Northwestern Wisconsin hit hardest by snowstorm; Jail inmate accused of passing out drugs to fellow prisoners; Lenders skirt limits set on payday loans; more briefsWisconsin News
The northwest quarter of Wisconsin was hit the hardest by a Sunday snowstorm that was the heaviest in two years in parts of the region. Menomonie had the most with 13.8 inches. Nearby Eau Claire had 13 inches by 11 p.m. last night, and it was still coming down. Augusta in Eau Claire County had 9.3 inches.
The northwest quarter of Wisconsin was hit the hardest by a Sunday snowstorm that was the heaviest in two years in parts of the region.
Menomonie had the most with 13.8 inches. Nearby Eau Claire had 13 inches by 11 p.m. last night, and it was still coming down. Augusta in Eau Claire County had 9.3 inches.
Madeline Island north of Bayfield had 9.25 inches and counting at last word.
Parts of central Wisconsin were hit hard, too, as Neillsville received eight inches and Colby, seven. The La Crosse area also got seven inches – the first snow above two inches in that city since Jan. 21.
Most of southern and northeast Wisconsin got 1-4 inches.
The slick roads were especially hard on Green Bay Packer fans leaving last night’s game against Detroit. Spinouts and vehicles in ditches were reported, but there was no immediate word of any storm-related traffic deaths.
Air travel hampered those Wisconsinites using the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. About 150 flights were canceled there, and the FAA said the snow delayed other flights by an average of an hour and a half.
More scattered snow showers and flurries are possible in the state today and perhaps some freezing drizzle this morning in the south. It’s all supposed to clear out this evening and then get colder. Overnight lows in the single digits are predicted for the western half of the state and teens in the east.
Jail inmate accused of passing out drugs to fellow prisoners
A Lincoln County woman faces additional felony drug charges after she allegedly removed drugs from her body while in jail and shared them with fellow inmates.
Cassiopia Conlin, 23, and two others have tested positive for drugs since Conlin's incarceration began in Lincoln County Jail on Nov. 26.
The new charges against Conlin include delivery of heroin, delivery of methamphetamine and delivering articles to an inmate.
Lenders skirt limits set on payday loans
Wisconsin was the last state to adopt regulations on payday loans in 2010, but many lenders have found ways to get around the rules.
The state has almost 400 licensed outlets that grant payday loans, which offer advances on paychecks. But only about 200 have issued payday loans so far this year that had to be reported to the state.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says many lenders have turned to installment loans, which have no regulations and can charge annual interest of 500% and beyond. The Legal Aid Society, which helps low-income people, says many are getting financially trapped by those loans.
Also, Republican lawmakers loosened payday loan regulations in the last session by restoring a measure which defines those loans as being for 90 days or less.
Barb Wolf of PLS Financial Services said some people prefer installment loans because they require consistent payments – as opposed to payday loans which often have balloon payments close to maturity.
The Journal Sentinel said a Reedsburg man is appealing a case in which he claimed he was given illegal payday loan conditions a while back. The lender said it was an installment loan and won the case. The man reportedly owes around $2,000 as his interest is rapidly building up.
Volunteers needed to help with deer mortality study
The state Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers to help with an ongoing deer mortality study.
Officials are in the third year of a five-year study that looks into the causes of natural deer deaths. Volunteers have been involved in various phases of the work.
In 2013, the DNR is looking for folks willing to spend a day with biologists checking traps, getting blood samples, giving ultrasound examinations to antlerless deer and fitting animals with ear tags and radio collars so they can be monitored.
The work will take place from January through March at Shiocton and Winter.
More information is at the DNR’s website, accessible at Wisconsin.gov
U.S. attorney reports collecting $4 million in penalties in west half of state
Federal prosecutors for the western half of Wisconsin collected almost $4 million in civil and criminal penalties over the last fiscal year.
U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil of Madison said his office collected over $3.2 million in civil penalties during the year ending Sept. 30. And they took in another $700,000 in criminal penalties.
Nationally, U.S. attorneys said they collected around $3 billion dollars in criminal fines and assessments over the last fiscal year plus $10 billion in civil fines. They also collected over $4 billion in assets forfeited for various reasons, including drug cases.
Officials say most penalties are for civil fraud and for violations of federal safety, health, environmental and civil rights laws.
DNR prepares rules for using dogs to hunt wolves
The Department of Natural Resources is working on a plan to keep dog owners who hunt wolves accountable.
The DNR is proposing new regulations that would limit the use of dogs in wolf hunts and take precautions to be able to better identify a hunting dog's owner.
Using dogs for wolf hunting is temporarily suspended pending a lawsuit by the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies and the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, among others. The groups say the current lack of regulation is a recipe for animal fights. They want dogs to only be allowed to track the wolves, not go after them physically.
