He felt like an angel, says man who scaled Capitol dome; Apartment fire claims lives of two UW-Eau Claire students; more briefsWisconsin News
Prosecutors said a Roseville, Minn., man was drunk when he climbed five stories to break into the Wisconsin State Capitol last weekend.
Prosecutors said a Minnesota man was drunk when he climbed five stories to break into the Wisconsin State Capitol last weekend.
Andrew Bishop, 21, Roseville, Minn., was charged Tuesday with felony criminal damage and a misdemeanor count of entering a locked building.
Authorities said Bishop scaled the outside of the Capitol building early last Sunday and broke a window to get in. Officials said he grabbed a fire extinguisher and tossed it through another window.
Police found him passed out on a dome outside one of the windows. He reportedly woke up and started kicking the glass again. Officers said Bishop said he felt like an angel and wanted to fly. He apologized several times for damaging the Capitol.
He was sent to the Dane County Jail on a $1,000 bond. Bishop is due back in court a week from tomorrow when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial.
Apartment fire claims lives of two UW-Eau Claire students
A second UW-Eau Claire student has died from serious burns suffered in an apartment fire Monday.
Jacob Clarkson, 21, died Tuesday at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. One of his roommates, Ross Livermore, 21, was found dead at the scene of the blaze. Two others escaped with minor injuries.
All four were friends from Stillwater, Minn. All were attending UW-Eau Claire, but Livermore was on leave for the semester.
Clarkson’s family said it would honor Jacob’s request to be an organ donor, and the family asked for prayers for them and the other victims’ families.
The fire broke out above a real estate business. Eau Claire Deputy Fire Chief Scott Burkart said it might take a few weeks to determine the cause. Electrical engineers and insurance adjusters joined fire investigators at the scene Tuesday.
Harvest ahead of schedule; drought worsens
Wisconsin farmers continue to harvest their crops at a record pace, but the drought continues to get worse as 90% of farm fields are now short or very short of moisture.
The percentage of fields with adequate moisture dropped by 9% from the previous week. Madison’s precipitation is nine inches below normal for the year, while La Crosse and Eau Claire are over seven inches short.
Thirty-six percent of the state’s corn crop has been harvested – almost three times the normal for this date.
A record 75% of the Wisconsin soybeans are harvested, 29% more than the previous record for the date set in 2010. Most farmers report good yields for their soybeans, but pod shatter is a problem due to the dryness.
State farmers are also harvesting cranberries, and the potato harvest is wrapping up.
Biden will campaign in Wisconsin Friday
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will campaign in La Crosse Friday afternoon.
The Democratic Obama campaign said last night that the Bidens will hold a rally at the Cartwright Center on the UW-La Crosse campus. The vice president is expected to talk about the economy and what’s at stake for the middle class in the November election.
The event will take place a day after Biden’s Thursday night debate with his Republican opponent, Paul Ryan from Janesville. It will be Biden’s third visit to Wisconsin since Labor Day. His other trips were to Green Bay and Eau Claire.
Milwaukee cops accused of illegally strip-searching drug suspects
Four Milwaukee police officers are on paid leave after appearing in court Tuesday on charges that they illegally strip-searched drug suspects during the last two years.
Prosecutors said that in one case, two officers held a suspect’s arms while another held a gun to the man’s head and a fourth officer put on a choke-hold while searching a cavity in the man’s buttocks for evidence.
Another suspect claimed that he bled from his rectum for several days after police searched it.
The main suspect is eight-year veteran Michael Vagnini, who’s charged with 25 counts of illegal strip searches, sexual assault and misconduct in public office.
Officer Jeffrey Dollhopf is charged with four total counts of misconduct and illegal searches. Officers Jacob Knight and Brian Kozelek face two counts each.
The Milwaukee police union said the charges result from pressure by the top brass to bolster arrest statistics.
The case is just the latest blow to a police force that’s been rocked by a death in police custody, refusing to let a mother be with her murdered son at the crime scene and reporting inaccurate crime statistics.
Police Chief Ed Flynn has been under pressure from a number of circles to resign, but he again said yesterday that he’s not going anywhere. Flynn said the test of his department is not whether misconduct occurs – it’s how the department responds to it.
“This agency has responded at every level of the organization effectively, rapidly and directly,” said the chief.
9,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals cleared from abandoned factory
SLINGER -- The last of almost 9,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals were removed Tuesday from an abandoned factory in Slinger, 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee.
Emergency responders from the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program have been at the former Niphos Coatings plant since Sept. 12.
