Ashley Furniture says $6M tax break will go to Arcadia flood control; same-sex marriage arguments today; 10 more Wisconsin stories
Ashley Furniture of Arcadia now says it plans to add jobs, not cut them, as allowed under an arrangement for a state tax break.
The state's Economic Development Corporation approved a deal in January in which Ashley would get up to $6 million in tax breaks to expand its headquarters.
The deal also allowed the firm to cut its 4,000 member Wisconsin workforce by up to half in 2018. The deal has not been signed or carried out yet.
Ashley said it protects the company in the event of another disaster like the major flood in its hometown in 2010 which shut down the Arcadia plant temporarily.
The company said Monday the proposed $6 million dollar tax break would go to the city for a flood control project, after the city was rejected for other funding.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Ashley Furniture told the state's largest business group it plans to grow its business by 7 percent this year, and open a newly re-furbished plant in Independence this fall. It's also working on a second expansion to its plant in Whitehall in the past two years.
While campaigning in De Pere Monday, Gov. Scott Walker said the city of Arcadia asked for the tax break so it could keep a major employer and the amount has not been finalized.
Appeals court hearing same-sex arguments Tuesday
CHICAGO -- State attorneys from Wisconsin and Indiana were expected to tell a federal appeals court Tuesday why their states' bans on same-sex marriages should be upheld.
The Seventh Circuit appellate court in Chicago was to hear arguments Tuesday morning.
Federal district judges recently threw out gay marriage bans in both the Badger and Hoosier states, but both remain in place pending the appeals. Each side will get 20 minutes to state their cases before a three-judge panel.
The American Civil Liberties' Union and the gay rights' group Lambda Legal filed lawsuits challenging the two states' bans, and they'll speak for their side Tuesday.
It's not clear when a ruling will be issued. The court consolidated the two states' cases in July.
In written briefs, both Wisconsin and Indiana argued that states should be the ones to set marriage standards. The ACLU argues that the freedom to marry is a "core aspect of personal liberty" that's being denied to same-sex couples.
Gay marriage advocates have won over 20 court cases around the country, since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
Same-sex marriages are now legal in 19 states and Washington D.C.
On Monday, more than 50 gay marriage supporters gathered in a plaza near Chicago's federal court building. Some carried signs reading, "Equal Rights from Coast-to-Coast," and "Love is Love."
Crops flourishing with recent rains
Wisconsin crops are getting a boost from some much-needed rain.
The National Ag Statistics Service said most of the state got one to three inches of rainfall last week and the percentage of farm fields with adequate topsoil moisture jumped to 77 percent as of Sunday, up from 53 percent the week before.
Some places got too much rain, like Rusk County, which had ten inches last week.
The Wisconsin corn crop is maturing a bit faster, but it's still behind schedule. Even so, 68 percent of the state's corn is in good- to excellent condition.
Soybeans are developing normally, and 69 percent are good- to excellent. The oat-for-grain harvest is being schedule. It's at 64 percent, well below the norm of 86.
Thunderstorms down trees near Baraboo, start fires in Madison
At least 140 Wisconsin electric customers were still without power early Tuesday after being knocked out by heavy thunderstorms Sunday night and Monday morning.
Up to 14,000 customers of the state's five largest utilities were without power at some point Monday morning.
That doesn't include customers of the smaller municipal utilities like Wisconsin Rapids, which had 6,000 customers out at its peak.
The Rapids utility had asked other power companies to assist in getting the lights back on, but many were still working to restore electricity in their own areas Monday evening.
Earlier Monday, high winds downed power lines and trees in the Baraboo and Lake Delton areas.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that lightning from storms that rolled across Madison on Monday morning struck a home and an apartment building, causing fires that caused about $90,000 in damage.
The first fire, about 9 a.m., caused about $15,000 in damage to a home on the west side of the city.
A hour later, firefighters responded to an east side apartment building that was struck, causing damage to two apartments.
-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Milwaukee marchers protest police brutality
MILWAUKEE -- Dozens of demonstrators marched through downtown Milwaukee Monday, calling on the federal government to investigate police brutality against minorities.
Two Milwaukee aldermen and a county supervisor were among those rallying in support of Michael Brown, the teen who was killed by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
They also said the feds should investigate civil rights abuses by officers in the deaths of others including Milwaukee's Dontre Hamilton.
The 31-year-old black man was shot a dozen times and killed by a white officer four months ago at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee.
Dontre's brother Nathaniel Hamilton and other family members met earlier Monday with two top Milwaukee police officials. They discussed further rallies after a protest on Friday ended with a sit-in at the city's police administration building.
Hamilton said Police Chief Ed Flynn should have been at the meeting but he wasn't. They also complained that police have not told them much about Dontre's death.
The State Justice Department finished an investigation of the officer's conduct earlier this month. The results of the probe have not been released while charges are being considered.
No charges yet in double-homicide involving former deputy
MADISON -- A former Dane County sheriff's deputy continues to get treatment, after he reportedly tried killing himself on Friday when his wife and sister-in-law were murdered.
