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CVTC breaks ground for new Energy Ed. Center; deputy pinched for OWI in Red Wing; 14 more state stories

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CVTC breaks ground for new Energy Ed. Center; deputy pinched for OWI in Red Wing; 14 more state stories
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

EAU CLAIRE --Gov. Scott Walker was in Eau Claire Tuesday to offer remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Energy Education Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).

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The center is an expansion and remodel of the current Transportation Education Center at CVTC’s West Campus in Eau Claire.

"The new Energy Education Center will provide yet another way for Wisconsin’s economy to grow and thrive, while equipping our workforce with the skills, training and programs they need in order to work in today’s ever-changing energy industry,” said Walker. “This center will be a great resource for local communities and will facilitate exciting new opportunities and partnerships for businesses in the area.”

The $10.3 million Energy Education Center is a 54,000 square-foot expansion and renovation project that includes classrooms and labs designed to increase program offerings and help equip Wisconsin’s workforce with the skills to address the demands of the energy industry, school officials have said. The Center will focus on three areas of energy technology: energy generation, energy distribution, and efficient utilization/conservation.

The center is tentatively scheduled to open in fall of 2015.

Wisconsin's ACT scores are excellent -- but still behind Minnesota

Wisconsin continues to have the nation's second-best scores on the ACT college entrance exam. However, the results show that about half of last year's seniors would struggle to succeed in a first-year college reading, science, and math course.

Wisconsin had an average composite score of 22.2 of a possible 36 on the ACT. That puts Wisconsin in sole possession of second-place, after tying with Iowa a year ago.

Minnesota continues to have the top scores on the ACT, which is the predominant college entrance exam for Midwest colleges. Schools on both ends of the country mainly use the SAT test.

The ACT also released benchmark scores that would give students a 75 percent chance of getting a "C" or better in college courses, and a 50 percent chance for a "B."

One of every five Wisconsin high school grads in May failed to reach any of the benchmarks on the exam. Seventy-five percent met or surpassed benchmarks in English but only around half did the same in reading, math, and science. However, at least 10 percent of the students were just a point or two short in reading and science.

The numbers of Wisconsin youngsters taking the ACT have grown immensely. Seventy-three percent of the Class of 2014 took the test, and the state is requiring it for all public high school students next year.

After most counties canvass, Grothman appears to be 6th Congressional winner

Final results are expected Wednesday from last week's U.S. House primary in east central Wisconsin. All but one of the eleven counties in the Sixth Congressional District completed their ballot canvasses Tuesday.

It appears that second-place finisher Joe Leibham won't gain nearly enough votes to overcome the 214-vote margin in which he trailed Glenn Grothman after the unofficial Election Night tally.

Both are Republican state senators who seek the GOP bid for the House seat given up by 36-year Republican incumbent Tom Petri.

Sheboygan County expected to wrap up its canvass Wednesday morning, when it reviews its tally and reports the results to the state.

The Sheboygan Press said Leibham gained five votes and Grothman one vote in the county's tally, which included absentee ballots.

If those hold firm, Grothman will have gained a net of six votes and Leibham one, for a 220-vote Grothman victory.

That margin would still only be about one-third of one percent among the 64,000 ballots cast in last week's primary.

If Leibham seeks a recount, he could still get it for free, since his losing margin will appear to be within one-half of one percent.

Recount expected in 87th Assembly District primary contest</strong>

At least one state legislative race is heading toward a recount, after last week's primary ballots were made official in county canvasses Tuesday.

In the 87th Assembly District, Republican Michael Bub said he would ask for a recount, after a canvass in Rusk, Taylor, and Sawyer counties confirmed election night totals which showed him losing by 17 votes to former Rusk County supervisor James Edming. The primary winner will face Democrat Richard Pulcher in November for an Assembly seat given up by Republican Mary Williams of Medford.

In southwest Wisconsin, canvassers said former Department of Transportation budget director Ernie Wittwer led by seven votes over ex-Feingold staffer Pat Bomhack for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat given up by GOP moderate Dale Schultz.

Bomhack said he wanted to consult with county and state officials before deciding to seek a recount. That primary winner faces Assembly Republican Howard Marklein for the Senate post in November.

