Wisconsin roundup: Walker says 6-year-olds should be workforce-minded; kidnapping allegations include homemade Taser, sealed box; 8 more state news stories
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker says the State of the State address he'll deliver on Tuesday will focus on workforce development as the state's top priority.
The Republican Walker gave a preview to the state Bankers Association in Madison on Thursday -- and he said kids as young as 6 should start being prepared for work. The governor says that if Wisconsin can improve its workforce, it will improve its "economic vitality" and prosperity.
Walker also says the state must make sure veterans can get jobs, especially as they return from deployments -- and those with mental disabilities should get workforce training. Walker also promised to include new ways to help departing prisoners get jobs, when he submits his next two year budget to the Legislature in February.
Man accused of using homemade Taser on woman, putting her in box
MOSINEE — A 54-year-old Mosinee man faces several charges after an alleged attack on a woman who came over to visit a family member.
The victim says Allen Jamroz used what she called a "homemade Taser" to shock her, then bound her with duct tape, forced her to perform a sex act and put her in a wooden box. The woman's name hasn't been released.
She told police she passed out in the box, managing to break free of the tape when she woke up, and used a hammer to pry a basement door open so she could escape. Jamroz is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault and false imprisonment. He has a preliminary hearing set for next Wednesday.
Health group praises Walker's call to fight opioid/heroin addiction
Wisconsin's largest health groups praised Gov. Scott Walker's call for a special legislative session on fighting opioid and heroin addictions.
The state has approved a number of bills in the past two sessions from Marinette Rep. John Nygren, whose daughter struggled with heroin -- and Nygren was part of a task force whose proposals Walker touted Thursday in Weston, Green Bay, Chippewa Falls, and Madison. In executive orders, the Republican Walker told state departments to apply for $7.6 million in federal funds each year to fight the addictions, improve treatments of drug abusers for prisoners, guard against excess prescriptions at vets' homes, and check insurance coverage for opioid treatment.
Some of the new bills would let the UW start a charter high school for addiction recovery, and give certain people legal immunity. The Wisconsin Hospital Association says the plan includes some of its own proposals, and the State Medical Society calls the plan "ambitious."
State attorneys say lawmakers should redraw maps in 2018
MADISON — State attorneys are working to convince a panel of federal judges that Republican lawmakers should be allowed to redraw legislative boundaries in 2018.
The judges ruled in November that district boundaries GOP legislators drew up in 2011 were unconstitutional but didn't order any immediate changes. Democrats filed a brief last month saying a federal court should redraw the boundaries; the state Justice Department filed a brief the same day said no new maps should be drawn until after the U.S. Supreme Court hears the agency's appeal.
Department of Justice attorneys filed a new brief Thursday saying if the maps must be redrawn the Legislature should do it and there's no need to act before early 2018, since that's the year the next round of legislative elections will take place.
Fond du Lac man accused of 11th OWI had valid license
APPLETON — A Fond du Lac man recently charged with his 11th drunken driving offense had a valid driver's license at the time of his arrest.
Steven Johnson of Fond du Lac was arrested by police on New Year's Day in Appleton. Appleton police said Thursday that despite 10 previous drunken-driving convictions, Johnson's license was reinstated in July. It was revoked for three years after his 10th drunken-driving conviction in mid-2006.
Records show the 52-year-old's nine prior charges happened between 1990 and 1997. Officers say Johnson's blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit when he was arrested Sunday night. A new Wisconsin law that took effect Sunday increases the maximum sentence for a 10th or subsequent drunken driving offense by two-and-a-half years to 10 years in prison.
DNR wants to increase recreational licensing fees
MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is proposing some increases for fees like hunting and fishing licenses.
The DNR's fish and wildlife account is running out of money and that money is needed for wildlife management and law enforcement. Ninety percent of the funds comes from hunting, fishing and trapping license fees.
A steady decline in sales of hunting licenses in recent years has played a major role in a $5 million shortfall between the account's available revenue and authorized expenditures. Some worry increasing fees for hunting licenses would mean even fewer of those licenses being sold.
State year-to-year cheese output rises for 26 straight months
MADISON — Wisconsin's year to year cheese production has risen for the 26th month in a row.
According to the state Ag Statistics Service, Wisconsin cheese factories made almost 266 million pounds in November -- an increase of 3.8 percent from the same month in 2015. The Badger State produced 6,000 fewer pounds than in October of last year, but that month had one more day than November.
Wisconsin made almost 8 percent more Italian cheeses, while the Cheddar and mozzarella outputs rose close to 2.5 percent each. Nationally, November's cheese output rose 2.7 percent from the year before, totaling about 1 billion pounds.
Deer hide drive sets record
IOLA — A charity campaign to collect deer hides has set a record in its fourth year of existence.
The Waupaca County group Hides for Heroes says it has collected more than 1,200 deer hides from gun and bow hunters during the past two months. The goal is to raise $10,000 for the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation.
Dave Hintz of Hides for Heroes tells WLUK-TV in Green Bay the larger hides will net about $7.50 each, and smaller hides will go for around $3 apiece -- and they'll be sent overseas to make items like handbags and gloves. Hintz says his group plans to spend about one more week collecting deer hides.
Wisconsin's Van Susteren joins MSNBC
NEW YORK — Wisconsin native Greta Van Susteren will join MSNBC on Monday.
The attorney and former Appleton resident will host a weekday news and interview show called "For the Record with Greta," starting Monday at 5 p.m. on NBC's cable news channel. Van Susteren left Fox News in 2016 after 14 years as a cable host.
She was also a legal analyst at CNN for more than 10 years. Van Susteren is the second high profile Fox News journalist to join NBC. Megyn Kelly also joined the Peacock networks this week.
Fox Crossing police say man's death 'perplexing'
FOX CROSSING — Fox Crossing police say they can't rule anything in or out with certainty.
The cause of death for 54-year-old John Schaus hasn't been determined yet. His body was found in water in a ditch on a business property Tuesday afternoon. It is thought the Fox Crossing man was out walking after investigators found he walked a lot. His body showed signs of trauma and it was originally thought he might have been the victim of a hit-and-run. Police are hoping results of an autopsy conducted Wednesday will answer some questions.