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Top Stories March 31, 2015

Cash Bond Set At $1-Million For Beck Murder Suspect


3/31/15 - A judge in Fond du Lac set bond at a million-dollars Monday for a man accused of strangling 18-year-old Berit Beck in 1990.  Sixty-one year old Dennis Brantner of Kenosha is charged with first-degree murder.  He waived the state's time limits for a preliminary hearing, and his next court date was not set. Authorities said Beck was driving from her Racine County home to Appleton for a computer class when she was kidnapped.  Her vehicle was found two days later in a parking lot in Fond du Lac, and her body was found six weeks later in a ditch near Waupun.  Officials said it took over two decades to find a match for fingerprints found in Beck's van -- and they discovered Brantner's prints in several places in the vehicle.  He was arrested last Friday, after a man who implicated another long-time suspect recanted his story this month.  Beck's murder and those of three other young females gripped Wisconsin in the 1990's, when F-B-I agents helped search for the victims and their killers.  Yesterday, Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mick Fink told reporters the investigation is "far from over," and he said the Brantner arrest was not a "win" for anyone.  In court, defense lawyer Craig Powell noted that fingerprints are not compelling evidence in a murder case.  District Attorney Eric Toney said Brantner has a long criminal history with ties to "numerous states." Authorities said his record includes a burglary near the home of his first wife so he could watch her -- and kidnapping his second wife in Illinois while threatening her with a knife.


Arrest Made At Trooper Funeral


3/31/15 - A 56-year-old man was arrested at Monday's private burial service in Kiel for State Trooper Trevor Casper.  Police officials said they saw the man walking past Saints Peter-and-Paul Catholic Cemetery carrying a bag with an object sticking out of it.  They said they questioned the person and tried escorting him from the burial service -- but he reportedly got abusive, and officers had to use force to remove him.  He was checked out at a hospital in Manitowoc, and was then taken to the Manitowoc County Jail.  Reports say he faces four possible misdemeanors -- disrupting a funeral, battery to police, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.  The incident occurred after numerous people watched a funeral procession to say their final goodbyes to trooper Casper, who died along with an alleged bank robber in a shootout a week ago in Fond du Lac.  Police said yesterday that up to six-thousand people attended Casper's visitation and memorial service on Sunday at Kiel High School.


Two Beaver Dam Men Appear On Burglary Charge


3/31/15 - Two Beaver Dam men made their initial appearance Monday in a Dodge County courtroom in connection with a weekend break-in. 48-year-old Darris Montgomery had cash bond set at $3000 on charges of felony Burglary and misdemeanor Theft, Obstruction, Criminal Damage to Property and Bail Jumping. 32-year-old James Narr is charged with felony Burglary and misdemeanor Theft and had cash bond set at $1000. The two were arrested Saturday evening following reports of a breaking and entering in-progress on South Lincoln Avenue. Police stopped the vehicle matching an eye-witness description a short time later. Narr told officer that Montgomery got into his car with a television but did not give it much thought. Montgomery, who had a warrant out for his arrest, fled on foot before being taken into custody. He reportedly told police he was moving the TV for a friend. A door was damaged to gain access to the apartment, and the loud noise led neighbors to call police. Montgomery, who had apparently been in prison with the victim, was allegedly seen leaving the scene with a television. A judge will decide next month if there is enough evidence for the men to proceed to trial.


Kennedy Discusses Watermark Timeline on WBEV


3/31/15 - It’s been just over two weeks since the Beaver Dam City Council approved a funding plan to move forward with the Watermark Community and Senior Center.  The approved resolution capped the total cost of the project at just over $2,100,000.  Mayor Tom Kennedy stated on a recent edition of WBEV’s Community Comment that he does not anticipate bids to be above that amount as the estimates were gathered by city architects.  Kennedy notes that some contingencies were already scaled back on to reach that $2,100,000 figure and notes that those could be stretched back further if needed.  Although the mayor is excited to see the project moving forward, he feels the timing of the approval could have worked out more favorably for the city budget.  Had the project been bid out last fall, he believes that the city could have saved on the cost of labor and materials due to contractors typically being less busy in the fall and winter months.  As of now, the project is set to be advertised within the next two weeks.  Kennedy expects bids to be opened in mid-May and awarded in June.  He then expects ground-breaking to occur later that month and for the project to be completed sometime next spring or summer. 


