Weather-weary north may get up to 16 inches; Motor-trolling may become legal statewide, more state news
Folks in far northern Wisconsin are bracing for up to 16 inches of snow in a late winter storm that's just getting started Wednesday morning.
The National Weather Service has issued warnings and watches that stretch until 10 a.m., Thursday. The most snow could fall along a line from Ashland to Minong. All of northern Wisconsin can expect winds gusting to 30- to 40 miles an hour once the storm gets rolling.
Places as far south as Hudson, Menomonie, and Wausau can expect snow accumulations of around 2- to 5 inches. It's supposed to rain first in many of those spots.
The Weather Service blames the new snow on a low-pressure system that's moving across the northern Mississippi Valley Wednesday. The system will go through Wisconsin Wednesday night before heading east.
South central Wisconsin was expecting rain showers Wednesday, continuing into the evening. Highs are projected to be in the 30's statewide.
At least some of the new snow will melt Thursday, when the mercury gets into the 40's statewide. Fifty-plus temperatures are forecast in many areas for the Easter weekend.
Motor-trolling may become legal statewide
MADISON -- Wisconsin anglers could use motor-boats to troll for fish statewide, under a proposal endorsed at the annual conservation hearings.
The DNR announced the results Tuesday of votes taken at all of the Conservation Congress proceedings on Monday night in each of the 72 counties. At least some trolling on all lakes statewide was endorsed by 62 percent of the nearly 5,900 hundred sporting enthusiasts who voted on the question.
It's been a hot topic in the popular fishing areas of northern Wisconsin.
A year ago, a plan to allow three-line trolling in 17 counties was rejected. This time, a compromise to allow one-line trolling was approved, in addition to the three-line trolls which are currently allowed in 55 counties.
The hearing votes are advisory, and they could be taken up by the DNR later in the year.
Also, voters rejected catch-and-release activity during closed fishing seasons. They endorsed a catch-and-release for sturgeon on the state's boundary waters at Minnesota.
They also approved slight adjustments to the opening of the inland fishing seasons in May, to avoid conflicts with Mother's Day weekend.
For complete results, and a county-by-county tally of all votes, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/Documents/spring_hearing/2014/2014_CountyResults.pdf
Feds can balance protection against privacy rights, FBI leader says
The federal government can fight computer crimes without hurting people's privacy rights. That's what Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey said Tuesday in Milwaukee, where he met with local law enforcement officers and reporters.
He compared the government's monitoring of Internet activity to having police stationed at gang-infested parks to make them safe for children. Comey said the Internet is a "dangerous neighborhood," and the FBI needs to patrol it and to do it in a legal and carefully-overseen manner so both security and liberty are protected.
He refused to answer questions about the NSA's snooping of phone and e-mail records. Comey said he was only in a position to discuss his own agency's practices.
The FBI chief is currently visiting all 56 of its field offices. During his Milwaukee stop, Comey also answered questions about the FBI's efforts to stem heroin abuse, fight human trafficking, and combat other violent crimes.
Foreclosure rate continuing to fall
WHITEWATER -- Home foreclosures continue to go down dramatically in Wisconsin.
The UW Whitewater Fiscal and Economic Research Center said 3,427 new foreclosure cases were filed in state courts from January through March. That's down 24 percent from the same quarter a year ago.
For 2013 as a whole, there were just over 15,500 new cases against homeowners hopelessly behind on their mortgages.
The peak year was 2009, when over 28,500 cases were filed in the depths of the Great Recession.
Whitewater economics professor Russell Kashian said there's no question that the foreclosure crisis is over, and there's nothing to indicate rough waters any time soon. However, he says the school will continue to monitor foreclosure trends. In Kashian's words, "There will be a next time, and we'd like to start to notice it immediately when it happens."
Warning issued to firm soliciting corporate records
MADISON -- A company that settled a Wisconsin lawsuit last year for getting 73,000 businesses to pay fees to file bogus government forms is apparently at it again.
The state Department of Financial Institutions issued a warning Tuesday against the Corporate Records Service, which is also known as the Mandatory Poster Agency. This time, the state said the company is trying to get firms to pay $125 to prepare official-looking corporate consent records which are not actually required to be filed.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it received a copy of the latest bogus form -- and it asks for the names of company stockholders, officers, and directors. The paper said the form cites several Wisconsin laws for insisting that the document be filed but the laws are based on records which are out of context.
Last year, the same records firm was accused of convincing businesses to file bogus forms about the minutes of their annual meetings.
The defendant agreed to settle its case by paying almost $130,000 in fines, and to refund the $125 filing fee to those who paid it.
'Point man gets 6 years for child-porn possession
A Stevens Point man has been sentenced to 6.5 years in a federal prison for possessing child pornography.
