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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

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


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

Mannequin leg spotted in dumpster prompts police response

Police officers and detectives were called to a downtown dumpster Thursday after three archivists with the Wisconsin Historical Society spotted a leg. One of the archivists noticed the leg in the dumpster while looking out a window to a loading dock as the employees were moving boxes inside a building on East Washington Avenue. The leg and foot were sticking out from beneath a pile of refuse. The first officer at the scene said it appeared to be a human leg, dressed in jeans and wearing wool-looking socks and a tennis shoe. Detectives and a specially trained investigator from the Madison Police Department Forensic Services Unit also arrived and suited up in hazmat gear. An investigator carefully moved some of the cushions and discovered that the leg was attached to the body of a headless mannequin.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:34:11 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

Town considers changing 'rape and honey' motto

A small town with a controversial motto is considering a change. The chief exports of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, are honey and rapeseed, a bright yellow plant closely related to mustard and cabbage, and since 1958, the town's motto has been “The Land of Rape and Honey,” according to the Huffington Post. However, most people don’t associate the word “rape” with rapeseed oil, and town officials are asking Tisdale’s 3,200 residents if they want to keep the motto or use a new one – candidates include “A Place to Bee” (in reference to the town’s honey output) and “The Land of Canola and Honey,” which utilizes the name of a rapeseed cultivar that doesn’t have the negative associations that “rape” does, according to the CBC. “Once you explain, it eases things up a bit,” Tisdale Mayor Al Jellicoe tells the Toronto Sun, but Jellicoe says repeatedly explaining the slogan to businesses considering opening in Tisdale is getting tiresome. The survey will be tallied in July, reports the CBC.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:26:23 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

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

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

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

Harley recalls nearly 46,000 motorcycles

Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 46,000 motorcycles in the U.S. because they could stay in gear due to clutches that won't fully disengage. The recall covers certain Electra Glide, Ultra Limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models from the 2014 and 2015 model years. Harley says in documents that gas bubbles can cause the clutch master cylinder to lose its ability to fully disengage the clutch, especially if the bike has been parked for a long time. This could cause a rider to lose control of the motorcycle if it's started in gear. The problem was found through customer complaints. Harley reported 27 crashes and four minor injuries. Dealers will flush the clutch and rebuild the master cylinder. The recall was to start April 23.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:43:12 GMT

Wisconsin DOJ files motion to dismiss right-to-work lawsuit

State attorneys are asking a judge to toss out a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's right-to-work law. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 in Milwaukee and United Steelworkers District 2 in Menasha filed a lawsuit last month in Dane County Circuit Court alleging that the law amounts to an unconstitutional seizure of union property since unions now must extend benefits to workers who don't pay dues. Attorneys with the state Justice Department filed a motion Friday asking Judge William Foust to dismiss the lawsuit. They argue that the unions' concerns that they'll lose money under the law are hypothetical and no appellate court has ever found right-to-work laws result in an unconstitutional taking.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:33:34 GMT

Midwest pheasant producers are nervous as bird flu spreads

Game bird producers in the Midwest are ramping up disease prevention measures in an effort to shield their multi-billion-dollar industry from the highly contagious avian influenza outbreak sweeping the region's poultry producers. The deadly H5N2 strain of avian influenza has cost turkey and chicken producers millions of birds but the virus hasn't affected game bird producers who supply the nation's hunting preserves. Bill MacFarlane runs the largest pheasant operation in North America. The 60-year-old farmer has implemented strict measures to protect the $1.8 million birds he supplies annually to game bird industry. MacFarlane says as the number of cases grows, producers are getting more stressed. It's still not known how susceptible game birds are. The only case of the virus in pheasants so far was found in Washington state.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:22:04 GMT

Cost to protect Walker more than tripled since Doyle

The cost to protect Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch last year was more than three times as much as it took to protect his Democratic predecessor in 2010. Walker's administration released costs related to his security detail in response to an open records request by The Associated Press. The information shows that security costs for Walker and Kleefisch were $2.3 million in 2014. The costs were up more than 47 percent from Walker's first year in office in 2011. But compared with Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010, the cost to protect Walker has more than tripled. Security detail costs for Doyle that year were just $657,000. No protection for the lieutenant governor was provided then, but it is now.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:28:11 GMT

