September 16, 2014

Gay marriages in Wisconsin on hold

A marriage ceremony outside Madison's City County Building. (File Photo: WRN)

A marriage ceremony outside Madison’s City County Building. (File Photo: WRN)

Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriages remains in effect — at least for now.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering taking up the issue. In the meantime, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has decided to put its recent ruling on gay marriage on hold.

The appellate panel ruled almost two weeks ago that the gay marriage bans in both Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.

Last week, state attorney general JB Van Hollen asked the Supreme Court to consider acting on Wisconsin’s case. The justices will discuss the gay marriage issue in a closed-door conference two weeks from today.

Central Wisconsin hunters being urged to test deer for CWD

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Deer hunters are being asked to save deer heads or to use partnering taxidermists so they can test animals for Chronic Wasting Disease. This is especially true in certain central Wisconsin areas like Portage, Adams, and Juneau counties where Department of Natural Resources officials are trying to determine if the disease is spreading or has developed any patterns.

Last year, five CWD-positive wild deer were discovered in Central Wisconsin. Three of them were in Portage County and two in Adams County. Another CWD positive test was found on a captive deer in Marathon County last year. DNR Wildlife Supervisor Kris Johansen says Chronic Wasting Disease is going to be a rare occurrence, but there are precautions hunters need to take with the meat.

“What we tell folks is if an animal tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, The Department of Health and Family Services advises against eating that animal. It’s just better safe than sorry, so that’s the stance we take on it. If it tests positive, you’re better off not eating it.”
Johansen says the testing procedures have improved, and hunters can get the results back in a relatively short period of time…

“We’ve cut down on the amount of time it takes to get the sample processed, get it in, and get the results back, and we’re getting those back in two to three weeks now, so in most situations if folks process it and get it sampled and they put it in the freezer and they want to wait, they won’t have to wait that long to eat that good tasting venison.”

Hunters are being asked to keep the head and a small part of the neck for testing, or to take their trophy deer to a participating taxidermists where they can submit the sample to the DNR for testing.


New iPhone gets lots of attention



While some things are better with age, that’s not the case with technology.

Amber Epp is an assistant professor of marketing at the Wisconsin School of Business. “We’re kind of wired for a bias toward novelty. We want the newest, the best thing that’s out on the market.” She says, smartphones are embedded in our everyday lives — for use with social media, instant texting, taking selfies, and making purchases.

Epp recently conducted a study on long-distance families. She says grandparents love using the latest video technology to stay in touch with their grandchildren.

Also, she says, companies — especially Apple — do a great job at inciting consumer desire for new technologies. “If you noticed the iPhone 6 was completely shrouded in secrecy with no information provided to the public about what the new features might be. People were clamoring to find out not just about the product in general but to be part of the phenomenon of having something new.”

Even though a current device might work just fine, clamoring for the latest technology could have something to do with being part of a community of like-minded individuals; some might consider it a status symbol; or maybe it’s as simple as ‘keeping up with the Jones.’

The new Apple iPhones go on sale this Friday (September 19), but devoted fans were already pre-ordering the objects of their desire last Friday (September 12).

Changes to drug takeback program

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Newly approved changes to the way the federal government handles drug take back boxes may complicate things for local solid waste departments.

A rule passed earlier this year allows those drop boxes in more places than just police stations. Marathon County solid waste department director Meleesa Johnson says that may make it easier for some people to get to a place to turn in unwanted medications. “This piece of legislation changes the law and then instructs the DEA to create this new rule that allows for more locations where these can be taken back including pharmacies, some clinic and hospitals. Those type of things.”

The wording of the legislation only applies to controlled substances, which are only a portion of the drugs Johnson says they get in their boxes. There’s also no provisions in the rule that talk about how the new boxes will be funded. “Some of these issues would have to be addressed, like how is it going to be paid for, what are the logistical and administrative concerns at these additional locations, and it’s a little uncertain how that would all play out.”

Currently the DEA pays for the upkeep and transport of the drugs at boxes at police stations but will not be doing so for new facilities in the future. There are also no guidelines on how pills and drugs need to be destroyed, only that they must be rendered useless as a medication.

Johnson says her department prefers incineration as the most environmentally friendly way to destroy drugs, but that other groups may not take that route. “We certainly don’t want them in the landfill, because they are complex organic molecules, and they don’t necessarily break down the way we want them too. Incineration is the best means, and we’ll continue to pursue that in Marathon County.”

The new rules will take effect in October, after one final federally backed drug take back day September 27th.


Fall Ride sees first crash

Harley_Davidsons heading to Tomahawk Fall Ride (2009 photo)

Harley_Davidsons heading to Fall Ride (2009 photo)

The Tomahawk Fall Ride has already had its first motorcycle crash for the year.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department deputies say two motorcycles collided Thursday afternoon on Highway 107 near Sugar Maple Road.

Investigators say the female operator rear ended another motorcycle that had slowed down for turkeys in the roadway. The woman was initially taken to Sacred Heart Hospital, but was transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield for treatment.

Deputies have not released the names of the people involved, or the extent of the woman’s injuries.

Officials say alcohol use is not a factor in this crash.

The 33rd annual Tomahawk Fall Ride is under way this weekend to raise funds and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The event draws up to 50,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders and visitors to the Northwoods each September with entertainment and the latest motorcycles and accessories from Harley-Davidson.