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Wisconsin roundup: State authorities game out power grid catastrophe; more state news stories

Wisconsin emergency management workers are involved in a statewide exercise so they will be able to respond in the event of a massive power outage. Photo courtesy of ReadyWisconsin

Wisconsin emergency management workers are involved in a statewide exercise so they will be able to respond in the event of a massive power outage.

The Dark Sky training exercise started yesterday. The Wisconsin National Guard is training with local emergency management teams to be ready if cyber-attackers manage to shut down the power grid. Participants are working on strategies to distribute food while the electricity is off, keeping hospitals and other critical infrastructures operating, and maintaining fuel supplies. The exercise wraps up Thursday.


Senate candidate visiting state GOP posts

The Wisconsin state senator who won the Republican endorsement last weekend is traveling to 10 party field offices around the state.

Leah Vukmir received 73 percent of the vote at the party convention in Milwaukee. That doesn't mean she automatically becomes the Republican candidate to oppose incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the November election, but it gives her access to the party infrastructure as an offset to her opponent's financial advantage. Kevin Nicholson's campaign spokesman says the strategy remains the same — win the Aug. 14 primary.


Accused predator says he hoped victims wouldn’t talk because they’re old

A 69-year-old Sauk City man is charged with sexually assaulting two women living in a nursing home.

Police officers were called when a 95-year-old resident told a nursing assistant about a man who came into her room and assaulted her. When Galen Malisch was questioned, police say he admitted the sexual assault, telling investigators he hoped his victim wouldn't say anything because of her age. He also admitted sexually assaulting another woman at the same home previously. That victim’s health conditions kept her from communicating with others. Malisch returns to Sauk County Circuit Court May 25 to face six different sex and abuse-related charges.


Feds get involved in ski area’s use of Rib River water

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has stepped in after a power plant operator complained about water usage by the Granite Peak Ski area.

Operators have apparently been taking millions of gallons of water from the Big Rib River without getting federal approval. The problem came to light when the operators of the Domtar Hydroelectric plant complained. Granite Peak needs to obtain a federal permit to take more than 1 million gallons, but it says it draws water only from the reservoir. The ski resort and Domtar have until the end of the month to respond to the FERC.


Chippewa County bridge closed after being damaged beyond repair

A bridge crossing Paint Creek in the town of Lafayette has been closed after it was damaged.

Local officials think a driver may have ignored the 18-ton weight limit and caused the bridge to fail. An engineering assessment finds the span is damaged beyond repair. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has told the town board it doesn't have the money to replace the bridge right now. It had been scheduled for replacement this year, but the work was put off until 2021. It would cost $1.7 million. Local officials say replacing the bridge can't wait because the fire department needs to be able to get over the creek to respond to emergencies.


20 attorneys general joins Planned Parenthood suit against Trump Administration

Twenty attorneys general are joining Planned Parenthood groups in Wisconsin and three other states in their suit against the Trump administration.

They are challenging rule changes which they say will reduce access to family planning services for women. In court Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the president is playing politics with patients when his rule changes shift federal family planning funds to organizations which stress abstinence. About $260 million in federal funding is at the core of the struggle.


Teen charged with shooting 2 friends, stabbing mom

Portage County authorities have filed five felony charges against a teenager for an April attack which left two of his friends with gunshot wounds and his mother with a stabbing injury.

Eighteen-year-old Alec Varney is being held on a $1 million bond. The friends say they had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana April 26 when Varney started "freaking out." They say he accused them of wanting to kill him and his family members. Varney ran away and was captured after a 10-hour manhunt. The victims survived their injuries.