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Top Stories April 23, 2014

Homes Evacuated Following Gas Leak


4/23/14 - Eight homes were evacuated in Beaver Dam last night following a natural gas leak. Fire Chief Alan Mannel says crews responded around 6pm to an area centered at Park Avenue, Vita, Maple and North University. Each street was closed to traffic for one block. Approximately ten residents total were displaced from the eight evacuated homes while a dozen had power disconnected and 26 houses had their gas shut-off. Crews from Alliant Energy shut-off three gas mains before isolating the problem and Park and Vita just before 9pm. The gas leak was slow but steady. Mannel says gas vapors diffused through the ground, emanated through cracks between the street and the curb creating a wavy visual effect. Repair went on throughout much of the night. Fire Captain Lee Smith says a contractor was boring in the area and struck a gas line. 


Dodge County Home Sales Outpacing Last Year


4/23/14 - Home sales in Dodge County so far this year are outpacing last years numbers. The state’s Realtors Association says there have been 169 sales of existing homes in the first quarter of the year, 18 more than last year by the same time, an increase of 12-percent. Prices are up 7.7-percent to $113-thousand dollars. There have been 127 homes sales to date in Columbia County, 22 more than the same period last year for an increase of 21-percent. The median sales price in Columbia County jumped over 14-percent to $126-thousand. Jefferson County year-to-date home sales were down nearly 21-percent with 142 homes sold so far this year compared to 179 by the end of March last year. The median sales price in Jefferson County is down 3.5-percent to 135-thousand. In Fond du Lac County, there have been 197 home sales so far, eleven more than the first quarter of 2013. Fond du Lac County’s median sales price dropped 6-percent to $94-thousand. Washington County home sales are down 9-percent with 283 sold this year, 29 less than last year; the median price is up four-percent to $172-thousand.  Statewide, realtors home sales had dropped by eight-and-a-half percent while the median resale price rose by four-point-two percent.  State Realtors' board chairman Steve Lane says the spring thaw should also make home sales blossom.  Only about 18-percent of home sales occur during the first quarter of the year.  Lane said 31-percent of homes are sold in the second quarter from April-through-June.


Columbus Highway 16-60 Task Force Assembled


4/23/14 - Columbus City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden has pulled together a James Street Task Force to deal with the 2017 Department of Transportation reconstruction of Highways 16 and 60 through the city. The task force will guide the esthetics of the project such as street lights, sidewalks and tree removal.  The task force will consist of council members Rod Mellote and Michael Thom, Community Development Authority Chair Nathan Roberts, Water and Light Superintendent Eric Anthon, business owner Theresa Sharrow and Carolyn Fredrick of the Historic Landmarks and Preservation Commission. The 1.2 mile reconstruction project through the heart of Columbus is expected to cost between $5.6 and $8 million dollars; most of that paid for by the state.


Walker Denies GAB Removal Not Politically Motivated


4/23/14 - Scott Walker's office denies that the governor essentially removed David Deininger from the state Government Accountability Board because of the panel's support of the John Doe probe into the recall elections.  A recent court filing unveiled that the Board voted unanimously last June to approve the state's current investigation.  It's looking into alleged illegal coordination between outside groups and G-O-P recall election candidates -- including Walker and State Senator Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau in 2012.  Last fall, the governor pulled back Deininger's re-nomination to the accountability board.  Deininger, who had chaired the board, won't comment on a possible political link.  He tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he doesn't know why his appointment was pulled.  Deininger noted that two other board members -- Tim Vocke and Gerald Nichol -- also backed the John Doe probe, and their re-appointments are still pending in the Senate.  Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick told the paper that Deininger simply did not have the Senate's support.  She said the idea that the John Doe was a factor is quote, "a bogus political argument" that holds no merit.


Born Says Extract Could Benefit Children


4/23/14 - State Representative Mark Born says he is glad to see that the controversy over marijuana legalization for recreational use did not get in the way of sick children getting treatment. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill last week allowing the use of a marijuana oil extract to help children with repeated seizures. Born, a Republican from Beaver Dam, told us on WBEV’s Community Comment that common sense prevailed in the legislation, which garnered bi-partisan support. He says to him it was never really a drug question because once you look at the facts it is definitely not about legalizing marijuana which is a whole separate debate. Born says some medical providers believe the oil can help kids and the bill would make it easier for those families. The extract is still pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration.


