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Evening State News Briefs: Oil filters and oily rags banned from state landfills on Jan. 1

Starting Saturday, two more items go on the list of things banned from Wisconsin landfills. They are used oil filters from vehicles, and cloths, rags and other products that absorb oil.

State lawmakers passed the landfill ban on oil filters and absorbent products. The DNR has been working on putting the ban in place. The DNR's Dan Fields says Wisconsin already bans oil, steel and paper from garbage dumps. He says a number of companies will pick up used oil filters at automotive repair shops and oil change centers, and recycle the filters. He says if by chance you still change your own car's oil filter, many auto parts stores will accept a used filter. And there's much to recycle from one small filter, including at least four ounces of oil.

Fields estimates there are 9-million oil changes involving filters in Wisconsin every year, including those for farm tractors and ATV's. He doesn't think car owners will see much in the way of increased costs from the landfill ban. He says the DNR is hearing some complaints from repair shops about having to keep out of landfills the rags, cloths and granular absorbents used to mop up oil. But he says homeowners who spill up to a gallon of oil on their garage floor while working on a project can throw oily rags or towels into their garbage cart.


A four-year-old boy near Appleton will finally get a stem cell transplant today that could save his life, after his family won a battle with Medicaid to pay for it. Charlie Knuth of Darboy has a rare life-threatening condition called E-B, in which he lacks the protein that binds his skin together. The disease creates blisters and extremely fragile skin. There's no cure, but doctors hope today's transplant will make stem cells grow in Charlie's body - and make him stronger over time. The procedure will cost over a million-dollars. State Medicaid officials initially refused to cover it, saying it's experimental. But Charlie's family got numerous officials to go to bat for them. Congressman Steve Kagen (D-Appleton) was among those calling on the state to approve the procedure, saying a child's life is at stake. And in early October, the state changed its mind and agreed to pay for it. Today's operation will be performed in Minneapolis by Doctor Jakub Tolar of the University of Minnesota. He has made similar transplants for 13 other children with E-B - and he's confident that Charlie's procedure will be a success. He says the blood cells involved will need time to start multiplying - so it will be about a month before he can tell if the transplant works.


The South Dakota Supreme Court has awarded 16-and-a-half million dollars to a Wisconsinite who claimed he was wrongly cut out of his family's beef jerky business. Jay Link sought 21-million-dollars for as his share of LSI, a South Dakota business which makes items sold to Link Snacks of Minong. A circuit judge set the fair value of Jay Link's shares at four-and-a-half million less than he wanted. And the justices upheld that amount today. The dispute is part of a larger battle involving the Link family in northwest Wisconsin. Jay Link contends he was wrongly cut out of the business by his brother Troy Link and father Jack Link back in 2005. In October, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments in an appeal involving the amount Jay should get from the other family members - and whether Jack Link must pay punitive damages in the dispute. LSI of Alpena South Dakota is half-owned by Jay and Troy Link. Jay's lawyer said he could not comment on today's ruling, because some of the issues in the case will now be considered by a circuit court in South Dakota.


A Wisconsin man goes to prison for 12 years on a drunken driving conviction. Fifty-five year old Charles Zupan of Waukesha has been found guilty of drunken driving 10 times now. Zupan's blood alcohol level was 12 times the legal limit the last time he was pulled over. Zupan will have to serve at least nine years of his sentence before he can be considered for release.


If you're a convicted drunk driver in Janesville, you won't be able to hide that fact any longer. Police say they've set up a new Web site which lists 192 residents who've been convicted five-or-more times for OWI. It's called "Project Sober Streets," and the goal is to encourage neighbors to help get drunk drivers off the roads. Janesville Police Chief David Moore says all the information is already available publicly - and the new Web site makes it easier for people to find out who the biggest offenders are. The site has an interactive map which shows where all 192 repeat offenders live. Police hope to expand the site to include people with four OWI convictions. It's like the state's "Web Site of Shame," which lists the biggest tax cheaters. Thousands have fessed up and made arrangements to pay their overdue taxes once they saw their names on-line.


Did you feel something shake just before seven this morning? You might have, after an earthquake hit central Indiana. A quake that registered four-point-two on the Richter scale occurred about three miles underground between Kokomo and Marion Indiana. The UW-Milwaukee Geo-sciences Center recorded evidence of 19 earthquakes around the world this year - but according to its Web site, its seismometer was down for repairs this morning. Earthquakes don't happen very often in the Midwest. But when they do, they're often felt in a wider area than most. A couple years ago, a quake in southern Illinois was felt as far north as Chippewa Falls in northwest Wisconsin.


Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus appears to be the front-runner in the race to head the Republican National Committee. According to the Washington Web site Politico, Priebus has 26 public commitments from committee members so far. That's the most of any candidate - including incumbent Michael Steele, who's second with 15. The Politico report said Priebus is getting support from prominent conservatives, as well as former allies of Steele, which Priebus was when Steele was first elected. It will take 85 votes to win the chairmanship of the national GOP when members vote next month. Most of the committee's 168 members remain undecided.


The tiny town of Saint Anna in eastern Wisconsin now has a memorial to a fire-fighter who died in an explosion there. 33-year-old Steven Koeser was killed a year ago yesterday, when his fellow fire-fighters sprayed water and foam into a trash bin outside a factory - and the bin exploded. His memorial was dedicated outside the Saint Anna fire station on the first anniversary of his death. It has a statue, a plaque, flag poles, and three benches. Each bench is shaped like a peanut - which was Koeser's nickname. Department official Adam Schuh said all of his colleagues remember Koeser every day - but still they needed a place where he could be remembered by them and everyone else.


About three dozen candle-light recreation events will be held this winter at Wisconsin's state parks, forests, and trails. They'll begin Saturday night with a candle-light skiing, hiking, and snow-shoe outing at Blue Mounds State Park. All the events are free, except for the normal state park admissions. You'll find a list of all 36 events on the DNR's Web site, accessible at