Denis Gack, 35, was also ordered to spend 10 years under federal supervision once he's no longer behind bars.
The U.S. attorney's office said Gack threatened a girl under 18 and convinced her to send him pornographic images of herself. An investigation started in 2012, after Gack's home and cell phone were searched. That was after he reportedly tried to manipulate the results of a polygraph test he received in 2009 as a condition of a previous probation for causing mental harm to a child in Portage County.
Officials said he was also convicted in 2004 of having sex with a teen in Wood County.
-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau
Baraboo woman claims harrassment for supporting Boston bomber
A Baraboo woman says she's been threatened for writing letters of support to a suspect charged in last year's Boston Marathon bombings.
Crystel Clary, 35, told WISC-TV in Madison that she's written 14 letters and cards to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and only the cards have been returned to her by law enforcement.
Clary said she wants the alleged bomber to know that there are people who support him. On Wednesday, his lawyers will ask a federal judge to drop some of the charges against Tsarnaev, saying they're redundant.
Online court records show that Clary entered a deferred prosecution agreement for delivering illegal items to an inmate at the state's Oakhill prison in 2012. She was given a chance to have the charge dropped by meeting certain conditions.
Meanwhile, a number of Wisconsin runners are heading to Boston for next Monday's marathon. Some couldn't complete last year's race due to the bombings at the finish line -- and they say they want to finish what they started.
Domestic abuse laws stiffened with expected signing by Walker
MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin's domestic violence laws will get tougher, under three bills to be signed into law Wednesday afternoon.
Gov. Scott Walker will hold a ceremony in Milwaukee to strengthen three current measures.
One will create a more stringent schedule of court proceedings, to make sure that domestic abuse suspects under restraining orders hand over their weapons to law enforcement. Another bill creates more standard law enforcement procedures for handling domestic abuse calls, beefs up training for police, and gives victims more access to services. The third bill adds stalking to the legal definition of domestic abuse.
Kenosha man dead; shot while driving
A man who died after he was shot while driving was identified Tuesday as Anthony Edwards, 20, of Kenosha.
Police said he was shot late Monday night, a few blocks before his vehicle slammed into a house. A juvenile boy in the car was not hurt.
Two men who were thought to be involved in the shooting fled the scene, and were later arrested at a nearby home.
They're being held on unrelated charges while police continue to investigate.
Ex-mayor of Duluth, Superior gets jail for third drunken driving offense
MADISON -- Herb Bergson, former mayor of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, is headed back to jail for another 20 days after pleading guilty to his third operating while intoxicated offense in Wisconsin.
Bergson, 57, of Waunakee, pleaded guilty Monday to his third OWI, a misdemeanor offense, in Dane County Circuit Court. Under the terms of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to serve 20 days in the county jail.
Judge John Markson stayed a one-year jail sentence for two years of probation, which includes serving the 20 days, remaining sober and successfully completing OWI Treatment Court. Bergson also was ordered to pay a $1,872 fine and had his license revoked for three years.
Bergson got his first OWI after crashing into a bridge near Spooner on Dec. 9, 2005, while he was serving as Duluth’s mayor.
Last November, he was found guilty of his second offense by a Sauk County jury and served a 22-day jail sentence earlier this year.
-- Forum News Service
Son gets 3 years for stealing Mom's Social Security
WAUSAU -- A central Wisconsin man will go to prison for almost three years, for stealing his mother-in-law's Social Security checks and attacking an agent who investigated the theft.
Ronald Disher, 73, of Almond was sentenced Tuesday to four and one-half years behind bars. He was given credit for almost 20 months he spent in the Portage County Jail while his case was going through the courts.
Disher was one of three people accused of stealing $175,000 in Social Security checks sent to Marie Jost, who disappeared over three decades ago and is presumed dead. Disher's wife Delores had her charges dropped last year, after she suffered a stroke in jail. However, she attended her husband's sentencing and a prosecutor now says she'll ask a judge to re-evaluate a previous finding that she was not competent to stand trial.
Marie Jost's son Charles is under a 16-year mental commitment and community-based treatment after he was found innocent by insanity in the case.
-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Merrimac Ferry launched for summer season
While winter keeps going in northern Wisconsin, there's a pleasant sign of spring in the south. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has fired up the Merrimac Ferry for the year.
It's the state's only free car ferry. It goes across the Wisconsin River on Highway 113 between Merrimac in Sauk County and Okee in Columbia County.
The "Colsac-Three" boat underwent $362,000 of improvements during its down-time this winter. It received two new engines plus new mufflers, generators, and other electronics aimed at creating a more efficient vessel with fewer emissions.
The old engines put in 34,000 of running time over the past eight years. The Merrimac Ferry is listed in the state and national registers of historic places.
It runs 24-7 until ice forms on the Wisconsin River in late fall.