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Onalaska man, son facing homicide charges in overdose death

A father and son from the town of Onalaska could face homicide charges in connection with the overdose of a 33-year-old woman Thursday.

According to reports, police and first responders were called to N5880 E. Lakeview Court around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday for a suspected heroin overdose. They found Shawn Docken performing CPR on his wife, Jessica Docken, who was not breathing.

Shawn Docken

Mathew Docken

Jessica Docken was taken to Gundersen Medical Center in La Crosse, where she died the next day.

Shawn Docken, 54, told sheriff’s deputies he and Jessica snorted heroin around 7 a.m. after he got home from working the night shift at City Brewing Co. According to police reports, he said his son, Mathew Docken, found Jessica slumped over in a bedroom and said, “Dad, you might want to check on your wife.” Docken told investigators he gave Jessica a shot of Narcan, an opioid antidote.

Shawn Docken told investigators he’d been using heroin for about four years and that he’d gotten an OWI on Monday because of his drug use; he told police his son had handed him a plate with the heroin that he and Jessica snorted and that he had loaned his son money to buy drugs.

Mattew Docken, 28, would not tell investigators who his dealer was, according to the reports.

Investigators searched the home and found traces of heroin and cocaine as well as marijuana and edible cannabis, according to reports.

Shawn and Mathew Docken were arrested on suspicion of delivery of heroin and remained jailed Friday on $1,000 cash bonds.

Assistant District Attorney Sue Donskey said prosecutors intend to charge each with reckless homicide pending results of an autopsy that is scheduled for Monday.

Walker tax cut, Lincoln Hills closure plan in jeopardy

MADISON, Wis. — Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald threw cold water on a couple of Gov. Scott Walker’s top priorities Friday, saying he was cut out of negotiations between the governor and Assembly on a tax cut deal and juvenile justice overhaul.

Fitzgerald told The Associated Press that both proposals, which passed the Assembly this week, will have serious problems getting through the Senate with no changes. The Assembly has adjourned for the year and Speaker Robin Vos reiterated to the AP on Friday that the chamber has no intention of coming back.

“If the Senate doesn’t want to pass the tax cut, they can kill it and take the blame,” Vos said.

The Assembly passed dozens of bills this week before quitting early Friday morning. That means anything that still needs Senate approval has to pass as is to become law.

Several major pieces of Walker’s agenda that he hopes to run for re-election on this year got through the Assembly this week. That includes a $100 per-child tax credit and sales tax holiday, a plan to close the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison and overhaul the juvenile justice system, $350 million for a new adult prison, $4 million for more prosecutors and an incentive package to persuade Kimberly-Clark not to shed 600 jobs in northeastern Wisconsin.

Fitzgerald didn’t commit to any of those passing the Senate unchanged and said he “absolutely” felt like he was cut out of negotiations between Vos and Walker.

“They continue to cut deals between the governor and Assembly and I don’t know why they think that will result in bills becoming law,” he said.

Tensions among Vos, Fitzgerald and Walker date back to last year’s protracted budget negotiations that resulted in the spending plan passing two months late. Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg did not directly address Fitzgerald’s complaints in a statement.

“We have been and will continue to work with both the Senate and Assembly to get positive things done for the people of Wisconsin,” she said.

Vos said he’s worked with individual senators — including Sen. Van Wanggaard on the Lincoln Hills plan — who could then work with Fitzgerald to get bills passed. He said there was no conscious decision to leave Fitzgerald out of the process.

“I have learned negotiating with the Senate sometimes is like getting Jell-O to mold,” Vos said.

The Lincoln Hills bill was written by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who met with Walker to talk about it earlier this week. Walker told reporters he would sign the bill in the version it passed the Assembly.

Under the bill, Lincoln Hills would close by 2021, the most serious juvenile offenders would be housed in state-run prisons and counties would be in charge of the rest. It includes $80 million to pay for construction of new facilities as needed.

“I have a ton of questions,” Fitzgerald said of that plan. “We weren’t involved in the process at all. I wasn’t invited to any meetings. I have a ton of concerns.”

He said the new system could be “completely unraveled” by a lawsuit.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who understands what they’re doing,” Fitzgerald said. “It deserves a lot more scrutiny than it’s received.”

Vos said he still thinks there’s time for the Senate to review and accept what the Assembly passed with no changes. The Senate plans to return for a final day in session on March 20.

But Fitzgerald said between now and then Senate committees will be meeting and he assumes they will be working on changes to the tax cut proposal, Lincoln Hills plan and other bills approved by the Assembly.

