The University of Wisconsin wrestling team spent Friday processing the shock of losing one of its own.
Eli Stickley, who was about to enter his redshirt junior season with the Badgers, died in a car crash Thursday night in Illinois.
Stickley, 21, was driving a 2004 black Nissan Frontier that left the roadway on westbound Interstate 74 in Henry County at 8:19 p.m. Thursday, according to the Illinois State Police.
After the vehicle went into the right-hand ditch, it overcorrected and rolled across westbound lanes of traffic, the state police said, ending up on the passenger side in the passing lane.
Stickley and a passenger were transported to Illini Hospital in Silvis, Illinois, according to the Rock Island Dispatch-Argus, where Stickley was pronounced dead. No update was available on the passenger, who has not been identified by police.
A great friend, a dedicated athlete, an infectious smile, and also a member of our own committee that will be missed beyond measure. Please send your thoughts and prayers to all of our student athletes and those that cared deeply for Eli. https://t.co/zKQBFiuU01
Stickley joined the Badgers in 2015, wrestling unattached and taking a redshirt in his first season.
Wrestling at 141 pounds in 2017-18, he automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships by finishing sixth at the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Stickley had a 21-14 record last season, his second in competition for UW.
"The world lost a really good kid," said Badgers coach Chris Bono, who took over the program in March.
When Bono made calls Thursday night to let his players know the news, he asked one whether there were any teammates with whom Stickley was especially close that needed extra help in the aftermath.
"He said, 'Coach, I don't think there was one guy on the team that ever had one problem with this guy,'" Bono said. "That's the kind of kid he was."
From Urbana, Ohio, Stickley was an Ohio Division II state champion at 120 pounds in 2014 with a 50-3 record.
Stickley's family has a long history with Badgers wrestling. His uncle, Jim Jordan, won NCAA championships in 1985 and 1986 and was a three-time All-American. He now represents Ohio's 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Another uncle, Jeff Jordan, wrestled for UW from 1983 to 1986.
Stickley's cousin, Isaac Jordan, competed for UW from 2012 to 2017.
UW Athletics arranged for counselors to be available to student-athletes Friday morning when the wrestling team got together to mourn Stickley's death.
The team is on break and wasn't due to return to Madison until next week, Bono said.
"I think that's when it'll really hit home, when everybody's together," he said.
Bono continued: "Eli was great, man. There was not one single thing you could say that was bad about this guy in the three months that I was with him. We just had camp a couple weeks ago. I got to spend 24 hours a day with him at camp, being in the dorms with him. He's a great, great, great person."
Sun Prairie lost a community leader and hero Tuesday when an explosion Downtown killed pub owner and firefighter Capt. Cory Barr, his brother said.
Barr, who owned the Barr House, 100 W. Main St., with his wife, Abby, was off-duty from the Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department and at home with his family — including 3-year-old twin daughters — when he learned of the gas leak Downtown. He told his wife he needed to help the people at the bar and make sure everyone was safe, his brother, Chad Barr, said.
The explosion that resulted from the leak killed 34-year-old Cory Barr, injured several other firefighters, civilians and a police officer, leveled the Barr House and severely damaged other nearby buildings on the 100 blocks of East and West Main Street.
Barr didn’t have to go to the scene, his brother said, but he was the kind of person who always needed to help others.
“He lived his life as a hero and died a hero, and that’s how we’re going to remember him,” Chad Barr said.
Sun Prairie Fire Chief Chris Garrison described Barr, a 15-year veteran of the department, as “a community member, a business owner in the community, a great father.”
“We didn’t lose a firefighter yesterday, we lost a family member,” Garrison said at a news conference Wednesday. “We will be affected forever, but we will continue to build strength and be a better organization with Cory’s legacy in our hearts.”
His wife, Abby Barr, said in a statement that Cory Barr was “the best husband a girl could ask for” and lived his life by the motto “happy wife, happy life.”
“He was so outgoing, goofy, big-hearted, and would give the shirt off his back to anyone,” Abby Barr said. “To say that our family is devastated and heart-broken is an understatement.”
Police told the family Barr was outside the Barr House when it exploded, he said.
Local and state officials lauded Barr and his service Wednesday.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, said in a tweet Wednesday morning, “Our prayers go out to the family of Cory Barr — a community leader & volunteer firefighter who gave his life protecting his community.”
“This tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder that those who rush into danger to protect the public put their lives on the line for us every day,” state Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this brave public servant’s family and all of his colleagues in fire service.”
Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, also released a statement on behalf of the organization’s executive board offering condolences to Barr’s family and friends and “prayers and support to our sisters and brothers of the Sun Prairie Volunteer Fire Department and the crew of Sun Prairie EMS who attended to Captain Barr at the scene and transported him to the hospital.”
“Our Peer Support Team has been activated to assist Sun Prairie’s first responders during this very difficult time,” Mitchell said.
A procession of fire trucks from across the region escorted Barr’s body from the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office to the Tuschen-Newcomer Funeral Home in Sun Prairie late Wednesday.
Barr grew up in Sun Prairie. He was always drawn to work with the Fire Department, though that was only one job title he held, his brother said.
