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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Eau Claire teen in critical condition after accident

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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Eau Claire teen in critical condition after accident
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

EAU CLAIRE - A 17-year-old Eau Claire boy was fighting for his life at last word, after he fell off the hood of a mini-van and was run over.  It happened around seven last night in the parking lot at Eau Claire Memorial High School.  

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Police said the teen was apparently riding on the van's hood, or had just jumped on, when the 16-year-old driver hit the brakes.  Authorities said he suffered life-threatening head injuries, and was hospitalized in critical condition at last word.  Police continue to investigate.  They said alcohol was apparently not a factor.

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A fire overnight extensively damaged the field house at Green Bay Preble High School.  Fire-fighters were called about 1:30 this morning.  Officials said the smoke was so heavy, it took awhile to find the source of the flames.  WBAY-TV said the bleachers were involved, but there were no other details.  There have been no reports of injuries.  Green Bay school officials say summer school classes and other activities have been canceled for today at Preble High.  The field house was built in 2000.

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A military jet landed safely at a base in Milwaukee, after a mechanical problem on a routine training mission.  Four crew members on board escaped injury.  Captain Beth Sawant said a jet from Milwaukee's 128th Air Refueling Wing experienced a problem in its right hydraulic area.  It was conducting a mid-air refueling operation at the time.  The craft landed without incident around 2:30 yesterday afternoon at Mitchell International Airport. 

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The pilot of a crop-dusting helicopter escaped with minor injuries today, after his chopper crashed near Fort McCoy in western Wisconsin.  Monroe County officials said the pilot was crop-dusting near Tunnel City when the craft encountered some trouble, and went down in a corn-field.  The pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment of ankle and back pain.

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State officials continue to investigate an explosion that blew the roof from a plant north of Madison that turns manure into energy.  Dane County sheriff's officials said yesterday's blast at the Clear Horizons bio-digester destroyed an inflatable cover above one of its three units.  The cover was valued at a quarter-million dollars.  No one was hurt.  Jim Ditter, who heads the company that owns Clear Horizons, tells the Wisconsin State Journal the blast appeared to be caused by the igniting of methane gas, after an employee fired up an electric blower.  He said the digester will not be re-activated until the final cause of the blast is known, and the unit is safe to operate again.  Besides creating electricity, the digester reduces phosphorus in the manure that's spread on nearby farms.  The state DNR says there have also been problems with untreated animal waste and blocked pipelines -- and it's possible that not enough phosphorus is being removed.  The DNR's David Mosher says his agency is helping the firm look for ways to stay in compliance with its state permit.  If violations continue, he says the permit could be revoked -- or fines could be imposed.  Ditter says his company has spent a lot looking for ways to end the blockages, and make sure adequate phosphorus is removed. 

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Folks in Green Bay are being asked to use as little water as possible, when a water transmission line starts being repaired tomorrow.  Conservation rules will be in effect until further notice in both Green Bay and neighboring Ashwaubenon.  One of two incoming water transmission lines will be shut down so a leak can be fixed.  The extent of the leak was not immediately known.  Green Bay's water utility has asked people not to water their lawns, wash their vehicles, or otherwise spray water at home.  Swimming pools and hot tubs cannot be filled, and residents are asked to delay washing their clothes if they can.

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New sales records were set at two major meat and livestock auctions this week at the Wisconsin State Fair.  Governor Scott Walker was on hand for both -- including the 46th annual Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction. Young exhibitors sold 25 animals for a record $313,000 dollars.  It eclipsed the old mark of $255,000 in the 2005 auction that Jim Doyle presided over.  Lauren May of Iowa County sold the grand champion steer for $45,000 to Milwaukee's Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. Myles Leahy of Lafayette County sold the grand champion barrow to Beer Capitol Distributing for a record $23,500 dollars.  Calvin Reilly of Lafayette County sold the grand champion lamb to Kevin Schuele for $16,000.  Exhibitors receive 80-percent of the proceeds, and parts of each animal sale goes to a scholarship fund for exhibitors who show leadership and academic excellence.  Also, the Governor's Meat Products Auction raised a record $130,000 for the state's 4-H Foundation.  The State Fair runs through Sunday in West Allis.

