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Rombalski


Crime-and-courts
La Crosse woman accused of stabbing man with scissors

A La Crosse woman is being held on a cash bond after she was accused of stabbing her ex-boyfriend — who also has domestic abuse charges against her — with a scissors.

Alexis Pickett, 21, was charged Friday in La Crosse County Circuit Court with substantial battery using a dangerous weapon, criminal trespassing, criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct with a domestic-abuse enhancer. She also was charged with possession of narcotics.

According to the complaint, Pickett forced her way into the home of her ex-boyfriend, Yahyaa Kelly, 44, at about 10:30 a.m. Oct. 13. Kelly told police she began yelling at him and went to the kitchen, grabbing things off his kitchen counter and breaking them. Kelly told Pickett he was going to call police, and she took his phone and removed the battery.

Pickett

Kelly

Kelly told police he was able to get the phone away from her, but Pickett then grabbed a pair of scissors and began swinging them at him, scratching him several times before stabbing him in the right upper arm. As blood began to spurt from the wound, Kelly ran from his apartment to the hospital for medical attention, according to the complaint. Hospital staff members called police.

Three days later, on Oct. 16, Kelly and Pickett were spotted walking down an alley in La Crosse, according to police. Kelly had a previous bond forbidding him to have contact with Pickett after he was charged in July with strangulation and suffocation, battery and disorderly conduct after an incident in which he was accused of choking Pickett.

They were arrested at a La Crosse laundromat.

Kelly was charged Friday with felony bail jumping for having contact with Pickett.

Pickett is also accused of bringing fentanyl into the La Crosse County Jail. She has a total of 12 open cases, 10 of which are misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct, battery, retail theft, trespassing and bail jumping. Kelly has seven open cases since July 3.

Each is being held on a $1,000 cash bond ordered Friday by Judge Elliott Levine.


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

Local
Tobacco, vaping products banned on La Crosse County property

All buildings and grounds owned by the La Crosse County — including the Administrative Center, Health and Human Services Building, the Law Enforcement Center and adjacent parking lots — now prohibit all forms of smoking and vaping.

This prohibition for employees was implemented about a month ago. The new public ban took effect Friday.

“We’re putting out communications across the county to let employees know,” said La Crosse County Health Department Director Jennifer Rombalski. The county will add new signage in the area as well over the course of the next few weeks to indicate that the property is tobacco-and-nicotine-free.

Rombalski

There will no longer be areas designated for tobacco or nicotine use on the La Crosse County downtown campus, Rombalski said.

“We really didn’t have any strong feedback, positive or negative, from that so, it tells me that the time was right,” Rombalski said. The county had been working on passing the ordinances against tobacco and nicotine use on the property for about a year, after the smoke-free air law took effect in Wisconsin nearly a decade ago.

“This is not a new concept … to improve the health of others,” Rombalski said. “Even small exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cellular changes within minutes.”

City sidewalks are not under the county’s jurisdiction, so the new policy cannot be enforced on the public walkways around the county buildings. The county will strategically place receptacles to allow tobacco and nicotine users to dispose of their products responsibly prior to stepping onto county property, Rombalski said.

The county plans to enforce the policy through an educational approach by reminding smokers or vapers that they must exit the property to use the products, but the county is prepared to use a firmer approach to enforcement if necessary.

“We’re excited to continue to be a healthy environment for those who work and visit our facilities,” Rombalski said.


Wisconsin farmers, ethanol producers say EPA proposal won't ensure needed demand

Wisconsin ethanol producers and corn farmers say they’re frustrated with the Trump administration’s lack of follow-through on a promised boost for ethanol.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced they would be updating the Renewable Fuel Standard program to make sure the required amount of ethanol is mixed into fuel in 2020. The move was meant to make up for an increased number of exemptions for oil refineries that have hurt demand for ethanol.

But this week, the EPA proposed updating the regulations based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s recommended number of waivers, not the actual number issued.

“They didn’t follow any of those recommendations,” said Erik Huschitt, CEO of Badger State Ethanol. “To go back and try to make the number back into … the (U.S.) Department of Energy recommendations is nonsense.”

Huschitt said the agency should make adjustments based on the actual amount of waivers.

Doug Rebout, president of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, agrees. He said he thinks the Trump administration oversold how much the change will help farmers.

“They’re asking us to trust them and they haven’t given us a whole lot of reason to do that here lately,” Rebout said. “You can say this, but until we actually see it happen, that’s when we’re going to believe it.”

The National Farmers Union also issued a statement disapproving of the proposal this week. The group estimates using DOE’s recommendations will increase the amount of biofuels produced by 770 million gallons, compared to the approximately 1.35 billion gallons that would be produced based on the actual waivers issued.

Rebout said the situation creates market uncertainty for farmers as they think about next year’s growing season.

“Most farmers are just going, ‘Well, we’re just going to stay the course, and we’re not going to change a lot of what we’re doing with our planted acres of corn or soybeans,’” Rebout said.

Huschitt said he knows corn farmers in the state are hurting from current regulations.

“There’s been a number of months that we haven’t run at full capacity and that’s all corn that we won’t use … and won’t be able to use because you don’t get it back. The lost demand is lost demand,” Huschitt said.

But Huschitt said he doesn’t blame President Donald Trump.

“If the EPA acts as President Trump instructed, there won’t be frustration,” Huschitt said.

He said he believes Trump knows how important these ethanol regulations are for states like Wisconsin, especially as the 2020 presidential election nears.

“(Trump) ultimately knows that the displeasure in the Midwest has to get righted by the next election,” Huschitt said. “It shouldn’t be a matter of election. It’s people’s lives that are in a state of flux right now because we cannot have laws that aren’t being followed that markets react to.”

The EPA will host a public hearing on the proposal on Oct. 30, followed by a 30-day public comment period. The agency plans to finalize the action later this year.


Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Co-owner of Castle La Crosse Billy Bergeron removes mildew Thursday from the 22-inch thick limestone blocks at the historic landmark on Cass Street.