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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Over 28,000 without power after latest storms in southern Wisconsin

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Pierce County Herald
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Over 28,000 Wisconsin customers were without power close to the noon hour, as another round of heavy thunderstorms rumbled through the southern half of the state.  

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We Energies reported 19,000 customers out as of 11 o'clock, most in Metro Milwaukee.  Wisconsin Power-and-Light had around six-thousand customers in the dark.  About a-third of those were in Dane County, which got hit by a second round of severe storms this morning.  Madison Gas-and-Electric reported 2,700 customers, restoring power quickly after eight-thousand were left without power at mid-morning.  Meanwhile, the National Weather Service now confirms six tornadoes from Monday in the Platteville and Madison regions.  The Madison area also had a tornado warning this morning, but nothing new touched down.  Wisconsin Emergency Management said numerous trees and power lines were still down from La Crosse to Madison to Milwaukee.  Today's storms also held up play for at least this morning at the state boys' high school baseball tournament near Appleton, and the Wisconsin State Women's Open in Madison.  

Tod Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management said there were reports of fallen trees.  In west-central Wisconsin, folks had to use unfamiliar back roads to drive to the post office at Cataract in Monroe County.  In nearby Trempealeau County, the small town of Iduna picked up four-and-three-quarter inches of rain this morning.  Severe weather is also a problem today in the Milwaukee area.  Drivers were said to have zero-visibility for 10 straight minutes in suburban Brookfield at mid-morning.  Parts of Milwaukee and Waukesha counties had an urban-and-small stream flood advisory in effect until 11:15.  Flash flood warnings ended at mid-morning in much of west-central Wisconsin.

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A Washington County sheriff's deputy had minor injuries today in a two-vehicle crash that killed two people in the other unit.  It happened around 8:30 a-m near Kewaskum on County Trunk "H."  As of early afternoon, authorities have not said how the mishap occurred.  The State Patrol is investigating it.

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Racine Police have released surveillance video of two men killing another man in a robbery last month at the American Legion tavern.  Officials said the robbers shot-and-killed 47-year-old Joseph Walker of Racine on May 31st, during an armed hold-up at the city's American Legion bar.  Police hope somebody will recognize the two suspects.  People can provide tips anonymously through the Racine Area Crime-Stoppers program.

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A state appeals court refused today to give a new trial to a Milwaukee woman convicted of strangling a pregnant woman, stealing the baby, and trying to pass it off as her own.  35-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez is serving life in prison with no chance for a supervised release, in a case that made worldwide headlines in 2011.  She tried convincing the First District Court of Appeals that she had ineffective lawyers after her original legal team quit midway through the case due to apparent conflicts-of-interest.  Morales-Rodriguez claimed she was denied her right to hire new lawyers -- and the team she was given used flawed legal reasoning.  Circuit Judge David Borowski didn't buy the woman's argument -- and neither did the appellate court.  Prosecutors said Morales-Rodriguez was desperate to deliver a son to her boyfriend -- and because she couldn't do it naturally, she tried grabbing an unborn infant from the womb of 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz.  Both mother-and-baby died in the incident.

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We'll soon find out who wrote to a state Senate Democrat to complain about the Act-10 public union bargaining limits back in 2011.  Middleton Senator Jon Erpenbach has decided not to challenge an appellate court ruling which ordered him to give out the names of 26,000 people who e-mailed his office.  Lawmakers were swamped by public comments during the heavy protests both before-and-after the GOP's union bargaining clamp-down was approved.  The conservative MacIver Institute asked for the e-mails, saying they wanted to know if public employees were using taxpayer time and resources to oppose their cutbacks.  Erpenbach released the e-mails, but with the names blacked out to keep them from being harassed.  A Grant County judge allowed Erpenbach to do that, but the Second District Appellate Court in Waukesha overturned it.  That three-judge panel said the public needs to know who's trying to influence public policy in order to have "effective oversight" of the government.  Erpenbach hired his own law firm after he got into a strategy disagreement with the Justice Department.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said it cost taxpayers $171,000.  The appellate court also ordered the state to pay the MacIver Foundation's attorney, for another $59,000.

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Every so often, you'll hear that it's not worth it to own a home.  But most young people in Wisconsin don't believe that.  A new survey from BMO Harris Bank shows that three-fourths of Badger State residents ages-18-to-34 plan to buy a house in the next five years.  Fourteen-percent of prospective buyers will settle into their first homes -- and BMO Harris officials say the figure might have been higher if many young adults didn't have so much college debt to pay back.  Michael Gregory, the head economist for BMO's Capital Markets, said many renters are delaying home purchases -- and while the market is on the rise, student debt still puts a negative "trickle-down effect on the overall housing recovery."  Gregory says U-S student debt has doubled in the last seven years.  The total is now over a trillion dollars.  BMO Harris also found that 52-percent of Metro Milwaukee residents of all age groups expect to buy new housing in the next five years.

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A lumber company in northwest Wisconsin faces up to $145,000 in fines for safety hazards in the workplace.  The U.S. Occupational Safety-and-Health Administration has issued 17 citations to Buchman Lumber of Washburn County.  The agency said it inspected the Springbrook facility after getting a complaint.  Officials said they found four willful violations and 13 serious violations for things like excessive noise, and not providing adequate machine safeguards to avoid hazards for amputation.  OSHA says Bachman Lumber has 15 days to decide whether to pay the proposed fine, challenge the violations, or seek a settlement conference with the agency.  

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A 92-year-old woman has given Marquette University the largest gift ever for its College of Education.  Bernadette Steep died on May fourth.  She left two-million dollars behind for the Milwaukee Jesuit university to be split between its education and law schools.  Steep graduated from Marquette with a bachelor's degree in 1944 and a master's of education in 1967.  She retired in 1987, after a nearly 30-year career as an elementary teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools.  Steep's gift will provide scholarship endowments for students in both the Marquette education and law schools.  The law school donation was made in honor of Steep's sister Mary Ann, who was a private lawyer for two decades after working 30 years with Blue Cross-Blue Shield.  Mary Ann Steep also graduated from Marquette, earning her law school degree in 1990.  She died in 2007.

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The snow disappeared weeks ago, but the long and cold Wisconsin winter keeps coming back to haunt us.  Strawberry lovers are the latest to feel the pinch.  WQOW-TV in Eau Claire says the picking season is over a week late on western Wisconsin fields.  Dan Sam of Pepin County figures to get a full and healthy strawberry patch sometime next week -- but only if the weather cooperates.  That would put the start of berry picking more than two weeks late.  Sam estimates his picking season will run through about the middle of July.

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