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A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled against two raw milk producers.  Both cases involved licensing disputes -- not whether somebody has the right to buy or drink unpasteurized milk.  The Fourth District appellate court in Madison ruled today in favor of the state Ag. Department, and against dairy farmers in Calumet and Walworth counties.  The cases were consolidated at the appellate level.  In the Walworth County case, a coalition called "Nourished by Nature" paid a fee to a dairy farm, where the group obtained raw milk for their members' own use.  The state called it a "sham arrangement," and farmers Mark and Petra Zinniker went to the courts to see if it was legal.  The Ag. Department and the courts both ruled that the farmers produced the milk without a license -- which it lost in 2009 when 35 people got sick drinking their raw milk.  In the Calumet County case, the appellate judges said the owners of a farm store in New Holstein needed a retail license to sell raw milk to an association in which members paid a fee.  The state issued a license, but told the owners they could not sell raw milk.

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Men from Wisconsin Dells to Saint Paul were caught in an online prostitution sting in Wausau.  Police released the suspects' names yesterday -- including Wausau elementary school teacher Aaron Kottke, who resigned this week as a fifth-grade instructor in the wake of his citation. School officials said they had no indication that Kottke had harmed any students.  The School Board will take up his resignation on Monday night.  Police said the men responded to an online prostitution ad they placed, as part of a renewed effort to prevent the world's oldest profession from taking hold in Wausau.  Instead of issuing criminal charges, the city now gives out two-thousand-dollar non-criminal tickets to violators.

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Fourteen drunk drivers and four drug suspects were among those caught in an aggressive law enforcement effort in Wisconsin.  That's what the DOT said yesterday about the national I-90-94 Challenge.  Sixteen states boosted their patrols last weekend on the two Interstates, in the hopes of recording no traffic deaths on the coast-to-coast highways from Friday through Monday.  One death was reported along the route.  An SUV rolled over in Montana, killing one person and injuring nine.  Authorities said most of those victims were not wearing seat belts.  The Wisconsin State Patrol issued its preliminary figures yesterday.  Over 16-hundred vehicles were stopped on I-90-and-94 during the four-day campaign from Kenosha to Hudson.  Just under three-thousand people received written warnings and citations.  There were 71 violations of seat-beat and child safety seat requirements.

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Prosecutors said a 15-year-old Racine boy killed another teen, and then recorded a rap video online to brag about it.  Tommy Canady is charged as an adult with first-degree intentional homicide and robbery in the death of 19-year-old Semar McClain.  Prosecutors said Canady tried robbing McClain and then shot him in the head on the evening of July 29th.  Police discovered that Canady had posted an Internet rap song two days later, in which he said he'd kill someone and "snatch his gold."  McClain used to live in Racine, but had recently moved to Saint Paul Minnesota.  Canady is jailed under a half-million dollar bond that was set during an initial court appearance yesterday.  Canady is due back in court next Thursday, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.

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A 19-year-old man will spend just over 14 years in prison for the murder of a Milwaukee man that he and five others were reportedly planning to rob.  Cullen Mitchell pleaded guilty to a felony murder charge in the death of 23-year-old Cristian Garcia-Clemente last August.  Prosecutors said Mitchell and the others had robbed two other victims, when they were cruising in their van for another target.  Garcia-Clemente was shot when he tried running away.  At today's sentencing, Mitchell tried blaming the system for his downfall - but Circuit Judge Stephanie Rothstein said it was Mitchell whose chose to reject his family, his school, and other programs.  He was free on bond for another robbery at the time of the slaying -- something the judge called "troubling."  Mitchell was given credit for almost a year he spent in jail while the case went through the courts.  He must spend eight years under extended supervision once he gets out.

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A 25-year-old man is due in court two weeks from today on new charges that he car-jacked a taxi in Platteville, put its driver in the trunk, and killed him in a crash near La Crosse.  According to online court records, Grant County prosectors filed charges of homicide, kidnapping, and armed robbery against Timmy Johnson Junior.  He's also scheduled to stand trial October 13th on a half-dozen La Crosse County charges that include reckless endangerment and vehicle theft.  Officials said Johnson was released from jail just hours before he robbed-and-stabbed 79-year-old cab driver Merle Forbes, while Johnson was high on PCP in mid-June.  Prosecutors said Johnson feared that the cab driver was going to hurt him.  Police found the stolen cab in La Crosse.  A chase ensued at speeds up to 115-miles-an-hour, and the cab rear-ended another vehicle before flipping over.  Forbes died in the trunk.  Three people in the other vehicle had minor injuries. 

