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News from around Wisconsin (8:19 p.m. 11/18/09)

Wis. veterans home leader reinstated after firing

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The administrator of the state’s largest nursing home for veterans, who was abruptly fired in August as the home faced an investigation into its spending, has been reinstated, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos reinstated Bill Crowley as commandant of the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, aide Mike Trepanier said.

Scocos told agency employees Crowley’s reinstatement was appropriate after the Department of Justice declined to press charges last week against anyone in connection with spending irregularities at the home. The Department of Justice’s investigative report did, however, cite miscommunication and confusion at all levels and portrayed Crowley as relying heavily on subordinates.

The reinstatement comes even though Crowley is not a licensed nursing home administrator, a credential the agency’s board wants to require for leaders of the state’s two veterans homes and the Madison administrator who oversees them.

Crowley, who will run the central Wisconsin nursing home that houses roughly 700 veterans and spouses, will now be the only one in those three positions without that credential.

Scocos this week promoted the commandant of the Veterans Home in Union Grove, Randy Nitschke, to be the acting administrator in Madison while Tom Rhatican is on military leave. Scocos also appointed Pat Shaughnessy as acting commandant at Union Grove. Both Nitschke and Shaughnessy are licensed administrators.

Having Crowley report to Nitschke “is another step to make sure the ball is not dropped” when it comes to providing quality care for veterans, Trepanier said.

Body recovered from Navy plane’s wreckage in Gulf

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — A body has been recovered from the remains of a Navy training aircraft that went down in the Gulf of Mexico near Matagorda Island three weeks ago.

Navy divers recovered the body from the T-34C Turbomentor propeller-driven aircraft on Wednesday.

Lt. Brett Dawson is a spokesman for the Chief of Navy Training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, where the aircraft had been based. He says the Navy won’t confirm the body is that of Lt. John Joseph Houston of Houston until an autopsy has been performed.

However, the body of the other flier aboard the aircraft when it went down, 30-year-old Lt. Bret Travis Miller of East Troy, Wis., was found Oct. 30 about 11 miles north of Port Aransas. Both had been missing since the Navy lost contact with the aircraft on Oct. 28.

Wis. prosecutors charge woman with election fraud

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a woman with falsifying nomination signatures for state Rep. Pedro Colon and voting in Wisconsin’s 2008 spring election under a false address.

Forty-two-year-old Yadira E. Colon, who is not related to Pedro Colon, faces two counts of election fraud and two counts of falsifying nomination papers. She faces up to 14 years in prison and $40,000 in fines if she’s convicted.

Online court records didn’t list an attorney for her. The complaint lists Yadira Colon’s last known address as York County Prison in Pennsylvania.

Packers welcome Kampman, Finley, Tauscher back

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers are riding momentum after their biggest win of the season, and suddenly they are getting healthy.

Outside linebacker Aaron Kampman, tight end Jermichael Finley and right tackle Mark Tauscher all returned to practice Wednesday as the Packers began to prepare for Sunday’s home game against San Francisco. All three sat out practice last week and Sunday’s 17-7 win over Dallas.

Green Bay leaned heavily on unheralded young backups against Dallas. Fourth-round rookie tackle T.J. Lang and seventh-round rookie linebacker Brad Jones started and played well. Former practice squad member Spencer Havner continued to thrive, scoring his fourth touchdown of the season after switching from linebacker to tight end in training camp.

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