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Sheriff's deputies visit boy injured in Montfort shooting

A boy injured in a Jan. 2 shooting in Montfort is making steady progress in his recovery, according to Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman. Joey Slaight survived the Jan. 2 shooting in which Jaxon Slaight died and Morgan Slaight and her son, Joseph, were taken to UW Hospital in Madison where Morgan later died. The sheriff said a forensic pathologist determined that the injuries to Morgan Slaight were consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Her death was ruled a suicide by the Grant County coroner. Jaxon's death was ruled a homicide, and Joseph's injures were ruled an attempted homicide. Two months later, deputies who first responded to Montfort home are still keeping in touch with Joey. Deputies Nate Gallagher, Craig Reukauf, Rick Place and Jack Johnson say Joey’s recovery has helped them heal, too.  "All four of us here have young children, and I think it's one of those things that hit home for all of us," said Reukauf as he recalled that Friday night in January. "Really, it's not something you get over. I think it's something you always remember." First responders all went through critical stress debriefing and relied on each other to get through the following weeks by talking about what they had seen. But maybe the best medicine came a little later, when deputies made a special visit to the hospital to see Joey. "I walked around the other side of him and he reached out and grabbed my hand," Johnson said. "That just pulled at my heart, the kid just was just amazing." "Seeing the condition he was in that night to where he is now and being able to see that progression is just immensely helpful to me," Gallagher said. Joey’s condition is improving steadily – the deputies say he was able to give them high fives and help put together a puzzle. It's better news than any of them could have hoped for. "We didn't expect him to live," Johnson said. "I didn't, and I don't think these guys did, either - no one did." "The doctors have a bright future for him," Place said. "I think that he’s going to have a bright future and have some quality of life." Joey has since been moved to a hospital in Oklahoma, where doctors have goals for him to walk, talk and even dress himself in the future. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office is still helping him from afar – they recently bought him an iPad to help with communication therapy. The deputies take none of the credit for helping to save Joey’s life that night. "We owed it, I owed it to Joey, to Jaxon, to figure out what happened," Reukauf said. "We’ll never understand the 'why,' I guess, but the 'what happened,' to put that piece together, that's what we owed Joey and what we owed Jaxon." Instead, they say, Joey’s recovery has helped save them. "We might not ever know the why, but it's pretty inspiring to see Joey, who has been through so much, to pretty much beat all the odds."

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 02:49:39 GMT

Inmate threatened, strangled cellmate, complaint says

An inmate accused of killing his cellmate at Columbia Correctional Institution told investigators he knew he was going to kill his cellmate after a confrontation involving a pen, according to a criminal complaint. Dexter L. Ewing, 42, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the Feb. 12 death of Jerome A. Scott. A criminal complaint states the two were cellmates for about two weeks before the homicide. Ewing told investigators that a few days before Scott's death, Scott told Ewing to stop pacing, grabbed a pen and threatened Ewing. Scott then put down the pen, and Ewing told Scott never to do it again, the complaint says. Scott then jumped, grabbed the pen again and said, “I’m not scared of you,” according to the complaint. Scott put down the pen and Ewing lay back down on his bunk. Ewing said he decided that he was going to kill Scott, according to the complaint. Ewing told investigators that on Feb. 12, he pulled a shank from his waistband, pushed the shank up to Scott’s neck and said, “I will kill you.” Ewing said he told Scott to get off the bed and not to scream, tied Scott’s hands behind his back using a bed sheet, grabbed a cord out of his locker and strangled Scott with it, the complaint says. Ewing said he checked Scott’s heart and didn’t feel anything, according to the complaint. He said he remembered looking at the clock and noting that it was 2:31 p.m. Ewing told jail staff that Scott was on the cell floor when the door opened for recreation time. Ewing was convicted in 2008 of first-degree intentional homicide and taking hostages. He was convicted in 2014 of being a party to the crime of felony murder – armed robbery.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:45:59 GMT

