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Multiple counties report 911 outage

A broken fiber line is being blamed for a 911 phone service outage in numerous southern Wisconsin counties. Frontier Communications, which owns and operates the fiber optic cable that was severed, said the underground cable was inadvertently severed by a third party shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday. The outage also affects some high-speed Internet customers. Columbia County officials said they were advised at 9:10 a.m. Thursday by Frontier Communications that several public safety points in their area were not receiving 911 calls. Columbia County Sheriff's Capt. Darrell Kuhl said Frontier told them a fiber line was cut between Portage and Wisconsin Dells. Portage is the central point for the 911 system. He was told 911 calls for Columbia, Marquette, Juneau and Adams counties and Wisconsin Dells are handled by that line. Dodge County said Thursday morning that some 911 calls placed in the far western area of the county from cell phones have been affected. Callers were getting a busy signal or nothing at all, according to a release. Frontier spokeswoman Karen Miller said it has located the area where the line was cut near Highway 60 and Harvey Road, north of DeForest. A crew is on its way to dig it up and repair it. Miller said the line could be up and running at about 5 p.m. Thursday. For emergency services during the outages,call the following numbers:Adams County: 608-339-3304 Columbia County: 608-742-4166 ext. 1 Dodge County: 920-887-4612 Juneau County: 608-847-5649 Marquette County: 608-297-2115 Wisconsin Dells: 608-253-1611 Columbia County is making automated phone calls and using social media to alert residents to the outage. Fire departments, hospitals and schools in Columbia County were given a direct line to call if they're in need of help. Sauk County was originally reported as having an outage Thursday, but Wisconsin Emergency Management spokeswoman Lori Getter said the Sauk 911 service is functioning normally.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:49:34 GMT

Strong winds may cause blowing snow, reduced visibility around Christmas

In the days leading up to the Christmas holiday the weather will stay quiet for the rest of this week, with seasonal temperatures expected. But the potential for a winter storm during the final few days before Christmas that may affect a large part of the country is slowly increasing. Right now, southern Wisconsin should be just outside of the main part of the storm, but any shift in the track could result in a more significant impact. Low pressure is expected to develop from Monday into Tuesday of next week near Wisconsin. Initially, some light snow showers are expected with the possibility of minor accumulations of perhaps an inch or two through Tuesday. At the same time, a stronger low pressure system is forecast to develop in the southern U.S. in the vicinity of Louisiana or perhaps a little farther to the northeast. As the jet stream buckles, the upper level winds will blow almost from south to north, taking the storm from the southern U.S. northward through eastern Tennessee into eastern Michigan. The Wisconsin low pressure system will move eastward and merge with the southern storm, resulting in very rapid intensification from late Tuesday into Christmas Eve Wednesday. This could result in very strong winds through much of the Midwest from Christmas Eve into part of Christmas Day. Right now, the heaviest snow is more likely to fall to our east from Indiana northward into Michigan, where enhanced areas of heavy snow may be possible in the Great Lakes snow belt areas. Light snow with additional minor accumulation is expected in Wisconsin and Illinois, but very strong winds may cause problems with blowing snow and reduced visibility. If the storm should track a little more to the west, more significant snow accumulations would be possible in the area. While this storm is a full week away, if it occurs it will be during a major travel period before and during the Christmas holiday.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 02:12:44 GMT

Heart-stopping shoplifters caught on camera

Jeanne Moos reports on some heart-stopping shopping.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 03:37:08 GMT

