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More than 100 individuals and Wisconsin companies have each pledged $10,000 to help renovate UW-M's Babcock Hall and build a new Center for Dairy Research.

No Wisconsin runners hurt in Boston blasts; $17 million pledged for dairy center; more state news

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News River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
Hudson Star Observer
No Wisconsin runners hurt in Boston blasts; $17 million pledged for dairy center; more state news
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Although some 450 runners from the state were registered for Monday's ill-fated Boston Marathon, none are believe to have been injured in the two bomb blasts that will forever mar the national event.


Meanwhile, a pair of Wisconsin intelligence centers are helping out with the investigation into the bombings, according to Gov. Scott Walker.

The Statewide Information Center in Madison and the Southeastern Wisconsin Threat Analysis unit are both working with local and federal homeland security officials in Boston. Of the almost 450 state residents entered to run the marathon, just over 350 finished the 26-plus-miles.

One bomb exploded just a half-block behind Jean Rusch of Fond du Lac as she was finishing the race. Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker John Gard had completed his fifth Boston Marathon. He said he saw only chaos as he was hanging around with friends.

Former state Representative Steve Wieckert of Appleton finished just two minutes before the explosions. He said he was walking to retrieve his warm-up clothes when he heard two muffled bangs and he then got lost in a sea of people.

Madison runner David Meixelsperger finished about 90 minutes before the bombings and his hotel room was shaken by the force.

Others tried keeping up with their relatives from afar.

Mary Beth Aasen of Shorewood said she and her husband used an app to track their daughter Maggie's progress in the race. The app showed she was still moving when a friend texted and asked if Maggie was okay. She was but she was very upset.

Sean Ryan, director of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, said he never thought a road race would be a target for an apparent terrorist attack but "Today changes all that."

Ryan said it would be extremely hard for communities to control a 26-mile marathon course but he expects races throughout the nation to try their best. He said it's not like an event at a stadium, where it's much easier to control the environment.

Ryan was in Boston to help with the marathon. He was doing security work at the finish line. But once the bombing occurred, he was helping coordinate shuttle buses at the starting line. It won't be long before Ryan's own event will be put to the test. The Green Bay Marathon is set for May 19th.

Court rules for privacy in Walker recall-related challenge

LANCASTER -- A circuit judge has ruled that state Senator Jon Erpenbach had the right to withhold the names of over 2,600 people who wrote him during the 2011 protests over the state's union bargaining limits.

Grant County Circuit Judge Robert Van de Hey said the Middleton Democrat was allowed to consider whether the writers would face retaliation if their names were made public.

The conservative MacIver Institute wanted to know if the messages were written by public employees from government computers during work hours. Judge Van de Hey examined 2,000 e-mails to Erpenbach from public computers and most expressed support for the senator's opposition to the union law.

The judge said case law has allowed occasional uses of public computers for personal items. He said none of the e-mails he examined would warrant prosecution under the law against the improper use of public resources.

MacIver Institute attorney Richard Esenberg said he disagreed with the court ruling and while his group has not decided whether to appeal, he believes it would win.

The e-mails to Erpenbach were written at a time of heavy protests, when he and 13 other Senate Democrats left Wisconsin in a failed effort to stop a vote on the public union bargaining limits.

Fund drive nets $17 million-plus for new UW dairy center

MADISON -- A fund-raising campaign has collected more than $17 million for new dairy facilities at UW Madison.

Donors for the renovation of the famed Babcock Hall dairy plant and construction of a new Center for Dairy Research, will be honored this week at a state cheese industry conference in La Crosse.

Center director John Lucey tells the Cheese Market News that over 100 people and companies have each given at least $10,000.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed state budget includes $16 million for the project.

If the Legislature approves it, Lucey says design work could begin this summer and construction could get underway in late 2014 or early in 2015.

Assembly may vote on food stamp-resale bill

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Assembly was expected to vote Tuesday on a bill to stop the illegal trafficking of food stamp benefits.

The measure makes it a crime to buy, sell, or trade Food Share cards for cash or illegal items.

The bill's main sponsor, Powers Lake Republican Samantha Kerkman, says she's been told about Food Share benefit trafficking in her southeast Wisconsin district.

She says her bill is designed to make sure that those who really need food stamps get them. Opponents say it would put a further stigma on recipients who've done nothing wrong. It's already against the law to commit fraud in applying for Food Share, not updating income information and transferring benefits to people who don't qualify for them.

Nine districts could each lose $1.4 million in aid under voucher plan

MADISON -- Nine Wisconsin school districts could each lose up to $1.4 million in state aid under Gov. Scott Walker's private school voucher plan.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau says the maximum losses would occur if 110 students in each district take tax-funded vouchers to go to private schools.

