The Top 10 of 2007
A Wisconsin National Guard soldier raising
the flag at his unit's camp in Iraq
In 2007 Wisconsin continued to be affected by the war in Iraq, witnessed amazing achievements of athleticism, received encouraging and home-grown news about the future of stem cell research, saw parts of the state hit hard by floods, suffered through a history-making state budget impasse, and woke up to other headline-making news stories throughout the year. Continuing a year-end tradition begun in 2003, Wisconsin Historical Society staff has identified history-making news stories of 2007 and selected the top 10 with a Wisconsin connection. Please join us in reflecting on the events and issues that made headlines in 2007. The links on the left will reveal our top 10 news stories of earlier years.
Top 10 Wisconsin
History-Making News Stories
- More Wisconsin Citizen Soldiers Headed for Iraq War Zone
As the end of 2007 drew near, more than 3,000 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard learned that they will likely see service in Iraq in mid-2009, many of them for the second time. The citizen soldiers, all members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, received significant advance notice of their probable deployment in order to help their families and employers better plan for it. If deployed as expected, the move would represent the largest single mobilization of the unit since it served during the Berlin Crisis in 1961-1962. Among those included in the notification is the 2-127th Infantry Battalion, which previously saw combat in Iraq in 2005-2006. Private Soldiers: A Year in Iraq with a Wisconsin National Guard Unit, published in 2007 by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, documented their service firsthand through the words and photographs of the unit's soldiers. To date 82 Wisconsin soldiers have died in combat in Iraq.
- UW-Madison Scientists Get Embryonic Stem Cells from Human Skin Cells
A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers led by James Thomson, the scientist who first created stem cells in 1998, reported that they had successfully devised a method to reprogram human skin cells in such a way that they appear to function like embryonic stem cells without using a human embryo. The finding could potentially transform the ethical and political debate over stem cell research, which had previously required the destruction of an embryo. Using this reprogramming technique, eight new stem cell lines have been created that will be further tested by Thomson and his researchers.
- Brett Favre, All-Time NFL Passing Leader and Sportsman of the Year
After ending speculation that he might retire from NFL football, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre came back for the 2007 season better than ever. Leading his team to one of its best seasons in years and winning the NFC North Division title, Favre on Sunday, December 16, claimed for himself the lead atop the all-time list for passing yardage (overtaking Dan Marino's record to achieve the milestone) and number of victories by a starter (159). He's also had consecutive starts as quarterback a record 251 times. His standout season, as well as his charitable work off the field with the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, earned him the title of 2007 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, only the fourth quarterback ever to win the award.
- August Flooding Hits Hard
Five southwestern Wisconsin counties were declared federal disaster zones by President Bush after heavy rains hammered the Midwest in mid-August. The deluge of rain, more than 12 inches in some areas, caused an estimated $112 million in damage as rivers and lakes overflowed banks and forced many people out of their homes. FEMA declared another nine counties in southwest and south-central Wisconsin eligible for flood disaster aid in September.
- Tops in Drunk Driving
Wisconsin ranked first in the list of worst states for drinking and driving according to a progress report issued by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The report looked at the percentage of traffic deaths involving a drunk driver. Those crashes made up more than 40 percent of Wisconsin's total traffic fatalities in 2006.
- Badger Basketball Ranked #1
The Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball earned its first number-one ranking in school history with a 26-2 record on February 19, 2007. The Badgers went on to receive a #2 seed in the Midwest Bracket of the NCAA Tournament but were knocked out in the second round. Senior forward Alando Tucker was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, the second Badger in four years to earn the award, and became the second Badger to reach 2,000 career points. Tucker became the 29th overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns.
- Budget Impasse
Governor Doyle and legislative leaders ended the country's longest budget impasse in October, four months after the previous budget had expired on July 1. The two-year agreement, totaling $58 billion, included increased taxes on smokers and rejected proposed taxes on hospitals and oil companies.
- Freed, Then Convicted by DNA
Steven Avery, once exonerated by DNA evidence, was found guilty in March in the murder of Terese Halbach based on DNA evidence. Avery is only the second wrongly convicted person to be convicted of a serious crime and the first to be convicted of murder. He now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Avery had previously served 18 years in prison for a 1985 sexual assault that he did not commit and was freed in 2003 through the work of the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
- Deadly Shooting in Crandon
Tyler Peterson, an off-duty deputy for the Forest County Sheriff's Department, shot and killed six people and injured a seventh in a Crandon apartment in October. The 20-year-old Peterson had gotten in a fight with his ex-girlfriend at a party and opened fire with an assault rifle. Police say he shot himself a few hours later. Relatives of the victims are pushing state lawmakers for tougher police training and mental evaluations for law enforcement officers.
- Beer Giants Miller and Coors to Merge
In October a major merger of two historic beer brands, Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company and Denver-based Coors, was unveiled, a move that industry analysts predict will save $500 million a year and create a stronger challenger for current U.S. beer industry leader Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser. Consolidating the two companies is expected to result in some job cuts as duplicate functions are eliminated, but Miller and Coors will have a combined U.S. market share of 29 percent, compared to 18 percent and 11 percent they had respectively in 2006, but still shy of Anheuser-Busch's 48-percent market share.