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A federal court jury ruled yesterday that two Milwaukee police officers violated a man's civil rights by searching him for no reason, and arresting him wrongfully.  The jury told officers Keith Garland Junior and Michael Gasser to pay 506-thousand dollars to Leo Hardy, who was arrested outside his mother's house in March of 2012.  A third officer, Michael Valuch Junior, was not found liable.  The ruling came after five hours of deliberations.  This week's trial was the first involving alleged illegal strip-searches by Milwaukee Police.  Over 60 people have sued police and city officials.  The jury said the officers did not have a reasonable suspicion that Hardy -- who was on probation for shoplifting -- had committed a new crime.  Still, the 40-year-old Hardy was strip-searched.  Jurors found that the actions of officers Garland and Gasser were either malicious, or recklessly disregarded Hardy's civil rights. Six-thousand-dollars of the award compensates Hardy for his search and arrest -- and the other half-million was for punitive damages.  The city's attorney in the case did not comment on the ruling.  Hardy's lawyer Russell Ainsworth said the jury, in his words, "sent a message that no police officer can stop a man and put their hands on him simply because he is black in Milwaukee."

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A Minnesota man has been charged, after he allegedly backed a bulldozer into the Mississippi River.  Fifty-four Patrick Sullivan of Rochester is accused of being drunk when he operated a machine while moving sand that was dredged for use in a bridge construction project on Interstate-90 north of La Crosse.  Authorities said Sullivan backed the unit from an island into the Mississippi, and the bulldozer got stuck off the shore.  He then reportedly returned to the island, took a boat back to the Minnesota shoreline at Dakota -- and a sheriff's officer found him and arrested him.  The Winona Daily News said it was Sullivan's eighth overall drunk driving arrest.  Three of those convictions have come in the last ten years.  He's charged with first-degree OWI, and refusing to take an alcohol test.

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We could learn a little more today about the first of two John Doe investigations which involved Governor Scott Walker.  The Milwaukee County executive's office will release 14 gigabytes of documents that were seized, involving activities in Walker's county executive office before he became governor.  The release will include records and photos saved on county work computers.  It's only a small part of the 500 gigabytes of data generated during an investigation that ended in 2013.  Six Walker aides and associates were convicted of embezzlement and illegal campaign activities.  Walker himself was not charged.

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A new federal report on Wisconsin consumer spending has touched some nerves, both economically and politically.  The U.S. Commerce Department issued its first state-by-state breakdown yesterday, showing that Wisconsinites increased their spending by about a percentage point less in 2012 than both the national and Great Lakes averages.  UW-Milwaukee economist Kundan Kishor blames a smaller increase in personal incomes -- and it has a bunch of consequences.  Kishor tells the AP that Wisconsin was weaker than its neighbors going into the Great Recession, and the same thing was true coming out of it.  The state lost 133,000 private sector jobs during the final years of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's tenure, many of which were lost during the recession.  The weak recovery caused only 100,000 jobs to be added during the Republican Walker's term.  This week, Walker's Democratic challenger Mary Burke ran a TV ad slamming the governor for not keeping his 2010 campaign promise to create a quarter million jobs.  Both candidates hardly mention the recession's impact, as they blame each other instead. Kishor also points to cuts in state spending and government jobs under Walker -- something the governor's office said was necessary to get rid of a three-point-six billion dollar budget deficit. Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the new commerce figures run only through 2012 -- before the first of Walker's two-billion-dollars in tax cuts.

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Wisconsin's 11 Indian tribes have given up their chance to have a say over how communities should be reimbursed for its expenses in the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine.  Mike Allen of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council tells Wisconsin Public Radio that it voted against having a member on the state's Mining Investment and Local Impact Fund Board.  The seven-member panel includes people from the area of the proposed mine.  Allen says the council is putting its faith in the federal EPA, which is being asked to rule on the mine's possible damages to tribal and state lands.  The Bad River Indians fear that the mine will hurt their efforts to protect air-and-water in their area -- plus the ability to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice.

