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Why a high profile city employee side-swiped a car on Friday night and kept on driving is anybody's guess. La Crosse's community development administrator, Liana Escott, apparently swerved into a car parked on Market Street late last Friday night but didn't stop to check the damage. Police say, the guy in the car that got hit tried to chase Escott down but she wouldn't stop and eventually he gave up, satisfied to turn in her license plate number to cops. Escott, who's also at the head of the city's Safe Routes to School program, finally talked to police on Tuesday, by then she'd repaired the damage to her car but was apparently evasive about it. She's been busted on a hit and run charge.
New ladders at the Riverside Park levee in La Crosse? That's what one local business owner has suggested to help make the city's riverfront safer. But city parks boss Steve Carlyon says maybe the ladders that are already in place at the levee would be good enough. Although Carlyon likes the idea of marking the ladders somehow so that they're more visible. Another idea is to put life rings or throw buoys at the edge of the park. Carlyon says he's a little skeptical of that idea because it takes some training to use a life ring property. But, he says, he'll continue to research the idea.
Suddenly, things are looking a whole lot brighter on the jobs front in Wisconsin. The state's labor department says the jobless rates across the state have dropped. Down in all but one of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Down in the 30 largest cities. Down in the state's 12 metro areas. The state's unemployment rate for September is down to 7 percent. In the La Crosse metro area, the jobless rate has dropped to 5.5%, down almost a full percentage point from September of last year. In La Crosse county, the unemployment rate has dipped to 5.3%, the fourth lowest among counties iin the state.
There's some kind of money floating around in local legislative races. The last campaign finance reports before next week's election have been filed. They show the state senate race between democrat Kathleen Vinehout and Republican Ed Thompson especially to be a big money affair. Thompson has outraised the incumbent Vinehout by a wide margin, collecting just shy of 160 thousand dollars this year for the race, and spending every dime of it. Thompson's left with about 12 grand in the bank Vinehout has spent about 125 thousand this year to get re-elected and has about 19 thousand left in the bank. Both candidates have spent the bulk of their money in the last couple of months.
Nick Charles doesn't have much to show for his fundraising efforts. The Republican challenger in Wisconsin's 95th assembly race, in his last report, shows just several hundred dollars in donations and then a big loan to himself to keep the wheels on the campaign wagon. Charles tells us he got a signature loan from a bank for $20 thousand to help him pay for the billboard space he's bought up in La Crosse. But that doesn't show up on his last campaign finance filing. Meanwhile, opponent Jennifer Shilling has been doing steady fundraising throughout the year and seems to have little concern about losing her seat; she's sitting on $60 thousand in her campaign account.