Here's What's Happening Around The State

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) A citizen review panel formed after a corrections officer was injured in an attack at the Marathon County jail says the jail system is unsafe and needs a wholesale culture change. Among the most troubling of the panel's finding was that drugs and other contraband were being smuggled into the jail by work-release inmates and through the jail's laundry, which is staffed by inmate-trustees. The five-member panel was formed after an inmate critically injured a corrections officer March 27. After the attack, a review of county records revealed several jail inspection reports that raised concerns about jail problems. The reports were allegedly ignored by Sheriff Randy Hoenisch, who announced his retirement in February. The jail administrator also resigned.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled against a volunteer firefighter who argued he was immune from liability after driving through a red light and colliding with another vehicle when responding to an emergency call. Tuesday's ruling comes in a case involving Parnell Burditt, a volunteer with the Okauchee Fire Department. In 2008, Burditt was driving his truck through a four-lane divided highway in response to an emergency call when he struck a vehicle, injuring two passengers. The Supreme Court says Burditt was required to stop at the red light because his truck didn't have a required audible signal like a siren. The attorney for those injured praised the decision, calling it fair. Burditt's attorney had not seen the ruling and had no immediate comment.

The president of an award-winning cheese company in Wisconsin says the source of contamination that led to the death of a Minnesota man and sickened four others is still uncertain. George Crave says production and distribution of the three recalled cheeses linked to the illnesses has ceased. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state agriculture officials have inspected Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Co., near Waterloo. All five people sickened by listeria were diagnosed between May 20 and June 17. The FDA says they range in age from 31 to 67 years old. Minnesota health officials say one of the state's two victims died.
The products involved, Les Frhres cheese, Petit Frhre cheese, and Petit Frhre with Truffles, have previously won awards from the American Cheese Society.

Two northwestern Wisconsin state lawmakers are asking Gogebic Taconite to remove the armed guards it has employed to protect a proposed mining site. Gogebic spokesman Bob Seitz says the company began using the private security guards after teams of mining opponents ``violently attacked'' the company's drill site last month. Gogebic is doing test drills in Ashland and Iron counties as it works toward construction of an open-pit iron ore mine and processing plant. Several Ojibwe and environmental groups say the project will damage the environment Sen. Bob Jauch, of Poplar, and Rep. Janet Bewley, of Ashland, say the company's decision to hire high security guards is ``appalling.'' The two Democrats sent a letter to Gogebic's president, calling on him to remove the guards immediately.

Small engine maker Briggs & Stratton Co. has introduced an additive that it says will help prevent problems in engines using ethanol. Gas companies use a 10 percent blend of ethanol to comply with federal renewable fuels standards. Briggs & Stratton says the ethanol attracts moisture, which creates problems in lawn mowers, generators and other gas-powered equipment. Briggs & Stratton manager Scott Wesenberg saysthe additive will displace water and help prevent those problems. But ethanol supporters say most problems come from people not maintaining their equipment properly and doing things like leaving the cap off a gasoline can. Renewable Fuels Association spokeswoman Kristy Moore says an additive probably isn't needed if equipment is maintained correctly.

The chief of staff to the top-ranking Democrat in the state Assembly will be taking over leadership of a liberal advocacy group that has spent millions on campaign advertisements in recent years. Rich Judge is replacing Michelle McGrorty as head of the Greater Wisconsin Committee starting Aug. 1. McGrorty headed the organization for eight years. Judge currently works as chief of staff to Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca. He previously worked as deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Jim Doyle. McGrorty is leaving to work on recruiting women to run for office in an 18-state region for Emily's List, a Washington-based political group that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

A group of Tibetan monks are visiting Wisconsin during the Himalayan Festival in the Spring Green area. The monks are from the Drepung Goman Monastery in India. Starting on Sunday, they will spend a week creating a mandala, which an elaborate piece of artwork made from tiny grains of colored sand. At the end, the work will be ritualistically destroyed and tossed into the Wisconsin River, symbolizing the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. The festival is held every four years in the town of Clyde, about nine miles from Spring Green. Last year, nine monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India spent a week at Saint Mary's University in Minnesota creating a sand mandala.

Two junior chefs from Minnesota and Wisconsin are getting ready to have lunch with first lady Michelle Obama. Liam Kivirist is an 11-year-old from Browntown, Wis. Kaitlyn Kirchner is a 9-year-old from Madelia, Minn. They're among the winners of a White House contest that challenged kids between the ages of 8 to 12 to create healthy lunchtime recipes. They'll join the other winners Tuesday for lunch at the White House. Liam won with his chili, simmered in a solar oven. Kaitlyn came up with a garden stir fry featuring vegetables she and her family grow in their garden. Both say they've been cooking since they were little. They say they enjoy eating healthy meals, and they're thrilled to have lunch with Mrs. Obama.

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