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Wisconsin roundup: Eau Claire-to-St. Paul train plan up for vote; who's poisoning dogs in Lake Hallie?; 10 more state news stories

EAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire City Council will decide whether to support plans for a passenger train connecting the city with St. Paul, at its meeting Tuesday.

A group called the Organizing Council is working to find private money to fund the project. There would be four round trips between the two cities every day, with stops at major cities along the route. The Organizing Council will make a presentation at a special meeting Monday night, then the City Council will vote Tuesday. The route would basically follow Interstate 94.


Who's poisoning dogs in Lake Hallie?

LAKE HALLIE — Dog owners in Lake Hallie say somebody is poisoning their pets.

The Lake Hallie police say an unknown substance has been placed inside cut-up hot dogs. Those hot dogs are wrapped in dental floss and tossed into people's yards. At least two dogs have reportedly gotten sick. Police posted pictures of a person called a "suspicious subject" on Facebook.

They have made no arrests so far. None of the pets has died. Police say they are worried a young child might pick up one of the hot dogs and eat it.


Walker OK with closing Green Bay correctional

MISHICOT — Green Bay State Rep. David Steffen has proposed closing the Green Bay Correctional Center along Highway 172 in Allouez.

Now, Gov. Scott Walker says he is open to that idea. The prison currently houses almost 1,100 inmates, nearly 350 more than its stated capacity. Steffen has suggested building a new prison in Brown County, or in a neighboring county.

The facility has been located where it is now for nearly 120 years. Steffen says it would likely take four to five years to build a new structure to replace the current one.


Statewide communications system: Who pays for upgrades?

MADISON — Plans are being made to improve the Wisconsin Interoperable System for Communications.

Using nearly 120 state-owned towers, the system allows public safety agencies to communicate during times when emergency response is needed. State officials want to improve the existing network, but there are questions about how to pay for that.

Some neighboring states funding the system, then charge the local agencies a user fee. The Wisconsin system went live five years ago. More towers are needed to get rid of gaps in the coverage.


Two juveniles in custody after leading police in high-speed chase

SPARTA — Police in Sparta say two juveniles are being held after leading officers on a high-speed chase last weekend.

It started at about 10 p.m. Saturday, when Sparta police officers spotted a vehicle going the wrong way on a one-way street in the downtown area. When a traffic stop was attempted, the stolen car driver took off, reaching speeds of about 90 mph. About five miles after the chase began, the driver lost control and crashed. No injuries were reported and the juveniles' names and ages haven't been released.


Verona ballot measure seeks $163M for schools

VERONA — The numbers are misleading as Verona School District leaders ask voters to approve a $163 million bond issue.

Taxes really won't go up very much at all if the April 4 ballot issue passes. That's because $140 million of the costs to build a new high school and complete several other projects will be paid for by new tax dollars from Epic Systems.

That software business' property taxes had been diverted into a tax incremental finance district — until this year. Verona schools are working rapidly to make room for an additional 15-hundred students expected to enroll by 2030.


Wisconsin company among 15 sanctioned by Iran

TEHRAN — Wisconsin-based truck maker Oshkosh Corporation is one of 15 United States companies being sanctioned by Iran.

The Tehran government accuses the companies of supporting terrorism, repression and Israel's occupation of land that Palestinians want. The mostly symbolic move is being tied to United States sanctions on Iran announced earlier. None of the companies listed are currently thought to be doing any business with Iran and apparently none of them have assets in the Middle Eastern country which could be seized, as Sunday's announcement threatened.


Shots-fired calls boom in Madison

MADISON — Madison's police chief cites a troubling statistic: shots-fired calls in the Capitol city are up 300 percent from this time last year.

Chief Mike Koval says statistics showing more gun violence in his city are alarming and he's calling for more community participation to stop the trend. In an interview with WISC-TV, Koval says it is clear people are more inclined to try to solve conflicts with weapons these days.

He's not asking for Shot-Spotter technology used in cities like Milwaukee to pinpoint the source of gun shots. Koval says the incidents are being reported, but witnesses aren't cooperating.


Woman's family suing police for shooting her to death

LAKE HALLIE — The family of a 25-year-old woman shot to death by a Lake Hallie police officer last year is suing the village, its police department and the officer.

Witnesses say Melissa Abbott was swinging a hatchet around the store, refusing the officer's commands to drop it and had lunged at the officer when he shot her. Abbott was a resident of the Northern Center for the Developmentally Disabled.

Her family's lawsuit claims negligence, arguing the shooting was excessive and unreasonable. One month after the shooting last April the district attorney decided the officer acted in self-defense.


Four men charged with raping Madison teenager

MADISON — Dane County prosecutors have charged four men with repeatedly raping a 16-year-old girl last January.

The most serious felony charges are filed against 25-year-old Sean Reason. Originally, the girl told police she had consensual sex with 10 men as part of a gang initiation. Later, she told a Sun Prairie police officer and two social workers she was gang-raped and didn't want to have sex.

She had been missing for six days when she turned up Jan. 27. Twenty-year-old Leshaun Cole, 18-year-old Semaj Pruitt and 21-year-old Kashawn Redus all face felony charges in the case. Reason made a court appearance Friday.


Milwaukee police arrest 5 in murder of city worker

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police say they believe Department of Neighborhood Service inspector Gregory "Ziggy" Zyszkiesicz was shot to death during a carjacking.

Three teenagers and two young men were arrested shortly after the victim's body was found in his personal car. The suspects were taken into custody after two separate police chases involving stolen vehicles. None of the suspect names has been released, though all have criminal records. Zyszkiewicz was killed Wednesday on the city's north side.


La Crosse man charged with attempted homicide of girlfriend

LA CROSSE — A 37-year-old La Crosse man has been bound over for trial on charges he tried to kill his girlfriend two weeks ago.

Chad Kelemen made a court appearance last week. The girlfriend says he wrapped a bed sheet around her neck and tried to strangle her. She told police she thought she was going to die.

Kelemen's trial date hasn't been set. The charge he faces is attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the March 13 incident. He's also charged with strangulation and suffocation, disorderly conduct and two counts of battery.