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Top Stories May 30, 2015

County Programs In Spotlight For Older Americans Month


5/30/15 - The month of May has been Older American’s Month and the occasion has been observed locally through recognition of the Older Americans Act which – for the past 50 years – has funded a number of programs that benefit seniors. On WBEV’s Community Comment this week, we discussed the Older Americans Act with representatives from the Dodge County Human Services Aging and Disability Resource Center, along with some of the county program offerings for older adults that are being underutilized. Amanda Higgins is the county’s Elder Benefits Specialist. She is trained and her casework is supervised by attorneys who specialize in elder benefits and public law. Higgins says her position offers counseling, assistance and advocacy for public benefits, health insurance and consumer law to those 60 and older.


Another under-utilized resource for older adults that is available in Dodge County and around the state is the senior dining and meals-on-wheels program. There are ten meal sites in Dodge County that anyone in the state over age 60 can utilize after making a reservation one day in advance. Two are located in Beaver Dam, and the others are in Fox Lake, Horicon, Hustisford, Lomira, Lowell, Mayville, Randolph and Watertown. Stephanie Levenhagen, the county’s Nutrition Program Manager, says the meal provides one-third of the daily dietary requirement for a suggested donation price of $3.99.


And for those who need a ride to a meal site, a doctor’s appointment or even the grocery store, there is also transportation program offered through the county by donation. Levenhagen says volunteer drivers are always needed. Beaver Dam Senior Center Administrator Evonne Boettge says they can also arrange transportation to the center for meals or other programs, not through the county but instead through the city’s shared ride taxi service, for no more than 50-cents. 


Those who would like more information about the meal, transportation or elder benefits programs are asked to call the Dodge County Aging and Disability Resource Center (at 386-3580 or 800-924-6407). The theme of this year’s Older Americans Month has been “Get Into The Act” which is meant to focus on how older adults are taking charge of the health, getting engaged in their communities and making a positive impact in the lives of others.


Grothman Talk Patriot Act On Community Comment


5/30/15 - The United States’ Senate will be in session this weekend with hopes of reaching a compromise that would extend the Patriot Act.  Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a measure that would allow the continuance of certain key provisions of the Patriot Act, which is set to expire on Monday.  The legislation was first signed into effect by President George W. Bush in October 2001 as part of an effort to combat terrorism.  Most recently, President Barack Obama signed the Patriot Sunsets Extension Act in 2011 to allow some of the act’s main elements to stay in effect for an additional four years.  Congressman Glenn Grothman was on yesterday’s edition of WBEV’s Community Comment and says those who are holding the bill up object to the lengths he and his colleagues went to restrict the federal government’s abilities.  He is in favor of the bill proposed by fellow Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and says that a gap in coverage is likely if dissenters continue to hold up the bill.  Grothman says a brief extension of the current act could be agreed upon to avoid a lapse in coverage and give the legislators more time to finalize a new bill.  He does not see the senators who have objected to the bill swallowing their pride and agreeing to the House’s version without compromises being made. 


Joint Finance Approves Land Purchase Limits


5/30/15 - Wisconsin would continue buying-and-preserving nature land on a more limited basis, under a state budget change to be adopted by Republicans Friday.  The G-O-P majority on the Joint Finance Committee said it would not go along with the governor's proposal to stop land purchases in the Stewardship Program at least until 2028.  Republicans have long been concerned about the debt that's been building up from Stewardship land purchases.  However, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he was against a total moratorium.  The current state budget limits bonding to 50-million dollars a year.  The new budget measure would reduce that limit to 33-million a year through 2020.  Also, the majority finance Republicans said they would go along with Walker's request to eliminate 80 jobs in the D-N-R -- including over half the researchers in the science division.  Also, the finance panel must still review two other contentious budget proposals -- Walker's proposed 300-million dollar cut in state aid for the U-W System, and a public-private financing package for a new Milwaukee Bucks' arena.  The committee was planning to finish its budget changes tonight -- but leaders now say it might be tomorrow or early next week before they wrap things up. 