The bureau said each school system could make up for part of the losses by raising local property taxes anywhere from $123,000 to $341,000.

Walker asserts more kids need the type of private school choice that low-income kids in Milwaukee have had for two decades. He said it would give more kids in under-performing public schools a chance for a better education.

But Republican Senate Education chairman Luther Olsen of Ripon says the new fiscal bureau report confirms an extremely high cost to local taxpayers and like other government programs, Olsen fears that it will go out of control in the future.

"We can hardly pay for one school system - how are we going to pay for another?" Olsen asked.

Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin says the statewide effect would be negligible, because other public schools would share the state aid that the voucher districts lose. Walker's budget would expand vouchers to Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Waukesha, West Allis, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Beloit, and Superior.

Lawmaker wants tax scofflaws shamed in newspaper

For seven years, the "Web Site of Shame" has embarrassed many Wisconsin tax scofflaws into paying up. Now, a state lawmaker wants to put those names in the newspaper, in the hopes of collecting even more.

Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison has asked his colleagues to co-sponsor a bill to publish the names of delinquent taxpayers four times a year. They'd appear in the state government's official newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison.

Risser says lots of folks still read the paper and before the state raises taxes, he tells WISC TV it should collect the existing taxes that people owe.

Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler says he's trying. His department has asked lawmakers for an extra $14 million to catch more tax cheaters, and crack down on fraudulent claims for payments.

Senate Republican Frank Lasee of De Pere proposed the "Web Site of Shame" in 2006. It lists those who owe more than $5,000 in overdue state taxes. Chandler says the site has brought in up to $31 million a year in delinquent taxes.

Brookfield native wins Pulitzer for drama

A Wisconsin native has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Ayad Ahktar from Brookfield was honored Monday for his play "Disgraced."

It's the story of Pakistani-American corporate attorney who thought he lost touch with his roots, until he and his wife hosted a dinner party that generated cultural and religious tensions.

Ahktar, 42, is a Pakistani-American. He published a novel last year called "American Dervish" about a Muslim youngster struggling with his identity and faith while growing up in suburban Milwaukee.

The Journal Sentinel newspaper said Ahktar was in London, holding rehearsals with a British cast for "Disgraced" when he learned that he won the Pulitzer.

He said a number of good plays could have won the honor - and he was blessed to be chosen as the winner.

Kenosha dam drawn down to reduce flood risk

KENOSHA -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has made adjustments on a dam, to reduce high water levels on a Kenosha County lake.

Officials said Monday that a board was removed from an inlet to the dam at Vern Wolf Lake, and it was successful in dropping waters that rose due to heavy rains.

The DNR said a levee was in danger of failing along Vern Wolf Lake at the Richard Bong Recreation Area and that threat should be eased with the draw-down.

As a precaution, Kenosha County authorities closed part of Hwy. 75 in the area and it continues to be shut down.

Several trails in the Bong Recreation Area have also been closed for now.

Denmark woman will collect $2.9 million in lottery winnings

A woman from northeast Wisconsin is the state's newest lottery millionaire. Michelle Grant of Denmark cashed in her $4 million Megabucks ticket Monday.

She won the jackpot in Saturday night's drawing. Grant chose the one-time cash option of $2.9 million and she's getting just under $2 million after taxes.

Grant and lottery officials will hold a news conference Wednesday in Kewaunee, where she bought her ticket.

The merchant that sold it, the Lakeshore Lighthouse, is getting an $80,000 commission.

Megabucks is a Wisconsin-only lotto game. Grant was the game's first jackpot winner since last October.

The odds of winning it are 1.7 million to one.

Grilled Cheese championship coming up

MINERAL POINT -- Those who think they can make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich, will soon have a chance to prove it.

The second annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship will take place in 11 days at Mineral Point in Iowa County.

Professional cooks, amateurs, and 12- to 17-year olds will have their own competitions. Wisconsin cheese must be used in all the sandwiches, and there are four main categories - classic bread and cheese, classic plus one extra ingredient, classic plus other extras, and a classic dessert grilled cheese sandwich.

The entries are judged on style, presentation - and of course, taste.

With onset of road construction season, officials warn motorists

It's often said there are only two seasons in Wisconsin - winter and road construction.

With that in mind, current Gov. Scott Walker has proclaimed this week as "Work Zone Awareness Week" in the Badger State.

Winter is supposedly winding down and once construction begins, officials say we'll have to drive through narrow lanes, temporary pavement, and nighttime road work - all at slower speeds.

Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says rear-end crashes are the most frequent ones in construction zones. He says it puts workers at a bigger risk but actually, three of every four people killed in work zone crashes are motorists.

Last year, the DOT said six people died in construction zones, with 733 injuries and 1,700 total crashes.

Gottlieb also reminds drivers that fines double in work zones.