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Afternoon News Briefs - Five Alarm blaze near downtown Milwaukee at the Food Castle grocery

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About 10 dozen fire fighters were battling a five alarm blaze near downtown Milwaukee late this morning. Units were called around eight o'clock to a building that housed the Food Castle grocery store at 12th Place and Vliet Street. One fire fighter was injured. The extent was not immediately known. A butcher at the store told WTMJ TV that he and other co-workers were turning on the lights when something generated sparks. Another employee was taking out garbage when he saw smoke on one side of the structure. By 10:15, part of the building's south side had collapsed. Smoke from the blaze billowed onto the nearby Marquette freeway interchange and it got so bad that Milwaukee County transit buses diverted their routes. One bus was placed at the scene of the fire to help emergency responders and fire-fighters cool down. Milwaukee County sheriff's officials have urged drivers to use caution on Interstate 43 at Highway 145 because of the heavy smoke from the blaze.

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Wisconsin has one of the fastest growing bioscience industries in the nation. That's according to a new report from the consulting firm of Battelle. It said Wisconsin was among eight states where bioscience employment grew by over five percent from 2008 through 2010 while 6.5 percent of other private sector jobs disappeared due to the Great Recession. The Badger State had 1300 bioscience businesses employing over 31,000 people in 2010. The largest sectors were for medical devices and bioscience distribution. Battelle said the average bioscience job was paying $67,000 in Wisconsin in 2010, almost twice as much as other private sector jobs at the time. Today's report was released at the annual Bio International Convention in Boston.

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In 54 days, Wisconsinites will decide who will run against Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November for the state's open US Senate seat. And according to a new Marquette poll, a quarter of likely Republican voters have no idea who they'll choose yet. In the latest figures released this afternoon, 34% of 344 voters said they'll pick former Governor Tommy Thompson. "Undecided" is next at 26%. Former Congressman Mark Neumann is favored by 16%, followed by hedge fund manager Eric Hovde with 14% and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald at 10%. In head to head matchups, Thompson leads the Democrat Baldwin 49-41 percent. Neumann and Baldwin are tied at 44. Baldwin leads Fitzgerald 45-39. She also leads Hovde 45-36. Almost 600 likely voters of both parties took part in the head to head polls. And except for the tie with Neumann, none of them were within the poll's margin of error of 4.1%. The poll with only the GOP hopefuls had an error margin of 5.4%. In the presidential race, the Marquette poll now has incumbent Barack Obama with a 49-43 lead over Republican Mitt Romney. The two were tied in the same poll in early May. The poll was done last Saturday, two days before Romney spoke in Janesville.

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Wisconsin's economy continues to recover, but at a slower pace than in the last few months. That's according to the state Revenue Department's economic outlook released today. The forecast is for employment in the Badger State to increase by 1% this year, and 1.7% next year. Wisconsin remains below its peak employment of 2.9 million residents just before the recession hit in 2008. The state expects to return to that figure by early 2015. Nationally, the jobs lost in the Great Recession are expected to return by the third quarter of 2014. The state Revenue Department expects an annual jobless rate of 6.5% percent for this year, and 6.1% next year. By 2015, the unemployment rate is expected to plunge to 4.7%. As for personal incomes, revenue officials expect a 2.9% increase this year and 4.1% 2013.

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Wausau Police say a botched burglary attempt might have caused the beating death of a 49 year old man with a baseball bat. Kerby Kniess was found dead at his home around 7:15 yesterday morning. Two men were in the Marathon County Jail awaiting charges at mid afternoon. Police said this morning that a 20 year old man was arrested early in its investigation and an 18 year old suspect turned himself in late last night. Both were booked on felony murder and armed burglary charges. Kniess, a long-time figure in Wausau's bowling community, was staying in a detached garage at the home. Those living in the house found Kniess dead and called 911. An autopsy showed that he died from head trauma and a skull fracture.

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