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Issue with feces at City-County building continues, employees say

It's not a new sight for anyone who walks past the Madison's City-County Building, but it's one that Judicial Clerk Kelly McConnell is tired of seeing. "I have never heard of anyone else that I know of having to work in a building where this is going on," McConnell said. "The past two years has been pretty bad as far as it goes, but I've noticed an increase of people and new people here now over the past few months." Piles of clothes, belongings and food have been stacking up at the CCB, but McConnell said it's not only the outside of the building that's being impacted. "They use this place as their bathroom, they use the grates outside the building as their bathroom and that's like ventilation for the building," McConnell said. "There is garbage everywhere. No one can use the benches or anything outside during the day because they are all soiled." Someone recently soiled an area near the courtroom -- it's not the first time someone left a solid problem for employees. Now, McConnell believes the pileups are attracting mice and rats. It's a situation the county said it's trying to stop. "We've had private security come into the area trying to make sure, you know sweeping buildings, checking bathrooms to make sure after all the employees are gone there are not people hiding in the bathrooms and then they can stay here overnight," said Dan Lowndes, Dane County Risk Manager. But until the homeless find another place to call home, homeless advocate Brenda Konkle said the CCB will continue to see more of the same. "What we need is a safe and sanitary place for people to sleep in. People need an alternative and until there is an alternative this is what we have," Konkle said. The county has plans to pay for an offsite storage space across from the CCB where homeless can store their belongings. They hope to have that installed by the first of May. The county is also working to pass a no trespassing ordinance that would eliminate anyone from being on the property after hours.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 19:50:29 GMT

Brother of murder victims in Steele case: 'We did not see how justice was served'

The brother of two women killed at the hands of a former Dane County Deputy says he's shocked and disappointed by a court verdict this week. Brad Putnam was in court for the verdict early Thursday morning that found Andy Steele not criminally responsible for the deaths of Ashlee Steele and Kacee Tollefsbol, who are Putnam's sisters. "We weren't expecting it to be that way," Putnam said in an interview from his Minnesota home Friday. "Definitely we did not see how justice was served in this case." Steele pleaded guilty to the deaths of the two women, but not guilty by reason of mental disease of defect related to an ALS diagnosis last year. A jury found Steele was not criminally responsible in the murders after 10 hours of deliberations Wednesday into Thursday. Putnam said his family is still absorbing the meaning of the verdict, but said he personally doesn't feel justice was served. "My view is my two sisters were killed by a man that they trusted, and how he is not responsible for taking their lives in that horrific manner we don't understand," Putnam said. Putnam says now he'd like to hear from the jury as to why they decided that Steele's ALS was the reason for the killings. "The way I look at it due to their verdict he may have the opportunity to spend the rest of his life potentially with his family," Putnam said. "My sisters were not given that opportunity because of him." Putnam says he knows others with ALS and feels it isn't acceptable to blame the disease. "I understand that he was dealt a tough hand in life, but there are also many people dealt a tough hand in life and I like to believe they deal with that with strength and dignity," Putnam said. "I truly feel that Andy dealt with his with cowardness [sic], and my sisters paid the ultimate price." Now, the family of the two women say they will focus on remembering Ashlee and Kacee as happy and fun-loving, and not as they died. "We'll do our best to keep their memories alive and make sure their children remember the kind and loving people that they were," Putnam said. Steele has been committed to the Department of Health Services for life, but will face a court hearing in a month or so to determine whether he will be sent to an institution or be released to his family. Putnam said his family plan to be in court for that decision.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:31:31 GMT


