Heavy rains, hail, strong winds predicted; Law allowing marijuana derivative for treatment goes unused; 12 more state news briefs
Severe weather is possible in Wisconsin from tonight through at least Wednesday, and the state just might get its first tornado of the year.
This is the sixth-latest since 1950 that Wisconsin has not had a twister in a calendar year. The National Weather Service said the latest start to a tornado season was in 1995 when a twister did not touch down until June 28 near La Crosse.
This year moved became the sixth-latest at 4 p.m. yesterday (Sunday) when it moved past 1983. That was when the first twister from that year hit at Campbellsport in Fond du Lac County.
Short-range forecasts from the National Weather Service indicate that this week's severe weather will consist mainly of heavy rains, hail and strong winds. The Weather Service office in La Crosse mentions the possibility of tornadoes tonight, but they're most likely to stay on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River.
You can expect a clear to partly cloudy day today, with highs in the 80's. Thunderstorms will then become a possibility from tonight through the rest of the week.
Law allowing marijuana derivative for treatment of seizures still unused
Two months after the state approved it, Wisconsin families can still not get their hands on a marijuana-based extract to treat children with constant seizures.
The bill which allowed the use of cannabidiol required the drug to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval before it could be prescribed. That hasn't happened, so doctors are not touching it and children's hospitals in Madison and Milwaukee say they will not apply for FDA trial permits which could open the door to the drug's use.
Assembly Democrat Robb Kahl of Monona said he did not include FDA approval in his original version of the bill, but he said it had to be added at the last minute or the Republican-controlled Senate would not have passed it.
Milwaukee Children's Hospital told the Journal Sentinel that cannabidiol is an "exciting prospect." However, the manufacturing process can make the drug impure, and the American Academy of Neurology has not recommended it.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said lawmakers have done what they can, but they cannot force doctors to prescribe the drug. Gov. Scott Walker called the situation frustrating, but he's not sure what can be done about it.
Prosecutor predicts no charges for clerks who issued same-sex marriage licenses
A prosecutor said he'd be shocked if any Wisconsin county clerk faces criminal charges for issuing same-sex marriage licenses over the past week.
Portage County District Attorney Louis Molepske Jr. said the state would have to prove that a clerk intended to break the law. He doesn't believe that even a minor misdemeanor would stick after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb refused to tell counties how to respond to her initial ruling ten days ago that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
Crabb put the ruling on hold this past Friday so same-sex marriages are again illegal -- at least until the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the subject. That's expected to happen in the coming year.
Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen contended that the state's gay marriage ban remained in place even after Crabb's initial ruling. Last Thursday, he said local prosecutors could charge the 60 county clerks that gave out over 550 same-sex marriage licenses statewide. But Van Hollen backed off from his remark a day after it created a firestorm.
Molepske is from one of the 12 counties that did not issue same-sex marriage licenses. But even if it did, he said he wouldn't prosecute his county clerk for it. He said it would not have merit, and district attorneys have more serious cases to handle.
--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
High waters sink Chippewa Falls regatta
Thunderstorms and high waters kept thousands of people away from an annual Father's Day inner tube event on the Chippewa River in Chippewa Falls.
The Frenchtown Annual Tube Float and Regatta -- FATFAR for short -- has attracted up to 10,000 participants during its 40-year history. Yesterday, organizers told the Chippewa Herald the crowd would only be around 1,000.
That's after more than three inches of rain fell in the region late Saturday and early yesterday, and law enforcement warned that participants might drown on river currents that got high, faster and choppier.
Also, tubers were scared off after word of a nearby house fire apparently caused by a lightning strike. That happened close to 6 a.m. Sunday in Lake Hallie. Owner Joshua Ranney told firefighters that loud thunder woke him up. About three hours later, he had his family evacuate after seeing an orange glow through a light fixture in his bathroom.
State starts charging tax on take-and-bake pizzas
Take-and-bake pizza lovers probably know this already, but Wisconsin recently started charging sales taxes on that food.
The State Journal says it will cost pizza lovers $2.7 million a year that will be funneled to Madison.
The state Department of Revenue had asked the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board if places like Papa Murphy's and Kwik Trip should be charging the tax on pizzas they make at their stores but are cooked by customers at home. The board said the tax applies because the pizzas count as foods prepared outside the home.
Mark Venditto, who owns eight Papa Murphy's stores in Wisconsin and Iowa, said he has been charging the sales tax in Wisconsin since March 1.
The Sales Tax Governing Board is a 24-state organization based in Westby. It seeks to make sales tax rules more uniform.
Two die on railroad tracks
An investigation continues into the deaths of two people struck by a train in Mauston just after midnight on Saturday morning.
The Canadian Pacific Railroad told authorities that one of its freight trains struck two people standing on the tracks.
Railroad police are helping the Juneau County coroner's office and Mauston police figure out what happened and why. Names of the deceased were not immediately disclosed.
Sheboygan company erects country’s tallest flagpole
Gov. Scott Walker will be on hand this morning when the nation's tallest flagpole is dedicated in Sheboygan.