He was also a Realtor in the Madison area and would offer help with tasks or odd jobs around the community.
“He literally had a hundred hats he wore on his head at all times,” Chad Barr said of his brother’s jack-of-all-trades nature.
He said the most important hat his brother wore was that of a family man. Cory, Chad and their sister, Kim, were the life of the party at any gathering, Chad said, and Cory made sure to be present whenever extended family got together. Later, his own family and children became the priority.
Despite his hectic work life, Cory was always present for his twin daughters, Aubrey and Hailey, who celebrated their third birthday last week, Chad Barr said. He said his brother particularly liked reading to his girls.
“Fatherhood just came so naturally to him,” Chad Barr said.
The Barrs bought Ski’s Saloon from Tony and April Hudzinski in 2016, the Sun Prairie Star reported at the time, and quickly turned it into their own Barr House with expanded beer and whiskey selections.
Owning taverns was almost a family tradition, and Cory Barr was inspired in part by paternal grandparents who owned Barr’s Bar in Greenwood, his brother said. A few other relatives also own bars.
Barr House wasn’t meant to just be a place to drink, Chad Barr said.
“They wanted to make it a bar where you could walk in and really feel like you were home,” he said. “They really did that.”
Cory was the kind of person who knew someone no matter where he went, his brother said. On the off chance he didn’t know someone, Cory would walk up to someone new, introduce himself, and make a fast friend.
He brought that personality to the Barr House, which made regulars and visitors alike feel welcome.
Patrick DePula, owner of Salvatore’s Tomato Pies, knew Barr professionally through the Sun Prairie Business Improvement District, but said Barr was also a leader in the city and a friend to most residents.
He was “a champion of our community,” DePula said. “He and his wife bought the Barr House with the intent to build community around it.”
To bring in and engage Sun Prairie residents and visitors, the Barr House held regular events — sometimes several a week, according to its Facebook page — including league trivia, karaoke and bingo, where people could get to know each other.
“He wanted to be that business owner that wasn’t just there to make a dime,” Chad Barr said. “He wanted to give back to the community.”
State Journal reporter Logan Wroge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Videos reportedly taken outside a UW-Madison fraternity showing a falling television narrowly missing a woman have prompted police to investigate the incident.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the department was made aware of videos on Instagram that show a heavy cathode ray tube television being thrown from an upper-floor balcony and barely missing a woman passing by below before it shatters on concrete.
DeSpain said police believe the incident happened at a fraternity in the Langdon Street area sometime this past weekend.
“This incident is deeply concerning, and we are working to confirm precisely where and when it happened so appropriate action can be taken,” UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said.
One video posted on the Instagram account badgerbarstool, which is not affiliated with the university, shows people standing in a semicircle and looking upward. As a woman who appears to be speaking on a cellphone passes through the semicircle, the television smashes into the ground right next to her.
Several people run up to the destroyed television, jumping around and throwing their beverages in the air. Others are seen gasping.
“This girl was an inch away from death,” the video’s caption says.
In both, the TV appears to fall within inches of the woman.
“Stay alert for potentially dangerous objects being thrown off the roof,” the video’s caption says.
Both videos were posted on Sunday. Neither DeSpain nor McGlone could confirm the name of the fraternity Tuesday afternoon. But publicly available photos of the rear of Kappa Sigma fraternity, 124 Langdon St., closely match the buildings seen in the videos.
On Tuesday afternoon, a Kappa Sigma fraternity member who declined to provide his name or talk to a reporter was seen speaking with a Madison police officer.
The national Kappa Sigma organization did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
McGlone said student organizations are responsible for maintaining the health and safety of members and guests.
“If they do not, they are held accountable through the student organization code of conduct,” she said. “Given the clear risk to individual safety in this case, the university response will reflect the seriousness of the act.”
Epic Systems Corp. has bought the former Madison restaurant’s historic outdoor carousel and the collection of whimsical art and toys inside that made Ella’s Deli a favorite of children and adults alike before it closed in January after 41 years.
“It’s really good news. It all happened very, very fast,” said Ken Balkin, who owns the Ella’s Deli building and business with his wife, Judy. “Epic Systems has purchased the carousel and the art collection and they’re going to carry it forward into their campus in a real positive way.”
Balkin made most of the decor inside and was responsible for keeping all the moving parts in working order. “The whole collection is going to stay together. So we’re real excited about that,” he said.
Last month, Balkin told the Wisconsin State Journal that he was considering selling some of the contents separately if a buyer didn’t come along soon. His original hope was to keep the restaurant and carousel open in the same location at 2902 E. Washington Ave.
“Ella’s won’t live on in the community in terms of a restaurant, but it’s going to live on in all other forms and we’re very happy about that,” Balkin said Thursday.
Meghan Roh, a spokeswoman for the electronic health records company based in Verona, said Epic started talking to Ella’s Deli about the sale in early June. She and Balkin wouldn’t reveal the purchase price.
Starting June 19, they had a team begin assessing the best way to ensure the safe transport of the famous 1927 carousel and the 250 interior decor items to the Epic campus. The company anticipates it all will be moved by late July.
