinette Marine plant noticed an odor – and that’s when authorities were called.
Media reports said an ammonia-based product had leaked and some workers are Marinette Marine started getting headaches and nausea. Second-shift workers at Marinette Marine were sent home as a precaution, and the plant was shut down.
Officials said the leak was contained around 9:30 p-m. The hazmat team monitored the air quality of both buildings during the incident.
Last sunny day before a cold snap
Another beautiful fall day was expected in Wisconsin Wednesday, before a cold front moves in.
Thunderstorms are possible in some parts of the Badger State Thursday and as the mercury dips, northern Wisconsin could get freezing rain on Friday, and snow showers on Saturday. Tuesday saw highs of 75 in Boscobel, about 10 degrees warmer than the normal high for the date while a cool spot was at Sturgeon Bay with 61.
Winds have been light, and the sun is helping show off the state’s bright fall colors.
Some parts of far eastern Wisconsin could get rain Wednesday afternoon, as a low pressure system moves to the southeast.
Forecasters expect a strong cold front to enter western Wisconsin and move east during the day Thursday – and by Friday, most parts of the state might not get above 50 degrees. Overnight lows are forecast in the 20’s on Saturday night, before a slight warm-up on Sunday.
U-W- campuses, tribal group win EPA grants to help reduce invasive species
The U-W System, U-W Milwaukee, and a Wisconsin tribal group have been awarded federal grants to help reduce invasive species in waters throughout the Midwest.
The EPA announced $8 million in grants Tuesday for 21 schools and non-profit groups that are conducting a variety of research into invasive species.
U-W Milwaukee was given $377,000 to come up new technology that detects invasive species in places where it’s hard to find, namely the ballast water of incoming foreign ships. The U-W System is getting $295,000 to teach community groups how to inspect and wash boats used in fishing tournaments. The goal is to stop the boats from carrying water which might contain invasive species or the contamination they produce.
Also, the Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council is getting $400,000 to remove invasive plant species like purple loosestrife from a thousand acres of tribal lands throughout the Great Lakes Basin. The project will also come up with standards for controlling invasive species without the use of herbicides.
The grant money comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which was developed during the George W. Bush years but was not funded until after President Obama took office.
Some of the grants involve efforts to keep the bloated Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Three universities are getting a total of $1.8 million dollars to improve DNA systems for detecting the carp and other invasive species.
Two face reckless homicide charges in teen's drug-related death
LODI -- Two men are due back in court later this month, after being charged with reckless homicide in the drug-related death of a 17-year-old high school senior in Lodi.
Eighteen-year-old Lars Atkinson of Lodi and Milton Moore of Fitchburg are accused of providing the heroin that killed Jacob Adler on July 12th.
Columbia County prosecutors said all three met in Madison, where Atkinson bought the heroin from Moore. Authorities said Adler was unresponsive while traveling back to Lodi – and Atkinson tried waking him up a couple times before dragging him outside to a patio chair nine hours later. City workers saw that, and asked if Atkinson needed help.
The workers later called 9-1-1. Police quoted Atkinson as saying he felt guilty about the death, but he said Adler quote, “had the choice to say no” to the heroin. Atkinson is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Oct. 17th. Moore is due in court on the 24th.
Boys ordered to trial as adults for killing elderly woman
SHEBOYGAN -- Two 13-year-old boys have been ordered to stand trial as adults for killing a 78-year-old woman when they allegedly ransacked her house in Sheboygan Falls.
Antonio Barbeau and Nathan Paape had a preliminary hearing Tuesday on charges of first-degree intentional homicide. State Justice agents testified that each boy accused the other of striking the blow that killed Barbeau’s great-grandmother, Barbara Olson, in mid-September.
Investigators said the two boys killed Olson because they thought she was rich – and they got away with $155 and a roll of quarters, which they used to buy pizza and marijuana. Prosecutors said the boys also stole Olson’s car and jewelry, and Olson’s daughter found the victim’s body in her garage two days after the slaying.
Earlier Tuesday, Circuit Judge Terry Van Akkeren rejected a defense request to obtain the prosecution’s evidence, so it can make a case for having the boys tried as juveniles instead of adults but it may be awhile before the referral issue will be considered. For now, Barbeau and Pappe face arraignments. They’re due back in adult court on Nov. 2nd.