Updated: Pierce issuing same-sex marriage licenses, St. Croix is not; election panel certifies Hulsey bid for governor; more state news
Over half of Wisconsin's 72 counties are granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, amid confusion over a judge's ruling that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
In Ellsworth, Pierce County Clerk Jamie Feuerhelm was prepared to issue licenses Tuesday morning although none had yet been issued, an office staff member said. Feuerhelm was unavailable for comment. He had been waiting for guidance from the county's corporation counsel and he got the go-ahead late Monday.
In Hudson however, St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell said she was not issuing --based on advice from the county's lawyer. Campbell said her office was visited by one couple Monday, seeking a license. She'd received a few phone calls and a dozen or so e-mailed inquiries. She received numerous calls from the press -- many from Minnesota -- inquiring whether they were issuing.
Campbell said the status may change, pending decisions on Judge Barbara Crabb's pending stay and the state's request of the federal appeals court to set aside the ruling.
An AP survey shows that 42 counties were issuing licenses Monday and for a higher fee, many agreed to waive the state's five-day waiting period for the actual marriages.
Close to 30 counties refused to issue same-sex licenses. They said they needed more guidance from the state's vital records office on recording those marriages or their lawyers told them to wait until after the American Civil Liberties Union tells Judge Crabb exactly how it wants her decision from last Friday to be implemented.
The ACLU, the main plaintiff in the case, submitted its proposal late Monday. It had until next Monday to do so.
Also Monday, Judge Crabb said she wanted more information before agreeing to the state's request to delay her decision until it can be appealed. She scheduled another hearing on June 19th.
Meanwhile, the state has also asked the federal appeals court in Chicago to set aside Crabb's ruling for now and that can happen at any time.
State attorneys pointed to the confusion among county officials on whether to grant licenses but Judge Crabb said she had nothing to do with that, and that kind of issue should be settled in the state's court system.
Hulsey nomination papers certified; he'll face Burke in Aug. 12th primary
MADISON -- Wisconsin's election panel unanimously voted Tuesday to let Brett Hulsey stay on the Aug. 12th primary ballot for governor against Democrat Mary Burke.
The Dane County Democratic party chair tried keeping the Madison Assembly Democrat off the ballot. Michael Basford said 319 of Hulsey's nominating signatures should have been stricken, because somebody else wrote the signers' addresses.
The Government Accountability Board said the action was allowed and the panel certified 2,074 signatures for Hulsey. That's just 74 more than the 2,000 valid signatures he needed.
Kind asserts lack of docs at root of V.A. delays
Congressman Ron Kind says veterans' hospitals have the same problem as other hospitals -- not enough medical personnel.
The La Crosse Democrat blames a lack of access, not the quality of care, for the delays in seeing new patients at Veterans Administration facilities.
An audit released Monday showed that the average waiting time is 51 days for a new patient to see a doctor at the V.S. hospital in Madison -- 24 days in Milwaukee, and 17 days at Tomah. The agency's target is 14 days.
To see a specialist, the average waiting times are 50 days in Milwaukee, 41 days at Madison, and 39 in Tomah.
Scott Farley of the Tomah center said officials they are pleased with the 17-day wait for new patients but it's a lack of specialists that cause longer waits for more complicated things.
The audit showed that 525 Wisconsin veterans have waited more than three months to get a V.A. appointment.
Nationally, over 57,000 veterans have waited at least 90 days to see a doctor.
V.A. officials say that's not acceptable, and they're already contacting veterans to get them in faster.
A spokesman for Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan called the audit "deeply troubling," and the V.A. needs to be held accountable.
The new report is the first nationwide snapshot of the veterans' medical system, after reports in April that V.A. patients in Phoenix were dying while awaiting appointments.
Pilot’s body recovered from Lake Superior
DULUTH -- The body of a light aircraft pilot was brought to the surface Monday, after 12 hours spent fighting wind and two dives to the 137-foot deep wreckage.
“Getting the wreckage was secondary to getting the victim,” said Capt. Tom Crossmon of the St. Louis County Rescue Squad.
