Funnel cloud spotted in central Wisconsin; Gay pride parade cancelled; Boys found guilty of killing great-grandmother; more state news
A funnel cloud was spotted near Wausau this morning. The National Weather Service said there was a public report at 7 a.m. of an apparent twister that never landed.
It was seen about seven miles west of Wausau near Hwy. 107 and Marathon County Road U. The Weather Service said many trees went down at that rural location.
In the next county to the west, 1.5 inches rain fell near Loyal in Clark County. That was during the 6 a.m. hour this morning when heavy storms also hit the La Crosse region. Street flooding was reported in Onalaska, and Holmen had 55 mph winds. In Grant County, winds hit 58 mph in Boscobel around 7:30 a.m.
All those storms triggered severe weather warnings to their east until around 8 a.m.
It’s a rough beginning to summer – which officially began at 12:04 a.m. today. It’s the longest day of the year for sunlight, but forecasters say the sun will continue to be hidden by clouds and rain statewide at least through tonight.
Gay pride parade cancelled
A gay pride parade scheduled for Saturday in Wausau has been called off after a public backlash that reportedly made some participants afraid for their safety.
Daxx Bouvier – who lives in California but owns a house in Wausau – organized the event. But once public criticism hit the local media, Bouvier sent a notice to the city this week that he was calling it off.
He told the Wausau Daily Herald he’s disappointed in the public’s response, especially by those he never met. He said participants told him they had feared for their safety.
Bouvier called it a loss to the Wausau area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
He said the parade’s cancellation “set Wausau back 30 years in the way people think about the gay community.”
Meanwhile, Shannon Thomas of Wausau said an unrelated “March for Equality” will be held Saturday afternoon from Marathon Park on Wausau’s west side to the downtown area. She told the Daily Herald she hopes about 300 will show up.
WSAU Radio said officials expect less than a dozen people. City Clerk Toni Rayala said the marcher will use sidewalks and they won’t need a permit because no city services have been requested.
Boys found guilty of killing great-grandmother
Two Sheboygan teens convicted of robbing-and-killing one of their elderly relatives will be sentenced separately in mid-August.
Nathan Paape, 14, will learn his fate on Aug. 13. On Thursday a jury found him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.
Antonio Barbeau, 14, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12. He struck a plea deal with prosecutors last week on a homicide conviction.
Both boys will get life prison terms, but because of their ages, they must be eligible for a supervised release after at least 20 years. Barbeau’s plea deal calls for a possible release after 35 years. The judge will make the final decision in both cases.
Paape’s jury deliberated two hours before convicting him. His lawyer claimed Paape had almost nothing to do with the plot to kill and rob Barbeau’s 78-year-old great-grandmother, Barbara Olson, last September at her Sheboygan Falls home.
District Attorney Joe DeCecco said Paape was “up to his neck in this.” The DA told jurors that Olson was killed over the $150 the teens found in the house when they ransacked it.
Barbeau testified that the two went to the house to get money and would use forced if they had to. Olsen was battered at least 27 times with a hammer and a hatchet.
Poverty index – better than feds say, worse than 2011
A more comprehensive poverty index shows that Wisconsin is doing better than what the federal government says, but the 2011 poverty rate was still higher than the year before.
A UW-Madison institute said 10.7% of Wisconsinites were in poverty, down from 10.3% the previous year. Washington had put the figure at 13%.
The UW said there was a larger increase in child poverty to 12.2% – a jump of almost a point and a half.
The university’s survey takes more factors into account than the federal poverty estimates, which are based only on pretax income. The UW’s numbers also reflect things like people’s medical, transportation and child care expenses plus the effect of tax-funded programs for the poor like FoodShare and BadgerCare.
The report blames the increasing poverty on lower family incomes plus changes in assistance programs.
The UW’s Timothy Smeeding said Wisconsin’s public aid programs are doing a good job but not as good as in 2010. He said state officials should be wary about cutting those programs back too much.
Budget addition limits release of private school data
A last-minute item in the new state budget would limit the public release of performance data for private schools in the state’s choice program.
