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Hot summer days lead to full Portage beach

While the temperature continues to hit the high 80s and 90s this week, Silver Lake Beach was busy as the summer begins.

“It is way busier than last year, when there was nobody at the beach,” lifeguard Torin Hanson said. Hanson has been a lifeguard at Silver Lake for three years and said this summer is more interesting than last summer.

Hanson was supervising the concession stand with lifeguard Camryn Humke.

They both said they enjoy the job and were glad people were back at the lake this year. On Thursday afternoon the beach was packed as the temperature hit 90 degrees.

“The worst part is the heat,” Hanson said.

“It has been full the last couple of days as the heat as hung around,” Humke said. Humke is from Portage and this is her fourth year as a Silver Lake Beach lifeguard.

Humke said there have not been any issues this year so far at the beach. She did mention a kayak had tipped over earlier in the week.

“We haven’t had any issues with swimmers outside the roped area,” Humke said. “Technically once they are out of the roped area, they are out of our jurisdiction.”

The roped off area is for swimming and the rest of the lake is for fishing, boating, kayaking and other water recreation. The Parks and Recreation Department oversees the beach and allows no outside floating apparatus in the roped off area.

Mike Percy said the reason for the rule is so there are no visual impairments for the lifeguards monitoring the swimming area. Percy is the recreation coordinator for Portage Parks and Recreation Department.

A 13-year-old boy drowned in Silver Lake in 2018 while he was outside the roped in swimming area with an inflatable toy.

The beach officially opened Memorial Day weekend and was supposed to be commemorated with a new water slide. However, there has been a delay with the manufacturer and it is unknown when the slide will be installed.

The group Positively Portage was behind funding for the slide and has ideas to add more features to the lake to make it more inviting to families.

Sean Malone of Positively Portage said, “If we can keep kids inside the roped off area, and this slide is an incentive to do that, then we may be able avoid another tragedy.”

Following the drowning at Silver Lake signs were installed stating the risk of swimming outside the roped off area. There are also signs stating that swimming without a lifeguard on duty, as in after hours, is done at their own risk.

Mike Percy, recreations coordinator with the Parks and Recreation Department said the lifeguards begin their shifts at 11 a.m. They do not post a closing because it depends on the weather.

“The closing varies depending on a number of things like weather and how many people are at the beach,” Percy said.

Percy did not give any update on the slide installation because he has not heard anything from the manufacturer.

“We are getting asked every day about the new slide and sadly I have no update. I wish I did,” Percy said. “The manufacturer has not given us any estimated delivery date or even a time frame of when it could be installed at the lake.”

Percy said the summer has been going well so far at the beach.

“So far, so good,” Percy said. “The main thing we are seeing is people leaving behind trash. We’re finding towels, sandals and other things being left behind on the beach.”

Hanson and Humke are both excited about spending the rest of the summer as lifeguards at the beach.

“I’m excited, like a lot of other people, to be doing stuff,” Humke said. “It should be a fun summer.”

GALLERY: Historical reenactments at Agency House, Surgeons Quarters in Portage

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UPDATED: Two critically injured after police chase ends in crash on Highway 151 in Beaver Dam

Two people were critically injured Thursday following a police pursuit in Dodge County that involved a vehicle reported stolen from Portage.

According a press release from the Beaver Dam Police Department, officers responded Thursday morning to a report of an in-progress retail theft in the 1800 block of North Spring Street, Beaver Dam.

Kelly Simon / KELLY SIMON, Daily Citizen 

A white truck with its airbags deployed rests in the median following an accident on Highway 151 Thursday morning. The northbound lanes near Jackson Road outside Beaver Dam are closed. One lane of traffic is moving in the southbound lanes as the scene is being cleared.

A caller stated a man and woman were putting items into trash cans and removing the cans from the store.

The first officer on the scene witnessed the suspects exit the store and put the stolen items into their vehicle. They refused the officer’s commands to stop.

Three people fled south in the vehicle and exited the city on County Highway W with Beaver Dam officers in pursuit. The pursuit ended several minutes later when the vehicle was no longer in sight of the officers.

A Beaver Dam officer found the vehicle stopped less than a block from the Beaver Dam Police Department at 201 S. Spring St. at 8:43 a.m. and took the original driver of the car into custody. The other occupants refused commands to stop and a woman fled driving the vehicle with a male passenger.

KELLY SIMON, Daily Citizen 

Traffic backs up on Highway 151 south of Beaver Dam Thursday morning due to a crash.

A chase exceeding speed limits on South Spring Street ensued. The Wisconsin State Patrol initiated a second pursuit of the vehicle, which drove south onto the northbound off-ramp to Highway 151 at County Highway G. The driver continued at a high rate of speed going south in the northbound lanes.

