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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Water levels continue to rise on the Great Lakes

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Pierce County Herald
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Water levels continue to rise on Wisconsin's two Great Lakes.  The International Lake Superior Board of Control said the monthly water level on that lake is the highest since 1997 -- and Lake Michigan had its highest level for August since 1998.  Lake Superior rose four-tenths-of-an-inch last month.  It's now six-inches above the average for September first, and eight inches higher than this time last year.  Lakes Michigan and Huron each rose two inches in August, at a time when those levels normally go down a bit.  Those lakes are 17-inches above what they were last September first, but still an-inch below their norms.  Officials credit more rain and less evaporation for the rising water levels.  The trend has continued for over a year -- much to the delight of shippers and recreational boaters who've battled low waters for about the last decade.  A seasonal decline on Lake Superior is expected to begin this month, and continue through March.

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A budget crunch is forcing thousands of Wisconsin Army National Guard members to have their monthly training delayed.  It was supposed to be this weekend -- but the Guard has a 101-million-dollar national shortfall which must be covered before the federal budget year ends September 30th.  Wisconsin kicked in two-and-a-half million dollars to help cover that deficit.  As a result, most Guard units in the Badger State delayed their training from this weekend to the final weekend of the month.  Payments for those sessions will be made in October, after the new fiscal year begins.  Soldiers get anywhere from 284-dollars to 726-dollars for a weekend of training, depending on their ranks and years of service.  Captain John Fesler said the Guard's national shortfall was the result of fewer mobilizations, and more training sessions than expected during the past year.  When troops are mobilized, the Defense Department pays the soldiers instead of the Guard.

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La Crosse will again host one of the nation's largest gatherings of Elvis impersonators.  Thirty tribute artists from the U-S, Canada, and England will take part in a contest for the singer who most resembles the sound, costumes, and charisma of Elvis Presley.  Three rounds of competition begin tomorrow night at the La Crosse Center.  Six judges will choose ten finalists who will square off in the final round on Sunday afternoon.  Organizer Ronny Craig said the La Crosse event began 17 years ago, and has grown rapidly since then.  Up to five-thousand Elvis fans are expected to watch the competition.  Proceeds to go to the Children's Miracle Network.  Elvis' bodyguard, Joe Esposito, will be on hand to sign copies of his book about his wife with the performer.

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Just over four-thousand electric customers were without power this morning, as thunderstorms kept rumbling through Wisconsin.  X-cel Energy reported almost 35-hundred customers out in the northwest part of the state. That's after hail struck a four-county area for more than three hours last night.  Siren had tennis-ball-sized hail.  We Energies had over 550 customers in the dark in the Milwaukee region as of 8 a-m.  The Wisconsin Public Service utility had over 150 customers still out, after more than five-thousand customers in central and northeast Wisconsin had outages as of three o'clock. The National Weather Service reported no property damage from last night's storms.  More heavy storms are due in late this afternoon and tonight.  

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Several dozen fast-food workers in Milwaukee fought off raindrops this morning as part of another national call for a higher minimum wage.  Similar rallies were planned in Madison, Wausau, and almost 150 other U-S cities. It's part of a year-and-a-half old national campaign called "Fight for 15."  The demonstrators want wages of 15-dollars an hour, plus the right to unionize without being hassled.  At a McDonald's in Milwaukee, Mary Coleman told W-T-M-J T-V it's hard to survive on the current minimum wage of 7.25-an-hour -- and she hopes corporate C-E-O's will, as she put it, "do the right thing."  President Obama made reference to the "Fight for 15" movement on Labor Day, when he spoke in Milwaukee in favor of raising the minimum wage.  Opponents point to a federal study showing that a higher minimum could end up eliminating a half-million jobs nationwide.