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

Reaction to Bruce Jenner: Love

There are innumerable reactions to Bruce Jenner's announcement about being a transgender woman, but the dominant reaction is the most human one of them all: love. "Love is the courage to live the truest, best version of yourself. Bruce is love," Jenner's step-daughter Kim Kardashian wrote online after Jenner's interview aired on ABC on Friday night. She signed her message "I love you Bruce" with the hashtag #ProudDaughter. Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian said they were proud, as well. And Jenner's son Brandon said on the special, "I feel like I am getting an upgraded version of my dad." On one coast, Jenner watched with members of his famous Hollywood family, including ex-wife Kris Jenner, as Diane Sawyer said "this is the last TV interview he will do as Bruce. His dream: to reemerge as the person he calls 'her.'" On the other coast, Sawyer and the producers of the special watched in her office and an adjacent conference room at ABC News headquarters in New York. In a sign of the interview's significance, ABC News president James Goldston was present for the premiere. The ABC staffers were refreshing Twitte and Faceboo, checking out the real-time reactions. And they were "overwhelmingly more positive" than expected, according to a person who was there. The staffers were hopeful that Jenner's story would be embraced -- but also nervous. And it's easy to see why; intolerance is never far from the surface of social media. On Friday night a quick Facebook search turned up viewers who say they're "sick of hearing about this," who think Jenner should keep his gender identity to himself, and who reject the very idea of transgender living. But those comments were mostly drowned out by a virtual embrace of Jenner and his transition. And there was criticism of Kim Kardashian's ex-husband Kris Humphries for tweeting during the special, "Man, I'm glad I got out when I did." There was also widespread empathy about how Jenner kept a secret for so long -- a relatable notion for so many viewers. "Millions of people, for the first time, may feel that someone they know is trans. And on the whole what I have heard, across the board, is love," said Jennifer Finney Boylan, an author who is transgender and who was interviewed for ABC's special. "Like a lot of trans people, I was uncertain about it at first," Boylan added. "But Bruce Jenner's sincerity really won me over, as did the seriousness of Diane Sawyer and her team. They truly seemed to want to get the issues right." Boylan is also a consultant on E!'s forthcoming documentary series about Jenner. Both the ABC special and the E! series are seen by activists as educational opportunities. "Stories like Jenner's help change the narrative about who transgender people are," National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling said. There was saturation media coverage into Saturday morning, including a 30-minute special report on E! right after ABC's special ended. "Where to begin..." TMZ editor Harvey Levin tweeted. The Bruce Jenner special was amazing, eye-opening ... and for me at least educational." On ABC's "Good Morning America," co-host Dan Harris said "it was like we were having a conversation in our living rooms that we've never had before." Polling by the advocacy group GLAAD has indicated that 8% of Americans personally know a transgender individual. "In a sense, we all know someone now," Harris said. There are other transgender public figures, including the retired tennis star Renee Richards, who identified as transgender in the 1970s, and the actress Laverne Cox, best known for her role on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black." But some media outlets are now describing Jenner as the most famous transgender person in the world, since he has been a household name for decades. (This story refers to Jenner as "he" and "his" because both ABC and E!, which is preparing a reality show about Jenner's life, say that Jenner has, for now, indicated a preference to be called "Bruce" by the press and as "he," with male pronouns instead of female.) The special reflects the fact that, in an increasingly digital age, television still has a tremendous convening power -- power to gather a mass audience, frame a conversation and humanize an issue. Ratings for the interview will come out sometime on Saturday. Most of the early reviews were positive, even among people who were skeptical going in. "The Bruce Jenner interview is perhaps the best done thing on trans issues I've seen in mainstream TV media," Huffington Post Gay executive editor Noah Michelson tweeted. "I'm honestly shocked and amazed."

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:53:40 GMT

Plan for public market projects $22 million economic impact

A document released Friday outlines how a Madison public market might operate and the impact it could have on the city. The first draft explains the potential capital costs, operating plan, mix of vendors, rent structures, economic impacts, and long-term oversight of the market. It also includes various options for creating the market space at the fleet services garage at First and Johnson streets. Cost options range in from $9.4 million to $13.4 million depending on which options are selected. The design options include indoor and outdoor spaces for various types of businesses. The plan includes options for transportation and parking at the market and spaces for events and exhibits. The three options include a basic market halls without a larger retail/production space, a multi-use market with larger production and retail space and a multi-use market with a third floor public space. Much of the report assumes the third option is selected. “I am pleased that our consultant team put together a thorough report that demonstrates a strong concept for the Madison Public Market,” said Mayor Paul Soglin. “This is a major step forward for the project and is yet another indication of the strong interest, both from the public and private sectors, in investment in our local and regional food system.” City staff will present the plan to residents and city officials to get feedback and ideas. A community meeting is scheduled for May 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Goodman Community Center for neighbors, stakeholders, and anyone interested in the project. A vendor meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 6:30 p.m., also at the Goodman Community Center. The plan was put together by a consultant and included three years worth of research and planning, according to the city.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:48:01 GMT

