December 18, 2014

Marshfield man guilty of breaking baby’s arm

(Learfield photo)

(Learfield photo)

A couple brought their child in to St. Joseph’s Hospital back in September, according to court records. The child had two fractures to his left arm. A doctor told authorities that the baby wasn’t walking, crawling or pulling himself up yet to cause an injury like that.

When authorities questioned the parents, the father, Mark Kuehn, 28, admitted that he was watching his son and trying to change his diaper, but the child was fussing and rolling around in his crib. Kuehn said he grabbed his son’s left arm and pulled him back into place when he heard a pop and the boy started to cry.

Kuehn was charged with child abuse and felony bail jumping. The bail jumping charge came about when authorities learned that Kuehn broke one of the conditions of his bond which was to have no contact with his son.

In the end, the bail jumping charged was dropped. As a result of a no contest plea Kuehn was found guilty in Wood County Court on Monday of child abuse. A sentencing date has not be set yet, but if convicted of the maximum amount, he could spend 9.5 years in prison.



Wisconsin was 12th highest taxed state in 2012

Learfield file photo

Learfield file photo

Wisconsin’s tax rate held relatively steady, while two of our neighbors saw dramatic increases, in recent years.

A study of census tax figures by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance shows that the state had the 12th highest tax burden in the country in 2012, at 11.4 percent of personal income.

Taxpayers Alliance president Todd Berry says the country was coming out of the recession in 2012. Minnesota and Illinois jumped passed the Badger State after increasing taxes in order to balance their budgets.

Berry says he’s not sure how Wisconsin’s tax cuts in 2013 and this year. will impact the state’s future rankings.


Granite Peak proposes $50 million expansion



The owner of Wisconsin’s tallest and largest ski area is looking to expand and be more attractive to families and destination skiers.

Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner says he’s hoping to add a dozen new ski runs, on-site lodging, and more summer recreation choices in a proposed $50 million dollar expansion of the existing ski hill in central Wisconsin.

Skinner says the park near Wausau needs the space to survive past the next generation of skiers. “With competition from the west, with Vale acquiring ski areas in major metropolitan areas, in Detroit, Minneapolis, and supposedly Chicago soon, and offering a nationwide season pass, we need to be particularly compelling to draw people from three to four hours away for a vacation experience.” He says slopes are currently too crowded on some days and that they need to have the extra space for more capacity for skiers. They currently lease 415 acres on Rib Mountain from the Department of Natural Resources and are putting in a request for another 150 acres.

The new section would be built to the west of the existing park, and focus on intermediate and beginner level skiers. “We see this as a big benefit for our family skiers that come from all over the Midwest and also for the local population that wants to learn here and have more of a varied experience.” Skinners say that would also allow for multiple top to bottom ski runs for beginners, something that isn’t available on the current runs on the mountain.

Along with the new ski hills, Skinner says they’re looking towards future expansion and construction of on site, ski-in-ski-out lodging between the current runs and the new expansion. “We don’t have a specific timetable for that, but we’re starting to move forward and do that planning so that in a few years we’d be in a position to develop onsite lodging.” That project would be built on private property that was purchased over a decade ago, and will have to go through the standard zoning and planning process with the Town of Rib Mountain.

The construction would also go through a number of existing hiking and walking trails along the mountain and Skinner says they’ll be working to replace and repair any parts that will be on the new ski runs, as well as adding another large section of trails to go with the expansion. They’re also hoping to increase the summer offerings at the park, including more events like the Fall Colors rides and adding ziplines.

Skinner says they’re hoping to start construction on the new ski hills and lifts by the middle of 2016. That will have to go through planning and zoning processes with the DNR.

A new high-speed lift was added at Granite Peak two years ago to serve the western part of the ski area.


Flooding prompts major road closure in Menominee County

Highway flooding in Menominee County. (Photo: WisDOT)

Highway flooding in Menominee County. (Photo: WisDOT)

A main road through the Menominee Indian Reservation is closed because of flooding on the Wolf River.

The state Department of Transportation on Tuesday closed Highway 47-55 on the north side of Keshena. DOT maintenance supervisor Brent Matthews says the decision was made after the water became deep enough to conceal the edge lines on the road.

The flooding is the result of ice dams on the Wolf River, which have caused water to back up and cover the highway. With temperatures expected to drop, there are also concerns that ice could form over the road.

Crews have been working to clear the ice jam, but Matthews says it remains uncertain how long the road will remain closed.


Audit reveals unemployment benefit overpayments, blocked calls

Learfield file photo

Learfield file photo

An audit shows the Department of Workforce Development blocked almost 1.7 million calls from people trying to claim unemployment benefits in the year that ended June 30.

The Legislative Audit Bureau report shows the vast majority of blocked calls were made between December 2013 and January 2014, when the phone system was overloaded. Senator Rob Cowles of Green Bay says it was a long-running problem.

“One year period 60 percent of the calls were blocked and another year it was almost 80 percent of the calls were blocked. Now, since February 2014, and up until this past June 14th, it’s down to 10 percent.”

The co-chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee says changes to the agency’s computer system helped.

The audit also found the DWD overpaid nearly $168 million in unemployment benefits during the three year period that ended in June.

“I’m very interested in tracking that overpayment and getting that money back. it’s not easy to get it back. So, it’s something that we have to continue to monitor.”

About 85 percent of the overpayments were the result of accidental errors. About 9.5  percent were likely fraud.