- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015
Agritourism growth sparks concerns over safety, liability

SOUTH HERO, Vt. (AP) - As more farms open themselves up to visitors for apple picking, hay rides and some extra income, experts are advising owners to take steps to prevent accidents - be they small or fatal.

Farming is one of the more dangerous occupations in the U.S. mostly due to the machinery and equipment, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a growing interest in local food has led to agritourism becoming a big business, with the number of U.S. farms reporting income from such activities rising 42 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the latest Census of Agriculture.

Adding urbanites, who may not be familiar with hazards such as irrigation ponds or farm equipment that could pique a child’s interest, can be a recipe for accidents. So, experts say farmers have to purchase the proper insurance, know where the hazards are and keep tourists away from those areas. Doing so can prevent injuries, lawsuits and notoriety and keep farms in business.

It isn’t known how many agritourism-related injuries have occurred in the U.S., said Marsha Salzwedel, an agritourism safety specialist with the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Two people were killed last year: A teenager who, along with other riders, was thrown off a hayride trailer into trees in Maine and a 2-year-old girl who was pinned when a van shuttling passengers from a New Jersey farm’s harvest festival rolled into another van.

But, Salzwedel said, “the majority of these incidents if not all of them are pretty much preventable.”

The first key is assessing the risks, said Brian Schilling of Rutgers’ Cooperative Extension in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “If you’ve grown up on a farm you’re sort of blind to a lot of these things,” he said, advising owners to have an extension agent, emergency official or insurance agent walk the farm to identify hazards.

The extension also has a safety checklist that reminds farmers to, among other things, designate areas that are closed to the public, train employees to property operate farm machinery, secure and restrict areas that contain chemicals, provide hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations and have employees assist with parking.


Man convicted in 2008 death gets 25 year sentence

MARINETTE, Wis. (AP) - A man convicted of running over another man and then hiding his body near a creek in northern Wisconsin in 2008 has been sentenced to 25 years.

Erik Smith, 34, was an early suspect because witnesses saw him leaving an Iron Mountain, Michigan, bar with the victim, 28-year-old Eric Volp, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1hduxrehttps://bit.ly/1hduxre ).

Though Michigan and Wisconsin authorities continued to investigate Volp’s disappearance, it wasn’t until a tipster came forward years later that investigators decided to charge Smith this year.

Smith has been serving a federal prison sentence for child pornography, which was discovered on his computer during a search warrant related to the Volp investigation. Fellow inmates said Smith had told them about running over a guy named Eric and hiding his body along a stream.

The body of Volp, a former New Berlin resident who had moved to Iron Mountain a few months earlier, was found along K.C. Creek, upstream from a U.S. Highway 8 bridge over the creek in Dunbar in July 2009.

Smith said he and Volp argued after leaving the bar and that he ran over Volp by accident, then got scared and hid his body.

Marinette County Circuit Judge David Miron imposed the maximum sentences for all three convictions and made them consecutive to each other and to the 20-year sentence Smith is serving in a Colorado federal prison. His release date for that offense is in 2027.


Menominee Indian Tribe to decide on marijuana proposal

KESHENA, Wis. (AP) - The Menominee Indian Tribe is holding an advisory referendum on whether to legalize marijuana usage on the 350-square-mile reservation in northeastern Wisconsin.

The Shawano Leader reports (https://bit.ly/1ffcnDyhttps://bit.ly/1ffcnDy ) the proposal comes on the heels of the tribe’s unsuccessful effort to open a casino in Kenosha.

Tribal members over age 18 will cast ballots Wednesday and Thursday. They will decide whether marijuana should be legalized for medical use and whether it should be legalized for recreational use by anyone age 21 or older.

Results are expected to be announced by Friday and will guide the tribe’s nine-member governing board in its deliberations on whether to pursue marijuana as a new business venture.

Tribal Chairman Gary Besaw won’t say whether he supports the referendum, but he’s urging tribal members to vote.


Information from: Shawano Leader, https://www.shawanoleader.comhttps://www.shawanoleader.com


Woman’s body found in Milwaukee alley

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee police are investigating what happened to a woman whose body was found in an alley.

According to police, they received a call at about 6:35 a.m. Saturday after citizens found her burned body on the north side.

Police have yet to identify the woman or the circumstances surrounding her death. No one is in custody.

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