They removed over 300 drums, vats and jugs of dangerous chemicals plus 100 smaller containers of cleaners and other solvents.
The EPA’s Verneta Simon said all of the hazardous chemicals are gone. Non-toxic sludge from the manufacturing process will be solidified and removed later this month. The chemicals were shipped to hazardous waste processors in Illinois for proper disposals.
Niphos Coatings made metal industrial plates. Its owner closed the plant in 2010, saying his business was a victim of the Great Recession. Thomas Harju was hoping to re-open the plant once the economy got better, but he agreed earlier this year to have it cleaned out.
Coalition wants $100 million to train industrial workers
A business coalition says Wisconsin needs to find $100 million in a tight state budget next year to train workers for the many industrial jobs that sit vacant.
Competitive Wisconsin – a group of business, labor and education leaders – says the so-called “skills gap” has become a crisis, and if Wisconsin doesn’t address it, major employers could leave for states that will.
In a new report, Competitive Wisconsin said the state will have “major shortages in skull clusters essential to staffing the state’s major industries” in the next decade unless something is done now.
The proposed tax money would match grants to schools, businesses and other groups with strategies to address their needs for talented workers.
The state now spends $15 million a year on employee training. By increasing that to $100 million, the group says Wisconsin will spend close to what neighboring Minnesota spends on workforce development.
Also, the group says two governor’s workforce councils should be replaced with a new organization that focuses on developing industrial talent. It would help coordinate efforts to train and provide workers for jobs that are getting more complex in fields like engineering, health care and metal fabrication.
Mark Tyler, who heads the state Technical College Board, cautions that public budgets are still tight. He believes the workforce funding is a good idea, but it should not be paid for by cutting higher education or something else.
Former Walker aide takes plea deal
A former top Walker aide in Milwaukee County has decided to make a plea deal instead of going through a trial next week on felony misconduct charges.
The Journal Sentinel reports Kelly Rindfleisch will plead guilty to at least one felony count during a plea hearing that’s scheduled for Thursday. But the pleas are not certain yet because the two sides are expected to finalize the terms of the bargain today.
Rindfleisch, 43, was the deputy chief of staff to Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive. She’s accused of doing campaign work for Walker and lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis in 2010 during the hours she was supposed to be working for the county.
Walker was subpoenaed to testify, but media reports said his lawyer was going to try to get the subpoena quashed. State Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch was also on the prosecution’s witness list, along with 2010 Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes.
Rindfleisch will be the second person to be convicted in a more than two-year-old John Doe investigation into Walker’s former Milwaukee County aides. Darlene Wink pleaded guilty to illegal campaigning but avoided jail time by helping prosecutors in the ongoing John Doe probe.
Kevin Kavanaugh, who was appointed by Walker to a county panel, is currently on trial for allegedly embezzling $42,000 from a program to help veterans. That trial started Monday and is expected to run through the end of the week.
Ex-employee charged with burning restaurant
A former employee of an historic Jackson County restaurant has been accused of burning the place down to help his boss with financial problems.
Kyle Rott, 19, was charged Tuesday with felony arson for the blazes that destroyed the Rustic Mill Bar and Restaurant in a 146-year-old building near Black River Falls 15 months ago.
Prosecutors said a couple ran the eatery for almost a year before closing it down a few days before the blaze. The criminal complaint said a man who owned it offered $10,000 to Rott for starting the fire, but Rott said he’d do it for a couple packs of cigarettes, and they laughed and shook hands.
The man’s son reportedly overheard the conversation. He thought it was a joke until Rott said the day of the blaze he would keep his word.
The male owner told investigators he owed over $60,000 dollars to vendors and a building contractor, and while he said he wished the restaurant would burn down, he hoped Rott wouldn’t take the offer seriously. The owner has not been charged, but District Attorney Gerald Fox says the investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible.
For now, Rott is free on a signature bond. He’s due back in court Oct. 22.
The Rustic Mill building opened in 1866. It was a grist mill and a nightclub before it became a restaurant in the mid-1960’s.
Record number of freshmen attending UW-Madison
UW-Madison has its largest freshman class ever and more of them are from Wisconsin compared to a year ago.
Almost 6,300 freshmen are enrolled at the state’s flagship campus this fall after a record 29,000 new candidates applied and almost 16,000 were accepted. About 68% of those who were offered admission were from Wisconsin, 5% more than a year ago.
UW officials say they’re able to accept more high-achieving students from Wisconsin who were previously on the bubble. That’s because declining birthrates have reduced the numbers of prospective college students while the university increases its numbers of degrees to create a more talented workforce for attracting high-paying jobs in Wisconsin.