Epic, which has about 9,400 employees, is still exploring its options on where to put everything, but Roh said the company hopes to ensure the carousel and decor pieces are accessible to visitors and employees.
The carousel will be put back together in working order, but the company is exploring its options when it comes to the details of the carousel’s operation, Roh said.
“Helping to preserve part of this iconic Madison landmark was an easy decision and we look forward to ensuring the carousel and creative collection find a happy home on the Epic campus,” Epic administrator Kara Rettenmund said in a statement.
“We’re grateful to Ken, Judy, and their staff for over four decades of family fun, good food, and priceless memories for all who walked through their doors,” Rettenmund said.
Epic has a history of buying local art, much of which could be described as whimsical, and hundreds of local artists are featured on its campus, Roh said.
Meanwhile, Ella’s building is still being listed by Oakbrook Corp. The sale includes a three-unit rental property next door.
The Balkins are holding an auction to sell the restaurant’s equipment at 10:30 a.m. July 26, with a preview earlier in the day.
Balkin said movers have already taken about one-third of his pieces away, transporting them in a sensitive manner. He said the company is “doing some very strategic planning for the disassembly of the carousel” so that it can be put back together correctly.
Much of the art Epic buys comes from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Art Fair on the Square, and buildings on its campus sport themes including Deep Space, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones.
Balkin said he appreciates the way Epic supports the arts and local artists. He isn’t sure how the company will display his collection, but it’s his understanding that Epic will find a prime spot for the carousel.
“I know that’s the focal point,” he said. “But they bought the rest of the collection and they’ll incorporate it somehow in their themes, I’m sure.”
Gene Bennett, who named his blue-collar Southwest Side bar Bennett’s Meadowood Country Club, and made it notorious for its “Porn in the Morn,” died Tuesday.
He was 76, an employee said.
“He was just a genuine, super guy,” said Rhonda Hannah, who bartended at Bennett’s for 18 of its 41 years. “He was an absolute wonderful guy and would help anyone who needed it.”
Hannah works the “Smut and Eggs” shifts, when the bar shows hardcore porn on all of its television sets as customers eat their breakfasts from 6 a.m. until noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
She said those mornings are just like any other ones, “only a little bit busier.” Menu items include omelettes, French toast, steak & eggs, along with dishes named in keeping with the “Smut and Eggs” theme. A coffee mug at the bar lists its hours as “6 a.m. ‘till somebody respectable comes in.”
Hannah said Bennett’s son, Jimmy Bennett, will continue to run the bar at 2009 Freeport Road, the way his father always did.
“It’s going to just stay the same. I mean obviously there’s a lot of things that need to be sorted out and figured out and all of that. So for now, it’s just going to work the way it always has,” she said.
Former Dane County Sup. Regina Rhyne, who was at the crowded bar Friday during lunchtime, said remembering her friend was hard to do without crying.
“He allowed all kinds of people to come in here and we had a good time,” she said, noting that she got a kick out of the things Bennett was quoted as saying in the newspaper over the years.
“Mr. Gene was a great man,” she said. “We’re going to miss him terrible. He was the second mayor of Madison. Don’t forget that.”
Rhyne called Bennett’s a place to “eat, drink, and be merry” and a “nice place to come and be neighbors to each other. And the food is good.”
Joe Schiro, 75, said he used to be a regular at the bar and knew Bennett since they were young boys.
“He was a gift to everybody,” Schiro said. “He did a lot of great things — a lot of things that people never knew about.”
Hannah said she’ll miss “everything” about Bennett. “He was great. He was a great boss. He was a great everything.”
“Smut and Eggs” started a few years after Bennett opened the neighborhood bar in 1977 just off Verona and Raymond roads. The X-rated movies were shown only on weekend mornings. Bennett told Isthmus last year that the misconception about Bennett’s was that it showed porn all day and night.
He said his regular customers would be “offended” if porn were on all the time.
Known for his salty language, libertarian political views and saying outrageous things, Bennett told Isthmus, “I tell everybody, if you watch 15 minutes of X-rated movies you want to have sex. If you watch 30 to 45 minutes, you never want to have sex again as long as you live.”
Hannah said Bennett often said he thought his best thoughts when he woke up in the middle of the night.
“That’s when he thought his weirdest, quirkiest things or sayings,” she said.
That’s when he’d dream up what to put on a T-shirt or what to put in a newspaper ad, she said, adding “he said that all the time. He would just wake up and think of these things.”
Two types of T-shirts sell for $15 at Bennett’s: “Bennett’s Porn in the Morn” and “Smut and Eggs.”
Hannah said she has a low inventory right now and needs to order more because people are asking for them in light of Bennett’s death.
She declined to say what Bennett died from, but said he had been sick. He had been coming into the bar for at least part of each week until recently, she said. Bennett’s was closed the week of July Fourth, as it always is each year, for routine maintenance.
Bennett, and his brother, Rich — who operated a Bennett’s on Park Street, called Bennett’s on the Park, from 1990 to 2007 — vigorously fought the Madison smoking ban.
