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WISCONSIN NEWS BRIEFS: Woman rescued from Grandad's Bluff in La Crosse

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News Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

LA CROSEE - A 22-year-old woman was being rescued this morning, after she fell about 40-feet while hiking on Grandad Bluff in La Crosse. 

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Police Sergeant Randy Rank said the woman was apparently hiking in an unauthorized area. She called 911 from her cell phone around 7:20 a.m., and rescuers located her about 45 minutes later. Various media reports said the woman had a serious leg injury, and crews had to cut down trees so they could reach her.

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A La Crosse man faces 10 criminal charges, after he allegedly punched a police dog and slapped a sheriff’s deputy. Officers were called to a house in Holmen last week, where 38-year-old Chad Kowalke reportedly punched a woman and pushed another man. A deputy reportedly said he found Kowalke hiding in bushes, and said the police dog would attack him if he didn’t surrender. Prosecutors said Kowalke punched the dog, and the dog then bit him in the face. The suspect then allegedly hit the sheriff’s officer in the face. He was then taken to a hospital, where officials said he resisted efforts to treat him, and spit in an officer’s eye. Four of the 10 charges against Kowalke are for bail jumping. The others are battery to police, harassing police animals, throwing bodily fluids at a safety worker, resisting an officer, battery, and disorderly conduct. Kowalke is due back in court next Wednesday, where a judge will determine if he should stand trial on the felony charges. 

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A Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputy saved a three-year-old from being trapped in a hot car. Authorities say the boy and his mother were heading to a park, when the child locked himself inside the vehicle. The mother called for help and the deputy was forced to break the glass out of the car to rescue the child. Police say the child was trapped inside the hot car for over ten minutes, but is ok. 

_______________________________________ The scorching heat may be the cause of death for a 28-year-old man in Milwaukee County. The medical examiner’s office say the unidentified man was found dead with a core temperature of 104 degrees. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow to confirm he died from heat-related illness.

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It’s a tad cooler in Wisconsin than it’s been the past few days. Osceola was the state’s warm spot at 10 this morning, with 81 degrees. It was 80 in New Richmond. All of the state’s other reporting stations were in the 70’s. Skies were generally cloudy except in the far north, where it was sunny in the Rhinelander region. At this time yesterday, parts of central Wisconsin were well on their way toward record highs for the date in the upper-90’s. The heat index soared about 100 in virtually all of the Badger State. Today’s afternoon highs expecting to reach the upper-80’s at the warmest. Far western Wisconsin could see a heat index in the upper-90’s, in places like River Falls and Prescott. Despite the cloud cover, rain is not in the forecast until tomorrow. That’s giving parts of the north a chance to dry out. Poplar in the far northwest had six inches of rain since Monday afternoon. 

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State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate says next fall's possible candidates are close to announcing whether or not they'll run. Tate believes some potential candidates are waiting to see if former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke will run. He adds that she would be a strong contender for the Democratic nomination. Other possible candidates include Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma. Harris has said he'll announce by Labor Day whether he's in. Vinehout, of Alma, says she'll announce next year whether she'll make a second run after losing in last June's Walker recall primary. 

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Wisconsin’s best-known public employee union leader was arrested today during the almost-daily protest sing-along in the State Capitol Rotunda. Capitol Police took Marty Beil away in handcuffs shortly after the noon-time event by the Solidarity Singers began. Beil heads the state’s largest employee union, which the state officially no longer recognizes as the result of the Act-10 collective bargaining limits. That law has been subject of the Solidarity Singers’ protests ever since the law was first considered in 2011. There have been over 300 arrests and tickets issued since the Capitol Police began a crackdown in July, because the singers have failed to get a required Capitol permit for gatherings of 20-or-more people. The group says it shouldn’t need the government’s approval to protest, and some security experts are now questioning the Walker administration’s crackdown. Today in Milwaukee, the Republican Walker said the police are not the problem. He said it’s up to the protestors to follow the rules and get a permit. Walker said it’s not true that he wants to quash dissent. In his words, “They can protest every day while I’m in office. I have no problem with that. That is what’s great about America. We ask them to follow the rules.”

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Some security experts are speaking out against the Walker administration’s crackdown on protestors at the State Capitol. The administration has cited a federal judge’s ruling from early July to justify giving about 300 citations to members of the Solidarity Singers – who’ve defied the administrations’ policy of requiring permits for Capitol gatherings. At the group’s daily sing-along on Monday, the first felony arrest was made, when a 22-year-old protestor was taken to the ground and carried away. UW-Madison law school professor Michael Scott tells the Wisconsin State Journal that the officers’ tactics are inflaming the situation. U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer said arresting protestors only makes the officers targets. A day after the felony arrest, the protestors’ numbers nearly tripled for yesterday’s noon-time sing-along. Three off-duty Madison police officers joined in – and they were not arrested, while 10 others were. The officers wore T-shirts reading “Cops for Labor.” One said it was the only real way they could speak out against the loss of collective bargaining for most state and local government unions. Police and fire unions maintain their bargaining privileges, except for their health insurance. 

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The Army psychiatrist who killed two Wisconsin troops and 11 others in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre was sentenced to death today. A 13-member jury of top military officers handed down the sentence to 42-year-old Nidal Hasan – who portrayed himself as a martyr, and refused to defend himself during his two-week court martial. The chief prosecutor, Colonel Mike Mulligan, said Hasan would never be a martyr. Mulligan rejected Hasan’s claims that he killed as many trainees as possible, so they wouldn’t hurt Muslims during the soldiers’ tours of duty in Afghanistan. Mulligan labeled Hasan as a “cold-blooded murderer.” He said the death penalty was not Hasan’s “gift to God,” but rather his “debt to society.” Hasan killed Amy Krueger of Kiel and Russell Saeger of Mount Pleasant, part of a Madison unit that trained to relieve stresses of other U-S troops in Afghanistan. Thirty-two others survived with injuries, including six members of the Madison unit. Hasan joins five other military members on death row. A service member has not been executed since 1961.

