Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.
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As we head into December, the Sharing Families Project is making a plea for sponsors for families it aims to help this holiday season.
WAUSAU -- Last week a state appeals court threw out a St. Croix County conviction of a man arrested for walking near a Somerset school while carrying a loaded semi-automatic rifle on his back and a loaded handgun on his hip. The District III Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Scott Needham should have dismissed Mark Hoffman’s case during his jury trial because the evidence suggested the only reason police stopped and arrested Hoffman was that he was carrying the weapons.
When they go to the polls April 5, Wisconsin voters will elect a justice for the state’s Supreme Court, choosing between Rebecca Bradley, appointed to the state’s highest court last October, and JoAnne Kloppenburg, an appeals court judge. Bradley was named last fall to the Supreme Court by Gov. Scott Walker after Justice N. Patrick Crooks died with 10 months left in his term. Previously Bradley served on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge.
The 40-year South African ministry of white Methodist clergyman Peter Storey was marked by sustained opposition to apartheid. He served as chaplain to Nelson Mandela and other prisoners on Robben Island and, along with Bishop Desmond Tutu, was a witness-in-chief for the South African Council of Churches when the apartheid regime put the SACC on trial. On Sunday, April 3, Storey -- who has preached and lectured around the world -- will speak during the 9:30 a.m. service at the United Methodist Church of River Falls and again at a 12:30 p.m. community forum.
St. Croix County cut slightly the amount it charges work-release prisoners for electronic monitoring and will begin billing other counties for the use of its computer forensic lab. County Board members voted March 1 to reduce the per day charge for GPS bracelets on jail inmates in the work-release program from $10 to $5.25. The jail is using a new vendor, and the cost is less, said Supervisor Andy Brinkman, chairman of the Public Protection Committee.
HUDSON – St. Croix County cut slightly the amount it charges work-release prisoners for electronic monitoring and will begin billing other counties for the use of its computer forensic lab. County Board members voted March 1 to reduce the per day charge for GPS bracelets on jail inmates in the work-release program from $10 to $5.25. The jail is using a new vendor, and the cost is less, said Supervisor Andy Brinkman, chairman of the Public Protection Committee.
Although they have asked to borrow $5 million from the State Trust Fund, St. Croix County supervisors voted 15-3 to limit the draw on that loan to $3,707,099. The resolution adopted March 1 says the draw and another $50,000 from the jail improvement fund will be spent this way: $68,530 court teleconferencing equipment; $2,298,247 for the second phase of an upgrade to the 911 system; $240,822 for remodeling for a day-reporting center at the jail; $1,142,000 for a jail upgrade; and $7,500 for a forensic computer for the Sheriff’s Department.
Although the dispute is not resolved, the St. Croix County Board put a Band-Aid on a library funding issue that pits the county’s largest municipalities against one another. County Board members voted Tuesday morning to pay the Hudson Area Joint Library 100 percent of its cost of serving rural patrons in 2015 and to ask the Administration Committee to use contingency funds to pay the county’s other libraries the amount they are owed for serving residents of the towns of Hudson and St. Joseph.
Development of a day reporting center at the St. Croix County Jail could assure that persons out on bond or on probation are being monitored as the judges assume they are, say those championing the project. “This is not done widely throughout the state. We’re really on the cutting edge,” said Sheriff John Shilts of the center that could be used by over 2,800 people who, at any one time, are involved with the courts and are ordered to report for urine or preliminary-breath tests, DNA collection or fingerprinting.
During its Feb. 2 meeting, the St. Croix County Board finalized union contracts that will give sheriff’s deputies, jailers, investigators and sergeants 2 percent pay increases. The three-year contract gives annual 2 percent, across-the-board increases to 46 primary services officers and 27 corrections officers in the Sheriff’s Department. The extra cost to the county for 2016 is estimated at $110,000 with similar incremental impacts in 2017 and 2018. The pay scale has starting salaries, increases after six months and then raises at each year to year six.