In 2004, the City Council enacted the state’s first full smoking ban in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other workplaces. It went into effect the following year. Rich Bennett, who also showed pornography at his bar, blamed the ban for cutting into sales.
Gene Bennett told Isthmus that his establishment attracted all types: “lawyers, doctors, cops. Working people. Bachelorette parties. We’re just having fun. ... If you want to watch educational tapes, you watch them. If you don’t, you don’t. The appeal here is our breakfast. Our food is delicious.”
When convicted bank robber Luis Marty Narvaez walked into the Far East Side Madison branch of Chase Bank on the afternoon of March 1, 24-year-old Charles Daehling was just weeks into his position as an armed, undercover security guard working without a state license and under contract to an unlicensed and now-defunct Nebraska security firm.
Narvaez’s head and face were covered with a black cap and black mask as he briskly stepped to a window where a teller was already helping a customer, stuck a bag under the window and demanded money but never displayed a weapon, according to a 124-page Madison police report and video surveillance footage of the incident.
Daehling was already standing up from a chair in the bank’s small lobby and pulling a gun from his waistband when Narvaez reached the teller. He then took about four steps toward Narvaez and, without saying a word, shot him once in the back from about 6 feet away.
Narvaez collapsed and soon died at the scene. The whole episode — from the moment Narvaez entered the bank to the moment he was shot — lasted about seven seconds, according to surveillance videos.
Both the videos released last week and the police report were altered to remove information that would identify witnesses or the security guard. But several references to Daehling in the police report were not blacked out, and the State Journal was able to confirm his identity through social media, public records and its own reporting.
In May, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced his office would not pursue charges against Daehling.
A female customer who was at the teller window Narvaez approached told police Narvaez was wearing dark clothing and something over his face, and twice told the teller something similar to “put the money in the bag.”
“She then heard one shot and,” according to the woman, “‘he dropped.’” Until she saw blood, she said, she thought the whole thing might be a drill.
Daehling continued to point his gun at Narvaez for the four and a half minutes immediately following the shooting, according to the surveillance videos. Witnesses heard him tell Narvaez to remain still and keep his arms out, according to the report. One witness said that “made sense” because he thought the robber could be an active shooter.
In two formal interviews with police, Daehling said he shot Narvaez as the would-be robber stood before what Daehling said was the bulletproof glass of the teller’s window. He told police he didn’t know whether Narvaez was armed because he had his hands in the pockets of his hoodie.
Surveillance videos, however, show Narvaez before the shooting with his right hand out of his pocket and his left covered with what appears to have been the bag that he stuck under the teller’s window.
Daehling didn’t think giving Narvaez a verbal warning before opening fire “would have been appropriate” once he realized a robbery was taking place, because Narvaez and the female customer were close enough that he worried Narvaez could have taken her hostage, the police report says.
Daehling also told police he thought about trying to provide Narvaez with medical attention after the shooting but “given that he didn’t know whether the suspect was armed, the fact that he had his hands inside his hoodie pockets and the fact that he was the only one in the bank armed and with two customers, he believed that it would be better to make sure that he covered the male suspect with his firearm, until police arrived.”
Police said Daehling appeared to have been shaken by the incident and asked an officer for permission to smoke a cigarette to “calm his nerves,” according to the report. Later, before he was interviewed at the East District station, an officer made small talk with him “in an attempt to help him calm down as he appeared to be emotionally distressed by this incident.”
Attempts by the Wisconsin State Journal to reach Daehling, a former Marine, for an interview resulted in a June 30 email from Jason Johns, president of the Madison-based law firm NMLB Veterans Advocacy Group.
“This matter has been resolved and is no longer a ‘story,’” Johns said. “Charles has asked you to honor his wishes for no further inquiries to him, members of his family, friends, etc. He is still working through the trauma of the incident and taking the steps to move forward with his life as best as he can. Continued media inquiries only frustrates this, especially when he has nothing more to say about the matter.”
Narvaez, 35, had been released from federal prison six years before he tried to rob the bank, after doing almost 10 years for robbing Wisconsin Community Bank in Middleton in 2002. His death led police to close several older bank robbery cases in which he was a suspect.
No training, license
Daehling told police he hadn’t received any training from the Blair, Nebraska-based company he had been working for, Optimal Protection. The company’s owner, Jess L. Randall, told police that any training for his employees “is the responsibility of the contractor,” and that he hired only former members of the military or former police as “independent contractors.”
The independent contractors are hired through a company called Bobbi Randall Inc., Randall said, and the contracts “organized” through a Grandview, Missouri, company called Strategos International, according to the police report.
Bobbi Randall Inc. is registered with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office as a court reporting service, with its registered agent listed as Roberta M. Randall at the same address Jess L. Randall provided for his private security company.
A man who answered the phone listed on Optimal Security’s website declined to give his name and said the firm is no longer in business.
When the State Journal told him it was seeking comment about the Narvaez shooting, the man said “no, that’s not going to happen,” and the line went dead.
Mark Warren, Strategos senior vice president and director of training, said his company no longer subcontracts with Bobbi Randall Inc. but that such subcontracting arrangements are common in the private security industry because no one particular security company can be licensed to work in every state.
