Weekend crash claims Frederic man; heavy sediment backing up barges near Nelson; 11 more Wisconsin stories
BALSAM LAKE -- A 29-year-old Frederic man died early Saturday in a one-car crash that also injured his passenger.
The accident occurred in the town of St. Croix Falls at about 2:45 a.m., July 26.
Upon arrival, deputies found a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix in the west ditch on 200th Street, about a quarter-mile south of 160th Avenue.
Investigation showed the car had been northbound on 200th at a high rate of speed. As Wilson attempted to brake in a corner, the car left the road, vaulted over a driveway and struck several trees before coming to rest facing south.
Neither man was wearing a seat belt and alcohol appears to have been a factor in the crash, Johnson said.
The crash remains under investigation. Deputies were assisted by the Centuria Fire Department and St. Croix Valley EMS.
Sediment from summer rains stalls river traffic near Winona
NELSON -- At least a dozen barges and their expensive cargo are tied up in the Mississippi River north of Winona because sediment from recent flooding washed into the river, creating numerous sandbars.
Tugboat captain Delbert Pemberton told KTTC TV of Rochester he's never seen such a tie-up.
Observers said at least nine towboats are being delayed north of Nelson in Buffalo County, and a few are stuck near Winona.
Mitch Serjogins of the Army Corps' Lock & Dam Number 4 at Alma says nothing's getting through there. He said the barges suddenly faced conditions with high water and then low water and they're not making it through the channels.
Pemberton says dredging will solve the problem, but it could take a week before his own barges and up and running again.
He said he could not imagine the damages, as barge employees get paid while being stranded -- while businesses wait for the cargo that's been halted.
I-94 crash near Elk Mound Monday slows eastbound traffic
MENOMONIE -- A collision between a semi and a dump truck resulted in injuries to one driver and closed the right lanes of eastbound Interstate 94 near Mile Marker 57 for nearly two hours late Monday afternoon.The State Patrol responded to the accident at 4:13 p.m. and learned that an eastbound semi driven by Clinton Riedel, age not given, of Milton-Freewater, Ore., was passing a dump truck driven by Wayne Kundinger, no age given, of Fifield.
Reidel told officers he experienced a mechanical problem with his truck that caused him to lose control. The semi traveled into the median but struck a cable barrier, causing the rig to travel back across the eastbound lanes. Kundinger's dump truck then struck the trailer as it crossed in front of him.
Kundinger suffered non-life threatening injuries and was apparently transported to an area hospital.
The scene was cleared by about 6 p.m. but remains under investigation by the Patrol.
Drill underway at Prairie Island Tuesday
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- State agencies from both Wisconsin and Minnesota were to take part in an emergency drill Tuesday at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant at Red Wing.
Gopher State official Kris Eide says the exercise with plant owner Xcel Energy is required every two years, to make sure the area's health and safety are protected.
Emergency responders will practice what they'd do in a real disaster.
Eide says Minnesota will deploy field teams and mobile command posts, and have numerous people in downtown Red Wing, just on the other side of the Wisconsin border.
-- Minnesota News Network
Crops in some regions getting dry
SULLIVAN -- After all the rain Wisconsin received a few weeks ago, it's hard to believe that many Wisconsin farms are short on moisture.
The National Ag Statistics Service said 20 percent of farm fields in the Badger State were short of moisture as of Sunday and 3 percent were very short.
A number of county reporters said the crops look good, but we could use some rain. The National Weather Service says a series of weak low-pressure systems is going through the Badger State this week. There will be at least a chance of showers and thunderstorms each afternoon.
Meanwhile, cool temperatures continue to slow the maturity of the Wisconsin corn. Forty-four percent of the corn is silked, up 22 percent from a week ago but still 11 points behind the average for the past five years. Soybean blooms are now 5 percent ahead of the norm after a strong spurt in the last week.
