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News From 91.3 KUWS
Brutality report release quashed, relief from c-c-c-cold weather, jobless numbers
The Wisconsin Department of Justice report on allegations of brutality by a Superior Police officer is not being released to the public this afternoon after all. Mike Simonson reports.
The attorney for Natasha Lancour, who is making the allegations against Superior Police Officer George Gothner in an incident January 5th, says they’ve been slapped with an injunction this afternoon to not release the report.
A person at attorney Rick Gondik’s office says they did get the report but can’t discuss it because of the injunction from Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank’s office.
The DOJ report went to Blank…who then sent it to Bayfield County District Attorney Fred Bourg for a third party opinion. After a court hearing Wednesday, Blank said he didn’t want the report released so soon, and now the injunction prevents it from being made public.
//////////////Natural gas prices double
First it was propane, now natural gas prices are taking a big jump. The city of Duluth announced that the price per 100 cubic feet has nearly doubled from January’s 78 cents to $1.40 this month.
The city’s natural gas department says the extreme cold has pushed demand which has pushed prices. It does say that the price of natural gas is still the best deal. It says it’s 40% the cost of propane, 48% the cost of electrical heating, and half the price of fuel oil.
Meanwhile, temps are rebounding big time this weekend, with highs in the 40’s Sunday but this winter has brought record-breaking low temperatures to northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.
What is unusual about this winter is just how persistent cold temps have been. That’s according to Dan Miller. Miller is the science officer with the National Weather Service Office in Duluth.
“Our previous record of most number of days with a temperature below zero was 59. That was in the winter of ’67-’68. I believe we are at 62 and counting.”
Miller says that was the case for Duluth as of the last week in February. He says Ashland is right on par with 59 days and counting. National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Gohde says they’ve recorded several new extreme cold temps at the Ashland Airport since 1998.
“The coldest day over winter appears to have been recorded on January 9-25 for a low temperature and 19 for a high that day.”
Gohde says it’s been five years since Ashland has seen that many days with low temps below zero. He says the previous record was 41 days.
Meanwhile, Miller says longer days in March are expected to bring warmer weather. He says the region should see a break in the cold by mid-March.
Unemployment inched up in northwestern Wisconsin last month.
The State Department of Workforce Development reports Douglas County had the lowest rate at 5.5% in December…less than half the jobless rates in Bayfield and Iron Counties.
Iron County stayed the same as November with just more than 13% unemployment while Bayfield went from 10% to 11% unemployed last month.
Price County was next lowest with 5.7%, Washburn County has the same ratge of the national unemployment rate at 7.1%, Burnett County had 7.5%, up one percent from November, Ashland County went up just a tick to 7.8%, and Sawyer County stayed the same at 9 and a half percent without work.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 6.2%.
///////////////Washburn state of city
Washburn Mayor Scott Griffiths gave his first State of the City address at StageNorth in Washburn last night.
Griffiths spoke about the challenges facing the city, including its wastewater treatment plant. He says the plant and city sewer utility have caused the most financial strain for this little town by the big lake. Griffiths says the city is still paying on a 40-year loan for a facility that is fast becoming obsolete.
"We are still carrying more than $2 million in debt while much of the equipment has reached the end of its expect life."
Griffiths says the city began making improvements in 2005 and extending lines, putting the utility about $4.5 million in debt.
Washburn's mayor says the city council has approved an annual 5.5 percent rate increase to close the budget gap. More than half of the sewer utility's $531,000 budget goes toward debt payments. Griffiths says the wastewater treatment plant alone needs around $750,000 in upgrades. Washburn's mayor says one solution for the city may be construction of a state of the art facility that converts wastewater into bio-gas.
Griffiths says the city will have to deal with the existing plant for now. But he says Washburn needs to set the bar high to get out of debt.
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