Local News Briefs Thursday 11/14/13

The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person phoning in bomb threats in Waupun has been increased to $1,000 as the number of bomb threats increases to double digits. Deputy Police Chief Scott Louden says a threat received through the police department about a bomb at the Junior/Senior High School early Wednesday morning was the 11th threat received since Sunday. He says they do have a potential suspect or person of interest. He says that person may also be responsible for threats in nearby Fox Lake and Beaver Dam, but at this point in their investigation they are waiting on phone records to determine if it is the work of one person. Louden says he would consider the threats an act of terrorism because they are disrupting residents’ habits and the quality of life in the city.

Four Cities Get Phony Bomb Threats

The City of Ripon is now part of the growing number of area communities that has fallen victim to prank bomb threats. Tuesday night the Ripon Pick ‘n Save got a phone call saying there was a bomb in their store. The male caller was non-specific. Police in Beaver Dam, Fox Lake and Waupun have had similar threats with the most reported in Waupun nearly a dozen since Sunday. The reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Waupun has grown to $1,000. Anyone with information should contact their police department.

Truck Fire In Allenton

Three fire departments battled a semi-truck fire in Allenton late Wednesday morning. The truck was towing a cargo container destined for the Wal-Mart distribution center in Beaver Dam and was fully involved when firefighters arrived. The driver heard an explosion like sound in the engine compartment then the truck suffered loss of power. He pulled into the parking area at J-Stop off of State Highway 33 and saw fire coming from the engine compartment. He then dialed 9-1-1. The semi was completely destroyed. Merchandise in the cargo container was also damaged. The estimated loss of the vehicle and its contents is $250,000. No one was injured during the blaze.

FDL Man Pleads To Injury Charge In Driving Accident

The 47-year-old Fond du Lac man suspected of driving under the influence and hitting a pedestrian on Winnebago Drive has pled guilty to two of the four charges he was facing stemming from the May 14th incident. Aarron Schmitz was in a Fond du Lac County courtroom Wednesday morning for a plea hearing. He pled guilty to charges of injury by use of a vehicle while using a controlled substance and felony bail jumping. A 2nd degree reckless injury charge was dismissed on a prosecutor’s motion and an additional bail jumping charge was read into the record and dismissed. Schmitz fell asleep behind the wheel while driving home from a roofing job going off the road and striking 44-year-old Traci Luther of Fond du Lac who suffered serious injuries. He told investigators he had taken medication and the night before had been drinking and smoking marijuana. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 17th. 

FDL Man On Trial

A 45-year-old Fond du Lac man is on trial for allegedly trying to rob an elderly man at gunpoint last June. Terry Searl also allegedly beat the 66-year-old man with the gun sending the man to the emergency room at St. Agnes Hospital. The trial began with jury selection yesterday. According to the criminal complaint Searl was wearing a see-thru mask, but the victim recognized him. The crime happened at a residence on East Pioneer Road, which Searl allegedly pushed his way into. He was looking for money and drugs, but ended up taking cell phones when a woman with the victim said they didn’t have any. The trial is scheduled to run through tomorrow.

FDL City Council Approves Development Agreement For Holiday Inn

By a unanimous vote the Fond du Lac City Council Wednesday night approved a development agreement, which will allow the Holiday Inn to move forward with a $10 million expansion project. The hotel will be adding 9,000 square feet to its conference center and remodeling the current center for a total of 16,000 square feet. A new Holiday Inn Express will be built next door and a new Benvenuto’s Italian Restaurant opens soon at the hotel. Prior to the Council’s vote former Ramada Hotel owner Ron Schmitz told the Council it was a good opportunity, but reminded them something also has to be done about vacant storefronts downtown. Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President Craig Molitor says it will address a need for convention space in the City. He says those holding conventions in a city spend the majority of their money outside the hotel they stay at. The City for its part of the agreement will borrow $950,000, which will be paid back through Tax Incremental Finance District funds.

Silica Announces Expansion And Name Change

Silica Appliance & Electronics in Fond du Lac recently announced the Fond du Lac store is currently under construction due to a store expansion. Planning for the new addition to be open prior to Thanksgiving, Silica in Fond du Lac will offer home furnishings, home décor and bedding products in addition to their existing appliances, electronics and grill selections. “We are very excited about the expansion. It has been something that we have thought about for years, and we feel the timing is right” said president, Tom Schneider. The new business endeavor will feature products from brands such as Flexsteel, England, Best and Simmons Beautyrest as well as many more. “Our goal is to offer great selection and competitive pricing on furniture, bedding and accessories, from a locally owned business” adds Schneider. Alongside the planned expansion, Silica announced their business name will change to Silica For Your Home. To maintain the customer service known to Silica’s clientele, they have also added several employees to the business. The new division plans to be open to the public November 22.

Gudex Historic Preservation Tax Credit Bill On Its Way To Governor’s Desk

State Senator Rick Gudex of Fond du Lac says a bill he co-authored that would increase the tax credit for historic preservation efforts is on its way to the Governor to be signed into law after being passed by the Senate this week. The bill would increase the credit from 10 to 20 percent for buildings built prior to 1936, which Gudex says will keep investments in Wisconsin and create jobs. He says the state will lose some tax monies, but the return on those historic preservation projects will make up for those losses many times over. Gudex says if there’s any truth to some of the rumors in Fond du Lac there are people interested in historic preservation projects in the downtown. Gudex says the tax credits will be a vital economic development tool.

Dodge County Budget Adopted

By a 27 to 5 vote the Dodge County Board this week approved the County’s 2014 budget. The county will be levying $32-million dollars in property taxes, an increase of $100,000 dollars from the current budget. That increases the tax rate by two cents to $5.70 per one thousand dollars of assessed value. The county portion of the tax bill on a $150,000 home will be $855, up less than four dollars from the most recent tax bill.

Whooping Cough Has Flu Like Symptoms

The public health officer for Fond du Lac County says whooping cough or pertussis is something they are still seeing in the County. Kim Mueller says they have seen some cases in the schools. She says it can be mistaken for the flu because of the symptoms, but the whooping like cough won’t develop for 10 to 14 days. She says they just want to make sure that people are vaccinated against pertussis. She says if you haven’t been vaccinated in a while they can check and see if you need a booster shot and if you do it is free. You can find out more by calling (920) 929-3085.

Social Hosting Ordinance Making A Difference

An official with Drug Free Communities of Fond du Lac County says social hosting ordinances across the County are having an impact on underage drinking. Janet Lloyd says law enforcement officials are using the ordinance to cite adults who host underage drinking parties or allow them to happen on their property. She says it’s actually had a positive impact on college students who drink. She students are policing themselves and checking IDs at parties to make sure those drinking are old enough to do so legally. She believes the social hosting ordinances are making a difference.