Dodge warns that its own dealers are scamming customers

Dodge is calling out some of its dealers for taking deposits for hot car models it can't deliver. Dodge said the dealers are possibly doing something unethical and illegal. The car company said a "small number" of dealers are taking multiple deposits for the 2015 Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat models, even though their customers might have to wait months for their cars, if they get them at all. "An isolated number of dealers have taken a far greater number of orders than they could reasonably expect to fulfill under the ...allocation system," said a statement from Dodge, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Dodge said the dealers who are improperly taking more orders than they can deliver are causing a customer relations issue. But the automaker didn't identify the dealers, and spokeswoman Kristin Starnes could not immediately say if the automaker will take any steps against them. Challenger sales are up 60% the first two months of this year, while Charger sales are up 23%. But Dodge won't say how many of the Challengers and Chargers it is selling are the sought-after Hellcat models.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:32:53 GMT

Best of the 'Burbs 2015

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Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:21:35 GMT

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Published: Tue, 10 May 2011 13:51:57 GMT

Man captures weasel riding back of woodpecker

A London man managed to capture a stunning photograph of a weasel riding atop a woodpecker in mid-flight. Amateur photographer Martin Le-May said the small brown weasel was actually trying to kill the green woodpecker for its next meal, according to The Daily Mail. Le-May captured the image in Hornchurch Country Park in east London. Image

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:38:56 GMT

Teen drags detective clinging to car, police say

A detective was dragged half a block by a teen driving on an east Madison roadway Tuesday, police said. Madison police said officers had been in a foot chase with 17-year-old Gairitt G. Schad, of Madison, when Schad jumped in the car and drove off on Brandie Road at about 12:40 p.m. Police were looking to arrest Schad on suspicion of an earlier eluding offense, the report said. An uncased shotgun was in the backseat of the car. The detective had reached in through a window and a partially open door trying to remove the ignition key, according to the report. Fresh snow helped the officer skim over the top of the roadway as Schad reportedly kept driving. The detective was dragged half a block and nearly connected with a parked car, but was unharmed as Schad ran the vehicle into a snow bank. Other police officers were quickly on the scene and took Schad into custody. Schad was arrested on suspicion of second-degree reckless endangering safety. Police said other tentative charges are possible.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 23:30:05 GMT

Minn. lawmaker to lure business foes of right-to-work from Wis.

A Minnesota lawmaker is urging Wisconsin businesses to re-locate because of right-to-work legislation. Republican Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo said in a letter Tuesday to Rock Road Cos. in Janesville that he welcomed Wisconsin companies to Minnesota where "Many Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature understand that 'Right to Work' significantly interferes with your right to set the terms and conditions of employment in your workplace." Last week the Wisconsin Senate passed a "right-to-work" bill, which would let workers opt out of paying mandatory dues. The bill is headed to the Republican-controlled state Assembly this week. Garofalo was critical of the Wisconsin proposed bill on right-to-work, saying it's a bad idea. "As the chair of the jobs committee here in Minnesota, if there's private sector businesses unhappy with their state government, I'm happy to offer the state of Minnesota as a better alternative," Garofalo said Tuesday. "Right to work is a problem. What it does is it injects itself into private sector business transactions between the owner of a business and a service provider. And that’s what the Wisconsin legislation does." Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Jennifer Shilling said Tuesday that Garofalo's letter shows Minnesota will capitalize off Wisconsin's right-to-work legislation, and Wisconsin could stand to lose generations of businesses. Wisconsin Republican and state Assemblyman Dean Knudson, who supports the right-to-work bill, said he doesn't think the bill will cost Wisconsin business. Knudson said Tuesday that if Wisconsin businesses want to have unions, they can, and the bill is about the freedom of choice. Garofalo said right-to-work legislation unfairly compares different unions, like the teachers union and the trade unions, and makes them one and the same. On his Twitter account Tuesday, Garofalo tweeted that comparing the teacher and construction unions is "comparing apples to hand grenades." The Wisconsin state Assembly will start debate on the right-to-work bill at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:01:16 GMT

Walker supports, will sign law banning abortions after 20 weeks

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he will sign into law a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Walker on Tuesday issued what he called an "open letter on life" in which he stated his support for the ban, saying he expects the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass such a bill. Walker, a likely presidential candidate, also says he supports a federal ban. Putting a ban on abortions after 20 weeks is based on the assertion that fetuses can feel pain at that point, which is disputed in medical research. The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade allowed states to limit abortions in cases where there's a viable chance the fetus could survive outside of the womb, generally considered to be between 22 and 24 weeks.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:47:12 GMT

