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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Last day of frigid weather covering state

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It's brutally cold in Wisconsin this morning -- but a few degree less brutal than three weeks ago, when the wind-chill factors got down to 55-below.  

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At seven this morning, the coldest wind-chill in the Badger State was 48-below in Rhinelander, with readings in the minus-30's-and-40's throughout Wisconsin.  Actual temperatures were predicted to drop to 30-below -- and Sparta came the closest at 29-below at seven o'clock.  The southern half of the state was in the minus-teens.  About 350 Wisconsin Public Service electric customers were without power in the Stevens Point and Plover region.  The arctic cold is expected to continue for one more day and night.  Wind-chill warnings and advisories continue throughout the Badger State until around 10 a-m tomorrow.  A new weather system is supposed to bring southwest winds into Wisconsin late tomorrow and into Thursday.  Look for highs in the teens tomorrow and the 20's on Thursday.  A couple inches of new snow is possible in the southern part of the state.   

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La Crosse Police found that 63 packages of drug evidence were tampered with, after a former lieutenant was arrested for stealing drugs from the evidence room.  Brian Thomson struck a plea deal last month that will keep him out of a state prison.  That's after he pleaded guilty to his original charge of attempted illegal narcotics' possession.  The La Crosse Tribune obtained an audit report of the police evidence room.  It found that 63 packages of meth, cocaine, heroin, and prescription pills had envelopes or tape that appeared to be tampered with.  Thomson admitted stealing meth that was seized in other drug arrests -- and he tried stealing painkillers as well.  Thomson was caught after his colleagues set up a sting operation in the evidence room last August. At least one felony drug case against another man had to be dropped because Thomson tampered with the evidence.  He's scheduled to be sentenced February 25th to either a year in the county jail, or electronic monitoring at home.  Thomson resigned after his arrest, ending 15 years on the La Crosse police force.

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Students from Purdue University are expected to attend the funeral tonight of a classmate from West Bend.  The western Indiana school said yesterday it would provide charter bus service for students wishing to attend the service for 21-year-old Andrew Boldt.  He was shot-to-death last Tuesday while working as a teaching assistant in a computer engineering class on the Purdue campus.  One of his fellow engineering majors, 23-year-old Cody Cousins, is charged in the slaying.  Purdue says a student bus will leave early this afternoon for Saint Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in West Bend, where a visitation is being held just before tonight's seven o'clock service.  Purdue President Mitch Daniels has said he would attend the funeral.

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Gogebic Taconite says people have been hiking for several weeks on land that's closed under a new state law.  Indian mining protestor Paul DeMain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday that he and others hiked with snow-shoes in a 1,200 acre restricted area -- and they'll keep doing so.  DeMain said there's a contest over quote, "Who is going to get the first citation."  Both DeMain and Bob Seitz of Gogebic Taconite says people have been walking on both the open and closed areas where the company is studying a possible new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties.  Seitz also said the site was vandalized in the last week, when somebody replaced a lock on a company gate with another.  He said Iron County deputies and Gogebic's own security force have kept an eye on things.   A state law was adopted in November restricting public access to within 600 feet of mining roads on the site, and within 600 feet of all mining activities.  Last Friday, the DNR released a map of the restricted areas.

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A former Langlade County sheriff's deputy will be sentenced April 11th for sexually assaulting a teenager.  26-year-old Michael Brayton of Gleason struck a plea deal with prosecutors, in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree child sexual assualt.  Three other sex assault charges were dropped, along with two counts of child enticement and 16 exposure counts.  Prosecutors said Brayton had physical contact several times with a female student at Elcho High School.  Investigators said he also traded sexually-explicit photos with three other girls.  An assistant DA said those charges were dropped because of a recent state appeals court ruling which said it's not indecent exposure to send photos of genitals in text messages.  Brayton was on the Langlade County sheriff's force from 2008 through mid-2012, soon before he was charged.

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A man who drove into a ditch and walked onto a highway was killed by a passing motorist.  It happened near Adell in Sheboygan County around 6:30 last evening.  Sheriff's officials said a 42-year-old man drove into the ditch, started walking on Highway 57 in the town of Sherman, and was struck by an oncoming vehicle.  The victim died at the scene, and his name was not immediately released.  The driver who struck him was not hurt.

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A plea deal is apparently in the works for a former Waupun police lieutenant on two charges in a crime spree last summer in two corners of Wisconsin.  Online court records show that 44-year-old Bradley Young has a plea hearing set for March fifth in Barron County -- where he earlier pleaded innocent to vehicle theft and eluding an officer.  He also has a status conference set for March fourth in Burnett County, where he pleaded innocent to theft and burglary.  Yesterday, Young appeared in Green Lake County Circuit Court on seven felony charges -- including three burglaries and another vehicle theft.  A status conference in that case is set for February 25th.  Prosecutors said Young broke into grocery stores in Berlin, Markesan, and Waupun -- burglarized a restaurant and stole a pick-up truck in Green Lake -- crashed the truck after a police chase across the state in Barron County -- stole another vehicle near Rice Lake -- and entered a cabin near Spooner where he was surrounded by officers and gave himself up.  No charges have been filed in the Waupun store break-in, where three-thousand dollars were reportedly stolen.  The state's investigating that.

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A Madison man convicted of starving-and-torturing his teenage daughter will be sentenced tomorrow.  42-year-old Chad Chritton was convicted by a jury in November of reckless endangerment, physical abuse, and causing mental harm to a child.  The jurors found him innocent of false imprisonment.  Authorities said Chritton locked his daughter in a basement for years until she broke free almost two years ago.  She was 15 at the time, and weighed just 68 pounds.  Last March, another jury convicted Chritton of child neglect -- but they could not agree on the other charges.  That resulted in the second trial.  His wife is serving a five-year prison term, and the girl's step-brother is scheduled to go on trial next month for allegedly molesting her.  Chritton faces up to 28 years behind bars, and $55,000 in fines.________________________

A judge in central Wisconsin issued a warrant yesterday for a man who skipped out on a court appearance for allegedly killing his dog with a hammer.  26-year-old Cody Phillips of Bancroft was free on a $500, which he's now likely to lose.  He was charged last Friday with a felony count of fatal animal mistreatment for slaying his dog Clyde.  Phillips was quoted as telling investigators he beat Clyde because the dog defecated in his home -- and if he got rid of the pet, his wife might come back.  Portage County sheriff's investigators said the dog was later found in a nearby ditch with a broken jaw, a muzzle, and signs of several blows.  Court officials said a new appearance would be set once Phillips is apprehended.

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