MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials are taking the unusual step of allowing farmers to harvest hay and graze cattle on some state lands.
The DNR will let farmers take free hay and let cattle roam on certain state properties in 32 counties where Governor Scott Walker has declared flooding-related states of emergency and federal officials have declared natural disaster areas due to winter-kill and excessive rain and snow.
A complete list of counties and properties is available on the DNR's website.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says the agency made the move to help farmers dealing with feed shortages resulting from extreme weather.
Farmers will have to sign an agreement specifying hay taken from the properties will be used to feed livestock and not sold.
(Copyright 2013 Associated Press - All Rights Reserved)
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander employee union believes the city illegally rejected their collective bargaining agreement,now they’re suing the city.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1226 represents City of Rhinelander workers from public works, wastewater, parks, water and golf course employees. They filed suit against the city on Dec. 4, 2013.
The union says they reached a tentative agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement in early December 2012. But according court documents, the union claims the city council illegally rejected the agreement and didn’t tell the union about it.
Aaron Halstead, from Madison-based firm Hawks Quindel, S.C., has been a labor lawyer for more than 20 years and says he has never seen a municipality do something like this before.
"I've never had any municipality do what the city did here which is to reject an agreement with the union, despite the fact that they had an agreement on all of the terms," Halstead said.
The union believes the city is violating Wisconsin Municipal Employment Relations Act. In 2012, city workers asked for a one percent wage increase starting January 1,2013.
Halstead said the city and union agreed to that increase in their tentative agreement. According to the group's complaint, the city council rejected the tentative collective bargaining agreement, but passed the one percent wage increase as a resolution.
But the union claims the collective bargaining agreement wasn’t renewed. Instead the group says the city passed a resolution putting the terms into a personnel manual.
Rhinelander city council met Monday night to discuss how to move forward once the city is formally served with lawsuit.
"I think it's unfortunate. We have a good relationship with the union, and a good relationship with the employees," said Blaine Oborn, Rhinelander city administrator. "We have a lot of outstanding employees. So unfortunately, with all this ambiguity [concerning] Acts 10 and 32, I think that this kind of stuff unfortunately [happens]."
The complaint also claims that the city reduced the wages of newly hired people by $4 an hour. They say this violates the terms of the parties' tentative agreement. Halstead says they still haven't received an explanation.
"The city contends that it doesn't have to, but it has never provided a satisfactory answer as to what it is that is objectionable about the agreement that was reached," Halstead said.
Monday nights' meeting was a closed session.
The city will have three weeks to respond to the complaint.
FOND DU LAC - A police standoff has ended in Fond du Lac with a man in custody.
Officials say the standoff outside an apartment may be connected to a house fire in the city Monday morning. Police tell WBAY-TV (http://bit.ly/18wYmYO) that a man holed up in an apartment fired shots at officers, but no one was hurt.
Police negotiators were able to talk to the man on the phone and get him to leave the building and surrender. He was taken into custody without incident.
Authorities say the man in the apartment is a ``person of interest'' in the fire at a two-story house elsewhere in the city.
Police have cleared the scene and say no explosives or anyone else was found in the apartment. Neighbors can return to their homes.
Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Neither Rockfleet Broadcasting / Northland Television, Inc. nor By Request Web Designs shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, or misprints.