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It was not all that long ago when Wisconsin's only heroin deaths were in the Milwaukee urban area. But Marathon County - where Wausau is located - has had three confirmed deaths this year from overdoses of heroin, and lab results are pending in a fourth case. County medical examiner John Larson said there were also three heroin deaths in 2011. He could only remember two other such deaths in 26 years.
Those real comfortable jeans will be a thing of the past next year for public school teachers in Janesville. The school board has voted 5-to-2 to adopt a new dress code for instructors, beginning next July. Under the new rules, teachers can no longer wear shorts, jeans, jogging suits, or flip-flops to class. Provocative and ragged clothes are also out - as well as anything in which undergarments can be seen. The new policy calls for business-casual clothing such as collared shirts, sweaters, and casual slacks. Women can wear dresses, skirts, blouses, and dress sandals.
The number of Wisconsinites hospitalized by the flu is now up to 33, seven more cases that state officials reported Monday, Dec. 3. At least four Wisconsin residents have died from the virus as the nation continues its deadliest start to the flu season since the late 1970s. Health officials encourage everyone to get immunized, especially pregnant women. State epidemiologist Tom Haupt said four pregnant women were hospitalized after they failed to get flu shots. That compares to nine for all of last winter.
Governor Scott Walker said Thursday, Dec. 6, that his next state budget package will include 25 more full-time nurses at the state Veterans Home in Waupaca County, as well as 58 certified nursing assistants. The Veterans' Affairs Department asked for the additional staffers, after the unions complained about being overworked due to chronic staffing shortages. Union leaders said they fear that a stressed employee will make a tragic error affecting the older veterans who get nursing care.
After more than three years of trying, the White House said Friday, Dec. 7 that the Badger State is one of five that will share the $133 million of a competitive education grant to expand early learning programs and improve their quality. Governor Scott Walker's office said Wisconsin would get $22.7 million over a four-year period as part of the Education Department's "Race to the Top" program. Walker's office said the funding would improve the Young-Star rating system for child care centers, which will help parents of high-risk youngsters find the right care for their kids.
The holiday season is upon us and the search for appropriate gifts has begun. In our family the children get top priority and upper Midwestern publishers have been burning the midnight oil to give gift givers a wide variety of choices. Here's a sampling of new books for kids from nine to 90. Roberts author Korinn Hawkins is out with another book for kids. It's entitled, "Our Home, The Earth," photos by Samantha Cole and Corey Hawkins. It's a real charmer and a good way to begin teaching kids early how to respect the planet they live on.
A diner who found human hair in a steak will not receive $125,000 in damages from the restaurant that served it. A state appeals court in Waukesha said the Texas Roadhouse in West Bend did nothing wrong and the blame should go to the offending cook. Kevin Hansen ordered a steak in 2008 then claimed it was overcooked. The manager offered a replacement steak that Hansen could take home - but the cook, Ryan Kropp, thought Hansen was just trying to get some free food. Kropp reacted by putting some of his hair in a slit he cut in the replacement steak.
A prisoner who sued for the right to have a sex-change operation now claims the state is not living up to the promises it made in settling that lawsuit. Scott Konitzer, 48, who has changed her name to Donna, has filed a new lawsuit in federal court, accusing the state Corrections Department of falsely inducing her to settle the suit she brought in 2003. Konitzer has gender dysphoria - and as part of the settlement, she dropped her demand for a sex-change operation in exchange for continuing non-surgical therapy.
Wisconsin state Senator Dave Hansen says he got eight or nine 'robocalls' per day during the last election. The Green Bay Democrat says he wants those calls permanently banned, calling them a nuisance and a waste of time. Hansen says he has heard similar complaints from many of his constituents. The automatic calls are recorded political solicitations placed through a computer that dials a list of phone numbers. Having a phone number on the state Do Not Call list doesn't prevent the unwanted contacts. It's been suggested banning the calls could be the same as limiting free speech.
The UW-River Falls University Theatre will present "To Fool the Eye," Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Jean Anouilh's 1939 comical romantic fantasy "Leocadia." Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-8 and 13-15 in the Blanche Davis Theatre of the Kleinpell Fine Arts building. The UW-River Falls presentation, directed by Sean Dooley, instructor of theatre, will include a pop-up storybook set with an amusing blend of what is real and what is fantasy.