UW Would Lose $250M In Proposed Budget


5/30/15 - The University of Wisconsin System would lose 250-million-dollars in state funding under a proposed budget change to be endorsed by majority Republicans.  The Joint Finance Committee's G-O-P members said they would reduce Governor Scott Walker's proposed 300-million-dollar cut Friday -- and the U-W would give out the other 50-million dollars to schools deemed hardest-hit by the cuts.  A number of four-year campuses have announced early retirement initiatives to cut down their labor costs.  And the centralizing of services among the 13 two-year colleges resulted in a faculty referendum on whether they should consider a no-confidence vote for their new chancellor. The G-O-P finance members also said they would go with Walker's proposed tuition freeze for two more years.  And the Republicans said they would reject Walker's plan to give the U-W more independence from state rules, for fear the university would jack up tuition too much in future years. The Republican Walker later said he would seek tuition increases limited to the rate of inflation starting in 2017. Earlier on Friday, the G-O-P said it would reject a cut-off of borrowing for nature land purchases under the Stewardship Program -- but it would limit bonding to 33-million dollars a year through 2020, down from the current 50-million. 


Tool and Die Company Moving Into Campbellsport


5/30/15 - About 21 to 29 jobs are moving to the Campbellsport Industrial Park following a decision by a Washington County manufacturer to make a move. Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation President Steve Jenkins says the three-year-old company Swenson Tool & Die has decided to move to Campbellsport. Jenkins calls it a perfect fit. The family-owned business is getting financial assistance for the move through loans from Fond du Lac County, the FCEDC revolving loan fund, and BMO Harris Bank.


Markesan Sex Offender, Ref Sentenced For Bomb Threats


5/30/15 - A Markesan sex offender who officiated youth sports and then called in a series of bomb threats after his ref license was suspended has entered into a plea agreement with Dodge County prosecutors.  Aaron Schreiber withdrew a previous plea of “not guilty by reason of mental defect” and pled “no contest” Friday to three felony counts of being a Child Sex Offender Working with Children, five felony counts of Bomb Scares, and five counts of felony Bail Jumping.  Another 28 felony counts plus charges in Fond du Lac, Green Lake, and Walworth Counties were all dismissed but read into the record. Schreiber – who was convicted in 2005 of impregnating an underage girl – was a regular official for baseball, softball and basketball at school districts in Beaver Dam, Mayville and Waupun. In November of 2013, the first of 15 phony bomb threats was made at a restaurant in Waupun. Over the next three days similar threats were called in at a Waupun-area grocery store, gas station, school, hospital, bank and library; the threats also spread into Fox Lake and Beaver Dam. Investigators eventually traced the calls to Schreiber’s cell phone and he admitted his actions when he was brought in for questioning calling it retaliation after word of his sex offender status led to his losing ref jobs. The 33-year-old will be sentenced in August. 


Randolph Man Sentenced For Salvage Yard Burglary


5/30/15 - A Randolph man was found guilty in Dodge County Court Friday for orchestrating the July burglary of Wally’s Auto Sales and Salvage in the Town of Beaver Dam.  Tavish J. Heller pled “no contest” to felony Possession of Burglary Tools and had a felony Burglary charge and two misdemeanor counts dismissed but read into the record.  Heller’s vehicle was seen leaving the scene of the crime, and one of the business’s service doors was damaged from being pried open.  The 19-year-old was looking for the parts he needed to repair his damaged vehicle which was in danger of being repossessed.  Heller was sentenced to 30 days in jail with work release privileges plus two years’ probation.  He is also forbidden from contact with the three other subjects and must testify truthfully against them.  One co-conspirator has already been sentenced while two others have court activity on the calendar.


Milwaukee Judge Refuses To Relocate Sex Offender


5/30/15 - A judge Friday ordered the transfer of a long-convicted sex offender from a treatment center to a house on Milwaukee's south side.  Circuit Judge Dennis Moroney also told the city it could not use a local residency rule to block the move.  Forty-nine year old Joe Wofford Junior spent 19 years in prison and secure treatment for two child sex assaults, until doctors decided he's no longer likely to re-offend.  The state Health Services Department then tried to find a suitable home for Wofford in his home town -- but they were stymied by a Milwaukee ordinance that restricts where sex offenders can live.  In March, Judge Dennis Moroney ruled that the state's civil commitment law for sex offenders trumps local ordinances which keep those offenders from living close to where kids congregate.  Area communities asked Moroney to throw out his March ruling until they could challenge it -- but the judge wouldn't hear them out.  They asked a state appeals court last week to block Moroney's decision, but that court never acted.  Milwaukee adopted its sex offender residency ordinance last fall.  Wofford will be placed at a house where another released sex offender lives. 


