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Crime-and-courts
Onalaska man charged with imprisoning, beating woman and threatening children

An Onalaska man was charged Thursday with false imprisonment after his girlfriend reported he held her hostage during the weekend, beat her and threatened to kill her children.

Deer

Rory L. Deer Jr., 38, also was charged with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct, a repeat offender.

According to the complaint, a victim reported Monday that Deer, who she was dating and living with for the past two months, held her hostage and beat her throughout the weekend. Deer woke up the victim every hour or so to beat her, according to the complaint.

The victim’s children did not witness their mother being abused, police said.

The victim told police Deer was controlling, a heavy drinker, smokes methamphetamine and is paranoid, according to the complaint.

The report also indicated that Deer set up cameras all over the residence, acts erratically and is delusional.

The victim couldn’t escape until Monday when she took her child to school because Deer wouldn’t even permit her to go to the bathroom alone, according to the complaint.

He thought there were men in the bathroom who wanted to have sex with her, according to the police report. In the past, Deer had also accompanied her every time she needed to leave the house out of fear that she may “shoot drugs or cheat on him,” she reported.

The victim also stated that Deer slashed her mattress because he thought someone was hiding in there and had threatened her with a knife before this incident, according to reports.

The victim realized the urgency to report Deer when he threatened to drown her children in the toilet or bathtub during this weekend’s incident, although it wasn’t the first time he threatened to kill her and her children, according to the criminal complaint.

The Onalaska Police Department took photos of the victim, who had bruises on several parts of her body, a black eye and red gashes on her face, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors showed La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Elliott Levine the photos during Deer’s initial hearing Thursday.

Deer was already in jail for shattering the glass door of a Kwik Trip and charged Wednesday with attempting to flee or elude an officer, criminal damage to property and operating a vehicle while revoked.

Deer had a $1,000 cash bond and, according to prosecutors, continued contacting the victim multiple times while in custody.

Deer wanted a signature bond but Levine increased the bond to $5,000 with a no-contact condition with the victim and the victim’s children.


La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in March
La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in March

Local
La Crosse fixing sewage main break along Mormon Coulee Road

La Crosse Sanitary Sewer Utility workers are asking pedestrians to avoid the intersection of Broadview Place and Mormon Coulee Road as they address a force main break.

La Crosse utilities manager Bernard Lenz said crews and contractors are working to repair the line as quickly as possible, but Mormon Coulee Road near Broadview will be restricted to one lane in the southbound direction for the duration of the repairs.

Force mains are underground pressurized pipes designed to move untreated sewage long distances toward the wastewater treatment plant.

When the pipe broke late Wednesday, the pressurized untreated sewage was forced to the surface and ran overland to storm water catch basins that drain to the Pammel Creek flood control diversion channel.

The city is asking people to avoid the water in Pammel Creek until crews get the sewage cleaned up; however, due to the heavy run-off the sewage is diluted enough that there will be minimal impact to the environment, said Lenz.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Traffic is reduced to one lane Thursday on Mormon Coulee Road as crews work to repair a sewer main break.


Local
La Crosse council turns down bike lane ban on Gillette Street

Gillette Street will get bike lanes despite safety concerns after a La Crosse Common Council decision Thursday to vote down a ban proposed by a North Side council member.

The council tackled other issues besides bicycles at its March meeting, including the approval of a contract to revamp the city website, changes to the sewer connection fee system and the purchase of a property near the airport; however, none drew as much discussion as council member Scott Neumeister’s objection to building bike lanes on Gillette Street.

Scott Neumeister

The city’s plans call for repaving the portion from George Street to Onalaska Avenue this year and George to Rose in a couple years with federal help. As part of the project, the engineering department asked the Board of Public Works last month whether it should incorporate bike lanes down the entire stretch from Rose Street to Onalaska Avenue — which would eliminate parking on one side of the street — or prioritize keeping on-street parking on both sides of the street. The board voted 3-2 in favor.

While Neumeister isn’t against bike lanes as a whole, he doesn’t believe a busy street with a lot of large truck traffic is the place for them.

“(My concern) was purely safety, it was purely sticking up for my constituents who asked me for help,” Neumeister said.

After the board’s decision, Neumeister said, the resolution to ban bike lanes on that particular stretch of road was his only option to overturn the vote.

Neumeister was joined by council members Jessica Olson and Doug Happel, who voted to support the ban; however, the majority of council members supported the board’s decision.

Richmond

Council member Andrea Richmond said she understood Neumeister’s concerns, but was happy to see the plan calls for the bike lanes to end prior to the intersection of Gillette and George streets.

“That is a real safety issue, so I’m encouraged by that,” Richmond said.

She also understood some business concerns about losing parking on the north side of the street to make way for the bike lanes; however, she said she was confident the city could work with the impacted businesses to offset the loss.

Marshall

Council member David Marshall argued that bike lanes improve safety of bicyclists who are already out there, rather than encourage people to go where it isn’t safe.

“Statistics show very clearly that riding your bike is actually much more dangerous than riding on a bike lane. Riding your bicycle on the sidewalk actually exposes you to the danger of people pulling out from their driveways,” Marshall said.

It also exposes you to danger at intersections, because drivers don’t look out for bikes crossing the road coming from the sidewalk.

“I’m definitely a believer in bike lanes and I think this is a very important message we’re sending,” Marshall said.

That message is that cars aren’t the only option and the city is dedicated to supporting alternative transportation and making it safer, he said.

City website

The La Crosse Common Council unanimously approved a $37,000 five-year agreement with a company called Granicus designed to get the city a website that better serves its community.

