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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Worker killed when garage collapses in Fox Point

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Pierce County Herald
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FOX POINT - A worker was killed this morning when a residential garage where he was working collapsed in the Milwaukee suburb of Fox Point. 

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Police Chief Thomas Czaja said two people were shoring up the garage, when a worker inside became trapped and died.  The second worker, who was outside, was not hurt.  Authorities were called just before 9:30 a.m.  The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office was called to investigate.  The U.S. Occupational Safety-and-Health Administration was also notified.  There was no immediate word of why the garage collapsed.  It was located behind a house along a Fox Point street that was blocked off.

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A pedestrian killed by a car in Sheboygan was identified today as 56-year-old Michele Lilge of Kohler.  Police are still asking for information from witnesses, to determine what happened and why.  Officials say speed and alcohol are not apparent factors.  The crash happened late yesterday afternoon, while Lilge was crossing Washington Avenue at South Business Drive in Sheboygan.  The car driver, a 63-year-old Hingham man, received minor injuries along with his female passenger.  Both rejected medical treatment.

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One of two men killed in an Adams County house fire was identified today as 79-year-old Ronald Peak.  Authorities were still not sure who the second victim was.  They're checking DNA records to look for clues.  The fire broke out Monday in a camper near Peak's mobile home in the town of Easton, about 15 miles northwest of Wisconsin Dells.  Peak's 77-year-old wife was injured in the blaze, and was still hospitalized in Madison today.  Authorities continue to investigate.  They believe the fire was an accident.
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Wisconsinites with concealed weapons' permits could carry hidden heat in public schools, under an amendment to a bill that's up for a committee vote tomorrow.  Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc admits he does not have the votes to get his idea passed -- but he wants people to start talking about the bigger issue of school safety.  Kleefisch says schools need armed adults who can fight back when there's an assault or other physical crime.  So he wants the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee to vote on his amendment, as part of a bill to let retired police officers and out-of-state police carry concealed weapons into all buildings where they're currently not allowed -- including schools.  Milwaukee Democrat Evan Goyke is a member of the criminal justice panel.  He calls the Kleefisch amendment "terrible," "dangerous and unnecessary."  Goyke says there would be no way for school officials to know who's armed and who isn't.  He also says anyone can cross the line, no matter good people's intentions are.  The Kleefisch measure would allow all of Wisconsin's 203,000 concealed weapons' permit holders to bring guns to school.

_____________________________ The lowest of three bids was awarded a contract today to fix the sagging Leo Frigo Interstate bridge in Green Bay.  Zenith Tech of Waukesha submitted the low bid of $7.7 million dollars.  The DOT reviewed the bid before approving it.  The other two bids ranged as high as $8.8 million.  Permanent repairs to the bridge will begin Monday.  Several corroded support piers will be clean up and bolstered -- and the pier that sagged two-feet in late September will be extended so it touches underground bedrock for the first time.  Earlier, officials said they would reward the winning bidder for completing the project early -- as long as it meets the specifications -- and the firm would get penalized if it's late.  The DOT has set a date of January 17th for re-opening the Frigo bridge, a high-rise structure over the Fox River between downtown Green Bay and the Bay of Green Bay. 

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The Wisconsin co-chairman of the new federal budget conference committee said the members' efforts would be doomed if they got into an argument about taxes.  Janesville U.S. House Republican Paul Ryan urged the panel at its first meeting today to put off a debate on taxes, and focus instead on spending cuts to reduce the mounting federal deficit.  The other co-chair, Senate Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, disagreed with Ryan.  She said Republicans would have to work with the Democrats to quote, "Scour the bloated tax code, and close some wasteful tax loopholes and special interest subsidies."  Wisconsin Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Madison urged a balanced approach to include both goals expressed by Ryan and Murray.  Wisconsin Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Oshkosh said the GOP wants to increase government revenues, but only by improving the economy.  The panel was formed as part of the agreement which ended the federal government shutdown a couple weeks ago.  It was ordered to come up with a budget fix for the new fiscal year by mid-December.  The committee won't meet again until November 13th.  

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A suburban Milwaukee man failed today to get a double-homicide conviction dropped on a technicality.  22-year-old Dennis Markov claims that Mequon police officers who found his parents dead in his family's garage in 2011 never had a search warrant.  The Second District Court of Appeals in Waukesha rejected the argument today.  They said the officers were sent to check on his mother's welfare -- and a search of the premises was allowed under the officers' role as community caretakers.  The court also said Markov let the police into the foyer of his home -- and their search carried out its mission to verify the mother's well-being.  Markov was given a life sentence after he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for shooting Victor and Larissa Markov to death.  He was allowed to petition for a supervised release when he's 75.  Dennis Markov lived with his parents.  At the time of the incident, officials said Dennis killed his parents because his father wouldn't give him five-dollars for gasoline.

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Five public school teachers have asked a judge to reinstate part of the Act-10 collective bargaining restrictions.  The lawsuit, filed in Waukesha County, seeks to proceed with about 400 recertification elections for local government and school unions.  The votes are required each year to keep most public unions in existence -- but they were held up by a Dane County judge's ruling earlier this month.  Judge Juan Colas ruled that Act-10 is unconstitutional for everyone except state government employees -- and the judge held state employment relations' officials in contempt-of-court for proceeding with local elections anyway.  A state appellate court says it will decide by Monday whether to overturn that finding.  The State Supreme Court will then give the affected parties one day to challenge whatever the appellate court decides.  The five plaintiffs in the new lawsuit agree with the state's argument -- that the Colas ruling only applied to the plaintiffs in that case, the Madison teachers and a Milwaukee city employee union.  Colas made it clear in his latest ruling that his decisions applied statewide.