A day traffic court wasn't a drag

I know I'm not alone when I say what a drag traffic court can be. If you're there, you've already gone through the process of being stopped roadside by law enforcement and the bummer of getting handed a citation. And here you are on a weekday morning, having told your boss you'll be late because you got a ticket. Then you take part in the detestable necessity of order known to DMVs, amusement parks and store checkouts as a line. So I can imagine the flutter of warmth that went through the few people left in Dane County traffic court in downtown Madison last Wednesday where we found a heart-tingling story in an unlikely place. On Wednesday morning, several dozen people were scheduled to appear before Dane County Court Commissioner Todd Meurer. One of the first was a 70-year-old Madison woman, cited Nov. 13 for speeding. She pleaded no contest but asked Meurer if there was a way to reduce the minimum fine from $173.30 to a lesser cost. She told the commissioner she was on a limited income and would have a hard time paying the fine. Meurer couldn't reduce the fee but told her she could work with the court to pay it in smaller increments, making it more manageable. While the woman and the commissioner spoke, a couple dozen others waited their turn. Among them was a 40-year-old Middleton man who'd also been cited for speeding in November. He, too, was facing a $173.30 fine. Meurer said the man asked the bailiff if he could step out of the line briefly and a short time later, the man slipped back into the area of folks waiting to go before the commissioner. As the man's name was called, the bailiff told Meurer that the man had left to pay part of the older woman's fee, bringing multiple people to tears. The woman with the ticket, the clerk who took the payment and even Meurer himself choked up. He asked the man if he'd ever heard of paying it forward, a concept that asks those who have received a kindness to pass it along in the future. The man said he had not. Meurer told him: "Your case is dismissed." In his more than 30 years as commissioner, Meurer said he'd never seen a case where a stranger paid another's fine on the spot like that. "You go out of your way to do something that gallant for someone you don't even know, you deserve some payback," Meurer said. Some might say that it'd be easier to absolve the woman's fee in the first place, but that's not what the law allowed, Meurer pointed out. Then again, the law didn't allow for the court to remove the ticket for the Middleton man, either, but with the unique circumstances, "fairness certainly did," Meurer added. That was a day that traffic court wasn't a drag. At least for a handful of folks whose hearts were warmed, it was even a delight. Heart Beat is a blog powered by positive stories. If you've seen, heard or created something good, email to share a suggestion. Tabatha Wethal is part of the News 3 team working as a community reporter for and its 16 community sites since 2012.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:25:48 GMT

Video shows 'Amazing Race' finalists? work at UW

University of Wisconsin food science graduate students and "Amazing Race" finalists Amy DeJong and Maya Warren are featured in a video explaining their work at the UW. The students are one of four teams racing for $1 million in the "Amazing Race" finale that airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WISC-TV. A video from the Institute of Food Technologists and posted on the UW news website shows DeJong and Warren working in the lab and explaining their work studying ice cream and candy. In the race, they’re known as the “sweet scientists” and can be followed on Twitter with the #SweetScientists hashtag. VIDEO

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:10:04 GMT


Published: Tue, 10 May 2011 13:51:57 GMT

Gov. Walker: Guard prepared for any unrest over shooting

Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond to any unrest that might occur following an announcement on whether to charge a police officer who fatally shot Dontre Hamilton in a Milwaukee park. Walker says he fully expects any demonstrations to be peaceful -- but nonetheless is prepared to call on guard members if protests get out of hand. He says the National Guard has been meeting with law enforcement in the Milwaukee area. Hamilton was killed April 30 after a confrontation with Officer Christopher Manney at Red Arrow Park. Manney was later fired. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is expected to make a decision soon on whether criminal charges should be filed against Manney.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:33:50 GMT