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Parts of far northwest Wisconsin remain under a severe thunderstorm watch until 10 this morning.  That's after the region had hail-storms last evening. The National Weather Service said Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, and Price counties were hit between 6:30 and 9:45 p-m.  Tennis-ball-sized hail fell at Siren.  Oakland in Burnett County reported just over two-and-a-half inches of rain by 11:30.  Further to the east, Eagle River had about an inch-and-a-half overnight.  The Weather Service blamed the storms on a warm front that lifted into the Upper Great Lakes region.  Forecasters say an approaching low-pressure system will give us strong southerly winds and warmer temperatures today, with highs in the 80's to near 90 in the south and lots of humidity.  A cold front is supposed to move through Wisconsin late this afternoon and tonight -- with a chance for more severe thunderstorms. 

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After her controversial remarks in Milwaukee, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz turned down a couple chances in Wausau to soften the matter by not talking to reporters.  She spoke at a campaign rally yesterday at the Wausau Labor Temple, and later spoke at the dedication of former Congressman David Obey's Civic Resource Center.  W-S-A-U Radio's Larry Lee almost got an interview with Wasserman Schultz -- but she shied away after learning that she'd be asked about the Milwaukee incident.  Earlier yesterday, Wasserman Schultz slammed Republican Governor Scott Walker's record on women's issues by saying he has given women the "back of his hand."  Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch said it was wrong for the D-N-C chair to use domestic violence language to discuss political disagreements. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke's campaign also distanced herself, saying she would not use language like that to point out her differences with Walker.  Late yesterday, the D-N-C issued a statement that Wasserman Schultz was not belittling the pain that domestic violence victims experience.  The party also said Democrats supported the extension of the national Violence Against Women Act in 2012.

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The chair of the Democratic National Committee has compared Governor Scott Walker's record on women's issues to a slap -- and top Wisconsin women in both parties quickly condemned those remarks.  Here's what Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a round-table discussion in Milwaukee yesterday -- "Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand.  I know that is stark.  I know that is direct.  But that is reality."  She continued -- "What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is, they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back."  Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch quickly jumped to Walker's defense, saying she was "shocked" to hear Wasserman Schultz use domestic violence language to talk about political disagreements.  Kleefisch said the motive was "despicable."  Mary Burke, the Democratic candidate for governor, distanced herself from the remarks.  Her press secretary Stephanie Wilson said it's not the type of language Burke would use, or has used, to point out clear differences in her contest against Walker.  Party spokeswoman Lily Adams said Wasserman Schultz did not intend to belittle the pain that domestic violence victims go through.  The Florida congresswoman was criticizing Walker for opposing a higher minimum wage, and for signing a bill which stopped letting job discrimination victims file lawsuits in state courts.

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After her controversial remarks in Milwaukee, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz turned down a couple chances in Wausau to soften the matter by not talking to reporters.  She spoke at a campaign rally yesterday at the Wausau Labor Temple, and later spoke at the dedication of former Congressman David Obey's Civic Resource Center.  W-S-A-U Radio's Larry Lee almost got an interview with Wasserman Schultz -- but she shied away after learning that she'd be asked about the Milwaukee incident.  Earlier yesterday, Wasserman Schultz slammed Republican Governor Scott Walker's record on women's issues by saying he has given women the "back of his hand."  Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch said it was wrong for the D-N-C chair to use domestic violence language to discuss political disagreements. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke's campaign also distanced herself, saying she would not use language like that to point out her differences with Walker.  Late yesterday, the D-N-C issued a statement that Wasserman Schultz was not belittling the pain that domestic violence victims experience.  The party also said Democrats supported the extension of the national Violence Against Women Act in 2012.

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Nobody won the Powerball jackpot last night, so it goes up to 110-million dollars for the next drawing on Saturday.  Wisconsin had over 89-hundred winners, but none of them won any more than 300-dollars.  Last night's numbers were 2, 16, 43, 45, and 51.  The Powerball was 35, and the Power Play multiplier was three.  The current jackpot has been building since August ninth and has rolled over seven times.  It's the biggest since July ninth, when a player in Ohio won 125-million dollars.  Saturday's cash option is close to 68-million.  In Mega Millions, the top prize is 33-million dollars for tomorrow night.

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