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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Growing season is over in southern Wisconsin

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The growing season is over in southern Wisconsin, after it got cold enough overnight for the hard freeze that forecasters predicted. Clear skies and light winds exposed the ground to frosty conditions. Sparta was the state's cold spot at six this morning, with 20 degrees. It was 21 in Lone Rock, and 25 at Burlington in Racine County. Places along Lake Michigan were around 30-degrees, but no place in southern Wisconsin was above freezing. It was warmer in northern and central areas, which had their killing frosts in the past few days. Woodruff in the far north had a relatively balmy 34-degrees at six a-m. It was 32 in Superior. Several inches of snow were expected along the Lake Superior Snow Belt in far northern Wisconsin. It could all melt today, with highs of 40 expected statewide under partly cloudy skies. Places along Lake Michigan could be a few degrees warmer. It's supposed to dip down to the 20's-and-30's tonight. Dry weather is in the forecast all the way into the weekend.

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Over 100 people gathered in Milwaukee's City Hall last night, for a candlelight vigil on the first anniversary of the Brookfield spa murders. They remembered the three women shot-and-killed by Radcliffe Haughton before he killed himself at the Azana Salon-and-Spa. They also called for a renewed effort to stem domestic violence. Haughton targeted his estranged wife Zina, who was working at the spa at the time. She, Cary Robuck, and Maelyn Lind were murdered. Four other women were wounded before Haughton turned the gun on himself -- a gun he illegally obtained the day before the slayings, while he was under a restraining order to stay away from his wife. Earlier yesterday, Zina Haughton's brother joined several anti-violence groups in urging Congress to approve criminal background checks for all gun sales. Elvin Daniel was among those calling on U-S Senate Republican Ron Johnson to reverse his stand, and take their side. Johnson helped the Senate kill a measure in April to require more background checks.

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Harley-Davidson had a faster release of its newest motorcycles this year -- and the result was faster-and-higher sales for the Milwaukee firm. This morning, Harley reported a net income of almost 163-million dollars from July-through-September -- almost 30-million more than in the same quarter a year ago. Earnings jumped from 59-cents a share to 73-cents over the course of the year. Harley's worldwide motorcycle sales jumped by 15-and-a-half percent from the same quarter of 2012. C-E-O Keith Wandell said the company had a strong financial performance and sales for the period. He credits the August 18th introduction of Harley's 2014 motorcycle line. Wandell said sales of the new Project Rushmore bikes were Harley's largest on a year-to-year basis in two decades. The Rushmore bikes were the first to be created in a four-year-old effort to bring new motorcycles and features to customers at a faster pace. U-S motorcycle sales jumped 20-percent from a year ago. Americans bought over 48-thousand Harley motorcycles from June through September. International sales rose six-and-a-half percent, to almost 22-thousand bikes.

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Wisconsin's only national forest is open-for-business now that the federal government shutdown is over. Workers at the Chequamegon-Nicolet (shuh-wah'-meh-gn nick-o-lay) National Forest have spent the last five days re-opening recreational areas. They've also been re-instating timber contracts in the vast forest which covers one-and-a-half million acres in northern Wisconsin. Permits for bough and firewood are being issued again. Recreational facilities are being re-opened after employees make sure they're clean-and-safe.

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A motorcyclist is charged in the drunk driving death of another biker during last month's Harley-Davidson Fall Ride at Tomahawk. 50-year-old Lynette Haman Elkhorn is due in Oneida County Circuit Court November 18th. She's charged with two felony counts of causing homicide by drunk driving, and with a prohibited blood alcohol content. Sheriff's officials said Haman's motorcycle turned left in the path of an oncoming bike at an intersection north of Tomahawk on September 13th. The other motorcyclist, 50-year-old Benjamin Guite Senior of Merrill, died a short time later at a Wausau hospital. 

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Electric customers throughout Wisconsin might pay to keep a coal-fired power plant in Upper Michigan running. A regional transmission group has told We Energies it cannot close its plant at Presque Isle, because it provides reliable electricity for the region. We Energies wanted to shut the plant down in February after its largest customer, Cliffs Resources, chose another utility to provide cheaper power for two iron ore mines in the area. We Energies expects compensation from the Midwest Independent System Operator, which made the decision to keep the Presque Isle plant open. We Energies' spokesman Barry McNulty says the two are in discussions about that right now. The system operator has ruled that electric customers served by the American Transmission Company should pay for the plant. A-T-C now serves eastern Wisconsin, and is now developing power line projects in other parts of the state. Kira Loehr of the Citizens Utility Board says it's "horribly unfair" to make people in other parts of Wisconsin pay for a plant in the U-P just because two mines switched utilities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will have the final say.

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A Marshfield man will not go back to prison, after he was convicted for a second time of felony murder in the death of his girlfriend four-and-a-half years ago. 32-year-old Eric Mayer was granted a second trial, which he gave up yesterday after striking a plea deal in Marathon County. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 585 days -- the time he already spent in jail. He must also spend about six-and-a-half years under extended supervision. Mayer was accused of hitting 43-year-old Cynthia Tyler during an argument after they returned to their rural Stratford home from a fish fry in March of 2009. She died the next day from a ruptured brain artery. Mayer was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he was given a new trial after his original attorney failed to tell him what the state had to prove to convict him. The plea deal was set up after prosecutors lost part of Tyler's preserved body during an autopsy. Assistant D-A Lance Leonhard said the evidence would have been crucial, because the defense was planning to offer an alternative theory of why Tyler died. The judge allowed Mayer to move to Outagamie County and serve his supervision time there. He must also pay 76-hundred dollars in court costs and restitution.

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A Wisconsin-based department store chain will join the herd of retailers starting their Black Fridays the night before. Kohl's of Menomonee Falls says its 11-hundred-plus stores will open at eight o'clock on Thanksgiving night, and stay open through the next day. For years, retailers have been nudging their Black Friday openings earlier and earlier, until it began spilling late into the Thanksgiving holiday. That was due to intense competition, and the need for stores to make up for lower sales volumes during the Great Recession and afterward. Macy's and J-C Penney also said recently it would open on Thanksgiving night.

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte has been with the Herald since 2006. He covers County government and anything else that happens in Pierce County on a daily basis.
(715) 273-4334
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