McCarthy boldly has Packers vote for playoff captains

What might be construed as braggadocio isn't out of bounds for Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Not unlike the night before the big game in North Texas to end the 2010 season when he had team personnel sized for Super Bowl rings, McCarthy pulled out all of the stops this week. Perhaps sensing this season's squad was feeling too comfortable with a postseason lot that has yet to be attained, the ninth-year head coach instructed his players Monday to vote for playoff captains. Keep in mind there's still two weeks left in the regular season and, in the wake of their stunning 21-13 loss at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, the Packers aren't assured of getting to the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Even with a 10-4 record that has them tied for first place in the NFC North. "He trusts his gut instincts, and they haven't let him down or let the team down," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday, shortly after McCarthy came clean with the selection of the captains. "I don't think it's anything other than a mindset for him," Rodgers added. "He likes to kind of ooze confidence out of himself. It's a toughness from his Pittsburgh roots, but it's a confidence that he trusts the guys that we're going to get it done. It just ups the urgency." By naming the captains now instead of after the conclusion of the regular season, when the in-house voting has typically been done, McCarthy is signaling how vital the next two games are for the Packers. Their path to returning to the postseason starts by going back on the road to play the 2-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. "We're really looking at this game as really the start of our playoff approach, playoff mindset," McCarthy said. "This is a road game that we have to have. We clearly understand the importance of winning in December, but we feel like we need to take it up a notch as a football team to make sure that we improve not only as a team but most importantly in the win column. This is a playoff-type preparation." Green Bay can clinch a playoff spot Sunday. To do so, it must avoid its first losing streak of the season by bucking the upset bid from the Buccaneers, who Rodgers said is "a team that has nothing to lose ... they're trying to be the spoiler." Also, the Packers will need a win or tie by the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, or a loss or tie by the Philadelphia Eagles. A harsh scenario for the Packers in the Florida warmth is losing a game it's expected to win easily and having the Detroit Lions prevail at the Chicago Bears at the same time. That would clinch the NFC North title for the Lions and possibly make the teams' regular-season finale in Green Bay on Dec. 28 irrelevant, depending on whether the Packers still would need to fight for a wild-card berth. Not taking any chances, McCarthy went ahead and tossed his players a bone by having them vote on their leaders for the playoffs now instead of later. Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson are the captains on offense. The captains on defense are safety Morgan Burnett and outside linebacker Julius Peppers, the 13th-year pro in his first season with Green Bay. The special-teams captains are punt returner Randall Cobb and coverage ace Jarrett Bush. "I felt the need to give these men a chance to stand up front and take the responsibility that their teammates have placed upon 'em," McCarthy said. "That's the way we're approaching it. It's time to ramp it up and make sure we're playing our best football this time of year." Just like the 2010 team's ringing endorsement of McCarthy's bold move when it went out and won Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers, this season's squad can prove its highly confident coach right again. --This is the 53rd regular-season meeting between the Packers and Buccaneers. The Packers lead the series, 30-21-1. The former NFC Central rivals are meeting for the first time since 2011, when the Packers snapped a three-game losing streak to Tampa Bay with a 35-26 victory at Lambeau Field. The Buccaneers have won the last two games they have hosted and seven of the past eight games played in Florida going back to 1998, when Raymond James Stadium opened. The most recent road trips for Green Bay resulted in losses of 30-21 in 2008 and 38-28 in '09. The Packers' last road win over the Bucs was 20-13 in 2003.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:41:08 GMT

Deputies: Drunken driver involved in 2 crashes

A Janesville man suspected of fourth-offense operating while intoxicated was involved in two crashes Wednesday evening, according to a release from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were called to U.S. Highway 14/11 and South Van Allen Road at 6 p.m. for a report of a car that crossed the center line several times. Deputies said the car turned onto East County Road O, where it crossed the center line and struck a westbound vehicle head-on. The driver of the car, Michael D. Golownia, 27, tried to leave the scene but was unable to get his car out of the ditch, deputies said. Deputies said Golownia smelled of intoxicants and admitted to drinking. While at the scene, deputies learned that Golownia rear-ended another vehicle while traveling on Highway 14 and left the scene without reporting it, according to a news release. A search of his car turned up 44 grams of marijuana and evidence of narcotics delivery, deputies said. Golownia was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville as a precaution, but no other injuries were reported by the drivers of the other two vehicles involved in the crashes. Golownia was arrested on suspicion of fourth-offense operating while intoxicated, possession with intent to deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was cited on suspicion of operating while revoked, hit-and-run, operating left of center and following too close.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:22:59 GMT

SUV stuck in brush; Driver suspected of 5th OWI

The driver of an SUV that went off a road and got stuck in a wooded area is suspected of fifth-offense operating while intoxicated. Madison police were called when witnesses saw an SUV get stuck on Wedgewood Way at 6:48 p.m. Wednesday. Police said the driver, Jessica A. Maxfield-Medgaarden, 30, of Madison, walked away as police arrived. She was arrested on suspicion of fifth-offense OWI and issued a number of citations, police said.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:22:57 GMT

Woman arrested after pointing gun at neighbor

Janesville police said a woman was arrested Wednesday night for allegedly ordered her neighbor to get off her property at gunpoint. The incident happened just after 6 p.m. Wednesday in the 2300 block of Center Avenue in Janesville. According to police, Kim Rhoades, 46, of Janesville, got into a dispute with her neighbor over a noise complaint. Police said Rhoades pointed a handgun at her neighbor to get him off of her property. Police said the neighbor went back to his apartment and called police. Police blocked off a portion of U.S. Highway 51/Center Avenue for over an hour while officers set up a perimeter and tried to make contact with the woman. Police said the woman emerged from her apartment just before 8 p.m. without incident. Police recovered a handgun from Rhoades’ apartment after searching the residence. Police said Rhoades faces numerous charges, including disorderly conduct, bail jumping and felon in possession of a firearm.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:12:58 GMT