Cone zones return: Beltline east lane closures begin next week

The orange cone zones will return to the Beltline soon as weather permits construction to pick up again this month. On Wednesday night, preliminary work will start on a major construction project between Whitney Way and Seminole Highway on the Beltline. Verona Road Construction Project Manager Chris Frederick said by next Monday night, lane closures could begin. "Motorists should expect to see nightly lane closures in the area," Frederick said. "We will have a little bit of daytime work going on in the area but we're not anticipating that to cause an inconvenience to the public." Later this year, eastbound lanes of the Beltline will be rebuilt, and all traffic will share lanes on the westbound side of the road. It will take two years to complete construction on both east- and westbound lanes, Frederick said. "The schedule is very aggressive, so we've got to take advantage of every good weather day that's possible. And next week's weather looks like it's going to start turning for us," Frederick said. Part of the project will include building in an additional lane between Verona Road and Whitney Way. Anyone interested in receiving regular updates on the project can sign up at veronaroadproject.wi.gov. The Stage 1 of the Verona Road project is expected to wrap up in the fall of 2016. Construction began a year ago in March 2014.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 03:22:39 GMT

Lawmaker asks DHS secretary about plan for possibly losing subsidies

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades said it would be up to the federal government to deal with the fallout if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that subsidies offered under President Barack Obama's health care law are unconstitutional. Rhoades was asked Tuesday during a briefing before the Legislature's budget committee whether she had a plan for dealing with the possibility that the court may strike down the subsidies. Gov. Scott Walker turned down federal money to expand Medicaid and instead forced anyone earning above the poverty line to purchase subsidized insurance through the federal health exchange. Rhoades said if the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidies the state will work with its federal partners "to make sure they get it fixed right."

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 02:25:29 GMT

Speed limit bill continues coasting through the Capitol

A bill that would increase speed limits on some Wisconsin highways and freeways has coasted through another green light at the Capitol. The state Assembly Transportation Committee voted 12-1 in favor of the measure Tuesday. The full Assembly is expected to vote on it this month. The bill allows the Department of Transportation to increase speed limits to 70 mph in approved areas, up from the current 65 mph limit. Committee members rejected an amendment that would have established a lower speed limit for commercial vehicles.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:44:35 GMT

DNR secretary considering selling park naming rights

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary says she's considering selling naming rights to state parks over the next two years. Cathy Stepp told the Legislature's budget committee during a hearing Tuesday that she's looking for ways to boost financial support for the parks. Gov. Scott Walker's budget calls for cutting all tax support for parks and raising admission and camping fees. "We're talking about engaging with external partners with opportunities for concessions or sponsorships, while still maintaining the integrity and unique park experience for our users," she said. Committee member Sen. Jon Erpenbach pressed Stepp on whether she plans to sell park naming rights and for how much. Stepp said everything's on the table and she'd like to get legislative input on selling naming rights. She said no corporation has approached the agency about naming rights. Erpenbach asked if any corporations have come forward to ask for naming rights and Stepp said no one has.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:28:40 GMT

Multistate sex trafficking ring suspects posted ads in Wis.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged five St. Paul residents in what authorities allege was a multistate sex-trafficking ring whose victims included minors. The two men and three women each face seven counts for allegedly trafficking multiple victims, including a 16- and a 17-year-old, in 2013 and 2014, the Star Tribune reported. According to the criminal complaints filed in Ramsey County court, the suspects posted ads for sex on Backpage.com in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Georgia. "This was a well-organized sex trafficking operation, funded entirely by men paying for sex with vulnerable girls and young women in our community," County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. Charged are Suwan Cross, 19; Thomas William Evans, 25; Yolanda Foster, 28; Doris Keller, 38; and Ishmael Williams, 19. Cross was charged via warrant and is not in custody Tuesday. The other suspects were booked into the Ramsey County Jail Tuesday and are expected to make their first court appearance Wednesday. Online court records do not list defense attorneys. The complaints list six victims in the ring — girls and women who, in 2014, were between the ages of 16 and 24. Evans allegedly made the victims call him "Daddy," while Cross went by the nickname "Mama Sue." Many of the victims called Keller "Mom." The charges allege that Evans made the victims watch movies involving pimps so they could learn rules such as not talking to other men, putting their heads down and keeping silent. One victim told authorities that Evans trafficked her for a month, during which time she met with about seven johns a day, making about $400 to $500 daily that went to Evans. In August 2014, Evans, Williams and Cross took three victims to Racine, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee, and to Chicago, the charges allege. The victims were required to respond to Backpage.com ads and also to "walk the streets." The charges said one victim, who had turned 16 that summer, "was ultimately dropped at a bus line in Chicago and sent back to Minnesota because she was felt to be 'too young' to be out on the road." The ring was broken up by St. Paul police conducting a sex-trafficking detail in September 2014.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:06:05 GMT