Acuity Insurance will hold a ceremony for a 400-foot flagpole. It's about 100-feet taller than the current record pole in Laredo, Texas.
Acuity has tried four times to have the nation's tallest flagpole without it being damaged. Its first effort was a 150-foot pole in 2003. A winter storm took down another pole. Yet another 338-foot pole swayed too much to be safe.
Acuity says its newest pole is designed to withstand Mother Nature. The company's flagpoles can easily be seen from I-43.
Rhinelander considers levying resort tax
Rhinelander might try to become the fifth Wisconsin place to be labeled as a "Premier Resort Area" and have its own special tax for it.
City Administrator Blaine Oborn said he'll ask his aldermen for approval to seek the designation.
The resort tax could only be used for things like streets, sewers, and other infrastructure. Oborn said it could bring in up to $800,000 a year.
The state considers nearby Eagle River to be a resort area with a half-percent sales tax. Oborn says it makes sense for his community to also have the designation. He says tourists in surrounding Oneida and Vilas counties spend as much as folks in Door County -- which, by the way, does not have any premier resort designations.
The only other such areas in the state are Bayfield with a half-percent tax -- and Wisconsin Dells and adjoining Lake Delton, both of which are raising their resort taxes to 1.25% on July 1.
Oborn said Rhinelander is in greater need of the revenue because its population doubles during the daytime hours. He said that results in a larger need for things like police services with a tax base made up of fewer homes than similar places just to the south like Antigo and Merrill.
--Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander
Suspect flees when car hits police van
Four Milwaukee police officers were injured overnight when their van was struck by a car at an intersection.
Police said the officers were transporting a suspect at the time, and the suspect ran way. The person was still being sought at last word. There was no immediate word on the conditions of the four injured Milwaukee officers.
Police said their van hit a utility pole after being struck by the car around 3:30 a.m. this morning.
Campus police chief accused of misusing social media
The provost at UW-Milwaukee will decide whether the campus police chief will be punished for trading sex-related messages with a student on social media.
An independent investigator found that Chief Michael Marzion's conduct was "inappropriate and unprofessional," but it was not bad enough to violate school policies.
The student claimed that Marzion engaged in sexual harassment, but investigator Gary Gerlach said the student prompted the messages. Gerlach, a former Milwaukee County circuit judge, did not recommend that Marzion be disciplined or receive training on sexual harassment.
The chief has not commented. The school says Provost Johannes Britz has two weeks to study the report and decide what action to take -- if any.
Duluth wins online contest for best outdoors town in America
The best outdoors city in the United States is just across the Wisconsin border from Superior.
Duluth, Minn., is the champion after six rounds of online voting in a bracket competition put on by Outside Magazine.
Duluth went up against Provo, Utah, in the final round. As the voting ended last night, Duluth led Provo 67,000 to 55,000.
Duluth's hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking and other outdoor gems were promoted in a social media campaign that encouraged folks to vote for the larger partner in the Duluth-Superior Twin Ports.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness said it's not normally earth-shattering to win an online vote, but this one notes a significant change in how people see his community.
Outside Magazine chose 64 cities to square off. Madison lost to Houghton, Mich., the second round. La Crosse made the Sweet 16 before losing to Duluth.
Director who didn’t activate tornado sirens resigns
Professional concerns were blamed for the departure of Appleton's emergency management director -- not last year's failure to activate the sirens when tornadoes hit.
The Post-Crescent examined Julie Loeffelholz's personnel file after she was allowed to resign this past spring. It contained a memo in which Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson cited a "pattern of unprofessional behavior" separate from the problem with the sirens.
The memo said Loeffelholz used foul language in her office, screamed at employees and slammed down telephones. The file said Loeffelholz would get her full salary and benefits through July, and she agreed not to sue the county or criticize county officials.
Loeffelholz received a lot of criticism last August after outdoor tornado sirens failed to sound in advance of six tornadoes that hit the Appleton area. Those storms caused $31 million in damage.
Ultralight graduation arrival results in fine
WAUKESHA COUNTY -- It was not a happy Father's Day Weekend for a man who flew his son to his high school graduation in an ultralight aircraft.
WTMJ TV said hundreds of people were stunned to see the aircraft land on the front lawn of Sussex Hamilton High School just before the school's commencement on Saturday.
Parent Alan Larson said he saw the ultralight circle and then land close to where people were walking in.
The pilot said he was given a citation from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, but he wouldn't say anything else. The man and his son flew away after the ceremony.
One dies in Black River Falls house fire
The state fire marshal is helping Black River Falls authorities investigate a house fire that killed one person.
Flames and smoke were coming out of a large window when firefighters were called to the two-story house around 9 a.m. yesterday.
Officials learned that one person was still inside, and the victim was removed quickly. The name was not immediately released. The Red Cross is providing assistance to survivors.
Officials said there was heavy fire damage downstairs and mostly smoke and heat damage upstairs.