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Company ‘committed’ to Racine County
Foxconn adjusts plans for Mount Pleasant campus

RACINE COUNTY — The Foxconn Technology Group is planning to adjust its “plans for all projects, including Wisconsin,” according to a statement from the company.

Foxconn on Wednesday issued a statement in response to an interview that Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn CEO and Chairman Terry Gou, did with Reuters in which he stated that the company “can’t compete” in the United States when it comes to building TVs.

Woo told Reuters in a story published Wednesday that its plans to build liquid crystal display panel screens in Racine County are being scaled back and possibly shelved.

Woo says the Taiwanese company wants to create a “technology hub” largely consisting of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations.

Woo says about three-quarters of the jobs created will be in research and development and design, rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs.

The company would also produce specialized technology products for industrial, healthcare and professional applications, Woo told Reuters.

Foxconn had stated that it plans to build a $10 billion manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant and has erected a large, multipurpose building in what it calls Area I. There the company was planning to build liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, thin-film-transistor (TFT) screens and other products.

However, Woo said that could change depending on the global market.

A statement issued by Foxconn Wednesday in response to the Reuters report says the company remains “committed to the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park project, the creation of 13,000 jobs, and to our long-term investment in Wisconsin.

“As we have previously noted, the global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed,” the statement continues. “As our plans are driven by those of our customers, this has necessitated the adjustment of plans for all projects, including Wisconsin. While the project’s focus will be adjusted to meet these new realities, the Wisconsin project remains a priority for our company.”

The Foxconn statement goes on to say the company plans to consider opportunities for the TFT technology to maximize “the positive impact of our Wisconsin project.”

“We are broadening the base of our investment within the State of Wisconsin far beyond what we initially planned to ensure the company and our workforce will be positioned for long-term success,” Foxconn stated.

“In addition to our consideration of plans to produce traditional products such as television sets, we are also examining ways for Wisconsin’s knowledge workers to promote research and development in advanced industrial internet technologies and produce high-tech applications and solutions for industries such as education, medical and healthcare, entertainment and sports, security, and smart cities.”

The statement ends with Foxconn saying it looks “forward to continued investment in American talent as we build the AI 8K + 5G ecosystem we are creating in Wisconsin and the U.S. Further updates will be shared in due course.”

County, Mount Pleasant respond

Racine County, the Village of Mount Pleasant and Racine County Economic Development Corp. responded to the latest developments by issuing a joint statement from County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, Village President Dave DeGroot and RCEDC Executive Director Jenny Trick:

“Contrary to what was reported by Reuters, Foxconn reiterated to us, today, its commitment to building an advanced manufacturing operation in Wisconsin, in addition to its commitment to create 13,000 jobs and invest $10 billion in Racine County.

“As Foxconn has previously shared, they are evaluating exactly which type of TFT technology will be manufactured in Wisconsin but are proceeding with construction on related manufacturing, assembly and research facilities on the site in 2019.”

In the statement the three officials say they understand “Foxconn must be nimble in responding to market changes to ensure the long-term success of their Wisconsin operations. We fully expect that Foxconn will meet its obligations to the state, county and village.

“Both the local and state development agreements are legally binding and include strong protections for taxpayers,” they continued. “The state agreement, which was largely based on job creation, ensures that Foxconn only receives state tax credits if it meets or exceeds its targeted hiring amounts in any given year.

“The local development agreement stipulates that, if, for any reason, Foxconn’s investment on the campus falls short, the company remains obligated to support a minimum valuation for the project of $1.4 billion, which will more than pay for all public improvements and development costs for the project.”

WEDC responds

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is the state agency in charge of issuing any earned tax credits to Foxconn. Foxconn missed its first opportunity to collect $9.5 million in tax credits this year because it did not hire 260 full-time employees by the end of 2018.

The company has announced it has hired 178 full-time workers and has created over 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of the WEDC stated, “Foxconn’s success has been based on the company’s ability to foresee and adapt to technological advancements. Foxconn’s long-term success both globally and within Wisconsin is centered around the alignment of its business model with ever-changing global economic conditions, including evolving customer demands.

“WEDC’s performance-based contract with Foxconn provides the company the flexibility to make these business decisions, and at the same time, protects Wisconsin’s taxpayers,” Hogan stated.

