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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Eau Claire building burns to the ground this morning

EAU CLAIRE - A fire in Eau Claire this morning destroyed a building that provides work opportunities for people with special needs.

Fire-fighters were called to Reach Incorporated just after three a-m. When they arrived, battalion chief Byron Bensen said a shed was engulfed in flames about 10-feet from the main building. From there, it spread to the structure's attic and roof. Both the shed and the main structure are total losses. No one was inside at the time. The building mainly houses the adult day program for Reach Incorporated, which serves about 150 people in the Eau Claire region with 45 staff members. Reach CEO Stacy Wigfield called the blaze devastating, and her group is working to start up again someplace else. Also, an unattached garage was noticed be on fire about three-and-a-half after units arrived at the Reach building. Bensen said he sent whatever personnel he had left.

 The U.S. Senate has approved a budget bill to fund the government past September 30, while stripping a measure to cut funding from the federal health care law. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) strongly opposed any efforts to delay or modify ‘Obamacare’, saying the Democrat’s plan will keep the government running and provides millions of Americans with affordable health care. Baldwin’s colleague, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh), disagrees and voted against the Senate version of the bill. He suggests the 2014 presidential elections ought to serve as a “referendum”on repealing the law. The bill now goes back to the House for a vote.

__________________________________ A sheriff’s deputy in central Wisconsin is recovering, after he was attacked by two pit bulls. It happened late yesterday afternoon in Pittsville, when the officer stopped a woman for suspicion of drunk driving. Wood County Sheriff Tom Reichert said the driver –48-year-old Cora Fuller – ran from her vehicle and into her house. She came out, and when the officer tried arresting her, two pit bulls ran out. They bit the deputy several times. The officer shot and injured both dogs before fleeing to safety in his squad car. The deputy was treated at a Wisconsin Rapids hospital for multiple dog bites, and was later released. One of the dogs was later euthanized due to its injuries. Fuller was cited for her fourth OWI offense.__________________________________
 A Wisconsin woman has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for the tragic death of her three children. 25-year-old Angelica Belen pleaded guilty in July, she was accused of locking her five year-old and four year-old twins in a bedroom while she looked for a job in April. Authorities say the three children died in their West Allis home, when a faulty electrical connection in the kitchen started a fire. The children died of smoke inhalation and burns. According to the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, Belen received several warnings about leaving her children unattended. During her sentencing, a tearful Belen apologized for what happened, at one point apologized to her dead children that they would never grow up. Belen will also serve 18 years of extended supervision after serving her prison sentence.

Governor Scott Walker blames last year's recall election for the newly-reported lag in Wisconsin's job growth. A federal report issued yesterday said Wisconsin had the nation's 34th-lowest percentage increase in private sector jobs for the year ending in March. At a news conference in Chicago today, Walker said the report covered three months before he faced his final recall vote against Democrat Tom Barrett. He said the uproar over the recall contest made employers uncertain about state policies and they were quote, "basically frozen." Walker won the election by seven-percent -- and the day after, he said there would be quote, "a tremendous new burst in jobs in the coming weeks." The state did create 24,000 jobs during the year ending in March, but the growth rate was just over half the national average -- including the nine months following the recall effort. Now, Walker says we won't get a true picture of Wisconsin jobs until the numbers come out for all of 2013. That report won't come out until next June -- five months before he stands for re-election. By then Walker said quote, "You are going to see a significant increase." His comments came at a symposium in Chicago by the Federal Reserve Bank. ___________________________________

An international panel said today it's "extremely likely" that human activity is the main cause of global warming. In Stockholm, a climate change panel of 195 nations called for global action to control carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. In its previous assessment in 2007, the UN-supported panel said it was quote, "very likely" that humans cause global warming -- especially with the burning of coal, oil, and gas. Here in Wisconsin, climate change was a major focus of former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle late in the last decadence then, Republicans who took control of the Capitol either ignored the subject -- or tried to scale back what's been done. Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin said the environmental movement has lost a lot of its momentum. Business interests say too many regulations come at the expense of jobs. State Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend has proposed rolling back the state's current requirement that 10-percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2015. Assembly Republican Andre Jacque of De Pere wants to count nuclear power in that effort. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says utilities are almost at the 10-percent mark already -- and the market has reduced coal emissions by themselves, as utilities use cheaper-and-cleaner natural gas instead of coal to generate power.


Governor Scott Walker signed a declaration-of-emergency today for the high-rise bridge in Green Bay that sagged by two-feet. Walker issued an executive order which makes the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge eligible for federal reimbursement for the first 180 days of repairs. The order applies to both the bridge and the adjoining pavement on Interstate-43 along the north edge of Green Bay, from Webster Avenue to Atkinson Road. A support pier sank unexpected by a couple of feet late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning -- and both state and federal engineers will try to find out why, and then do something about it. Officials said the bridge has not sagged anymore since early Wednesday. About 40-thousand vehicles which use the bridge each day are driving on alternate routes for at least the next several months. State Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says his agency is working with the city of Green Bay to make sure gets around safely.