Police: Reported impersonator is officer in Fitchburg

Police said the man reported as a possible police impersonator is a Fitchburg officer. The Madison Police Department said a 45-year-old Danville Drive homeowner reported a suspicious person claiming to be an MPD officer came to his door on Dec. 6 at about 10:30 p.m. Police said Thursday that a Fitchburg police officer contacted the Madison department to say he was likely the officer who stopped by the Danville Drive home earlier this month. The officer told police he was in full uniform and identified himself to the man, Madison police said. The officer was investigating a burglary that had taken place nearby in Fitchburg. A Madison police news release Wednesday had said a man claiming to be an officer told the homeowner he was investigating a nearby home invasion and wanted to know if the resident had seen anything. MPD officials said there were no home invasions in the neighborhood at the time of the event, but there were recent burglaries in the area. The man left when the homeowner said he had not seen anything that would help with a criminal investigation, according to the release. Authorities said there were no MPD officers in the area at the time of the incident. The Fitchburg officer said the person who contacted Madison police was likely wary of him because the resident had been asleep and it was dark outside when the officer stopped by.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:37:55 GMT

Wanted felons arrested after shooting, chase

Two suspects accused of shooting at authorities during a police chase have been arrested following a manhunt in the woods of northeastern Wisconsin. Marinette County sheriff's officials closed a section of Highway 141, evacuated some homes and locked down two bars Wednesday night as they searched for the armed men near Middle Inlet. Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve says the events began to unfold when authorities in Michigan informed his deputies two wanted felons were staying at a hotel in Crivitz. Officials say the men may have been responsible for home burglaries in Pound and Stephenson. WLUK-TV reported the suspects' car was spotted north of Crivitz and authorities began a chase. Sauve says the suspects shot at a pursuing squad car, later crashed in the woods and fled on foot. Deputies arrested the men about three hours later.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:17:56 GMT

33-year-old charged with 5th OWI

A 33-year-old man was charged with his fifth drunken driving offense early Wednesday, officials said. The Dane County Sheriff's Office said Ryan F. Mountford, of Portage, was pulled over at about 1:25 a.m. at Alvarez Avenue and North Walbridge. A deputy stopped Mountford after he reportedly saw the vehicle roll though a stop sign and speed more than 20 mph over the posted limit on Highway 51. The sheriff's department said Mountford refused to participate in field sobriety testing but did voluntarily submit to a preliminary breath test. According to the report, the test registered over the legal limit of 0.08 percent for blood alcohol concentration. Mountford was taken to Dane County Jail on the felony charge, the report said.

Published: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:45:53 GMT

Van Hollen says state Supreme Court run unlikely

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he's probably done with serving as an elected official for a while. Van Hollen, a Republican, has served as attorney general since 2006 but unexpectedly decided not to run for a third term. While some have speculated he may run for the Wisconsin Supreme Court this spring, Van Hollen told The Associated Press this week that he will not. "I think it's time to take a break from elected office," Van Hollen said in an interview in which he also reflected on his eight-year tenure. "But I never foreclose the possibility of running for something again. I'll stay active. If that means someday maybe running for something, you never know." Van Hollen is set to leave office when Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, a Republican, is sworn in as Wisconsin's next attorney general on Jan. 5. Van Hollen, a former U.S. attorney, said he's not burned out, but he's grown tired of the media assuming every elected official is corrupt and of being second-guessed. "Ever since Watergate most reporters think they're Woodward and Bernstein. And that's troubling to me. When a reporter comes into a meeting or goes into an article assuming that the elected official's acting with a bad interest, that's not necessarily doing justice and reporting the news to the general public," Van Hollen said. "You have to constantly explain yourself. Doing all that certainly can get tiring." Still, Van Hollen said he accomplished everything he wanted to do. The state Department of Justice has provided more training for local police to stop online child pornography, his administration eliminated a staggering backlog of evidence waiting for DNA testing at the state crime lab during his first term and he remained committed to his philosophy of defending the law regardless of partisan background, he said. His philosophy notwithstanding, Van Hollen took heat from Democrats for championing a host of hot-button Republican laws, particularly during his second term. Some of the more contentious measures he defended included laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls and abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals as well as Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage. Van Hollen ultimately lost that case but not before pursuing it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Assembly Minority Speaker Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said Van Hollen started out even-handed but grew more partisan, filing "frivolous and costly hyper-partisan" actions. "Unfortunately, in his second term, Attorney General Van Hollen worked in lockstep with Republicans in power to defend legislators," Barca said. Van Hollen said the attorney general's job is to defend state laws. If he chose not to engage, the governor or the Legislature would have had to hire private attorneys, he said. He also noted Republicans have controlled state government, so naturally the laws he defended were GOP measures. "Our job," Van Hollen said, "was to focus on the rule of law and focus on helping law enforcement do their jobs."