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The president of the Wisconsin State Senate is questioning his own party’s governor, and his criteria for approving the proposed Kenosha casino. Neenah Republican Mike Ellis is challenging the conditions placed by Scott Walker to get the governor’s necessary blessing for the Menominee Tribe’s long-proposed casino-and-resort. Walker says he’ll approve it only if it results in no net increase in gambling – the community supports it – and all 10 other Wisconsin tribes approve. That last condition seems impossible to meet, since the Kenosha project would cut into the Potawatomi tribe’s lucrative casino revenues in nearby Milwaukee. The Potawatomi has fought the Menominee project in the past, and it’s doing so again. Senate President Ellis says Walker’s stand contradicts the free enterprise system. He says it’s like giving Menards the ability to block a new Fleet Farm store. Critics like the group “Enough Already” say the Wisconsin casino market is saturated, and a new casino would only spread existing revenues rather than add new money. 

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Governor Scott Walker said today he is not trying to get voters to forget his campaign promise from 2010 to create a quarter-million private sector jobs in his four-year term. The Republican Walker has completed almost two-thirds of his term – but only one-third of the new jobs he promised have been created. State Democrats have been asking why Walker has abandoned his campaign promise, but the governor insists he has done no such thing. After an appearance in Milwaukee today, Walker told reporters he has not changed his stance – but he now calls the quarter-million job promise a  “goal” – a “big, bold, aggressive goal.” Walker says he uses the word “goal” because it won’t be known until later in 2015 how many jobs will have been created through the end of ’14. Since his recall election campaign, Walker has highlighted the state’s unemployment rate – which is lower than the nation’s. Today, he told a meeting of the Competitive Wisconsin group that the state’s jobless rate plunged from nine-point-two percent at the height of the recession in 2009 to six-point-eight percent in June. Walker told the business leaders quote, “We feel good about the future.”

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The state Insurance Commissioner’s office has scheduled 11 public meetings for next week, to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act. Folks have been asking lots of questions about the federal insurance purchasing exchange that will start enrolling people on October first – with coverage to begin at the start of 2014. The Insurance Commissioner’s office is holding town hall forums to explain the subject and provide unbiased information about consumers’ responsibilities. Around 600,000 Wisconsinites are expected to need the exchange – 90,000 of whom are losing Badger-Care coverage when the program no longer serves childless adults above the poverty line. The 90-minute forums will be held next Tuesday in Rhinelander, Wausau, Eau Claire, and La Crosse – next Wednesday in West Allis and Pewaukee – September fifth in Kenosha, Green Bay, and Appleton – and September sixth in Madison and the Manitowoc County community of Cleveland. More information is available at the Insurance Commissioner’s Web site, accessible at Wisconsin.gov.

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A judge in eastern Wisconsin has issued an arrest warrant for a convicted bigamist who skipped out on a court appearance Monday. 46-year-old Tim Swinea of Weston is facing forgery charges in Calumet County, after an ex-girlfriend told officers he took thousands-of-dollars from her company in a bad-check scheme. A trial in that case is postponed. It was scheduled to begin next Wednesday in Chilton. Swinea was released from the Marathon County Jail in Wausau on August first. That’s where he served four months for bigamy, after a former wife from Weston learned that he was also married at the time to a Missouri woman who had three of his kids. Penny Schoenke of Menasha was the victim in the Calumet County case. She told Wausau Daily Herald Media that she met Swinea online – and she almost married him. 

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A Hartland man is charged with a pair of felonies, for allegedly leading officers on a late night Interstate chase exceeding 135-miles-an-hour. A five-thousand-dollar cash bond has been ordered for 32-year-old Bradley Peters, on criminal counts of fleeing officers and second-degree reckless endangerment. He’s due back in court next Wednesday for a hearing on a separate speeding charge. Waukesha County sheriff’s deputies said an officer spot Peters’ bike going at 91-miles-an-hour around 12:45 a-m yesterday on I-94 in Brookfield. The officer apparently tried keeping up with the bike, as the squad hit its maximum speed of 135. A second officer joined the chase, and officials said the biker stopped to avoid hitting a third squad car at an off-ramp. Peters and his female passenger were handcuffed, but online court records did not list any charges for her. Peters reportedly told officers he was upset after getting into a disagreement with the woman – and during the chase, she dug her fingernails into his thighs to try and get him to stop. She told officers the motorcycle’s speedometer showed a top speed of 156 during the chase. 

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Wisconsinites pay six-percent more for their health care than the national average. The U.S. Centers for Medicare-and-Medicaid Services said Wisconsin’s total health care spending averaged about $7,200 dollars per resident in 2009. The national average was just over $6,800 dollars per person in ’09, the latest year in which cost figures were available. The report also said Wisconsin’s health care spending grew by six-point-seven percent a year from 1991 through 2009. That’s slightly more than the national growth rate of six-and-a-half percent per annum. Many Wisconsinites get more for their money. Donna Friedsam of the U-W Madison Population Health Institute says the Badger State has a high quality of health care overall – but quality studies do not rank as well for Hispanics and African-Americans. 

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