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Wisconsin roundup: After winter’s sucker punch, concerns turn to melting snow; more state news stories

The Mississippi River, shown here at Prescott, could be poised for flooding in some areas, depending on the outcome of the melting process. File photo

Wisconsin residents looking forward to a forecast promising temperatures in the 50s by the weekend may want to re-think that.

Most people want the 20-plus inches of snow that fell to go away. The problem is, when it melts it will likely cause some serious flooding. The National Weather Service forecasts minor flooding at on the St. Croix River at Stillwater and on the Mississippi River at Hastings in a week’s time.

Public works officials worry that stormwater inlets will get blocked with unmelted snow and ice, causing backups. There simply won't be time for work crews to clear all the backups before the melted snow becomes runoff — a lot of runoff. Green Bay officials are asking residents to help by trying to keep the storm water inlets on and near their properties clear.


Lawmakers back UW funding tied to metrics, including student access

A state legislative panel is backing a plan to divide funding to University of Wisconsin System campuses based on metrics for student access, progress toward completion, "workforce contributions" and operating efficiencies.

The latest Republican state budget included the performance-based funding plan and is backed by Gov. Scott Walker. The UW System devised the plan for distribution, which was approved Wednesday by the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee.


UW-Madison to spend $1M on diversity, inclusivity

Leaders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have decided they won't remove the names of well-known student leaders who were connected to the Ku Klux Klan more than 90 years ago.

Instead, they will spend $1 million to create a museum-quality display project honoring groups subjected to prejudice on the campus. Chancellor Rebecca Blank had commissioned a study last fall to decide how the university was going to respond to its history of intolerance decades in the past. A study group considered renaming spaces which honored people like Porter Butts, the first director of the Wisconsin Union. It was decided the display was a better approach.


Family of Wis. beavers putting rivers at risk

Officials in the Village of Mukwonago are hoping they can find a place to relocate a family of beavers — otherwise, the animals may have to be killed.

The beavers have built a dam near East Wolf Run that’s putting some nearby waterways at risk. Fields near Interstate 43 are flooding. Village leaders are also worried about the effect on stormwater retention ponds which are filled with contaminated water.

If the dirty water is forced out it will impact nearby creeks and rivers, dumping untreated water into the Fox River system. The DNR has given the village several options to trap and relocate the animals, but no decisions have been made yet.


Deputies find fugitive hiding behind false wall

The Dane County Sheriff's Office reports the discovery of a fugitive hiding behind a false wall when a search warrant was executed earlier this week.

Deputies were looking for 33-year-old Jeremy E. Waugh on charges of strangulation and substantial battery. They say the Madison man is a repeat domestic violence offender. He was found in planned space inside a bedroom closet in the home of a friend. Deputies say he fought them when they took him into custody. Forty-seven-year-old Tracy R. Martinez was also arrested and charged with harboring or aiding a felon.


Minocqua man pleads not guilty in 1982 murder of his wife

It was the coldest of cold cases for three decades. Now, a 69-year-old Minocqua is pleading not guilty to first-degree murder charges in the 1982 death of his wife.

Barbara Mendez was beaten to death, with her body found at the Park City Credit Union office where she worked. Robin Mendez made an Oneida County court appearance Thursday to enter his plea. Most of the evidence in the 36-year-old case is said to be circumstantial. The sheriff's office says the television crime show "Cold Justice" offered resources and fresh eyes which helped lead to the arrest.


DOC gets additional money for prisoner health care

The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is sending an additional $10 million to the Department of Corrections to pay for prisoner health care.

The budget for 2018-19 includes $90.7 million to account for increase drug costs, the need for more hospital visits because the prison population is getting older, and the increasing payouts for contract nurses. Lawmakers approved transferring money from the DOC contract beds account and a fund which funds services for drunken driving offenders Wednesday. Both of those accounts are expected to have surpluses next budget year.