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WISCONSIN STATE NEWS BRIEFS: List of schools taking part in voucher program released

MADISON - The state’s education agency today announced the 25 private school systems throughout Wisconsin that can take part in the newly-expanded voucher program.

Forty-eight systems originally expressed an interest is admitting low-income students with state-funded vouchers this fall. Because more than 500 youngsters applied, only the 25 systems with the largest numbers of student applications could be considered. Over 2,400 students applied in all. Almost 2,100 are from the 25 chosen districts. From those, the department will hold a lottery next week to choose the 500 students who can make the move. Five-hundred is the maximum allowed in the majority of the state where the voucher program is being offered for the first time.

State Republicans expanded the program to give parents an alternative to under-performing public schools. But it won’t work that way this year, because two-thirds of the youngsters who applied were from private schools. Only 24-percent of the applicants wanted to move from public schools. The GOP calls it a technical error, and they promise to fix it during the fall session so more public school youngsters can be among the one-thousand to be admitted in next year’s choice program.

The list of the schools systems are as follows:

Appleton Xavier Catholic system, 193 applicants

Eau Claire-Altoona Regis Catholic, 113 

Green Bay Area Catholic East, 110 

Oshkosh Lourdes, 110 

Wisconsin Rapids Assumption system, 109 

Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools, 106 

Rock County Christian School, Beloit-Janesville, 102 

La Crosse Aquinas-Onalaska Catholic, 100 

Kenosha St. Joseph, 100 

Kenosha Friedens Lutheran, 95 

Oshkosh Valley Christian 95 

Wausau-Rothschild Newman Catholic, 94 

Manitowoc St. Francis of Assisi, 93 

Chippewa Falls McDonell system, 88 

Marshfield Columbus system, 83 

Green Bay Notre Dame, 82 

Manitowoc Roncalli High School, 65 

Green Bay Area Catholic South, 64 

Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs, 64 

Green Bay Area Catholic West, 62 

Sheboygan Christian, 59 

St. John’s Lutheran, Plymouth 42 

Sheboygan Lutheran High School, 42 

Wisconsin Rapids Immanuel Lutheran,  40 

Madison Lighthouse Christian, 31 


The highly-destructive emerald ash borer has made its way to the city of Superior. That’s the farthest north to invasive bug has been found in Wisconsin. It is blamed for killing tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern U.S. and Canada. City workers in Superior found D-shaped holes and serpentine tunnels beneath the bark of a dead tree which was being removed from a street side last week. A quarantine prohibiting ash products and hardwood firewood from leaving Douglas County is now in place. Until the most recent discovery, Trempealeau County near La Crosse has been the northernmost site in Wisconsin to be visited by the bug. 


Authorities released more details today about a man who robbed a Wautoma pharmacy, exchanged gunfire with officers, and died during a standoff with police. According to Waushara County sheriff’s officials, it all started yesterday afternoon when the man robbed the CHN Pharmacy of the painkiller Oxycontin. Deputies were called and later found the suspect’s car. An officer shot at the vehicle to try and stop it, but missed. The man drove into a construction zone and got stuck, so he ran to a house where the occupants were on vacation. There, the man exchanged bullets with an officer. The deputy fired 3-to-5 times, but it was not certain whether any of those hit the suspect. Neighbors were evacuated. Around 11 last night, a SWAT team from Oshkosh went into the home’s basement and found the suspect shot-to-death. Investigators are still trying to determine if the man shot himself, or was hit by officers. Officials said the suspect is from Wisconsin, but would not identify him any further for now. 


A man who killed two Waukesha County police officers almost 39 years ago is one step closer to being released from a mental institution. A judge gave tentative approval to Alan Randall’s release today – but the final decision was delayed for a month to give the state time to find housing for him. Randall is now 55. He was 16 when he killed Summit town police officers Wayne Olson and Rocky Atkins in January of 1975. He was also accused of killing a neighbor a few days earlier, but a jury acquitted him on that charge. Randall was found innocent by insanity in the officers’ killings. Experts said Randall had not suffered from a mental illness since 1989. For the last seven years, he had an outside job while living at the state’s Mendota Mental Health Institute. Families of the slain officers said they did not want Randall to return to Waukesha County. He says he’d rather in stay in Madison or Neenah where he has opportunities to work. Before moving to Mendota, Randall worked at an art gallery while living at the Winnebago Mental Health facility in Oshkosh. 