Andy Steele, 39, of Fitchburg, who was recently diagnosed with ALS, is under arrest for the deaths of Ashlee Steele, 39, and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Stillwater, Minn.
There's no word on when charges could be filed.
Both women were found shot at the Steeles' home. Andy Steele was a deputy in Madison since 1998. He retired in June after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. He took the Ice Bucket Challenge on TV, and his wife raised $75,000 to care for a disease that's often fatal within two- to five years.
Despite that fate, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said nobody who was close to the Steele family expected something like this to happen. Mahoney said the diagnosis had to affect the family, but they appeared to be moving forward. Now, a new fund drive seeks to help the two victims' children.
Wells Fargo bank branches are accepting donations. Ashlee Steele and Tollefsbol were originally from Stillwater.
Their funerals will be on Friday at St. Michael's Church in Stillwater.
-- Minnesota News Network
Stanley man killed following rollover crash
STANLEY -- A man killed in a weekend traffic crash in west central Wisconsin has been identified as Jessie Fitzl, 38, of Stanley.
Clark County sheriff's officials said Fitzl was cresting a hill when he saw two all-terrain vehicles parked on a shoulder and his vehicle veered out of control and flipped over several times in the right ditch.
The accident happened Saturday night on a rural road southeast of Stanley. Fitzl was taken to a Stanley hospital, where he died a short time later.
Investigators said he was apparently driving too fast. He was not wearing a seat belt.
-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Woman struck, killed by train in Solon Springs
A 59-year-old woman was killed in northwest Wisconsin, after she was hit by a train while walking a dog.
Douglas County sheriff's deputies said the woman had just left Ole's Country Foods, a grocery store in Solon Springs when she walked around a railroad crossing arm that was lowered, and was hit by a train on the Canadian National tracks at about 6:15 p.m., Monday.
Officials said lights and bells were running at the time. Deputies are investigating, along with the Douglas County medical examiner's office and railroad police.
Letter from slain journalist Foley recounted to family James Foley was held in a cell with 18 other hostages -- and they created their own games of checkers, trivia, and Risk to keep up their spirits.
That's according to a letter the Marquette graduate wrote from a Syrian prison. His family posted it on Facebook right after a memorial Mass in New Hampshire on Sunday night.
The 40-year-old Foley was killed by the Islamic State in a video released last week. He was to be honored at a memorial vigil in Milwaukee Tuesday evening at the Gesu Church on the east edge of the Marquette campus.
Foley, a U.S. freelance journalist, was kidnapped on Thanksgiving of 2012 while covering the Syrian civil war.
His family said he tried writing a number of letters home, but jailers confiscated them.
A fellow hostage memorized one of Foley's letters and when that hostage was freed, he called Foley's mother Diane and read it to her. Foley asked his grandmother to take her medicines, and he promised to take her out to dinner when he got home.
Media reports said the letter appeared to have been written sometime this year. He said he was being fed better, and had regained weight he lost last year. Foley also told his family to "stay strong."
Marina fire destroys three boats
STURGEON BAY -- Fire destroyed three boats at a marina in Door County. The blaze started around 7 p.m. Monday at Skipper Bud's Quarter-Deck Marina.
Fire crews worked throughout the night to clean up the area, and keep the fiberglass vessels from sinking so investigators can try to find out what happened.
The three boats were close to each other at the time.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Merrill woman to be sentenced in sex-for-a hit scheme
WAUSAU -- A Merrill woman was to be sentenced Tuesday morning, after she allegedly offered a ex-lover $1,000 plus sex if he would kill her fiancee.
Jessica Strom, 33, had pleaded no contest in May to a reduced Marathon County charge of soliciting homicide. A felony count of conspiracy to commit homicide was dropped.
Prosecutors said Strom met twice with a former technical college student and asked him to kill her fiancee, attorney John Schellpfeffer.
Officials said the ex-lover went to police after the first meeting, and officers recorded the second encounter.
Prosecutors said Strom, a mother of two, was trying to get out of a "bad relationship."
-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau
'Selfies' better than signatures to today's college freshmen
BELOIT -- Bugs who? Today's college freshmen have always watched Homer Simpson cartoons on Sunday nights, and not Bugs Bunny on Saturday mornings.
That's just one of the items in the annual "Beloit College Mindset List" -- 75 items that give professors an idea of what their students' worlds are like. Most of this fall's college freshmen were born in 1996.
To them, a selfie with a celebrity is much more cherished than an autograph and the pound sign on the phone has always been the Twitter hash-tag. They never heard of the old Internet browser "Netscape." For today's college kids, the NBA has always had female referees, AIDS was never the death sentence that older people saw in the 1980's, cloning has always been real, everybody has always loved Raymond and Jon-Benet Ramsey was never alive in the students' lifetimes.
Finally, the Beloit Mindset list shows many of us how old we're getting. It says Madonna's daughter Lourdes is going to college this fall and so is Sylvester Stallone's daughter Sophia. Beloit College officials Tom McBride and Ron Nief have assembled the Mindset List each year since 1998.
Read the complete list here: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2018/