Assembly plans for 24 hours of debate on right-to-work

The Wisconsin state Assembly plans to start debate of the right-to-work bill at 9 a.m. Thursday and end no later than 9 a.m. Friday. Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said Tuesday that the 24 hours of debate time was negotiated with Democrats. He said Democrats wanted 48 hours of debate. Republicans also agreed to have the Labor Committee hold an executive session on Wednesday to consider Democratic amendments. Steineke said he does not anticipate than any amendments will be made to the bill. It already passed the Senate last week and if it is changed, the Senate would need to vote again. Gov. Scott Walker has said he will sign the bill into law. Democrats complained during Tuesday's 12-hour hearing that no executive session had been planned.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 23:07:32 GMT

UW president asks committee to reduce $300m cut

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross is asking the Legislature's budget committee to scale back Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut $300 million from the system. Cross told the Joint Finance Committee during a hearing on Tuesday that the cut is serious. He thanked committee members who have said they believe the cut is too deep. He also implored the committee to adopt Walker's proposal to largely free the system from state oversight. He promised the system would remain public, saying the largest share of system funding would come from the state. But he said more freedom would speed up building projects and supply acquisition. Five opponents of the cuts and oversight plan stood and marched around the hearing room yelling "no cuts." Police escorted them out.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:24:45 GMT

Madison officer says gang violence 'happening in our front yards'

A local leader said there's a need for alternatives to keep Madison area teens out of gangs. Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, has seen the gang violence that the Madison area has experienced in recent months. He also sees the need for the community to provide teens with an alternative to gangs. "We have some challenges here in Madison," Johnson said. He believes that programs like the Boys and Girls Club provide the support teens need and a positive activity where they can focus their energy. What he would like to see is for more opportunities to exist in the community to provide teens with positive after-school activities and support. "In the city of Louisville, Kentucky, the mayor there said they are going to provide 2,500 paid internships for kids," Johnson said. "Why can’t we do that here in Madison, Wisconsin?" Multiple weapon violations attributed to gang activity in Madison and surrounding communities have been increasing in recent months. On Saturday, shots were fired outside West Towne Mall. "Roughly we have about 30 or 40 known operating gangs here in the area, around 3,000 associates and or members in the area,” said Sgt. Brian Chaney, with the Madison Police Department gang unit. "I think now we’re becoming a little bit more aware of it, because it is happening in our front yards, it is happening in our mall, where some of these confrontations involving handguns are actually happening more out in the open and in the general public." While area police departments work to curb the violence and arrest those responsible, Johnson wants to see resources targeted to programs to keep teens out of gangs in the first place. “You’re either going to spend it on the front end or you’re going to spend it on the back end,” Johnson said.  He said spending money on programs to provide after-school activities and support for teens would prevent the necessity to spend those dollars on enforcement and incarceration. “Why can’t we spend those resources on the front end?" Johnson said. "But every time I look around, we’re cutting resources out from our schools. Nonprofits are struggling to raise money for our babies. Our kids are the best investment we can make in our community, and we have to do better." He also plans to ask the city of Madison to consider a gun-buy-back program to get weapons off the streets similar to one conducted in 1994. "They took almost 3,000 guns off the street in two days," Johnson said. "One of the things I’m going to recommend to the police chief is that we do the same thing in 2015."