State Patrol followed the vehicle until it lost control and crashed into a truck traveling north on Highway 151 near County Road DE.

The woman and man in the vehicle sustained critical injuries and were transported from the scene. The driver of the truck who was struck by the suspect vehicle was uninjured.

Portage Police seeing rise in auto thefts

Portage Police Department has seen a rise in car thefts in the area since mid-May. Authorities advise residents to lock car and keep keys out of car when not operating to help with thefts.

It was confirmed that the suspect vehicle was previously reported as stolen from Portage, and the female driver had multiple warrants for her arrest.

All three suspects from this incident will be charged with multiple offenses.

Responders on the scene include Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin State Patrol, Beaver Dam Police, Town of Beaver Dam Police, UW Health Med Flight and Beaver Dam EMS.

GALLERY: Highway 151 accident Thursday outside Beaver Dam

US consumer prices surge (copy) (copy) (copy)

WASHINGTON — American consumers absorbed another surge in prices in May — a 0.6% increase over April and 5% over the past year, the biggest 12-month inflation spike since 2008.

The May rise in consumer prices that the Labor Department reported Thursday reflected a range of goods and services now in growing demand as people increasingly shop, travel, dine out and attend entertainment events in a rapidly reopening economy.

The increased consumer appetite is bumping up against a shortage of components, from lumber and steel to chemicals and semiconductors, that supply such key products as autos and computer equipment, all of which has forced up prices. And as consumers increasingly venture away from home, demand has spread from manufactured goods to services — airline fares, for example, along with restaurant meals and hotel prices — raising inflation in those areas, too.

In its report Thursday, the government said that core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food costs, rose 0.7% in May after an even bigger 0.9% increase in April, and has risen 3.8% over the past year. That is the sharpest 12-month jump in core inflation since 1992. And it is far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for annual price increases.

Among specific items in May, prices for used vehicles, which had surged by a record 10% in April, shot up an additional 7.3% and accounted for one-third of May’s overall price jump. The price of new cars, too, rose 1.6% — the largest one-month increase since 2009.

The jump in new and used vehicle prices reflects supply chain problems that have caused a shortage of semiconductors. The lack of computer chips has limited production of new cars, which, in turn, has reduced the supply of used cars. As demand for vehicles has risen, prices have followed.

But higher prices were evident in a wide variety of categories in May, including household furnishings, which rose 0.9%, driven by a record jump in the price of floor coverings. Airline fares rose 7% after having increased 10.2% in April. Food prices rose 0.4%, with beef prices jumping 2.3%. Energy costs, though unchanged in May, are still up 56.2% in the past year.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for the sixth straight week as the U.S. economy, held back for months by the coronavirus pandemic, reopens rapidly.

Jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 376,000 from 385,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of people signing up for benefits exceeded 900,000 in early January and has fallen more or less steadily ever since. Still, claims are high by historic standards. Before the pandemic brought economic activity to a near-standstill in March 2020, weekly applications were regularly coming in below 220,000.

Nearly 3.5 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits the week of May 29, down by 258,000 from 3.8 million the week before.

From the cereal maker General Mills to Chipotle Mexican Grill to the paint maker Sherwin-Williams, a range of companies have been raising prices or plan to do so, in some cases to make up for higher wages they’re now paying to keep or attract workers. This week, for example, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it was boosting menu prices by roughly 4% to cover the cost of raising its workers’ wages. In May, Chipotle had said that it would raise wages for its restaurant workers to reach an average of $15 an hour by the end of June.

Andrew Hunter, a senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, noted that the price category that covers restaurant meals jumped 0.6% last month. He took that as evidence that labor shortages at restaurants, hotels and other service sector companies are beginning to fuel wage and price increases.

The inflation pressures are not only squeezing consumers but also posing a risk to the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession. One risk is that the Fed will eventually respond to intensifying inflation by raising interest rates too aggressively and derail the economic recovery.

The central bank, led by Chair Jerome Powell, has repeatedly expressed its belief that inflation will prove temporary as supply bottlenecks are unclogged and parts and goods flow normally again. But some economists have expressed concern that as the economic recovery accelerates, fueled by rising demand from consumers spending freely again, so will inflation.

The question is, for how long?

“The price spikes could be bigger and more prolonged because the pandemic has been so disruptive to supply chains,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. But “by the fall or end of the year,” Zandi suggested, “prices will be coming back to earth.”

So far, Fed officials haven’t deviated from their view that higher inflation is a temporary consequence of the economy’s rapid reopening, with its accelerating consumer demand, and the lack of enough supplies and workers to keep pace with it. Eventually, they say, supply will rise to match demand.

Officials also note that year-over-year gauges of inflation now look especially large because they are being measured against the early months of the pandemic, when inflation tumbled as the economy all but shut down. In coming months, the year-over-year inflation figures will likely look smaller.