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Wisconsin will help the nation create new ways to protect its food supply. The Badger State was one of four to get Innovative Food Defense grants from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It's getting more than $62,000 to help boost a state program called Terrorist Incident GIS-Enhanced Response, or TIGER. It's in the process of creating computer maps which track contaminated food. Those maps use data from food licenses, state inspections and a geographic information system. Wisconsin issues more than 30,000 food-related licenses each year.
A Green Bay family might get to keep the vacation home they were originally told to give up as part of a land dispute with the state DNR. But they'd have to buy it back from the government. Yesterday, Marinette County Circuit Judge David Miron threw out his original ruling from July in a case involving the Jerry Wied family. They bought four acres on Lake Noquebay in 1985. But in 2003, an assessor found that the DNR had bought a 700-foot stretch along the lake where the family's log cabin sits.
Senior citizens in Wisconsin will have fewer choices than a year ago for private drug coverage under Medicare Part D. The annual sign-up period begins this week, and there are 48 plans available in the Badger State, four fewer than last year. That could raise prices. But there could also be a larger number of folks qualifying for drug subsidies, because the income and resource limits have eased for next year. Wisconsin's own drug benefit, SeniorCare, will remain available at least until 2012.
Wisconsin just had one of its wettest Octobers on record, but November is proving to be one the driest so far. The National Weather Service said Milwaukee had just 0.01 inch of rain during the first half of this month. That's tied for the third-driest start to a November since 1850. And Madison is having its fourth-driest November so far. T he southern half of the state could get some light rain this afternoon through Thursday - but forecasters say it won't be nearly as much as the downpours this week in Illinois and Missouri.
A man who misled the nation about being a hero during the Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007 might end up doing good after all. Michael Stoner of Spooner was sent to prison for 7.5 years for brutally beating his fiance's 2-year-old daughter, Emma. In investigating the case, Washburn County Sheriff Terry Dryden discovered that the maximum prison time for harming a child is 2.5 years less than for harming an adult. So he got Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, to sponsor a bill to increase the penalty for great bodily child harm to 10 years, the same as that for adult victims.
State officials cut off funding to 36 child-care providers last month, for allegedly defrauding the Wisconsin Shares program. The Department of Children and Families gave the latest figures to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee. Thirty of the newest offenders are from Milwaukee County and two of the 36 providers have since had their reimbursements restored. Wisconsin Shares provides state-funded child care to low-income parents so they can work. But an audit showed that providers falsely claimed up to $20 million in care reimbursements last year alone.
The Milwaukee suburb of Franklin has tightened its requirements on those who pay cash when they check into hotels. Those customers must now show photo ID's and the hotels must keep photocopies of those ID's. It's all because of the arrest of alleged Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis, who's charged with strangling seven female prostitutes since 1986. He was picked up at a motel in Franklin this summer.
Wisconsin hunters are gearing up for the Nov. 21 opening of the regular nine-day gun deer season. Some important changes for this year's hunt include: Most of the north and central forest region deer management units are designated as Regular Deer Management Units in 2009, so the free antlerless tags valid in Herd Control Units are not valid in these regular units.
Authorities said a soldier found dead in a Chippewa County forest had hypothermia caused by exposure. But sheriff's officials say the death of Russell Plummer, 20, of Cornell needs a further review. And his body was sent Wednesday to a medical examiner in St. Paul, Minn. Also, the results of toxicology tests are still pending. Plummer returned home Oct. 21, from a military training session in Maryland. But officials said he stopped using his cell phone and bank cards on Nov. 1. And his family reported him missing last weekend after he failed to show up for National Guard duty.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor Carlos Santiago will meet soon to talk about crime-fighting efforts near the campus. Santiago says the campus itself is "extraordinarily safe," but safety needs to improve on the streets next to the school. According to police statistics, overall crime in that area has dropped by almost 6 percent over the past year. But UW-M spokesman Tom Luljak said there's been a spike of incidents lately and it's got school officials concerned.