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STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Trevino trial could go to jury as early as Tuesday

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The prosecution will rest its case today in the Minnesota trial of Jeffrey Trevino, who's charged with killing his Wausau area wife Kira Steger. Retired Saint Paul police sergeant John Wright interviewed Trevino for four hours after the 30-year-old Steger went missing in February. The defense will cross-examine Wright this morning before bringing in a short list of witnesses. Defense lawyer John Conard must tell the judge today whether the 39-year-old Trevino plans to take the stand in his own defense. Media reports say he probably won't testify, because it would make him answer questions about key pieces of evidence presented in the two-week-old trial. Jury deliberations could begin as early as tomorrow.

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Union workers at the Oshkosh Corporation have voted to extend their current contract for five more years, to help the firm win a large defense package. Yesterday's vote among the 25-hundred members of the United Auto Workers was not disclosed. Oshkosh is one of three defense firms competing for a contract to build up to 55-thousand new military vehicles as a replacement for the standard Humvee. Oshkosh asked U-A-W Local 578 to extend its contract by five years after it was due to expire in 2016. Had the union not done that, the firm said it might have moved production elsewhere to make it easier to win the Humvee contract. Union president Joe Priesler said his bargaining committee would have done a disservice to the employees had it not taken the threat seriously. The workers will get a one-and-a-half percent pay raise in each of the first three years of the extension. Those raises increase to two-and-a-half percent in 2020 and three-percent in '21. Employees will pay more for their health care. Laid-off workers will get first preference for new jobs if their recall rights have been exhausted. The Humvee contract would be a big boost for Oshkosh, which has laid off 12-hundred employees this year as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down.  

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The first weekend of Oktoberfest in La Crosse was marred by vandalism. Police said at least two vehicles were flipped over by vandals in the area of the U-W La Crosse campus. Two other cars may also have been turned over. Police reports on those incidents were not filed as of last night. Pamela Strittmater, who heads the La Crosse Area Apartment Association, said she saw people dig up landscaping, throw rocks at Dumpsters, and urinate on buildings. Strittmater also saw a fist-fight while heading home from the festival's Maple Leaf Parade. She said a good festival has been ruined, and Oktoberfest has become more like quote, "Drunk-fest." In May, organizers said this year would be the final year that Oktoberfest runs for nine days. Starting next year, it will be scaled back to four days, Thursday through Sunday.  

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Horseback riders staged a protest yesterday against a proposed oil pipeline from Superior to Alberta Canada. A group called Honor the Earth held the event on Enbridge Energy's right-of-way near Superior, where the company has a refinery. The group's director, Indian activist Winona LaDuke, cites possible environmental damage from the project -- which would increase the capacity of an existing pipeline by 120-thousand barrels a day to around 570-thousand. LaDuke says Enbridge should clean up old environmental messes quote, "before it tries to make a new one." She was referring to last year's spill in Adams County, where 50-thousand gallons leaked -- and a spill of 843-thousand gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. Enbridge did not immediately comment on the protest. The Alberta Clipper project has been on the books for a long time. In 2010, a federal judge in Minneapolis upheld permits for the pipeline. Environmental groups accused the government at the time of not analyzing the effects of the project before granting its permits. In Minnesota, the Public Utilities Commission is considering a petition from Enbridge for a "certificate of need" for the pipeline.

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A truck driver was the first to notice that the high-rise Leo Frigo Interstate bridge in Green Bay had sagged by almost two-feet. Press-Gazette Media reviewed 9-1-1 records -- and they learned that it took police about an-hour-and-15 minutes to realize that the I-43 bridge over the Fox River had to be shut down. The trucker called 9-1-1 around 3:45 last Wednesday morning, after he felt something strange under his vehicle. He had to emphasize twice to a dispatcher that the bridge was sagging before an officer was sent out. The officer saw nothing unusual. Police Lieutenant Jeff Brester said the initial officer was either mistaken -- or the problem got worse later. He said other drivers surely would have noticed a problem and called 9-1-1. They did, but not until an hour after the first trucker called. Police closed the bridge before they got a state highway engineer to arrive. Jason Lahm was skeptical when he was first told about it -- but once he got there, he couldn't believe what he saw. A concrete pier sank two-feet. Officials will find out why, and fix the problem before the bridge re-opens. That could take several months, or up to a year.

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If you need to mow your lawn, the next two days would be a good time to do it. Dry weather is predicted into Wednesday, and temperatures will stay above normal. The recent drought has not stopped the weeds from growing -- and many lawns are a bit greener now, after the recent rains. Most of the state received brief downpours on Saturday, with some areas getting a half-inch of rain or more. Stueben in Crawford County had just over three-fourths of an inch. Normal highs for Wisconsin are in the 60's for late September. Highs in the 70's are predicted throughout the Badger State today, and many areas could reach the 80's by Wednesday. After that, a low-pressure system is expected to move in, bringing rain and somewhat cooler temperatures for the rest of the week. 

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A gust of wind apparently caused a small plane to crash east of Wausau. The pilot escaped injury, even though the plane caught fire. Marathon County sheriff's deputies said the plane was attempting to a land at a private airstrip in Hatley around two yesterday afternoon. Officials said the sudden wind caused the plane to crash -- and it the craft was the only thing damaged. The incident remains under investigation.

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte has been with the Herald since 2006. He covers County government and anything else that happens in Pierce County on a daily basis.
(715) 273-4334
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