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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Driver dies in fiery crash near Waukesha

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news Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

WAUKESHA - An SUV driver has died in a fiery crash near Waukesha.  Sheriff's deputies were called to a town road late last night, where they found the vehicle engulfed in flames.  

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Officials said the SUV was going south when it left the roadway and hit a tree.  The mishap remains under investigation. The driver's name was not immediately released.

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Milwaukee Police have identified a man shot-to-death last night as 33-year-old Eric Luckett.  Officials said Luckett was struck on a business street on Milwaukee's north side.  He then ran into a nearby convenience store where he collapsed and died.  No suspects have been arrested. An investigation continues.

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Manitowoc Police stopped a car late last night for not having its headlights on, and the driver turned out to be just 13 -- and intoxicated.  The officer was a drug recognition expert who arrested the young girl for OWI, and for having child passengers in the vehicle at the time.  Five young people, ages 14-and-under, were on board.  One had a pending custody order, and was taken to the juvenile detention center in neighboring Sheboygan County.  The 13-year-old driver was released to her mother.  Others in the car were also released to relatives, although one had an apprehension request from the local human services agency.  

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A man hospitalized after he allegedly threatened a Plover police officer will have an appointment with a judge when he gets better.  Portage County prosecutors have charged 33-year-old Brett Lieberman of Manawa with attempted homicide.  Plover officer Andrew Hopfensperger stopped Lieberman for driving erratically last Friday night -- and the driver reportedly rushed out of his vehicle and went toward the officer with a knife.  Hopfensperger then shot Lieberman multiple times.  Lieberman remains hospitalized, and a court date won't be set until he gets out. Although Plover Police say their man acted justifiably, the state Justice Department will make a ruling on that as it continues to investigate.  For now, the officer is on administrative leave.

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Wisconsin has made a lot of progress in fighting the leaf-killing gypsy moth -- so much so, that the DNR wants to put its annual spraying program on hold.  Yesterday in Hayward, the Natural Resources Board ordered public hearings for later this year to de-activate the spraying and keep it ready if needed.  It's been almost a decade-and-a-half since gypsy moths blew into the Badger State from the eastern U.S.  In 2004, the state conducted aerial spraying on over 50-thousand acres to fight infestations.  This year, the spraying was down to around 30 acres.  The DNR's Andrea Diss-Torrance says it's too early to declare victory in the war over the gypsy moth -- but a lot of progress has been made, and the spraying has been effective.  Also, officials say federal funding has been greatly reduced to help with the eradication effort.  Washington used to cover more than half of spraying costs.  That figure is now down to 17-percent, as officials go after other threats like the tree-killing emerald ash borer.  The state Agriculture Department also has spraying efforts to fight the gypsy moth, and those will continue. 

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The Oneida Indian tribe says it should not have to pay $400-million in connection with a stalled energy project in Green Bay.   The tribe has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed against the Oneidas in March by the firm of Generation Clean Fuels.  That company said it struck a partnership with the tribal-owned Oneida-Seven Generations Corporation for a proposed waste-to-energy recycling plant in Green Bay.  The suit also said Generation Clean Fuels agreed to lease the plant's equipment.  The project came to a halt after Green Bay officials withdrew a permit for it.  The Oneidas said neither the tribe nor its Generations firm signed contracts with the Illinois-based clean fuel outfit.  They said a tribal affiliate entered the deal without letting Oneida leaders know about it.  The company says it will respond in court soon.  The case is being heard in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago.  

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Wisconsin has nowhere near the drought conditions it had in each of the last two summers -- but things are starting to get dry in some places.  The U.S. Drought Monitor said today that just over eleven-percent of the state's land area is abnormally dry.  That's the least severe of five official drought categories.  Much of Wisconsin was deluged with rain during the spring and early summer.  But the faucet has been virtually shut off for weeks in many areas -- and those lawns and farm fields are showing it.  The state's largest dry spot goes roughly from Green Bay to the Upper Michigan border.  It includes most or all of Brown, Oconto, Marinette, Florence, and Forest counties.  The state's other abnormally dry spot runs from about Mauston to De Soto in parts of Vernon, Richland, and Juneau counties.  Earlier this week, the USDA said 43-percent of the topsoil on Wisconsin farm fields was short to very short of moisture.  Forecasters say our next real chance for rain is on Saturday.

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Wisconsin small engine maker Briggs-and-Stratton is buying a Nebraska firm that makes industrial heaters, towable light towers, and solar arrow boards.  The Milwaukee-based Briggs said today it agreed to spend $62-million to acquire Almand Brothers Incorporated.  Briggs CEO Todd Teske said it would help his company expand its more profitable commercial line of products.  Almand Brothers is based in Holdrege Nebraska, and it generates sales of about 80-million dollars a year.  The deal is expected to be finalized within the next month.  Also today, Briggs-and-Stratton said its quarterly earnings were in the black -- unlike a year ago.  Briggs reported a net income of seven-point-eight million dollars from April through June -- up from a loss of $55-million in the same quarter of 2013.  Earnings totaled 17 cents a share, down from a loss of $1.17 the previous year.  

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A former Wisconsin senator who later became a judge is about to retire.  Mac Davis says he will not run again for Waukesha County Circuit judge just before his current term ends in August of next year.  The 62-year-old Davis tells the Waukesha Freeman he might want to be a part-time reserve judge or mediator -- but he no plans to work full-time after he retires.  Davis was a Republican in the state Senate for two terms from 1983 through 1990, when he moved to the judicial branch.

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