One dead, one injured in CAPX powerline accident
FAIRFAX, Minn. --A western Wisconsin man was injured and a Twin Cities man died in a power line construction accident Monday in south central Minnesota. Both men were working for Donovan Construction of Ham Lake Minnesota. The injured survivor was from Osseo. He was being treated in a burn unit at last word, and his condition was not disclosed.
The Renville County Sheriff’s Office said it received 911 calls around 9 a.m. Monday about an incident at a powerline worksite northeast of Fairfax along the CAPX 2020 powerline. Callers indicated that two people had been injured.
Emergency responders worked to resuscitate the victims, who were flown to trauma centers in the Twin Cities. One of the victims died as a result of his injuries, according to the release.
Their names were expected to be announced Tuesday.
The CAPX 2020 route through Fairfax is part of a 250-mile line from Brookings County in South Dakota to Dakota County in Minnesota.
CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission owning utilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin formed to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service.
Once complete, the project will provide needed transmission capacity to support new generation outlet, including renewable energy. The projects include four 345 kV transmission lines and one 230 kV line.
The project is the largest development of new transmission in the upper Midwest in nearly 40 years. The CapX2020 lines are projected to cost more than $2 billion and cover nearly 800 miles.
For more information and photos of the ongoing project, visit http://www.capx2020.com/
-- Forum News Service
Walker campaign jabs at opponent Burke over unfilled job promise
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker claims in his latest campaign ad that his challenger Mary Burke might have cost Wisconsin taxpayers $25 million. However, the figure has come into question, after the Associated Press said that Walker's GOP campaign used "creative math."
Burke ran the former state Commerce Department when it helped attract drug-maker Abbott Laboratories to Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County. However, the company never moved from its Illinois headquarters. Now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is ordering the state to pay back a $12.3 million federal grant.
Tom Evenson of the Walker camp notes that Burke's agency spent the grant and the state will need a similar amount to give it back to HUD, thus the possible $25 million expense. However, the Associated Press notes that Abbott still has time to carry out its original plans and the grant only has to be paid back if 2,400 jobs are not created in Pleasant Prairie by 2016.
Burke's camp denies that she made a bad deal and they point to a recent comment by Pleasant Prairie administrator Mike Pollocoff in saying the project is still alive.
He said Abbott has planned a campus that its business can grow into when the time is right. Evenson said it cannot be a good deal for anyone if the land remains vacant.
The money eventually went to Abbott, and the firm has not commented.
Proposed policy would aim to curtail job outsourcing
MADISON -- The board of Wisconsin's job-creation agency is expected to vote on a new policy at its next meeting to prevent state tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas.
Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca unveiled the measure Monday in suburban Milwaukee, before a meeting of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board on which he sits.
Gov. Scott Walker, who chairs the board, has made outsourcing a major issue in his re-election bid against Democrat Mary Burke.
Walker told reporters he endorses Barca's proposal. It would require companies that receive WEDC incentives to notify the agency if they outsource jobs, or change future employment levels they promised to achieve. The firms would also have to certify that they need the state incentives in order to expand or locate in Wisconsin. Barca says they're necessary moves to protect taxpayers, and make sure public money is not used to send jobs overseas.
Agency spokesman Mark Maley says his department will create wording for the proposed new policy. He said it could apply to companies that move jobs to other states as well as other countries.
Wisconsin AG weighs-in on 'Carolina stop-and-search case
MADISON -- Wisconsin is helping North Carolina police try to win a U.S. Supreme Court case that challenges the rights of officers to search vehicles they stop for burned-out tail lights.
It's similar to a Milwaukee case that police lost earlier this month. In the North Carolina case, a sheriff's deputy stopped a car on an Interstate because it only had one working tail light. After the driver consented to a search, a backseat passenger was found to have cocaine and was arrested for that.
The defense said North Carolina only requires one working tail light, and the state said the arrest should be upheld anyway. It said the search was "objectively reasonable" and did not violate the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searche, even if the car was stopped by mistake.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Monday that the Badger State supported that stance in its legal brief.