“I can’t believe they wouldn’t come back and take some of the changes from the Senate,” he said.

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Last-minute Assembly vote could help Monroe County frac operation

The Wisconsin Assembly approved legislation late Thursday night that would allow wetlands to be filled even while challenges to a permit are pending.

Changes to the law were included in an amendment introduced just days before the scheduled start of a hearing on a wetland permit issued to Meteor Timber for a proposed frac sand processing facility in Monroe County.

Environmental groups accused the sponsor, Rep. Ron Tusler, of helping the Georgia timber company skirt existing regulations.

“This amendment is clearly designed to help Meteor get out from under this lawsuit,” said Evan Feinauer, an attorney with the group Clean Wisconsin, which challenged the Department of Natural Resources’ decision to grant a permit to fill 16.25 acres of “pristine” wetlands for the $70 million project.


The Republican-controlled Assembly voted on party lines to adopt the amendment, which was attached to a bill by Tusler that would tighten provisions for wetland mitigation and was backed by environmental groups including Clean Wisconsin and the Nature Conservancy, which withdrew support on Friday.

“It doesn’t fit in the bill. It’s a good bill about where mitigation should be done,” said Paul Heinen, state government relations director for the Nature Conservancy. “That’s wrong. You just don’t do that.”

A note in the drafting documents for the amendment states, “Permit was issued, no discharge yet (because) stayed for contested case hearing. Bypass this by saying no permit required.”

Tusler, a Republican representing the Appleton area, described details of Meteor’s proposed project without mentioning the company by name in his comments on the Assembly floor. He did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

“This particular amendment is pro wetland, just like the entire bill is pro-wetland,” he said.


Meteor’s parent company, Timberland Investment Resources, registered Friday with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission in support of the bill.

Draft notes show Tusler’s amendment was requested Thursday “due ASAP this morning.” It was introduced later the same day and approved around 11 p.m. on the final day of the legislative session.

“This amendment was clearly an attempt to cram in without any debate (a way) to help a single company get out from under a challenge that merely asked them to meet the same standards,” Feinauer said. “There was no real debate.”

An attorney for Meteor Timber referred questions to Nathan Conrad, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Development Association, a nonprofit lobbying group of which Meteor is a member.

Conrad said the amendment addresses “continuous obstructionist behavior” from “extreme environmentalist groups” such as Clean Wisconsin.

“Groups like this have filed lawsuit after lawsuit for reasonable, responsible resource development,” Conrad said. “Meteor Timber should be applauded for following the rules, being a good corporate citizen, creating jobs in a responsible manner, and making any and all attempts to include all voices in the project process.”


Conrad said the proposed project would support 300 construction jobs and 100 permanent positions.

A companion bill introduced Feb. 16 is in the hands of the Senate committee on natural resources.

Feinauer said Clean Wisconsin intends to focus on the five-day contested case hearing, which is scheduled to begin Monday in Tomah.

An administrative law judge will listen to testimony and determine whether the project will have significant adverse environmental consequences and is the least environmentally harmful alternative as well as whether the DNR had sufficient information and followed procedures outlined in state statute.

“We’re not going to give up on this,” Feinauer said. “We’re going to prove our case and demonstrate this permit should not have been issued.”

Clean Wisconsin argues that destroying the “pristine” forested wetlands — home to several rare and endangered species — would open the door to the destruction of more rare wetlands. The DNR acknowledged the permit “may lead to increased applications to fill rare, sensitive and valuable wetland plant communities.”

Meteor has proposed to restore and preserve more than 640 acres of other land near the the 752-acre site, which would serve two nearby mines on land the company acquired in 2014 when it purchased nearly 50,000 acres of Wisconsin forest.

However, the DNR determined those mitigation efforts “are not likely to fully compensate” for what it calls “permanent and irreversible” secondary impacts from activity on the site and may not compensate for the direct loss of 13.4 acres of “exceptional quality” white pine and red maple swamp, which is considered an imperiled habitat.

In its permit application, Meteor argued that the project was the only way to prevent much of the site from being clear cut.

About three quarters of the land is owned by the A&K Alexander Cranberry Co., which was cited in 2013 by the Environmental Protection Agency for illegally filling 5.6 acres of wetlands. The current owner said if he is unable to sell the land logging would be his only way to pay back a $321,470 loan he took out to settle the case.

“To not let this development happen, they lose,” Conrad said. “Everybody loses. The environment loses.”

Marc Wehrs / Scott Bauer, Associated Press