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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: La Crosse family saves drivers from firery crash in Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ken. - A husband and wife from La Crosse were on their way home from vacation, when they stopped to save two drivers in a fiery traffic crash in Kentucky.

Jeremy and Jovanna Randall are both police officers, so they knew exactly what to do.  The Randall family -- including kids -- was in Lexington before taking off on Highway 60 yesterday.  They were close to Versailles, Kentucky when they saw a tractor and a car in flames.  Jovanna directed traffic, while her husband and two bystanders pulled open a car door and helped the driver get out.  Jeremy Randall then flagged down a cement truck with a hose-and-water.  They put out the fire on the tractor, and then helped the driver to safety.  Both drivers in the crash were taken to a hospital.  The Randalls tell WXOW-TV in La Crosse that it's just natural to do what they were trained to do.  Jeremy is a police officer in West Salem.  Jovanna is with the La Crosse police force.


A northwest Wisconsin woman is due in court July 21st, after she was accused of killing the deputy fire chief of Milltown while driving drunk.  Jeanne Fisher of Frederic was charged on June 30th -- her 33rd birthday -- with homicide by drunk driving, and with a prohibited blood alcohol level.  Both counts are felonies.  Polk County prosecutors filed them more than five months after the crash which killed 34-year-old Chad Hansen.  Authorities said Hansen was walking on Highway 35 during blizzard conditions last January when a car hit him.  Fisher told officers she had four drinks and a shot of liquor at a bar in Luck, and she was driving to another tavern when she struck Hansen.  Officials said her blood alcohol level was point-one-three-six, over one-and-a-half times the allowable limit for drunk driving.  Hansen was on the Milltown Fire Department since 1997, and became the deputy chief a year-and-a-half ago.  He also served as a street employee for the village.


Marshfield Clinic has scrapped a plan to build Wisconsin's second dental school, and will return a ten-million dollar state grant for the project.  The clinic received the funding in 2010 to construct a new training facility in Marshfield for prospective dentists who would serve in rural areas.  Today, clinic officials said they're using other ways to address the need -- like opening two dozen training centers in various communities, and adding trainer facilities in several dental offices throughout central Wisconsin.  The clinic also said it would create a residency for training dentists to serve as rural practitioners.  The clinic's health insurance arm, Security Health Plan, had agreed to put up a ten-million dollar matching grant for the proposed dental school.  Those funds will go back to the insurance firm.


It's getting more expensive to apply for college -- especially for the growing numbers of students who apply at several schools.  Still, there are deals to be had -- and there's a great one coming up next week.  That's when almost two dozen Wisconsin private colleges and universities waive their application fees for prospects who visit their campuses.  It's part of the 19th annual Wisconsin Private College Week, in which schools have a greater opportunity to promote themselves, find top students, and provide information about things like financial aid and majors. Application fees can get expensive.  Marquette and Lawrence both charge $40 a pop, and Ripon College charges $30.  Besides the fee waivers, students can also register to win one of five grants that knock a-thousand dollars off each winning student's tuition.


The sheriff in Madison is the latest to demand that something be done about the thousands of Wisconsinites who drive with suspended and revoked licenses.  Yesterday, a 24-year-old woman was cited in Dane County for her 30th violation in the last three years for driving while suspended.  Sheriff Dave Mahoney tells WKOW-TV that when somebody blatantly disregards driving laws like that, the criminal justice system needs to "take action or bring it to an end."  The TV station also cited a Triple-"A" study showing that drivers with suspended licenses were four times more likely as others to be involved in crashes in which someone is killed.  WISN-TV in Milwaukee found in 2010 that almost a half-million Wisconsinites had revoked licenses.  In February, the Appleton Post-Crescent found that over 74,000 state residents were caught driving with suspended licenses -- and 14,000 others were on the road with revoked licenses. ____________________________

The Ho-Chunk Indian tribe has delayed a proposal to restrict the amount of annual trust fund payments that younger members get when they turn 18.  The tribal Legislature did not vote on the measure yesterday.  They suggested that it be an informational item at the tribe's General Council meeting in September -- where the Wisconsin State Journal says it's not likely to pass.  Right now, each adult Ho-Chunk member gets $12,000 a year from gambling profits at the tribe's casinos.  For children, the payments are put into a trust fund.  They don't get a dime of it until they're 18, graduate from high school, and prove that they're financially literate.  Still, tribal leaders say many young people burn through the cash with little to show for it.  Some officials wanted to either further delay the trust fund payments, or tie them to college, jobs, or military service.  Some families were against any changes.  They said they rely on the money for their basic needs.  If the tribe does approve changes, the U-S Bureau of Indian Affairs would have to give their blessing.  _____________________________