Top Stories May 29, 2015

Combination Of Factors Causing Drastic Honeybee Deaths


5/29/15 - Since April 2014, beekeepers have lost over 40% of their bees.  Wisconsin has been hit especially hard as it is one of eight states where the population loss has been upwards of 60%.  Wisconsin Honey Producer’s Vice-President Matt LaForge says the number of bees lost has been above average for last five or six years and claims this has been the hardest hit to the population since the 1800’s.  LaForge says a number of factors including: nutritional stress, pesticides and sprays, and various diseases are combining to cause the large number of deaths.  While he notes that many of the hardest hit states are in the crop belt where plenty of sprays are regularly applied, LaForge says many bees that are far removed from agricultural areas are also being affected.  He says research is being conducted at the federal level in an effort to narrow in on a cause and come up with a treatment LaForge says beekeepers are being hit hard by these losses as constantly replacing hives can cause a large financial burden.  He notes that these people cannot be lost as they are vital to ensuring bees are brought to plants that need pollination.  LaForge encourages folks to buy their honey from local beekeepers to help keep them in business.  He says people can also make a positive impact through planting flowers that bloom either early in the spring or late in the fall as those are the times when bees need them the most.


Fitzgerald, Born Trying To Stop Sex Offender Placement


5/29/15 - Two Dodge County legislators are calling on the Department of Health Services to reconsider the placement of two child sex offenders in the Brownsville area. State Senator Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau and State Representative Mark Born of Beaver Dam said in a joint press release they want to the stop placement because they would be living right next to two young children. The legislators were (quote) “shocked and dismayed by the lack of notice given to both the community and their elected officials.”  After hearing about the matter on Tuesday, the two legislators reached out to the Department of Corrections and the Secretary of Health Services to express their disappointment at the lack of consideration given to the Town of Leroy community.  29-year-old Jonathan Miller and 57-year-old Robert Larson were the subject of a public informational meeting in Brownsville on Wednesday. Larson was sentenced in 1994 to 20 years in prison on a charge of First Degree Sexual Assault with a Dangerous Weapon. Miller was designated a sexually violent person in 2005 when he was 19-years-old. Their court-ordered release to W2691 State Highway 49 in Brownsville is scheduled to happen no later than this Monday, June 1. Born and Fitzgerald say Wisconsin law gives Health Services the ability to revisit placement decisions for these circumstances and they say the agency has a responsibility to the people of the Leroy community to stop the placement until a more suitable location can be found.


Charges Dismissed Against Former County Supervisor


5/29/15 - Domestic abuse charges against a former Dodge County Board supervisor have been dismissed. Donald Gunderson was arrested in January of last year at his residence after the victim's son contacted authorities to report the abuse.  Upon arrival, officers found the victim in the kitchen with a bloody nose. She told officers (quote) “Don was out of control” and she was afraid he was going to kill her. Investigators say Gunderson told his wife to come to bed and when she did not comply he told her to “quit her belly-aching” and struck her, apparently in the shoulder and head. He reportedly said it was nothing he was ashamed of and refused to make a statement or sign anything. The 84-year-old noted at the time that he (quote) “knew the sheriff.” The case was referred to a special prosecutor in Washington County because of the conflict of interest. In April of last year, Gunderson was found not competent to stand trial and the case was suspended.  A motion to dismiss was granted last week. Washington County District Attorney Mark Bensen tells us that because Gunderson is not likely to have his competency restored and the victim is in a safe environment, he moved to dismiss without prejudice. Gunderson – who is now a resident at Clearview – represented the Lomira-area on the Dodge County Board for 40 years before his term expired in April of last year.


Man Tied To Alleged Crime Spree Waives Preliminary Hearing


5/29/15 - A Green Lake County man connected to a multi-county crime spree waived his right to a preliminary hearing in a Dodge County Courtroom yesterday. Maxwell Decker is accused of stealing four cars in three counties while narrowly eluding capture on two separate occasions. He is charged in Dodge County with Fleeing an Officer, Burglary with a Dangerous Weapon and Theft. Prosecutors say he stole a car in Berlin last August sparking a nearly 12-mile pursuit down Highway 175 into Dodge County that ended with the driver disappearing into nearby cornfields. A second vehicle was taken and later recovered in the Fond du Lac County Town of Oakfield, where a third vehicle was then reported stolen.  Decker allegedly sparked a second police chase early the following morning again into Dodge County this time through the city of Beaver Dam at 100mph. The vehicle was abandoned near Breezy Point Road as the suspect escaped a second time. Later that same day it was discovered that someone broke into a Town of Trenton home, stole a firearm, ammunition and a vehicle. He was apprehended in Jefferson County the following day. Decker remains jailed on a $100,000 cash bond.

