March 31, 2015

New Wisconsin elk herd arrives in Jackson County

Elk (Photo: Wisconsin DNR)

Elk (Photo: Wisconsin DNR)

A new herd of elk has arrived in Wisconsin. The 26 animals donated by Kentucky arrived at a quarantine site in Jackson County on Thursday.

Department of Natural Resources big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang says the animals, which include there bulls, will be kept in a seven acre pen in the Black River State Forest for the next few months. The current plan is to fit them with radio collars and then release them later this summer, near the end of June.

Wallenfang says it was great to see the animals arrive in the state on Thursday, after DNR staff traveled through the night to transport them in two large trailers. He says “it’s a big relief” to finally have them here.

Efforts to reintroduce elk in Wisconsin started in 1995, with 25 animals donated by Michigan. The herd, located in Ashland County, has grown to about 160 animals in the past 20 years.

Former Dane County deputy changes plea in double homicide

Andy Steele

Andy Steele

A former Dane County sheriff’s deputy has changed his plea to guilty, but not legally responsible in the murders of his wife and sister-in-law.

40-year-old Andrew Steele had previously entered a plea of not guilty be reason of insanity in the case. He’s accused of killing his wife, 39-year-old Ashlee Steele, and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol of Lake Elmo, Minnesota last August. The change in plea now means a trial that’s scheduled to start on April 13 with focus on Steele’s mental state at the time of the murders.

Steele had resigned from the sheriff’s department prior to the shootings, after being diagnosed with ALS. His attorneys are expected to argue at trial that the disease and medication he was taking for treatment affected his cognitive functions and impulse control.

Madison Defense Attorney Steve Eisenberg, who is not connected with the case, says this type of plea could allow Steele to be committed instead of sent to prison. That would allow him to eventually petition for release, if he can prove he’s no longer a danger to others.

Officers responded to Steele’s Fitchburg home on the afternoon of August 22, after a 911 call reporting someone with a gunshot wound in the basement. Initial officers on the scene found Tollefsbol inside the basement door covered with blood. She was later transported to a Madison hospital with a gunshot wound to the back, where she was pronounced dead.

The Dane County Sheriff’s tactical team was called in to enter the residence, where police found Andrew Steele inside a laundry room with a lit portable grill next to him. Ashlee Steele’s body was found on a bed, with a gunshot wound to the head and a black zip tie around her neck.

WIBA contributed to this report.

Funeral services set for slain Wisconisn State Trooper

Trooper Trevor Casper

Trooper Trevor Casper

Funeral services have been set for a Wisconsin State Trooper, killed in the line of duty this week during a shootout with a bank robbery and murder suspect.

Trooper Trevor Casper’s services will be in the same location as his 2011 high school graduation, Kiel High School. The services will start at 4:45 p.m., and will be followed by a private burial Monday nearby at Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery.
Casper’s parents and other family members will greet relatives and friends from noon until the service begins.

Officials at the Meiselwitz­ Vollstedt Funeral Home in Kiel say the family is asking people to make memorials in Casper’s name in lieu of flowers.

A Facebook site was set up to honor Casper, and an online fundraising site was launched to try and raise $10,000 to apply towards his final expenses. That site had already raised over $15,000 in just 48 hours. Donations are also being taken at all National Exchange Bank and Trust locations.


English portion of Badger Exam delayed for Wisconsin students

File photo

File photo

Wisconsin students in 3rd through 8th grade will have to wait a little longer to take part of their state achievement tests.

The English Language Arts portion of the new Badger Exam, which is tied to Common Core education standards, was scheduled to start on Monday. However, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers announced Thursday that the start date has been moved to April 13th because of technical glitches in delivering the online exams to schools and their students.

Evers said the problems originate from the company that’s providing the exam. DPI said Educational Testing Service, which holds the contract to provide Wisconsin’s online state assessment, notified the state on Wednesday that it could not deliver the English Language Arts assessment for Monday’s testing window. ETS has promised to provide a test that works on April 13.

Badgers rally to beat UNC, advance to Elite 8 for second straight year

Sam Dekker

Sam Dekker

It required a second half rally, contributions from a two unexpected bench players, and a career night for a rising star to push the Wisconsin Badgers past North Carolina, 79-72, and into the NCAA Tournament’s Elite 8 for a second consecutive year.

Junior Sam Dekker scored a career-best 23 points (10-for-15) to go along with ten rebounds, while Zak Showalter and Traevon Jackson combined for ten points off the bench in the Badgers third Sweet 16 win under coach Bo Ryan. Jackson was playing in his first game after missing 19 games with a broken foot. The senior hit his first shot of the game, a three-pointer from the corner in the first half.

The top seed in the West Region fell behind early and trailed by as much as seven in the second half against the fourth-seeded Tar Heels, but a 19-7 run put the Badgers in front for good. The run included a three-pointer by Frank Kaminsky and four consecutive points from Showalter. [Read more…]