The companies that hire the guards “are responsible then for their own subcontractors,” he said.
Under Wisconsin law, private security guards must be in uniform unless they hold state private detective licenses. Uniformed or not, they must also work for licensed security firms. Neither Daehling, Randall, Optimal Protection or Strategos show up in a search of licensed individuals or companies on the state Department of Safety and Professional Services’ website.
DSPS spokesman Matt Censky said the agency has no record or any active or completed investigation into Randall, Daehling, Optimal Protection or Strategos.
But on July 10, after inquiries from the State Journal, Madison Police East District Capt. Thomas Snyder said in an email: “Now that the DA’s Office has determined that criminal liability does not attach to the security guard for the shooting, MPD will refer the licensing issues that have been raised to the appropriate State regulatory authority for their determination on what, if any, sanctions should be pursued for noncompliance.”
Chase Bank, which started using off-duty Madison police officers to provide security at the branch shortly after the Narvaez shooting, declined to say whether it has any minimal training requirements for security guards who work at its branches, or to answer any other questions about how Daehling came to work at the branch.
“Following our standard policy, we decline to discuss our relationships with vendors,” Chase spokesman Tom Kelly said in an email.
What is ‘reasonable’?
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and the department’s force coordinator, Kimba Tieu, were reluctant to speculate on how Madison police officers would have reacted had one of them been providing security at the bank when Narvaez tried to rob it.
In use-of-force incidents, “what, at first glance, appears to be a set of straightforward facts hardly ever is,” Koval said.
Tieu emphasized that the legal standard for determining whether lethal force is justified is not based on what is known about an incident in hindsight, but on what’s reasonable to believe at the time the incident is occurring.
“It is possible” a Madison police officer could have made the same decision Daehling did, Tieu said, noting that there can be a danger in hesitating to use force if the suspect uses the delay to harm someone.
If you’re the teller, “would you want the person who has the means to intercede to act?” he said.
At the same time, Tieu said officers are trained to give a verbal warning “if feasible” before firing on someone and that a suspect facing an officer can present a more direct threat than one who has his back turned, as Navarz did. But affecting both will be whether the officer has enough room to take cover, he said.
Other factors police are trained to consider are how far the officer is from the suspect and whether there are other people in the area, he said.
Tieu said Madison police have trained in scenarios similar to the one Daehling faced, but Koval said it would be unfair to compare what a veteran police officer and a security guard would have done in the Chase Bank robbery.
“A Madison police officer is provided significantly more training in ascertaining whether the use of deadly force is appropriate,” he said.
“A security guard has nowhere close to the reps and scenario-based vignettes that an MPD officer will receive over the course of their basic academy curriculum and ongoing training that is conducted on a yearly basis.”
Verizon Wireless and a Kansas-based construction company said Thursday that they were responsible, through an as-yet-unnamed subcontractor, for work being done at the site of a massive natural gas explosion Tuesday that rocked Sun Prairie’s downtown, killing a volunteer firefighter and critically injuring another.
Sun Prairie firefighter Ryan Welch was released from a hospital Thursday and brought to Fire Station 1, a block from the blast site, by a procession of emergency vehicles that were greeted by dozens of residents who cheered Welch into the station.
“His face is burned, his jaw is broken in several places, he lost teeth, his hands are injured. A building fell on him, but he was up walking (with help) the next day,” according to a GoFundMe page launched Thursday to provide him support.
At the station, firefighters and staff encircled Welch. Each took turns embracing their comrade.
Holly McCloskey, 17, who had been nearby at the time of the explosion and was among those watching the procession, said it was important to her to let Welch know she and the community are thankful for his service.
“It takes a lot of bravery, and it takes guts to do what he did,” McCloskey said. “There’s something to be said for self-sacrifice.”
Welch was 20 minutes into his shift when he got the call about the gas leak, according to the GoFundMe page.
Teams of two went to the nearby buildings to shut off the gas, but as Welch and Capt. Cory Barr were leaving the Barr House, which Barr owned with his wife, the building exploded. Barr died from his injuries.
City officials have said digging on North Bristol Street at Main Street on Tuesday led to a gas main break at about 6:20 p.m., which led to the explosion about 40 minutes later.
Verizon said in a statement that Bear Communications of Lawrence, Kansas, was contracted to do fiber work in the Madison area, including Sun Prairie, and no Verizon employees were at the site of the blast Tuesday. In a statement, Bear said “a subcontractor of Bear Communications was performing work on site before the explosion.”
A spokesman for Bear, Scott Stein, declined Thursday to identify the subcontractor or detail the work it was doing.
Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser said Wednesday that the contractor had been doing “directional boring,” which allows for laying pipe or cable without having to dig a trench. The contractor appeared to have hit the gas main under the pavement, Esser said.
In its statement, Bear offered “condolences and prayers” to Barr’s family.
“There are many questions that remain to be answered as the investigation continues,” Bear said. “We are fully cooperating with investigators so they can develop a comprehensive overview of what happened and why.”