Extended family becomes new normal after crash kills parents

When 3-year-old Wesley rushes home from school, he runs straight into the arms of Sara Grunzel, and calls her mommy. Wesley looks just like dad, and his athleticism matches. His sister, 1-year-old Charlotte, has a glare that could kill and a smile that melts your heart. You would never know the two kids lost their parents last year. “They're still here. They're still here in Wesley and Charlotte. They're still here in everybody else who loved them,” Grunzel said. Friday marks one year since Bram and Shari Dorresteijn died as a result of a fatal crash on the interstate. Sara, Shari’s sister, adopted the two kids immediately after. Now Sara, her husband Geoff, and her two boys live under one roof in Sussex. “It's transitioning to a new normal. That's what it is. This is life now, you know?” Grunzel said. The community support over the last year has been overwhelming. A GoFundMe page raised nearly $225,000 to support the two children, and Sara hasn’t had to purchase a single diaper thanks to all the donations. Bram’s sister, Tessa Dorresteijn, wanted to find another way for people to get invested in Bram and Sheri’s legacy. With that, friends and family are planning to start a scholarship fund in the couple’s memory. The hope is to start helping two University of Wisconsin athletes a year with tuition. “They (Bram and Shari) gave 110 percent effort in everything that they did, in parenting, in their hobbies, in their work, in their relationship together. That's certainly what I strive to do in my daily, you know, whatever it is,” Tessa Dorresteijn said. A group of 136 people will also be running and walking in Saturday’s Crazy Legs event under the name “Dorresteijn Dashers.” Bags of T-shirts and running numbers are lining the walls of Dan Werner’s home, ready for pickup. Werner met Bram playing soccer in high school and was his roommate in college. Werner said the team and the scholarship are ways for friends and family to focus on the good during this emotional weekend. “Though at times, I look at Wesley and I see Bram. That's all I see when I look at him, which is hard, but at the same time it’s good,” Werner said.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:16:14 GMT

Wisconsin egg company vows to be productive after bird flu

A Wisconsin egg company executive says a Lake Mills facility will become productive again after they euthanize all 800,000 chickens due to a highly contagious avian influenza virus. The Wisconsin State Journal reports ( ) the Daybreak Foods facility immediately started testing its flock every day for the virus after learning of another Jefferson County facility testing positive for the virus about 10 days ago. Company President William Rehm says every test turned up negative until they found dead birds this week. He says the facility with 60 employees will become productive again after a difficult and emotional cleanup. The virus also hit the commercial chicken facilities in Minnesota and Iowa. Experts believe the virus is spread by fecal material or oral secretions from migratory waterfowl flying over commercial poultry facilities.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 22:51:20 GMT

Milwaukee police officer wounds teen who allegedly had gun

Milwaukee police said an officer shot and wounded a 15-year-old boy who allegedly had a semi-automatic handgun. According to a police news release, two officers responded to an alert from a gunfire location system at about 4:50 p.m. Friday and they stopped a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy. Police said an officer ended up shooting the 15-year-old, who they said had a semi-automatic handgun. The teen ran but police found him and arrested him. The 16-year-old was also arrested. Police didn't immediately release any details on what led to the shooting. The teen was taken to a local hospital and was in stable condition as of Friday evening. Police said the 42-year-old officer with 13 years of service wasn't injured and was placed on administrative duty, per protocol.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:03:29 GMT

ID theft threatens business's reputation

Kendall Richards knew there was a problem when he couldn't find the name of the customer who was calling in the appointment calendar. The All Comfort Services president realized that the problem was even bigger when his staff told him that they'd heard from a number of others about the unsolicited calls, offering cut-rate deals, purportedly coming from his company. "They're calling up saying All Comfort Services, saying we've been out there recently in the last couple (of) years and we've got this special we want to offer you. They're definitely posing as our company," Richards said of the calls, which are reportedly coming from an Illinois-based duct cleaning company with an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. "It is terribly unnerving, because we hear about the people who contact us. We're concerned about how many others have been contacted and had a problem." The problem of businesses having their identities compromised is serious enough that the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Identity Theft Protection Association have aggregated resources for companies that are fearful that they're being victimized. The website describes numerous ways in which thieves target businesses, including mimicking company names. It takes years to build up reputation and just one experience to tear it down. "Reputation is paramount," Richards said. "That reputation is who we are. We've been in business 40 years. We live it." Richards called the Madison Police Department to report the situation. He's also posted a note on his website and sent emails to all of its existing customers to warn them about the services and prices being offered in his company's name. Consumer experts also recommend that companies like All Comfort Services place web alerts on their names so negative reviews can be spotted and addressed immediately. "When you hear from a company, what's the first thing you do? You go online and check them out," Richards said. "We're afraid someone who doesn't know it's a scam will be disappointed, think we were in there doing a bait-and-switch with them and writing us up, hurting our reputation."

