Local News Briefs Friday 1/23/15

A 35-year-old Fairwater woman is suspected of embezzling thousands of dollars from a Dodge County cemetery. Katie Norton was recently charged in Dodge County Court with two felony theft charges.  She allegedly took over $24,000 from the bank account of the Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery Association in the Town of Trenton between April and September of last year.  The owners of the cemetery say many checks had to be returned because there was insufficient money in their bank account when there should have been.  Norton allegedly wrote out checks for inaccurate amounts on a number of occasions, including her own paychecks for more than she was entitled to.  She is scheduled to make her Initial Appearance in Dodge County court on February 2.

State Unemployment Rate Holds Steady Gain In Private Sector Jobs

The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.2 percent in December according to revisions of federal labor statistics. That remains the state’s lowest jobless rate since September of 2008. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson noted 7,600 private sector jobs were added in December and revised numbers for November showed a gain of 18,000 private sector jobs, which is the highest 1-month gain since at least 1990.

Change In Ownership For BCI Burke Should Strengthen Company

The new President and CEO of BCI Burke in Fond du Lac says a change in ownership doesn’t mean much will change for the playground equipment manufacturer. Incline Equity Partners, a Pittsburgh based equity firm, has purchased BCI Burke. BCI Burke CEO Mike Phelan says Burke was founded in 1920 and has a long proud history. (He says there will be no change in the company’s name. He says Incline’s acquisition will actually strengthen the company and workers don’t have to worry about their jobs. He says Incline likes what the company produces and has no plans to move it. Phelan has been with Burke the last 2 ½ years serving as Vice-President of Operations. Former Burke President and CEO Tim Ahern will become a member of the company’s Board of Directors and former CFO Mark Sonergard will be retiring.

Show Of Support For Law Enforcement Officers Saturday In FDL

Law Enforcement officials in Fond du Lac will see a show of support in Fond du Lac Saturday afternoon. Fond du Lac Police Chaplain Paul Pfeffer says the event is an outgrowth of recent Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. He says people who want to show their support are asked to show up at the FIVES Giddings & Lewis Parking Lot at the corner of Johnson and Doty Streets at 1:45 p.m. They will then be organized to hold up signs of support. From 2 to 3:30 p.m. those participating will hold up their signs of support from the Johnson Street Bridge east to the south side of Rees Street by the Police Department garage, and along Western Avenue by the Fond du Lac County Sherriff’s Office. Signs will be supplied and you only have to stand in support for as long as you want to.

Seventy Mile Per Hour Speed Limit

State Senator Devin LeMahieu of Oostburg is the co-author of legislation that would allow the State’s Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on certain highways to 70 miles per hour. It’s one of the first bills for the new Senator from the 9th State Senate District. He says the DOT has determined that traffic is traveling well above 70 miles per hour on many highways already. He says when Illinois and Iowa raised their speed limits to 70 miles per hour the number of fatal accidents went down. The federal government set a maximum speed limit of 55 miles per hour in 1974 during the energy crisis, but those regulations were abolished in 1995. Many states raised their limits back up to 70, but Wisconsin went with 65 miles per hour. LeMahieu says cars are more fuel efficient now and have safety features that just weren’t around 30 to 40 years ago. A similar bill was passed by the Assembly last session, but got bogged down in the State Senate’s Transportation Committee. LeMahieu says his bill is building bipartisan support.

More Dodge County Sheriffs Deputies Will Learn How To Recognize Drugged Drivers

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt says they will be training more of their deputies to recognize drugged drivers. Schmidt says currently they have two drug recognition experts with the Sheriff’s Department. He says it’s a lot simpler to recognize a drunk driver when they get up to the driver’s window. He says there are more subtle clues that you’ve pulled over a drugged driver including pupil size, how they are acting, track marks on their arms and even the tone of their speech. He says there’s a program called A.R.I.D.E., which stands for Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement. It’s a two-day class that drug recognition experts can teach their deputies. Schmidt says they know they are dealing with more drugged drivers these days. He says blood draws from more severe crashes back that up.

Chocolate Fantasy On Sunday In FDL

The Soroptimists of Fond du Lac will hold their 19th Annual Chocolate Fantasy at the Knights of Columbus Hall this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Terri Fleming of the Soroptimists says this year’s event will benefit the Girls on the Run in Fond du Lac. The organization for girls in 3rd through 5th grades use experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Fleming says they have about 20 candy-making vendors including many returning favorites that will offer samples. In addition by purchasing a half-pound box of chocolates from End of the Trail for $10 you will have a chance to win a diamond pendant from C.W. Smith Jewelers, valued at $1,000. Advance tickets for Chocolate Fantasy are available for $10 at Bank Mutual, C.W. Smith Jewelers, EP-Direct Printing, Fond du Lac Convention & Visitors Bureau, Fox Valley Savings Bank, Wegner Office Supply and from Soroptimist members. They will also be available at the door for $12.