Verizon spokesman Steve Van Dinter said in a statement that while the company had not been contacted in the investigation of the incident, “both we and Bear are prepared to work with law enforcement, public safety and public officials as they investigate this tragic situation.”
Van Dinter declined to say whether the contractor struck the gas main, as police have said happened.
Patrick DePula, owner of Salvatore’s Tomato Pies at 121 E. Main St. in Sun Prairie, said he saw Bear Communications trucks at the site on Tuesday.
In addition to Barr’s death, the explosion injured five firefighters, five civilians and a law enforcement officer. None remains hospitalized.
“Verizon’s employees join the community in mourning the loss of a firefighter’s life, and we pray for the speedy and complete recovery of those harmed,” Van Dinter said.
Citing the investigation into Barr’s death, city officials have refused to release the names of the company or companies believed to be responsible for the gas main break.
Asked if that meant the investigation was criminal in nature, Esser said that was only “a possibility in the sense that nothing has been taken off the table.”
A message left with the city’s Engineering Department — which issues permits for construction work in the city — was not returned Thursday.
The time between the gas main break and the explosion gave authorities time to clear residents and visitors out of the immediate area.
The explosion destroyed the Barr House restaurant, which Barr owned with his wife, Abby, and damaged several other buildings.
A large fire continued in the area for hours after the initial blast. WE Energies employees were able to get gas shut off to the area by about 9:30 p.m.
Sharon Bollig, who lives at 136 Bristol St., just north of the blast, said she was home Tuesday and watching contractors who were using a machine made by Ditch Witch.
“I saw one of the guys in a yellow vest who was out there working come flying past the house. Like running, like a bat out of hell,” Bollig said. “I knew something was the matter.”
Bollig said she then left her house to go to a nearby convenience store but could smell gas for three blocks and saw someone in plain clothes trying to divert traffic from the area. When she returned she went to her front porch but had to go back inside because the smell was making her nauseated. A few moments later, she heard and felt the explosion, which blew the windows out of her house.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Bollig, who fled the home at the urging of police but had to leave her two cats and a bird behind. “The fact that they’re in there with the windows broken and you’re smelling all that gas in the house, I don’t know. I didn’t have anything. Not my cellphone, not a cigarette, I didn’t have a thing.”
State Journal reporters Barry Adams and Chris Rickert contributed to this report.
Bret Bielema is enjoying the NFL so much, he may never go back to college football, CBS Sports reported in this story.
Bielema, who was fired by the Arkansas Razorbacks at the end of last season, has been working with the New England Patriots in a still undefined role.
Bielema's name has come up as a popular choice to replace David Beaty, Kansas' embattled coach, as new Kansas athletic director Jeff Long hired Bielema at Arkansas in 2013.
But CBS reported that sources close to the 48-year-old former Badgers coach would not be returning to college football with his former boss at KU.
The story said that whether Bielema goes back to college football at all appears to be a long shot, too.
"The thing I love about football in the NFL is you go to work at 6 a.m. and you leave at 9 (p.m.) and it's nothing but football," Bielema told CBS Sports. "It's just purely football."
Pro Football Talk said that Bielema will "likely" have a spot on the defensive side of the ball with the Patriots.
Bielema, whose buyout agreement with Arkansas totaled nearly $12 million, went 29-34 overall in five seasons with the Razorbakcks, 11-29 in the Southeastern Conference.
Prior to his stint in Fayetteville, he posted a 68-24 record at Wisconsin from 2006-12, won three straight Big Ten Conference championships from 2010-12 and led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl after each of those titles.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney says that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are stepping up their presence in the Madison area.
Mahoney said he was contacted weeks ago by an ICE officer who was recently assigned to Madison asking for his participation in the 287(g) program, which enlists local officers to assist the agency, part of a crackdown on immigration that has been a focus of President Donald Trump's administration.
Mahoney said he told the agent, “I’m not interested.”
“I have very important things to do in my community other than forcing my deputies to become ICE agents,” he said. “And more importantly, my task is to build relationships, not tear down relationships.”
Critics claim that the program has led to more racial profiling in other communities. ICE says the program makes the community safer, but Mahoney said it does the opposite.
“The real danger to that is you empower the predators who are preying on the non-documented who fear coming forward to law enforcement,” he said. “You empower the oppressors, you empower the predator, and then it becomes less safe for U.S. citizens because they become victims.”
Although the program offers needed funding, Mahoney said, "this isn’t generally a revenue generating business, or shouldn’t be."
So far, only one law enforcement agency in the state has signed on with the 287(g) program. In April, Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson announced that his department had been approved for the program, which trains deputies assigned to the jail to assist in identifying people who are in the country illegally.
The presence of an ICE officer in Madison has led to speculation that the agency is setting up a field office. But an ICE spokeswoman dismissed the term.
“There is not an ICE office in Madison,” said Nicole Alberico, a public affairs officer for ICE’s Chicago office, which covers Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin. “There’s an officer who covers the area but not an office. The ICE office in Milwaukee works cases for the Madison area.”
Alberico wouldn’t say how long the officer had been working in Madison, or if his presence signals a future increase in enforcement.