Doctors at UW-Madison have found a way to quiet down autistic children who scream loudly-and-often. In the Journal of Voice, UW Health surgeon Seth Dailey wrote about an operation he performed in 2011 on 16-year-old Kade Hanegraaf of Appleton. His mother Vicki said her son use to scream louder than a lawn-mower, well over a-thousand times each day. She said it was horrific, and she and her son couldn't go anywhere because of it. Dailey separated the cartilage in Kade's vocal cords. It formed a larger gap for the boy's air flow, and limited his sound power. Since then, the doctor said Kade has screamed 90-percent less often -- and it's only been half as loud. He noted that the surgery is reversible.


All 25 residents of a Kenosha County apartment complex escaped injury this morning, when their homes were burning to the ground. An 81-year-old deaf man had to be rescued, and got out okay. The blaze started just before 4 a.m. at Camp Lake in the town of Salem. It was under control by around 8:30. Sheriff's sergeant Mike Weyker said the building was expected to be a total loss. The fire reportedly started in one of the living units. The cause was not immediately known. Salem fire-fighters were assisted by units from Kenosha and Racine counties, plus officers from Lake and McHenry counties in nearby Illinois.__________________________________

If you're looking for fall colors this weekend, take a drive in northern Wisconsin. The Fall Color Report at Travel says the Antigo area is at 70-percent of its peak colors -- the highest percentage in the Badger State. Rhinelander, Minocqua, Hurley, and Park Falls are at 50-percent. The rest of Wisconsin is at 10-to-40-percent of peak. Generally, the red, gold, and orange colors will peak during the first-and-second weeks of October in the north -- and later during the month the farther south you go. Except for tomorrow, the weather should be perfect for fall color viewing. Clear skies are in the forecast today and Sunday. Things are supposed to cloud up tomorrow with a chance of rain, as a storm system moves through. Highs are expected to reach the 70's-and-80's today, with a slight cool-down during the weekend. It's supposed to be in the 70's tomorrow, and about 70 on Sunday.


One of the most distinguished graduates of a Wisconsin military academy left behind a gift of almost $1.7 million after he died. Saint John's Northwestern Military Academy of Delafield has announced the bequest from John "Rick" Leone. School president Jack Albert Junior called Leone a special person who had a quote, "zest for life and never took a day for granted." He was on the school's football, wrestling, and golf teams before he graduated in 1975. Leone then went to Lakeland College in Sheboygan, where he played football before a swimming accident left him in a wheelchair. He later helped his family build and operate the Bonney Forge Corporation in Pennsylvania, which supplies high-tech fittings and valves to the oil-and-gas industry. When he died last year, Leone was a vice-president for a company that expanded into China and Italy. He also served numerous charities, including one that gives scholarships to military cadets in financial need. Leone also helped Saint John's build a new football and lacrosse stadium. It was named for Leone when it was dedicated in 2009.


Manitowoc County authorities say they've taken down the largest marijuana-growing operation they've ever seen. Sheriff Robert Herrmann said about 285 marijuana plants, 4-to-7-feet tall, were seized a week ago by the Metro Drug Unit. He said officers have been gathering other evidence since then. The operation was not announced publicly until yesterday. Herrmann said a 49-year-old landowner was growing pot on eight pieces of land -- and the plants were hidden within groups of trees. The sheriff's department was tipped off by the state DNR. Had the drugs been harvested, Hermann said they would have produced up to 200 pounds of marijuana worth 300-to-500-thousand dollars. An ATV and another vehicle were seized. The landowner is not in custody. Herrmann says the person is the only suspect for now. An investigation continues. The sheriff says it could a month before charges are brought.____________________________________

A southeast Wisconsin man has been sentenced two years in a federal prison, after he robbed nine Madison area pharmacies to feed an addiction to painkillers. 36-year-old Tony Taylor of Delavan pleaded guilty to a single robbery charge, for a January 10th holdup at a Walgreens on Madison's south side. Charges in the other robberies were dropped in a plea deal. Federal Judge William Conley ordered Taylor to pay almost 19-thousand dollars in restitution. Authorities said Taylor became addicted to oxycodone that was prescribed for his wife, who had her fingers and legs amputated due to an illness. The drug store robberies took place from January through March. Five were in Madison. The others were in Verona, Monona, Waunakee, and McFarland. Taylor was arrested in early April, after an employee at a pharmacy in DeForest recognized the robber from a previous store alert