Senators visit, call for revisions to Forestry Service management

Both of Wisconsin's U.S. senators made separate visits to the Northwoods this week, to call for policies to expand timber harvesting in the state's only national forest.

Republican Ron Johnson joined members of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Tuesday on a tour of Forest County and part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

He said the national forests should be self-financed, so they can use revenue from timber sales to manage the land better and create more opportunities for harvesting. Johnson says counties do the same thing, and there's no reason the federal government can't do it as well.

A 10-year plan allows the Chequamegon-Nicolet to harvest 131 million board feet per year, but a report from last year said only about 60 percent of that amount was being harvested.

The Forest Service has blamed a lack of forestry management funds, at a time wood products' companies say they cannot get wood to meet their demands.

Revenues from timber sales on the national forest now go to the federal treasury instead of the Forest Service.

On Monday, Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin appeared in Crandon and Laona, to endorse timber harvest which are closer to the forest plan goals.

-- Natalie Jablonski, WXPR, Rhinelander

Cancer-screening at Farm Tech turns up 12 cases

MARSHFIELD -- At least 12 people were found to have melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, after they were screened at last week's Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

Over 600 people took advantage of screenings arranged by the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic.

Two dozen doctors joined 10 farm center staffers and others in conducting the tests, held at the state's largest farm show near Plover. Outreach specialist Tammy Ellis said the goal is to make it as easy as possible for farmers to take advantage of the screenings. She said some farmers had not been screened for skin cancer since the last two Farm Technology shows in Marathon County in 2011, and Clark County in 2005.

Nationally, health experts say 76,000 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed this year and about 9,700 people will die from the disease.

Journalist apparently killed by ISIS was Marquette grad

Islamic leaders in Iraq released a video Tuesday which appeared to show the beheading of Marquette graduate and journalist James Foley.

An al-Qaida spin-off group called the Islamic State used the video to urge President Obama to stop attacks on Islamic fighters in northern Iraq. If he doesn't, the video threatened a second execution of an American captive.

The video was posted on YouTube, then spread to other social media before YouTube deleted it.

In Washington, the National Security Council said intelligence officers were studying the video to see if Foley was actually the one beheaded.

If it's genuine, Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the agency is appalled by what it called the "brutal murder of an innocent American journalist."

Media reports quoted one U.S. official as saying the video was legitimate.

Two others said the 40-year-old Foley was indeed the victim.

He's a native of New Hampshire, and he graduated from Milwaukee's Marquette University in 1996 in history and Spanish.

Foley and three other journalists were previously held in Libya for 45 days in 2011, while reporting on that country's civil war. Foley also reported from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Court sets Sept. 12 to hear Voter ID appeal

CHICAGO -- A federal appeals court has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12th on the Wisconsin Justice Department's effort to get the state's voter identification law reinstated.

A three-judge appellate panel in Chicago will hear arguments in the state's appeal of a ruling this spring.

Federal Judge Lynn Adelman said the photo I.D. voting requirement was unconstitutional and a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the appellate court to overturn Adelman's ruling and while it's considering that, Van Hollen has asked that the voter I.D. mandate be put in place for the Nov. 4th elections.

In July, the State Supreme Court ruled that the Republicans' 2011 voter I.D law was constitutional but the law remained blocked until the federal courts resolve the issue.

Delayed start for Preble students means longer school day

GREEN BAY -- Students at Green Bay Preble High School will stay in class 18 minutes longer this school year, to make up for a two-week delay in starting the fall term.

A fire at the school in early August caused the start of classes to be delayed from Sept. 2nd to the 15th.

State law no longer requires schools to be in session for 180 days, but they still have mandatory numbers of classroom hours. As a result, Preble says two minutes will be added to each of nine periods during the day and school will be in session from 7:30 a-m to 3:18 p.m.

Also, Preble students will be in class Oct. 31st while other Green Bay students get the day off. They'll also have full days while other city schools get half-days.

The recent fire caused smoke damage in the entire school, and fire damage in the gym.

Authorities said it started when employees did not correctly dispose of rags used to re-surface the gym floor.

Gas at lowest price since February

MADISON -- Wisconsin gas prices are at their lowest since mid-February.

