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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Fire station in Gordon went up in flames

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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Fire station in Gordon went up in flames
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

The Douglas County town of Gordon has lost its fire station in the area's second devastating blaze this year. In May, the station was the command post for a massive forest fire in northwest Wisconsin that destroyed 17 homes. Yesterday, the fire station itself went up in flames. Gordon's volunteer fire-fighters responded around noon, only to see their equipment burning. They had to wait for surrounding departments to help. Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said small explosions were heard in the station -- and when he got there, smoke and flames were already spewing out. Six fire trucks were destroyed, along with a snowmobile and other emergency vehicles. No injuries were reported. Gordon constable George Booth says the cause of the blaze is not known. It started just before a lightning storm got there. The chief says the surrounding fire departments will continue to serve Gordon for now, under a mutual aid agreement. Douglas County officials said the state fire chiefs' association would ask its members for surplus gear that can be provided for Gordon. The town is located about 35 miles south of Superior.

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Governor Scott Walker has announced a half-dozen policy changes aimed at curbing fraud in Wisconsin's public assistance programs. The Republican Walker ordered yesterday that the Health Services department provide stronger oversight. That was after it was learned that regulators don't ask self-employed applicants about all their income in determining eligibility for things like food stamps. The new policies include a re-instating of asset limits for those seeking food aid -- forcing self-employed people to provide tax returns with their aid applications -- and sharing more data among state agencies. Walker said he also wants to create a fraud prevention task force. Eventually, he wants to discuss with federal officials the idea of giving states incentives to sign up as many people on public aid as possible. Wisconsin has been among the national leaders in cashing in on those incentives. Walker says the bonus money should also be based on the amount of individual gain those benefits provide. Deputy Health Services Secretary Kevin Moore tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the state cannot beef up anti-fraud efforts on its own, since federal funds pay for most public assistance benefits. He also said progress is being made in identifying fraud -- and the state has already brought back a work requirement for food stamps, similar to what the U-S House narrowly approved yesterday.

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It was southern Wisconsin's turn to get hit with severe thunderstorms yesterday. Major tree damage was reported from Hartford to about three miles southwest of that community. Two-point-four inches of rain fell near La Grange in Walworth County. Madison officially had one-point-nine inches, which broke an 82-year-old rainfall record for the date. The National Weather Service said drivers on Madison's west side had flood waters up to their headlights during the late afternoon rush hour. High winds were reported throughout southern Wisconsin, peaking at 65-miles-an-hour near Monroe. Trees and power lines fell in Iowa County. A separate wave of storms at mid-day yesterday caused some damage in Burnett County. A dock with an attached pontoon boat both flipped over on Lower Clam Lake near Siren. It stayed somewhat muggy overnight. Temperatures were generally in the 60's at five this morning. Lone Rock had 69. Lingering showers are moving out today as a cold front moves through. Mostly clear and cooler weather is in the forecast for the weekend. It might not reach 60 tomorrow anywhere in Wisconsin. Frost is expected tomorrow night in central and northeast areas, with patchy frost elsewhere. It could be a few degrees warmer on Sunday, rising into the upper-60's.

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Milk production kept rising in Wisconsin last month, but not as much as elsewhere. According to the U-S-D-A, Wisconsin dairy cows made just over two-and-a-third billion pounds of milk in August -- one-point-seven percent more than the same month a year ago. The 23 major dairy states saw their output rise by two-point-seven percent, to a total of 15-point-seven billion pounds. California, the nation's top producer, also had a two-point-seven percent jump. The Golden State made almost three-point-four billion pounds of milk in August. Florida had the largest year-to-year increase, at six-point-nine percent. New Mexico had the biggest decrease, at one-point-two percent.The Douglas County town of Gordon has lost its fire station in the area's second devastating blaze this year. In May, the station was the command post for a massive forest fire in northwest Wisconsin that destroyed 17 homes. Yesterday, the fire station itself went up in flames. Gordon's volunteer fire-fighters responded around noon, only to see their equipment burning. They had to wait for surrounding departments to help. Gordon Fire Chief Mike Chmielecki said small explosions were heard in the station -- and when he got there, smoke and flames were already spewing out. Six fire trucks were destroyed, along with a snowmobile and other emergency vehicles. No injuries were reported. Gordon constable George Booth says the cause of the blaze is not known. It started just before a lightning storm got there. The chief says the surrounding fire departments will continue to serve Gordon for now, under a mutual aid agreement. Douglas County officials said the state fire chiefs' association would ask its members for surplus gear that can be provided for Gordon. The town is located about 35 miles south of Superior.

