Democrats hammer Walker on road funding during Wausau stop, claim Evers would be 'adult in the room' to strike long-term fixSubmitted: 08/21/2018

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WAUSAU - Construction crews continue to work on highway projects near Woodruff and west of Rhinelander this week, but Roger Putnam wants to see the people he represents fixing roads for the long run.

"It's a problem that everyone can agree upon," Putnam said of transportation funding.  "It's not even a partisan issue anymore."

The Wisconsin Operating Engineers Local 139 spokesman shared those thoughts outside the Marathon County Democratic offices in Wausau on Tuesday morning in front of lawmakers, 85th Assembly District Candidate Alyson Leahy, and fellow union members.

"I would say that the tough decisions that need to be made have not been made by the governor," Putnam said.

Putnam's message is also reaching a statewide audience. His union is behind the "Pardon our Scott-holes" billboard campaign along freeways, calling out Governor Walker for not doing enough to fix the roads.

"When it starts to affect people's pocketbooks, people pay attention," Putnam said.

Democrats point to an InfrastructureReportcard.org chart showing Wisconsinites pay an average of $637 per year in car maintenance from driving on rough roads. The chart, which is run on a website sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers, shows those rates run about $100 less in Minnesota and Michigan.

"It's all because of a fixation [Walker] has against doing anything adult, like making sure we have the resources," western-Wisconsin lawmaker Dana Wachs said after Tuesday's press conference.

Wachs (D-Eau Claire) says Walker largely ignored a 2011 study, which suggested raising the gas tax and license fees would offer more road funding. Newswatch 12 asked Wachs how gubernatorial nominee Tony Evers would differ in his approach.

"I'm not sure exactly where his plans are at this nanosecond, but he's talked over and over again about the importance of education and the importance of transportation resources," Wachs answered.

Wisconsin Republicans acknowledge there's cause for concern. It took more than two extra months to pass the state budget in 2017, largely because Walker stood firm on not raising taxes for roads, preferring more borrowing and delaying some projects.

"We maintain that all options should be on the table," Representative Rob Swearingen told Newswatch 12, stopping in Wausau on his way down to meetings at the state Capitol.

Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) believes the governor should consider higher taxes to fix roads, even after putting $10 million into local road and bridge repairs and $56 million into the transportation fund. However, Swearingen, who says he respects the governor's stance on funding, wants Walker to limit how much borrowing lawmakers put on the "state credit card."

"I don't know if he'll change his tune on that or not," Swearingen said. "We'll see as some of these figures start unveiling themselves as we get closer to the end of this budget... Yeah, there are people that are willing to pay a bit more [in gas tax or registration fees], but obviously some people think that they're paying way too much in the first place."

Democrats also attacked Walker for focusing his attention on the Foxconn deal instead of statewide road repairs.  The deal offers tax breaks for the Taiwan-based manufacturer if it hits certain standards in building a $10 billion manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin.

Swearingen said the issues aren't really linked, calling Foxconn a boost for the entire state and "a part of the puzzle" in helping Wisconsin's economy grow.

Swearingen also wants to learn more about the possibility of toll roads in Wisconsin, which would require a federal waiver. Democrats say a change in state leadership is the only way to find out what a long-term fix will be.

"How much more [will people pay] is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak," Putnam said. "Right now we're at zero, so it has to be more than that."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the gas tax last went up in Wisconsin in 2006. Republicans did include new fees on hybrid and electric cars in the state budget last year.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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PARK FALLS - In the past, people in Park Falls couldn't always get access to a doctor when they needed one for minor injuries and illnesses. But Flambeau Hospital recently added a new program to change that.

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TOMAHAWK - Law enforcement throughout Wisconsin are stepping up patrols in an effort to prevent drunk driving during the last stretch of summer.

Tomahawk Police officers like Ryan Picl have been working extra hours as part of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

"Even if you're buzzed, you're still drunk," said Picl. "Some people handle alcohol differently than other people."

The campaign started last Friday and goes until September third.
Chief Al Elvins says the campaign is a great way to decrease the number of drinking and driving deaths in Wisconsin.

"Usually the last batch of summer is Labor Day, so we're trying to educate people," said Elvins. "Last year there were 161 fatalities in the state of Wisconsin and 3,000 injuries caused by impaired driving."

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EAGLE RIVER - Trig Solberg's company won't give in easily in its attempt to pump, truck, and bottle drinking water from Presque Isle.

The Carlin Club has filed an appeal in Vilas County Circuit Court.

It wants permission to transport 18,000 gallons of drinking water a day from a well near Carlin Lake.

Solberg, the owner of Trig's supermarkets, is also involved with the Carlin Club case.

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Police in Wausau search for a suspect after a shooting Monday night.

Just after 9:00 p.m., police and paramedics were called to the area of Short Street and North 3rd Street in Wausau.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/21/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We talk to some Wisconsin Democrats who were in Wausau today to spread their message that they feel Tony Evers will do a better job fixing the state's roads than Gov. Scott Walker has done during his time in office.

We'll show you the new urgent care clinic in Park Falls that will provide care in the evenings and weekends, and we talk to physicians and nurses in the program to find out why they feel the new program was needed.

And we'll take you to a workshop in Eagle River where people learned how to make a calming and healing product out of the calendula plant.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - An Oneida County man accused of sexually assaulting a 76-year-old woman pled not guilty in court Monday.

In June, the victim's daughter found her bruised and bloodied in her Town of Pelican home.

Police believe 21-year-old Isaiah Moren targeted the victim after he discovered she lived alone.

DNA results link Moren to the crime scene.

Moren faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted and is being held on a $500,000 cash bond. 

He will be back in court October 9.

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"This is a spectacular use, I think, of recycling land," Cody said.

Cody and her husband Pete showed off the specially printed "Rookery Run" disc golf equipment, which will come in handy for a grand opening ceremony this fall, about four years after the duo hatched the idea.

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