Wisconsin's American Automobile Association chapter said the statewide average price was $3.46 per gallon Wednesday morning for regular unleaded. That's 11 cents cheaper than a month ago, and 7 cents less than on this date a year ago.

Motorists in neighboring Minnesota are getting an even better deal. They're paying around $3.35 per gallon, the lowest for an August in the past decade.

Gail Weinholzer of AAA Minnesota says crude oil prices have stabilized and the demand for gas has dropped this month.

She and other observers predict that fuel prices will keep falling, as we head into the Labor Day weekend eight days from now.

Latest Milwaukee murder was contractor working on house

MILWAUKEE -- A man was shot to death while he was doing improvement work at a home on Milwaukee's north side.

Police said the shooting took place just before 6 p.m.,Tuesday. No details were immediately released.

Also Tuesday, police identified the man killed while sitting in a car on Milwaukee's north side. Dominique Hill, 20, was was shot around 12:30 p.m. Monday

Woman dies after being ejected in SUV rollover

REEDSVILLE --The State Patrol confirms that 47-year-old Tina Laffin of Reedsville was killed in a vehicle crash in rural Manitowoc County.

Officials released her name Tuesday, after she died Monday night. Investigators said Laffin was driving east on Highway 10 near Reedsville, when her sport utility vehicle veered to the left, crossed the roadway, entered the left ditch, and rolled over.

The State Patrol said Laffin was not wearing a seat-belt and she was ejected from the vehicle.

Jury convicts Hubertus man of murdering classmate

WEST BEND -- A 20-year-old man could spend the rest of his life in prison, after he was convicted Tuesday of killing a former high school classmate in southeast Wisconsin.

A Washington County jury deliberated for three hours before finding Daniel Bartelt guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the strangling death of Jessie Blodgett.

Her mother testified that the 19-year-old Blodgett was at a theater group's cast party last July and the mother found her dead in her bed the next afternoon.

An autopsy showed that she was bound and strangled. Bartelt initially pleaded insanity, but two experts found him mentally competent to help with his defense.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 14.

Bartelt will get a mandatory life term, but the judge can set a date for a possible supervised release after at least 20 years.

Milwaukee Co. sheriff's captain pinched for OWI in Red Wing

A Milwaukee County sheriff's captain is on desk duty, after being arrested for driving drunk in Minnesota.

Police in Red Wing, Minn., said they stopped Catherine Trimboli, 41, at 2:30 a.m. Sunday because her tail lights were off.

Milwaukee sheriff's officials said Trimboli flashed her badge to the officer, and asked that she be let go as a "professional courtesy."

Her blood alcohol level was .14 on a breath test -- nearly twice the legal limit of .08.

Red Wing Police released her after she was booked on her first operating while intoxicated offense, and she faces a criminal misdemeanor charge in Minnesota.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said asking for a pass aggravated an already-bad situation and she'll be dealt with appropriately if she's convicted.

Milwaukee man will head-up Iditarod logistics

A Milwaukee man who spent a quarter-century in Alaska is going back -- this time, to help run the world-famous Iditarod sled dog race.

Starting next month, Willie Karidis will be the new chief operating officer of the Iditarod Trail Committee, which plans the long-distance racing event.

He spent 25 years at Alaska's Denali National Park, and was the director of its education center before he came home to Milwaukee in 2009 to care for his parents.

Karidis took a job with the Urban Ecology Center, where he's now the director of the Washington Park branch. Karidis says he has mushed with sled-dogs, but has never raced. He'll oversee the day-to-day operations of the Iditarod, and will coordinate trail maintenance and other logistics.

Fivesome paddling across Lake Michigan for cause

ALGOMA -- Five friends say they'll paddle across Lake Michigan to raise funds for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Kwin Morris, Jeff Guy, and Andrew Pritchard -- all of Traverse City, Mich. will join their buddies Joe Lorenz and J. Mueller on a 60-mile trip.

The trek will start on the Wisconsin shore at Algoma and will end at Frankfort, Mich.

Their goal is to complete the trip in 24 hours sometime before Labor Day. The men will ride stand-up paddle boards on a mission they call "Stand Up for the Great Lakes."

The five hope to raise $10,000 for the alliance, which studies numerous ways to preserve the water quality of the Great Lakes.

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