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Candidates for the Wisconsin Legislature and the parties' campaign committees have raised record amounts of money for a normal election year.  The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said today that almost four-million dollars were raised during the first half of the year by Assembly and Senate candidates and the legislative party committees.  Incumbents have brought in eight-dollars to every one raised by challengers.  Republican hopefuls have brought in about a-third more than Democrats.  The watchdog Democracy Campaign said the total revenues were the most for January through June of an election year -- but they fell short of the six-point-eight million raised for nine Senate recall elections in 2011-and-'12.

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Voters in southeast Wisconsin could make history next week.  Tiffany Koehler of Slinger is one of three people running in a GOP primary for an open state Assembly seat.  If she wins, she'll be the first black Republican woman in the state's 166-year history to be elected in either house. The 44-year-old Koehler is running against insurance agency owners Sandy Voss and Bob Gannon for the Assembly seat given up by Republican Pat Strachota of West Bend.  There's no Democrat running, so Tuesday's winner will most likely get the post in January.  Koehler says she's not playing up her race, or hiding from it.  She tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that people assume she's a Democrat just by her looks, and she laughs when they bring it up.  Newspaper columnist Jim Stingl said Milwaukeeans elected a black male Republican, Lucian Palmer, to the Assembly in 1906 -- but historians thought voters confused him with a white man named Palmer.  Lucian served just one term.

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Western Wisconsin residents who do business in Stillwater are getting a taste of what might happen if the Badger State raises its minimum wage.  Minnesota raised its minimum by 75-cents an hour last week -- and the Oasis Cafe in Stillwater responded by charging a special fee of 35-cents per meal.  Owner Craig Beemer figures it would cost him ten-thousand dollars more each year to pay his servers a minimum that's now eight-dollars an hour in Minnesota.  Some customers want others to boycott the restaurant over its "minimum wage fee," but Beemer says he's only trying to keep his employees working.  In Wisconsin, Democrats at both the state and federal levels are pushing for a $10.10-an-hour minimum wage.  Majority state Republicans have refused to budge, while business interests say the higher wage could eliminate thousands of lower-wage jobs.  Democrats dispute that, and the Raise Wisconsin coalition is attempting to put heat on next year's Legislature by trying to get all 72 counties to hold November referendums on a minimum wage hike.  In the recent Marquette University Law School poll, 56-percent of Wisconsin registered voters supported an increase -- but that was down from 63-percent in March. 

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Those who favor same-sex marriages in Wisconsin have put up a Web site to build support for their cause.  The American Civil Liberties Union, Fair Wisconsin, and the national gay rights' group Freedom to Marry have joined together in what they call "Wisconsin Unites for Marriage." Their Web site will include testimonials from gay couples who believe they should have the right to be legally married.  The issue is out of the general public's hands, however.  The federal appeals court in Chicago plans to hear arguments August 26th on the constitutionality of similar gay marriage bans in both Wisconsin and Indiana.  The ACLU has filed suit against Wisconsin's gay marriage ban.  A federal judge threw out the ban in June, but the state is appealing.  Chris Ahmuty of the ACLU says he doesn't know if the Web site will influence the appellate judges -- but he notes that they pay attention to the media like almost everybody.  The Web address is WisconsinUnites.org

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The parent company of Wisconsin Power-and-Light reports a five-percent drop in its net income for the second quarter of the year.  Alliant Energy of Madison said today it made almost $62-million from April through June, down from $65-million at the same time a year ago. Stockholder earnings dropped from 59-cents a share to 56, after outside analysts predicted earnings of 60-cents a share.  Alliant partially blames a cooler summer than last, with a reduction in the use of air conditioners.  Other factors involved credits for consumer bills, and higher costs at Alliant's utility in Iowa.  The company did say its industrial and commercial electric sales rose, due to an improved economy.  Residential electric revenues went down.

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Have you ever lost touch with somebody in a Wisconsin state park or trail?  If you have a smartphone, you won't have to worry about that anymore.  The state DNR has unveiled a new app that lets users keep track of each other while they're inside state parks, forests, and trails.  The app also provides descriptions and amenities for each of the DNR's recreation properties.  It also has a GPS mapping features which includes park locations, facility tours, and a mechanism which lets them record the distances they walk or ride on state trails and their times.  It's all in the new Wisconsin State Parks and Forests' Pocket Ranger -- and you'll find it on I-Tunes and the Android Market.

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