We’re at edge of ‘dairy cliff’ too
While much of the nation worries about a “fiscal cliff” coming at the end of the year, failure to pass a new Farm Bill could bring a hazard being called a “dairy cliff.”
Reverting to the conditions in the 1949 Farm Bill could actually double the price of milk overnight.
The U.S. Senate has passed a 2012 Farm Bill, but the House of Representatives hasn’t brought its version to the floor for a vote.
Inside the farm bill are crop subsidy programs like the Milk Income Loss Contract which paid out more than $83 million to almost 12,000 Wisconsin dairy farmers.
If the Farm Bill is not updated, support programs like that one revert to the Agriculture Act of 1949. That would set the government purchase price at about $40 per hundredweight or about twice what milk is selling for on the market right now.
$500,000 in kitchen upgrades proposed for governor’s mansion
The Department of Administration says it wants to spend almost $500,000 for kitchen renovations at the governor’s mansion.
The request for the improvements to both the first-floor kitchen and the second-floor private quarters kitchenette originally came from First Lady Tonette Walker.
The request was reportedly made to the State Building Commission because the first-floor kitchen hasn’t been updated for more than 26 years. That facility prepares food for more than 15,000 visitors each year.
The Wisconsin Executive Residence Foundation is reportedly raising money for the project, but it isn’t known how much help that effort will be.
Deaths from illegal drug use still rising
Researchers with UW-Whitewater say deaths in the state from illegal drug use continue to rise.
Epidemiologist and Associate Professor David L. Nordstrom said it appears one of the biggest concerns is that the number of individuals who die from illegal drug use has flipped to be less than those who die from use of legal drugs.
Along with heroin, prescription pain medications like methadone, morphine and oxycodone were in the category with the most deaths. The researchers studied close to 450,000 death certificates from the years 1999 to 2008.
Wisconsin native wins ‘Amazing Race’
A player with Wisconsin ties has won “The Amazing Race” for the second time in a row.
Oconomowoc native Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Brent Ridge won $1 million on CBS last night for completing various tasks the fastest in a race around the world.
The previous “Amazing Race” was won by Madison couple Dave and Rachel Brown.
Kilmer-Purcell has written several books, including the bestseller “I Am Not Myself These Days.” It’s about his experiences in the advertising industry and his night job as a drag queen.
He and Ridge also star on “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” on The Cooking Channel.
Plea agreement reached for man accused of attacking Badger player
One of three men charged with attacking Wisconsin Badger running back Montee Ball has reached a plea agreement with Dane County prosecutors.
Wendell Venerable of Madison will make a court appearance Dec. 17.
Trial for the other two men accused in the attack is scheduled to start that same day.
Venerable is charged with substantial battery. He, Robert A. Wilks, 22, and Deonte J. Wilson, 21, are accused of attacking Ball Aug. 1 while he walked behind two friends.
Ball was left unconscious and with a concussion. He has said he doesn’t remember the attack.
5th former Walker aide convicted
Kevin Kavanaugh, 62, is the fifth person close to Gov. Scott Walker to be convicted in a long-running secret investigation.
A sixth person has a trial scheduled to start next month.
Kavanaugh will spend two years in prison for stealing more than $51,000 from donations that were supposed to help military veterans and their families.
Though Kavanaugh apologized before sentencing, Judge Michael D. Guolee spoke with emotion as he recalled the testimony of soldiers’ widows and called the apology “worthless.”
Walker had appointed Kavanaugh to the Milwaukee County Veterans Service Commission. Walker himself has never been charged with any wrongdoing in any of the cases.
Stop lying about non-partisanship, says Supreme Court candidate
Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Vince Megna shook up the race Friday by declaring himself a Democrat and incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack as a Republican.
Megna is a Milwaukee attorney who made his name representing the rights of those who bought defective vehicles under the state’s Lemon Law.
“It’s time to stop lying” about the Supreme Court being non-partisan, said Megna in a prepared statement. He said voters deserve to see a “letter designation” behind a candidate’s name.
Megna also said he would vote to throw out Wisconsin’s photo ID law for voting if it comes to the high court.
Roggensack’s main adviser is Brandon Scholz, a former state Republican Party director and chief of staff to ex-GOP congressman Scott Klug of Madison.
Scholz issued his own statement that Megna is campaigning as if he’s running for the Legislature instead of the state’s highest court. Scholz said voters should consider the candidates’ experience, independence and integrity. He said the Supreme Court’s decisions should be based on the rule of law, and not “partisan horse-trading.”
Scholz also said Megna probably disqualified himself from ruling on the photo ID case if it were to come before him.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi and Marquette law Professor Ed Fallone have also said they’re considering a run for Supreme Court. If three or more candidates make the ballot, a primary would be held Feb. 19. The general election is next April.