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 00:01:06 GMT

Dog dies after ingesting Ice Breakers gum

A family in western Wisconsin had to put its dog down after the dog ingested Ice Breakers brand gum. According to a KARE 11 report, the gum caused severe liver damage to the dog because it contains the ingredient xylitol. Dr. Justine Lee told KARE 11 that if xylitol is in the first three to five ingredients of a product, dog owners should keep that product away from their pet. She said xylitol can be found in products like sugar-free vitamins, toothpaste, dental floss and a variety of baked goods.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:18:54 GMT

Flight runs into pressurization issues, passengers evaluated

Officials said a Southwest Airlines flight headed to Milwaukee from Las Vegas was diverted to Denver Friday night after reporting "pressurization issues." Denver International Airport spokeswoman Laura Coale said that Flight 100, which departed Las Vegas at 6 p.m. PDT, diverted to Denver after about 90 minutes. She told the Denver Post that fire department crew members evaluated the passengers, but just one person was transported and that for a slip and fall injury. She said that no one else required medical aid. Denver's KMGH-TV reported that a Southwest statement referred to "a pressurization issue," but did not elaborate. The statement said that 175 passengers and six crew members were aboard the Boeing 737-800, which will be taken out of service and inspected. Meanwhile, the airline said passengers are continuing to Milwaukee on another aircraft.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:40:07 GMT

Man wakes to find burglar in home, police say

A downtown resident awoke to the noise of an intruder early Saturday, police said. Madison police said officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress at 4:55 a.m. in the 400 block of West Mifflin Street. The caller was awakened by the sound of footsteps inside the residence. After determining that the noise was not being caused by any of his roommates, he called police. The burglar fled on foot southbound toward West Washington Avenue, according to the report. The town of Madison police K-9 assisted with a track of the suspect, but the suspect was not found Saturday morning. Police said it appeared the burglar entered the residence through an unlocked door. There wasn't any sign of forced entry. The burglar was described as black, between 18-20 years old with dark skin. He was wearing a dark colored shirt and was carrying a backpack. A wallet and electronics were stolen from the home, police said.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 21:17:21 GMT

Shredfest stacks up nearly 20 tons sensitive paperwork for destruction

Hundreds of people brought nearly 20 tons of papers to two shredding stops on Madison's west side Saturday morning as part of an identity theft prevention strategy. The free Shredfest event invited people to drop off bags of documents at WISC-TV on Raymond Road or SVA Certified Public Accountants on John Q. Hammons Drive from 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturday. The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau, which partnered with Pellitteri Waste Systems, WISC-TV and SVA for Shredfest, said "most identity theft occurs after personal information is lost or stolen, which is why the BBB encourages consumers to dispose of unneeded personal documents responsibly." A total of 1,295 cars drove through the WISC-TV and SVA sites Saturday, and 19.14 tons of paperwork was shredded. PHOTOS

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 20:49:53 GMT

Sheriff holds media force session ahead of shooting decision

A month after a white Madison police officer shot and killed an unarmed biracial man, the Dane County sheriff's department is trying to build understanding of the training it gives on how to deal with split-second life and death decisions. The department invited reporters to an educational session on use of force at their training center in Waunakee this past week. Instructors said police are trained to take control of situations and cannot run away. They said officers can use deadly force to protect their lives or the lives of others they feel are in imminent danger. The session came as Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne weighs whether to charge Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny in 19-year-old Tony Robinson's death. No Dane County deputies were involved in Robinson's death.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:55:00 GMT

6 injured after dump truck hits pizza restaurant

Six people are injured after a dump truck hit a restaurant in central Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, the dump truck was traveling west on State Highway 21 in Waushara County when it struck a vehicle from behind at about 7 p.m. Friday. The truck continued and hit the restaurant, coming to rest partially inside. The truck's driver and five people inside the pizza restaurant Elmer's Place were injured. The two people in the other vehicle were not injured. The State Patrol said Saturday the 62-year-old dump truck driver from Wisconsin Dells is hospitalized with life threatening injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 18:12:28 GMT

