Bowing to pressure, fireplace makers step up safety measures

To stave off regulation and lawsuits over severe burns to toddlers, manufacturers will provide protective screens as standard equipment with new gas fireplaces. The industry has revised its voluntary guidelines to call for the addition of mesh screens to be permanently attached to new fireplaces to prevent contact with the scorching glass fronts, which get hot enough to melt skin.

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Should raw milk sales be legalized?

For farmer Brian Wickert, the raw milk bill is about having the freedom to live without interference from the government. But for health officials in America’s Dairyland, it’s about potentially exposing unsuspecting citizens to disease-causing bacteria. At the crux of this debate is the age-old question: How much should government protect its citizens from possible hazards? Continue Reading

Burn cases turn up the heat on fireplace makers

In September, a family’s vacation in Wisconsin Dells turned tragic when an infant touched the glass front of a fireplace and suffered third-degree burns at a resort hotel. Manufacturers of gas fireplaces are being buffeted by lawsuits and the threat of federal regulation amid heightened concerns about the risk of burns from the appliances, which can get hot enough to melt skin. Continue Reading

Deer, coyotes and turkeys, oh my!

Just as Doug Drost was landing at the Shell Lake airport, his wife, Karen Drost, saw something hurtling out of the darkness toward their Cessna 210. Something big. “Deer, deer, deer!” she screamed. That hit on the northwestern Wisconsin runway — which caused $12,000 in damage — is a story that plays out over and over in this increasingly deer-ridden country. Continue Reading

Russian student’s death highlights lack of public transit in the Dells

Of the 21 bicycle-vehicle crashes reported in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton since 2008, police reports indicate 19 involved international students on bicycles. People who live and work here say that out-of-town drivers unfamiliar with the area, congested roadways and international students' ignorance of local bicycle laws have created a perilous mix for bikers.

Since the area has no public transit besides taxi, many of estimated 2,000 international students who come to work in the Dells each summer ride bicycles to get around. Of the 21 bicycle-vehicle crashes reported in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton since 2008, police reports indicate 19 involved international student riders. Continue Reading