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Christy Spindler spreads the pictures on the table. The four young people smile out at her, looking full of life and full of promise. All were Wisconsin residents, all were college students, all died within 18 months of one another, and all died of bacterial meningitis. The young man on the left is Spindler's son Erik, a junior at UW-River Falls. He died Nov. 11, 2002. Another list records six other University of Wisconsin System students stricken with meningitis earlier in 2002.
Winning $50,000 was the first step.
WAUSAU -- In a decision filed Tuesday, the District III Court of Appeals found that a former New Richmond zoning administrator can't be fined for violating the open meetings law because there was no meeting. The appeals panel ruled that it would be "absurd" to require officials such as Wallace Habhegger, the only member of his department, to hold open meetings to discuss the reasoning for denying a building permit.
ELLSWORTH -- Concern about property tax levy limits and, apparently in some cases dissatisfaction with the sheriff, led Pierce County supervisors last week to limit pay raises for elected officials. The resolution on the May 23 County Board agenda would have given 2.5% raises to the clerk of court, county clerk, register of deeds, treasurer and sheriff in 2007 and 2008.
As assessors and other officials become familiar with the process, Pierce County is collecting more farmland conversion fees, reported Treasurer Lee Skog last week. Skog said his office has billed out $101,840 in conversion fees this year and so far has collected $63,024. Half of the money collected goes to the townships. "The county is making some money on it at the expense of a lot of hassle," said Skog. He called Wisconsin's farmland penalty statute "a poorly designed law." First, he said, the statute calls the fee a penalty. "In this case, nobody did anything wrong," said Skog.
A year after a Pierce County department head filed a grievance saying his parent committee publicly undermined his authority and credibility, he resigned and county officials agreed to give him over $73,000. According to documents received through an opening meetings request, Land Conservation Supervisor David Sander hasn't worked since April 1, but will be paid his regular wages and benefits, except health insurance, through May 31, 2007.
ELLSWORTH: Following a heated discussion, the Pierce County Finance and Personnel Committee voted Monday night to recommend that an $81,000 Sheriff's Department overrun be covered by the county's general fund. About $35,000 of the costs above the 2005 budget were attributed to higher gasoline costs, and there was little objection to that.
ELLSWORTH: Although the temporary chairman and observers admit to losing count, Pierce County Land Conservation Committee members voted about 40 times last week without choosing a chairman. Two members were consistently nominated May 3. The vote ended each time with a 3-3 tie as the two sides dug in their heels, and the nomination and voting process was repeated time after time.
ELLSWORTH -- A jury heard testimony for five days but deliberated for under 15 minutes before deciding a doctor was not negligent in his treatment of a University of Wisconsin-River Falls student who died of bacterial meningitis. Erik Spindler, 20, a business administration major from Stillwater, Minn., died Nov. 11, 2002, at River Falls Area Hospital. His family later filed a malpractice suit against Dr.
"Does he still wait in the car with the motor running?" asked my daughter last week. It was a Sunday morning routine when the kids were growing up. My husband, ever impatient, would be ready for church and waiting in the car for as long as 10 minutes while the rest of us finished getting ready. And, yes, Lisa, he still does it. But not as often because on the Sundays he sings with the choir, we each drive alone. I could, and will, mention that I've only been late to church once that I can remember. I've seen the lists of things married couples are most likely to bicker over.