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Eau Claire teen fighting for his life; men caught in prostitution sting; 10 other state news items

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A 17-year-old Eau Claire boy is fighting for his life after he fell off the hood of a mini-van and was run over. It happened Thursday night in the parking lot at Eau Claire Memorial High School. Police said the teen was apparently riding on the van's hood, or had just jumped on, when the 16-year-old driver hit the brakes.  Authorities said he suffered life-threatening head injuries, and was hospitalized in critical condition. Police said alcohol was apparently not a factor.

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Fire damages Green Bay school

A fire overnight extensively damaged the field house at Green Bay Preble High School. Firefighters were called about 1:30 a.m. Friday. Officials said the smoke was so heavy, it took a while to find the source of the flames. There have been no reports of injuries. The field house was built in 2000.

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Caught in prostitution sting

Men from Wisconsin Dells to St. Paul were caught in an online prostitution sting in Wausau. Police released the suspects' names yesterday -- including Wausau elementary school teacher Aaron Kottke, who resigned this week as a fifth-grade instructor in the wake of his citation.

School officials said they had no indication that Kottke had harmed any students. The School Board will take up his resignation on Monday night. Police said the men responded to an online prostitution ad they placed, as part of a renewed effort to prevent the world's oldest profession from taking hold in Wausau. Instead of issuing criminal charges, the city now gives out two-thousand-dollar non-criminal tickets to violators.

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Teen brags about murder in rap song

Prosecutors said a 15-year-old Racine boy killed another teen, and then recorded a rap video online to brag about it. Tommy Canady is charged as an adult with first-degree intentional homicide and robbery in the death of 19-year-old Semar McClain.

Prosecutors said Canady tried robbing McClain and then shot him in the head on the evening of July 29. Police discovered that Canady had posted an Internet rap song two days later, in which he said he'd kill someone and "snatch his gold."

McClain used to live in Racine, but had recently moved to St. Paul. Canady is jailed under a half-million dollar bond that was set during an initial court appearance yesterday. Canady is due back in court next Thursday, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.

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A look at minimum wage impact

Western Wisconsin residents who do business in Stillwater Minnesota are getting a taste of what might happen if the Badger State raises its minimum wage. Minnesota raised its minimum by 75 cents an hour last week -- and the Oasis Cafe in Stillwater responded by charging a special fee of 35-cents per meal. Owner Craig Beemer figures it would cost him ten-thousand dollars more each year to pay his servers a minimum that's now eight-dollars an hour in Minnesota.

Some customers want others to boycott the restaurant over its "minimum wage fee," but Beemer says he's only trying to keep his employees working.

In Wisconsin, Democrats at both the state and federal levels are pushing for a $10.10-per-hour minimum wage. Majority state Republicans have refused to budge, while business interests say the higher wage could eliminate thousands of lower-wage jobs. Democrats dispute that, and the Raise Wisconsin Coalition is attempting to put heat on next year's Legislature by trying to get all 72 counties to hold November referendums on a minimum wage hike.

In the recent Marquette Law School poll, 56 percent of Wisconsin registered voters supported an increase -- but that was down from 63 percent in March.

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Results of freeway enforcement effort

Fourteen drunk drivers and four drug suspects were among those caught in an aggressive law enforcement effort in Wisconsin. That's what the DOT said yesterday about the national I90-94 Challenge. Sixteen states boosted their patrols last weekend on the two Interstates, in the hopes of recording no traffic deaths on the coast-to-coast highways from Friday through Monday.

One death was reported along the route. An S-U-V rolled over in Montana, killing one person and injuring nine. Authorities said most of those victims were not wearing seat belts.

The Wisconsin State Patrol issued its preliminary figures yesterday. Over 16-hundred vehicles were stopped on I-90 and I-94 during the four-day campaign from Kenosha to Hudson. Just under 3,000 people received written warnings and citations. There were 71 violations of seat beat and child safety seat requirements.

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Jet lands safely

A military jet landed safely at a base in Milwaukee, after a mechanical problem on a routine training mission. Four crew members on board escaped injury.

