State's retailers upbeat about holiday shopping season; Ryan prepping for Thursday debate with Biden; more state newsSome state retailers are bullish about the upcoming holiday shopping season. Vice-presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan has begun preparing for Thursday's debate with Vice-President Joe Biden and overnigght fire destroyed an eight-unit apartment complex in Wausau, plus more state briefs.
Many Wisconsin retailers appear to be optimistic about improved sales during the holiday shopping season.
The National Retail Federation expects sales to increase by 4.1 percent from last Christmas. It was almost a month ago when Kohl’s Department Stores announced a 10 percent increase in its temporary holiday workforce. Now, retailers in central Wisconsin hope that a slight increase in county sales tax revenues will result in a better season for them.
Marathon County collected $10 million from its half-percent sales tax last year – up by almost 6 percent from the year before. Based on collections through September, the county is on schedule to at least match that increase in 2012.
Kao Lor, who manages the Gaming Generations video game store in Rib Mountain, tells the Wausau Daily Herald that the holiday season is crucial for his store’s survival. UW Stevens Point economics professor Randy Cray says the higher county tax collections are a good sign but they’re not the biggest factor in predicting holiday shopping trends.
Don Kulinski of Target in Weston says he’s optimistic but with a slow economic recovery, he says not everyone can afford pricey electronic items. He says a number of shoppers could look more at necessary items like housewares and clothing.
Running mate Ryan preparing for debate with Vice-President Joe Biden
JANESVILLE -- Republican presidential running mate Paul Ryan will soon get back to preparing for his debate on Thursday night with Vice President Joe Biden. But the Janesville congressman took some time off with his family Sunday, and made a couple of non-political appearances in Racine and Kenosha counties. Ryan and his family spent an hour at Apple Holler at Sturtevant where they bought pumpkins, fed goats, and tasted caramel apples.
In Kenosha, he bought seasonings at Tenuta’s Deli, which he’ll use to make venison if he bags a deer in next month’s hunting season. Ryan then spoke at the Italian-American Society in Kenosha, where he congratulated a business owner who was being honored. He also said he was glad he missed yesterday’s Green Bay Packers’ loss to Indianapolis – and he wanted to get home to Janesville last night to tuck his kids in bed. Ryan tried as best he could to get away from debate planning for a day. When reporters asked how it was going, he replied, “What debate?”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus tried downplaying expectations Sunday calling Biden a “gifted orator.” Priebus was on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
DNR asking hunters to report collared deer
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking hunters to call them if they shoot a deer with a collar or an ear-tag this fall, as part of a deer mortality study.
Wildlife officials placed radio collars on over 240 deer, and ear-tags on another 200 as part of a mortality study. The animals are okay to shoot in the current bow-and-arrow season, as well as next month’s gun season but the DNR is asking hunters to report the deer’s tag-or-collar number, where the animal was shot, the circumstances, and the hunter’s phone number.
The tags were placed on animals in Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Rusk, Sawyer, and Price counties.
Fire destroys Wausau apartment complex
WAUSAU -- Fire destroyed an eight-unit apartment complex in Wausau during the night. Residents of Tamarack Heights all got out safely, and no injuries have been reported.
The fire started around 11 p.m. Sunday and authorities say the building is a total loss.
Several Wausau area fire departments worked for over four hours to put out the blaze. Officials said it spread quickly, causing the roof to collapse.
State takes over 20-year-old murder probe
The state Justice Department has taken over the investigation into the abduction-and-murder of Laurie Depies, 20, in the Fox Valley two decades ago.
Town of Menasha police lieutenant Mike Krueger handled the case the entire time but he retired last week. And after checking thousands-of-leads and traveling to investigate suspects, officials say Krueger was disappointed he couldn’t make an arrest.
Town Police Chief Rod McCants said the Justice Department has been involved with the Depies case for years. He says it makes more sense for the state to handle the case because “they have more resources than we do.”
Depies vanished from the parking lot of an apartment building on Aug. 19th, 1992. For now, the main suspect in Larry Hall, who’s serving a life prison sentence in North Carolina. He has admitted kidnapping Depies and 38 other women from 1980-through-’94, but he only convicted in one death – that of a 15-year-old Illinois girl in 1993.
Town of Menasha Police have wanted to bring Krueger to Wisconsin, in the hopes that he could lead them to Depies’ remains but a series of federal-and-state approvals are required and prosecutors say more physical evidence is needed to get Hall to leave prison.
His confession resulted in an extensive search for Depies’ body last year but officers couldn’t find anything, despite the use of underground radar.
Marinette County man jailed after crash kills 3-year-old
A northeast Wisconsin man is under arrest for causing a head-on crash that killed a three-year-old Michigan boy and injured three of his family members.
Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve said a 28-year-old Wausaukee man was taken to jail on possible charges of causing death and injury by drunk driving.
The crash happened late Friday night on Highway 141 in the town of Middle Inlet. Investigators said the suspect’s pick-up truck slammed into a car. Three-year-old Christopher Croley of Ishpeming Michigan was killed. His 44-year-old mother Jodi Betts Croley was seriously hurt, as well as the boy’s two sisters ages 16-and-17.
They were all taken to a Green Bay hospital, and Christopher died on the way there. The pick-up driver escaped injury, and he was alone in his vehicle.