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It was southern Wisconsin's turn to get hit with severe thunderstorms yesterday. Major tree damage was reported from Hartford to about three miles southwest of that community. Two-point-four inches of rain fell near La Grange in Walworth County. Madison officially had one-point-nine inches, which broke an 82-year-old rainfall record for the date. The National Weather Service said drivers on Madison's west side had flood waters up to their headlights during the late afternoon rush hour. High winds were reported throughout southern Wisconsin, peaking at 65-miles-an-hour near Monroe. Trees and power lines fell in Iowa County. A separate wave of storms at mid-day yesterday caused some damage in Burnett County. A dock with an attached pontoon boat both flipped over on Lower Clam Lake near Siren. It stayed somewhat muggy overnight. Temperatures were generally in the 60's at five this morning. Lone Rock had 69. Lingering showers are moving out today as a cold front moves through. Mostly clear and cooler weather is in the forecast for the weekend. It might not reach 60 tomorrow anywhere in Wisconsin. Frost is expected tomorrow night in central and northeast areas, with patchy frost elsewhere. It could be a few degrees warmer on Sunday, rising into the upper-60's.

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Organizers are gearing up for the Wisconsin Science Festival which begins next Thursday at U-W Madison. The four-day event is headquartered at the U-W Institutes for Discovery, and a number of activities are planned across the state. You'll find a complete list online at WisconsinScienceFest-Dot-Org. Live science fiction radio broadcasts will be featured along with a demonstration on the physics of football, a dozen food science activities, and much more. Pulitzer Prize-winning mystery author Deborah Blum will be on hand along with Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann and Ira Flatow, the host of "Science Friday" on National Public Radio. U-W Madison, the Morgridge Institute for Research, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation are the festival's main producers.

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Federal funding for Obama-care would disappear under a resolution to be voted on today by the Republican-controlled U-S House. Wisconsin Republicans Paul Ryan and Tom Petri voiced their support yesterday for defunding the Affordable Health Care Act. Others in the G-O-P shied away. They fear that opposition from Democrats and the White House would lead to an impasse strong enough to virtually shut down the federal government starting October first. Ryan, the House budget chairman from Janesville, does not agree that a House vote to de-fund Obama-care would guarantee a shutdown. He says a shutdown would not halt the health care mandate, because it's considered an entitlement that would keep going. Also, Ryan says Obama-care becomes more controversial the more Americans keep learning about it -- and he says Republicans would hurt themselves politically by taking the focus off that. Fond du Lac House Republican Tom Petri agrees with Ryan. Instead of hearing horror stories about Obama-care, Petri says Americans would start hearing about soldiers getting their cars repossessed because they're not getting paid during a shutdown.

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Former state Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville is one of four possible Democratic candidates for an open Senate seat. Incumbent Tim Cullen of Janesville is not running for another term next fall. Sheridan says he's thinking about running for the post along with current Assembly Democrats Andy Jorgensen of Fort Atkinson and Janis Ringhand of Evansville, and Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden. They would square off in a primary next August. Sheridan -- a union leader at the former General Motors plant in Janesville -- served six years in the Assembly, the final two as speaker. He was defeated in 2010, after it was learned that he was dating a lobbyist for the pay-day loan industry when he scaled back his support for regulating that industry. Sheridan tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he made some mistakes in the Legislature, and he's soul-searching on the idea of wanting to return. He's currently a lobbyist for the state A-F-L C-I-O. Cullen says other possible candidates may also test the waters on possible candidacies in the next few months.

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 
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