1 man dead after building collapse in Clark County

A 58-year-old man has died from his injuries after he became trapped when a building he was demolishing collapsed in the Town of Grant in Clark County. The Clark County Sheriff's Office says it received a 911 call at about 6 p.m. Thursday about a man trapped under a collapsed building on Ridge Road. Authorities pulled Paul Rueth from the building and took him to Memorial Medical Center in Neillsville, where he died from his injuries. Investigators say Rueth had been demolishing a building and it collapsed on him, pinning him between the roof and the wooden foundation. Officials say Rueth's death doesn't appear suspicious at this time.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:26:54 GMT

UW Athletic Board extends Bo Ryan's contract, approves coaches' contracts

The UW Athletic Board approved the UW Department of Athletics recommendations regarding winter/spring sports head coaches Friday, according to a release. The board extended Men's Basketball coach Bo Ryan's five-year contract through May 31, 2020. The board also maintained Men’s Hockey coach Mike Eaves’ five-year contract through June 30, 2019. They extended Women’s Hockey coach Mark Johnson’s five-year contract through June 30, 2020 and maintained Women’s Basketball coach Bobbie Kelsey’s five-year contract through May 31, 2019. Wrestling coach Barry Davis’s three-year contract was extended through May 31, 2018 and Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving coach Whitney Hite’s three-year contract was maintained through June 14, 2017.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:14:50 GMT

Lake Mills boil water order to last until at least Saturday morning.

Lake Mills residents are being instructed to boil their water until further notice as a precautionary measure after some system issues Thursday, officials said. Officials said Friday the precautionary boil water order will last until at least Saturday morning. Lake Mills Light and Water experienced a problem in its system Thursday, which allowed the water level in the tower to drop, resulting in a loss of pressure in the distribution system, according to a release. The water pressure has been restored, but the pressure loss might have allowed groundwater and other contaminants to enter the distribution system, officials said. Because of that concern, residents are being instructed to boil their water as a precautionary measure until samples can be taken to verify the safety of the water system. All water used for drinking, food preparation and ice should be boiled at a full rolling boil for at least one minute before use, according to the release. Ice or any beverages prepared with unboiled tap water should be thrown away. Officials will be sampling the water to determine whether the supply has returned to a safe condition, officials said. Utility employees will be flushing the distribution system and increasing the chlorination dosage rate. The order will be lifted as soon as testing reveals no bacteria growth in the water system. Department of Natural Resources officials said residents should continue to boil their water until they receive notice that the water supply has returned to safe conditions.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:52:37 GMT

Dorm sexual assault suspect in custody, UWPD says

A 19-year-old was taken into custody Friday in connection with a reported sexual assault in a Madison dorm, police said. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department said Friday afternoon that Nicholas H. Ralston, of Neenah, was arrested on tentative charges of third-degree sexual assault. UWPD said on Saturday morning, police responded to a report of a student who was sexual assaulted in the Southeast Residence Hall at about 3 a.m. Police said the victim and the suspected attacker knew each other. Ralston is also a UW-Madison student. UWPD spokesman Marc Lovicott said Ralston was being booked in the Dane County Jail Friday at about 3 p.m., and a booking photo was expected to be available later Friday afternoon.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:11:21 GMT

Homeowner spots suspected thief, 2 arrested

A Madison homeowner gave police enough information about a suspected thief to make an arrest, according to a release from Madison police. The 32-year-old man was working in his garage in the 300 block of Rustic Drive Thursday night when he heard someone open the door to his pickup parked in a nearby driveway. He told police he spotted someone in the cab rifling through the center console. When he yelled at the man, the suspect ran from the truck and up the street to a parked car that he left in. Police said the man provided them with a good description of the suspect and the car he left in. An officer spotted the suspect car a half hour later and saw a passenger matching the description provided by the victim. The man also arrived and identified the suspected thief. Michael E. Voltz, II, 29, of DeForest, was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft from a vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mario S. Murphy, 30, of Madison, was arrested on suspicion of party to the crime of attempted theft from an auto, resisting, possession of burglary tools, second-offense operating while under the influence and on a parole hold.

Published: Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:08:06 GMT