The Republican governors of Wisconsin and Louisiana are criticizing the Obama White House for challenging private school choice programs in those two states.  Scott Walker and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal have co-authored a commentary in the Politico Magazine.  They defend their use of state-funded vouchers to help low-income kids seek better educations in private schools.  In the column, Walker and Jindal ask why the U.S. Justice Department would use the Civil Rights Act to try and block a program in which 9-of-10 participants are minorities -- or to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to claim that a voucher program discriminates against disabled people whose families have never complained.  For both Walker and Jindal, the column maintains their national profiles as a potential Republican presidential candidates in 2016.______________________________

A half-dozen tornadoes in mid-June did not do enough damage for homes and businesses in southwest Wisconsin to get FEMA's major disaster aid.  But Governor Scott Walker said Grant County met the criteria for the U.S. Small Business Administration to cover uninsured losses.  And today, Walker officially requested the SBA's help.  If it's approved, Grant County would be eligible for low-interest home-and-business loans -- and the surrounding Wisconsin counties would also get the same assistance.  That includes Iowa, Lafayette, Crawford, and Richland counties. Two tornadoes hit Platteville just before midnight on June 16th.  In an initial damage assessment, Walker said the SBA found that over 25 homes-and-businesses had significant damage in Grant County -- and 40-percent of the total losses were not covered by insurance.  The region also had flash flooding._____________________________

The Wisconsin Supreme Court says it's okay to allow hearsay evidence during preliminary hearings in felony cases.  Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson was the only dissenter, when the court this morning upheld the constitutionality of a 2012 state law.  The state legislature approved the measure, in part to prevent crime victims from having to testify in the early stages of criminal cases.  As a result, most prelims only have police officers testifying, and they generally present evidence they've obtained.  A couple in Walworth County and a man in Kenosha County said the law violates their constitutional rights to confront their accusers.  The court's majority said defendants have no right to question their accusers during preliminary hearings.  Those rights are allowed during trials, but the vast majority of defendants give them up when they reach plea deals which avert their trials. ______________________________

A new program in southern Wisconsin hopes to turn jail inmates into better people, by having them train stray dogs for others to adopt.  The Rock County Sheriff's Department and the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin have started what they call the "Canine Corrections Academy."  Inmates spend 6-to-8 weeks training dogs which are considered un-adoptable when they come in.  The goal is to get the pets ready for new homes during up to two months of training.  Allison Hokinson of the Humane Society tells the Janesville Gazette that the academy will teach both inmates and dogs the concepts of kindness, respect, and self-esteem.  Only non-violent and non-abusive prisoners are considered as trainers.  Sheriff Bob Spoden says there's no contest to taxpayers.  Trainers donate their time, the Humane Society pays to feed the dogs, and a fence company provided a 30-by-50-foot enclosure to house the pets.  


Wisconsin's largest power plant would burn cheaper coal, under a plan submitted to the state's utility regulating panel.  We Energies wants to spend $25-million to modify its plant at Oak Creek, so it can burn coal from Montana and Wyoming that's 35-percent cheaper than the Appalachian coal it's now burning.  The utility has asked the state Public Service Commission to approve the project by December.  We Energies says the plant would burn a mix of 60-percent Western coal, and 40-percent from the Eastern U.S. -- and it would save customers about 16-million dollars a year.  The Citizens Utility Board, which represents electric consumers, says it's not wise to spend more money on a plant that cost two-point-three billion dollars to build and had millions in cost overruns.  Katie Nekola of Clean Wisconsin said Wyoming coal burns less efficiently than the Appalachian product -- and therefore, the plant would create more emissions at a time when the EPA is ordering the state to reduce those carbon emissions.  We Energies doesn't buy that.  Spokesman Brian Manthey says the new arrangement will allow the plant to burn coal as efficiently as any plant in the nation.  He also said the mixture can flexible, so the utility can adapt to future market conditions.


A search for a missing boater is in its third day on Lake Winneconne, northwest of Oshkosh.  Winnebago County authorities said 52-year-old Roger Inderdahl of Weyauwega went missing on Monday while he was fishing on the lake.  Witnesses called 911 after seeing his empty boat go around in circles on the lake.  Private boaters have been helping authorities with the search.  It was suspended yesterday due to high winds.