School Referendum, Candidates On WBEV This Week


3/31/15 - The spring election is one week away and we’ll be taking a closer look at the ballot this week on WBEV’s Community Comment. Tomorrow, we welcome in the studio the candidates in the city of Juneau’s only contested aldermanic race; Ward Three incumbent Ron Drezdon will appear along with his challenger, former Mayor Ron Bosak. On Thursday, our guests will be with the city of Beaver Dam’s only contested race between incumbent Ward Three Alderman Glen Link and his challenger Jon Abfall. On today’s program, our guest is with the Randolph School District. Building and Grounds Committee Chair Dave Tietz will be in to discuss the school funding referendum that seeks $17-million dollars to turn the current high school campus into a Kindergarten through grade-12 school.  There are a total of three school funding referendums in Dodge County on the April ballot. Representatives with the Cambria-Friesland and Mayville school districts joined us on Community Comment earlier this month. Community Comment airs weekdays on AM1430 WBEV beginning at 12:35pm.


Dodge County Midway on Health Rankings


3/31/15 - For the third year in a row, Ozaukee County is the healthiest in Wisconsin.  The suburbs just north of Milwaukee again top the new County Health Rankings put out each spring by the U-W Madison Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The new survey ranks Ozaukee Number-One for both its current health factors, and its projected health outcomes based on the residents' length-and-quality of their lives.  Dodge County is ranked 29th for current health factors, which measures health behaviors along with clinical care and social, economic and physical environmental factors. In terms of “health outcomes” – meaning how long people live and how healthy they feel – Dodge County ranked 33rd. Columbia County ranked 26th in that same “health outcomes” category but their current “health factors are at 39th. Jefferson County ranks right ahead of Dodge County at 27th in terms of current health factors but is 10th for projected health outcomes. Pepin County, which is close to Minnesota's Twin Cities, is ranked second for its projected health outcomes. Calumet County, southeast of Appleton, is third.  Menominee County, home of the Indian reservation of the same name, is ranked 72nd with the state's worst projected outcomes.  Milwaukee County, with some of the nation's highest poverty rates, is ranked 71st.  Both counties had the same rankings a year ago -- and they apply to both current and potential health factors and people's longevity.  Dane County, which includes Madison, has the state's second-best current health factors but is ranked 15th for health outcomes.


Beaver Dam Lake Is Officially Open


3/31/15 - Beaver Dam Lake is officially open. That word comes from Dick McMillan of the Beaver Dam Lake Improvement Association who says enough ice has opened up on the lake that a boat can get from the dam to Highway G. McMillan says the lake officially opened up last Thursday, March 26, the first time since 2012 that the lake opened up in March. Last year, boats were navigating the waters on April 11. The earliest the call has been made was on February 28 that was back in 1998.


Wisconsin Could Have Saved Money No Prevailing Wage


3/31/15 - Wisconsin's local-and-state governments could have saved 200-to-300 million dollars if they didn't have to pay prevailing wages to contractors for public projects.  That's according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, which said it would have cost the governments much less if they could pay market-based rates.  The study was paid for by an industry group that supports a repeal of the 80-year-old prevailing wage requirement. Assembly Republican Rob Hutton of Brookfield authored a bill for the repeal.  He says the study shows that the free market needs to determine wages and the costs of public construction projects -- just like what happens in the private sector.  The study said prevailing wages averaged 45-percent higher than local market rates.  


Walker Confident In Bucks’ Arena Funding


3/31/15 - Governor Scott Walker says he remains confident that a viable funding option can be approved to build a new downtown Milwaukee arena for the Bucks.  He told reporters yesterday that meetings are scheduled this week including those with G-O-P leaders of both houses, Milwaukee city and county officials, and the Bucks.  Walker met with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos last week, and with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald over the weekend. The governor said his original budget plan was just one option -- the one in which N-B-A players would fund the arena with income taxes from the expected higher salaries.  The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the original plan would force taxpayers to cover up to 488-million dollars to help re-pay the bonding.


Yesterday's Headlines

Fall River Races Heating Up As Election Nears

        - Public Hearing To Be Held For Horicon Project
        -Mayville Provides Update On Salt Supply, Plowing Figures

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.