Holmen Postal Worker Pleads Guilty
(AP) A former Coulee Region postal worker has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing 9,000 pieces of mail. Fifty-year-old Robert Ernstes, of Melrose, told a federal judge in Madison Thursday that he took the mail because ``times were tough, money was tight and bills were piling up.'' Ernstes worked at the downtown La Crosse post office. A Holmen man who mailed cards containing $2 bills to his grandchildren alerted authorities after the cards were delivered, but had been opened and were missing the bills. Ernstes admitted in court to taking money from envelopes he opened. The stolen mail has been held as evidence, but will now be released for delivery.
Winter's Over, One Of 10 Least Snowy Ever In La Crosse
At the end of November, one weather service forecaster in La Crosse predicted that a string of very snowy winters would continue for this season.
Turns out, Jeff Boyne's prediction was wrong. Boyne says at this point, our 21 inches of snow for the season makes this one of the 10 least snowy winters ever for La Crosse. It's the driest winter in 12 years. A jet stream in Canada and thunderstorms to the south of us have helped maintain mild weather throughout the season, according to Jeff. And he jokes that if he had looked at the climate trend more closely in November, he might have seen the dry season coming.
Boyne says the deepest that the snow ever got this winter was seven inches in late January...coincidentally, around the time of La Crosse's Winter Rec Fest.
Postman Guilty Of Stealing Mail
A 50 year old postal worker has pleaded guilty to stealing items from people's mail he was supposed to deliver. 50 year old Robert Ernstes of Melrose made the plea Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Madison. Ernstes was caught last year after a postal customer said that money was missing several greeting cards he was sending to family members.
Police found that only Ernstes would have handled the cards. He was caught when a test piece of mail was sent in last year. Ernstes took the mail home with him......and a search of his car, home, and garage turned up some 9 thousand pieces of mail dating back to November, 2008. Ernstes faces 5 years in prison and hefty fines when sentenced in May.
Kitchen Fire May Leave House A Total Loss
Cooking a pizza snack on the stove is what apparently started a fire that gutted a three-apartment house in La Crosse on Thursday.
While nobody was hurt in the afternoon fire, structural damage could make it impractical to fix the house. Owner Rick Hamilton got an assessment of damage from the assistant fire chief, hearing about severe damage to the walls and roof. One of the three units had been vacated recently. The current tenants were accounted for soon after the fire was reported.
Firefighters Battle Apartment Fire
La Crosse fire fighters have been battling a 2 story apartment building fire for the past hour. The fire, at 920 Fifth Avenue south, started shortly after 2. Firefighters have been in defensive mode for quite some time and at one point, were all ordered out of the building. No injuries have been reported. We'll have more as the afternoon progresses.