Eighteen other states and Washington D.C. have signed onto the Badger State's argument.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed a car passenger's gun conviction, saying Milwaukee Police should have never stopped the vehicle, which had a series of tail lights with only one of them burned out.
On a 4-3 vote, the Wisconsin justices said the single burn-out was not enough to find the entire tail light defective.
I-94 wayside closed by contaminated water supply
LAKE MILLS -- Contaminated water has forced a state rest area to close indefinitely on Interstate 94 at Lake Mills, about 25 miles east of Madison.
A firm that operates the rest area for the state Department of Transportation said repairs began Monday on a public water system which serves the facilities.
Routine tests in mid-July showed that the water had fecal coliform bacteria. After another test, the DNR issued an order on July 21st barring people from drinking water at the Lake Mills rest area and a water boiling advisory was issued for others nearby.
Officials are not sure how or why the water became contaminated. A DNR official said chlorine must be added and then flushed from the water system, then two negative samples must be taken before the water can be ruled safe to drink again.
Drunk driver gets prison for crash that injured deputy
MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man will spend almost 10 years in prison for driving drunk in a high-speed chase that ended in a crash which almost killed a sheriff's deputy.
The Journal Sentinel reported that Kevin Hutchins Jr., 41, was the 1,000th repeat OWI offender charged in Milwaukee County since tougher laws took effect in 2010.
Last October, Hutchins got into a seven-mile chase with sheriff's officers at speeds up to 100 mph.
His vehicle slammed into a concrete wall on the Highway 41 expressway spur near Miller Park, and went airborne before landing on the windshield of deputy Scott Griffin's patrol car. Griffin told a judge yesterday he has not been able to return to work since the crash and he feels constant pain, anxiety, and depression. Griffin is seeking worker's compensation, as he plans to retire from law enforcement.
Hutchins told the judge he needs help to deal with his alcoholism, and he apologized for the incident. He had pleaded guilty to causing injury while driving drunk, reckless endangerment, and fleeing an officer.
Alleged kidnapper claims she had permission to take newborn
MADISON -- A woman who's on trial for kidnapping her newborn nephew near Beloit claimed she had permission to take the infant.
Matthew Noel, the defense attorney for Kristen Smith, told jurors Monday that the baby's father allowed her to take young Kayden Powell to her home near Denver.
Noel said both parents were about to move to Colorado to start a new life. He made the remark in an opening statement in Smith's federal court trial in Madison on a kidnapping charge.
Federal prosecutor Julie Pfluger said in her opening statement Smith didn't have the baby and denied knowing where he was when police stopped her in Iowa on an outstanding warrant from Texas.
He was found the next day in a crate outside a gas station in sub-freezing temperatures. Kayden survived that ordeal.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation called its first witnesses who said Smith applied for a birth certificate that was found in her home undated and her computer indicated that Smith looked at Web sites about having fake pregnancy bellies, and advice on how to breast-feed an adopted baby.
Smith's trial is expected to continue throughout the week.
Former Brewers minor-leaguer wins 'Bachelorette'
A former Milwaukee Brewers' minor league infielder beat out a Waukesha native to win the heart of ABC's "Bachelorette" Monday evening.
Andi Dorfman chose contestant Josh Murray over Nick Viall -- the two finalists in a two-month-long televised competition for Andi's heart and hand in marriage.
The 29-year-old Murray played for five seasons in Beloit, Ogden, West Virginia, and Brevard County -- and he never got past the Single-"A" level of the minors.
He played two years for the Beloit Snappers in 2003 and 2004. The Snappers will celebrate Murray's accomplishment with various fan giveaways during a home game tomorrow night.
The 33-year-old Viall won a state high school track title, was a standout at UW Milwaukee, and he's now a sales executive in Chicago.
Sturgeon Bay physician Jason Leep was also among the 25 contests trying to win Dorfman's heart. He was sent home on the night of the series' opener.