Captain Beth Sawant said a jet from Milwaukee's 128th Air Refueling Wing experienced a problem in its right hydraulic area. It was conducting a mid-air refueling operation at the time. The craft landed without incident around 2:30 p.m. yesterday at Mitchell International Airport.

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Asked to conserve water Green Bay

Residents in Green Bay are being asked to use as little water as possible, when a water transmission line starts being repaired tomorrow. Conservation rules will be in effect until further notice in both Green Bay and neighboring Ashwaubenon.

One of two incoming water transmission lines will be shut down so a leak can be fixed. The extent of the leak was not immediately known. Green Bay's water utility has asked people not to water their lawns, wash their vehicles, or otherwise spray water at home. Swimming pools and hot tubs cannot be filled, and residents are asked to delay washing their clothes if they can.

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First black Republican?

Voters in southeast Wisconsin could make history next week. Tiffany Koehler of Slinger is one of three people running in a Republican primary for an open state Assembly seat. If she wins, she'll be the first black Republican woman in the state's 166-year history to be elected in either house.

The 44-year-old Koehler is running against insurance agency owners Sandy Voss and Bob Gannon for the Assembly seat given up by Republican Pat Strachota of West Bend. There's no Democrat running, so Tuesday's winner will most likely get the post in January.

Koehler says she's not playing up her race, or hiding from it. She tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that people assume she's a Democrat just by her looks, and she laughs when they bring it up.

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Economy and politics

A new federal report on Wisconsin consumer spending has touched some nerves, both economically and politically. The Commerce Department issued its first state-by-state breakdown yesterday, showing that Wisconsinites increased their spending by about a percentage point less in 2012 than both the national and Great Lakes averages.

UW Milwaukee economist Kundan Kishor blames a smaller increase in personal incomes -- and it has a bunch of consequences. Kishor said Wisconsin was weaker than its neighbors going into the Great Recession, and the same thing was true coming out of it. The state lost 133,000 private sector jobs during the final years of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's tenure, many of which were lost during the recession.

The weak recovery caused only 100,000 jobs to be added during the Republican Walker's term. This week, Walker's Democratic challenger Mary Burke ran a TV ad slamming the governor for not keeping his 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs.

Both candidates hardly mention the recession's impact, as they blame each other instead. Kishor also points to cuts in state spending and government jobs under Walker -- something the governor's office said was necessary to get rid of a $3.6 billion dollar budget deficit. Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the new commerce figures run only through 2012 -- before the first of Walker's two-billion-dollars in tax cuts.

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State fair records set

New sales records were set at two major meat and livestock auctions this week at the Wisconsin State Fair. Gov. Scott Walker was on hand for both -- including the 46th annual Governor's Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction.

Young exhibitors sold 25 animals for a record $313,000. It eclipsed the old mark of $255,000 in the 2005 auction that Jim Doyle presided over.

Lauren May of Iowa County sold the grand champion steer for $45,000 to Milwaukee's Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. Myles Leahy of Lafayette County sold the grand champion barrow to Beer Capitol Distributing for a record $23,500. Calvin Reilly of Lafayette County sold the grand champion lamb to Kevin Schuele for $16,000.

Exhibitors receive 80 percent of the proceeds, and parts of each animal sale goes to a scholarship fund for exhibitors who show leadership and academic excellence. Also, the Governor's Meat Products Auction raised a record $130,000 for the state's 4-H Foundation. The State Fair runs through Sunday in West Allis.

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New app for state park hikers

Have you ever lost touch with somebody in a Wisconsin state park or trail? If you have a smartphone, you won't have to worry about that anymore. The state DNR has unveiled a new app that lets users keep track of each other while they're inside state parks, forests and trails.

The app also provides descriptions and amenities for each of the DNR's recreation properties. It also has a GPS mapping features which includes park locations, facility tours and a mechanism which lets them record the distances they walk or ride on state trails and their times. It's all in the new Wisconsin State Parks and Forests' Pocket Ranger -- and it’s also on I-Tunes and the Android Market.

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Hudson Star Observer 715-386-9891 customer support
Doug Stohlberg has been part of the Hudson Star-Observer since 1973 and has been editor since 1987. He worked at the New Richmond News from 1971 to 1973. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.
(715) 808-8600
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