Wisconsin roundup: Ruling expected on state redistricting; CVTC's River Falls campus in line for upgrade; 9 more state news stories
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will announce as early as Monday whether it will make Wisconsin GOP lawmakers redraw their 2011 state legislative districts.
The state Justice Department appealed to the justices in Washington after a panel of three federal judges ordered the GOP to create new Assembly and Senate district boundaries in time for next year's elections. Republicans are challenging the Democrats' recent legal victory, in which the minority party claimed it had too many voters jammed into too few districts — thus giving the Democrats virtually no chance to assume legislative majorities during until at least after the next Census in 2020. Wisconsin, like many states, allows its legislative majority to redraw legislative boundaries soon after every ten year Census.
Campuses in River Falls, Eau Claire cleared for renovation funding
EAU CLAIRE — Chippewa Valley Technical College is renovating and expanding its campuses in River Falls and Eau Claire.
The college has approved $3 million in funding for the changes. Thursday night, the college board approved the 2017-2018 budget to include a culinary arts program to its campus in Eau Claire and another that expands the River Falls campus to accommodate the growing enrollment.
State's lowest-spending rural schools could get help
MADISON — Wisconsin's lowest spending rural school districts could get some extra state money to resolve at least one sticking point in developing a new state budget.
Senate GOP Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says his members are still deciding how much to put in to help the state's most financially struggling schools keep going. One of the goals is to avoid a general property tax increase, after Gov. Scott Walker said he would veto any budget that raises local taxes.
But Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the state might not able to afford the extra money the Senate's talking about. The GOP majority has been haggling about school aid and transportation funding, as the current state budget is due to expire in 12 days — but if an agreement is not reached by then, state spending will continue at current levels until a new two year budget is finalized.
DNR discontinues large State Fair exhibit
MADISON — Children attending the Wisconsin State Fair may no longer learn how to fish, shoot a bow and arrow, or learn about wildlife and preventing forest fires.
The DNR says it will end its popular 2-acre attraction at the annual fair in West Allis in August, which has been a tradition since 1948. Instead, it will promote state parks, forests, and its endangered resource protection program.
DNR spokesman Jim Dick says it will give his agency a chance to educate city dwellers on recreational activities the state offers close to their homes. But Doug Hoskins of Muskego, who has helped managed the State Fair exhibit for 17 years, says years of tradition will disappear. And while the fair plans an exploratory area of its own, Hoskins estimates that the DNR will only have a small fraction of its normal presence at the site.
Thousands enjoy Wisconsin's first U.S. Open
ERIN — Tens of thousands of golf fans packed Erin Hills near Hartford this past week to be a part of Wisconsin's first U.S. Open.
A blimp accident, a contaminated water line, and the death of a 94-year-old spectator brought a rough start to the event — and casual fans did not get a chance to see the world's top three golfers during the weekend as Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day all missed the 36 hole cut. But by Sunday, fans were raving as 10 players were in the running for the championship — and former European Tour standout Brooks Koepka won it with three birdies on the back nine.
Wisconsin fans gave Madison golfer Steve Stricker almost rock star treatment throughout the course, and he finished 16th in the field of 156. The weather was better than expected, too, as the predicted weekend rain was limited to late nights — although lighter winds until Sunday morning drove down scores.
Sheriff Clarke won't take homeland security post
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke won't be joining the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Clarke has rescinded his acceptance of an assistant secretary position with the federal agency. Clarke had previously said he would start the DHS job this month. His decision follows an explosive controversy over plagiarism involving his master's thesis.
He has also been criticized over conditions at the Milwaukee County Jail, where one newborn baby and three inmates have died since April 2016. Clarke had announced his acceptance of the position on a Milwaukee radio talk show last month.
Top elections official to testify before Senate committee
MADISON — The Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator will speak to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee later this week.
Mike Haas is scheduled to make that appearance in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. He will be talking about Russian hacking of last November's presidential election in his capacity as a representative of the National Association of State Election Directors. Haas says he has received no information indicating that Wisconsin was targeted by hackers. Bloomberg News reported last week that 39 states were targeted, with two efforts successful in Arizona and Illinois.
Dane County jailers stop inmate's suicide attempt
MADISON — The Dane County Sheriff's Office reports a suicide attempt by an inmate was stopped by deputies Friday night at about 8:30 p.m.
The inmate had slit his wrists using a disposable razor issued by the jail. A deputy conducting a safety and security check spotted the blood and called for help. A tourniquet stopped the bleeding and the inmate was treated at a Madison hospital, then returned to his cell. All deputies who work in the county jail facility are equipped with tourniquets — in case they or other jailers are wounded in the line of duty.
UW-Madison moves up in world reputation rankings
MADISON — UW-Madison is ranked the 32nd most prestigious university in the world.
That's according to the annual Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, which has the Wisconsin flagship campus three places higher than in 2016. Published academics were asked to rank no more than 15 schools for research and teachings in their respective fields.
More than 1,000 experts from 137 countries responded — and in general, they've been giving higher ranks to Asia's top universities. As an example, Tsinghua University in China made this year's Top 15 for the first time.
Sun Prairie police look for person of interest in killing
SUN PRAIRIE — Police in Sun Prairie say they've been looking for a person of interest in a shooting death from early Sunday.
Officers were called to the parking lot of an apartment complex, where they found the body of a 33-year-old man. Officials say the victim appears to have been targeted, and his name was not immediately released. The State Crime Lab is helping investigate, along with Sun Prairie Police and Dane County sheriff's deputies.
New Miss Wisconsin seek to boost arts, help Boys/Girls clubs
OSHKOSH — The new Miss Wisconsin seeks to boost the arts and help youngsters at Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the state.
Twenty-year-old McKenna Collins won the state pageant during the weekend in Oshkosh, and she'll be Wisconsin's contestant at the Miss America Pageant in early September in Atlantic City. Collins is a senior at UW-Madison, and she's been an intern for U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville. Collins is also involved with Project Plie, which started more than one year ago to try and preserve the arts after the Madison Ballet ran out of funding. Collins was among 26 contestants for the Miss Wisconsin title, and she competed as Miss Madison Capital City while Tianna Vanderhei, Miss Badgerland, was the first runner up.