“As has been reported, Foxconn will not qualify for tax credits until, at the earliest, 2020, and then only if the company meets its annual job creation and capital investment requirements. Our ongoing discussions with company officials reflect Foxconn’s continued commitment to the State of Wisconsin.”


Crime-and-courts
Arctic freeze hits county
Bitter cold tied to two deaths; tow trucks and hardware stores busy

RACINE COUNTY — Two deaths, businesses running low on supplies, and a whole lot of drivers needing help have been reported this week in the county as a result of the historic cold wave that has overcome the area.

Temperatures with wind chill dropped below negative 50 degrees Fahrenheit early Wednesday morning, the coldest it’s been in at least a decade, the National Weather Service reported.

Two deaths

Two county residents have died of weather-related causes, according to Racine County Medical Examiner Michael Payne.

Early Saturday morning, police found Deborah Jensen-Chambers, 65, of Mount Pleasant frozen to death outside the doorway to her house in the 5200 block of Sheridan Road. It was determined that Jensen-Chambers collapsed outside for unknown reasons and then died of cold exposure, Payne said.

The medical examiner is waiting on toxicology results to see if drugs or alcohol played a part in Jensen-Chambers’ collapse.

Then, on Monday, Mark Rickard, 69, of Dover died of a cardiac event while shoveling snow at his residence in the 4900 block of Schoen Road.

Payne said neighbors saw Rickard shoveling snow, then 15 minutes later saw him collapsed and clutching his heart. Rickard had a history of cardiac issues, Payne said.

Before shoveling, it is best to have some sort of warm-up activity because shoveling can be so physically taxing, Payne said.

In Wednesday and Thursday’s extreme cold that could see wind chills reach 40 to 50 degrees below zero, death can occur in minutes, Payne said, and frostbite can occur in as little as 10 minutes. That short time period could still be enough to lose toes or fingers to extreme frostbite, Payne said.

“It’s sobering,” he said.

Payne also offered advice for the cold: If your car breaks down, stay in it; only go out with a charged cell phone; only go outside if necessary; and do not drink alcohol before going outside, because it causes rapid heat loss.

Staying stocked up

Several local hardware stores reported selling out or nearly out of shovels, snowblowers and ice-melting products.

“The snow is certainly very good for business,” said Jerry Andersen, owner of Lee’s True Value Hardware, 1950 Taylor Ave. “The cold is a different story, because of course nobody wants to go out in it unless they have to.”

As the cold moved in, fewer and fewer people have been picking up supplies.

“Up until today, it’s been pretty nuts,” Dave Robbins, manager of Douglas Hardware and Rental, 2030 Douglas Ave., said Wednesday.

Robbins said the store sold completely out of used and new snowblowers until it got a shipment in Tuesday, and it sold through about 30 pallets of ice-melting substances.

At Kortendick Ace Hardware, 3806 Douglas Ave., manager Tim Schneider said furnace filters, heat packs and snow shovels have been selling the most. The store also ran out of snowblowers twice this winter, but got more in on Tuesday.

“I’ve been getting ready for this,” Schneider said. “We saw it coming. … We’ve been keeping up pretty well.”

In Burlington, not only have the winter essentials been selling well, but so has ice-fishing bait, said Jeff Koenen, co-owner of Reineman’s True Value, 417 Milwaukee Ave.

“If you can’t go out to work, you might as well go ice fishing,” Koenen joked.

In photos: Racinians make the most of Monday's snowfall

Tow truck drivers brace for calls

Usually in January, Michelle Garcia, co-owner of Alligator Towing of Somers, says she expects 10 or so calls a day. This week, she’s been getting 25 to 30 calls for service per day.

Because frostbite can set in within as little as 10 minutes, tow truck drivers have been advised to minimize exposed skin, as it can sometimes take 20 minutes or more to hook a car up.

“They’re pretty geared up,” Garcia said.

Richard Garcia, Michelle’s husband and co-owner of Alligator, said the high frequency of calls has created a small challenge in organizing his fleet of trucks and drivers.

“We might have somebody out there who is 25 years old and somebody who is 70 years old, (and) we try to get the older person first,” he said. “And most people understand that. You don’t want to leave anybody stuck in the cold.”

When someone calls for aid, they’re allowed to stay inside Alligator’s trucks while they wait. The three-ton vehicles are usually left running so the cabins will stay heated, and also so that the engines don’t shut down.

