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GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Families unable to get their hands on a marijuana extract to treat children with seizures

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news Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Two months after the state approved it, Wisconsin families can still not get their hands on a marijuana-based extract to treat children with constant seizures.  The bill which allowed the use of cannabidiol required the drug to get federal F-D-A approval before it could be prescribed.  That hasn't happened, so doctors are not touching it -- and children's hospitals in Madison and Milwaukee say they will not apply for F-D-A trial permits which could open the door to the drug's usage.  Assembly Democrat Robb Kahl of Monona said he did not include F-D-A approval in his original version of the bill -- but he said it had to be added at the last minute, or the Republican-controlled Senate would not have passed it.  Milwaukee Children's Hospital tells the Journal Sentinel that cannabidiol is an "exciting prospect."  However, the manufacturing process can make the drug impure, and the American Academy of Neurology has not recommended it.  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says lawmakers have done what they can -- and they cannot force doctors to prescribe the drug.  Governor Scott Walker calls the situation frustrating, but he's not sure what can be done about it.

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Rhinelander might try to become the fifth Wisconsin place to be labeled as a "Premier Resort Area," and have its own special tax for it.  City Administrator Blaine Oborn says he'll ask his aldermen for approval to seek the designation.  The resort tax could only be used for things like streets, sewers, and other infrastructure.  Oborn said it could bring in up to 800-thousand dollars a year.  The state considers nearby Eagle River to be a resort area, with a half-percent sales tax -- and Oborn says it makes sense for his community to also have the designation.  He says tourists in surrounding Oneida and Vilas counties spend as much as folks in Door County -- which, by the way, does not have any premier resort designations.  The only other such areas in the state are Bayfield, with a half-percent tax -- and Wisconsin Dells and adjoining Lake Delton, both of which are raising their resort taxes to one-and-a-quarter percent on July first.  Oborn says Rhinelander is in greater need of the revenue, because its population doubles during the daytime hours.  He says it results in a larger need for things like police services, with a tax base made up of fewer homes than similar places just to the south like Antigo and Merrill.

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Professional concerns were blamed for the departure of Appleton's emergency management director -- not last year's failure to activate the sirens when tornadoes hit.  The Post-Crescent examined Julie Loeffelholz's personnel file, after she was allowed to resign this past spring.  It contained a memo in which Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson cited a "pattern of unprofessional behavior" separate from the problem with the sirens.  The memo said Loeffelholz used foul language in her office, screamed at employees, and slammed down telephones.  The file said Loeffelholz would get her full salary and benefits through July, and she agreed not to sue the county of criticize them to others.  Loeffelholz received a lot of criticism last August, after outdoor tornado sirens failed to sound in advance of six tornadoes which hit the Appleton area.  Those storms caused 31-million dollars in damage.

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Governor Scott Walker will be on hand this morning, when the nation's tallest flagpole is dedicated in Sheboygan.  Acuity Insurance will hold a ceremony for a 400-foot flagpole.  It's about 100-feet taller than the current record pole in Laredo Texas.  Acuity has tried four times to have the nation's tallest flagpole without it being damaged.  Its first effort was a 150-foot pole in 2003.  A winter storm took down another pole.  Yet another 338-foot pole swayed too much to be safe.  Acuity says its newest pole is designed to withstand Mother Nature.  The company's flagpoles can easily be seen from Interstate-43.  

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The state Fire Marshal is helping Black River Falls authorities investigate a house fire that killed one person.  Flames and smoke were coming out of a large window when fire-fighters were called to the two-story house around nine yesterday morning.  Officials learned that one person was still inside, and the victim was removed quickly.  The name was not immediately released.  The Red Cross was providing assistance to survivors.  Officials said there was heavy fire damage downstairs -- and mostly smoke and heat damage upstairs.

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