Wisconsin roundup: Lincoln Hills teens climbed roof, threw rocks at guards, report states; more state news stories
IRMA — What could be the most violent incident yet at Lincoln Hills was revealed Thursday.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained state records telling how four juvenile inmates climbed the roof of a dorm in August, threw shingles and rocks at guards, swung metal pipes they broke from the roof, and told guards not to approach them. One inmate reportedly yelled, "We're only going to get seven days for this," referring to the one week limit on solitary confinement ordered in July by Federal Judge James Peterson.
One guard was hit in the knee — a pipe hit the helmet and shield of a supervisor in riot gear — and guards tried using pepper spray but it didn't work because it was rainy and windy, as one of the inmates agitated his asthma but could not get help because the prison was on a lockdown due to a resulting standoff. A state spokesman said staffers used their training to end the episode as safely as possible.
State: Two-thirds of kids on Medicaid don’t get required lead tests
MADISON — A new state report says two thirds of 1- and 2-year-olds on Medicaid do not get lead poisoning tests as required by the federal government.
Just 32 percent of Wisconsin's Medicaid babies and toddlers received the mandated tests last year. The State Journal of Madison says kids on Medicaid are three times as likely as others to have lead poisoning, and many are not being identified — but state health services spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt says they're trying to increase testing by working with state and local partners to stress the importance of lead tests.
This is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and health officials released a statement Wednesday that 4,300 Wisconsin kids tested last year had too much lead in their bodies. The state said it was making progress, but more needs to be done.
National group airs TV ads attacking Baldwin
With all the political attacks and posturing, you'd think the elections are next month instead of next year.
The latest salvo comes from the conservative Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which says it will spend $1.6 million to attack U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin's record. The group plans two ads it says will highlight the Democrat's "long history of supporting higher taxes and preserving a broken system rigged against ordinary Americans." The ads will attack Baldwin without endorsing either of the announced Republican candidates for Baldwin's seat next November — former Marine Kevin Nicholson and Milwaukee area state senator Leah Vukmir.
State picks Rhinelander for DNR forestry headquarters
RHINELANDER — Starting next year, Wisconsin's forestry programs will be run from Rhinelander instead of Madison.
Gov. Scott Walker went to the northern Wisconsin city on Wednesday to say it was chosen above finalists Wausau and Hayward for the new DNR Forestry Division headquarters. About 40 cities applied to host it after Republican lawmakers put the facility in the 2015 state budget — and Walker said Rhinelander was chosen because it would create more "interaction and engagement" between state forestry officials and those who work in the industry.
The state's chief forester, Fred Souba, plans to move his office to Rhinelander by Dec. 1 with other leaders in place by January. Walker says the cost of moving the office won't be as high as some thought, since it will be placed in the state's current DNR Service Center in Rhinelander.
DPI: Teacher protection act could undo existing efforts
MADISON — The state's education agency says many people are working to make schools safer, and a proposed "Teacher Protection Act" could undo those efforts.
Assembly GOP Education Committee chairman Jeremy Thiesfeldt is seeking cosponsors for a bill that among other things, would let teachers remove violent students from class and start suspension proceedings — and police would have to notify administrators when students are involved in incidents away from school.
State public instruction spokesman Tom McCarthy says the bill is a "step in the opposite direction" to the community involvement that's already taking place, helping give schools resources to improve student outcomes. Thiesfeldt cited federal data showing that one in four Wisconsin teachers were either threatened or victimized by violence within a year after they were surveyed. McCarthy says the problems are real, but it does not require lawmakers to be "heavy handed."
Wisconsin falls from Top 10 for bicyclists
WASHINGTON — Wisconsin has taken a big drop in a new ranking of the most bicycle friendly states.
The League of American Bicyclists ranks the Badger State 26th, after it was in the Top 10 every year since the rankings first came out in 2008. The league criticized a repeal of Wisconsin's Complete Streets law — in which it's no longer required that streets be designed for bicyclists to ride safely.
The bicycling group says the change was felt in every category it reviewed. The state now ranks 38th for policies and programs, 34th for funding and infrastructure, and 32nd for planning — but Wisconsin still ranks 14th best for bicycle education and encouragement, and 16th for laws and enforcement.
Ho Chunk tribe wins big casino legal victory
MADISON — The Ho Chunk Indian tribe wins a legal victory for its current expansion of a small casino at Wittenberg where they're adding a hotel.
Federal Judge James Peterson of Madison ruled Wednesday that a nearby competitor, the Stockbridge Munsee tribe, should have challenged the Ho Chunk gaming house in 2008 when it first opened — and not waited until now after it began to expand. The state is also a defendant in the Stockbridge Munsee suit, and Peterson says he'll decide later whether to drop that part of the case. The Ho Chunk said the Wittenberg expansion is part of its gaming compact with the state, but the Stockbridge says it will hurt that tribe's North Star Casino at nearby Bowler. The plaintiff says new gaming is not allowed on Indian land that was not in trust before 1988, and the Wittenberg site was placed into trust five years after that.
Board allows ATVs in state’s largest forest
MADISON — All-terrain vehicles will be allowed for the first time in Wisconsin's largest state forest.
The state Natural Resources Board voted 7-0 Wednesday to designate up to 205 miles of trails for ATV and ultra terrain vehicle use in the Northern Highland/American Legion State Forest in the Rhinelander region of far northern Wisconsin. It was part of an overall recreation plan that includes more biking and off road motorcycle trails, plus more modern camping areas. Supporters say ATVs and UTVs continue to be more popular, and many communities at the forest now allow them on roads — but some who like "silent sports" such as biking and hiking don't want the noise. A DNR spokesman says the Northern Highland forest will not get ATV usage until next spring, and the trail openings would be gradual.