Mahoney said the officer works out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Madison, just off the Capitol Square. He suggested that the agent may have been assigned because ICE officials “weren’t getting a lot of support out of law enforcement in this county.”
Mahoney and other law enforcement officials in the county have refused to cooperate with ICE, and Mahoney has rejected requests by ICE to hold people for 48 hours after they post bail or serve their sentences so ICE officials can arrange to detain them.
Mahoney said he considers the holds unconstitutional because there’s no legal basis for holding an inmate who has posted bail or completed a sentence.
“That’s a violation of Fourth Amendment search and seizure,” he said. “It’s a violation of 16th Amendment constitutional due process.”
While the jail doesn’t notify ICE of inmates’ immigration status, the agency can identify illegal immigrants through the FBI’s National Criminal Intelligence Center, which receives fingerprints obtained during the booking process.
Mahoney said ICE cautioned him that without his cooperation in detaining inmates, federal agents would be forced to hunt down offenders in the community, which poses unnecessary risks.
“My position is, you know that they’re here, if you want them, come sit in the lobby when they bail out,” he said. “If you want them, if you think you’ve got reason to arrest them, then arrest them.”
Although Mahoney said he won’t honor detainment requests, ICE still makes them. Alberico said ICE agents recently intended to request a detainer on a 26-year-old Middleton man after he posted bail, but he was released before one could be filed.
Jose Alberto Alonzo-Manzano was arrested earlier this month by town of Madison officers for a drunken driving offense, his third. He had been deported twice before, according to Alberico, and had re-entered the country illegally both times.
“He illegally re-entered the United States after both removals, which are felonies,” she said in an email.
He was detained on July 17 in Middleton and was taken to a detention facility in Dodge County.
It’s unclear whether the installation of an ICE agent in Madison means a more vigorous detention program.
Madison Police Department officials have “heard nothing about ICE doing anything in Madison,” said MPD spokesman Joel DeSpain.
Karen Menéndez Coller, executive director of Centro Hispano, which serves the local Latino community, said she has heard no reports of raids.
“I'm not convinced ICE has increased activity,” she said in an email.
But based on ICE’s request to enlist his deputies to enforce federal immigration laws, Mahoney suspects that more enforcement is on the horizon.
“I think they’re trying to step up removals,” he said.
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Data represents the 2017 fiscal year. The names of individuals who identified themselves to the UW as victims of domestic or other violence have been redacted from this database.
The money for employee salaries come from a variety of revenue sources including: tuition, state funding, gifts/non-federal grants/contracts; funds transferred from other state agencies; federal grants and aid; and segregated funds.
This database does not include payments to UW-Madison coaches that come from the University of Wisconsin Foundation. The foundation typically pays supplemental income to university's athletic director, head football coach, head basketball coach, football defensive coordinator and football offensive coordinator.
University of Wisconsin wrestler Eli Stickley was showing his girlfriend a video on his cellphone just before the automobile crash that killed him, according to a police report.
The report, released Thursday by the Illinois State Police in response to an open records request, listed cellphone usage as the primary cause of the July 5 crash on Interstate 74 in Henry County, Illinois, about 35 miles southeast of Davenport, Iowa.
Stickley was driving a 2004 Nissan Titan pickup truck westbound at 8:19 p.m. when he drove off the roadway into the right-side ditch, according to the report. The car turned left to re-enter the road, where it flipped multiple times.
Stickley, 21, was pronounced dead at Illini Hospital later that night. His passenger, Briana Cleveland, was hospitalized.
Cleveland told police that Stickley was showing her a video while he was driving, the report said.
Both Stickley and Cleveland were wearing seat belts but air bags did not deploy in the crash, according to police.
Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson said Stickley died from a traumatic head injury and no autopsy was performed.
Gustafson said toxicology tests were positive only for caffeine in Stickley's system.
He said Stickley and Cleveland were in the last of three cars in a group driving to Iowa City for an engagement party for Stickley's twin sister, Moriah. Stickley's parents were in other vehicles.
From Urbana, Ohio, Stickley was about to enter his fourth season with the Badgers after a high school career that included a state championship.
Wrestling at 141 pounds in 2017-18, he automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships by finishing sixth at the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Stickley had a 21-14 record last season, his second in competition for UW after a redshirt first year.
His family has a long history with Badgers wrestling. Stickley's uncle, Jim Jordan, won NCAA championships in 1985 and 1986 and was a three-time All-American. He now represents Ohio's 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Another uncle, Jeff Jordan, wrestled for UW from 1983 to 1986.
Stickley's cousin, Isaac Jordan, competed for UW from 2012 to 2017.
Gustafson said Stickley was a tissue donor.
"He saved multiple, multiple lives with his gift of donation," Gustafson said.
Tempers flared Wednesday with several confrontations between speakers as a Madison schools committee considered a proposal to replace police officers embedded at each of the district’s major high schools with a police liaison program that would serve all schools.
Little progress was made on proposed recommendations to change the Madison School District’s relationship with the Madison Police Department after an emotionally charged public comment period included disputes about the appropriateness of filming the ad hoc committee’s proceedings and a near-fight between speakers.
