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Wisconsin roundup: UW report: Recession's 'long shadow' finally lifts in Wisconsin; U.S. Labor Secretary: Labor Day is more than honoring work; and 10 more state news stories

MADISON  --  "The long shadow of the Great Recession is finally lifting in Wisconsin." Those are the first words in a new report on the state's workforce from the UW Madison Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

The liberal think tank says the state's recovery remains "comparatively unimpressive" -- but job opportunities are more consistent than any time in the last decade. The report confirms a record number of people working -- which Republicans touted for months -- however, the UW says the number of working age Wisconsinites has grown faster than the number of jobs created, and the state needs an extra 75,600 jobs to get back to the "level of opportunity" the state had in late 2007.

Also, Wisconsin has the third largest racial employment disparity, with a 12 percent jobless rate for African Americans.


U.S. Labor Secretary: Labor Day is more than honoring work

MILWAUKEE  --  U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez tells a Milwaukee crowd that Labor Day not only celebrates people's work -- it celebrates what he calls "the remarkable power of collective bargaining" to build strong communities.

In Wisconsin, most public union bargaining has all but disappeared since the GOP's Act Ten law from five years ago.

Perez, a member of Barack Obama's cabinet, spoke at Milwaukee's Laborfest after the president himself appeared at that event twice during his eight-year presidency.

Others marched against Wisconsin's right to work law from 2015 and a continued push by some for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin told the crowd that "the fight for the working family" is "never done."


Weekend drug abuse kills 12 in Milwaukee County

MILWAUKEE  --  At least 12 people may have died from taking excessive drugs in Wisconsin's largest county during the Labor Day weekend.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office says it's investigating the deaths, which occurred in a 72-hour period from Friday through Sunday.

Last Thursday, U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson held a roundtable discussion in Milwaukee on opioid abuse -- and state Attorney General Brad Schimel said prevention is needed.

Through July, 161 people in Milwaukee County died from excessive drugs, 10 percent more than the year before.


Alcohol, speed possible in Iowa County traffic death

DODGEVILLE -- The Iowa County sheriff says high speed and alcohol are possible factors in a Labor Day traffic crash that killed a DeForest man.

Sheriff Steve Michek says 19-year-old Clayton Underdahl lost control of his pickup truck, and it rolled off Highway 18/151 west of Dodgeville in the town of Ridgeway.

It was reported at 6:20 a.m. Monday, although Mishek says it's not known when the crash actually happened. Underdahl was thrown from his truck, and he died at the scene.


Jordy Nelson highlights new fence slogan across from Lambeau

GREEN BAY  --  For years, both players and fans of the Green Bay Packers have seen an encouraging slogan on a long yellow fence across from Lambeau Field on Lombardi Avenue.

On Labor Day, a group of fans painted the new salute -- "With Jordy, It's Better to Receive." It honors Packers' Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson, who sat out all of last season after tearing an ACL knee ligament in an exhibition game.

Nelson is expected to play in his first game since then, when Green Bay opens its regular season at Jacksonville on Sunday.

However, it will be almost three weeks before the Lambeau Field regulars see the fence, since the home opener is not until Sept. 25 against the Detroit Lions.


Federal Judge Rudolph Randa dies

MILWAUKEE  --  Rudolph Randa has died, after almost 25 years as a federal judge who made controversial rulings in numerous major cases in the eastern half of Wisconsin.

The 76-year-old Milwaukee native died on Labor Day, after leaving the bench in February with cancer.

Randa was the first to halt the state's 2012 John Doe probe into the GOP's recall election campaign activities, before the State Supreme Court ended the probe for good -- and he made other high profile rulings on abortion, lead poisoning, the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy, Wisconsin's minimum markup for gasoline and criminal matters.

Randa was appointed to the federal court in 1992 and was the district's chief judge from 2002  through 2009.

In 2007, he said he would move into a semi-retired senior status, but only if Republican President George W. Bush could name his replacement -- which didn't happen, so Randa stayed on full time.


Suspicious fire investigated at former school

GREEN BAY -- Brown County sheriff's deputies say a fire that destroyed an abandoned school is suspicious, and the county's arson task force is looking for a cause.

Firefighters were called early Monday morning to the former Lincoln Elementary School in the town of Rockland, south of Green Bay -- and it was engulfed in flames when units arrived.

There were no reports of injuries.

WLUK TV says the school was built in 1922 and was the area's main elementary school until the 1960s. It was later used as Rockland's town hall until 1999.


Head shop owner agrees to plead guilty to federal charges

MILWAUKEE  --  The owner of a head shop in Delavan may not spend more than two years in prison in a plea deal for selling synthetic marijuana.

Forty-six-year-old David Yarmo has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of misbranding a drug and money laundering, and his plea hearing and sentencing have not been scheduled.

According to prosecutors in Milwaukee, The Smoke Shop of Delavan sold "aromatic potpourri" which had the controlled substance "AB Fubinaca" as a secret ingredient -- and witnesses told agents long lines formed to buy it, as users became addicted.

The government reportedly seized $776,000 from a pair of Yarmo's bank accounts in 2014, plus vacant property in Walworth County -- and officials say it all came from revenue from the synthetic marijuana, which was mixed in with revenues from products that were legally sold.


Fatal Calumet County crash victim identified

CHILTON  --  A 21-year-old man killed in a traffic crash in eastern Wisconsin has been identified as Joshua Hannan of Chilton.

Calumet County sheriff's deputies say Hannan had just passed another vehicle when his unit veered into the left ditch and rolled several times. Hannan died later at a hospital.

The crash happened Sunday afternoon on Highway 114 in Sherwood.


Dead crow found with West Nile virus in Rock County

JANESVILLE --  Health officials say a dead crow found in Rock County in southern Wisconsin has tested positive for the West Nile virus.

The Janesville Gazette reports that the county public health department says it's the first bird found infected in the county since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began in May.

Health officials say the discovery means county residents need to take more precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Those include using mosquito repellent, disposing of tin cans, discarded tires and other items that hold water, and changing the water in birdbaths and pet dishes. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on dead birds and can spread to humans through bites. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, rash and fatigue.


Dangerous conditions on Lake Michigan

SULLIVAN -- The U.S. Coast Guard warns that swimming in Lake Michigan will be dangerous Monday off the shore of two Wisconsin counties.  

Coast Guard officials said there is the likelihood of strong, dangerous currents in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties as heavy winds out of the south are expected to be blowing as hard as 25 mph. The National Weather Service has also issued a Beach Hazard Statement for those coastal areas until 11 p.m.


Church changes name to honor Mother Theresa

WAUKESHA  --  A Waukesha church will soon have a new name, reflecting the new honor bestowed upon the woman for whom it was named.  

Archbishop Jerome Listecki says he will approve the change from Blessed Theresa of Calcutta to St. Theresa of Calcutta.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her life of service to India's poor and dying.  Mother Teresa died in 1997 at age 87.

Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa Sunday in a ceremony in St. Peter's Square that drew huge crowds of the faithful. The priest and 26 parishioners from the church bearing her name in Waukesha were in attendance.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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