The rescuers, six of them volunteers, including Crossmon who took a day off work, hoisted the body onto the deck then a gurney as pallbearers would – three to a side.
A single-engine, kit-built Lancair IV, apparently carrying just the pilot, was bound from Duluth to Goose Bay, Labrador, in far eastern Canada. It vanished from radar late Saturday morning soon after taking off from Duluth International Airport. Emergency responders initially found debris on the lake surface offshore from Brighton Beach. Later searches using side-scan sonar and a remotely operated vehicle found wreckage and a body at a depth of 137 feet.
The flight-tracking website flightaware.com reported that the plane that went missing had left Bend, Ore., on Friday, and traveled to Duluth.
The identity of the pilot has not yet been released.
-- Forum News Service
St. Croix 'No Wake' continues; agencies cooperate on invasives video
The recent heavy rains are causing frustrations for boaters on the St. Croix River on the northwest Wisconsin border at Minnesota.
No-wake orders have been on-and-off along the Saint Croix. For now, Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources says the restrictions will continue until the river falls below 683 feet above sea level.
The National Weather Service said it was almost 18 inches above the threshold as of late Monday morning -- and the St. Croix was expected to remain high at least into Tuesday.
Officials say they're putting up signs at boat ramps and marinas, so boaters know what's happening. No-wake restrictions are designed to reduce erosion damage on the St. Croix's most sensitive shorelines.
Hydrologist Molly Shodeen says she knows people are anxious to go boating, but the St. Croix has been stuck in a cycle of wet springs.
Officials say conditions remain rough, as evidenced by the drowning of a man last month on the Minnesota side near Taylors Falls.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan are teaming up to encourage boaters to clean and drain their boats and trailers, so they don't spread invasive species. The three states have put out a 30-second message on YouTube and various TV programs that feature the Great Outdoors.
The goal is for boaters and anglers to avoid spreading things like zebra mussels when they travel throughout the Upper Midwest.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says the states share a common goal of stopping the spread of dangerous foreign species, so inland waters and the Great Lakes can stay healthy.
Minnesota's DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr, says the three-state messages offer consistency and a coordinated approach.
For several years, Wisconsin has ordered anglers to drain their boats every time they leave a lake, in an effort to keep the fish-killing VHS virus from spreading. View the new video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjBINtLii8s
Walleye bag limit increased on some northern lakes
For the second time in recent weeks, Wisconsin is letting sport anglers take more fish from lakes where Chippewa Indians did not take their full spearing quotas.
The Department of Natural Resources said Monday that it's using a newly-adopted emergency rule to let anglers take two walleye per day instead of one on 21 northern Wisconsin lakes, effective June 10th. Under long-standing treaty rights, Chippewa Indians get the first crack at northern walleye during their April spearing season and the DNR says the change is for this year only, and it will not affect tribal harvests.
The tribes normally take around half their quotas, which lets the DNR increase previous allotments for sport anglers in late May.
Bag limits were increased on 447 lakes in late May, but not on the 21 lakes affected by the new change.
The DNR said the emergency rule lets biologists consider the impact of a one-fish-per-day bag limit in May, when harvests are the highest and then set what it calls appropriate bag limits for the rest of the general fishing season.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says the goal is to preserve walleye populations without being what she calls "unnecessarily restrictive" on sport anglers. She said the agency would keep talking with the Chippewa about more flexible long-term fish strategies.
Gov. Walker still pondering appointees for mental health care system oversight
MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker missed a deadline Monday for naming eleven members to a new state board to oversee Milwaukee County's mental health care system.
The Republican Walker has named seven members, but spokeswoman Laurel Patrick tells the Journal Sentinel he needs more information before he can appoint the other four members.
The new state panel replaces the Milwaukee County Board as the decision-makers on funding for the county's public mental health services. The change came amid reports that a number of patients had died from abuse or neglect at Milwaukee County's mental health facility, while officials failed to act on calls for reform.
The seven appointees so far include executive and psychiatrists from numerous public and private health groups in the Milwaukee area, plus a representative from UW Madison.