The northwest quarter of Wisconsin remains abnormally dry. That’s what the U.S. Drought Monitor reported today. The heavy rains in June had finally brought an end to the state’s worst drought in decades, which began in mid-2012. However, drought conditions returned last week, as many parts of the Badger State have had very little rain since early July. Twenty-three percent of the state’s land area is abnormally dry, the same as last week. There’s no mention of rain in the statewide forecast at least until next Monday. 


Unlike last year, Wisconsin apple growers are gearing up for a big harvest this fall. Growers in the Fond du Lac area say they’ve been blessed by almost perfect growing weather. Picking has already begun in some orchards, while others expect to begin their harvests this weekend. It’s quite an improvement from 2012, when apple production was the state’s lowest since 1945. That’s because a warm, early spring came before a late frost – spooking much of the crop, and killing it for the year. Last summer’s drought didn’t help, either. It all added up to a 50-percent decrease in Wisconsin apple production from 2011. Apple grower Rose Petrie told Fond du Lac Reporter Media that her orchards were not hampered by frost or cold temperatures this year. 


Students in 39 Wisconsin school systems will learn more this fall about how their food is grown, while the schools make new ties with farms and grocery stores. It’s all part of the Ameri-Corps Farm-to-School program, which seeks to serve students more locally-produced food while promoting healthier eating and less childhood obesity. Twenty-eight Ameri-Corps members will provide the teaching. This year’s program will run in 12 Wisconsin counties, where it will become a part of after-school and family-focused events. The Ameri-Corps program is run with partnerships from the state’s education and health agencies, UW Madison, Wisconsin Rural Partners, and the REAP program.   


Wisconsin has gained more than 24,000 jobs over the last 12 months. The latest jobs report released by the Department of Workforce Development show this state is gaining momentum in its jobs creation. The data released is based on a survey of 96 percent of the businesses in Wisconsin. The information has been released by the administration of Governor Scott Walker before the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics report.


One political observer puts Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the top of the list of potential Republican candidates for president. University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato puts out “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” for political junkies. He has Walker leading the first tier of GOP candidates, which includes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. The website indicates Walker could appeal to both defense hawks and fiscal conservatives, giving himself the chance to present himself as a consensus choice if there is a big fight among several for the nomination. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) was relegated to a third tier of possible candidates, behind Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.


State lawmakers were expecting to hear from UW students and officials today, in support of a bill to not punish underage drinkers if they seek help for intoxicated friends. The state Assembly Colleges Committee was to hold a public hearing this morning on the measure, which has drawn support from lawmakers of both parties. The original sponsor, Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison, said he wanted all 26 UW campuses to have the same policy that Madison now has. He said the university could not suspend a student who seeks help for a friend, and it would throw out any citations from law enforcement. When the bill was introduced, Dylan Jambrek of the United Council of UW Student Governments said many underage campus drinkers are not willing to come forward to help friends in trouble – even if they see a crime take place like a sexual assault. The bill’s sponsors say almost 200 university campuses throughout the country have some form of protections for students seeking help. 


What can the state do for you? Owners of small companies can get that question answered at the third annual Governor’s Small Business Summit. It will be held on September 25th in Stevens Point. In announcing the summit today, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch said it would provide quote, “another great opportunity for small businesses to learn about how state government can assist in fostering growth. More information is available at the Wisconsin Housing-and-Economic Development Authority’s Web site, accessible at


A proposed casino that’s been in the works for years in southwest Wisconsin is being talked about again. Shullsburg Mayor Tom Lethlean says a clear majority in his community supports the project – and they’ll express it to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs tonight in a meeting at Shullsburg High School. The BIA rejected the Lac Du Flambeau tribe’s proposal in 2008, but the agency is said to be considering it again. This time, the tribe is pushing a modified plan which includes a smaller number of games than originally proposed – a 300-room hotel instead of 200 – and a KOA campground instead of a golf course. Lethlean says a number of newer residents of Shullsburg are against the project – but those who’ve been around a while see the need for the 600 jobs the facilities could create. Lafayette County Board Chairman Jack Sauer says he’s seen hundreds of jobs leave his county since he’s been working on the proposed casino since 2000. Tonight’s meeting is part of an environmental impact study – and there’s no indication when the Bureau will act on the study or the casino itself. If Washington approves it, Governor Scott Walker would have the final say.