An employee at another towing company, Racine Recovery, 5336 Douglas Ave., said that calls had “calmed down quite a bit” by Wednesday afternoon after spiking in the morning. But the ultralow temperatures had been affecting hydraulics on the trucks.

Richard Garcia said Alligator Towing has had similar problems in the past but uses special hydraulic supplements, similar to transmission fluid, that keep the systems from shutting down in the cold.

“You’ve got be prepared every day. You never know what’s coming the next day,” he said. “Expect the worst, but hope for the best.”

Preventing car troubles

Brian Govednik, manager at Govednik Automotive, 3724 Durand Ave., said his crew had not seen very many customers with cold-related problems yet. But he does have some vehicles that will not start because the diesel in them has gelled.

Govednik predicted that calls about vehicles that won’t start will pick up on Friday, when schools and businesses reopen after being closed because of the cold on Wednesday and Thursday.

“A lot of people aren’t going anywhere today,” he said Wednesday.

Govednik recommends that locals, especially those who do not plan to do any driving Wednesday or Thursday, start their vehicles once in the morning and once at night, turning on the heat and letting them idle for 15 to 30 minutes to charge the batteries. This can help ensure the battery has sufficient charge to start the vehicle, as the power of car batteries diminishes in cold weather.

Kevin Farnsworth, office manager at Racine Auto Specialists, 2320 Douglas Ave., said the business has helped customers with a handful of problems related to the cold this week.

They include battery and alternator problems and stuck thermostats that cause vehicles either not to heat properly or to overheat.

Farnsworth recommended preventative maintenance to avoid cold-weather problems, including having fluids checked every other oil change and keeping up with regular oil changes. He said having the battery and charging system checked out when getting an oil change is especially important when weather is this cold.

No off day for plumbers

Wesley Rosenberg, owner of Building Waters, 2101 Lathrop Ave. — which does plumbing, heating and cooling work — told his employees to stay home Wednesday but to remain on call.

They all ended up working, dealing with frozen and broken pipes.

Rosenberg advised that residents open cabinet doors under sinks to allow heat to get to the pipes and to keep faucets running slightly, to help prevent freezing. He said to watch out for leaks after the cold snap when pipes that have frozen begin to thaw, which could potentially cause cracks.

Keith Haas, general manager of the Racine Water Utility, said his department wasn’t much busier than normal Wednesday.

“No big water main stories to tell,” he said in an email.

However, Haas said We Energies advised the Water Utility to run on generator power for a few hours Wednesday, thus reducing the cumulative amount of power We Energies needed to supply for a short span.

Too cold for bars

Several local bars were closed Wednesday because of the cold. They included:

  • George’s Tavern, 1201 N. Main St.
  • Joey’s Bar, 2054 Lathrop Ave.
  • McAuliffe’s On The Square, 213 Sixth St.
  • Buckets Pub, 2031 Lathrop Ave.

At least two area Culver’s restaurants were closed as well.

Other weather news

Charter Communications, which owns Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable), said it hasn’t had to stop service, despite the record lows.

“We are a 24/7 operation that is committed to the safety and well-being of our employees,” a spokeswoman said. “In extreme conditions like this, we will take advanced safety precautions while continuing to serve our customers’ essential needs.”

Several thousand people in Kenosha and Milwaukee counties reportedly lost power, which was entirely the result of the frigid cold, We Energies said.

Adam Malacara, the Racine Police Department’s public information officer, said there was not an excessive number of calls during the snow emergency, other than a few stalled cars. He credited residents heeding weather advisories and schools calling off classes for enhancing safety in the community.

Weather report

Temperatures on Wednesday morning were reported at negative 25 degrees in Burlington, with a wind chill of negative 52, according to the National Weather Service. Because of a technical malfunction, the official temperature readings were not available in Racine on Wednesday.

Thursday morning is expected to have similar wind chill numbers before the weather starts to warm up in the afternoon, until reaching the mid-30s on Saturday, when there is a chance of freezing rain in the afternoon.


Crime-and-courts
Stulo Case
UPDATE: RPD sergeant to plead 'not guilty' to criminal OWI, hit-run charges

Stulo

RACINE — A Racine Police sergeant accused of drunken driving and striking an occupied vehicle and injuring a woman has been criminally charged, nearly a month and a half after the incident.

Sgt. Samuel Stulo was charged late Tuesday with a felony count of hit-and-run involving injury and two misdemeanor counts of causing injury/operating while under the influence. He previously had been cited for forfeiture offenses for inattentive driving, refusing to take a sobriety test and failing to notify police of an accident.