Plastics firm accused of firing non-English speaking workers
The federal government is suing a Green Bay factory, for allegedly firing workers who lacked proper English skills even though they didn't need them to do their jobs.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint Monday against Wisconsin Plastics, a maker of metal and plastic products.
According to the EEOC, the affected Hmong and Hispanic workers had 10-minute observations of their ability to handle English and they were let go despite satisfactory ratings on their most recent performance reviews.
The lawsuit seeks punitive damages against the firm, plus payments to the former employees for lost wages.
Wisconsin Plastics called the allegations false, and there was nothing illegal about its employment decisions.
West Nile found in another dead bird
MADISON -- The Badger State has confirmed its third case of the West Nile Virus this season but no humans have been infected yet.
The Madison and Dane County Public Health department said Monday that a dead bird was found with the mosquito-borne illness.
Portage and Dodge counties found dead crows with the disease in recent weeks. It all means that the human season for getting West Nile is approaching. Officials urge people to reduce their risks by limiting their time outdoors at dawn and dusk.
People are also urged to wear long clothing outside, use insect repellent, make sure window and door screens are in good shape, trim tall weeds and grasses, and get rid of standing water where mosquitoes breed.
Wisconsin has had close to 240 human cases of West Nile since the virus first become known about a dozen years ago. The state had 16 human cases last year.
Four Wisconsinites died from the virus in 2012.
Pre-teen stabbing victim recuperating at home; fundraiser underway
WAUKESHA -- The family of a 12-year-old Waukesha girl who was stabbed 19 times last month is asking people to wear something purple on Tuesday, to show support for the youngster.
Purple is said to be the victim's favorite color. The girl is reportedly getting better, after two 12-year-old classmates allegedly attacked her on May 30th so they could please the fictional horror character Slender Man.
Her family released a statement Friday, reporting that she'd been released from a Milwaukee hospital and will continue to recover at home.
The victim's family is using the Internet to get its requests out, as it tries to stay as anonymous as it can amid the national publicity the case has attracted.
The Hearts for Healing-Wisconsin Facebook page numerous messages of support from the victim's well-wishers. There's also a Twitter account with the Hearts for Healing hash-tag. Also, the group has a page on Go-Fund-Me which continues to take donations to help the family. Its fund-raising goal is $250,000. Nearly $43,000 was raised as of Tuesday morning.
For more information about the campaign, visit http://www.gofundme.com/heartsforhealingwi
Day-care provider on trial in girl's death
BARABOO -- A child care provider is on trial in the death of a four-year-old girl in southern Wisconsin.
A Sauk County jury heard opening statements Monday in the case of 27-year-old Jeannette Janusiak of Reedsburg. She's charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the death of young Peyton Shearer in 2011.
Janusiak told authorities that the girl fell from a bed, and struck her head on the open drawer of a night-stand.
Doctors told police the infant was brain-dead after she suffered skull fractures. Prosecutors said the girl suffered three blows to the head.
Janusiak's trial is scheduled to run through next Wednesday.
One killed, one wounded in latest Milwaukee shooting
MILWAUKEE -- A 20-year-old man was killed, and a 21-year-old man was wounded in a shooting incident on Milwaukee's north side Monday evening.
The survivor was hospitalized in stable condition at last word.
Milwaukee Police did not say what may have prompted the incident and no suspects were in custody at last word.
Racine Wells-Fargo branch robbed again
RACINE -- A bank branch in Racine has been robbed twice in three days.
Police said the Wells Fargo Bank on King Drive was held up early Saturday afternoon, and again about 10 a.m. Monday.
In each robbery, police said a man handed a note to a teller and neither robber displayed a weapon.
There was no word on how much money was stolen, if any.
Pilot from Amery unhurt after crashing restored plane
A pilot from northwest Wisconsin is doing fine, after a vintage plane crashed at a fly-in event on Sunday at Rush City, in east central Minnesota.
Chisago County sheriff's deputies said a 1936 Tailor J-Two aircraft was trying to land, when it veered off a runway and into a deep drainage ditch.
The pilot, from Amery, whose name was not released, escaped injury. The FAA is investigating the mishap.
Authorities said the plane was recently restored.
The crash caused front end damage -- including a broken propeller and broken landing gear.