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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Weston man makes first court appearance on charges of allegedly running a cock-fighting ring

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A man wanted for running an alleged cock-fighting and illegal gambling ring near Wausau has appeared in court, after he turned himself in. 35-year-old Bee Her of Weston made his initial appearance yesterday in Marathon County on eight criminal charges that include instigating animal rights, killing animals, commercial gambling, and marijuana possession. A judge ordered a 25-hundred dollar cash bond plus a signature bond. He's due back in court a week from today for a preliminary hearing. Her was arrested after police said they were tipped off about criminal activities at his pool hall in Schofield. Officers said they conducted a pair of raids in which they found gambling records, guns, almost two dozen injured chickens, and thousands of dollars. He faces similar charges in neighboring Minnesota. Authorities have also said that Her could have been involved in trafficking meth-amphetamines and prostitution -- but no such charges have been filed against him.

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Welcome back to winter -- if only for a day or so. It was eight above zero in Land O'Lakes at six o'clock this morning. That same northern Wisconsin community was basking in 50-degree warmth on Monday. Forecasters say a high pressure system will limit today's highs to the teens and 20's. It could get down to two-above tonight, with a rebound into the 40's tomorrow under a new band of clouds and light rain and snow. For now, temperatures have fallen into the teens in the northern third of the state, the 20's in central areas, and the low-30's in parts of southern Wisconsin. Waukesha was the state's warm spot with 37. Only a handful of places had sub-zero wind-chills. Sturgeon Bay was the coldest at minus-six.

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Wisconsin's Air National Guard would lose 39 positions under the proposed federal budget for the next fiscal year. State military officials said the Air Force plans to drop 23 jobs at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Juneau County. Another 16 jobs would be eliminated from Milwaukee's 128th Air Refueling Wing. Congress still needs to approve the new budget, which is due to take effect in October. If the cuts survive, Major General Don Dunbar says he hopes they would come through attrition. About 23-hundred people serve in the Wisconsin Air Guard.

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A western Wisconsin teenager might have saved his sleeping family from being killed in a fire that almost destroyed their home. Paula Gunderson of Elk Mound tells W-Q-O-W T-V that her 15-year-old son Malachi noticed smoke in the house around two a-m yesterday. He woke up his mother, and they tried getting the nine-member family outside. They couldn't go downstairs to the first floor because it was too smoky. So Malachi guided everyone to the roof, went to a neighbor to get a ladder, and helped everyone to the ground. Paula said everyone's safe, although some of the kids breathed in too much smoke. Elk Mound Fire Chief Les Shafer said the blaze appeared to have started in the basement, but the cause remains under investigation. It rekindled overnight -- and a house that was 80-percent damaged is now a total loss. The family is staying in a hotel for now, and is getting help from the local Red Cross.

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The head of one of Wisconsin's largest counties has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas says he expects to begin his treatment as early as next week at a therapy center in San Diego. Tests confirmed the disease several weeks ago, and he does not believe the cancer has spread beyond his prostate. The 58-year-old Vrakas said he's lucky he caught the condition early. He's expected to keep performing his duties during his treatment. Vrakas has been Waukesha County's top elected official since 2005, and has been re-elected twice since. Before that, he served for 14 years in the Wisconsin Assembly as a Republican.

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The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Wisconsin's gay marriage ban have agreed not to try and shut down the ban while a federal court considers the matter. Instead, the American Civil Liberties Union took the advice of Federal Judge Barbara Crabb, and agreed to let her expedite the case to reach a decision earlier than she would otherwise. Crabb told the A-C-L-U last week that it probably wouldn't do any good to seek a temporary injunction. That's because similar injunctions have been immediately overturned in other states. The Wisconsin State Journal said the A-C-L-U backed off after prosecutors in Eau Claire and Milwaukee counties agreed not to prosecute two couples who were recently married in Minnesota. Those couples are plaintiffs in the Wisconsin lawsuit, which also seeks to strike down a state law which makes it a crime for gay couples to get married elsewhere. The state Justice Department, which is defending the gay marriage ban, did not comment on the A-C-L-U's decision.

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A judge set bond at a million-dollars yesterday for a man charged in the shooting death of another man outside a Wausau tavern on January third. Thirty-year-old John Lewis of Wausau is accused of using a pistol with a silencer to kill 27-year-old K-C Elliott in an argument over money. After a two-month investigation, Lewis was charged in Marathon County with 26 counts that include first-degree intentional homicide, illegally possessing a silencer, three drug-related charges, and 13 counts of bail jumping. All are felony charges except for a misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia. A criminal complaint said Lewis' girlfriend denied knowing about the shooting, but then admitted that she lied and heard the argument between Lewis and Elliott. She reportedly said the two pushed and punched each other before Lewis fired two rounds of bullets. Lewis was arrested a short time later. His girlfriend has not been charged. At least one other suspect is being reported. Prosecutors say an investigation is continuing. Attorneys will meet Monday to decide on Lewis' next court appearance.

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A former western Wisconsin girls' high school basketball coach is due in court April 29th, for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of his players. 30-year-old Andrew Hungerholt was charged this week in Chippewa County with a felony count of sexual assault by a school staffer. He resigned last month as the girls' coach at Cadott High School. He also lost his job as a substitute teacher. Investigators said Hungerholt had sexual contact with a 17-year-old student during several private meetings in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties. 

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Authorities in northwest Wisconsin now say a 33-year-old man found dead on Monday was murdered. Barron County sheriff's officials have identified him as Daniel Raven of Barron. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds before his body was discovered at a home in the town of Clinton near Barron. The exact cause of death remained uncertain, pending the results of an autopsy performed yesterday. Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said his officers are checking on leads and possible suspects. He said the shooting was apparently an isolated incident, and he does not believe the public is in danger.

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