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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: State corn crop predicted to increase 10 percent

Wisconsin's corn harvest is expected to grow by more than ten-percent from a year ago.  That's what the USDA predicted today, based on weather and crop conditions from August first.

Just over 491-million bushels of corn are expected to be produced in Wisconsin this year, an increase of 46,000 bushels from 2013.  Yields are expected to be about ten bushels more per acre, on about 100 more acres in the Badger State than the year before.  Nationally, the USDA projects a record corn crop of 14-billion bushels.  In general, rain has fallen at the right times this year -- and a cooler summer has helped growing conditions in the 18 states make 91-percent of the nation's corn.  The USDA also projects a large increase in Wisconsin soybeans from last year, with a harvest of over 76,000 bushels.  That's up from 59,000 a year ago.  The national soybean increase is expected to be three billion bushels, which would also be a record.  


A very low voter turnout is predicted for today's primary elections in Wisconsin.  In Afghanistan, the absentee voting for state troops seems to be almost non-existent.  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Meg Jones is on her fourth trip to the Middle East to cover the Wisconsin troops. She says many of them didn't even know that the fall primaries were today.  Sergeant R.W. Lemmons of the National Guard's 829th Engineer Company said he mailed in an absentee ballot two weeks ago.  But Jones says it might not get home in time, since four weeks is generally the cut-off for ballots from troops overseas.  The long processing time for handling them is why the federal government forced Wisconsin to move up its fall partisan primaries to mid-August instead of mid-September.  Lemmons says troops have until early October to send in their November absentee ballots.  He promises to help anybody in his unit who wants to vote then.  Stateside, only 15-percent of Wisconsin voters are expected to cast ballots today.  The big races are a Democratic primary for state attorney general and a four-way GOP contest for the Sixth District U.S. House seat.  All polls close at eight tonight.


School referendums are on today's ballots in a half-dozen Wisconsin districts. Brown Deer is seeking the most -- $3.9 million dollars to refinance previous obligations.  Oconto Falls has two referendum questions totaling$3.4 million dollars.  One includes site work at Abrams Elementary, plus an outdoor track at Oconto Falls High School.  The district's other referendum would provide funding for teachers, more computer access, and repairing roofs.  Voters in the North Crawford district are asked to approve one-point-three million dollars for a new school wellness center, classroom renovations, and equipment.  Voters in Markesan, Green Lake, and Princeton are also asked to exceed their state-mandated school revenue limits, mostly to maintain their existing programs.  The Wisconsin Dells School District has a $30-million referendum planned for September 16th, mostly for new-and-expanded high school facilities.  Wheatland has a revenue cap referendum slated for October 14th.  About ten other school systems have November referendums slated.  


New home construction continues to lag in Wisconsin's largest metro areas.  MTD Marketing Services said the numbers of building permits for new one-and-two-family homes fell by just over ten-percent last month.  Over 369 permits were issued in the Milwaukee, Madison, Fox Valley, Racine-Kenosha, and Green Bay-Door County regions.  That's 42 fewer home permits than were issued in July of 2013.  There were declines in all five regions.  For the first seven months of the year, M-T-D said building permits for new homes dropped by almost three-percent, to around 2,200.


Leaders in the Appleton area say they cannot find room for unaccompanied children who've been crossing into the U.S. at the Mexican border.  The federal government was hoping to locate up to 400 children in the Fox Valley, as they escape violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.  However, the Appleton Post-Crescent says Outagamie County officials are concerned about funding and education for the youngsters.  The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said federal money would pay for the shelter itself.  The agency has been looking around the country for large shelter facilities within 100 miles of airports.  


The State Supreme Court said no today to letting a son of former Milwaukee organized crime boss Frank Balistrieri  practice law.  John Balistrieri lost his state law license after he was convicted in the mid-1980's of extortion.  He and his brother Joseph each spent five years in prison for their roles in organized crime that involved Milwaukee's vending machine business.  John Balistrieri was released from a federal prison in 1989, and today marked the second time that a request was rejected for getting his law license back.  In an unsigned opinion, the justices said it was "not averse" to giving Balistrieri a second chance -- but he has not accepted responsibility for his actions.  The court noted that when he first tried getting his law license back in 1995, he blamed a rejection on the court being biased against him due to his Italian descent.  His brother Joseph Balistrieri died in 2010, and their father Frank passed away in 1993.


State and local authorities continue to investigate a mobile home fire near Wisconsin Dells in which a male resident was killed.  Fire-fighters were called to a mobile home court early Sunday in the Adams County town of Dell Prairie.  Officials said the victim's home was engulfed in flames when they arrived.  The state Fire Marshal's office is helping with the investigation.  The victim's name was not immediately released.


A 37-year-old man who died in a mountain bike race in Upper Michigan has been identified as Peter Bausch of the Milwaukee suburb of Elm Grove.  Autopsy results are pending, but Marquette Police say foul play is not suspected.  Officers began searching for Bausch on Saturday, after he failed to finish the "Ore to Shore" mountain bike race.  He was found unresponsive near a street along the race course.  Rescuers were not able to revive him.