Wisconsin students help build ‘Nature Passport’ boxes

MADISON, Wis. — Students in the Madison School District have built wooden boxes that will hold activity booklets and be placed in parks and nature centers.

The “Nature Passports” are a way to encourage visitors to explore parks and nature centers and record their observations, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The booklets include scavenger hunts and journaling activities. This year’s passports focus on adaptations and changes that happen during the seasons.

The box building project is a partnership between the nonprofit environmental learning network Nature Net and Jefferson Middle School.

“It was a big project for us to do,” said Emma Mayhew, who will be a ninth-grader at Memorial High School. “We hadn’t really done much in (woodworking) before.”

The boxes were constructed during the spring semester and have been slowly installed at Nature Net sites. Students worked with Memorial High School technology and engineering teacher Miles Tokheim.

“It was the very first time I used more than probably just a drill at my house so it was fun to do,” said Marco Tatili, who will be a ninth-grader at Memorial.

The boxes include a note with details about the partnership and which student completed the project.

“I thought it was really cool because I was getting to make something other people would be able to see and would be there for 15 to 20 years,” said Maddie Ballweg, who will be a ninth-grader at Memorial. Her box was installed outside of the Discovery Center and Herpetarium at the Vilas Zoo.

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the UW Arboretum, Cave of the Mounds, Vilas Zoo, Sandburg Woods park and the MacKenzie Center in Poynette are all receiving new boxes.

Group pushes back against Wisconsin ‘Cocaine Mom’ law

MADISON, Wis. — A group opposed to a Wisconsin law that is designed to protect a developing fetus from a mother’s alcohol or drug use is taking the fight outside the courtroom in hopes of gaining ground in the court of public opinion.

A new national group called Reproaction is planning informational pickets, a social media campaign and educational forums across the state in the coming months to push back against the so-called “Cocaine Mom” law, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The Unborn Child Protection Act, enacted in 1998, allows the state to detain adult pregnant women suspected of abusing drugs.

Critics of the law say the language is too vague and that some pregnant women who aren’t using harmful substances are forced into treatment. Supporters say they’re skeptical of the claims that the law is broad and ineffective.

“This law only harms women and children,” said Nancy Rosenbloom an attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Rosenbloom said medical and public health groups oppose the law because it discourages women who are pregnant and struggling with addiction from seeking prenatal care or other forms of health care.

“I have not heard anything that would make me think that law enforcement is abusing or misusing this law, especially with this incredible increase in drug use with the opioid crisis, there’s just so much risk right now,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action.

A federal judge last year found the Wisconsin law to be unconstitutional.

But Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the state can continue to enforce the law.

No charges filed in fatal police pursuit

MILWAUKEE — A Greenfield Police officer will not be criminally charged as a result of a vehicle pursuit that resulted in a fatal crash.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that District Attorney John Chisholm determined Nicholas Meyer’s actions were legal.

The single-vehicle crash occurred after Meyer attempted to pull over a pickup truck on March 2.

The driver of the truck fled and Meyer struck the rear quarter panel of the pickup with his squad car in an attempt to get it to stop.

The driver, 25-year-old Nicholas O’Brien, of Greenfield, lost control of the truck and died after it crashed into a tree.

Wife of man involved in fatal crash arrested

DES MOINES — The wife of a man being sought in a fatal Des Moines hit-and-run crash has been arrested in the case.

Police say 31-year-old Jennifer McGilvrey, of Newton, was arrested Friday and charged with permitting an unauthorized person to operate a motor vehicle.

Police say she allowed her husband, Anthony McGilvrey, to drive her sport utility vehicle on July 28 knowing that he wasn’t licensed to drive. Police say while driving that day, Anthony McGilvrey hit a bicyclist, identified as Darrel Ford, who later died.

An arrest warrant has been issued charging Anthony McGilvrey with leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death. He has yet to be found or turn himself in.

Police say the red SUV he was driving was found Wednesday abandoned and hidden in a rural area east of Mitchellville.

Iowa man sentenced for fatal crash

DES MOINES — A central Iowa man who fatally hit a Des Moines motorcyclist in 2016 and fled the scene has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Television station KCCI reports that 67-year-old Jack Janda was sentenced in a Polk County courtroom Friday. He had earlier entered an Alford plea to vehicular homicide by reckless driving in the death of motorcyclist 57-year-old Joseph Davis of Des Moines. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped charges of vehicular homicide by operating while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

Police say Janda swerved his pickup around Davis’ motorcycle at the end of a construction zone, causing the bike to hit another vehicle.

The Associated Press

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