Fly ash samples

‘Beneficial reuse’ of coal ash could contaminate drinking water statewide

It’s not a good sign when even the dogs won’t drink your tap water. “They sniff it and then drink the bottled water we pour,” said Frank Michna of Caledonia, one of hundreds of southeastern Wisconsin residents whose wells are contaminated by pollutants that may be coming from buried coal ash.

About 100 milligrams of nails are all that's needed to show if someone has been heavily drinking — at least six binges in the past three months.

Wisconsin first to test repeat drunken drivers with alcohol biomarkers

In the past several years, a handful of Wisconsin counties became the first nationwide to test repeat drunken drivers for molecular evidence of heavy drinking in nail or blood samples. Researchers say their initial data show that biomarker testing during treatment may help these offenders stay sober longer, keep them from getting rearrested, save counties money — and make roads safer.

This photo of R04040 was taken in April 2009.

On the death of my monkey

The sign on his incubator said: “Born today, rejected by mother, male infant.” He was swaddled in a blue blanket. At first I thought he was dead; then he opened his tiny eyes. I may have been the first person he saw.

Geraldine Bartoli holds a picture of her son, Michael, who was killed in an accident with a drunken driver, during a victim impact panel in Fond Du Lac in March 2013. Advocacy groups say the panels allow victims to tell their stories, but some research indicates it may not reduce recidivism rates.

Are victim impact panels effective?

Some drunken drivers are required to attend panels where they hear from victims of drunken driving and their families. But the panels often fail to keep offenders from driving drunk again, and may even increase the chances they will.

Andrew MacGillis, 42, currently in prison for his seventh drunken driving offense said he has not been offered treatment at Fox Lake Correctional Institute. He was sent there before receiving an alcohol and drug assessment. Others choose not to get an assessment and many continue to drive for months after an arrest without facing penalties or receiving treatment. Photo Sept. 19, 2014.

Treatment eludes many drunken driving offenders

“This time, I’m confident, I’m willing, I’m able and I want the sobriety,” says Andrew MacGillis, currently in Fox Lake Correctional Institution on his seventh drunken driving offense. But treatment may prove elusive for MacGillis, who says he has not been offered rehabilitation programs at Fox Lake. Others face a delay or are found noncompliant with court-ordered interviews that qualify them for treatment.

State stung by task force resignations

In their resignation letter, the four accused the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Statewide Impaired Driving Task Force of focusing “on interventions that have little impact or are not proven to be effective.” They cited various slights that led them to conclude the state was uninterested in their input.

State auditors say two family planning clinics overbilled Medicaid for $3.5 million, largely for birth control; the providers say the state is using the wrong reimbursement rate. Now Republican legislators are seeking an audit of all such clinics in Wisconsin.

Family planning clinics say state audits could force many to close

Two family planning clinics serving low-income women say their operations will be at serious financial risk if state auditors stand firm on claims that they overbilled Medicaid by $3.5 million, largely for birth control drugs and devices.

“My hunch is that if any one of us were audited it would come out the same way. We’re all operating the same way,” said Beth Hartung, president of the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. “It would mean, quite frankly, that we would all close.”