La Crosse information technology director Jacky Gerschner said the agreement will facilitate redesigning the city’s homepage to get users where they want to go, whether reporting a pothole or paying a parking ticket. The company will rearrange the website a little each year, then do a complete redesign in five years.

“With today’s technology and the way it evolves, you have to stay on top of it,” she said.

Individual city departments will be able to cater their portion of the city’s website to their needs, and the site will work well for all users, whether they are accessing it from a phone, tablet or computer, she said.

Sewer connection fee

The council approved extending the existing $730 hook-up fee for new users of the city’s wastewater treatment plant to the city of La Crosse, ensuring new developments in the city pay the same connection fees as new users in neighboring communities.

Airport purchase

La Crosse will purchase 3503 Lakeshore Drive, next door to the city-owned and operated La Crosse Regional Airport to help protect the approach vectors of airplanes coming into the airport runways. The airport plans to demolish the home turn the area into green space later this year.


Local
Bill would help Wisconsin doctors cross state lines

La Crosse hospitals are urging the Legislature to extend a law allowing physicians to more easily practice medicine across state lines.

In 2015, lawmakers entered Wisconsin into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a 26-state agreement meant to streamline the licensure process for physicians hoping to work in multiple states, especially in rural areas.

Local health officials say the compact — which also includes Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois — will have the greatest benefit in places like La Crosse: border communities with a strong health care presence.

If legislators do nothing, however, Wisconsin will automatically withdraw from the compact in December.

Dix

“Licensing can take up to six months, so this is a timesaver that allows us to provide care at a quicker pace,” said Anna Dix, credentialing specialist at Gundersen Health System. “When trying to expand our services to Iowa or Minnesota … it’s nice that we can do this process and get licenses issued faster.”

On Thursday, Dix joined other health care officials in testifying before a state Senate committee, arguing for Wisconsin to remain in the compact.

The original law included a sunset clause pulling Wisconsin from the agreement after a five-year trial. Now, hospitals are calling on the Legislature to make the law permanent — a push that has plenty of steam.

A handful of Coulee Region lawmakers — Sen. Jennifer Shilling and Reps. Jill Billings, Steve Doyle and Loren Oldenburg — have indicated they will back the bill, authored by Rep. Nancy VanderMeer of Tomah. Gundersen officials say it has bipartisan support.

Vamstad

“Increasing access for care and getting more interstate collaboration … it’s really a win-win,” said Brian Vamstad, Gundersen’s director of external affairs. “This is something that’s good for Wisconsin, good for providers and, ultimately, good for patients.”

While the compact has the potential to reduce health care costs, patients will mostly benefit from greater access to physicians, primarily specialists you won’t find in smaller communities. Those specialists have an even longer reach these days, with the emergence of remote treatment through telemedicine.

The compact also stands to benefit Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, by virtue of its alignment with the Mayo Clinic network of hospitals and clinics, headquartered in Rochester.

Rushlow

“We’re a strong supporter of the compact and the idea of having a more rapid ability to license our providers,” said David Rushlow, a family practice physician and chief medical officer at Mayo-Franciscan. “A significant number of our Wisconsin physicians still need a license to practice in Minnesota, and a significant number of our Minnesota specialists still need a license to practice in Wisconsin.”

While Wisconsin officially joined the compact in 2015, it wasn’t until 2017 that its membership took effect, due to protracted negotiations and rules drafting.

Rushlow said the rollout has been bumpy — Minnesota, Wisconsin’s closest partner, has had recurring issues with paperwork, he said — and physicians aren’t getting out-of-state licenses noticeably faster than they did before.

“But we’re hopeful for the future,” he said. “We expect those issues to decrease over time.”

Health officials made clear that the compact does not give physicians a free pass.

Physicians hoping to obtain licenses through the compact must meet a handful of requirements. They must be board-certified, must be in good standing in their home state and must have no malpractice claims.

Roughly 80 percent of physicians would qualify, officials say.


Craig Johnson, Winona Daily News 

Caledonia Girl's Basketball Team celebrates a win during Saturday's Section 1AA Girl's Basketball game against Rochester Lourdes at the Mayo Civic Auditorium in Rochester, MN.


Preps
WIAA state boys basketball: A week full of experiences for La Crosse Central

This week has been just as much about the experience as it’s been about the game for the Central High School boys basketball team.

Parcher

Ending the season at the Kohl Center in Madison is the only way senior Noah Parcher knows how to end a season. He has played for the Red Raiders in a couple of WIAA Division 2 semifinal losses and helped them win a championship in 2017.

Parcher suits up for his fifth state game Friday when third-seeded Central (24-2) plays second-seeded Milwaukee Washington (21-5) in a 3:15 p.m. semifinal.

“Isn’t that amazing?” Central coach Todd Fergot said. “He’s getting to play there four times. What a career.”

Bangor (25-1) competes Friday for a chance to win its second straight Division 5 championship. The third-seeded Cardinals meet Marshfield Columbus Catholic (25-2) in a semifinal scheduled to begin about 10:45 a.m.

Nothing that happened this week was a surprise to Parcher because Fergot has found the routine that suits his team. Practices are the same, and the travel schedule is the same.

Perhaps players from this year’s team spent time during Thursday afternoon’s Division 3 semifinals signing autographs the way Kobe King and Bailey Kale — Parcher even got in on it as a sophomore — did in 2017.

The crown jewel of the week outside of games for Fergot is the dinner he schedules for Thursday nights. It includes time to celebrate another accomplishment with current and former players, all of whom have had a hand in taking the program where it is.

“Anyone who comes down is welcomed to join us,” Fergot said. “That is a very special part of this for me.”


Parcher