Waupun Man Heading To Arraignment On Probable Cause


5/29/15 - A Waupun man will proceed to trial after Dodge County Judge Steven Bauer found probable cause at his preliminary hearing yesterday on a felony charge of Attempting to Flee or Elude a Traffic Officer.  Jordan Bader was allegedly traveling at speeds over 40 miles-per-hour down Waupun’s Main Street in the early hours of March 18.  The officer who clocked Bader’s speed turned on his lights and siren to pursue him.  The 23-year-old accelerated to speeds over 100-miles-per-hour and kept fleeing.  Bader finally stopped and reportedly said he would prefer a ticket without the loss of any points so he could keep his license.  If he is convicted, Bader faces up to three-and-a-half years in prison.  An arraignment hearing is set for June 17.


Warrant Issued For Lowell Man Who Failed To Appear In Court


5/29/15 - A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Lowell man who failed to appear in Dodge County Court yesterday. John J. Bellini is already facing charges of felony Fleeing an Officer and misdemeanor Operating a Vehicle Without a Valid License. Prosecutors say that deputies were sent to check on the 27-year-old’s welfare in August 2013 after neighbors expressed concerns. Bellini’s vehicle was located a short time later, and he sparked a brief chase that reached 64mph in a 25 mile-an-hour zone. He eventually stopped in the middle of an intersection. Bellini was taken to Beaver Dam Community Hospital before being transferred to Mendota. The felony charge carries a maximum three-and-a-half year prison sentence if he is convicted.


Beaver Dam Man Accused Of Stealing From Neighbor


5/29/15 - A Beaver Dam man has been accused of stealing property from his neighbor’s car.  Matthew Milligan is facing a Felony Theft count for an alleged incident from earlier this week.  The 26-year-old’s neighbor notified authorities that a 45-caliber handgun, ammunition, and a laptop computer were missing from his car which was accidentally left unlocked overnight.  Officers reportedly recovered the firearm from Milligan as he was being taken into custody.  If he is convicted, Milligan faces up to six years in prison.


BDPD Encourages Residents To Lock Vehicle Doors


5/29/15 - There has been a rash of vehicle thefts in Beaver Dam reported in the past week. According to police briefings, there have been a dozen thefts reported since last Friday, including five on Monday and three more on Wednesday. Among the items stolen: cash, firearms and electronics like GPS devices and cell phone chargers. As we reported earlier, a 26-year-old Beaver Dam was charged yesterday after a weekend arrest for going through a neighbor’s vehicle; additional charges are pending. Early Thursday morning, a 50-year-old Beaver Dam man was arrested on Walnut Street with a flashlight while rifling through cars; no formal charges have been brought yet in that incident. Police Detective Ryan Klavekoske says the common trend with the recent thefts is that all the vehicles have been unlocked. The Beaver Dam Police Department urges the public to always lock their vehicles and secure their belongings.


Walker Hoping For Full Repeal Of Prevailing Wage


5/29/15 - Governor Scott Walker says he would be "pleased" if lawmakers could give him a full repeal of the prevailing wage law as part of the new state budget. The Assembly Labor Committee endorsed a bill this week favoring a full repeal of the 80-plus year old law which requires contracted employees on public works projects to be paid the same as workers on similar projects in a local area.  Supporters say it would save up to $300,000,000, while Democrats and others say it would result in lower wages to contractors -- and possibly a lower quality of work.  Walker says he would prefer the repeal but otherwise would like to see major changes made.


Portage Medical Manufacturing Plant Expanding


5/29/15 - After announcing an industrial expansion in Portage, Governor Scott Walker said he is still against jacking up the gasoline tax -- unless other taxes are reduced by corresponding amounts.  The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee will consider Walker's proposed borrowing of one-point-three billion dollars for road improvements over the next two years.  Walker was on hand when Saint-Gobain Corporation announced an expansion of its medical device manufacturing plant in Portage.  It has 300 workers now, and a state agency has agreed to provide up to $700,000 in tax breaks over the next three years depending on the numbers of new jobs and the company's investment. 


Public Schools Could See Large Cut In Next Decade


5/29/15 - Wisconsin could take away $600,000,000-$800,000,000 from public schools over the next decade, and give it to private schools for their voucher programs. That's according to an estimate from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, on the impact of the proposed expansion of the statewide private school choice program.  The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted last week to lift the one-thousand-student enrollment limit on the statewide voucher program.  Vouchers totaling one-percent of a school district's enrollment would be allowed this fall, rising steadily for 10 years before there would be no caps.  


Yesterday's Headlines
- Kitchen Fire Damages Beaver Dam Home

- Sex Offender Meeting Wednesday in Brownsville
- Dodge County Officials Uncertain Of Extension Cut Impact

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.