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WISCONSIN NEWS BRIEFS: Heroes rescue man from burning car near Wisconsin Rapids

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Some passers-by are being called heroes, after they pulled an unconscious man from a burning car near Wisconsin Rapids. 

Wood County sheriff's sergeant Lee Garrels said the vehicle veered off Highway 73 early yesterday afternoon.  It struck some hay bales and overturned.  That started both the vehicle and the hay on fire.  Garrels said people who were passing by stopped, pulled the man from the auto, and saved his life.  Officials said the car was destroyed by fire by the time first-responder rescuers arrived -- and the driver regained consciousness by then.  He was taken to a Wisconsin Rapids hospital for undisclosed injuries.  One of the rescuers was also treated for smoke inhalation.


The Dane County Sheriff’s office says a motorcyclist was killed in a crash this morning near Springfield. Authorities say the crash is still under investigations, but speed may have been a factor in the crash that killed a 36-year-old Madison man. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there have been 65 motorcyclists killed on Wisconsin roadways this year – including this morning’s crash.


A man killed after falling from an elevated walkway at yesterday's Packer game in San Francisco was identified as 32-year-old Kevin Hayes of Hayward.  That's Hayward, California, not Hayward Wisconsin.  A number of Wisconsinites and Packer fans were at yesterday's game, but they presumably came-and-left okay.  Witnesses said Hayes appeared to be intoxicated when he fell an uncertain distance from the walkway onto the sidewalk below.  It was the Jamestown Walkway which goes around the outside of Candlestick Park, where the Packers lost their season opener to the 49'ers 34-28.  Hayes' fall reportedly occurred just a few minutes after yesterday's kickoff.


Two people killed in a head-on expressway crash in Waukesha County were identified today as Glenda Skalecki of Oconomowoc, and Karen Gulley of West Bend.  They were in a car that crossed a median, veered into the opposite lanes, and hit another car head-on.  The second car was driven by a man from New Berlin, who was sent to a hospital along with two children in his vehicle -- ages 6-and-7.  Their conditions were not disclosed.  The crash happened around 12:30 yesterday afternoon on the Highway 16 expressway in Nashotah.  Meanwhile, a man killed in a northeast Wisconsin crash has been identified as 48-year-old Randy Houdek of Bryant.  Langlade County authorities are still investigating the two-vehicle crash, which occurred late yesterday morning on Highway 52 in the town of Price.  Officials said Houdek's vehicle rolled over after collided with the other unit.  A 14-year-old relative of Houdek was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.  The other driver and a teenage passenger escaped injury.


More clinics and hospitals are ending the practice of giving free samples of medicines to their patients.  Also, Gannett Wisconsin Media says some hospitals no longer let sellers of drugs and medical equipment talk to doctors -- while others do it on a limited basis to make sure the doctors keep up with trends.  Hospitals in northeast Wisconsin say it's more expensive to give out free samples than you might think.  Prevea Health Services of Ashwaubenon says 30-percent of sample medications reach their expiration dates before they're given out -- and the hospitals are the ones who pay to dispose of them.  Also, the growing number of prescription medicine thefts requires a need for tighter security procedures.  Theda-Care says patients end up paying more for the brand-name drugs they buy, once their freebies are gone.  Theda-Care medical director Mark Hallett says cheaper generic drugs suffice in most cases.  It's same reasoning Theda-Care uses for not allowing drug sales people from making in-person clinic visits.  Some health institutions used to give out the free medicines to those wouldn't couldn't afford to pay for them otherwise.  Instead, Theda-Care has revised its cost-assistance program, while Bellin Health of Green Bay gives out vouchers which let patients go to their pharmacies to get fresh medicines. 


First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Eva Longoria is scheduled to appear at Watertown High School on Thursday. The White House announced the two will talk about the benefits of drinking water over sugary soft drinks, linked to obesity and other health problems. The event is not opened to the public. Lawrence Soler with the Partnership for a Healthier America and Watertown Mayor John David are also scheduled to be at the event.