Grothman Reviving Affirmative Action Ban


4/23/14 - State Senator Glenn Grothman says he'll revive his proposal to ban affirmative action in Wisconsin, after the U-S Supreme Court allowed public colleges in Michigan to do the same.  The West Bend Republican told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he'll propose a constitutional amendment.  But he might not be around to shepherd it through.  Lawmakers are not scheduled to return to session until January, and Grothman is running for Congress this fall.  His measure comes after the Supreme Court yesterday upheld Michigan's 2006 constitutional amendment banning race as a factor in college admissions.  Grothman said people don't realize the extent of race and gender preferences in society -- and he cited government contracts for women-and-minority-owned businesses as examples.  He calls such preferences "divisive."  G-O-P legislative leaders did not comment yesterday on the Supreme Court decision.  Neither did Governor Scott Walker and U-W officials.  U-W Madison has said that race is one of many factors reviewed in deciding who gets admitted.  Democrat Mary Burke, who's running against Walker this fall, says she would not drop the U-W's policies.  She pointed to a recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report, showing that Wisconsin is among the nation's worst in providing opportunities to minority children -- especially blacks.


Two More Candidates Announce For Petri Seat


4/23/14 - Two more people have announced their candidacies for the Sixth District Congressional seat to be given up by long-time G-O-P incumbent Tom Petri.  As expected, state Senate Republican Joe Leibham of Sheboygan became the third Republican in the race Tuesday.  Leibham noted that yesterday was Wisconsin's Tax Freedom Day -- the day you start working for yourself, after making enough since the first of the year to pay the average tax obligations.  Leibham called that "unacceptable," and he pointed to over two-billion dollars in state tax relief that he supported while in the Legislature. Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris of Oshkosh is the first Democrat to join the field. Harris says he'll campaign on raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable, and more funding for highway repairs and to preserve Social Security.  Leibham joins state lawmakers Glenn Grothman and Duey Strobel in the Republican field.  Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickles has said he's considering a Democratic bid.  It's the first time in 35 years that Petri's House seat has opened up. 


Petri Reflects On Political Career on WBEV


4/23/14 - Congressman Tom Petri shared some of his favorite stories with our listeners this week on WBEV’s Community Comment. The Fond du Lac Republican’s political career dates back to the Carter administration. Petri told a story of being asked to the White House as a young legislator for a photo op with President Ronald Reagan. Petri says he was sitting in the reception room with Jerry Lewis and the child who won the annual Easter Seals contest when he struck up small talk with the winner’s family. He asked where they were from and they said New Berlin to which he smiled and said to himself, “That’s not in my district.” Berlin is in Petri’s district. New Berlin is in Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s district. There was nothing that could be done at that point so the group went in anyway and had their picture taken with the president, who Petri called “very gracious.”


Lake Days Line-Up Announced


4/23/14 - The lineup for Beaver Dam Lake Days has been announced. The festival on the city’s lakefront at Tahoe Park will be held July 10 through the 13th. Friday night’s entertainment will be county-rocker Jimmie Van Zandt, the cousin of the founders of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Also performing on Friday is Wisconsin-native and Nashville recording artist Vince Anthony and Beaver Dam’s Most Wanted. On Saturday, in addition to fireworks, Fran Cosmo – formerly of the band Boston – will return to the Lake Days stage along with KISS cover-band Strutter. Also playing on Saturday is Night Screamer performing rock music of the 80s and 90s. Sunday entertainers include the Don Peachy Band and another local band called The Characters. The Teen Dance will again kick the event off on Thursday. In addition to a live DJ, the local high school band the Riverside Ramblers will be playing. There will again be a cover charge on Friday and Saturday night. A cardboard boat regatta is also expected to make a return to the festival happenings. There is more information is at


Downtown Demolition Progressing


4/23/14 - The downtown Beaver Dam skyline looks quite different now after most of a building at the corner of Front and Center has been taken down. Work got underway about one month ago on the razing of 152 Front Street. City Engineering Coordinator Ritchie Piltz says the removal process is intentionally slow and time consuming so as to protect the adjoining buildings. The north, south and west walls have been torn down. The final wall, the east wall, abuts the neighboring Chinese restaurant and requires more careful dismantling. Statewide Razing Inc. of Combined Locks is doing the work. The three-story corner structure held up the Front Street portion of last summer’s Highway 33 reconstruction. It was discovered late in the process that the crumbling building is so close to the intersection that it interferes with the turning radius of semi-truck traffic. The state now plans to reconstruct the 100 block of Front Street/ Highway 33 next year. The building at 203 Front Street will also see the wrecking ball soon.

Yesterday's Headlines
    - Beaver Dam Officials Hear Watermark Update
    - Petri on WBEV: 'I'm Still on the Job'
    - Keller Sentenced On Child Porn Charges

For those stories and more click here.

For older stories visit our news archive here.