Sunday morning Wisconsin headlines

Posted Sunday, January 12, 2014 --- 6:15 a.m.


Ships on Lake Superior battle ice

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) -- Ships using Lake Superior are having a tough time due to the worst build -up of ice in decades.

Wisconsin Public Radio News reports the National Weather Service started tracking freeze-ups in 1978, and says this is the second-fastest and thickest ice-up in 35 years. Coast Guard Soo Vessel Traffic Director Mark Gill says this is the worst since 1989.

On Friday, the Coast Guard said traffic was halted the four days before for several hours each day.

Gill says a trip from Duluth, Minnesota to Gary, Indiana that normally would take three days now takes six to seven.

Gill says many ships on the Great Lakes are tying up early for the winter. The Soo Locks close Wednesday.


Ice causes problems in southern Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- There were dozens of crashes throughout southern Wisconsin as rain turned to ice when it hit roads.

In Milwaukee County, the sheriff's department reported 18 crashes and 23 disabled vehicles Friday evening.

In Dane County, Monona police were responding only to crashes involving injuries and road blockages Friday night because there weren't enough officers to investigate the many non-injury crashes.

Lieutenant Frank Fenton says Monona officers had trouble walking to crash scenes because of the ice.

Brian Hahn, service hydrologist with the National Weather Service, says the air temperature was a little above freezing and the ground was cold as rain fell, which caused the hazardous conditions.

The weather caused at least two dozen high school hockey, basketball and wrestling events to be called off Friday night.


Ruling deals setback in secret investigation

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin judge quashed subpoenas and ordered the return of property to the targets of a secret campaign-finance investigation involving Gov. Scott Walker.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled Friday some of those subpoenas were improper.

He's overseeing the so-called John Doe investigation into Walker's campaign and more than two dozen conservative groups.

Peterson wrote they "do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws." His opinion remains under seal but the newspaper obtained a copy.

The newspaper reported in November a special prosecutor subpoenaed the campaign and groups seeking records and fundraising information related to recall attempts in 2011 and 2012 that targeted Walker and Republican state senators.

Peterson said he could not comment Saturday.


Sheriff: Man who died in Wis. explosion identified

TOWN OF WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) -- The person found dead after a town of Wausau home exploded is believed to be the owner.

According to a sheriff's department news release, investigators found a man whom they believe to be 43-year-old Jesse Jehn beneath rubble Friday. It was a day after an explosion almost instantly leveled the one-story house.

Positive identification has not been established.

Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks told the Daily Herald Media investigators found five explosive devices, including two in separate vehicles outside, one in a nearby storage building and one in a camper.

Detective Jim Armstrong says the devices were connected by timed fuses throughout the property. He says he believes the explosion was deliberate.

Armstrong says the motive isn't clear, but authorities have responded to the home previously.


Wis. officials trying to prevent overdose deaths

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) -- The state Department of Health Services is trying out a program to prevent overdose deaths.

The Leader-Telegram reports 47 agencies statewide are participating in the one-year pilot program. Their emergency medical technicians will be allowed to administer the narcotic antidote naloxone, widely known by the brand name Narcan.

It's injected to counter the breathing difficulties, low blood pressure and other effects from an overdose of heroin or prescription opiate pain relievers.

Under current state policy, only advanced life support EMTs can administer naloxone with overdose patients.

The newspaper reports the rate of overdose-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits in the state have nearly quadrupled since 2002, hitting nearly 1,200 in 2011.


Marshfield man charged with breaking dog's neck

MARSHFIELD, Wis. (AP) -- A Marshfield man is accused of killing his dog by breaking its neck, and then sending a photograph of its body to a relative.

A criminal complaint was filed Friday against Michael Loftus. It charges the 27-year-old with mistreating an animal and causing its death.

A WSAW-TV report says the charge carries a maximum penalty of 1 1/2 years in prison.

Loftus was walking his dog November 27th. Court documents quote him as acknowledging to investigators that he broke the dog's neck and left it in a wooded area. Prosecutors say he also acknowledged taking a picture of the body and sending it to a family member.

The court document doesn't list an alleged motive.

Online court records didn't list a defense attorney for Loftus on Friday.


Hops farming grows slowly despite brewers' demand

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Craft brewers interested in capitalizing on consumers' interest in locally grown foods are encouraging more farmers to grow hops.

But getting a hops industry started in states like Wisconsin and Colorado has been slow-going because hops take a long time to mature and require a significant initial investment. Many farms have started, only to quickly go under.

Central Waters Brewing Company President Paul Graham helped form a farmer-brewer cooperative in 2009 to provide seed money to get several Wisconsin farms started.

But more than four years later, the group has only about six acres of hops in production. The entire state has about 50.

Graham says the success he's seen has been among people with agricultural backgrounds who have eased into the business.


Duluth Trading returning to Duluth

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- Duluth Trading Company is returning to the community of its origin.

The company began in Duluth more than two decades ago, then relocated its headquarters to the Madison area in Wisconsin. The St. Paul Pioneer Press says Duluth Trading plans to open a retail store near downtown Duluth this spring.

The company is known for catalogs specializing in outdoor and trade apparel such as Longtail T-shirts for plumbers. Duluth Trading has another Minnesota store in Bloomington. Wisconsin stores are in Mount Horeb and Port Washington, along with an outlet store in Belleville.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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