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Wisconsin roundup: U.S. Supreme Court arguments begin in St. Croix County land-use case; horses, wolf-dog hybrids seized from northern Wisconsin property; 9 more state news stories

Members of the Murr family, pictured at their town of Troy property that's under dispute, will hear attorneys make arguments in their case Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court. (Submitted photo)

WASHINGTON — A family whose St. Croix County property is under dispute will be in Washington, D.C., Monday morning, hearing their case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to handle the case on property rights. The Pacific Legal Foundation is representing the Murr family for free.

The question is whether a cottage and an extra lot the family owns on Lake St. Croix should be considered two separate parcels of property. Their attorney says St. Croix County has basically taken their property away through some strict shoreline development and conservation rules. He says the family should be compensated.

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Horses, wolf-dog hybrids seized from northern Wisconsin property

CRANDON — The owner of 40 animals said to be living in "deplorable" conditions was arrested on cruelty charges Friday.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says more charges are possible. The horses and wolf-dog hybrids were taken into protective custody from a property in Crandon, a little over 25 miles from Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin.

Nearby residents had filed complaints against the woman whose name wasn't released. The ASPCA says dead animals were found on the property.

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Ryan: GOP seeks more aid for older people in health care bill

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House plans to vote Thursday on its replacement for Obamacare.

But before then, Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville vows to increase federal help to insure lower income people in their 50s and 60s who are too young to get Medicare. That's after the Congressional Budget Office said a 64-year-old who makes $26,500 per year would see out of pocket costs jump from $1,700 per year in Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act to $14,600 in the GOP replacement bill.

On "Fox News Sunday," Ryan also said his fellow Republicans were looking to add more health care tax credits for the poor — and new work requirements for able bodied Medicare recipients 65 and older.

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Wisconsin reflects national trend — college students struggling to afford basics

MADISON — A study conducted by Wisconsin HOPE Lab finds community college students struggling with the cost of the basic necessities while trying to get an education.

Housing is a particular problem for students with limited budgets. The study found two-thirds of those students are food insecure, one-third are regularly hungry and half have a hard time covering housing costs. One in seven is homeless.

Madison Area Technical College has an emergency grant program to help financially struggling students. The school is also partnering with community organizations to help them.

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Woman charged in drug death is arrested

GALESVILLE — A 24-year-old woman has been arrested in the drug death of a man two years ago in west central Wisconsin.

Harley Est of Merrillan is one of three people charged with reckless homicide, for allegedly helping provide the heroin that killed 43-year-old Vernell Pugh of Black River Falls. Police in Galesville stopped a vehicle Sunday afternoon and arrested Est, along with a 32-year-old man in what officials said was an unrelated matter. The other two defendants in Pugh's homicide case are both due in Jackson County Circuit Court next Monday — 33-year-old Charles Singer of Whitehall and 29-year-old Mikel Koller, who's at the state prison in New Lisbon.

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Superintendent candidates debate Common Core

MILWAUKEE — The two finalists for Wisconsin public school superintendent have their most intense debate yet about the state's use of the Common Core educational standards.

On the statewide TV show "Upfront with Mike Gousha," challenger Lowell Holtz vowed to throw out the national standards — even though Republicans have talked about dumping Common Core the past few years and have not done so. Superintendent Tony Evers, who's running for his third term, said a state official has "no authority" to drop Common Core — and Evers notes that all but about two dozen of the state's 424 school districts have adopted it.

Holtz — a former Beloit and Whitnall superintendent — says he most objects to what he called "federal intrusion," noting that the math and English standards are tied to the schools' report cards. Evers said that if Holtz wants to fight "federal intrusion," he should oppose the Trump administration's budget which Evers said would force a shutdown of after school programs.

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'Crying piccolo girl' defends Villanove after 'brutal' UW tweet

MADISON — UW-Madison brought back the memory of a former Villanova band member famous for crying while playing the piccolo after her team lost in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The UW's official Twitter account celebrated the Badgers' upset of top seeded Villanova on Saturday by writing the word "SWEET" and showing the photo of Roxanne Chalifoux, the "Crying Piccolo Girl" from 'Nova's 2015 loss to North Carolina State. USA Today called the UW's tweet "brutal" and "ice cold" but Chalifoux took the high road 20 minutes later, tweeting that "Villanova is okay" — and she added a picture of the Wildcats' players celebrating their national championship from last season. Chalifoux has moved on from what she once called an "overwhelming" fallout from the photo — and soon afterward, the hip hop group The Roots invited her to perform with them.

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Princeton fire death ruled homicide

PRINCETON — The death of a woman whose body was found inside a burned home in Princeton this week has been ruled a homicide.

There has already been an arrest. Authorities in Florida took a "person of interest" in that case into custody on a probation warrant violation. The woman's body was found Monday at 12:50 a.m. An autopsy was done Tuesday, but the victim's name hasn't been released. It took nearly six hours to bring the fire under control. That's when the woman's body was discovered in the rubble.

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Testimony in Wausau murder trial resumes Monday

WAUSAU — Jurors heard a 37-year-old man accused of murder say he didn't do it.

Tape of a conservation between Kristopher Torgerson and the mother of his former girlfriend was played in court last week. Prosecutors say Torgerson murdered 22-year-old Stephanie Low six years ago.

The phone recordings played for the jury including Torgerson's denial of any involvement in Low's death when he was talking to Yvonna Wadinski. The defense wanted the jury to hear him say, "I didn't do it." A jury from Eau Claire County is hearing the case in the Marathon County Court due to excessive publicity about the crime. Testimony resumes Monday.

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Two killed in minivan-semi crash in Oconto County

TOWN OF MOUNTAIN — Two people were killed Friday in a head-on collision between a minivan and a semi-truck on Highway 64.

Rescue crews were called to the scene at around 11:40 a.m., just west of Highway 32, in the Town of Mountain. The Oconto County Sheriff's Office says an eastbound minivan crossed the centerline and hit a semi-truck head on. Deputies say two people in the minivan were pronounced dead at the scene. The names of the victims were not released.

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Blood center makes emergency appeal for blood donations

MILWAUKEE — The Blood Center of Wisconsin says donors are urgently needed.

The center provides blood to 56 hospitals in the Badger State — and it's been getting fewer donations because the flu season is running longer than normal, and heavy snow earlier this month kept people from getting out. As a result, the Blood Center has had less than a one day supply of O-negative blood for about the past week — and most other types of blood have had two day supplies for the last month.

The center tries to have three day supplies on hand. The Blood Center of Wisconsin is based in Milwaukee, with locations in Manitowoc, Marshfield, and La Crosse as well as the Milwaukee metro.

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