Both misdemeanor counts are first-offense charges. One charge has a prohibited blood alcohol concentration of under 0.15 percent and one has a prohibited alcohol concentration of over 0.15 percent.

Stulo, 42, is a 16-year veteran of the Racine Police Department.

An initial court appearance regarding the criminal charges is set for Feb. 11 at the Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.

Victim speaks

Mary Scott, the woman whose car Stulo reportedly struck on State Street on Dec. 17, said that despite suffering a broken rib, neck laceration, and ongoing head and neck pain as a result of the crash, she has forgiven Stulo for his actions.

Scott, 63, of Racine said Stulo “should have known better” than to drink alcohol and drive, look at his phone while driving, and start to drive away before pulling over 600 feet down the street.

According to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, Stulo’s blood-alcohol content was 0.182 when a blood sample was taken more than two-and-a-half hours after the crash. The legal limit in Wisconsin is 0.08.

“I don’t know why he would leave (the scene of the crash). He didn’t know if I was dead or what,” Scott said. “You feel bad for what he did, but did he think about how I am doing?”

“I’m confused in how I feel about police officers now,” Scott said. “I’m sure every person is different, but I always had high feelings for the law and law officers and people like that. I never had anything bad happen to me regarding police officers. … It disappoints me so much, because it’s a police officer who is supposed to know better and protect people.”

Police response

Stulo was arrested the day of the crash by a Racine County Sheriff’s deputy, after the Racine Police Department initially responded to the crash and called the sheriff to avoid a conflict of interest. The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office filed the charges, also in order to avoid a conflict of interest in Racine.

Police Chief Art Howell said the typical procedure was followed within his department by placing Stulo on leave after the incident.

“Each potential case of misconduct should be judged on its own merit or absence thereof,” Howell said in a statement. “The noteworthy and honorable work performed by sworn officers of the Racine Police Department on a daily basis should not be diminished or otherwise undervalued.”

Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the state’s largest police officers’ union, had a similar message.

“While officers found to have engaged in misconduct should absolutely be held accountable for their actions, people should resist the urge to paint all of law enforcement negatively with a broad brush as a result of a specific individual event,” Palmer said in an email.

“There are few other professions that are as maligned as law enforcement is for the perceived bad acts of a few officers, regardless of where throughout the country those events might occur,” Palmer continued. “The vast majority of police officers report to duty each day out of a genuine desire to serve and protect their community, despite the tremendous dangers and scrutiny that go along with the jobs that we expect them to perform.”

Stulo’s defense attorney, Patrick Cafferty, said that the criminal charges being filed were no surprise, and that not guilty pleas will be submitted.

“At this point in the proceedings, we do not have access to all of the information the DA has,” Cafferty said in a message to The Journal Times. “We will take this one step at a time.”

‘I don’t wish anything bad on him’

According to the Sheriff’s Office incident report, Stulo told a deputy that he had had drunk “a few beers” at Maxine’s, a bar at 835 Washington Ave., before driving and that he was looking at his phone when the crash occurred. He also allegedly failed field sobriety tests and refused to have his blood drawn until a warrant was acquired.

“I don’t wish anything bad on him,” Scott said. “Should he lose his job? I don’t think so. What good is it going to do? I forgive him, but he still has to pay for what he did to me. … I’m hoping he learned a lesson from this.”

Scott said she has been undergoing physical therapy and seeing a psychiatrist as a result of the crash.

“I don’t have a normal life,” she said. “… I find myself angry, because of the way I am hurting all the time and going to all these therapy sessions. I was obeying the law, and he wasn’t obeying the law. And that’s what put me in this situation.”

The crash

Scott doesn’t remember much about the crash. She guesses she blacked out momentarily after her car, a Chevy Impala, was struck from behind by Stulo’s truck on the 1900 block of State Street.

“I don’t remember the initial hit,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Scott said she remembers coming to as people surrounded the car, shouting and claiming it was a “hit-and-run.” Meanwhile, her nephew, George Gayton, ran after Stulo’s truck, which pulled over approximately 600 feet down the street. Gayton said it appeared as though the truck pulled over because it had broken down because of damage resulting from the crash.

“I was obeying the law and he wasn’t obeying the law. And that’s what put me in this situation.” Mary Scott,
victim in Dec. 17 crash

 

Stulo