 Wisconsin U.S. Representative Paul Ryan says the White House has yet to make a strong case for how the nation would benefit from getting involved in Syria’s civil war. President Barack Obama is seeking support from the American people and other world leaders on “limited” strikes against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Ryan, a Janesville Republican, says he’s attended briefings and gone through the intelligence report– he adds that there is no comprehensive plan or what a strike would do for national security. Congress is expected to vote on a resolution to authorize a military strike this week.


 The new federal representative for ObamaCare says Wisconsin consumers need to be told now what types of coverage are available if they have to buy it -- and how much it will cost them.  Kathleen Falk was named last week as the new regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Today, Falk began her new job.  She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she'll urge both the state-and-federal governments to release price data that the private insurers submitted for their products under the new purchasing exchanges.  Falk says the half-million Wisconsinites who need to use the exchanges have the right to comparison-shop for the insurance they'll required to have come January first.  They can start signing up for that coverage October first.  Last week, state officials released general price data showing large increases for various types of people in nine Wisconsin cities.  They didn't say anything specific, and state officials contend it's Washington's job to do that.  The Journal Sentinel says the federal data is much more complicated for average folks to deal with -- and the paper has asked for the state's information under the Open Records Law.  Falk ran in the primary against Governor Walker in last year's recall election.  Despite that, Walker officials say they can collaborate with Falk on ObamaCare.  Falk says she wants a positive start as well, saying she believes the state will do its part of educate people about the new law.  


 The mayor of Minneapolis went to Madison and Milwaukee today, to urge same-sex couples to get married in Minnesota's largest city.  Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele stood at R.T. Rybak's side at his Milwaukee appearance.  The mayor unveiled an ad campaign in which homosexual couples are encouraged to make the trip to Minneapolis, which is 25 miles west of the Wisconsin border.  Rybak said more weddings -- and their restaurant and hotel business -- help the local economy.  Homosexual marriage was legalized in Minnesota on August first, and Rybak marked the occasion by marrying 46 couples.  He said Wisconsin's same-sex couples would get the federal benefits of marriage by tying the knot in the Gopher State.  That includes the newly-granted joint federal tax return filing status which can save couples a lot of money over filing separately.  Rybak, a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, said Wisconsin has a lot of great things -- but it does not have equal rights for everyone.  Homosexual marriage and civil unions were constitutionally banned in Wisconsin in 2006.


Waukesha is reducing its estimate of how much drinking water it will need from Lake Michigan by 2050.  City water utility manager Dan Duchniak told officials from eight Great Lakes states today that current conservation efforts are helping reduce Waukesha's need by just over seven-percent.  Waukesha is under a court order to remove excess radium from its drinking water by mid-2018.  The city's wells have been running dry -- and Waukesha has tried for several years to get permission to use Great Lakes drinking water.  The city is just outside Lake Michigan's natural basin, so it will need approval from all eight Great Lakes states.  Duchniak spoke to representatives of those states today as four days of regional meetings about the Great Lakes began in Milwaukee.  The DNR was hoping to review Waukesha's application in July, but city leaders are still working on it.  Duchniak said today that the city would discharge its treated wastewater to the Root River, instead of an original plan to use Underwood Creek.


A new effort to restrict people's access to the state's popular online court records will get a public hearing on Thursday.  The state Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear what people think about a bill from Milwaukee Democrat Evan Goyke.  The bill would not let the general public see files for cases which did not result in criminal guilt or civil liability.  A separate database with that information would still be available for law enforcement, attorneys, journalists, and some others.  Everybody else would have to travel to courthouses to see the information.  The Wisconsin Freedom-of-Information Council opposes the measure -- and so do groups which represent landlords and homeowners.  


An appeals court in Arizona has agreed not to consider an appeal for James Arthur Ray.  That means a jury's conviction on three counts of negligent homicide will stand.  Ray served two years in prison for causing the deaths of three people, including James Shore of Milwaukee.  It happened in 2009, at a spiritual festival Ray was hosting near Sedona Arizona.  Now that Ray's free, he has changed his mind about seeking a re-trial.  He said he didn't want to risk getting a stronger conviction, and more prison time.  Ray said he still believes his original guilty verdict was flawed, but Arizona prosecutors deny that.  He remains under community supervision until next month -- at which time, he can leave Arizona if he chooses.