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Over a dozen skinned animal carcasses were dumped along a road in Manitowoc County.  DNR officials say it's a gruesome sight, but not one that's uncommon during the fall hunting seasons.  Warden Robert Stroess said 14 raccoons, a fox, and an opossum were found in a ditch last Saturday -- and five more skinned raccoons were spotted in another nearby ditch.  Stroess said small animals like raccoons are often hunted for their fur -- and once they're skinned, the carcasses are tossed aside.  Stroess said it does not break state hunting laws -- but the dumpers still can be fined for littering.  That's a $263 penalty.

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The Wisconsin agency that's supposed to help create private-sector jobs fell short of its goal in the last fiscal year.  The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said its tax breaks, loans, and other programs for the year ending in June would create an estimated 37,000-plus jobs.  That's below the department's goal of 50-thousand jobs.  The public-private WEDC was formed in 2011 to replace the state Commerce Department, and focus on Governor Scott Walker's campaign promise to create a quarter-million jobs during his four-term.  He had only reached a quarter of that goal at the halfway point of his term.  The head of the WEDC, Reed Hall, said his agency's original target for 50-thousand jobs was overly optimistic.  He tells the Wisconsin State Journal its goal for the current year is almost 21,000 jobs, and the agency's on track to achieve that.  Hall said the WEDC issued almost $14-million dollars in business loans in the last fiscal year, out of 44-million available.  That's less than the $16-million loaned the year before -- but it was still higher than in the mid-2000's under the old Commerce Department.  Hall said the WEDC is more cautious with its loan approval policies, and some firms may not be seeking loans after two scathing state audits of his agency in the past year.

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The Summer-of-2013 was not exactly a scorcher in Wisconsin, like it was the year before.  As a result, the state's largest utility saw a 12-percent drop in its quarterly profits -- mainly because we didn't need as much air conditioning.  Wisconsin Energy, the parent firm of We Energies, had a net profit of $137.5 million dollars from July-through-September.  That's almost $19-million dollars less than the same quarter a year ago -- but the earnings were still four-percent higher than what outside analysts expected.  Earnings totaled 60-cents a share, down from 67-cents in the third quarter of 2012.  A buyback of stock boosted earnings by a penny a share.  We Energies also paid out credits to customers after federal funds were approved to help pay for a new bio-mass plant south of Wausau.  We Energies had a gross sales increase of around one-percent, adding 2,700 electric customers and five-thousand natural gas customers over the past year.  CEO Gale Klappa said his firm continued to perform at a high level, and its financial performance is on track going into the final quarter of the year. 

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Prosecutors said a Milwaukee man in clown makeup was drunk, while dangling a child from a highway overpass after he left a Halloween party in Kenosha.  33-year-old Antonio Brown is charged with two counts each of felony child abuse and reckless endangerment.  A judge ordered a $10,000 cash bond.  Brown is due back in Kenosha County Circuit Court next Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.  A witness told authorities that Brown was dragging a pair of screaming youngsters into a wooded area early Sunday.  Investigators said Brown forced the youngsters -- ages 8-and-13 -- to drink alcohol.  The kids cried and tried running away.  Prosecutors said Brown the grabbed the 13-year-old and hung him upside down from the overpass -- and later, he allegedly dangled the younger children from a railroad car.  Officials said Brown was a boyfriend of the children's mother.

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A child residential care center in Prairie du Chien has agreed to close a week from Friday.  Wyalusing Academy had its state license revoked a few weeks ago.  Officials said staff members injured a child in late June while placing restraints on him -- they failed evaluate the boy after the incident -- and the facility did not seek outside medical help for more than a day afterward.  The academy accepted children with emotional and behavioral disorders, treating children-and-teens who functioned below their school grade levels.  The facility's owner, Clini-care, appealed the revocation order -- but the Wisconsin State Journal said today the academy agreed to close November 8th as part of a settlement with the state.  The company says its residents will move to other facilities, and the firm has contacted the state's Workforce Development agency to help find new jobs for the employees.  Almost 150 workers are losing their jobs.  The State Journal said Clini-care has a history of violations that involve child abuse, supervision, and the way they report incidents.

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A northeast Wisconsin company will provide foam for military fire-fighters to use.  Tyco Fire Products of Marinette was awarded a $13.7 million dollar contract to produce special foam at its Marinette plant.  Tyco beat out two other bidders for a two-year contract.  It also provided a boost for Wisconsin's business with the federal government, which dropped by 24-percent during the fiscal year which ended a month ago.  The Wisconsin Procurement Institute said federal departments spent just over three-billion dollars for goods-and-services from the Badger State in the past year.  That ranked Wisconsin 29th in funding for federal contracts, down one place from the year before.

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Federal agents are helping Waukesha County authorities investigate the discovery of an improvised explosive device in a man's apartment.  The resident is a 20-year-old from Sussex, who's been in jail since last Thursday for violating a previous probation.  Charges have not been filed as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives helps local officers examine the evidence.  Sheriff's deputies served a warrant on the man, after getting a tip that a male apartment dweller possessed an explosive device.  WISN-TV in Milwaukee quoted a search warrant affidavit as saying the man was prepared to kill police and others, and set off explosives in his neighborhood.

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