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:42:47 GMT

Kitchen appliance helps patients escape a lifetime of pain

Stephanie McGuire barely remembers a day without gut-wrenching pain. "Honestly, I didn't know a person could be in that much pain," McGuire said. Since third grade, that agony landed McGuire in the hospital countless times, and it went undiagnosed for years. "There's nothing they can do for chronic pancreatitis. I could do things on my end, like I stopped drinking, I started eating as little fat as possible," McGuire said. "Honestly, none of that really helped. It still came back with vengeance every time." Finally, McGuire made the decision to come home to Wisconsin to take her chances on a unique procedure. "If we would have waited much longer, I could have ended up having diabetes,” McGuire explained. "At that point I would have been no longer, I would have no longer been a candidate for the surgery." The surgery is called Total Pancreatectomy Auto Islet Transplantation, also known as TPAIT. UW Hospital is one of a few facilities in the country that is known for performing the eight-hour procedure aimed at isolating useable islets and reintroducing them to the body. "It is art, really, to isolate islets in an efficient way," UW surgeon Dr. Luis Fernandez said. Islets are responsible for producing essential enzymes that aid in digestion. "They went in and first took out the pancreas,” McGuire said. “And then he takes it to a lab and puts it in a blender." "And we do then is to infuse back the patient their own pancreas, now in the form of almost a milkshake if you were to call it," Fernandez described. Nancy Radke is a transplant coordinator at UW Hospital, and she has worked with numerous families through the surgery. "Our goal is to see patients get to a solution a little bit earlier in the process so they're not so debilitated, they are not on high doses of narcotics when they reach us," Radke said. Radke is honest with patients about the recovery. "I tell them prepare that the Mac truck hit them, backed up and ran them over again," Radke said. "That's how I need them to be prepared for surgery." "You just feel like someone went into your stomach and took some organs out, you know?" McGuire said. While the months of recovery can be tough, it’s nothing compared with a lifetime of pain, sometimes without the help of drugs. McGuire said her condition was often misunderstood, and there were a number of instances where she was labeled a drug-seeker because of the amount of narcotics she needed to curb the pain and how frequently she needed it. "Usually we get written off with that group, and that's probably the most frustrating thing that can happen when you're in that kind of pain," McGuire said. "If you were to leave it without treatment, not only is it an unbearable quality of life because they will have chronicity of pain," Fernandez said. "The amount of narcotics that these patients take are absolutely barbaric." Now, McGuire doesn't need the drugs. She's monitoring her blood sugar regularly, but she has had no complications with diabetes. McGuire is back in Colorado where she’s pursuing nursing school and enjoying life back on the slopes. She no longer has to plan around the pain. "That's something, that's a day I never thought would come," McGuire said. Without a pancreas, a life once full of questions now has one answer: yes. "I have a whole new second chance now, which is amazing because I didn't think I would ever get that," McGuire said.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 05:24:32 GMT

Feingold plans to travel Wisconsin 'extensively'

Democrat Russ Feingold says he plans to travel Wisconsin "extensively" after leaving his post at the State Department, but he's not saying yet whether he will try to return to the U.S. Senate. Feingold said in a Facebook post Tuesday that he wants to listen to Wisconsinites about their concerns as he decides how he can "best further serve my country and the state I love." Feingold's departure this week from his special envoy post is fueling speculation that he's preparing to announce a challenge to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. Johnson is up for re-election next year. He defeated Feingold in 2010. Feingold says he plans to spend part of this year teaching at Stanford University. The rest of the time he will "travel the state extensively."

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:23:28 GMT

Walker throws support to bill dropping handgun wait period

Gov. Scott Walker says he supports a bill that would eliminate Wisconsin's 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. Walker said he wants the state to be a leader on the issue. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday that Walker's remarks came in an interview last week with the National Rifle Association's news network. A bill before legislators would eliminate Wisconsin's 40-year-old law that requires the wait between the time a background check is submitted to the Department of Justice and a handgun is acquired. An assembly committee held a hearing on the bill last week. Rep. Fred Kessler, a Milwaukee Democrat on the committee, says he supports an amendment that would create an exception for people arrested multiple times for domestic abuse.

Published: Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:09:45 GMT