David Blaska, a conservative former Dane County Board supervisor, was the first person to speak during the public comment period, and he was among a handful of people at the meeting in support of keeping school-based police officers, known as education resource officers, or EROs, in Madison’s four main high schools. A few dozen people came to support the removal of the EROs and advocated against the potentially larger liaison program.
In addition to the current ERO program — in which West, East, La Follette and Memorial high schools each get an assigned officer — Blaska advocated for extending the ERO program to the district’s middle schools.
As soon as Blaska’s allotted three minutes to speak were up, loud jeering erupted from the audience.
Throughout the public comment period, several people said the presence of police officers inside school can negatively affect students of color and feeds into the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
“Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) see us as thugs and criminals,” said Bianca Gomez, a member of Freedom Inc., an activist organization focused on issues that affect minority populations.
As Blaska attempted to capture the public comment on his cellphone, others took issue with juvenile speakers being recorded and attempted to block his view by either standing in front of him or putting objects in front of his phone, alleging he runs a racist blog where the youths’ photos would be posted.
Blaska moved about the meeting room, which was held in the McDaniels Auditorium in the district’s Doyle Administration Building, and others continued to follow along and block his phone.
The emotions culminated in a heated face-to-face argument between a woman who had earlier spoke in support of EROs and some people wishing to remove EROs.
“Everybody back off. This is totally uncalled for,” Barbara Harrington-McKinney, a member of the ad hoc committee and the Madison City Council, tried to shout over the yelling of others.
As the confrontation disrupted the meeting, the ad hoc committee went into a five-minute recess before public comment resumed.
After reconvening, School Board member and ad hoc committee chairman Dean Loumos reminded attendees that they are legally allowed to record the meeting.
“Stay out of people’s faces, be respectful about it. You can tape us, you can tape whatever you want,” he said.
“This meeting has been extremely heartbreaking for me as a parent, for me as a community member, to see that white supremacists are going to be allowed to continue to intimidate our youth and our children,” Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores said after the meeting reconvened.
After debating and making some changes to a few explanatory paragraphs, the ad hoc committee adjourned before voting on the proposed recommendation that would replace the current four-officer ERO program with one where 20 or so officers would have regular contact with school officials and respond to incidents when requested, but not be embedded in buildings.
“I think we’ve hit a wall,” Loumos said at the end of the discussion.
Members did offer some thoughts, though, on the liaison concept.
Payal Khandhar said she thought 20 officers would be too many and called for stronger definitions of what their responsibilities would be.
“I’m not in favor of increasing the police interaction by increasing the number of police officers,” said ad hoc committee member Anna Moffit, a former School Board member.
The ad hoc committee decided to meet again in a couple of weeks to further go over the proposed recommendation.
Loumos said two previous meetings had been contentious among the speakers, but added, “I didn’t think it was going to get to that.”
Wisconsin school districts ratcheted up health care costs on teachers and other employees after the state’s Act 10 collective bargaining changes, with the average district now requiring teachers to pay about 12 percent of their health insurance premiums, newly released data show.
It’s the first time the state has released a comprehensive look at teacher health care costs in all 422 of the state’s public school districts after the 2011 enactment of Act 10.
And it’s one more example of the far-reaching scope of the law — in this case, how it paved the way for state and local workers to pay much more for benefits. The 2017-19 state budget required the Department of Administration to collect the data, which is from the 2017-18 school year.
Barry Forbes, associate executive director for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said the figures show health care costs for school district employees generally matching “what greater society is experiencing now.”
“It was clear before Act 10 that public-sector employee fringe benefits were typically far superior to the private sector. Now, not so much,” Forbes said.
That becomes a concern for school districts’ attempts to attract and retain quality teachers, Forbes added — since the lure of good benefits was one way they used to do so.
In the 2010-11 school year, Forbes said the average employee contribution for health premiums was 5 percent for family plans and 3 percent for single plans.
That compares to an average, or mean, employee contribution of just less than 12 percent in the data released Monday. The median contribution was slightly more than 12 percent.
Within that, however, there’s considerable variation.
Twenty-three of the state’s 422 school districts still don’t require teachers to pay anything toward their premiums for a family plan, while Wilmot Union High School in Kenosha County requires contributions of 27.7 percent for a family plan.Act 10 blocked unions from negotiating over benefits, but it didn’t require districts to compel teachers or other employees to pay a certain amount for health insurance.
However, Walker’s budget that year cut school funding by an amount that he said could be recouped by requiring employees to contribute more toward health insurance and pensions.
The data show that maximum out-of-pocket costs vary dramatically, too. Sauk Prairie schools cap those annual expenses at $200 for a family plan, compared to a cap of $24,000 in Lake Geneva schools.
The 12 percent contribution matches what Walker, when he proposed what later became Act 10, suggested that school districts require of employees for health care to offset cuts in state aid.
In the last state budget, Walker proposed requiring that state-funding increases for school districts be contingent on whether a district met the 12 percent threshold. But that provision was scrapped by the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, which instead substituted the requirement for districts to report the data released Monday.