A measure inserted Wednesday by Assembly Republicans calls for a uniform release of data from the private schools in the program. It also prohibits the state from releasing selective numbers on individual schools in advance of those uniform reports unless the affected schools consent to the release beforehand.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the measure might prevent the public from learning about things like the tax money each private school gets, complaints against those schools and even lists of their board members.
State public school Supt. Tony Evers issued a strongly worded condemnation of the measure yesterday. He such limits on information would never be tolerated for the public schools, and they should not be acceptable for those private schools that get tax funds from the vouchers of low-income kids.
Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the measure is designed to prevent Evers, a choice opponent, from cherry picking data to make a private school look bad. They said the schools’ basic performance data would all come out in the end.
Congress rejects federal Farm Bill – again
The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee says the panel will soon weigh its options after a new five-year Farm Bill was rejected Thursday.
The Wisconsin delegation voted 5-3 against the package, which lost on a House vote of 234-195.
Republicans Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble and Tom Petri were the only Wisconsin representatives to vote yes. Many in the GOP majority said a proposed $2 billion cut in the federal food stamp program was not enough.
Democrats said the last straw was when Republicans voted to let states require recipients to work for their food aid.
Some lawmakers – like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson – say food stamps should be taken out of the Farm Bill so agriculture programs like federal subsidies could be debated on their own merits. Lawmakers added food stamps to the Farm Bill a number of years ago to attract votes from urban representatives, but with the hyper-partisanship in today’s politics, that’s gone out the window.
Also, Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, the senior Democrat on the Ag committee, said his party was turned off when a proposed market stabilization program for the dairy industry was scrapped.
Committee chair Frank Lucas of Oklahoma said before the vote that if the Farm Bill didn’t pass, he could not guarantee an alternative package would come back. A new Farm Bill was due last fall, and when it didn’t pass then, the old package of farm and food stamp programs was extended for another year.
Prosecutors say mom planned to kill four kids to send them to heaven
Prosecutors say a Taylor County mother wanted to spare her four youngest kids from being hurt by her pending divorce so she tried to asphyxiate them.
The criminal complaint filed Thursday against Heidi Mann, 37, of Rib Lake says she hoped she and the kids could “be in heaven” together.
Officials said she put the kids in an SUV and said they were going bowling, but instead, she let the engine run in a closed garage for a couple hours. The kids survived carbon monoxide poisoning.
Authorities said she tried to carry out plans to kill herself and the youngsters, but Mann was not arrested until late last week because sheriff’s investigators had just learned about the incident.
The oldest child turns 12 today. The others are 8, 6 and 3. Officials say they’re OK and are being cared for by other family members.
Mann is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in Medford Tuesday on four charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. She’s in jail under a $200,000 cash bond.
She reportedly explained her feelings about the divorce in letters to her two oldest children and her grandmother.
State records year’s first case of West Nile
Wisconsin has recorded its first case of the West Nile virus for this year.
A dead crow found in Washington County has tested positive for the mosquito-borne illness. West Nile infects birds, horses and humans.
Health officials say the first bird death should encourage people to take precautions against mosquito bites.
Record human cases of West Nile occurred last year throughout the nation’s mid-section. Fifty-seven people in Wisconsin came down with the infection – nine more than the previous high of 48 in 2002 when the disease was first reported.
Four Wisconsinites died from West Nile a year ago, along with 32 birds and one horse.
Vilas County sheriff dies
The sheriff of Vilas County in far northern Wisconsin has died.
Frank Tomlanovich, 61, passed away at his home Wednesday night after a short illness.
He worked for the Eagle River Police Department before joining the Sheriff’s Department in that city in 1979. He was promoted 15 years later as a detective sergeant. He held that post for 17 years until he was took over as the elected sheriff in early 2011.
One of his captains, Russ Kennedy, said Tomlanovich was a hard worker and a good leader. The captain said Tomlanovich had all the qualities of a good officer – honesty, thoroughness and a lot of common sense. Kennedy said Tomlanovich would be greatly missed.
Funeral services are pending.