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Local News Briefs Tuesday 7/7/15

The DNR has issued a special air quality notice for parts of the state due to smoke from wildfires. Officials say the smoke is being carried in behind the cold front that passed into the state overnight. Monitoring sites in northern and west-central Wisconsin indicate orange category or unhealthy levels for children, elderly people or those with respiratory and cardiac problems. Prolonged strenuous outdoors activity is discouraged. The smoke is expected to move southeastward across the state this morning.

Tornadoes Reported

Weather spotters in Shawano and Waupaca Counties reported at least five tornado touchdowns last night. Storms caused flooding and the high winds accompanying them damaged trees and buildings. The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for several counties including Shawano and Oconto Counties. No injuries were reported.

Dodge County Accident Unusual

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt says he’s never seen anything quite like a two-car accident on Highway 151 Sunday afternoon that injured three people. A southbound car lost control and was split in half by a northbound vehicle. Schmidt says the car that was split apart was hit right behind the driver’s door. He says he’s never that before. More remarkably a 3 ½ year old girl in a child’s seat was ejected from that car and was still in the seat when rescuers arrived. He says the seat protected her and she suffered some minor injuries, but should be okay. Schmidt says proper restraint in the car seat likely saved that little girl’s life. He says it’s amazing how well protected she was and the car seat remained intact. The girl, 33-year-old Amy Galica of Oshkosh and 30-year-old Timothy Mcessey of Middleton ended up in hospitals in Madison and Columbus.

Bow String Bridge Could Be Moved Elsewhere In Lakeside Park

Fond du Lac Public Works Director Jordan Skiff says the City may be able to have the best of both worlds when it comes to preserving the bow string bridge on Fountain Island in Lakeside Park. He says an engineer’s analysis found it would cost twice as much to preserve the bridge compared to replacing it with a new one. The Historic Preservation Commission had to be mindful of the cost. He applauds the commission for recognizing that while they can give historic designation to the structure it’s up to the City Council to fund the work.  He says what the Advisory Park Board and Historic Preservation Commission would like to do is put in a new bridge, but move the old to another sight in the park where it could be appreciated by future generations. It wouldn’t be located over water. He says the engineer is working out cost estimates to move the old bridge. He says once they have that can recommend a complete plan to the City Council.

Senator Gudex Open Records Change A Terrible Idea

An effort to change the state’s open records law in the state budget is being removed. State Senator Rick Gudex says the proposal by the Joint Finance Committee late last Thursday night was a terrible idea. He says he won’t vote for the state budget if it’s not removed. He says it was an effort to protect constituents who contact state and local elected officials by mail and email. He believes it had a lot to do with one particular state legislator who got many open records requests in the last year to year and a half. The state lawmaker from Fond du Lac says it was probably done with the best of intentions, but didn’t end up that way. He says they went to far and hopefully they will review the request and have some open debate before making a change in the future. The proposed change to open records law drew criticism from the media, the state’s attorney general, and open records advocates.

Chairman And Vice Chair Talk About Lakeside Park Report

The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee invite the public to see what is in the final report the committee recently released after reporting to the City Council. Vice-Chair Ray Lapierre says they got a lot on input and didn’t exclude any ideas. He says they came up with 27 recommendations based on 64 different ideas. He says people want to see more concerts and festivals in the park. Chairman John Short says one of their common themes was getting people close enough to touch the water, which is where a suggestion for a boardwalk came out of. The complete report, an executive summary and video can be found at the City’s website. 

Obama Joke Earns Prison Guard Suspension

A state prison guard in Waupun served a one-day suspension for what he called a “joke” he posted on Facebook about President Obama and lynching.  Collin Visser put up a photo of Christmas tree ornaments which depicted the president, with the words “Look guys, Obama Christmas ornaments.  Suddenly it’s legal to hang a black man from a tree again.” That was back in December.  Visser reportedly served his suspension on February 11th, and was ordered to take diversity training.  That was after the Waupun warden told Visser he violated four work rules in the Corrections Department, and his use of social media was “demeaning and derogatory.”  Visser reportedly said he meant no harm, he was not a racist, he meant it to be a joke, and he asked to keep his job.

Marian And Salvation Army Sign Memorandum Of Understanding

Marian University recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with The Salvation Army, a partnership aimed to offer individuals additional educational and service opportunities. “This is an exciting new partnership with a highly regarded social services organization with a long tradition of providing compassionate care in the local community,” said Stacey Akey, vice president for Enrollment Management at Marian. Major Dan Jennings, Salvation Army divisional commander for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan says, “Educational opportunities are critical to building stronger families and communities. The Marian University, Salvation Army educational partnership supports our mission of meeting human need without discrimination.” This MOU supports an environment where both Marian University and The Salvation Army will work collaboratively to support the educational needs of individuals interested in Marian’s adult and graduate programs. The partnership also grants scholarship and tuition discounts to Salvation Army employees, employee spouses and dependents.