Police: Milton woman arrested for OWI in fast food drive-thru

Janesville police said they picked up a Milton woman on OWI charges early Friday morning while she was waiting to get food at the drive-thru at Taco Bell. The incident happened at the restaurant in the 1600 block of Milton Avenue in Janesville just before 1 a.m. Friday. According to police, Sara Hemming, 37, went through the drive-thru twice on separate occasions to get food. Police said an employee thought Hemming was intoxicated and called police. Police said officers made contact with Hemming, and she refused field sobriety tests. However, police said Hemming did do a breath test after she was arrested, which revealed she had a BAC of .27. Hemming faces her fourth charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:00:03 GMT

Avian influenza may threaten poultry farms for year or more

In less than two weeks’ time, the H5 avian influenza has spread to six poultry farms in four counties in Wisconsin.  The latest case involves 800,000 egg-laying chickens in Jefferson County.  The 800,000 chickens are being euthanized to prevent the spread of the virus.  The poultry farm has been quarantined and neighboring properties with poultry have been informed of the situation. The six poultry farms with birds testing positive for H5 avian influenza are in Jefferson, Juneau, Barron and Chippewa counties.  “It is tough when we keep getting new effected flocks.  We’re working hard to get information out to the industry, trying to keep your poultry inside, don’t carry the virus inside; don’t share equipment with your neighbors.  So if we could stop getting the virus to spread then we can handle each individual location,” said Dr. Paul McGraw, Wisconsin state veterinarian. H5 avian influenza is spread by migrating ducks and geese.  That is why H5 avian influenza is being reported in eight states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.  That has led to the depopulation of nearly 7 million chickens and turkeys. A change in the weather could offer a change in the spread of the virus. “If you could get some 80 degree and sunshine and let it dry up a little bit then the virus doesn’t survive in the environment as long,” said McGraw. While warm and dry conditions would slow the virus it may take much longer to see it disappear. “We’re hoping the wild bird will develop immunity, but it might take them a couple of years to where we don’t shed as much virus and then we won’t see it move into the flocks but the USDA is thinking that could be something that we might see in the next year or two,” said McGraw. While six farms in Wisconsin have been hit by the H5 avian influenza in less than two weeks it is important to keep this in perspective. “Let me say that we’ve got over 18,000 registered poultry premises in Wisconsin and we’re dealing with six.  So it is not like this is widespread,” said McGraw. H5 avian influenza presents a low risk to public health and poultry meat and egg products in the marketplace remain safe to eat.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 23:43:18 GMT

PHOTOS: Crazylegs 2015

The Crazylegs Classic 8K run and 2 mile walk began at 10 a.m. Saturday on the Capitol Square and finished at Camp Randall Stadium. Did you take part in the race or cheer the runners and walkers on? Send us your photos at!

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 19:07:10 GMT

Documents: Argument over boyfriend before Wisconsin killings

A Wisconsin teen accused of killing her mother and stepfather carried out the slayings the same day they warned her 22-year-old boyfriend to stay away from her, according to court documents made public Friday. Ashlee Martinson, 17, was formally charged in Oneida County after being brought back from Indiana, where she was arrested last month. She is accused of fatally stabbing 40-year-old Jennifer Ayers and shooting 37-year-old Thomas Ayers at the family's home in Town of Piehl. Investigators say Martinson locked her three sisters, ranging in age from 9 to 2, in a room before fleeing their rural home. The Stevens Point Journal reported that Martinson appeared in court by video from the county jail, and sat silently beside her attorney. She has not entered a plea. The court documents made public Friday outlined a series of events that included several 911 hangups from a cellphone before dispatchers could reach a 9-year-old girl at her house. Officers who went to the scene found the three young children and the Ayerses' bodies. One of Martinson's sisters told investigators that the couple had learned Martinson was dating the 22-year-old. The girl said Thomas Ayers came home March 7 and went upstairs and pounded on Martinson's door. The girl said she then heard two gunshots. Then Jennifer Ayers went upstairs. The daughter said she went to the stairs and saw her mother and sister fighting, with Martinson on top. The girl said Martinson told her to go downstairs, which she did, and she heard her mother stop screaming. She said Martinson then came down and told the girls to watch cartoons on TV. Martinson was arrested in Indiana with her boyfriend, Ryan Sisco. He later told investigators he had been messaging with people he believed to be Martinson's parents on Facebook the day authorities believe they were killed, and he was warned to stay away from Martinson because she was a minor, according to the documents.

Published: Sat, 25 Apr 2015 02:59:42 GMT

Show-and-tell mishap evacuates Stoughton school

A Stoughton elementary school was evacuated Friday morning due to a show-and-tell mishap, the district spokesman said.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:27:46 GMT