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:40:13 GMT

Wisconsin unemployment rate drops in November

Wisconsin's unemployment rate is down in November and the state has added more private-sector jobs. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development on Thursday released the latest monthly figures. They come just before the federal government is to report quarterly data that will show how well Wisconsin's job-creation efforts compare nationwide. The monthly state figures show unemployment dropped from 5.4 percent to 5.2 percent between October and November. The national unemployment rate for November is 5.8 percent. The monthly also shows Wisconsin added 16,500 private sector jobs in November. The monthly figures are preliminary and subject to significant revision. The quarterly federal data is more reliable and based on a survey of nearly all Wisconsin businesses. The latest figures were reported Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They show that Wisconsin grew private-sector jobs between July 2013 and the end of June this year by 1.45 percent. That lags the national average of growth at 2.3 percent. Wisconsin ranks 32nd nationally and behind Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:24:55 GMT

Supporters of Kenosha casino rally for jobs

Hundreds of supporters of a new casino in Kenosha rallied for jobs at the former greyhound dog track. Local and state officials were among those who showed up to support the proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Wednesday night. The rally was held at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha. Officials estimate the casino could generate more than 10,000 jobs. Supporters of the Menominee Indian tribe's plan say the $800 million hotel and casino would have a huge economic impact on the area. There's strong opposition to the project as well. The Potawatomi tribe is concerned it will draw business away from its Milwaukee casino.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:07:17 GMT

Oshkosh Corp. has another Army order

Oshkosh Corp. says it has another order from the U.S. Army to make tactical vehicles and trailers. The company said Thursday the contract for 256 medium tactical vehicles is worth $67 million. The vehicles are to be delivered next year and 2016. Oshkosh Corp. says it has delivered more than 22,000 trucks and 11,000 trailers to the Army since 2010. The Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, or FMTVs, are used by the Army and National Guard at home and abroad.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:22:53 GMT

Director of religious school group named UW-Madison lobbyist

The director of a group that advocates for religious and private schools has been named as the new lobbyist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Matt Kussow was named Thursday as the director of state government relations at UW-Madison. In that role, he will work closely with the Republican-controlled Legislature on issues affecting the university. He will be paid $106,000 a year, which is 14 percent higher than $92,959 than Don Nelson, the lobbyist he replaced. Kussow has spent the past seven years working as executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools. Prior to that he worked 15 years as an aide and policy analyst in the state Assembly. He replaces Don Nelson, who has been named chief of staff for the vice provost for information technology. Kussow is a 1992 graduate of UW-Madison. He is to begin work in January.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:11:32 GMT

UW officially announces Paul Chryst as new head football coach

Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez announced Wednesday that former Wisconsin football player and assistant coach Paul Chryst has been hired as the team’s head coach. Chryst landed in Madison on Tuesday and reportedly met with the University of Wisconsin chancellor. The UW Board of Regents held a closed meeting via phone Wednesday to consider compensation and other terms of employment for the head coach position. Chryst is 19-19 in three seasons with the Pittsburgh Panthers and spoke Monday in Fort Worth, where Pitt will play Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2. Alvarez said the school had to wait until Wednesday at the earliest before naming a successor to Gary Andersen, who left after two seasons to coach at Oregon State. The Badgers had also reportedly spoken to former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano about the job. By accepting the head coach position, Chryst will be returning to his hometown, alma mater and former employer. Chryst was offensive coordinator at Wisconsin from 2005-11. Chryst got emotional at the news conference Wednesday when asked what his late father George, a legend in his own right, would think if he saw his son walking the sidelines at Camp Randall. “I think he’d be proud. Bo (Ryan) said, ‘What do you think George would say if he walked down the halls and saw Bo’s coaching the basketball team and you’re coaching the football team?’ It was pretty neat. You think about him all the time,” Chryst said. Chryst said he’ll start talking to coaches Thursday about becoming potential assistant coaches. The Badgers practiced Tuesday morning in preparation for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against Auburn, with Alvarez overseeing the team. The former coach is returning to the sideline temporarily for the bowl game, just as he did two years ago in the transition period between Bret Bielema and Andersen.

Published: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:01:57 GMT