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STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Final day of Farm Technology Days today in Dallas

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This is the third-and-final day of Wisconsin’s Farm Technology Days near Dallas in Barron County. The weather has cooperated for the most part, as the only rain fell during the first few hours on Tuesday’s opening day. Organizers expect 60-thousand people to attend the three-day show, which features the latest in agricultural innovations with numerous demonstrations and exhibits. Governor Scott Walker paid a visit yesterday. It’s the 60th annual show, which is being held at the Breezy Hill Dairy.

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You should be seeing more new vehicles on the highways, if you’re not driving one yourself. The state’s Auto-and-Truck Dealers Association reports a nine-point-three percent sales increase for new cars and light trucks in the first half of this year, compared to the same time a year ago. Over 110-thousand new vehicles were sold at Wisconsin dealerships from January-through-June, and truck sales led the way. Association president Bill Sepic says the auto industry continues to recover from the Great Recession. He says dealers are seeing more customers who put off new vehicle purchases during the economic downturn. Sepic says the rest of the year looks good for dealerships, barring a big spike in gas prices or some other crisis.

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The National Weather Service now says three relatively-weak tornadoes touched down in central and northeast Wisconsin on Tuesday. The first one ran for 28 miles in Lincoln and Langlade counties. It touched down three times near Irma, Gleason, and Deerbrook. Trees and power lines fell along the way, but the Weather Service said there was no other damage. The second twister landed near Bancroft in Portage County. Officials said it briefly went into an open field and did little damage. Both those storms were classified as E-F-Zero tornadoes, with winds of 65-to-85-miles-an-hour. The third twister was more severe. It touched down near Oconto on Tuesday night, and traveled for a mile-and-a-half. A mobile home was blown over, a few homes lost parts of their roofs, and trees and power lines went down. The Oconto storm was classified as an E-F-One, with top wind speeds of 95-miles-an-hour. All of Wisconsin had a pleasant day yesterday, after the storms moved out. Another sunny day is in the offing for today, with highs in the 80’s. Our next chance of rain is on Saturday. 

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Homeowners in Metro Milwaukee paid more than the national average for their properties – and their mortgage payments and property taxes are also above the norms. The U-S Census Bureau released housing cost figures today for the country’s largest metro areas. The report said Milwaukee area residents paid a median of 125-thousand-dollars for their homes as of 2011. That’s about 15-thousand higher than the national average. Homes built in the last four years went for a median of 315-thousand dollars, well above the national norm of 235-thousand. The national housing prices rose two-point-three percent from a similar survey two years earlier. The Census Bureau also said the median mortgage payment was 11-hundred-dollars a month in Metro Milwaukee, about 85-dollars more than the national figure. Property taxes averaged 300-dollars a month in the area, twice the national median of 151-dollars. The Milwaukee Metro area includes Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties. 

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Four medical workers were injured when their ambulance overturned in Fond du Lac County. They were among five staffers from Meriter Health Services in Madison who were heading to Appleton yesterday to pick up a baby for a non-emergency procedure. Officials said the ambulance failed it to make it around a curve on Highway 26 near Rosendale, and it veered off the road and flipped over. No patients were on board. A neo-natal doctor, 32-year-old Stanley Phillips, was flown to a Neenah hospital with life-threatening head injuries. His condition was not immediately disclosed. Three other Meriter staffers had less serious injuries and were taken to hospitals in Fond du Lac and Waupun. The driver, 62-year-old Ross Fleming of Sun Prairie, escaped injury. The crash remains under investigation. A Meriter spokesman called it a freak accident in which speed was not a factor. WKOW T-V in Madison said ambulance crashes are extremely rare in Wisconsin, with fewer than 15 each year. About a-third of those accidents have injuries.

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