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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Grant County hit hard with tornadoes

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Just over three-thousand electric customers in the Platteville area are still without power, after two tornadoes hit Grant County late Monday night.  More than seven-thousand customers of the state's five major utilities were still in the dark as of 6:30 a-m.  Wisconsin Power-and-Light, which serves Platteville, had a total of 36-hundred-60 customers out.  We Energies had 27-hundred outages, most after a new round of rainstorms and hail in the Milwaukee area last evening.  Part of Milwaukee's combined storm-and-sanitary sewers overflowed into Lake Michigan and its tributaries between midnight and 2:30.  A state permit allows six emergency overflows each year.  Madison, which had 15 homes damaged early yesterday, has all its power back.  The Wisconsin Public Service utility had around 500 customers out, almost half in the Almond area of Portage County which got hit by strong winds, rain, and hail overnight.  In western Wisconsin, Iduna in Trempealeau County reported almost four-and-three-quarter inches of rain around six this morning.  Nearby Galesville had a flash flood, and Sparta had 55-mile-an-hour winds.  Parts of western and central Wisconsin were under flash flood warnings until mid-morning.  Areas of southwest Wisconsin were under a severe thunderstorm warning until 7:30.   Occasional rain and storms are in the forecast for the rest of the week.

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Now that the tornadoes are gone, we're starting to hear heroic stories from the Monday night storms.  At U-W Platteville, about 150 youngsters at a basketball camp were moved to safety before the roof of their dormitory was damaged.  Athletic director Mark Molesworth tells the Wisconsin State Journal that coach Jeff Gard was at his comuter when he heard a noise and saw a tornado get closer.  Gard then woke up the youngsters -- ages 8-to-17 -- and they moved to an interior room.  When the twister hit, it caused heavy damage to the roof of the Roundtree Commons dorm.  Other youngsters were attending pre-college, band, and engineering camps when they were taken to shelters.  They were then sent home, as the camps were canceled at that point.  Five buildings at U-W Platteville were damaged -- including the football and soccer stadium where bleachers were twisted.  

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A new national report gives Wisconsin universities low marks for training teachers -- but school leaders condemned the rankings almost before the ink dried.  The National Council on Teacher Quality checked more than 16-hundred schools that prepare elementary, secondary, and special-ed teachers.  U-W Eau Claire was named the 92nd-best university for elementary teacher prep.  Madison was ranked 117th, and La Crosse 125th.  For undergraduate secondary programs, U-W River Falls was the highest-ranked in the state at 113th.  Carroll of Waukesha was next at 193rd.  Melanie Agnew, who heads the Wisconsin Colleges of Teacher Education, says the rankings are irrelevant.  She says the state is currently working to make its teacher prep programs stronger.  Also, Agnew said the council did not visit the campuses or talk to anyone there.  The group's ratings were based on the selection process for teaching candidates, and the overall scope of their college coursework.  Wisconsin has 36 teacher training schools.  Twenty-two were not ranked because they were considered in the bottom half of the national ratings.  Yesterday's rankings were a follow-up to the council's inaugural survey from a year ago.

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A man's body was pulled yesterday from an S-U-V that drove into the Eau Claire River in Schofield, just south of Wausau.  A bicyclist saw skid marks on an embankment and called 9-1-1.  Everest Metro Police said the victim was not positively identified at last word.  Rescuers spent several hours pulling the submerged vehicle out, once they found it.  Everest Metro captain Clayton Schultz said crews could not tell right away if anyone was in the S-U-V, because the doors were locked and the water was murky.  Authorities are treating it as a traffic accident for now.  Their investigation continues.  

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Two people killed in a freeway crash west of Shawano have been identified as 73-year-old Dennis Schmendt and 71-year-old Sally Schmendt, both of Marion.  Authorities said their pick-up truck was going west on Highway 29 when it veered across a median and rolled onto an eastbound shoulder.  Dennis Schmendt, the driver, was ejected and died later.  His passenger died at the scene.  The crash was reported around 8:15 yesterday morning on the four-lane 29 near County Trunk Triple-"M" in the town of Richmond.  It remains under investigation.

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Milwaukee Area Technical College is about to look for a new president, after Michael Burke accepted a new job in southern California.  The Riverside Community College district board voted unanimously last night to hire the 62-year-old Burke, who was at M-A-T-C since 2010.  He told the board that he looks forward to a "long and productive relationship" that will likely extend into his retirement years.  

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Wisconsin's Better Business Bureau has issued an alert about the robo-calls you might be getting from foreign telemarketers.  The calls themselves are nothing new -- but what is new is that you might see a number with your local area code or exchange.  The B-B-B says the callers might be confirming your phone number, so they can sell it to other foreign telemarketers -- or they could offer you a credit card deal, and hope you'll give them personal information they can use to steal your identity.  In either case, the B-B-B urges you to hang up -- don't say anything -- and don't press the numbers they ask you to press.  Business robo-calls are illegal in Wisconsin, and we do hear about foreign telemarketers getting caught every once in a while.  

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A biker killed in a Milwaukee County crash has been identified as 21-year-old Joseph Wargolet of Brown Deer.  Authorities said Wargolet was going 45-miles-an-hour in a 25-zone on a sport bike, when he collided with a car on Monday night at an intersection in Whitefish Bay.  The biker was not wearing a helmet.  He died later at a suburban Milwaukee hospital.  The mishap remains under investigation.

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