Local News Briefs Thursday 9/12/13

The widow of Fond du Lac Police Officer Craig Birholz won’t be able to collect damages from the insurance company that covered his shooter. A state appeals court rendered that decision in a lawsuit filed by Ashley Birkholz against James Cruckson’s insurance company, Germantown Mutual. The policy Cruckson had covered accidental damages, but the court ruled Cruckson’s actions were intentional. Cruckson shot and killed Officer Birkholz during a standoff in March of 2011. He then killed himself.


Stabbing In Oshkosh


Oshkosh Police arrested a 17-year-old man who is suspected of stabbing a 22-year-old man with a knife in the 600 block of Waugoo Avenue late yesterday morning. The victim was taken to Mercy Medical Center. The suspect is being held in the Winnebago County Jail on a reckless injury charge. Police got a report of five men fighting, but by the time they arrived the fight had ended. They were informed of the stabbing and that the victim was taken to the hospital with stab wounds. The suspect was taken into custody a short time later. The reason for the stabbing is unknown. The investigation continues.


Young Arraigned In Burnett County


The former Waupun Police Lieutenant who went on a crime spree last month was arraigned in Burnett County Court Wednesday. Forty-three-year-old Bradley Young of Brandon pled not guilty to charges of burglary and theft. He’s also facing charges in Green Lake and Barron County. He will be arraigned on the Barron County charges next week. Young committed the crimes while he was off-duty, but with the Waupun Police Department. He also allegedly admitted to stealing $3,000 from the Piggly Wiggly Store in Waupun. He resigned from the department after 22 years with it at the end of last month.


Waupun Man Sentenced For Drunken Driving Injury Crash


A 44-year-old Waupun man involved in a drunken driving accident in Waupun last March that injured two people has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation. Matthew McDowell was sentenced in Dodge County Court this week.  According to the criminal complaint McDowell drove his pickup truck through a stop sign on Fond du Lac Street and hit a passenger car. The two occupants of that car suffered severe injuries.  McDowell left the scene, but a witness took down his license plate and made out the business name on the side of the truck. Prosecutors say McDowell’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the crash. His driver’s license will also be suspended for nine months.


Suspicious Incident Reported In Oshkosh


Oshkosh Police are investigating a claim by an 11-year-old girl that a man tried to grab her after she got off a city bus Tuesday afternoon. Police say it happened in the area of Rosalia St. and Winnebago Ave. just before 4 pm. The girl says a man was following her, came up from behind, grabbed and squeezed her shoulder. She was able to knock the man’s arm away and ran for home. The man walked back toward Rosalia Street and went south. The girl’s mother reported the incident to police who were unable to locate the man. Neighbors did not witness the incident. The man is described as being 5’8”-6’ tall, with short dark hair, a dark mustache and goatee, approximately 40-50 years of age and was wearing dark sunglasses, a gray shirt and black pants.  He may be Hispanic.   Anyone with information is asked to contact the Oshkosh Police at (920) 236-5700.


Former Random Lake School District Employee Bound Over For Trial


(WHBL-Sheboygan)-The former Random Lake School District employee charged with stealing hundreds of computer tablets has been bound over for trial.  Sheboygan County Judge James Bolgert made this decision after 33-year-old Mark Ustby of Milwaukee waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday. He faces two theft charges for taking around 500 tablets from the district, plus several dozen donated from a Random Lake business, worth around $180,000. Ustby resigned his position late last month, one day before the tablets were discovered missing. When law enforcement asked him about the missing items, he said he sold them on Craigslist so that he could give the money to several people he felt were worse off than he was.


Bike And Pedestrian Plan Approved


A bike and pedestrian plan that would create a 15 mile loop around the City got unanimous approval from the Fond du Lac City Council Wednesday night. Prior to the Council’s vote John McDowell spoke in favor of the plan. He says the loop is already about 75 percent complete. McDowell says with the plan the City will have something unique. The Council last night also approved two ordinances that will create bike lanes on South Hickory Street that would connect the Wild Goose State Trail and Brooke Street Trail and on Winnebago Drive that would connect the Lakeside Park Trail to the Peebles Trail. Councilman Gary Miller said he thinks the bike and pedestrian plan is very exciting for the City.


Refinancing Will Save The City Money


Early repayment of a Wastewater Utility Bond Issue and refinancing of Water Utility Bond Issues will save the City of Fond du Lac some considerable money. The City Council unanimously approved both resolutions last night. Bond consultant Paul Thompson told the Council that the refinancing of Water Utility Bond Issues from 2002 and 2003 will save the City close to a million dollars. He says the $951,000 is less than the $968,000 he originally estimated for the Council at the end of August, but that’s due to a slight increase in interest rates. In that span of time the interest rates increased from 2.92 percent to 3.05 percent.


Bridge Maintenance On Winnebago Drive Scheduled


The Fond du Lac County Highway Department informs us that a section of County WH or Winnebago Drive will be closed for bridge maintenance. Starting next Tuesday that section of County Highway WH between Giese Drive and Sandy Beach Road will be closed. Traffic will be detoured to U.S. Highway 151, State Highway 23 or Johnson Street, and U.S. Highway 45 or Main Street. Weather permitting the work will be completed by the end of the day next Thursday, September 19th.


Cougar Or Bobcat?


A photo taken by a trail camera near Eden has generated some debate on whether the animal image in it is that of a cougar. Bob Haase, who hosts “Outdoors Thursday” on KFIZ, says he’s not an expert on cougars but has seen one before near his cabin in Vilas County. He says it‘s hard to tell from the trail cam photo, but it may be a Bobcat. He says if it is in fact a cougar people generally don’t have anything to worry about. He says a single cougar usually moves through an area and would be afraid of people. He says a neighbor up north was startled once by a cougar that had somehow gotten into a storage shed, but neither the neighbor nor cougar was hurt during the incident. “Outdoors Thursday” can be heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.


School Fire Safety Visits Start Soon


The Division Chief of Fire Prevention for the Fond du Lac Fire Department says he will also be learning during the department’s fire prevention program in schools this year. Troy Haase says being new to the position he will be learning from visits to schools how fire safe they are. He says paper displays of student’s work on school walls are something that is debated. As for the department’s fire prevention programs that includes distributing coloring books to young students and the “survive alive” house they use to teach 5th graders fire safety. It’s a small two-story house on wheels that is taken to schools. He says it’s a great way to give them a practical demonstration of what to do during a fire. The house is filled with smoke, students learn how to call 911, use an exit plan and having a place where everyone can meet when they leave.


Crops And Soils Agent Sees Plenty Of Changes During 25 Years


Mike Rankin says he’s enjoyed his 25 years as the crops and soils agent with the Fond du Lac County U-W Extension Service, but he isn’t ready to retire just yet. Rankin says he’s had to convince a few people he isn’t retiring after a misprint in the newspaper. Rankin says there have been a lot of changes in technology over those 25 years and not just through computer use by farmers. He says from a crop production standpoint especially where there are things like auto-steer tractors and GPS systems on tractors. He says biotechnology has also allowed farmers to enhance their technology through the use of genes that can make crops more resistant to insects or more tolerant to herbicides. He says in the future they could also use biotechnology to increase the levels of vitamins or minerals in crops.